Clean air parking

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Some green-minded businesses set aside parking spaces marked “Clean Air Vehicles” or “Hybrid,” but as in the example above, at a Rancho Cucamonga grocery, some regular vehicles play a dirty trick by parking there anyway.

I shot the photo above, days after receiving an email on the topic from Paul McClure of San Dimas. McClure says he saw such spaces recently for the first time at the new Olive Garden in his burg. He asked a hostess if his Prius qualified under the restaurant’s rules for a “Clean Air Vehicle” space.

She replied: “Oh, sure. Every vehicle qualifies. We’re not going to tow anybody.”

Well, they say the customer is always right.

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Karl Benjamin, 1925-2012

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Photo by Will Lester

Karl Benjamin in his Claremont studio in 2008

Karl Benjamin, a nationally renowned painter whose work achieved a 21st century vogue, died Thursday at age 86. He had lived in Claremont since 1952.

My Sunday column is about him. Read it here. You can also read his LA Times obituary here and visit his website here.

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Restaurant of the Week: Mexico Lindo

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Mexico Lindo, 1060 S. Garey Ave. (at 11th), Pomona

Called to the Pomona courthouse for jury duty this week, I soon began mulling my lunch options. The courts give you a generous 90 minutes, long enough that a person could drive somewhere, but there are walkable options nearby. Mexico Lindo is one of the best.

I’ve been there a few times over the years, including on previous jury duty stints. The walk from the courthouse is about five blocks. Mexico Lindo has reputedly been there in its block building since the late 1960s. The Lepe family, the current owners and operators, bought it in 1982. They also have Tropical Mexico on East End, another Pomona favorite.

Mexico Lindo’s interior has brick arches into the kitchen and in the wall separating the two halves of the dining room, but otherwise looks a lot like an American coffee shop, down to the green vinyl booths and service number at the end of each table. The menu has all the basics plus seafood dishes with shrimp, lobster, tilapia and octopus.

I had a carne asada torta ($4.50), which came on a fluffy bun and filled me up for the afternoon. Because that seemed inadequate for a Restaurant of the Week, I went back the next day for a late lunch after being excused from jury service.

This time I had camarones con hongo ($10), which is shrimp with mushrooms, plus tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. This came with fries, rice and a cup of albondigas soup (or a salad). There was nothing revelatory about either meal, but both were solid, filling and tasty. I took almost half the shrimp entree home.

Mexico Lindo isn’t hip or exciting, but they do a good job, and the restaurant is worth a visit even when you’re not stuck downtown. And since it’s open 365 days a year, their schedule will always coincide with yours.

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Fontana mirage?

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James Rodriguez of Fontana spotted the above scene on Foothill Boulevard just west of Bono’s restaurant and orange stand. As you can see more clearly below, the figure is a mannequin, one who seems perpetually on the verge of crossing into traffic. “Whenever I pass it,” Rodriguez says, “I notice everybody, especially the men, do double takes.”

The business is named There is a Difference Auto Body and Glass. Rodriguez took a vehicle in to be painted and found out more. “I asked if the mannequin had a name and was told her name is Lola, and they actually shop for her wardrobe.” He confirmed that by looking up the address on Google street view, where he saw Lola in a red dress.

“By the way I would like to give plug for this shop. They did an excellent job painting my 2008 black Suburban,” Rodriguez adds.

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Winkie Convention, 1965

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Edna Baum, in blue, with her granddaughters, daughter Florence in green, and son Stanton in suit and tie in the yard of Baum’s house at 1105 N. College Ave., Claremont, in 1965. (Photo courtesy Peter Hanff)

As I explored recently, the house at 1105 N. College Ave. in Claremont never belonged to L. Frank Baum, creator of “The Wizard of Oz,” despite rumors to the contrary. His son Robert did live there from the 1940s until his death in 1958, and Robert’s widow Edna remained there until her own death in 1968.

I’d heard an Oz fan gathering took place there in the 1960s. Claremont reader David Sawhill, going above and beyond, contacted the Winkie Convention, as it’s known, for details. Those were forthcoming from Peter Hanff, who provided photos of the 1965 convention and commentary.

“The memory and pictures bring a little bit more life to the Wizard of Oz connection,” Sawhill said. Agreed.

Below is the bulk of what Hanff sent over.
Continue reading

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Potato(e) Mountain

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While hiking above Claremont on Potato Mountain, Marc Campos saw the top of a water tower below him in which Potato is spelled Potatoe — and someone, he’s guessing grammatically minded hikers, crossed out the E with a “no” symbol made of rocks.

Of course, it’s also possible the rocks were placed there by birds. You know, quail.

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