R.I.P., Knockers

Knockers was the bar with the Hooters-sounding name on Foothill Boulevard in far western Rancho Cucamonga, adjacent to the old railroad bridge. It’s the part of Rancho that seems like Upland, but isn’t.

A reader recently e-mailed the following:

“I don’t know if this is breaking news, not like storm watch or anything, but Knockers ‘Restaurant’ & Bar on Foothill in ‘Cucaland’ is empty. They had another location in Montclair on Arrow Route one block east of Central, but not sure what the deal is there.”

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Things are tough all over

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Stopped at a red light Tuesday on southbound Central Avenue at Mission Boulevard, I noticed a sobering economic indicator: a strip club is now employing sign spinners.

Apparently not even lap dances are recession-proof.

Click the comment tab to put your own spin on this.

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(I Don’t Want to Go to) SavOn

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Wandering the Albertsons/SavOn at Vineyard and Foothill in Rancho Cucamonga the other day, I was surprised to hear Elvis Costello’s “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” on the music system.

This was not a hit. Costello didn’t really have any hits outside the U.K. This was a track dropped when the album “This Year’s Model” was configured for release in America, popping up only on a compilation album of stray tracks, “Taking Liberties,” circa 1980. Urgent, rebellious, spiky in both lyrics and guitar attack, the song was considered New Wave, its singer a typical British Angry Young Man.

I love Costello’s work from that period, although like most of his songs, it’s catchy, but I have no idea what it’s about. (Neither does anyone else.) One section:

Men come screaming, dressed in white coats
Shake you very gently by the throat
One’s named Gus, one’s named Alfie
I don’t want to go to Chelsea

And now, some three decades later, this sentiment was safe enough to be played at a chain supermarket/pharmacy as shoppers loaded their carts with breakfast cereal and frozen pizza. What does this say about music? About us? What would Elvis think?

Walking toward me in the aisle was a thirtysomething hipster in a tweed jacket, beard and jagged haircut. He paused and looked up wonderingly at the ceiling, presumably as baffled as I was.

I compliment the chain’s music programmers on their adventurousness, worry about the commodification of rebellion and wonder what we’ll be listening to in supermarkets in 2039.

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*Ouch*

Last Wednesday I underwent a painful experience: a kidney stone. It hurt as much as my attack of appendicitis in 1982, the most physically painful thing I’ve been through. I managed to drive myself to the ER, where I was diagnosed, sedated, CATscanned, prescribed to and released.

Hours later, everything came out okay. (Whew.) You wouldn’t think a little fleck like that could cause so much discomfort.

Anyone want to share their own kidney stone experience? How would you describe the pain, and to what would you compare it?

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Restaurant of the Week: Manila Sunset

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Manila Sunset, 11815 Foothill Blvd. (at Rochester), Rancho Cucamonga

One of a small chain of Filipino fast-casual restaurants, Manila Sunset is located in the Masi Plaza center. I’d been meaning to go for a long time but kept forgetting, as I don’t get to Far Rancho all that often. Then my friend Rose had lunch there and sent me a glowing report. Finally I made a point of going there with a friend on our way to “The Crucible” at Lewis Family Playhouse last week.

It’s a clean, bright place, done mostly in yellow, with murals and a large patio. You order at the counter, which can be intimidating, since the menu is full of unrecognizable items (if you’re unfamiliar with Filipino food, as I am) with names like Pancit Malabon and Tokwa’t Baboy. But the manager is very gregarious, explaining the menu and recommending items.

We had the pork BBQ skewers plate ($5.95), milkfish, which was one of the daily specials (price forgotten but around $7), an order of fresh lumpia ($3.95), which is sauteed vegetables in a crepe-like wrapper, and two unusual but delicious beverages, sago at Gulaman, which is an iced gelatin drink, and the iced melon drink ($2.75 each).

We liked our food and thought it was reasonably priced. The menu has a lot of fried items, and eating off foam containers isn’t really my thing, so Manila Sunset probably won’t be a regular stop. But I have nothing bad to say about the place. The numerous daily specials were on a separate board and may be unique to this location. It was neat to see how the menu doesn’t seem to be dumbed down.

The Rancho Cucamonga/Fontana area has a sizable Filipino population. Several other diners that evening were Filipino. Having a Filipino restaurant here is a boon for them and helps make Rancho Cucamonga just that much more cosmopolitan.

Did I really just use “Rancho Cucamonga” and “cosmopolitan” in the same sentence?

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Reading log: October 2009

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Books bought this month: “The Shadow of Sirius,” W.S. Merwin.

Books read this month: “Local Knowledge,” B.H. Fairchild; “On Stage,” Ray Bradbury; “The Wizard of Venus,” Edgar Rice Burroughs; “The Cat’s Pajamas,” Ray Bradbury; “The Shadow of Sirius,” W.S. Merwin.

The news this month: 1) I bought only one book, and read it, and 2) in my quest to read 50 books this year, I succeeded, reading books 46 to 50 this month. Yay me. And with two months to go, yet.

Onward to this month’s books. The Fairchild (bought in September) and the Merwin are poetry. Now, poetry has never been this English major’s bag. I like a few of the things we’re all supposed to like, but for me, poetry is like jazz, classical music, modern art — substitute your own mystery art form if you like — that I don’t much understand and have no critical apparatus to evaluate properly.

That said, I bought Fairchild’s book at a reading I attended because he’s a Claremont resident and highly regarded (a National Book Award finalist, for one thing) and I felt I should know what he’s about. I liked his reading and I liked the book, enough that I’ll buy more of his work.

Merwin’s book was also purchased at a reading. He’s one of poetry’s heavyweights and his latest collection, the one I bought, won a Pulitzer this year. Well, what the heck, it was a slender paperback and he was there to sign it, so why not?

I was reading it sort of by autopilot — poems require more concentration and a different type of reading than prose, and I have trouble adjusting to the pace — when the poems started to connect. First came one about Merwin’s childhood memory of his mother’s hands as she played the piano: “the veins on the backs of her hands are the color/of the clear morning sky beginning to haze over.” The next one combined his parents’ first memories with their last moments before death, to great effect.

I can’t say I loved or even understood all the poems, but I liked a number of them, and if a non-poetry reader can say that, it must be an awfully fine book.
Continue reading

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‘Nosferatu’ on Halloween

I’m not one for celebrating Halloween, but that evening a friend and I marked the occasion by seeing the 1922 silent vampire flick “Nosferatu” at Disney Concert Hall with live organ accompaniment. The movie is slightly campy at this point, but still creepy, and the organ added immeasurably to the impact.

It was my first time in Disney Hall and I enjoyed the look and feel of the place. Some patrons were dressed up for Halloween. And some employees in their formal white shirts, black vests and black pants also wore an accessory: glowing devil horns.

Beforehand we had dinner a block away at Kendall’s Brasserie, a modestly upscale bistro. A party of four was clad in capes and at the bar a man, otherwise dressed formally, wore a spangled Green Hornet-type mask.

How was your Halloween?

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