Sunday’s column is a grab-bag of items, starting with a couple of amusing anecdotes from a Claremont Colleges exhibit about Yosemite in the 19th and early 20th centuries, followed by word that women’s absence from the Claremont City Council may continue another two years and by my encounter with a non-newspaper reader in the dentist’s office.
A few of us on the Bulletin staff who listen to a lot of music, myself among them, compiled lists of our favorite releases of 2012. The lists can be found on the Music Now blog here. I stretched my top 10 list to include five runners-up. There’s not much overlap between our lists, which is part of the fun; that’s due in part to differing tastes and in part to not having heard many of each others’ choices. (We all listen to music, but we don’t do it for a living.)
I’ll add that one of my favorites this year wasn’t really eligible for inclusion, since it’s a 1970 album that was released on CD in 2008, although most people wouldn’t have heard it until this year: Rodriguez’ “Cold Fact,” popularized due to the “Searching for Sugar Man” documentary. Highly recommended.
Feel free to agree or disagree with any of my choices, or suggest your own favorites of 2012, either here or on Music Now.
The intersection of 5th and Flower streets in downtown L.A. was designated Ray Bradbury Square in a ceremony Thursday. Fittingly, because Bradbury was a tireless advocate for libraries and often said he attended the library as if it were his university, this is near the Central Library.
John Clifford of Pomona was there and contributes the photo of the sign. “Author-Angeleno” pretty much sums it up. Bradbury moved to Los Angeles at age 14 — he was born in Waukegan, Ill., and lived briefly in Arizona before his family settled in L.A. — and stayed here for almost eight decades. He died in June at age 91.
Eden Garden Fusion Grill, 392 E. A St. (at 5th Ave.), Upland
Eden Garden, the third in a small chain of family-owned Mediterranean restaurants in Pasadena and Glendora, opened in summer 2012 on the edge of downtown Upland. The building, once a headquarters for the Lemon Growers Exchange, dates to 1932, has an Art Deco style and was recently restored.
For broader appeal, it’s not full-on Lebanese; they also have breakfast, pasta, seafood, steaks, burgers and buffalo wings. That’s evidently why they call it fusion, because aside from falafel spring rolls, none of the items really mix and match cuisines. But they do have a range of Lebanese items.
A Turkish friend and I had lunch there recently. We had chicken shawarma ($8, pictured above middle), a sort of chicken salad in a pita pocket, with fries; soujok ($10, top left), pan-seared Armenian sausage sauteed with onions and tomatoes; mutabal ($7, top right), a hummus-like dip made with eggplant; and, for dessert, knafe ($5, pictured at right), a piece of baked cheese with shredded phyllo dough.
We weren’t knocked out, but we liked each item. To quibble, there was too much tahini sauce in the shawarma, making it a bit messy, and the rosemary on the fries was distracting. The dessert was a standout.
The interior is sparkling and clean, the tall arched windows letting in lots of natural light. The upscale-diner seating (metallic red vinyl booths, black-and-white tiled floor, lots of chrome) is purposely all-American, probably more inviting to an Upland crowd, but it doesn’t seem to match the thrust of the menu. That split personality could help or hurt; one can imagine the menu leaning one way or the other in the future to reflect whatever clientele develops.
There’s also an expansive patio, at least equal in size to the dining room, for smoking, including hookahs at night, and entertainment, including belly dancers and music on weekends. Eden Garden is open until midnight Sunday to Wednesday and until 2 a.m. the other days, making it one of the few places in town for late-night eats. The restaurant has a full bar.
Friday’s column is about Paul Avila, the newly seated Ontario councilman, who ran off his mouth at Tuesday’s meeting in entertaining and sometimes bewildering fashion. “I like to talk,” Avila admitted.
Lucy and John’s was a restaurant on Route 66 from 1941 to 1955 in what now is Rancho Cucamonga but then was the wilds between Cucamonga and Upland. The building was then transformed into the Magic Lamp, which is still there today. Since my mention of the restaurant in my column, the accompanying artifacts have come to my attention.
Jane Vath O’Connell contributed the photo and Chris Nichols the menu. Both are precious finds, and copious thanks are extended to both contributors. Nichols, responding to my description of Lucy and John’s as a spaghetti house, says: “Please let your readers know that Lucy and John’s offered much more than spaghetti — they also had ravioli.”
Yes, and check the side orders. Radishes and celery, 25 cents! Buttermilk, one slim dime! But feel free to splurge on a 35-cent order of ravioli if you’re feeling flush. Click on the images for a larger view.
I asked Anthony Vernola, whose family has had Magic Lamp since the early 1970s, about Lucy and John’s. He said the couple’s last name was
Di Censo Nosenzo. “When John passed away, Lucy ran it and sold it to Mr. Clearman and Mr. Penn. I believe she moved down to the peninsula, to Newport Beach, until she passed on.” Some of the original restaurant remains under the shell of the Magic Lamp — such as the original flat roof, which is under the current peaked, tile roof (“It’s a rooftop on top of a rooftop,” Vernola says with a chuckle), and one visible artifact: the bar.
That means the bar is about 60 years old…or about the same vintage as a lot of the customers.
You probably forgot, I almost did myself, but I asked readers recently (okay, three months ago) if they knew of a Great Wall of Chino. No one was more surprised than me to learn there is one. Wednesday’s column goes into detail. Above is one view of the wall’s end, or maybe its start, stretching east from Central Avenue into infinity, shot by reader Linda Takeuchi; below is a view almost two miles east, closer to Euclid Avenue, which I shot.
To the comparisons of the Chino and China Great Walls, I can add two more: Neither is visible from space, despite myths to the contrary concerning China’s, and also that while hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have died building China’s, Chino’s did not cost any lives. Whew.
For my Great Wall of Chino contest (see Wednesday’s column for more), John Kramer submitted the runner-up nomination, a wall at El Prado Golf Course, which he described as a golf cart bridge that crosses the second hole on the Butterfield Stage course. I think you’ll agree the stonework is quite impressive.
Kramer supplied this handy comparison between this wall and China’s slightly better-known Great Wall:
Year built, China: Circa 220 BC; Year built, Chino: Circa 2000 AD
Length, China: Over 13,000 miles; Length, Chino: Barely over 130 feet
Height, China: Up to 16 feet; Height, Chino: Barely over 4 feet
Purpose, China: To keep out the Mongolians
Purpose, Chino: To keep out the Rancho Cucamongans?
Thanks for putting things in perspective, Mr. Kramer.
Books acquired: “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” Sean Howe; “Dreams and Schemes,” Steve Lopez; “The Ecstasy of Influence,” Jonathan Lethem; “The Wonderful World of Robert Sheckley,” Robert Sheckley; “The Day After Tomorrow,” Robert A. Heinlein; “Los Angeles, the Architecture of Four Ecologies,” Rayner Banham; “The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race,” Paul Krassner.
Books read: “My L.A.,” Matt Weinstock; “Orange County,” Gustavo Arellano; “Farewell to Manzanar,” Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston; “Translating L.A.,” Peter Theroux; “This is Claremont,” Harold Davis, editor; “Ancient L.A.,” Michael Rochlin.
For yours truly, November was a month of California books. In the order presented above, my choices were a 1947 book of lore and facts about L.A. by a famous newspaper columnist of the day; a history of Orange County combined with a family history by the OC Weekly editor and “Ask a Mexican!” columnist; a famous memoir of the Japanese-American internment camp experience; an exploration of L.A. as it stood in the 1980s and early 1990s; a 1947 history of Claremont, then a mere 60 years from its founding; and a collection of three essays about aspects of L.A.’s past that influence its present.
I liked all the above, but my favorite was Theroux’s. He wrote “Translating L.A.” in 1994 as a transplant to LA who had lived through the riots and two major earthquakes and felt his adopted city was misunderstood and caricatured. He ranged throughout L.A., including Watts, East LA and the Inland Empire, to report on what he saw and ponder what it meant. Open-minded, slyly funny, perceptive. He even rode Metrolink from Union Station to Riverside for the final chapter, further endearing his book to me.
How did the books fall into my hands? “My L.A.” came from Magic Door Books in Pomona (I think I bought it on my first visit), “Orange County” from the remainder bin at Montclair’s Borders, “Translating LA” from (I think) Brand Books in Glendale, “Farewell to Manzanar” from the Rancho Cucamonga Library’s Big Read earlier this year, “This is Claremont” from the Antique Gallery in Pomona and “Ancient L.A.” from Half Off Books in Whittier. All were obtained in the past five years or so.
For a change of pace, for the photo I laid out the books in my laundry room. I have a small bookcase there too.
These six bring my total to 77 books read for the year. (As I bought seven this month, I didn’t make any headway on my backlog, but at least my backlog is slowly being refreshed.) My plan is to read a leisurely three in December, to top off at 80 for 2012. Although I might knock off an extra one or two.
What’s everyone else been reading, in between shopping, cooking turkey and bouts of the flu?