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.

Reading Log: March 2017

Books acquired: “The Doom That Came to Sarnath,” “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” H.P. Lovecraft; “Seinfeldia,” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong; “Hail, Hail Euphoria!” Roy Blount Jr.; “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis

Books read: “Funny in Farsi,” Firoozeh Dumas; “Wolf in White Van,” John Darnielle; “Reading Comics,” Douglas Wolk

As I’m back at my desk Monday from a few days off and need to get this done, let me get right to my March book report. Three books this month, none with any relation to each other.

“Funny in Farsi” was the On the Same Page community read choice for Claremont. Constructed as short essays, this 2003 memoir of coming to America from Iran as a girl before the Iranian revolution is episodic, witty and warm-hearted. Dumas plays up the comedy of her family’s struggle with language and customs, and emphasizes what unites us rather than what divides us. Likable, and sometimes very funny, but for my tastes too glib.

“Wolf in White Van” is an acclaimed 2014 novel, nominated for a National Book Award, by a native of Claremont, John Darnielle, the singer-songwriter behind the band The Mountain Goats. A character study of a young man who became consumed by his fantasy life but managed to make something positive out of it, this is closely observed, skillfully told and unusual in invoking nerd totems of a certain era: Conan, August Derleth, Hit Parader. Also, it’s set in Montclair! I hope to write further about it.

“Reading Comics,” from 2007, is a series of essay of comics criticism. By now, the acceptance of comics and graphic novels as acceptable and even hip reading matter appears almost complete, making Wolk’s review of some of his favorites, partway into the revolution, less useful and his arguments in their favor almost quaint. Comics are art? Yes, we know. “Fun Home” just played at the Ahmanson. But most of his choices remain sound, some are pleasingly idiosyncratic and he has interesting things to say about them all.

How about that: all my books are from the 21st century. No other month’s Reading Log can make that claim. (Unless Doug Evans produces a link to contradict me, I think I’m on firm ground here.) Next month will be far different, but let me revel in my modernity for now.

What have you all been reading? Did your March go out like a lamb or a lion? Let us know in the comments section.

Next month: 20th century books about newspapers.


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Hollywood comes to Pomona, brings pie

A movie to be titled either “Callahan” or “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” did some filming in late March in downtown Pomona. Stars are Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill; director is Gus Van Sant. So it’s an actual movie, not one of those no-budget indie things that’s never released. It’s about a real-life cartoonist, John Callahan, who turned to drawing after a car accident at age 21 made him a quadriplegic; the funny title is that of his autobiography.

Assuming Phoenix was in town (*update: I’ve since seen a photo of him downtown), this would be his second time: He filmed an exterior scene for “Inherent Vice” on Second Street in 2013. Two visits? This means Joaquin Phoenix has been to downtown Pomona more often than some people who live in Pomona.

Photographer Ren sent me a few shots. The ones that grabbed me were of the former restaurant at the corner of Main and Third streets, transformed for the filming into a pie shop. Click on the images for a slightly larger view.

Once Chung King, and later Casa Jimenez and El Patrona, the space was turned into a lobster restaurant for the filming of a TV pilot, “White Sheep,” in March 2016. A few would-be customers lined up outside thinking it was real, despite the cameras moving around. Alas, it was no more real than the pie shop. (The series is still listed as being in development.)

The pixie dust is gone now and the restaurant is back to being La Patrona — and closed.

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The real Hal Linker

Longtime readers of this blog will recall a string of comments a few years back by a fella who gave his name as Hal Linker and referred to his wife as Hadla. There was confusion on my part that he quickly cleared up by saying these weren’t their real names but were taken from a globe-trotting couple with a travel show on SoCal TV in the ’60s and ’70s.

Well, the son of the Linkers emails to tell me more about his parents and their travels:

***

My wife told me about your blog and postings by “Hal and Hadla Linker.” 

I thought you might be interested in some clarification about the real Hal and Halla Linker (correct spelling, pronounced Hadla). I am their son. My father did die in 1979, as someone mentioned. My mother is still alive and well.
My mother donated the films from our travels to the Smithsonian Human Studies Film Archive, and they periodically release brief clips to YouTube.
As you probably know, our TV show was based in LA, but syndicated in over 40 other US cities, and 11 foreign countries.
We had a vacation home up at Lake Arrowhead, so often drove through the “Inland Empire” on our way there. I also had a Summer internship at a chemical engineering firm there after my freshman year, but I do no recall exactly where it was.
I realize that it is somewhat off topic for your blog, but thought you might be interested in more detail.
Best regards,
David Linker
***
I was indeed interested and am happy to share this with anyone who remembers the Linkers from TV or is curious about them. This link will explain more about their show and the archive.
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Restaurant of the Week: El Pescador

El Pescador Mexican Restaurant, 636 N. Euclid Ave. (at G), Ontario

There’s a chain of El Pescador restaurants around L.A., including two in Ontario, one of which is at Mountain and the 60 Freeway. I’ve only been to the one at the edge of downtown, on Euclid at G in a former Bob’s Big Boy.

But my two visits a decade or so ago, shortly after it opened, had not been followed up, even though my impression was positive. In fact, when the state librarian was in town a couple of years ago, I directed him there for dinner, and he responded later that he had liked it. In the neighborhood recently, looking for somewhere to eat, I decided to try El Pescador again.

It’s pretty nicely appointed, with a chandelier, Tiffany-style lamps, art, pottery in wall sconces and etched glass on the partitions between booths. There are probably few Mexican restaurants in Ontario, or the rest of the Inland Valley for that matter, in a setting quite this nice.

Chips and a bowl of chunky salsa were delivered to my table as I scanned the menu, banda music playing in the background. The menu has a lot of meat and seafood entrees. I went with a standby, camarones al mojo de aja ($17.50), or shrimp in garlic sauce.

The platter came with a small green salad, rice with vegetables (ugh, peas), beans with cheese, 13 shrimp, six tortillas and an orange slice. I can’t find anything wrong with the portion, but the food struck me as very average. El Pescador was better in my memory, or maybe my tastes have changed.

Still, this was only one meal, and you could do worse when downtown. And they make margaritas and have happy hour specials, so there’s that.

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Claremont’s burglars

Two thematically related items from the Claremont Courier’s police blotter, compiled by Matthew Bramlett, got my attention.

On March 3, a thief broke into a dental office and made off with about $6 in cash and “an unknown amount of plastic desk drawer organizers” before the alarm went off and he fled.

Then on March 7, two men broke into a massage studio “and stole cash and facial products.”

It seems that on the mean streets of the City of Trees and Ph.D.s, burglars want to stay organized and moisturized.

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