Column: When comics were the point of Comic-Con

I used to be a regular at San Diego Comic-Con, but I quit when the event started getting overwhelming and the attention shifted from comics. This wasn’t a topic I had ever thought of addressing until being in San Diego last month, seeing the 50th anniversary banners on lampposts and thinking, Huh, maybe the milestone would be a good excuse to look back. And thus I bring you: Wednesday’s column.

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RV in RC, RIP

Since our office used to be on Fourth Street in Ontario, and now is only a bit farther east at Archibald and Fourth, I’ve passed this RV and Off Road shop at 10234 E. Fourth for, it seems, my entire 22 years here.

I don’t know the first thing about this shop, other than “gear, parts, repair,” but the sign’s lettering always caught my eye. And I have a recollection that in its latter days there was a cross on the facade, presumably to signal that the owner would treat you fairly.

It’s been closed a while with a construction fence around it. I’d meant to stop for a photo for posterity, but there was no obvious place to park. Recently, though, driving east to lunch past the building, I realized I could park at the Havengate complex immediately east at Center and Fourth streets. On my way back, I made a point of doing so.

According to the official sign, the building is going to be demolished for a new one. The site, 2.76 acres, is enormous compared to the size of the existing building, so I’m sure it will be a better use of the property.

Farewell, RV and Off Road. You no doubt left a larger mark on the world than this blog post, and probably did so with big tires, but you are memorialized here anyway.

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Column: Restaurateur set template for Village success

Happy 80th birthday to Dan Sauter, the man who founded The Danson restaurant in Claremont (1973-2005, now operating as Espiau’s). More importantly, his restaurant established new criteria for how to run a restaurant in downtown Claremont: Sunday hours, outdoor seating, beer and wine. He’s the subject of Sunday’s column.

Above, an early menu for The Danson. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Restaurant of the Week: Guido’s Pizza and Deli

Guido’s Pizza and Deli, 9755 Arrow Highway (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga; open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed Sundays

Guido’s Pizza and Deli has been around since 1991, always at the same location, Arrow Plaza in Rancho Cucamonga. Namesake owner¬†Guido Sciortino retired in 2014 at age 75 and sold the business to Alex DeGioia and Marisa Furno, who promised to keep the sandwiches, add items from Furno’s native Argentina and restore pizza to the menu after a long absence.

I hadn’t been in since the changeover, but a friend ate there and told me he’d liked it. Some time later, trying to think of a place to have him meet me for lunch, I invited him to Guido’s. He initially had no recollection of having been there, then at my prompting replied, “the place I ate at a couple of years ago?” Personally I’m not sure it had been that long. Anyway, my memory for odd details is sometimes stronger than my memory for the important stuff.

Inside Guido’s, which is dinky, there are a couple of tables, but mostly it’s for takeout. Some Italian and, now, Argentinian grocery items are for sale, just as in the old days. Signs list the old familiar sandwiches, including the Guido and the Tony ($6 each), named for the Sciortino brothers, as well as some Argentinian sandwiches, empanadas ($2 each) and pizzas.

We got Argentinian sandwiches: the choripa ($6.50) for him, the milanesa ($9.50) for me. His had sausage, chimichurri sauce, lettuce, tomato and cheese; mine had country-fried steak, mustard, lettuce, tomato. mayo and cheese. The milanesa was large enough to hang over the edge of the roll.

Our sandwiches arrived split in half. After finishing our halves about the same time, I suggested we swap the other halves, and we did.

Also, after eating half the milanesa, he said he preferred his choripa. After eating half the choripa, I preferred my milanesa. Maybe swapping wasn’t such a great idea.

His conclusion concerning the meal: “Delicious, super-filling. If I come again I’ll go for the pizza.”

DeGioia, by the way, said Sciortino still makes his homemade sausages, just as he always has, and had just been in the day before.

I returned a week later with a different friend to share a pizza. This wouldn’t have been necessary as it turns out Guido’s also makes personal pizzas at half the size. Well, we got a full ($17) and got a split of the styles: the Putanesca (mozzarella, spicy tomato sauce, anchovies) for my half, the Neopolitan (mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, garlic) for his half.

DeGioia said he makes the best pizza in the Inland Empire. I wouldn’t go that far. But it was a good pizza, substantial, laden with cheese. We both thought it was salty, but we both had anchovy slices, so maybe it was just the anchovy and not the pizza. We each ate 2 1/2 slices of the pizza. I took home three slices and ate one per night the next three nights. That’s a pizza with staying power.

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Reading Log: June 2019

Books acquired: “American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith,” Daniel Okrent, ed.

Book¬†read: “Collected Stories,” Willa Cather

Usually it’s “Books read,” plural, but not in June, where I finished only one. It’s pictured by its lonesome, fore and aft in this post. Well, it beats my occasional joke here that one day, if I don’t finish a book, I’ll present a photo of a blank spot on my floor and another on a bookshelf.

I started this 512-page collection of 19 stories by Willa Cather during my vacation home in late May and read it fairly continuously through June. I considered setting it aside to read one or two shorter books but decided to just plow ahead. By June 28 I had one 12-page story left. But as I was leaving that morning for San Diego, I didn’t want to pack a book that (as I was taking the train) I would finish by Baldwin Park and then have to lug around all weekend.

So, I read that last story the first chance I had: July 1. Technically, then, I really didn’t finish a book in June. But I’m counting this one anyway.

I had read two Cather stories in college: “Paul’s Case” and “Neighbor Rosicky,” both of which I admired. “Rosicky” is particularly warm. They made me want to read more by her. Other than the slim “My Mortal Enemy,” about which I can recall nothing, I didn’t read any more Cather until “O Pioneers!” last October.

I bought “Collected Stories” in 1998 at the Rancho Cucamonga B&N in a burst of enthusiasm along with three other books: “Walden,” “A Short History of the World” and, incongruously, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Seinlanguage.” I read the latter almost immediately. It’s telling that, two decades later, the others remain unread. Obviously I liked the idea of reading these heavier books, but it’s the lightweight, barely-a-book that I read. Until now.

Last year I actually culled “Collected Stories” from my shelves and put it in a “sell” box, but then I sheepishly retrieved it after enjoying “O Pioneers!” “Collected” was among the oldest unread books on my shelves and I decided to face up to it at last.

As with any complete collection, this has its ups and down. Excellent: “Coming, Aphrodite!”, “A Gold Slipper,” “Paul’s Case,” “‘A Death in the Desert,'” “Neighbor Rosicky,” “Old Mrs. Harris,” “Tom Outland’s Story.” I liked several more. But some, especially the earliest pieces, too influenced by Henry James, weigh things down. “The Old Beauty” and “The Diamond Mine” are among the stories centered on a person the other characters find more fascinating than we are likely to. On the other hand, having so many stories focused on women makes an impression.

So, I’d give it 3 stars out of 5. I liked it, but I didn’t really need a complete Cather set. On the other hand, it was the best book I read in June! By the end of 2020, I would hope to have read “Walden” and “A Short History of the World.”

Incidentally, I have five books going on my nightstand, all of which I made progress on and which will pop up on the Reading Log in the coming months as I finish them. So it’s not like I only read Cather during June. Brief pause while I pull my tattered shreds of dignity more tightly around myself.

How was your June, readers? More productive than mine, I’m sure. Let us know in the comments field.

Next month: on the road.

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‘Flag Pin’

Brooklyn resident Franklin Bruno stars in a video shot in 2018 around his native Upland for his song “Flag Pin” (“No, I won’t wear a flag pin/Over my heart”), recorded by his band the Human Hearts. It’s deadpan fun. See how many Upland locales you can identify. And happy Independence Day.

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