Weighing in on the “weigh-in”

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Above is an undated photo of a Pomona College “weigh-in,” a practice distasteful to our contemporary selves but, I suspect, fairly common in a less-enlightened era: Freshmen women were compelled to allow the football team to take their height, weight and measurements.

From the college’s new history timeline: “The fall of 1972 saw the end of a dubious tradition, as a campaign by a number of the College’s women forced the football team to give up its annual practice of weighing and measuring all first-year women, often against their will. The weigh-in, as it was called, was described by some of the participants as ‘all in fun,’ but many of the women reported finding it frightening and demeaning. Negotiations between the sponsors and football team in 1972 ended in agreement that the tradition should not continue. When some members of the team tried to revive it a year later, they gave up after confrontations with other students and with Dean of Students Jean Walton.”

Good for other students and Dean of Students Jean Walton.

What I find poignant in the photo above is the woman’s expression. Seems to be a posed photo, perhaps for a yearbook or student newspaper, and thus the men look as if they’re taking only a wholesome, scientific interest in the proceedings. Yet the woman certainly appears authentically mortified, undercutting the “just for fun” nature of the photo.

When I wrote above that the practice may have been relatively common, that’s because I recall having read that my own alma mater, the University of Illinois, did something similar — not involving the football team, which is creepy, but rather employees — and keeping the index cards on file, until, like Pomona, wiser heads prevailed. I think they were called “health cards” or something like that.

Anyone recall participating in this practice, wherever you went to school?

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Column: Get your kicks at new Rancho Cucamonga park

Friday’s column (read it here) is about the dedication of the Route 66 Trailhead in Rancho Cucamonga near the new-ish bridge over Foothill Boulevard. Incidentally, despite what I wrote, it’s not officially a park, as I learned after deadline, but to us laypeople that’s a better generic noun than “trailhead” (or is it? I might be wrong). Also, I plug an event in Pomona on Sunday, for which tickets must be purchased Friday. I bought mine this morning at Frantz Cleaners.

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Restaurant of the Week: Escabeche Grill

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Escabeche Grill, 5460 Philadelphia St. (at Central), Chino

I was in Chino, driving around looking for one Mexican restaurant and finding another. Escabeche is in the Chino Promenade center, with a movie theater, gym, thrift store and other shops. The sign looked new and snazzy so I figured it was as good a place as any for lunch.

The menu is Chipotle-like, an upscale take on bowls, burritos and tacos. Fillings are divided between “proteins” and “veggies.” The menu touts “healthy Mexican food.”

I ordered a taco trio with fish ($4.75) and sat down to wait. The dining room is surrounded by windows on three sides, for a lot of natural light. Seating is at solid tables with ornate iron pedestals and wooden chairs. The woman at the next table got a torta and the bun looked oversized and substantial.

My tacos arrived (on a pie plate, reminiscent of the pizza pans at Chipotle) and were delicious, with double tortillas made on the premises and grilled marinated fish. “Escabeche” is an acidic marinade, described online as being like the type in ceviche, and that fits the taste of my fish. The restaurant also has aguas frescas and a few bakery items.

Even though Escabeche Grill looks like a chain, it appears to be a single location, there in Chino for a year. It’s got potential. I’m glad I found it.

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Consider the anchovy

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Photo: Salt & Fat blog

The most disdained of pizza toppings, the anchovy, already down, was kicked by Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Pepperoni) (I mean, R-Chino Hills) in a “Point of View” column on the Bulletin’s Opinion page last week. Under the print headline “Why Californians dislike Legislature,” Hagman began: “The California state Legislature is about as popular as anchovies and airport pat-downs.”

Suddenly, contrary to Hagman’s intentions, I felt sympathetic to the Legislature. Not because of the airport security comparison, obviously, but because of the anchovy comparison.

I’ve always liked the anchovy. My dad likes them, my mom detests them. If we got anchovies on half (or a mere quarter) of a pizza, I would have a slice or two from that side. It was a mild form of living on the edge, not to mention a chance to be kind to my kindly father.

In our family, we also had a Thanksgiving-Christmas stuffing tradition: with oysters, or without. Pitting brother against brother, much like the Civil War, the choice made for a twice-annual, tongue-in-cheek debate, a kind of “Which Side Are You On?” at the dining room table. I didn’t care much but would always try a little oyster stuffing along with, wishy-washily, the regular kind. One exotic ingredient made a bland side dish a little dangerous. It was like “The Girl With Something Extra” as played out on my plate. (Not the ESP part, just the “something extra” part.)

As an adult, my default pizza setting is plain cheese, and my favorite toppings are probably sausage and mushroom, but I’ll get anchovies now and then. A lot of pizza places, especially chains, don’t even have anchovies, and sometimes the mom and pop places are out, because they never restocked after the last time someone ordered them, during one of the Bush presidencies.

I always like a Caesar salad made the traditional way, with at least one real anchovy fillet, but those are even rarer than anchovy pizzas.

I considered inviting Hagman out for an anchovy pizza, although I don’t know if anywhere in Chino Hills serves them, or if he would eat them.

Let’s hear from you. Forget the Legislature. What do you make of the humble anchovy?

P.S. If David Foster Wallace can write an essay collection titled “Consider the Lobster,” I can title a blog post “Consider the Anchovy.”

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‘Have a Nice Decade’

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The subtitle is “The ’70s Pop Culture Box,” and this seven-disc set, with shag carpeting on the cover and CDs in such ’70s colors as Avocado, Burnt Orange and Harvest Gold, was put out by Rhino (the label) in 1998. It’s got 160 songs from the Me Decade. There are omissions, of course (no Stevie Wonder, no Elton John, etc.), most likely due to licensing costs, but a lot of one-hit wonders are here. It’s dy-no-mite.

I’ve owned this for a decade or so but recently played it through again and thought it was worth a blog post, under the assumption that many of you are in the proper age bracket to appreciate it. If you are, you’ll love it. (It’s out of print, but used copies can be had on Amazon, etc.)

One bonus is that short audio snippets of news or speeches appear now and then, most of them placed ironically. One about the first test tube baby comes before “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship; one in which President Nixon says he’s not a crook is followed by “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt. Bracingly, Ford’s pardon of Nixon segues into “The Payback” by James Brown (“I’m mad!”). Heh.

You can find the complete track listing here. If you lived through the ’70s, reading the list will bring back memories — good or bad. (Rhino also released similar sets for the ’80s (“Like Ohmigod!: The ’80s Pop Culture Box (Totally)”) and ’90s (“Whatever: The ’90s Pop & Culture Box”), which I also own.)

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Learning to TAP

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This will only be of interest to transit geeks, but I got a TAP card (Transit Access Pass) on the Gold Line Sept. 28 from Pasadena, because paper tickets have been eliminated throughout the L.A. system.

I needed to buy a day pass and it was the usual $6, except that $1 of that charge was to buy the card — in other words, a day pass will be $5 next time, when I “reload” the card. The TAP card was purchased out of a machine similar to the old paper-ticket machine, making the transaction simple. You tap the card against a sensor before going through turnstiles or when boarding a bus.

Metrolink is still selling paper tickets and those tickets still allow free transfers throughout the system (buses, subways, light rail). Thus, L.A.-area turnstiles have not been locked yet because Metrolink riders wouldn’t be able to get through with a paper ticket.

The MTA’s Rick Jager told me the gates are expected to be locked by early December and that his agency is “still working with Metrolink to try to finalize a solution to ensure Metrolink riders will still have access through those gates once we lock them.”

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Restaurant of the Week: Johnson’s Hot Dogs

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Johnson’s Hot Dogs, 851 W. Foothill Blvd. (at San Antonio), Upland

Upland is graced with two locally owned hot dog stands, the established Windy C’s, here since 1999, and the newer Johnson’s, which opened in 2011. I’ve blogged about the former and only recently visited the latter, meeting a friend there for lunch.

While Windy C’s is a Chicago dog specialist, in a hole-in-the-wall location, Johnson’s takes a more ecumenical approach, offering more varieties: Chicago, New York, Southern, Seattle, Texas, Sonoran and L.A. See the menu here. The restaurant interior offers far more elbow room too.

I got a New York deli dog, which comes with sauerkraut, onions and mustard, as a combo with fries and a drink ($8). My friend got a Sonoran dog (pictured) with a soda and a side salad.

His verdict? Tasty. He liked his dog, which came bacon-wrapped, and his salad. He said he’d come back and expressed interest in the mac ‘n’ cheese dog. My dog and fries were decent, although the same combo at Windy C’s (there called the Wrigley) is better on balance: tastier dog and bun, not quite as tasty fries. Oh, and my green tea with honey was addictive.

Whichever Upland spot you prefer, neither of them is the Stand, Slaw Dogs, Skooby’s, etc., referring to some of the top L.A. haute dog stands, but they both are more than acceptable and preferable to Wienerschnitzel.

Incidentally, Johnson’s patriotic interior has walls and counter painted steel blue, with oversized white stars, and the ceiling has stripes of white and burnt red. If you’re of the right age and musical inclination, you’ll feel like you walked into the cover of Neil Young’s “Hawks and Doves.”

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