Soup, salsa, signing and slides

On Saturday afternoon I attended journalist Gustavo Arellano’s talk at Upland’s Carnegie Cultural Center, the repurposed original library (after lunch at Molly’s Souper across the street). About 100 people attended the talk.

Arellano, author of the new book “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America,” traced the history of Mexican food in the United States. Did you know salsa has outsold ketchup for 20 years? That was one of the memorable factoids.

He ran out of books to sell long before the line ended and instead presold a few, which he promised to sign and mail to the customers. I had him sign my copy of “Orange County: A Personal History.” While I was in line, one woman had me sign a copy of my Friday column about Arellano, which she’d already had him sign. Another had me pose for a photo with her. Ego-wise, I made out all right.

(I assumed the librarians took Arellano out for dinner afterward, but no. “Sadly, we encouraged him to go to Bakers. He had never been there. But we weren’t able to go with,” principal librarian Shawn Townsend reports.)

That evening, I went to the Ebell Club building in Pomona for a dinner for Pilgrim Congregational Church’s 125th anniversary. I was seated by Charles Phoenix, which was a treat. He gave a well-received and amusing slide show about Pomona Valley iconic buildings. It was a neat event and I got to meet some new people and say hello to some longtime friends.

So, not a bad Saturday at all. Hope you enjoyed yours.

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Your two cents: ‘very misleading’

Our RC Now blogger Wendy Leung used to print the occasional email or voice mail transcript of a reader comment under the heading “Your two cents.” What the heck, I’ll try it too. This was an emailed comment from a Lemon Festival official about my column last Wednesday on an Upland council meeting. The email was also sent to 20 other people, many of them at City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce or Fairplex, which certainly put me in distinguished company.

“Dear Mr. Allen;

“Your article about the Elephant rides and the Upland Lemon Festival was, as usual very misleading. If you had taken the time to read the article in your newspaper in regard to why the elephant rides will not be at the LA County Fair this year, you would have learned that it had nothing to do with safety or any other aspect other than a change up of theming at the fair.

“Have Trunk Will Travel has a safety record beyond reproach. They promote the breeding of Asian Elephants and have had elephants give birth at their ranch due to there program, which is privately funded. You try in vain to cast them in villainous role when nothing could be further from the truth.

“Have you seen their facility, or the custom trailers that were made specifically for the elephants, or better yet, taken the time to call them or ask questions? I will venture to say you haven’t, as most journalists would much rather write something without any facts as that is what responsible journalism is all about, is it not?

“How many people were able to see or even ride an elephant at the Lemon Festival? How many people were able to talk to Have Trunk Will Travel and LEARN about the elephants during the festival? Thousands. One person makes a negative comment, and out of nearly 100,000 people that’s what you choose to write about. Amazing. Perhaps we should ban all clowns, balloons, cotton candy, carnival rides, petting zoo’s & pony rides too, as I am sure there is someone that was scared by or doesn’t like them for what ever reason.

“Gary & Kari Johnson have done more and continue to do more for the welfare, preservation & conservation of the Asian elephants than you could ever imagine. If all animals were cared for and provided for as well as their elephants, this world would be a much better place. Next time, please take the time to learn the facts, prior to writing something just to sell news papers.

“Mark Hill
Founder Upland Lemon Festival”

Personally I think Mark read more into what I wrote than was there. I never said anything about “safety,” for instance, and don’t believe I cast anybody in a “villainous role.” (I also doubt that what I wrote sold any newspapers, although the idea that I did is flattering.) But what do you think? Was my commentary misleading or unfair?

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Restaurant of the Week: zPizza, Claremont

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The Laguna Beach-based zPizza chain opened a location in the Claremont Packing House this spring in the old Maui Wowi smoothie space. I’m a fan of the Upland location, featured here previously, and the Claremont location seems to have the same menu. What Claremont has over Upland is seating: It must hold at least twice as many people.

That makes for a more pleasant experience. Seating is so limited in Upland that even if you get a table, you don’t feel comfortable lingering.

I’ve been to the Claremont location a couple of times so far, once for the Monday special: two slices and a soda for $5. I had BBQ chicken and Napoli (pictured), preferring the latter. On an earlier visit, a friend and I ordered individual rustica pizzas. Mine was pear and gorgonzola, his was curry and candied yams ($9 each); his verdict, with which I would agree: “solid,” “very California” and “delicious.”

They also have sandwiches and salads, and traditional toppings like pepperoni too. Overall, zPizza is more California cuisine than pizzeria, but it’s a nice change from the norm.

Incidentally, Chino Hills used to have a zPizza, but it doesn’t seem to be affiliated with the chain any longer.

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Column: He wrote the book on Mexican food

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Friday’s column is about Gustavo Arellano, writer of the “Ask a Mexican” column and, more relevantly in this case, “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America,” a new book. We had lunch at Ramon’s Cactus Patch in Ontario.

Here’s a piece Arellano just wrote for Reason magazine that puts forth his arguments in condensed form. And here’s the New York Times piece referenced in my column.

He’ll be speaking at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Carnegie Cultural Center, 123 E. D St. in Upland, cater-corner from the library.

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Donna Summer

Here are two videos of Donna Summer’s performance at the L.A. County Fair on Sept. 25, 2009. Above is “I’m a Fire”; below is “Could It Be Magic.” She also performed at the Fair in 2006. Summer died Thursday of cancer at age 63.

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Wedgie alert!


Posters for a Bully Expo have popped up in Ontario and environs, and under the logic that brides are attracted to a Bride Expo (identical signs for that are nearby) and tattoo enthuasiasts to a Tattoo Expo, my worry is that this poster advertises (warns of?) a conclave of bullies.

Be afraid, Ontario. Be very afraid. These are not only bullies, these are bully conventioneers.

What might one expect at a Bully Expo? Submit your ideas and worst nightmares below.

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That’s entertainment

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Coffee and chicken wings might meet the criteria of appearing on a sign for the Crossroads Entertainment Center, but urgent care? Chino Hills must have a different idea of entertainment than the rest of us. For some reason, the complex’s 18-screen movie theater doesn’t rate a mention on the Entertainment Center sign.

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