About David Allen

A journalist for nearly 30 years, David Allen has been chronicling the Inland Valley for the Daily Bulletin since 1997 and blogging since 2007. His first book, "Pomona A to Z," was published in 2014. E-mail David here. Read recent columns here.

Column: Profs: Don’t think twice about Dylan’s Nobel, it’s alright

dylan

As a Dylan fan, I’m excited for his Nobel Prize for Literature, not offended. So are two English professors at Pomona College who are very knowledgeable about his work. In advance of Saturday’s ceremony, we sat for a discussion for Friday’s column. Above, Jonathan Lethem, left, and Kevin Dettmar.

See how many Dylan references you can spot in the column. I doubt too many will find all 24, but even if you don’t recognize the sources, most of them stand out — but hopefully don’t overwhelm the column.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Taqueria El Sol

telsol1

Taqueria El Sol, 2129 N. Towne Ave. (at La Verne), Pomona; open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

I’ve passed Taqueria El Sol for years; it’s on Towne Avenue a couple of blocks north of the 10 Freeway, and I had wondered if it was any good without ever stopping to investigate. But then someone recommended it, and when a Pomona pal wanted lunch, I chose it.

telsol2

It’s small, and fast-food style, but homey; the owner came to our table (we were waiting for a third person who never showed) to chat, and I asked if they had specialties. They do: al pastor, which is marinated pork, and pork leg.

telsol3

So my friend got al pastor tacos ($8 as a plate) and I got a pork leg torta ($7). We were both satisfied. “That was really good!” my friend exclaimed. “I would come back here.” Me too. I liked my sandwich and the vibe of the place, and it’s even freeway-close.

telsol4

The salsa is too potent for me, but the presentation was nice, with paddles no less, and a side of radishes and limes. The menu is simple, with $6.25 breakfasts and $7.79 plates. It’s family run, open since 2003 and with Guadalajara-style food. To answer my original mused question, yes, it is good.

telsol5

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Claremont bakery’s story has many layers

somecrust1

Wednesday’s column begins with a feature on Some Crust Bakery in Claremont. It’s been there 35 years but is part of a baking tradition at that address dating to 1916. After that is an anecdote from another iconic Village business, the Folk Music Center, and a Culture Corner item disguised as a Valley Vignette.

Above, the scene outside the bakery Tuesday morning; below, general manager Scott Feemster takes a look at what’s bakin’ inside the 1940s oven one day last month.

somecrust2

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Reading Log: November 2016

booksnov9

Books acquired: none

Books read: “Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan,” Howard Sounes; “Positively Fourth Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina,” David Hajdu; “Positively Main Street: An Unorthodox View of Bob Dylan,” Toby Thompson; “Gentlemen of the Road,” Michael Chabon.

I hit the road in November, reading books with “highway,” “street” (twice) and “road” in the titles. (In real life I didn’t stray far.) Three are biographical studies about Bob Dylan, the much-traveled singer-songwriter, each with titles spun off his songs, while the fourth is a novel.

Let me say from the outset that I’m a major Bob-head who owns all the albums and has read many of the books. I also own a bunch I haven’t read. The Nobel announcement prompted me to read one in October, and that created the momentum that made me want to keep reading. The Sounes bio, published in 2001, has been on my shelves most of that time, and it’s likely the definitive Bob-ography. So if I had an urge, finally, to read it, and others, it was an urge worth pursuing.

It’s light on chin-stroking and guesswork and heavy on facts about his life, including the revelations that he’d married a second time and had a sixth child, and also that he owns a coffeehouse in Santa Monica. Go elsewhere for insights about the music, but come here for a last roundup of childhood friends, Village folkies and ex-lovers. Intriguingly, family members contributed on the sly.

The Hajdu book came out the same year. I went in knowing little about Mimi and Richard Farina, and skeptical they merited equal attention with Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, but this thoroughly researched book (with an interview-by-fax with Richard’s pal Thomas Pynchon!) brings the lesser-known Farinas to life. It also scrubs some gloss off the Dylan legend, offering the novel theory that he didn’t really find himself until ’64 and his fourth album.

Circa 1969, Thompson had the novel idea of visiting Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota to interview people who knew him as a boy before he began obscuring his past. The hard information herein could probably be condensed to one chapter, so the book is more about Thompson and his pilgrimage, and the novelty of learning, say, “this is where Bob got hot dogs with the gang.” It’s naive, lame and self-absorbed — and a little embarrassing as he and Dylan’s high school girlfriend get chummy — but kind of fun anyway.

To get another “road” book in, and one that’s not about His Bobness, I read Chabon’s 2007 novel “Gentlemen of the Road,” a modern, literary attempt at a swords-and-sandals-type adventure novel. I’d say it was a way of leavening this month’s Reading Log, but since Chabon’s working title was “Jews With Swords,” maybe unleavening would be more accurate.

Anyway, and to my dismay, the giddiness of the opening chapters faded for me into a story that I was anxious to have end. Sincerely done, but I don’t think it lives up to its pulp influences.

The Chabon book was bought at Borders; the others were purchased used between 2002 and 2010, although I’ve forgotten the details. At least they’re from this century. They also constitute books 34, 35, 36 and 37 of 2016.

If you’ve read any of mine, chime in, but otherwise, share what you read in November.

Next month: books 38, 39 and 40.

booksnov10

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Owen’s Bistro

owens1

Owen’s Bistro, 5210 D St. (at 7th), Chino; 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; closed Sundays and Mondays

Considered among the Inland Valley’s finest restaurants since its opening in 2003, Owen’s Bistro is located across from the Chino Civic Center in a brick building that dates to the early 20th Century, and practically the only part of downtown that actually seems like a downtown.

I’d been to Owen’s only once, years ago, for a lunch; it’s a little out of my normal price range and I hadn’t had a reason to return until a friend suggested meeting there, which I was all for.

The restaurant is in a picturesque block in an otherwise-drab area of ’70s and later buildings; from the rear, the exposed brick and original painted advertising signs seem surprisingly urban.

owens3

The dining area has a concrete floor, brick walls, iron gates at each end and no roof, merely a curtained roof that retracts. It’s a unique space, with ceiling fans and space heaters to even out the temperature. An indoor lounge seats 20.

The menu is short, with seasonal items and local produce. Eight entrees range from $22 to $42, and there are appetizers, salads and a soup. We ordered bleu cheese toasts ($8), she got a frisee and walnut salad ($7) and I got the camping trip (!) ($23), salmon on a hot stone with potatoes and greens.

owens4

The toasts were the size of bruschetta but with bleu cheese and pears, delicious. The salad had feta, green apples and dried cherries and was enjoyed. The salmon came out sizzling in a bowl with greens and, thanks to lavender placed under the stone, was meant to have a “forest aroma.” I didn’t notice, but I did notice how good the salmon tasted. An unusual but tasty dish.

owens6

owens5

Two singers performed jazz to recorded backing, and it was so pleasant, and unobtrusive, not to mention taking place on the other side of the room, that I didn’t even notice the music was live for quite some time. A nice touch.

The service left a little to be desired, although at least it was well-meaning. The salad was requested to come out at the same time as my entree but came later, after a quizzical look from my friend when my food came out solo, and itself a bit late. Despite being told we could get to our 7 p.m. event with plenty of time, we didn’t have time for dessert.

owens7

Coincidentally, a work colleague ate at Owen’s not long before I did. He said he and his wife were told they would be seated soon by someone who disappeared, twice; a daughter and elderly mother got the same treatment. Once seated, his wife ordered the angus ribeye, which took so long to cook, someone came out to apologize for the delay. What arrived was so large it might have weighed two pounds. Most was taken home and provided three more meals.

It was perfectly prepared, and for $39, quite a deal, and he felt the same about his medallions of filet mignon, at $32, but the service, which included getting someone else’s bill, was more comical than desired for a nice evening out. “It was like nobody there had ever worked in a restaurant before,” he said.

There are those who say scoffingly that Owen’s is the Inland Empire’s idea of fine dining. The food in these twin experiences was very good, and we had nothing to complain about, really, on that score. The staff, though, seems a little disorganized. I recommend Owen’s anyway, but be prepared for things to go wrong.

owens8

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Leonard Cohen: Mt. Baldy monk, Claremont consumer

lcohen1

Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen’s death reminds me that some 20 years ago he was apparently a familiar sight in the Claremont Village. (He left about the time I moved there, alas.) Sunday’s column pays tribute through color gleaned from talking to a bunch of people who saw him or waited on him. Above and below are views of the window display in his honor at the Folk Music Center.

lcohen2

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email