Debunking rumors

Chain letters seem to have faded in popularity, and thank goodness for that, but people still forward a modern variation, emails that often relate a supposedly true story, sometimes of a “the media isn’t reporting this” variety. I don’t receive many of these either, another cause for a thank goodness, but when I do I always check the website

Snopes investigates urban legends and spoof emails, debunking them or clarifying them or confirming their veracity.

At least twice in 2011, people forwarded me emails urging protests against the inclusion of Jane Fonda in a “women of the century” program on ABC. This one was true, but a little outdated; the program aired in 1999 — as one might expect of a program titled “Women of the Century” — and the email has continued circulating more than a decade into a new century. Hatred of Jane Fonda is eternal.

And recently, a reader forwarded me an email with a video that allegedly spoke for itself: President Obama leaving a podium after denouncing Republicans at a press conference and angrily kicking open a door at stage left.

Uh, really? This alleged news clip turns out to be a spoof video by Jay Leno, stripped of its context and made to look official.

Sad. Isn’t there enough real stuff about the president to object to without resorting to inventing more? I’m just saying.

Occasionally, one of these forwarded emails is absolutely true, as in one about photos showing Iraqi fighter jets buried in the sand. Why it’s necessary to continue sending around a 2003 email in 2011, which is when I got it, is another matter.

As I say, I don’t get many of these emails anymore, but when I do, I check them out on Snopes and “reply all” with the link to Snopes’ analysis. (Which may be why I don’t get many such emails anymore.) My action doesn’t accomplish much, but maybe the recipients won’t forward the email, or will be more skeptical in the future. As the saying goes, just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it true. The usual rules apply.

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Restaurant of the Week: H. Salt Fish & Chips

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H. Salt Fish & Chips, 67 E. Foothill Blvd. (at 2nd), Upland

With the demise of Long John Silver’s in Montclair, the only corporate venue for fried fish locally is H. Salt in Upland. (One non-corporate venue is Pomona Fish Market.) I dropped in for dinner this week before a city council meeting.

H. Salt is in a strip center by a bike shop and barbershop, near a laser tag center, a 99 Cents Only store and a lot of vacancies. The center is in desperate need of redevelopment. H. Salt is a tiny place, the door only a few paces from the counter. It’s run by an older Taiwanese couple who, like the decor, look to have been there for years. I’d guess the shop has been in place since the 1970s and some of the decor is probably original: English family crests, pink and aqua booths, a faux Tube map with icons for Westminster, Charing Cross and other stops.

They have fish, shrimp, scallops, clams, oysters, and chicken strips and wings. I got the London Special, two pieces of fish with chips ($5.30). They cook to order and the result is about what you’d expect. Actually, it might be a little better: not too greasy, not too fishy. The setting is a bit dumpy, though, and in the shop’s small confines, the near-constant sound of bubbling cooking oil was as loud as a fountain.

There was a steady stream of customers, and people on Yelp generally like the place. According to Wikipedia, the chain was launched in 1965 by an English expatriate man named Haddon Salt. There are 27 locations in California.

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Remembering Midway Building Materials

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Midway Building Materials got its name due to its location midway between Ontario and Pomona, although as the years passed the location on Holt Boulevard at Ramona Avenue was absorbed into Montclair. Ric Pearson opened Midway in 1952 and closed it in 1998. A Jack in the Box, SavOn and Albertsons and CVS are there now.

The business was probably known for its products among the contractor set, but most of us knew it solely from its neon sign, in which a bricklayer endlessly moved his trowel and the stack of bricks grew. The sign, created by Ontario Neon, was donated to L.A.’s Museum of Neon Art in 2002, thanks to the urging of the city of Montclair.

The sign is currently in storage, as the museum is planning a move to Glendale, but two years ago it was briefly back in the 909. The sign was part of a neon display at the L.A. County Fair’s Millard Sheets Center for the Arts in 2010, where I shot these two photos, the trowel in a different place and the stack of bricks different in each, and then promptly forgot about them.

I was surprised to learn recently that I’d never posted about the sign or the business. Let me rectify that now. Posterity demands it. And my admiration to the bricklayer, who’s been stooped over for 60 years — but still manages a smile.

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‘Its like you learn my thoughts!’

This could be a continuing series, as a new wave of spam comments on this blog includes English-as-a-third-language generic praise under commercial names (and, most importantly, with links to their websites). Many of the comments, which seem to originate overseas, sound as if they relied on Google’s translation button and spellcheck. Here are some recent gems.

* “Hello my family member! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and come with approximately all important infos. I’d like to see extra posts like this.”

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* “I do consider all the ideas you have offered on your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for novices. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.”

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* “Unquestionably consider that that you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the simplest factor to bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while folks think about concerns that they just do not understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and outlined out the whole thing without having side-effects, other folks could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks.”

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World Book Night is tonight

As its website describes it: “World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books which will see tens of thousands of people share books with others in their communities across America to spread the joy and love of reading on April 23.” Hey, that’s Monday!

World Book Night was founded in the United Kingdom in 2011 and spreads to include the U.S. this year. A bunch of publishers are behind it. The way I understand it, you can walk into a participating merchant and get a book from this list of 30 for free.

Rhino Records in Claremont will have multiple copies of Patti Smith’s “Just Kids,” and will also be playing her records all day. It also has (I think) one copy each of the other books two boxes of random books to choose from. Just walk in and ask.

Claremont Forum is also participating. I don’t know if anyone else is. Mrs. Nelson’s in La Verne? Barnes & Noble in Rancho Cucamonga and Montclair?

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