Diamond Bar on the ‘Fringe’

The first Hollywood Fringe Festival, from June 17 to 27, features theater, comedy, dance, visual arts, workshops and other events by emerging artists at a host of unusual venues. One highlight could be “52 Man Pickup,” a one-woman performance piece by Desiree Burch, a Diamond Bar native who now lives in New York and has toured the U.K. Her show seems to have been well-reviewed in NYC, and Burch was named by New York Magazine as among “Ten New Comedians that Funny People Find Funny.”

Her press rep contacted me and offered to set up an in-person interview, but time, and column inches, are scarce this week. Since Burch is interested in reaching the locals, however, I’m happy to give her a plug here.

You can read more about “52 Man Pickup,” and watch a couple of short videos, here. The two performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Fringe Central Theater of Arts, 1625 N. Las Palmas. Tickets are a mere $15.

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I’m back (sort of)

I’m in the office after four days at home, other than forays for food and DayQuil. Probably won’t be here a full day, but at least I’m here.

Did I miss any news in Upland the last few days? Just kidding.

* 1 p.m.: Having put in a half day, I’m going to lunch and then home to nap. I’ll try for a full day on Tuesday…

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Reading log: May 2010

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Books bought: “The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain,” Mark Twain; “Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress,” Candacy Taylor; “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us),” Tom Vanderbilt; “Candide,” Voltaire; “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass,” Lewis Carroll; “The Good, the Bad and the Mad: Weird People in American History,” E. Randall Floyd; “Millard Sheets, the Early Years (1926-1944),” Gordon McClelland; “This is Claremont,” ed., Harold Davis.

Books read: “The World Jones Made,” Philip K. Dick; “Just When You Thought It Was Safe: A Jaws Companion,” Patrick Jankiewicz; “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Robert Louis Stevenson; “Dancing Under the Moon,” Al Martinez; “Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell With the Rolling Stones,” Robert Greenfield.

May was a big month: I read five books, not the standard four. It was also a big month because I gained eight, thanks in large part to gifts (three) and the emptying of a B&N gift card received 14 months ago (three more). Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of balance.

“The World Jones Made,” Philip K. Dick’s second novel, has been on my shelves since the ’80s. Jonathan Lethem has called it “godawful.” About a man who can see precisely one year into the future, it’s not very good. My chronological march through the PKD canon is going poorly so far. (I didn’t much like his first novel either.)

The “Jaws Companion” book, published last year, was written by an Upland resident who’s a pal of mine. It contains everything you’d want to know about the novel, the movie, the three (!) sequels and the phenomenon. Unfortunately, it also contains about 10,000 things you won’t care about. Some good stuff here, but the writing ranges from insightful to dreadful. (Sorry, Pat.) Still, this is aimed at fans, and if you’re one, you should get it.

I bought “Dr. Jekyll” last fall at Moe’s in Berkeley for a couple of bucks. I’d have guessed I read it as a boy after Stoker and Shelley, but nothing in it seemed familiar. Well, other than the whole concept, of course. This is where the whole downing-the-foul-liquid-in-the-beaker-and-transforming-horribly shtick started. Still effective.

“Dancing Under the Moon,” the book of Al Martinez columns, was bought (for $1) at Book Baron in Anaheim before it closed in 2007. Martinez himself signed it last year during his stop in Pomona. Published in 1992, it’s a genial set of columns by the former L.A. Times scribe. My favorite is about two elderly neighbors who pedal around their neighborhood.

The Stones book, “Exile on Main Street,” was bought during Virgin Megastore’s closing sale in 2009 for a song, ha ha. It chronicles the “Exile on Main Street” period and May seemed like a good time to read it, what with the album being rereleased. Focusing more on the band’s personal lives than the music, and without their participation, the book was disappointing — unlike the album.

In June, I’m reading the Twain story collection bought in May (see above), more Sherlock Holmes and a couple of other things (so far).

Comments on the above or on your own reading are, as always, solicited.

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Mapping the Pomona Valley

After creating a neighborhood-by-neighborhood map of the city of Los Angeles online, the L.A. Times is now doing the same for the rest of L.A. County.

The portion of the map designated Pomona Valley includes Pomona, Claremont and La Verne, with maps, demographics and school information for each. Click on the links above to see ‘em.

The map also identifies an area around southwestern Pomona and north of Walnut as “Ramona, an unincorporated area with a population of 4,053″ that allegedly includes Cal Poly and nearby land, some of which is actually within Pomona city limits. I’ve never heard of Ramona and neither has my colleague Joe Blackstock, who checked a midcentury map book that didn’t use the term either.

But it’s a useful project and mistakes will surely be cleaned up as readers react.

Favorite stat, about both Claremont and La Verne: “The percentage of white people is high for the county.” No kidding!

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The glories of St. Louis

St. Louis is kind of the Pomona of the Midwest: once great, now living in reduced circumstances, but still pretty cool. (They both have Fox theaters, although St. Louis’ Fox is three times larger.) I was visiting my parents near there last week. A few highlights:

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The Laumeier Sculpture Park features 105 acres of parkland with nature trails and sculptures. Admission and parking: free. This, um, eyecatching piece was a favorite. “Do Not Touch Sculpture”? Well, you’re not supposed to touch your eyes anyway.

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This picturesque used bookstore, the Book House, is in an 1865 house. Ted Drewes’ frozen custard is a local tradition and a must-stop on Route 66.

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The St. Louis Art Museum, in sprawling, 1,300-acre Forest Park, is just one of the cultural attractions in the city that’s absolutely free; it’s in this grand 1904 World’s Fair building. (The crane in the background hints at the major expansion under way.)

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And the city’s new Busch Stadium downtown, opened in 2006, has a nice open feeling. That’s the Gateway Arch in the background, obviously. The Cards beat the Brewers 8-0 that night, followed by a free fireworks show. No, the game itself wasn’t free. There’s a limit to even St. Louis’ generosity.

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Dance Fever meets LCD Soundsystem

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I got back from St. Louis in time for the LCD Soundsystem show at the Pomona Fox on Saturday night. During the opening act, one lone guy in the balcony (see photo) made like Deney Terrio and danced the whole time, his view-obstructing silhouette amusing and annoying my friends and me.

During LCD’s performance, plenty of people were on their feet. Great show — you can read a review here and watch a video here — and we were certainly impressed by the amateur dancer too. Not so much by his limited repertoire of moves as by his energy and enthusiasm. He looked to be about 60 and was on his feet dancing for most of two hours!

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