Pomona Arts Colony — as art

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This nifty piece of art by Rose Tursi was forwarded to me and presents a colorful caricature of the heart of the downtown Pomona Arts Colony. Click on the image for a much larger version. It’s worth scrolling around it to look for details. (I like the skeleton in the dirt pit myself, and the Shadow in the apartment window.)

Which reminds me, Second Saturday, as the monthly Art Walk is known, is tonight. Probably the main event is the annual “Simply Red” show at the dA Center for the Arts, 252 S. Main St., in which every piece, in honor of Valentine’s Day, incorporates red. There’ll also be a party at the dA to mark Upland artist Dee Marcellus Cole’s 80th birthday. HB, Dee!

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Restaurant of the Week: Lucky Elephant

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Lucky Elephant, 1515 N. Mountain Ave. (at 6th), Ontario; also 531 W. Arrow Highway (at Eucla), San Dimas

Having dined at the very good and exquisitely decorated Lucky Elephant in San Dimas, I was excited to see a banner along 6th Street at Mountain Avenue in Ontario, by the Edwards 14 cinemas, that a Lucky Elephant would be coming soon. It opened in late January and affords much the same experience as in San Dimas.

The interior is lined with teak paneling, with gables over the booths. A glass display case is filled with elephant figurines. Thailand tourism videos play on flat screen TVs. (The narration is turned low but can catch you unawares if you’re seated without a view of the TVs, as I was on my first visit.)

At lunchtime, the hostess is clad in a long lavender traditional dress. All the plates, platters, bowls, cups and saucers match and were made in Thailand. In other words, it’s something of an immersive experience.

The only comparable place locally of which I’m aware is Green Mango in Rancho Cucamonga. Like Green Mango, Lucky Elephant also has very good food. On my first visit, I had one of the lunch specials (all $7): ginger pork, sauteed with peppers, onions, carrots and mushrooms. Salad, soup and rice come with. Tasty and filling.

A few days later, I returned to try the crispy ground catfish salad ($9), a dish I’ve had in Thai Town. I have no idea how it’s made, because in appearance and texture it’s akin to deep-fried cotton candy. The Lucky Elephant version is credible but desperately needs another ingredient; one excellent version I’ve tried was served on a bed of sliced apples. I wouldn’t order it again here, at least not solo; for one person, finishing it was monotonous.

But I’m looking forward to my next visit. The menu is lengthy and contains many dishes rare to the Inland Valley. And despite the white tablecloths and lovely surroundings, few entrees are above $9. You might leave feeling as lucky as the elephants.

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Upland’s new markers

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If you’ve crossed the city limits into Upland, you’ve no doubt noticed their new markers. There are 10 at different points around town. They began going up a year ago and the final ones (which needed Caltrans approval due to freeway proximity) went up in the past few weeks.

The marker at the top is on Euclid Avenue at 7th Street; the one below is on Mountain Avenue at the 10 Freeway.

I may be writing a column about them soon. What are your thoughts? Do you like them or dislike them? How would you describe them?

They remind me of the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But so far I haven’t seen any primitive Uplanders worshiping it.

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Column: ‘Soul Train’ was ticket to a vibrant world

Wednesday’s column (read it here) is an ode to one of the more striking TV shows from my childhood, “Soul Train.” Thanks to the Internet, it’s possible to watch clips from the show. Above is a delightful dance-line sequence said to be from 1974.

Below is a compilation of Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen commercials:

And here’s a Scramble Board sequence:

Can you dig it?

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Were you ready to avoid some football?

Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year: When you have no interest in the big game, you have the streets almost to yourself.

I drove to Chino to try a burger at Jollibee (verdict: for a fast-food burger, pretty good), and read out on the Spectrum food court patio; then drove to a nearly empty Flo’s Airport Cafe, also in Chino, for apple cobbler a la mode, where over a quiet couple of hours I managed to finish Steve Martin’s “The Pleasure of My Company” with little company other than myself; then drove to the Macy’s at Montclair Plaza to shop for clothes in a near-empty store. Later I browsed at Rhino Records in Claremont, again virtually deserted, while the rest of America slipped into a food coma.

If you didn’t watch the game, I hope you found equally relaxing or productive ways to spend your time. And if you did watch the game, well, that’s fine too. I heard it was pretty good.

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Column: Upland plans gracious, but denser, downtown

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Sunday’s column (read it here) is about Upland’s recently adopted downtown specific plan, which lays out in detail what’s allowed down there. Encouraged will be three- and four-story buildings with apartments or condos on the upper floors and retail and restaurants on the ground floor. Changes will occur gradually, of course, but the goal is a more vibrant district with more residents and more entertainment, dining and shops.

Any thoughts about the plan as described in my column, or about Upland’s downtown?

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Restaurant of the Week: Jollibee

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Jollibee, 4021 Grand Ave. (at Pipeline), Chino

The dominant fast-food chain in the Philippines, Jollibee has locations elsewhere in Southeast Asia and in the United States that are often beloved by Filipino immigrants who remember the food from childhood. Its only Inland Valley outlet is in Chino, a city that must be more exotic than we’d dreamed.

I drove down for lunch one recent Saturday and found Jollibee in the outdoor food court of Chino Spectrum Towne Center, by a Starbucks. The interior resembles a slightly louder Pinkberry, with orange molded-plastic chairs and white tables. One wall is filled by a photo mural of children’s faces.

The menu has Filipino takes on hamburgers, fried chicken and spaghetti. I ordered a combo with spaghetti and one piece of chicken with a soda ($6). The dark-meat chicken (the chain calls it ChickenJoy) came with a cup of gravy. The spaghetti had a sweet marinara sauce, a sliced-up hot dog and melted cheese on top.

I can’t say this was delicious, but the food and ambience were pleasantly odd. Interesting to see another culture’s slightly surreal version of American staples. I might go back sometime to try the YumBurger just to see what that’s all about. Service was cheerful but emphatic. Outdoors, there’s seating around a burbling fountain, relaxing on a warm afternoon.

This Jollibee also has a bakery, named Red Ribbon, that makes cakes and small snacks. The restaurant hosts children’s parties that feature an appearance by the Jollibee mascot, a smiling bee who wears — why not? — a blazer and a chef’s hat.

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Claremont’s latest eye-opener

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The new Super King market, and its surrounding Claremont Promenade center off the 10 Freeway at Indian Hill Boulevard in Claremont, has a super-sized sign, seen here in an eastbound view. (Thank goodness traffic was light as I slowed to snap this through my windshield.)

Although the Super King sign may appear more super than the Norms’ sign installed last year, the dimensions show there’s no contest. Norms is 99 feet high while Super King’s is a mere (ahem) 80 feet.

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