On track or off?

I don’t know how they feel about Metrolink or the Gold Line, but on their brochures, two of the Upland mayoral candidates seem to be arguing among themselves over Upland’s current track: on or off? Wow, I guess they do have competing visions for Upland. Amused reader Mason Stockstill found these brochures posted side by side at an Upland restaurant and took a photo.

I haven’t seen brochures for the third mayoral candidate, Debbie Stone. Does she have a railroad-related slogan for Upland? Maybe she warns against touching the third rail.

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Upland rivals keep on truckin’


Campaign pickup trucks for Upland mayoral candidates Gino Filippi, left, and Ray Musser wound up next to each other at a red light as they prepared to cross Euclid Avenue one recent day. Reader Richard Armour, who was stopped behind them, took the photo.

Filippi was in the passenger seat of the truck at left, which also had signs for council candidate Bill Velto, whereas Musser was not in the other truck, only campaign volunteers. “They stopped at a red light right in front of me and started giving each other a ribbing. It was hilarious,” Armour said.

At least they didn’t peel out in tandem when the light changed.

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Column: Claremont’s Replica House is on the move again

Sunday’s column (read it here) is a followup to my piece from September about the house in Pomona where the college began. I mentioned there the existence of a duplicate of that house on the college’s Claremont campus. I got a look at it recently, as did the current owner of the Pomona original, and in my column I explore into its strange, wan history.

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Zorro in Pomona


Friday’s column (read it here) is about the community-led effort in Pomona to encourage people to read the novel “Zorro” by Isabel Allende and to take part in related activities.

You can read more about the character Zorro here and find the calendar for Pomona Together We Read events here.

The Nov. 1 appearance by Isabel Allende and Nov. 10 Chalk Art Festival are the two big events still to come.

A few other highlights:

* This Saturday brings a chance for the community to see a one-hour version of “Don Giovanni” at 2 p.m. at First Christian Church. Tickets are $20.

* The Diamond Bar Library will screen “Mask of Zorro” with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones on Nov. 5 and the animated “Puss in Boots,” about a swashbuckling cat, on Nov. 9.

* A Pomona screening of the 1940 version of “Zorro” with Tyrone Power is in the works.

* At 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Pomona Library, a genealogical talk traces Allende’s family — which includes overthrown Chilean president Salvador Allende — and at 7 p.m. at Pilgrim Church, a presentation on the rancho era of California will be given by Bob Smith.

I didn’t have space in my column to talk about the book, but I liked it. It fills in the gaps in the Zorro story by recounting his childhood, adolescence and young adulthood in California and Spain and expanding his sidekick Bernardo’s role. We see Zorro slowly acquire his costume and his skills. At almost 400 pages, it’s probably too long, and action is at a premium, but it’s there.

If you’ve read it, what did you think?

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Dueling farm markets


I don’t know if they’re competing or not, but Upland has two farm markets on different days and places: one on Thursdays downtown, the other on Saturdays outside City Hall. At the dirt lot on Second Avenue at Seventh Street, right when you exit the 10 Freeway westbound, you can find side-by-side banners promoting each of ’em.

In keeping with the song “Dueling Banjos,” the sign on the left should go “plink plink plink plink plink plink plink plink plink,” while the one on the right should answer in a different key.

(Watchers of that corner will realize this photo was taken a few weeks ago. These days it’s covered in candidate signs…which might also make a good photo.)

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Birth of an artist


Photo by Will Lester

At the memorial service Saturday for Claremont painter Karl Benjamin, who died in July at age 86, it was recalled that he never picked up a brush until his 20s. He was a sixth-grade teacher in Bloomington, with no prior knowledge or interest in art, when his principal told him new state standards required 40 minutes per day of art instruction.

Speaker Mitzi Wells was in that 1949 class. She said Benjamin’s instructions were to experiment with colors and shapes: “No trees, no houses and no people.”

“Sound familiar?” Wells asked, drawing chuckles from the audience. (Benjamin’s paintings later followed the same credo.)

Students were told to fill each sheet of paper before they would be given the next.
“Even the toughest and meanest boys were silent during art period,” Wells remembered.

Not only was Benjamin inspired by his own students to take up art, going on to a celebrated career painting colors and shapes, but Wells’ daughter recently graduated from the Art Center in Pasadena.

In a comment sure to cheer the heart of any teachers in the room, Wells said: “You never know how many generations you’ll affect.”

I also wonder how many education bureaucrats would be cheered to hear that much-maligned state education standards turned a teacher into a renowned artist.

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Column: Electronics giant may need GPS to find own store

Wednesday’s column (read it here) begins with an item about a new Best Buy in Chino that the retailer seems to think is in Chino Hills. What’s funny is that this began as a one-line item about the new store, which I learned about from my Sunday advertising circular. But once I set out to determine the store’s location, things got more interesting, as you’ll see.

Following that are various items from around the valley and a plug for the Pomona Public Library’s Adopt-a-Magazine effort.

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Pomona College: 125 years of facts

A few stray facts about Pomona College, which I wrote for Sunday’s column (read that here) but cut for space reasons:

* The first yearbook, in 1894, was named, catchily, the Speculum. OK, maybe not so catchily.

* Athletic teams, now the Sage Hens, were known as the Huns until after World War I, when they became the Hens, which the timeline text says may have occurred because Germans were known as Huns and, to save money, the name “could be altered by the replacement of a single letter.”

* President Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1903, spoke before 7,000 and planted a California live oak, which promptly died.

* Built in the 1910s, Renwick Gymnasium became so pecked by birds that by the 1980s it was dubbed Woodpecker Heaven. It was also infested by bees. In a blow to the animal kingdom, it was torn down in 1982.

* Portions of Disney’s “The Absent-Minded Professor,” “Son of Flubber” and “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” were shot on campus.

* In 1961, the all-male dining hall went co-ed over the protests of some men, who argued that it was inappropriate for women to dine beneath a mural of a nude Prometheus, which was painted by Jose Clemente Orozco.

You can see the full timeline here.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in the Founders Day celebration Sunday, the schedule of events can be found here.

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