15 big ones for me

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That’s not just the name of a middling Beach Boys album (seen here with a portion of my CD collection behind it). Fifteen big ones also sums up my tenure at the Daily Bulletin. Today (Saturday, March 10) is my 15th anniversary. Huzzah!

Yes, it was March 10, 1997, 15 years ago, when I first reported for duty here at 2041 E. Fourth St. in Ontario, assigned to cover the city of Fontana. From there I was assigned to Upland, features, general assignment and, of course, columnist duties.

I began as a twice-a-week columnist (in addition to other duties) in 1998 and was promoted to three-times-a-week (with no other duties) in 2001. Of course since then I’ve launched this very blog, plus a Facebook page and a Twitter page.

Needless to say, this is the longest I’ve held a job (previous record: four years), and I expect to stay here, if they let me. I like my job. And you folks reading this help make it fun.

I’ll be celebrating the occasion Saturday night with friends at Vince’s Spaghetti in Ontario. Is there a more quintessential Daily Bulletin-area restaurant than Vince’s? It was the only possible choice. If you’re there too, give me a wave or say hello.

Here’s to another 15 big ones.

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Chino Hills eatery has relative abroad


Sunday’s column (read it here) is about Mes Amis, the London sibling to the Chino Hills restaurant (my blog post about the latter can be seen here). Each is run by one of the Elias brothers: James in London, Sammy in Chino Hills. They serve Mediterranean food with a modern twist.

The photos here are by Peter Rogers, a Chino Hills councilman and professional photographer, who at the London Mes Amis last summer on vacation. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view. Plenty to look at, isn’t there?

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Restaurant of the Week: Emiliano’s

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Emiliano’s, 896 E. Mission Blvd. (at Caswell), Pomona

Open only a few weeks, Emiliano’s replaced a seafood restaurant on the outer reaches of downtown Pomona. I met four friends there for lunch last weekend.

It’s a large place on a corner with a big, fresh parking lot. The restaurant interior features thick wooden tables and chairs, a ceiling with wooden beams and fans, adobe-like walls and a stage for live music on weekend nights. It’s a sitdown restaurant.

After above-average chips and salsa, our table got tostadas with shrimp and fish ($8), quesa fundido ($6), chicken enchiladas ($9.50), skewers ($11.50), huevos rancheros ($5) and, for me, mixed fajitas ($12.50, pictured). I can’t remember the last time I got fajitas; these came with shrimp, chicken and steak, onions, green peppers and tomatoes, and made for a filling meal.

Comments from our group were uniformly positive: “This is cool,” “I like the atmosphere,” “I would come back.” Also, “powerful jukebox,” a dry reference to the overly loud music that thankfully was only intermittent. Many of the prices on our menus were blacked out and not replaced by new prices, and the service was friendly but a little haphazard; we had to ask for silverware, that sort of thing.

So, Emiliano’s isn’t perfect. Pretty good, though.

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The moors, the merrier for Bronte tour

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Friday’s column (read it here) is about my visit to Haworth, the English village where Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte lived and wrote. The photo above looks uphill through Haworth’s Bronte Village toward the historical sites.

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The Bronte Parsonage Museum. This is the home where the family lived from 1820 to 1861.

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The sofa where Emily died in 1848. Sob!

Read about the Bronte Museum here.

Bronte fans will like this cartoon by Kate Beaton entitled “Dude Watchin’ With the Brontes.”

Below, in a bonus, is the first-draft ending that I wrote for my column but cut. This would have picked up immediately after the last paragraph of my column. I decided to chop this and end the column on a stronger note, even though I didn’t tell about the rest of my visit to Haworth. I’d be curious to know if you think I made the right choice.


Once outside the museum, I began to walk the moors that had so inspired the sisters, particularly Emily. A dirt path was marked along the edges of hilly farms, with less picturesque modern homes along the other side.

Stocking cap pulled low, scarf around my neck and coat zipped tight, I walked an eighth of a mile in the mud, rain in my face, before deciding sensibly, “I think I have the idea” and turning back.

These moors were a bit too wild for me.

Back in what passes for the town, I paused for lunch at the long-lived Black Bull Pub, where Branwell entertained guests and slowly drank himself to death. I settled for hot tea, thank you, plus a tart and, as the British say, two veg, before heading back to the bus stop.

It was cold, wet and miserable. The wind turned my umbrella inside out. For all I knew, in Stratford-upon-Avon, it was sunny and clear. But I didn’t care. The Brontes are for me.

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Where am I? (Part 3)

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I thought I was in Paris, but when I saw a brasserie named Flo’s, I felt like I was in Chino. There’s already a Flo’s No. 1 and a Flo’s No. 2, both in Chino. Could owners Paul and Donna Hughes have gotten ambitious and opened a No. 3 in Paris?

Upon inspection of the menu board, no. Brasserie Flo’s does not serve biscuits and gravy.

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In the footsteps of Holmes and the Ripper

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Wednesday’s column (read it here) is about my visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker St., London, and my participation in a Jack the Ripper walking tour. Above is another Daily Bulletin on Vacation shot of me outside the museum. They hand you a deerstalker cap to wear and a pipe to hold, and there’s a fellow there in a bobby outfit to pose with you. He didn’t know quite what to make of my request that he hold a newspaper, but one guesses he’s been asked to hold all sorts of odd objects in his day.

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The museum itself is only so-so, the highlight being the version of Holmes and Watson’s study. Above is a portion of it, including Holmes’ chair. A dedicated Sherlockian could probably identify every object on display. His violin is clearly visible. There’s probably a 7 percent solution on the mantle.

There wasn’t much to shoot from the Ripper tour, but below is a shot toward the end, the spooky Christchurch of Spitalfields as the backdrop, the guide perched on a ledge in a stocking cap.

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You can read about the Ripper here and about the tour here.

As for Holmes, read about the museum here and 221B Baker St. here.

Below is another Daily Bulletin on Vacation shot with the Holmes statue outside the Baker Street subway stop and a photo of the tile mural inside the station.

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Where am I? (Part 1)

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I thought I was in London, but maybe I was in Chino. Out the window of a double-decker bus, Cafe Chino beckoned. “Pizza, pasta, burgers, panini, salads, soup and chef’s special” — sounds good to me.

Let me note that this and some three dozen more photos (with commentary) from my trip can be found on my Twitter page @davidallen909. Much like this blog, you don’t have to sign up for anything; you can visit it, and bookmark it if you like, without joining Twitter.

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Reading log: February 2012

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Books acquired: “Best American Music Writing 2003,” Matt Groening, ed.; “The Woman in Black,” Susan Hill; “The Moveable Feast, revised edition,” Ernest Hemingway.

Books read: “The Pleasure of My Company,” Steve Martin; “This Shape We’re In,” Jonathan Lethem; “Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975,” AMOCA; “Aldo Casanova: A Retrospective,” Scripps College; “The Valley of Fear,” A. Conan Doyle; “The Space Merchants,” Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth; “Starburst,” Alfred Bester.

Seven books this month, all randomly chosen, although all were short, in keeping with my goal for 2012 of sticking mainly to under-200 page books.

“The Pleasure of My Company”: Narrated by a man with obsessive compulsive disorder, whose observations range from spot-on to hopelessly deluded, this short novel is laugh out loud funny as well as surprisingly sweet. Looser and more relaxed than “Shopgirl,” which was paralyzingly cautious, “Pleasure” is recommended to admirers of “Roxanne.”

“This Shape We’re In”: I’d wondered what this was after seeing the title in Lethem’s “Books by…” list. What this is is a lark, a 55-page snack involving a handful of human-like characters who exist in “a shape” that is apparently a living mammal of some sort and who navigate among the organs. Inessential, but weird and silly.

“Common Ground”: The exhibit book that accompanies Pomona’s American Museum of Ceramic Art’s wide-ranging look at SoCal’s ceramics history, this was professionally put together and beautifully photographed. I’m not a ceramics guy, but the text was informative, albeit didactic. If you’re interested in ceramics, this is a good overview.

“Aldo Casanova”: The Claremont artist mailed me a copy of this book himself a few weeks back; it’s a Scripps College publication of a few years ago about a retrospective exhibition of his work. Interesting stuff, which I read and absorbed over a lunch break. But it’s between two covers, so it counts here.

“The Valley of Fear”: I hate to disagree with Sherlock Holmes, but this isn’t nearly as remarkable a case as he keeps exclaiming. Also, Watson is barely present and half the book is a flashback. But even not-great Holmes is awfully enjoyable. (I read this on my Kobo e-reader but since I own a paperback version, I photographed that.)

“The Space Merchants”: This SF novel about a future America literally run by marketing and advertising forces was really ahead of its time and has dated hardly at all in 60 years, probably because the concept, the writing and the narration by a gung-ho adman is so gleefully cynical. It even has pro-environment themes nearly 20 years before the first Earth Day.

“Starburst”: A rock-solid collection of Bester’s short fiction, including the award-winning “Fondly Fahrenheit,” which isn’t even the most impressive story here. Not only are Bester’s plots interesting, but his prose is confident and propulsive. You can tell you’re in good hands from the first paragraph of each story.

This puts me at 18 books for 2012, and I’ve already finished one in March. (Vacation helped.) So, it’s your turn: Read anything good in February? You had 29 days, you know.

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Food for thought

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In Paris I visited the Musee de Rodin, where the garden and its “Thinker” statue can be seen for free. It was among the sites where I posed for a Daily Bulletin on Vacation photo. Believe it or not, I shot this myself. The Thinker saw my newspaper but had no comment.

Sunday’s column (read it here) is about my visit to London and Paris. Have you ever been? What were your impressions?

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