There’s an electronic billboard along the 10 at Mountain Avenue, as motorists have discovered this past week. Blight or bright? I report, you decide, to quote a phrase. Also: reports from author events in Claremont for Hilton Als and Chris Matthews, a Culture Corner of events taking place today, and more, all in Sunday’s column.
I took in the buzzed-about opera version of “The War of the Worlds,” which used parking lots, air raid sirens and Disney Hall in an unusual, fun production at multiple sites. I write about it in Friday’s column. Watch the skies!
Bert and Rocky’s Cream Co., 242 Yale Ave. (at Bonita), Claremont; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Ice cream and candy shop Bert and Rocky’s started in Upland in 1989 and expanded to Claremont in the late 1990s; the Upland location, by the high school, has closed, leaving the Claremont shop as the mainstay.
It’s a popular spot with a lot of foot traffic, great homemade ice cream and a community-oriented outlook with school fund-raisers and the like.
I’ve gone to Bert and Rocky’s since its Village location opened — not frequently, but probably once a year. It wasn’t until meeting a friend there during October’s heat wave that it occurred to me to make it a Restaurant of the Week.
They’ve got a couple dozen ice cream flavors, plus sorbet and other non-dairy permutations, at any given time, available as cones (their waffle cones are housemade), dishes, sundaes, banana splits, freezes and milkshakes.
I went for Butterfingers and cream in my go-to size, junior scoop ($3.45). Seems plenty big to me.
Bert and Rocky’s also has fudge, bark, caramel apples, chocolate-dipped items, scooped candy and nostalgic packaged candy like Necco wafers. There are a few tables, a bar, some outdoor chairs and, on most afternoons, a crush of customers — but also a friendly and patient staff.
You may be at least marginally aware of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA art exhibits scattered around Southern California. I visited the eight shows in our area, in Pomona, Claremont and Riverside, and wrote capsule summaries for Wednesday’s column. This weekend brings free admission (although many venues are free anyway) and special events to the IE-area spots, so it’s timely.
(To be candid, I’m guessing this column will get fewer clicks than normal while requiring more time and mileage out of me than normal. But it seemed worth doing, so I did it anyway.)
The old Pomona YMCA was part of the Home Tour Nov. 5, and I was there. Here are a few photos. The one above was shot a few days before from inside the American Museum of Ceramic Art, directly across from the Y. Handsome building, isn’t it?
The Y was bought for $2.65 million by the Spectra Co., a Pomona-based builder that specializes in historic preservation, and which plans to give the 1922 building a badly needed renovation before using it as its headquarters. Work has begun and original details that have been long buried are coming to light.
Inside, we were told that this neat white hexagonal tile was revealed in spots where a later layer of flooring was removed.
Above, a view of the basketball court. Note the elevated area on three sides…
That elevated area above the basketball court is a running track with, how fancy, banked turns. This is a view from above of both.
The basement pool is where generations of Pomona kids learned to swim.
Best. Cornerstone. Ever.
Not strictly speaking a historic detail, but this signs in a recreation room are wonderful. Unlike the Village People song, apparently you couldn’t “do whatever you feel.”
Sunday’s column starts with a summary and dialogue from the Nov. 6 episode of a CBS adventure series that involved Pomona. After that come a half-dozen Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette.
After probably two years of procrastination, I get it together to head to Riverside on a Saturday to check out two classic restaurants and a used bookstore — with the spur being two PST: LA/LA art shows, now on view. I write about the day trip in Friday’s column.
Donahoo’s Golden Chicken, 5749 Mission Blvd. (at Riverview), Rubidoux; open daily, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; cash only
Only three Donahoo’s chicken locations remain, I believe: Ontario, Pomona and Rubidoux, which is just west of Riverside. The chain’s history isn’t well-documented, which I’ll have to rectify sometime, but there used to be more locations around the state.
I’ve been to Ontario once or twice and to Pomona dozens of times, which is more a reflection of where I am when I want takeout rather than the relative quality. I’d never been to or seen the one in Rubidoux, but it was in my mind to try it one day.
That day came last Saturday, when I drove to Riverside for the afternoon. I ended my day at Donahoo’s, taking Mission west out of town and pulling up to Donahoo’s, in a standalone little building with what must be an original 1950s-’60s sign. It was kind of adorable. There’s only a couple of parking spaces, but the lot next door is good too since you won’t be there long.
It’s takeout only, just like the other Donahoo’s. I got the chicken strips box lunch ($7.55), which came with five pieces, a small salad, a roll and fries. They cook the chicken to order and it was ready in 10 minutes, handed over in a brown cardboard box inside a plastic bag. I got on the 60 Freeway when it met Mission at Valley View, headed home and ate there.
It was a different meal than Pomona: crinkle-cut fries, which they also do in Ontario and which are the original style, rather than the Pomona steak fries; a green salad, rather than slaw or macaroni as in Pomona; and a different, lighter batter for the chicken. It tended to slip off the chicken, which was disconcerting, but the taste was good. I liked the fries and roll; the iceberg salad was meh.
I ate half the meal that night and saved the other half for lunch the next day. Not bad for $7.55.
I would return, but probably won’t, given there are closer Donahoo’s, but I’m glad I went and am glad this one is still around. And yes, like Pomona but unlike Ontario, there’s a rooster on the roof.
After the police chief’s ouster, I attend my first Upland City Council meeting of the year as they approve a contract with an interim police chief, who promises to calm the waters. In the, er, interim, I offer my take, and a few jokes, in Wednesday’s column.
Books acquired: “True Stories of Claremont, CA,” Hal Durian; “Buster Keaton Remembered,” Eleanor Keaton and Jeffrey Vance
Books read: “The Puppet Masters,” Robert Heinlein; “The Toynbee Convector,” Ray Bradbury; “One Hundred and Two H-Bombs,” Thomas M. Disch; “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” H.P. Lovecraft; “Love Conquers All,” Robert Benchley
Greetings, readers. We’re well into fall and the end of 2017 is in sight, which is something of a relief. But that also means that if we have reading goals, time is running out on achieving them.
Of the (now) 266 unread books on my shelves, some authors are represented multiple times. I try to read at least one per year by many of them to gradually whittle down the backlog. While progress may not be as great as wished for, I looked at my row of Robert Benchley books recently and realized that after one per year for seven years, I’ve now read almost all of them.
October’s choices were made up entirely of give-or-take perennials.
From Heinlein’s classic period, his 1951 novel “The Puppet Masters” is about an alien invasion by big slugs who control individuals by (ugh) attaching themselves to humans’ spines. It’s clever, propulsive and genuinely creepy. Also, the government-mandated nudity angle was funny. Hey, how else are you going to know if your neighbor, or your congressman, is controlled by a slug nestled between their shoulder blades if you can’t see them in the buff?
Bradbury’s 1984 story collection is the last of his regular books that I hadn’t read or reread; a few years ago I picked up shortly after this point to read his copious number of late-period books that I’d never had the heart to read (most did indeed turn out to be disappointing), then started over at the beginning to reread his classic ones.
“The Toynbee Convector” is a terrible title, a tipoff of what’s to come. Of the 23 stories, only five (Trapdoor, The Love Affair, A Touch of Petulance, West of October and At Midnight, in the Month of June) have the old snap. Some of them are old but never collected, I believe.
Most of the rest are sad, aimless or eye-rollers. Unpleasantly, several semi-autobiographical stories are about an adulterer, and nine (I started keeping track, it was such a thing) involve a grown man weeping. There is some lovely writing, of course, such as about the Family, a Bradbury staple: “Some were young and others had been around since the Sphinx first sank its stone paws deep in tidal sands.” Still, as a fan, I warn you: Do not start with “The Toynbee Collector.”
I bought a bunch of Disch’s out of print books four years ago when I encountered them at a used bookstore in Goleta. Here’s the third one, an early collection of stories. Some are shaggy dog shorts, surprisingly silly for a writer who would attain Disch’s stature. The whimsical “Dangerous Flags” is a hoot. Many of the other stories are fair to good. To my mind only “The Return of the Medusae,” weighing in at a mere two pages, has a breath of mystery to it.
Lovecraft is another favorite; I read the five books by him I had, one per year, and in March bought two more to keep me going. The title novella is a 141-page dream adventure starring Randolph Carter, with no dialogue until the end and no chapter breaks; it’s appropriately strange and lovely, but conversely hard to get invested in. The remaining five stories also involve dream worlds. Worthwhile if, like me, you’re doing a deeper dive into HPL.
The essays in Benchley’s second book, from 1922, already mark him as a very funny stylist and observer of life, whether he’s writing about neighbors offering unsolicited advice as he tries to garden, contradictory exhortations from the stands during baseball games and the mental gymnastics required to translate Roman numerals. (The title, like ones to follow, gives no hint of its contents.)
“Love Conquers All” has the added bonus of a long section of his literary pieces, many of them very loose reviews of books nobody else would review, such as a train timetable, “Bricklaying in Modern Practice” and “The Effective Speaking Voice.”
I bought that one in 2001 at Pasadena’s Book Alley, the Bradbury in 1991 at Santa Rosa’s Treehorn Books, Disch in 2013 at Goleta’s Paperback Alley, Lovecraft at LA’s Last Bookstore and Heinlein sometime in the 2000s.
How was your October, reading-wise? Please let us know in the comments.
Next month: new, different authors.