On vacation, and on TV

This vacation is paid time off, btw. I’ll be off all this week on a road trip to Arizona. (Road trip!!) Unless my motel has a computer room, which it probably won’t, I’m unlikely to have Internet access, so don’t freak out if your comments don’t get posted for a few days.

[Update: They have a computer here in the lobby of the Super 8 Motel in Tempe, so here I am at 9 p.m. Monday, posting your comments!]

Check back here, because a Restaurant of the Week will pop up here later in the week. And I’ve managed to slap together three columns to run this week. You’ll hardly know I’m gone.

Adding to my near-omnipresence, look for me sometime this week on ABC Channel 7: Consumer reporter Ric Romero interviewed me Friday morning in my living room (!) for a piece on digital converter boxes.

The station had contacted me after finding my February column online. That column was partly about my post-conversion inability to get Channel 7, until learning ABC was also broadcast on Channel 53, which does come in on my TV.

Romero didn’t know when his piece would run, but probably this week, on the nightly news. (This is what the news biz has come to: Journalists interviewing other journalists.)

Of course, if it runs this week, I may miss the whole thing, but maybe it will be online.

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Read Music Now now (and read it later too)

The Daily Bulletin’s fabulous lineup of blogs, most of them with “Now” in the name, has just added Music Now.

This blog will round up concert listings in the 909 and present other material as well. A bunch of us music obsessives in the Bulletin newsroom will contribute, including yours truly.

I kicked things off by posting an introduction and the first concert listings for Pomona’s Fox Theater.

Check out Music Now at www.insidesocal.com/musicnow.

Have you noticed my blog’s home page (which you’re looking at) has links over to the right for the Bulletin’s “Now” news blogs? That’s a recent addition, long in coming, and welcome.

“Now” this, “Now” that…let’s just hope no one decides this blog should be renamed David Allen Now. And imagine if Joe Blackstock did a local history blog: Our Past Now. The mind reels.

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Restaurant (Obituary) of the Week

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THIS RESTAURANT HAS REOPENED. READ UPDATE WRITEUP HERE.

This week’s restaurant: Nancy’s Cafe, 9759 Arrow Route (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga.

Crucial note: After I finished a version of this Restaurant of the Week piece Thursday afternoon, a cook at Nancy’s phoned to tell me the restaurant is closing for good FRIDAY, a victim of the economy. That’s TODAY, for most of you reading this. This is a hard blow, and a surprise, because Nancy’s used to always be packed. [UPDATE: I tried to go in for breakfast Friday but at 7:15 a.m. the place was locked and dark, with no sign of life or of explanation.]

Nancy’s was a modest gem, a just-folks diner serving up breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The setting was a small, slightly rundown strip mall behind a Jack in the Box, although the non-Jack restaurants are a foodie’s delight: Guido’s, an Italian deli, and Los Jalapenos, a taqueria, both among the city’s best.

I’ve been eating at Nancy’s for years — infrequently, true, but Nancy’s was always there when I needed it. The cheery interior was stuffed with kitsch, some of it ’50s-themed, much of it related to pigs. There was a tiny pig figurine on a tiny swing suspended from the ceiling in the waiting area, more pig figurines at most of the tables, pigs on the walls, pigs at the cash register.

Breakfast had all the standards, served in big portions. The french toast combo ($7) was especially good, as was the french toast covered in brown sugar and oats, dubbed the Annie Oatley ($7.75). I was also an admirer of the lemon pancakes ($7.75). The sausage here was above-average.

Red Hill Coffee Shop, Brandon’s Diner, Kickback Jack’s and Nancy’s make up the shortlist of Rancho Cucamonga’s best breakfast spots. I like ‘em all, but Nancy’s was my favorite, with the ambience a big plus.

For whatever reason, I’d never tried Nancy’s for lunch until Wednesday. They had a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and even barbecued ham and chicken. I got the meatloaf sandwich ($7), on toasted sourdough, with tomatoes, lettuce and onions, and it was a pretty good version.

My colleague Joe Blackstock advised me to get a burger ($7.25) and ask for it on grilled sourdough. I wasn’t in the mood for that much meat on Wednesday. Oh well.

I thought Nancy’s would always be there for me. But let me salute Frank and Nancy Clark for years of good food, friendly service and goofy kitsch. I’ll miss ‘em.

Anyone have memories of Nancy’s to share?

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Remembering Pioneer Chicken

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The original Pioneer Chicken location in Echo Park closed recently after four or five decades in business, according to the Eastsider LA blog (via LA Observed). The fried chicken stand took its name from the Pioneer Market that originally stood next door.

There are said to be a few lingering Pioneer Chicken restaurants, including one in Silver Lake, but most were sold off to Popeyes in the 1980s after the chain slipped into bankruptcy, Eastsider says.

The above-pictured Popeyes on the corner of East Holt and San Antonio avenues in Pomona is a former Pioneer Chicken. Dig the floor to ceiling glass — very mod. (Photo shot from my car window Thursday after lunch at a better chicken stand, Donahoo’s.)

These images may bring back memories: a photo of a Pioneer stand and the chuckwagon logo.

Anyone want to share memories of Pioneer?

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President Hoover in Pomona, 1932

Some 10,000 people turned out in Pomona on Nov. 12, 1932 to see President Herbert Hoover, whose train stopped in Pomona for a few minutes. Hoover had lost his re-election bid to Franklin Roosevelt a few days earlier. Here is what Hoover had to say, in full:

“Friends in Pomona:

“It is very difficult for me to find phrases to express my appreciation for this spontaneous reception. I would almost think I was still running in a campaign from this reception. But what I do know from this reception is that it is a reception from the heart and from your friendship.”

It was kind of Pomona to be so gracious to a big loser.

Now, how do we know what Hoover said?

A neat website exists called The American Presidency Project, courtesy of UC Santa Barbara and found at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/

This was one resource used by the Pomona Public Library staff when I asked which presidents had visited Pomona.

The library’s Bruce Guter explained the website to me like this:

“This site compiles electronically all the papers and public documents of the Presidents back to the founding of the Republic. (In the ‘old’ days — before the advent of the internet — this information was released in book volumes which libraries accumulated year after year, after year, and searching was done through lengthy indexes at the back of each volume).

“The database is so current that it already has the text of Obama’s remarks from his March 19th Pomona visit.

“But a search of this database confirms in effect that no sitting President since Hoover had come through Pomona and made public remarks until last week.”

Explore the archives yourself by clicking the link above. You can type in any city in which you’re interested and see what citations come up.

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Miniature golf, big-time fun in Upland

Boomers is the name of the former Upland Family Fun Center, a fixture along 7th Street in Upland since 1972. The miniature golf course abuts the 10 Freeway, and the property also has go-karts, batting cages and a kiddie restaurant, the Boomers Cafe.

(The restaurant was Bullwinkle’s until Boomers took over in 2002.)

In the 12 years I’ve been at the Bulletin, most of them spent commuting between Claremont and our Ontario office, I’ve driven past the golf course thousands of times. I’ve always secretly wanted to go there.

And so, a bunch of us from the newsroom went there on a recent Friday night, the day before my birthday, to celebrate by playing a round. I have very patient friends.

Turns out there are two 18-hole courses. We played the one with the school, the windmill, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, among other obstacles and features. It was a lot of fun, despite being breezy, dark and chilly. (Why couldn’t my birthday be during a warmer month, or at least after springing forward?)

The other course has a Spanish Mission. Oooooh. I’ll have to go back and play it sometime.

When we were playing the schoolhouse hole, in which you try to hit the ball through the open front door, a friend reminded me that the schoolhouse used to be painted the traditional red with white trim and have a peaked roof. A few years back, it was painted a softer color and the roof lopped off, for unknown reasons. Further evidence that nothing is sacred.

The Boomers main building, where you get your clubs, is a sprawling place with air hockey, arcade games (some of them very old and charming) and even indoor “cosmic” miniature golf. Another reason to go back.

Anyone have personal experiences with Boomers, Bullwinkle’s or the Upland Family Fun Center? Please post away.

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Paramount in Pomona?

An anonymous reader submits the following:

“Here’s a tip you might find interesting. Sometime during the past few weeks, a mistake has appeared in Google Maps: The place name ‘Paramount’ has appeared on the west side of Pomona. I’ve lived in this part of town for more than 50 years, and Paramount has never been a local name. It should say Westmont if anything. I contacted Google Maps, but so far there has been no change.”

He or she is right. View the map here.

“During the same period of time, the name Narod and Sunsweet also appeared near Ontario. I do believe those are actual names from history, denoting freight train stops. If someone was trying to include historical names, there are a number that should be added, such as Spadra. However, as far as I know, Paramount has never been a name associated with Pomona.

“This link can be used to complain to Google Maps about mistakes. Perhaps your readers would be willing to help make the map more accurate.”

That would be http://local.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=mbug

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Obama in Pomona: videos, text

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Photo courtesy of Joanne Boyajian

Lotsa videos on YouTube and elsewhere of the president’s visit. Here are a few of the best:

* The president’s motorcade can be seen traveling Holt here and here, leaving the Edison plant here and traveling on residential streets here and here. You can find even more here on the YouTube search page.

* The president’s speech can be seen in two parts, here and here.

If you’re curious about the president’s route through the Inland Valley, the comments of the Neighborhood Watch blog in Pomona say it went like this: the 10 Freeway east, exiting at Towne Avenue and heading south, then east on San Bernardino Avenue, south on San Antonio Avenue to Holt, then east on Holt to Hershey.

He returned on the same route, exiting the 10 west at Fairplex Drive to get to Brackett Field in La Verne. News to me — did he take a chopper to L.A.? A plane? *

Well, anything to beat the traffic, I guess.

The full text of the president’s remarks, as transcribed by the White House, can be read by clicking below.

* He took his official helicopter, Marine One; thanks to Joanne Boyajian for the photo.
Continue reading

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Restaurant of the Week: Everest Drive-In

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This week’s restaurant: Everest Drive-In, 430 N. Central Ave. (at Arrow Route), Upland.

Emulating its namesake, Everest rises majestically along a quiet stretch of Central near Montclair, next door to a vacant lot.

It’s another of those burger palaces that has a zillion items on the menu, sort of the spiritual opposite of In-N-Out: not only a dozen styles of hamburger but pastrami and other kinds of sandwiches, basic Mexican items, salads, breakfasts, even an “old fashioned Sloppy Joe” ($2.99).

I had a burger combo there a while back with fries and a soda ($5.49). The char-broiled patty is topped with Thousand Island, lettuce, tomato and red onion. Good stuff. The fries aren’t bad. One nice touch: Ketchup is on the tables in glass bottles. The restaurant interior, however, is bland, beige and uninspiring.

Not having had a chance to write about Everest at the time, I returned recently for two more meals. I got the Mediterranean chicken sandwich, again as a combo ($8.58); it comes on a wheat bun, with red and green peppers and feta cheese. A for effort, although the sandwich was better conceptually than as a physical object. Oh well. A week later, an a la carte BLT ($4.19) hit the spot for dinner.

There are other Everest locations in Altadena and La Crescenta. But if you’re going to explore Everest, why travel farther than Upland?

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