I’ll be off until Aug. 16. My Restaurant of the Week posts should resume Aug. 17 and my column will be in the paper again Aug. 18. Enjoy my time away! I know I will.
The mattress shop at Foothill and Archibald in Rancho Cucamonga finally expired after a so-called liquidation sale that dragged on for years, under more than one business name. Huh! That leads off Friday’s column, followed by a bunch of cultural notes and one explaining that I’m on vacation. If I’m posting this late, that’s because I’m more than a few time zones away. The photo above was shot Tuesday afternoon. The interior was vacant.
In an update to the Buffalo Inn saga, the closed Upland business will be auctioned off Monday to settle back taxes. Also: four music items and a Valley Vignette, all in Wednesday’s column.
Books acquired: “The Newspaper in Art,” Garry Apgar, Shaun Higgins, Colleen Striegel; “The Green Eyes of Bast,” Sax Rohmer
Books read: “Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything,” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong; “Julius Caesar,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” William Shakespeare; “From Bill, With Love,” Bill McClellan
Let’s be clear: I did not read the “Riverside Shakespeare” omnibus pictured above, although I did lug it around much of the month to read two of the plays therein. “Are you reading the encyclopedia?” a restaurant server asked me humorously. No: an encyclopedia would be lighter.
I read two plays I hadn’t read in decades. First, “Julius Caesar.” After the controversy over the NYC version with a Trump-like Caesar, a refresher course seemed in order for a play I read for the first and last time in high school. Caesar dies at the hands of his would-be friends, only one of whom has pure motives, and from there, things don’t go as the conspirators had hoped. It’s an uh-oh-now-what cautionary tale about deposing a leader. Complex and endlessly quotable, this repays rereading. Consider my viewpoint unimpeachable.
After enjoying that one, and while still in Shakespeare mode, I decided to tackle a second, “Antony and Cleopatra,” a sequel of sorts. It turned out I had read this one in college (a few underlines in the introduction were the giveaway) and had completely forgotten I’d done so, although elements of the play seemed familiar once I was reading it. Marc Antony, post-eulogy for his late emperor, takes up a life of dissipation with the queen of Egypt before returning to battle. Cleopatra is among Shakespeare’s more complex female characters — at least, that’s what it says in the introduction I dutifully marked up — and this play may be underrated.
As for the “Seinfeld” study, I started it with high hopes and yada yada yada, it was average. Some good stories from the writers, though; it’s amazing how many plots, even the outlandish ones, came directly from personal experience.
In “From Bill, With Love,” the bard of St. Louis returns with a collection of his Post-Dispatch columns spanning two decades. The first half is love stories about local people, the second half a scattering of favorite pieces: features, gripes, personal takes and laments for his dying industry (and mine, too). Sly, heartfelt and sweet.
I picked up my Shakespeare in college (Follett Bookstore, University of Illinois, 1985), McClellan at St. Louis’ Subterranean Books in 2016 and “Seinfeldia” as a birthday gift this year.
The first half of August I’ll be traveling, which may give me more time to read or may give me less, depending on how preoccupied I am with the details of my journey and whether I spend my in-flight time reading, watching movies or sleeping. I’m taking a couple of intimidatingly long novels with me and hoping for the best all around.
How was your July? Were you shading your face with a book while lounging by a pool, or using a book to fan yourself with?
Next month: Escapism.
Driving along Riverside Drive to Chino a few months ago, this sign caught my eye, and the next time I passed, I made a point of stopping to photograph it. Centennial Park opened in 1983 but was dedicated the previous year in unfinished form to mark the reason for the name: the 100th anniversary of Ontario’s 1882 founding. Me, I just like how retro the sign is. It reminds me of the La Verne Council Chamber emblem from the same era that was replaced in January.
St. George Catholic Church in Ontario is trying to raise money — right now it’s raffling off a car, through $5 tickets — to protect its previous building, a 1923 gem that’s in disrepair. The story is in my Friday column.
El Pueblo Meat Market, 13218 6th St. (at D), Chino; open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
I pass carnicerias in many of our cities, like El Tarasco in Rancho Cucamonga near Red Hill Coffee Shop, or Mi Mercadito in Pomona, without ever going in. But after a recommendation from a (*cough*) highly placed law enforcement figure in Chino, I gave El Pueblo a try. It’s across from City Hall and the old police headquarters and courthouse.
Downtown Chino, such as it is, is light on places to eat. A couple of times now while attending council meetings, I’ve needed a quick bite and walked over to El Pueblo. They have some grocery and convenience items, but largely it’s a butcher shop, plus a counter for ordering food to go. They sell tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, menudo and a few more items.
My first visit I had an al pastor torta (price forgotten, but around $6). This was consumed on a bench outside the council chambers in near-darkness in January. It hit the spot.
And this month, on a summer evening after a meeting ended early, I got an asada burrito ($6), then walked it over to Aguiar Square, the plaza behind the Children’s Museum, to eat. A fountain is circled by amphitheater-type seating, but a transient was there talking to himself, and sitting near him might have resulted in getting hit up for the money I’d saved by eating a cheap dinner. So I took a spot on a bench elsewhere in the plaza.
The burrito was okay, nothing special, but filling. On Yelp, someone gripes that they mix the steak with ground beef, which I can’t say is true, but which might be true. The torta was a better choice. Even better might have been the taco Tuesday special, which I noticed too late: three chicken tacos for $3.
Ever been to Cask ‘n Cleaver? The Rancho Cucamonga steakhouse opened in July 1967, 50 years ago. Owners Chuck and Linda Keagle, who founded the restaurant when they were in their mid-20s and still operate it today, threw a party Saturday for past employees. I was there to observe for Wednesday’s column.
The skillet sign in front of Ontario’s Iron Skillet (805 N. Euclid) was looking pretty worn when I shot the photo below in spring 2016 for my Restaurant of the Week post. More recently, some piece broke, I think the top beam, causing the sign to droop, and the wood of the sign split. It was sad looking. It might have been the original sign from 1980.
But on my most recent visit over the weekend, there was a new sign. It’s virtually the same design, but brand new, and sturdier-looking. The owner told me it’s been up two or three months. It certainly presents a better appearance to motorists and reflects the resurgence of the restaurant itself.
If you like Americana-type places, Iron Skillet is doing a good job of it under its current ownership, and business seems to be on a steady upswing — just like the sign.