A stretch of West Foothill Boulevard in Upland is being widened and reconstructed, impeding access to some businesses during construction. Thus, even a certain naughty business gets a free, official-from-City-Hall sign in the median directing motorists where they are supposed to turn during the chaos. If you turn left, shield your face from construction workers. If you continue east, there’s a Christian bookstore a few blocks farther east.
What were the 10 strangest local news stories of 2012? My Sunday column counts ’em down.
LA Weekly’s food writers love compiling top 5, top 10 and unnumbered best-of lists, which is smart because they’re as addictive to read as they must be to write. A friend sent me a link this morning to one list and I ended up reading a half-dozen. (Like Lay’s, you never can read just one.)
Among them is a 10 Best Fried Chicken in Los Angeles list and at No. 10 is (ta-da!) Donahoo’s in Pomona. Its box lunch consists, says the scribe, of “fries, which you can skip, and chicken, which you absolutely cannot.” No argument here. No. 1 is a place named Jim Dandy in South-Central.
The Claremont fixture and Pomona native was 75. In 1964 Collins invited Frank Zappa to join his Pomona R&B band, the Soul Giants, which became the Mothers of Invention, a ground-breaking avant-garde rock band.
I wrote his obituary today and my Friday column fleshes out the story. Collins was press-shy, but he granted me an interview in 2009 for a column. If you met him, knew him or otherwise wish to comment, please do. (Photo by Peter Barwick outside Claremont’s Pizza N Such from the Ray Collins Fan Page.)
Above is the house at 1132 N. College Ave. in Claremont, where T.S. Eliot is said to have slept during a 1932-33 visit. Wednesday’s column is about that somewhat mysterious visit, which lasted a startling 10 days.
Sunday’s column recounts highlights of last week’s Ontario council meeting, which offered (mostly) intentional humor from Paul Vincent Avila. Also, a look at the special collection holdings of the Honnold /Mudd Library in Claremont and a few short items from around the valley.
Cafe X20, 2445 Foothill Blvd. (at Town Center Drive), La Verne
Even a makeover by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay couldn’t save Charlie’s Italian Bistro, which closed earlier this year. Cafe X20, its replacement, opened in November and looked inviting from the street, not just the Mediterranean cuisine and hip name but the active patio and open flames visible from the street at night. Curious, I met a couple of friends there for dinner last week.
X20 has hot and cold appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees, $9 to $24. It’s a casual dining take on Lebanese food. We shared the hummus special with diced lamb ($7) and the soujok boreg ($6), a fried shell with sausage and cheese inside, both of which we really liked. Individually we ordered a lule kabob sandwich, which is spiced ground beef ($8), marinated cod and wild salmon ($15 each), which were pan cooked with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and served with rice and vegetables. We liked all those too, with my salmon being the winner. (A picture is below; sorry the lighting is so poor.)
Service was exceptionally friendly. The name, rather than being something off the periodic table, is shorthand for “hugs and kisses,” the owners said in an interview. They have a bar and, out on the patio, hookah smoking after 9 p.m. X20 is open until midnight six days per week and is closed Mondays.
“I would come here again,” the sandwich eater said. “I should have gotten the lamb,” the cod eater mused. I may have to return for the lamb myself. All in all, this is the best local meal I’ve had in weeks. They didn’t even need Gordon Ramsay’s help.
Friday’s column begins with an item about an Upland cafe where the staff is wearing pajamas for the holidays. Some customers are too. Also, there’s the sad news that Claremont fixture Ray Collins, founding member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, is hospitalized after a major heart attack. And we have other news items from around the valley.
The fictional holiday from “Seinfeld” is catching on here in the real world. My former colleague Wendy Leung found this front yard Christmas decoration in Oxnard spared space for Festivus. The holiday is celebrated on Dec. 23 (Sunday this year) with feats of strength and the airing of grievances. The only official Festivus decoration is an unadorned aluminum pole. It’s a low-budget holiday.