Obama in Pomona today

The president is scheduled to tour the Edison International Vehicle Electrics Plant, 265 N. East End Ave., at 10:30 a.m. Students from Village Academy School, which Obama mentioned in a speech last week, and who will be the subject of a “20/20″ report on ABC-TV on Friday, will be brought over to the plant to meet him.

Now that’s a field trip. (The school, btw, is literally across the street from the plant.)

The event is not open to the public and only pool press will be allowed in. That means I’ll be on the sidewalk or across the street, craning my neck like everyone else. See you there?

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Desolate RC

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David McNew/Getty Images

This photo of Rancho Cucamonga is from a Boston Globe slideshow titled “Scenes From the Recession,” consisting of 35 photos from all over the world. Powerful stuff.

The caption for the above: “Storm clouds hover near unfinished home lots during a break between storms after the dwindling new home sales market brought construction to a halt at a new home development December 16, 2008 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Home construction took its biggest dive in 24 years in November to reach a record low.”

Photos 27 and 35 are from Riverside. Photos 26 and 30 have personal meaning for me as a newspaperman. You’ll probably find your own favorites if you take the time to look.

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President Taft in Pomona, 1911

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Today’s column has a rundown of the visits made by four sitting presidents to Pomona: Benjamin Harrison (1891), William McKinley (1901), William Howard Taft (1911) and Herbert Hoover (1932). Here are more details about Taft’s appearance, taken from a Pomona Progress article unearthed by the Pomona Public Library (bless ‘em); they also contributed the photo above.

Taft spoke at the Pomona depot downtown from the rear of his train on Oct. 17, 1911. He was given a key to the city, baskets of fruit and flowers by the Ebell Club, B.P.O. Elks No. 789, the Board of Trade and the Ohio society, and a basket of grapes from the Unitarian Church. It seems that the Senate chaplain, the Rev. U.G.B. Pierce, had been the Pomona First Unitarian pastor for six years.

Here is the full text of the president’s remarks as taken from the Progress:

“Ladies and gentlemen of Pomona:

“I am greatly surprised and greatly delighted at your cordial reception as shown by the number of those who have done me the honor to come here to greet me. I am delighted to see the children. Are you glad to see me, children? (Cries of ‘Yes, yes.’) Well, do you have a holiday because I am here. (‘No.’) The little ones do, and I hope you will remember me by that.

“I congratulate the people of Pomona on having such a delightful place to live. I am told that there are no rich people in Pomona and no poor people, that you are all in that condition that enables you to look at life from a proper standpoint, that you have not accumulated a lot of money and are sitting on it just for the purpose of contemplating it and seeing it grow, but that you are able to enjoy life, to be philosophical, to do the best you can for the community and the country and to rejoice in the success of everybody. Now, that’s a condition that calls for congratulation.

“Over in some of your neighboring towns I found great evidence of wealth that possibly combines with happiness, but I am glad to know that you have just enough and that you don’t want anymore.

“As I go through this country and see all this beautiful fruit — and I am a fruit eater — I feel as if I would like to have a good deal bigger capacity than I have in order that I might carry away even more delightful recollections of Pomona. Good-by.”

Good-by.

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Obama coming to Pomona

Isn’t that something? Just days after he mentioned Pomona’s Village Academy in a speech, Spider-Man’s pal President Obama announced plans to visit Pomona in person.

On Thursday, says LA Observed, the president will visit the Edison International Vehicle Electrics Plant. Here’s a USA Today story about the plant, although it’s light on details.

I think while Obama’s in town, the presidential motorcade should make a point of driving past Donahoo’s Chicken to view Pomona’s contribution to rooftop poultry art. Even better, he could stop inside for a box lunch.

Any other suggestions for the president’s visit?

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Pomona in ‘Race to Witch Mountain’

The new Disney sequel apparently has a sequence filmed at Pomona’s Fairplex, although you likely won’t recognize it.

One of the Fairplex exhibition halls was used as the site of a science fiction convention — “UFO Space Expo 9″ — visited by Dwayne Johnson’s cab driver character and two teenage fares who are more than they appear. Johnson weaves through attendees dressed in Stormtrooper and alien costumes, booths hawking geeky merchandise and a UFO karaoke machine after the teens wander away from him.

I imagine hijinx ensues. Anyone see the movie?

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Restaurant of the Week: Toro Sushi & Grill

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This week’s restaurant: Toro Sushi & Grill, 1520 N. Mountain Ave. (at 6th), Ontario.

A couple of years back Toro moved from Chino to Ontario into the new neighborhood center at Mountain Avenue and the 10 Freeeway. It’s a large, high-ceilinged place in modernist style, done mostly in black, with a few Japanese accents. But the prevailing spirit may be best symbolized by the Raiders plaque behind the sushi bar and a nearby sign reading “Macho sushi $4.50.”

Toro seems somewhat bar crowd-oriented, but the food’s not bad. I’ve had the salmon skin salad ($7.50) and liked it. This week I had albacore sushi ($4), yellowtail belly sushi ($5.50) and a salmon skin cut roll ($6). The fish seems fresh and the presentation is nice, if slightly flashy, with sauces drizzled across two of the three orders. Toro also has grilled seafood, chicken and steak entrees from $10 to $30.

I would compare Toro to Kabuki in Victoria Gardens or Sakura Ichi in Pomona as slightly upscale, untraditional takes on sushi — not the best, but above average.

Toro should work on its motto, though. According to the takeout menu, its mission is to “touch and embrace our customers hearts and souls, as well as their pallets.” Please take your hands off my flat wooden transport structure.

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Remembering Stinkey’s Cafe

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Photo from the 1958 CMC yearbook, The Ayer

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We’ve talked about Stinkey’s here before, a still fondly remembered burger joint on the northwest corner of Foothill and Mountain back in the day. You can read those comments here.

Kelly Zackmann of the Ontario Library reports that, according to city directories, Stinky’s first appeared in 1948, at 1214 W. Foothill Blvd. The later directories spelled it Stinkey’s. There are no listings beyond 1968. It was owned by Jack A. Kermott.

Here’s a fresh comment from Larry Hernandez, who e-mailed in response to my column on RoVal’s to reminisce about Stinky’s/Stinkey’s:

“I loved the story on long-gone eating places that readers remember very fondly. This brings to my mind very vague, almost lost memories of a diner called Stinky’s that used to be on Foothill Boulevard in Upland, west of Euclid.

“I cannot remember very much about the place but I can vividly recall how tasty and wonderfully smelly the hamburgers were when they came right off the grill. Being 51 years of age, I was a mere boy, perhaps 5 or 6, when my dad or mom stopped by to pick up a quick takeout dinner. I think we ate in the parking lot. My dad and mom never ate inside, perhaps a holdover from earlier times when Mexican-Americans hesitated to overstay their welcome in many local establishments, like the Ford Diner that used to sit on the southeast corner of Holt and Euclid.

“The place must have shut down shortly thereafter, because I cannot recall it being there when I passed by the spot in the late ’60s and beyond.

“What I recall is a smallish diner, set back from the road, with lots of empty fields around it, and huge old eucalyptus tree windbreaks still in the vicinity, probably bordered with piles of ‘Upland potatoes.’ The parking lot may have been unpaved. I think it was on the northwest corner of Mountain and Foothill.

“What I cannot forget is the feel and taste of toasted buns off of the grill and the pungent odor and taste of the onions the cook placed over the beef patty. Stinky’s hamburgers set the standard by which all other burgers are still judged in my mind. I don’t know what the cook did with those onions, but I have never encountered the same again.

“Could you give a shout-out to other readers about their memories of Stinky’s? Perhaps the secrets are hidden away in the papers of some family that had a connection to the owner or the cooks.”

Wasn’t that nice? I’ve alerted Larry that he really ought to visit this blog. But if anyone has anything to add about Stinkey’s, feel free to post a comment below.

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Reading log: February 2009

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Books bought this month: “The Loved One,” Evelyn Waugh; “Lies, Inc.,” Philip K. Dick; “The Best of S.J. Perelman.”

Books read this month: “Slan,” A.E. van Vogt; “Slippage,” Harlan Ellison; “A Graveyard for Lunatics,” Ray Bradbury; “Nightmare in Pink,” John D. MacDonald.

As in January, I finished four books, and in a short month too. Also, based on buying three books and reading four, I should catch up on my backlog in about, oh, 400 months.

The books I bought, btw, were from Second Story Books’ closeout sale. Don’t know when I’ll get to them, but I’m glad to have them. What put the Perelman book over the top: Its intro is by (ahem) Sidney Namlerep.

“Slan” is a classic sci-fi novel about telepaths known as slans who are outsiders from society, hated and feared. “Fans are slans” was a longtime rueful saying among the outsiders in SF fandom. Van Vogt’s writing (and it’s pronounced “van Vote”; thank you, Dwain Kaiser) is propulsive, but kind of clunky. This one, while diverting, didn’t quite live up to its rep.

“Slippage” is a collection of stories by Ellison, a much-lauded fantasist, published in ’97, and is his most recent work. I went through an Ellison phase in high school, then moved on, although I’ve continued to add his books to my shelves — they’re usually out of print and notoriously hard to find, meaning you have to horde them. “Slippage” has a few clunkers, but mostly it’s a very fine book, with many tones and voices.

“Graveyard” is the second in Bradbury’s trilogy of loosely autobiographical novels about old L.A., this one about a Hollywood studio circa 1954, a dark secret, a cemetery and stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. Trifling but enjoyable.

(I then went back and skimmed the first book, “Death is a Lonely Business,” about a series of deaths and disappearances in Venice, Calif., circa 1940, which I’d initially considered plotless and purple-prosed. After the even looser “Graveyard,” “Death” came to seem foggily atmospheric and even a bit grand.)

Finally, MacDonald’s second Travis McGee mystery. McGee leaves his Ft. Lauderdale houseboat for NYC to pay a debt to an old army pal whose daughter’s fiance died in a mugging. Or was it a mugging?

I have the feeling the 21 McGee books are going to blur together like James Bond movies, all of them enjoyable, none of the plots especially memorable. But the writing is fine stuff. A favorite passage comes as McGee muses to himself after a fruitful chat with a banker:

“…I suspected that he was annoyed with himself for talking perhaps too much and too freely. There is only one way to make people talk more than they care to. Listen. Listen with hungry earnest attention to every word. In the intensity of your attention, make little nods of agreement, little sounds of approval. You can’t fake it. You have to really listen. In a posture of gratitude. And it is such a rare and startling experience for them, such a boon to ego, such a gratification of self, to find a genuine listener, that they want to prolong the experience. And the only way to do that is to keep talking. A good listener is far more rare than an adequate lover.”

Being a good listener is half the trick of being a good reporter. If I ever learn the other half, you’ll be the first to know.

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12 years

Today is my 12th anniversary at the Daily Bulletin. Yes, it was on March 10, 1997 that yours truly first reported for work. Nobody’s told me to stop so I keep right on coming in.

Even though the fourth-graders I spoke to last week were stunned to hear I’d been at this newspaper longer than they’d been alive, it doesn’t feel like all that long to me. And, y’know, I like to think I have a few good years left. With luck, the Daily Bulletin does too.

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