Column: In 2011, a columnist reboots himself

Wednesday’s column (read it here) is a reflection on my year in electrons — namely, how I got my first cell phone in January and later bought a couple of other electronic devices, as well as recently signing up for Twitter. It answers the occasional reader question of “what do you think of your cell phone?” and also craftily advertises my Facebook page, Twitter account and this blog.

Oh, yeah: Twitter. I rolled this out slowly and until Wednesday’s column have promoted it only via FB and in the fine print at the end of my column. You can find my account at @DavidAllen909.

All the writers and editors at the ol’ IVDB have been encouraged to sign up, so I decided to get with the program early(ish) rather than hold out. Wish I’d taken the plunge a couple of years ago, actually.

My Facebook page, btw, now has a name (long, because “David Allen” was taken): DavidAllencolumnist.

You’re encouraged to check out either or both, if you’re so inclined, and especially if you already use Twitter or FB.

How’s your own personal face-off with life circa 2011 going? Are you embracing, running away, holding it at bay, or what?

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‘…for a handful of coins’

What follows is a passage from Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country,” a travel narrative about Australia, published in 2000 and which I recently read. (The text below was all one paragraph and for ease of reading here I’ve taken the liberty to break it up.)

Bryson is writing about being an American in a foreign land, but his comments are applicable, I think, to anyone traveling anywhere:

“I bought a morning newspaper and found my way into a cafe. It always amazes me how seldom visitors bother with local papers. Personally I can think of nothing more exciting — certainly nothing you could do in a public place with a cup of coffee — than to read newspapers from a part of the world you know almost nothing about.

“What comfort it is to find a nation preoccupied by matters of no possible consequence to oneself. I love reading about scandals involving ministers of whom I have never heard, murder hunts in communities whose names sound dusty and remote, features on revered artists and thinkers whose achievements have never reached my ears, whose talents I must take on faith.

“I love above all to venture into the color supplements and see what’s fashionable for the beach in this part of the world, what’s new for the kitchen, what I might get for my money if I had A$400,000 and a reason to live in Dubbo or Woolloomooloo. There is something about all this that feels privileged, almost illicit, like going through a stranger’s drawers. Where else can you get this much pleasure for a handful of coins?”

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Column: Columnist, bigwigs break in new bowling alley

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Sunday’s column (read it here) is about Chino Hills’ new bowling alley, Chaparral 300. It’s due to open later this week, although they’ve been saying that for a while now (the website says it will open in November).

I got an advance look at the lanes last Wednesday. That’s me above on the left, bowling with Mayor Art Bennett. The photo is by Peter Rogers, a councilman. I had some high-powered company.

Note how the lights along the gutters track the progress of the balls. Fancy.

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Restaurant of the Week: Tio’s

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Tio’s Mexican Food, 12953 Sierra Lakes Parkway (at Sierra Avenue), Fontana

Hungry and driving back to Ontario from San Bernardino on the 210 recently, I exited at Sierra to look for a lunch spot.

I was delighted to see a sign for Tio’s on a building backing up to the offramp. Pay dirt.

Tio’s has two locations in Rancho Cucamonga and serves pretty decent Mexican basics, quickly, cheaply and in moderately snazzy environs, much as Felipe’s used to do.

The Fontana location is in the same mold. Despite its shopping center locale and order-at-the-counter ethos, the dining room has some tiled tables (and some not), moody lighting, dark wood and non-cheesy decor. It’s almost homey. The “about” page of the chain’s website says they try to impart some of the feel of the founding family’s native state of Zacatecas, Mexico.

I went for the tilapia special, a mere $6.99, which was advertised twice near the cash register, once as a “daily special,” the other as a “yearly special.” What’s that about? The clerk laughed and said they’d been serving the dish for so long, they’d decided to joke about it.

A piece of grilled fish, rice, beans, a little salad, plus tortillas, chips and salsa arrived at my table a few minutes later. No complaints, and a lot of food for the dough. If Fontana’s too far, there are Tio’s at 7305 Day Creek Blvd. (at Base Line) and at 10451 Lemon Ave. (at Haven) in Rancho Cucamonga, not to mention 19009 Van Buren Blvd. in Riverside.

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Snow in ’49

A picture on this blog of snow in Upland in January 1949 (see it here) was seen by Steve Graves of Northern California, who was poking around online to confirm memories of a childhood snow he witnessed in Chino that was probably the same year.

I’ll let him tell it.

“I lived at the Boys Republic at the time. My father was director. I recall awaking in the morning and seeing snow across the entire valley to Mt. Baldy. There was a layer of dark smoke from the smudge pots laying across Pomona and the foothills.

“I think I was in the first grade. The other staff children at the Boys Republic took two days off school and played in the snow. It lasted well during the two days and didn’t begin melting in earnest until the second day. Sledding the Chino hills was quite fun, as I recall; great snowmen as well. I wish I had a picture of the view from BR to Mt. Baldy across the valley. It was white as far as the eye could see.

“Do you have any resources that I might review to refresh my memories of that event? I know you mention microfilm at the library but I am now far from the valley.

“Thanks for your consideration. By the way, I was interested to see posts by Bob House. I knew his son at Claremont HS and Bob at Cal Poly and from the Claremont area.”

Bob who? Just kidding. As for the snow, if anyone has a photo of the event in question, send it over and I’ll post it here. I’m wondering if Boys Republic might have such photos.

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Get ready to scream

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Ice cream lovers who like the Handel’s in Upland will be thrilled, and maybe chilled, to learn one is coming to Rancho Cucamonga. I spotted this the other day in the Trader Joe’s center at Haven and 19th.

Reader Elizabeth Rynear emailed a couple of days later after seeing the same sign. She said the shop will replace a failed frozen yogurt place.

“So, now we have a Farrell’s coming and a Handel’s as well,” she summed up. “God help my waistline!”

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They’ll let anyone in a parade

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Photo by Jill Carol via A.S. Ashley

Your humble servant and KPCC-FM’s Steve Julian shared a ride in a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air during the Pomona Christmas Parade on Saturday. Between David Allen and Steve Julian, that’s two men and four first names. We are first name hogs.

Steve is a Pomona native, as you may recall from my column on him in September.

“The last time I was in the parade was in the ’60s. I was with the Cub Scouts,” Steve told me before the parade began.

I wore my getup from my 2007 grand marshal turn, as well as my 2009 parade appearance: a fedora with a card reading “Press” in the band, a jacket and a skinny tie. It’s important to fulfill people’s idea of what a newspaperman is. Also, a hat comes in handy.

We balanced ourselves as best we could atop the convertible while its driver and owner, Elaine Francisco, pulled into the queue of parade entries. We waved to people on both sides of the street as the parade slowly made its way up Gibbs, along Second and down Park.

Children are the most enthusiastic. They have no clue who you are, but they’re excited to wave and be waved to. One little girl walked close to our car during a pause, read our names silently off the sign on our car and said, “Hi, David and Steve!”

The sign also said “News Media.” It might have been good PR for our profession to have two of its representatives smiling and waving in a feel-good event. See, we don’t bite! Come talk to us! Now tell us everything you know.

As our car passed the parade station, we were announced this way: “News media! Without them, no one would know it’s happening.” That was great. Moments later, those trailing “news media” were announced: “council members.”

“As it should be,” Steve joked.

There didn’t seem to be a lot of NPR listeners along the parade route (some were likely in the parade), but Steve saw a couple of people who remembered from his Pomona days. He said he had a blast, as did I.

Few Daily Bulletin readers were along the route either. Some folks did shout a greeting, very much appreciated, and I saw some familiar faces.

Not everyone was a fan. “Hey, Allen,” one surly guy said. “Good thing I forgot my rotten fruit. Way to impersonate a newsman.”

Ho ho ho.

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Photo by me from the backseat

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