Claremont Movies in the Park

Various Claremont parks are the sites for a family friendly, and free, film series this summer, sponsored by those cineastes over at the Claremont Police Department, who sponsor the movies and serve hot dogs, chips and sodas. No wonder police officers are our friends.

The events start at 6:30 p.m. with food and games for the kids; the movies start at dusk. The remaining movies:

Thursday, Blaisdell Park: “Firehouse Dog.”

Tuesday, July 28, Larkin Park: “Sandlot.”

(Which is a great movie, btw.)

Thursday, July 30, June Vail Park: “Open Season 2.”

Tuesday, Aug. 4, Memorial Park: “Night at the Museum 2.”

That night is the last in the series and coincides with National Night Out. The first 750 guests get free In-N-Out burgers. Oh, yes, police officers ARE our friends.

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Hops for hope?

There’s kind of an unusual community fundraiser in Pomona on Wednesday for the two families displaced by the July 11 fire: a beer bash at a downtown bar.

Event name: “Brewing Hope.” Har! Sounds like fun: Dale Brothers beer, snacks, baked goods, donated prizes, etc., with proceeds going to the Van Allen and Hardy Henry families. Donations of toiletries and other goods are welcome. The whole shebang is the brainchild of a dba bartender named Tibbi Perez who happens to be an eighth (!) generation Pomonan, a great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Don Ricardo Vejar.

You can read more about it here on Tibbi’s blog – in Pomona, from what I can tell, every citizen has a blog — but the basics are: 6 p.m. until midnight, dba 256, 256 S. Main (at Third).

Great bar, too, even though all I ever have there is bottled water, or maybe, if I’m feeling wild, a Coke.

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R.I.P.: Mama’s Grill

Reader Elizabeth Ertel alerts us that Mama’s Grill, a Greek restaurant on Haven Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, near Arrow Highway in the JC Penney Outlet center, is closed.

I had a good meal there a few years back and that’s all I know. Anyone eat there or know anything about the place?

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The guy who came in from the heat

Good gosh it’s hot. My house doesn’t have air conditioning and isn’t really set up for a window unit either, so things get mighty toasty this time of year.

Saturday I took the train to L.A. and caught a matinee of the Iraq war movie “The Hurt Locker” at the ArcLight — very good, and not just because of the a/c. Sunday I left the house for a late lunch in La Verne, a trip to B&N in Montclair and then a coffeehouse visit in Claremont. Back home by 7-ish each evening, I opened windows and started cooling the place down.

How’s the heat treatin’ ya?

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Moon memories

In Sunday’s column I write about my childhood memories of the Apollo space program. You can read about, listen to and see photos of the moon landings on NASA’s website and watch videos there or on YouTube, such as this one.

Do you remember where you were on July 20, 1969? What did you think? Were the moon landings important to you?

Hit the comment button and tell us about it, at whatever length you choose. The Internet, like space, is infinite…

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Major Matt Mason!

With the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing upon us, I’ve been musing about the moon and the space toys I had as a boy.

No. 1 favorite was Major Matt Mason, the astronaut figure (OK, doll). I also had his pals Sgt. Storm, Capt. Lazer and Callisto, the alien with the green transparent head.

And, based on perusing the excellent Major Matt Mason website The Space Station and ransacking the brain in my non-transparent head, I owned more MMM merchandise than I’d have thought.

I had the Talking Command Console, the Moon Suit, the Jet Propulsion Pack, the Space Sled, the Space Bubble pulled by the Unitred Space Hauler, the Cat Trac, the Space Crawler and the deadly Firebolt Space Cannon. I was fully accessorized. (Although I never had the Lunar Base Command Set.)

All of that’s long gone, but I still have my Big Little Book for Major Matt Mason, in which he encountered giant burrowing moon worms. It remains vaguely terrifying.

Anyone else ever play with these or other space toys?

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Restaurant of the Week: Riverside Grill

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Riverside Grill, 5258 Riverside Drive (at Central), Chino.

In Chino last week for an evening meeting of the school board, I definitely wanted to eat afterward, business not taking me often to Chino. Riverside Grill, along Riverside Drive, is just a block from the school district office and was an inviting choice.

It’s a bistro and half the seating is outside, on a patio enclosed by glass walls and surrounded by palm trees and landscaping that makes busy Riverside and Central seem a world away. The interior is upscale casual, with an open kitchen (well, it’s glassed in) and photos of old Chino on the walls.

The breakfast-lunch-dinner place has sandwiches, burgers, nine salads and some ambitious entrees from $16 to $24 that include sirloin, N.Y. steak, scampi and baby back ribs.

I got the champagne chicken salad ($10.50) with baby greens, grapes, gorgonzola, walnuts, grilled chicken breast and “our own champagne dressing.” No idea what’s in the dressing, but the salad was delicious and made for a light, healthy dinner. Like all the salads, it came with a slice of the restaurant’s signature beer bread, which they also use for their morning french toast ($5.25).

You can see Riverside Grill’s website and menu here. The restaurant is a nice place and a haven from the cares of the world — which include the school board.

Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday to Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Metrolink free transfer policy unchanged (whew)

The question came up in the comments section the other day about whether it’s still possible to transfer for free from a Metrolink train to the subway or bus. The policy had been under review but its resolution was unclear.

“Nothing changes for now,” Metrolink spokesman Francisco Oaxaca said when I asked.

Metrolink reimburses 23 different transit agencies in six counties for lost revenue due to the free transfers, which obviously are a selling point for train riders. Some 56 percent of those transfers involve LA’s MTA, which raised its reimbursement rate.

Metrolink could raise ticket prices or eliminate transfers in response but, other than a 3 percent fare increase, is holding the line for now. “Ultimately we’re going to have to face that music,” Oaxaca said. But that probably won’t happen until July 2010, the start of the next fiscal year.

So that answers that. We Metrolink fans have at least another year of free transfers, which make the service both simpler and cheaper. Metrolink directors, we salute you.

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Reading log: June 2009

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Books bought this month: “Pulp Culture,” Frank M. Robinson and Lawrence Davidson; “The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories,” ed. Ray Bradbury.

Books read this month: “Farewell Summer,” Ray Bradbury; “From the Dust Returned,” Ray Bradbury; “Collected Shorter Plays,” Samuel Beckett; “Vanishing America,” Michael Eastman; “Metropolitan Diary,” ed. Ron Alexander; “Near-Life Experiences,” Jon Carroll; “A Purple Place for Dying,” John D. MacDonald.

Halfway through 2009, I’ve read 31 books, including seven this month. Also note that this month I limited my purchases to two. Progress on two fronts! (I own an embarrassing number of unread books.)

Bradbury, “Farewell Summer” (bought in 2007): In May I reread “Dandelion Wine” for the first time in 30 years. This month I followed up with the 2006 sequel, which is slimmer but has more plot. Supposedly at least part of the book comprised leftovers from 1957′s “Dandelion,” but with its preoccupation with the elderly and the passage of time, “Farewell Summer” reads more like a product of the octogenarian Bradbury. A lot of people found it a letdown, but I think they were romanticizing the original. And I thought the sequel’s “controversial” ending audacious and funny.
Continue reading

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Farmers Market turns 75

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Two-fisted eating at Bennett’s Ice Cream. (Actually, he was holding the second cone for his mom while she pays.)

You’ve all been to the Farmers Market in L.A., right? Third and Fairfax? I certainly hope so, since you’ve had 75 years, as of today, to get there.

Yep, the Farmers Market opened on July 14, 1934, when 18 vendors parked their trucks on a large vacant lot that had been a dairy farm and an oil field. The market became a popular place and food stands sprouted, eventually rendering the farm part a rather small aspect compared to the international food offerings.

Today the market is somewhat overshadowed by the Grove shopping center next door, and I miss the days you could park for free on the acres of free asphalt. That was too good a deal to last, but at least the market survives. And the incursion of chains seems to have stopped at Johnny Rockets, Starbucks and Pinkberry.

Hearing about the anniversary — activities are planned today and Thursday; read more at www.farmersmarketla.com – I went to the market on Saturday with a friend. Busy as ever, it remains one of the great crossroads of L.A.

We split an oyster and shrimp po’boy from Gumbo Pot and a shrimp cocktail from Tusquella’s and got ice cream cones at Bennett’s. We also ogled the vintage toys at Shine Gallery, the imported and specialty groceries at Monsieur Marcel’s and the hot sauces at, well, whatever the hot sauce place is called. Oh, to have gone to Bob’s Doughnuts, Patsy’s Pizza, Bryan’s Barbecue, Singapore’s Banana Leaf and any number of other delectable eateries.

Do you have a favorite Farmers Market routine or memory?

* The LA Times wrote a long, very good feature on the Market.

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