Riverside has a series of six statues on the downtown pedestrian mall that were all produced via grassroots efforts from 1995 to 2013 and form a loose series known variously as the Peace Walk or the Civil Rights Walk. They may be unique in the nation outside Washington, D.C., yet they’re not as well-known as they should be. There’s no signage, for one thing. I visit them, alongside the mayor who was there when they were installed and the current mayor who’d like to highlight them. The result is my Sunday column.
That question was posed by a Riverside Facebook group, and the answers were a handy checklist of sights in that city. (I’ve been to only a few of them.) Also, items about pepper trees, a disastrous interview, a woman who saves pennies and Elvis’ police patches, all in my Friday column.
A bonus track by Adele on her new album contains the memorable line “I lost my mind in San Bernardino.” The Inland Empire thanks her. (She’s doing fine, obviously. Also, it’s an excellent song.) I also bring up the San Bernardino mention in a song two years ago by The Boss and note a couple of literary references to the IE in my pre-Thanksgiving column.
There’s a Mark Twain statue in Monrovia: It’s in Library Park outside the Public Library and provides a handy half a bench, which you can share with the great author and humorist. I was happy to do it, as he’s among my favorite writers.
The plaque says the sculpture is by artist Gary Price, was installed in 2003 and bears this quote attributed to Twain: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
I saw it most recently in September after a farewell lunch with my friend and colleague Penny Rosenberg, who was moving out of state. She took the photo.
This piece is not precisely unique. Walking through a portion of Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley in October, I was surprised to see an almost identical bench. I posed for a photo here too, shot by my friend Frances Dinkelspiel. I’m reading “The Essential Groucho,” which I happened to be carrying.
Bancroft is a good place for a Twain bench: The library has Twain’s papers, including the original manuscript for “Finn.”
They are not the same bench, as I see upon examining the photos. Twain is reading “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in each, but the book is open at Berkeley and closed in Monrovia. Monrovia’s sculpture is darker, either by design or by exposure to the elements. He’s angled a bit differently in each as well. I don’t know the artist for Berkeley’s; if there’s a plaque, I didn’t notice it.
His legs are crossed the same in each — as are mine, in homage.
If I find out there are more benches for Twain, maybe I will sit on them too.
I sit in on a wild special meeting of the very wild Moreno Valley City Council, and live to tell the tale in Sunday’s column.
I attend a Riverside council meeting in which that alternately forward-thinking or history-ruining eight-story downtown hotel was debated and approved. After my generally upbeat August column on the project, a few critics emailed. I thought I’d better follow up on the subject, which I do in my Friday column.
My lack of air conditioning at home is moderately well known among longtime readers. Over the summer, I couldn’t take it anymore and got two portable units for my rental. I write about this milestone in my Wednesday column.
I’d been meaning to address this since July, when this took place, but what with one thing or another, it didn’t get done. Last weekend’s surprise heat wave seemed to offer one last excuse this calendar year, and I was able to find the notes I’d made the afternoon of the installation on the back of an envelope. Voila, a column.
Belatedly writing about my vacation last month, I share my visits to bookstores and record stores — eight of the former, three of the latter — in my Sunday column.
You may recall that I wrote about showing my vaccination card all over the place, but my intention to write about what I did while I was away kept getting put off for local news and features. To me, though, it’s important now and then to simply share a slice of my life.
Claremont’s new Benton Museum of Art, a Pomona College facility, has been somewhat finished for more than two years, but the opening was delayed 14 months due to coronavirus concerns. It’s finally opening Saturday with some hoopla, and is already receiving visitors by reservation. I visit for my Friday column.
Yours truly was among six honorees as Distinguished Journalist by the Society of Professional Journalists Greater LA chapter — and it does have to be “greater” to take in Pomona, doesn’t it? Here’s the story that interviewed me about it.
Alas, the Nov. 4 ceremony was remote rather than an in-person banquet. In fact, we taped the whole thing via Zoom from our homes in early October and, with a few technical additions, such as photos of us on the job, it aired online just as recorded.
(When the event aired, by the way, I was attending a talk in Riverside to get material for my Nov. 7 column. Was that bad? Ehh, I felt as if I’d already seen the ceremony anyway.)
The whole thing lasts a mere 45 minutes, and if you’re having a slow day, here’s the link to watch the whole thing. My own portion — the general introduction of what the award is about by the emcee, the introduction of me by a former editor, then my remarks — starts at 6:48 and ends at 10:51.
I was up first and wore my “Save a Journalist, Buy a Newspaper” T-shirt. We were told to keep our remarks under 2 minutes and I did. As the speeches progressed, I wondered if I’d made a mistake by dressing and speaking so informally. But, hey, my choices reflect my personality, which is what being a columnist is all about, right?