The Friends of the Library bookstore at the Upland Public Library has been around some 20 years, not that everyone knew it: The store was in the basement behind a door. But now the store is now on the main floor, where it’s got more visibility, not to mention, light, shelf space and air conditioning. I visit for Wednesday’s column.
Driving north on Central Avenue in Upland one morning last week, I pulled into the business plaza that had Rabi’s Cafe on a whim, just because I hadn’t in so long, and saw the parking lot was nearly empty. Then I saw the sign down and, through the window, everything cleared out inside.
Rabi’s opened in 2010 and, based on Yelp activity, probably closed in July or August. The breakfast and lunch spot had been a favorite of mine for three or four years, but when its co-owner and namesake left in mid-2016, in a divorce from her manager husband, I decided out of loyalty to her that my time there was done.
The breakfasts were good, and the couple was always nice to me. I enjoyed taking the Sunday papers in early and occupying a table until the place began filling up. Some readers would greet me, and occasionally pester me, while meaning well. Rabi almost always waited on me, and sometimes provided column fodder with her attitude and jokes. If she wasn’t involved anymore, there was less reason to go.
I felt a little bad about that, because her husband Ahmed was nice too. (I once joked that I only went there for the excellent management, which made him laugh.) My best to him and to the staff. Perhaps a new place will go in with fine food and good jokes, but less personal drama.
The location was previously Jouni’s Cafe and previously to that was, I believe, the Egg and I, both like Rabi’s known for their breakfasts.
The great Greil Marcus was at Pomona College on Thursday night for a talk about failure, and I was there. (Thus probably accentuating the failure.) Needing a topper to some items for Sunday, I was hoping for the best, and was rewarded. Read that — plus a few items — in Sunday’s column.
The downtown Pomona diorama within the beloved Garden Railroad model train layout at the LA County Fair this year had three figures being arrested by the cops. After a patron complained, the Fair’s CEO personally removed it. He’s upset it was there. I write about it in Friday’s column.
Curry Up, 3560 W. Temple Ave. (at Pomona Blvd), Pomona; open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily except Sunday, closed
A Cal Poly Pomona friend wanted to meet for dinner and was willing to meet me closer to home. But I had thought of that little strip center near campus with three or four restaurants, none of which I had tried. The only one whose name I knew was Curry Up, a cleverly named Indian restaurant that’s been there some years. So we met there.
You order at the counter, with seemingly all the items already waiting on the steam table and best ordered as a two-item combo, like a modest, subcontinent version of Panda Express.
I got saag paneer and chicken tikka masala, with basmati rice, seen above. With drink and garlic naan, this came to $11.15. My friend got chicken tikka masala and allo mutter, with no drink, and paid around $8.
If I remember right, the regular naan is free — does this mean the cost is naan? — but there’s a small charge for garlic naan, which is pretty much everybody’s favorite style of naan and which therefore is worth the extra buck or whatever it was.
My friend liked his meal. Mine was all right, and the saag was spicier than expected. I have to be honest, Curry Up was nothing special. But I hadn’t had Indian food in a while and it was nice to have some again. And, while I’m prepared to be wrong, it might be the only Indian restaurant in Pomona.
Andrew Cruz is at it again, this time seeming to offer a defense of Hitler at last week’s Chino Valley Unified board meeting. No one reacted, but the community is stirring. I write about the latest weirdness from the school board in Wednesday’s column.
Books acquired: “The Broken Bubble,” Philip K. Dick
Books read: “The Dream Detective,” Sax Rohmer; “The Feral Detective,” Jonathan Lethem; “The Trial,” Franz Kafka
Pardon the delay, but vacation interfered in bringing you the August Reading Log before now. In fact, I’m typing this Sunday night, Sept. 9!
Needing to read the upcoming Jonathan Lethem novel (from an advance copy) for a future column or two, and with travel plans that would affect my reading time, I hit a sort of crime and punishment theme — but without reading “Crime and Punishment,” which would have taken much of my month.
“The Dream Detective” (1925): A cross between Holmes and Rohmer’s usual exotica, these are not great mysteries, as they’re generally impossible to solve, but they are surprisingly delightful. Moris Klaw is an indelible character, and each subsequent story in which he sprays himself with verbena to cool his brain, or asks his daughter Isis to fetch his “odically sterilized” pillow so he can dream at the crime scene, there is the thrill of the queerly familiar.
“The Feral Detective” (due out Nov. 6): Former journalist Phoebe Siegler travels west from NYC to find a friend, a young woman who’s gone missing and who may be looking for Leonard Cohen at Mt. Baldy. Phoebe hires detective Charles Heist and the two navigate the Inland Empire in their quest, which involves two desert-dwelling factions of lost ’60s types.
Less cerebral than usual for Lethem, this has (gasp) action, not to mention intriguing characters, post-election dislocation and a firm grasp of place. Specifically, Upland, Claremont and Mt. Baldy, and then the desert, not specified but east of Lucerne Valley, it seems. I liked it. How could I not like a novel with scenes set at Claremont’s DoubleTree? Some will find it too commercial, I’m sure. Visual and kinetic enough to make for a semi-popular movie, or an Amazon series, which probably no one said about Lethem’s “Chronic City” or “This Shape We’re In.”
“The Trial” (1925): Who arrested Joseph K. and why? And who is judging him, exactly? Readers looking for concrete answers will be disappointed, but the rest of us will revel at the ambiguity as Joseph faces a charge about which he can get no information. Tragic, yes, but “The Trial” is often so ridiculous as to be very funny. (Max Brod said Kafka used to crack up while reading sections to his friends.)
And how random is it that two of my three reads this month are from 1925? Anyway, two detectives and a trial made for an enjoyable month. I bought the Rohmer book in 2008 at a paperback collectors show and the Kafka in (gulp) 1992 from Santa Rosa’s Copperfield Books. Lethem handed me an advance copy of his in June.
How was your August, readers — presuming you remember?
Next month: animals, feral and not.
During my vacation to Krakow, I took a somber side trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the concentration camps. That’s the subject of Sunday’s not-exactly-cheerful column.
I visited Krakow, Poland almost on a whim — I was headed to Berlin for a friend’s wedding — and found a delightful Old World city with newfangled touches. Food trucks, anyone? Read about it in Friday’s column — with a sequel coming Sunday. Above, Main Market Square.
Tucked away on the Pomona College campus is a James Turrell Skyspace, a plaza where watching the people is as enjoyable as watching the heavens. I visit, repeatedly, and Stan Lim takes photos for Wednesday’s column.
I wrote this prior to vacation while the material was fresh in my mind. And now I’m back.