Column: Ontario team still priming economic pump

Wednesday’s column returns my attention to Ontario after a long absence. Rancho Cucamonga axed its economic development department due to the loss of redevelopment funding. Ontario is digging into its general fund to keep its own economic team. In fact, City Hall managed to avoid laying anyone off despite losing $5 million. Well, I thought it was interesting. Read the column here.

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Missed it by that much

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The saddest sight in the world, or in my world, at least: a Metrolink train pulling away from the Union Station platform, with yours truly having arrived no more than a minute too late to catch it. But a miss is as good as a mile.

(The train was even closer when I got there but it took me a few seconds to get my camera ready.)

These things happen. I was out and about in L.A. on Saturday, going to the record store Amoeba Music near Sunset and Vine and eating an early dinner at Go Burger. The waitress paid me a memorable compliment upon seeing a book on my table: “It’s so nice to see someone reading. You are a unicorn, my friend.” (As personal nicknames go, perhaps “Unicorn” will become the new “D-Bomb.”)

Although I finished my meal around 5:30, her remark encouraged me to hang out with my nose in my book (Sax Rohmer’s “The Bride of Fu Manchu,” which as the title implies is weighty stuff) for a half-hour or so afterward. There was no rush.

I walked back to the Hollywood and Vine subway stop. It was 6:25. My Metrolink train was at 7:10. A block away was the Fonda Theater, and I thought I’d go over and see who would be playing in the near future. After returning, I took a photo of the subway entrance and posted it on Foursquare. Oh, you fool.

When I got to the subway platform at 6:40, I’d missed the subway by five minutes. The next one came at 6:47. Uh-oh. Making the 7:10 Metrolink was looking impossible, but I rode all the way to Union Station just in case. I arrived at 7:08, the time changing to 7:09 before I got to the escalator, and by the time I made the Metrolink platform, the 7:10 was pulling away.

The perils of public transit. You’d think I’d know better, after doing this so many times, but sometimes lessons must be learned again and again.

With trains often two hours apart, missing one can be an inconvenience. The next one was at 9. But it wasn’t like I had to be anywhere, so I made the best of it, walking to the new Grand Park near City Hall and reading a while longer, then taking the subway back to Union Station shortly after 8. I boarded the train at 8:45. I wasn’t going to miss this one. (If I had, I’d have been stuck until 11:30.)

Had I actually had to be home, I could have taken the Silver Streak bus to Montclair or Pomona, although I wouldn’t have known how to get from there to my car in Claremont. Transit-savvy reader Erik Griswold supplies the answer via Twitter: the 480 bus from either location or the 187, 197 or 492 from Montclair.

Anyway, I arrived in Claremont at 9:50, and a few minutes before arriving, I finished my novel. Why? Because I am a unicorn.

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Remembering Pomona’s Greek Theatre

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The Greek Theatre in 1922, from the Pomona Library Digital Images Collection

Reader DebB writes with a request for information:

“Maybe this is old news to everyone except me. But this evening my neighbor told me that there was once a Greek theater at the base of Ganesha Hills in Pomona. According to him, Huntington Drive went directly up to the theater until the 10 freeway cut it off. He remembers playing in the abandoned bowl as a child in the mid-60s.

“I just looked at the Google satellite image of the area and you can see a good-sized concrete pad just off Val Vista St. The way the hill wraps around, it looks as if it could have been an amphitheater at one time. We live just east of Ganesha Park, and I’ve driven by that gated pad a number of times and always wondered what it is/was.

“I find this curious and interesting. What was it like? What kind of shows did they have? What was its time period? Searching Google, however, only brings up links to the theater at Pomona College. So I wondered if any of your readers or your Pomona historian sources might know about/remember this theater?”

Deb, it so happens that I once wrote a column on the Greek’s history. I’m representing it here for posterity. Maybe next time someone searches Google, they’ll find it. But this also provides the chance for readers to chime in with their own memories.

The column originally appeared Oct. 15, 2006.
Continue reading

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Restaurant of the Week: Pine Haven Cafe

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Pine Haven Cafe, 1191 E. Foothill Blvd. (at 11th Avenue), Upland

Pine Haven opened in May as the restaurant in the Guest House Inn, which might make this eatery difficult to find if you didn’t realize Upland had a hotel on Foothill. (It’s across from Memorial Park.)

It’s a catering business, begun in 2005, that now has gone public, in a sense, with a restaurant that does breakfast, lunch and, on Fridays only, dinner. Everything is made from scratch.

I’ve been in twice. For lunch, I had the “gourmet grilled cheese” (oooh la la) on parmesan bread ($5.50 as the Wednesday lunch special). My two sides were sweet potato fries and tropical slaw, both good; some won’t like the limp fries, but I did. I wasn’t knocked out overall, but I suppose if I’d wanted something exciting, I shouldn’t have ordered grilled cheese.

I tried breakfast on my next visit, ordering the chorizo huevos ($8), which was three eggs scrambled with Mexican sausage, goat cheese and roasted red peppers. Unexpectedly, this came served atop my choice of potato (home fries) in a bowl. This was really good. I’d asked for wheat toast and the result was large, oval slices of house-baked bread. An impressive breakfast.

The regular menu isn’t online but you can find the cafe’s website here.

A couple of female friends coo over the decor; personally, with its tiled floor and stucco walls and ceiling, the space looked a bit bare and institutional to me, like a hospital cafe. But the food’s good and service is friendly, so I’m pulling for them. As one friend said of the food: “It’s like eating at the house of someone who’s a really good cook.”

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Vintage hotel postcards

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Reader Erik Griswold found these images on flickr from the Boston Public Library’s collection. The Orange Hotel, above, was in downtown Ontario; the Melody Ranch, below, was a bit west on Holt. Beautiful, eh? I like the visible texture of the linen postcards too and how it affects the image. Instagram should offer a “linen” option.

Griswold also found similar images for the Peppertree Hotel on Valley Boulevard in Ontario and the Eldo Hotel at 987 E. Holt Ave. in Pomona.

The library’s complete California postcard collection can be found here. (Among the postcards are images showing orange groves, Pomona Valley Creamery and W.R. Shadoff Chevrolet in Pomona.) Thanks to Erik for finding these so we can admire them.

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Column: With mayoral bid, Upland’s Stone gathers no moss

Wednesday’s column marks my triumphant (?) return to the Upland beat after a few weeks away.

(My choice of where and what I cover, I should add, is entirely up to me. I put myself on beats, I take myself off beats. I float, free as a butterfly, or a cloud of smog, over the Inland Valley. But I digress.)

Anyway, I update everyone on the latest doings in the City of Tarnished Living, specifically, Monday’s council meeting and Councilwoman Debbie Stone’s surprise entry into the mayoral race. Read that column here.

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Don Jose marks 40 years

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The one in Montclair opened in 1979, but Southern California’s Don Jose Mexican Restaurant chain (its website is here) is marking its 40th anniversary, its Orange location having opened in 1972.

I’ve only eaten there once or twice, but I enjoyed the experience. It was the first time I ever ordered fajitas.

Montclair reader Anna Hernandez alerted me after the fact to the anniversary, which featured a one-day rollback in price one recent weekend.

“I enjoyed dinner for $2, plus margaritas! As did many, probably hundreds, more,” Hernandez, a regular, told me by email. She lauded the professional staff, tasty food, fun atmosphere and an operation that ran smoothly despite the crush of customers.

She said apologetically: “If you missed it, sorry I didn’t alert you sooner.”

That’s OK, Anna. I probably wouldn’t have wanted a delicious meal from a friendly staff for $2 anyway.

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Too darn hot

This past week has been hot for us all, but it’s been really brutal for those of us without air conditioning at home. When I get home from the (air-conditioned) office, I open the windows and turn on the overhead fan, but even by morning the house isn’t cool.

This weekend, I had to abandon the house by noon each day, both times for matinees (“Ruby Sparks” is recommended, “Searching for Sugar Man” highly recommended) and then to a coffeehouse or cafe.

My house needs to be dusted and swept, but it’s impossible to labor in this heat. I’ve also had a movie rented since Wednesday waiting to be watched (“Suspicion”), but I can’t muster the will. I’ve been taking a cold shower in the evenings and within 10 minutes I’m sweating again.

The temperatures will cool slightly this week, but so slightly I’m not sure it will be noticeable. Anything above, say, 95 makes my house a sweatbox.

How are the rest of you coping?

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