Wednesday’s column starts with five items from Upland, followed by three Culture Corner notes and three Valley Vignettes. Other than knowing I like the sign, I don’t know anything about Classy Mart other than that it’s been here quite a while. How about you?
Upland’s bowling alley is relatively modern and located on the busy commercial corridor of Foothill Boulevard, just west of Euclid and cater-corner from Upland High, a recipe for success. At 40 lanes, it’s about as large as they get.
I’ve bowled there a bunch of times, and while it doesn’t have the flair of Montclair’s Bowlium, it’s a little easier to get to for me. It’s my go-to bowling alley, and the place where I hit my high score, 200.
One user-friendly touch is that all balls of the same weight are the same color, making them easy to sort for the staff and to return after you’re done. Anyone who’s spent time poking around the shelves for a ball of their favored weight will appreciate the ease of finding a ball: Here are all the 7-pounds, next are all the 8-pounds, organized in order up to 16.
The lane furniture is a little uncomfortable, with swing-out swivel chairs, and as with most electronic scoring systems, entering your name or making changes is tricky, maybe more so here with colored pyramid keys that correspond to elements on the overhead screen, once you figure it out.
The graphics on the monitors are funny. For instance, anthropomorphic pins walk out of jail when you roll a gutter ball. The “turkey” graphic below memorializes my getting three strikes in a row, a rare feat for me.
Upland is probably due for an update; in 20 more years we might think it’s retro, but at this point it just seems a little behind the times, and the exterior is awfully bland too. But while the Dude, Walter and Donny from “The Big Lebowski” would probably find the place too anonymous, Brunswick Zone is a good place to bowl.
Address: 451 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Euclid), Upland
Number of lanes: 40
Year opened: 1985
Architect: somebody who thought a faux awning against a brown box really dressed the place up
Neighbors: Upland High, Kishi, Vons center
Games: Game room
Coffee shop: No, but Nathan’s hot dogs
Ambience: Families, teens (the future of bowling)
Deal: $2 Tuesdays, with games and shoe rental $2 each after 8 p.m.
Books acquired: “Why LA? Pourquois Paris?” Diane Ratican; “The Fourth Galaxy Reader,” H.L. Gold, ed.; “Still Room for Hope,” Alisa Kaplan.
Books read: “Again, Dangerous Visions, Vols. 1 and 2,” Harlan Ellison, ed.; “Still Room for Hope,” Alisa Kaplan.
July has as odd a pairing of books as I can remember: two split volumes of a 1972 science fiction anthology, and a 2015 memoir about sexual abuse from a Christian publisher. If I’d had more time, I might have read, say, a physics textbook, a Shakespeare play and a history of the Peloponnesian War, just to round things out.
Well, there’s a reason for reading “Still Room for Hope,” in that I expect it to result in a column in the near future, so I won’t say any more about it here, other than that it is very sad, while becoming lighter as Kaplan recovers her sense of herself.
The Ellison-edited anthology of cutting-edge SF, 900 pages split between two paperbacks, follows his 1967 “Dangerous Visions,” read here last September, and which I loved. The sequel is twice as long and with half the impact, I’m afraid, although it still had a lot of strong material by Bova, Le Guin, Vonnegut, Wilhelm, Gerrold and more. There were simply more so-so stories by newcomers, many of whom didn’t go on to make a mark but seemed to have been included just in case. A third anthology, “The Last Dangerous Visions,” was promised within six months, ha ha, and many of us know how that turned out: The author list expanded alarmingly and more than 40 years later it’s still unpublished, and maybe unpublishable. Ah well.
All three books acquired this month were free; the Gold book was a gift from reader Rich P., who got it from reader Doug Evans, Kaplan’s came from the author and Ratican’s simply was left on my desk, presumably having been mailed in.
The two Ellisons that I read this month were acquired back in the early 1980s and unread until now. One was bought new somewhere in the Midwest and the other was bought used from the Book Nook in Decatur, Georgia, a store that appears to still be in business three decades later. Good for them.
How was your July? Not to be uncaring, but all I want to know about are the books you read. Save your family worries, work problems and health issues for someone else’s blog.
Next month: I journey to the center of the Earth, among other places.
Dee Marcellus Cole is the subject of Sunday’s column, as I profile the visual artist who is very connected to downtown Pomona despite being a longtime Uplander. Above is Cole in her backyard; below, she’s with the mannequins on the roof mentioned in the column.
Following up on my Wednesday column, Friday’s has more on the Chino Valley Unified School District controversy regarding board member Andrew Cruz. My mistake: Although there was no immediate response, the board president fired back at him a minute later in the meeting. Also, it turns out that Cruz’s comment about having his rainwater tested for chemicals probably relates to a conspiracy theory about so-called “chemtrails.” For those uninterested in all this — do such people exist? — there are three Valley Vignettes and a rundown of recent posts here.
Tacos Jalisco, 595 W. Mission Blvd. (at Parcels), Pomona
Appearances can be deceiving. For years I’ve driven past Tacos Jalisco, housed in a dull-looking restaurant that might well have begun as a Spires, and assumed it was a sit-down restaurant of dubious quality. Although the reference to a particular state in Mexico (Guadalajara is its capital) should have tipped me off that this wasn’t going to be a downscale El Torito.
A taco-loving source at City Hall, which is nearby, surprised me by telling me Tacos Jalisco might have the best tacos in Pomona, up there with De Anda. As I’d say De Anda and Tijuana’s Tacos are my favorites, this was credible information. (We would hope for no less from City Hall.) We walked there for lunch so I could judge for myself.
The entry from Mission was as disappointing as it looked from the street — although one is conflicted about knocking gentility.
“From the street,” my source agreed, “this place looks a little too nice to have the real thing.”
Inside, though, it turns out you order at the counter and sit in molded-plastic booths. This was more like it. For whatever reason, I had expected waitresses in costumes. It’s relatively nice inside, and clean. The menu has tacos, burritos, quesadillas, sopes and, on weekends, menudo and birria, and beverages include champurrado and aguas frescas.
My source got a chorizo taco and al pastor burrito (below); I got four tacos ($1.24 each): al pastor, asada, carnitas and chicharron, plus a horchata ($1.40), meaning my entire lunch was $6.92. These were excellent tacos, and four made a good meal. A standout was the carnitas, which was redolent of porkiness. If they’d slaughtered the pig out back a half-hour before, it wouldn’t have surprised me (except code enforcement works close enough to have put a stop to that).
I returned a month later for an al pastor burrito (around $6; final food photo) and a Mexican Coke. An excellent cheap meal.
Best tacos in Pomona? Fistfights have started and friendships ended on lesser questions. Tacos Jalisco at this point is in my triumvirate alongside De Anda and Tijuana’s. But wait, what about Lily’s? Oh. What comes after a triumvirate?
Wednesday’s column starts with the latest from the Chino Valley Unified school board, where one member made the TV news for a nine-minute monologue at a recent meeting on a multitude of hot-button topics. From there, I’ve got three Culture Corner items (two involving Debbie Reynolds — how about that?), two examples of the 909 in the news and even more.
Occasionally I would eat at the Pick Up Stix at 131 W. Foothill Blvd. in Upland, especially before City Council meetings. On April 28, after bowling nearby, I drove up, hungry, and found this sign: “Temporarily closed due to equipment repairs,” with a note that there’s a new Upland location at the Colonies shopping center.
Turns out the Foothill location is permanently closed. It’s about to become home to a Lebanese restaurant, Mes Amis. Was the sign an example of denial?
I’m reminded of a New Orleans restaurant that used to operate in Montclair. The landlord canceled the lease and sold the property, but the restaurateur claimed to me that he didn’t know anything about it. After the last day, a sign was posted on the door that the restaurant was “closed for remodeling” — not long before the building was demolished.
Some friends and I made an inaugural visit to the Tam o’ Shanter, a Los Angeles restaurant. The Tam (2980 Los Feliz Blvd.) opened in 1922 and is said to be the city’s oldest restaurant in its original location and owned by the same family. (It’s also said by Jonathan Gold to serve the city’s best classic cocktail, the Moscow mule.)
I saw toad in the hole on the menu and couldn’t resist. I’ve never had one, and what a great name. It’s described as filet mignon with onions, mushrooms, burgundy wine sauce and Yorkshire pudding. I couldn’t picture it but was ready to be surprised. And was.
Yorkshire pudding, it turns out, is basically a puffy pastry. I don’t know what the toad is, and didn’t see any holes, but I liked it. That said, if I return, and I may someday because the Scottish theme, cozy setting and history make the Tam a unique spot, I’d probably opt for something different; one friend got a hand-carved prime rib sandwich on an enormous poppyseed bun.
What is toad in the hole? My understanding is there are various versions, and the American style can differ from the original British. The Simply Recipes site says the English version is sausages in Yorkshire pudding, while the American is “an egg cooked in the hole cut out of a piece of bread.” You’ll note that these two dishes have absolutely nothing in common.
One reason for my interest is the old stand at the L.A. County Fair named Toad in the Hole. It was there from 1933 until 2008, when it was bulldozed. The stand’s motto was “The Aristocrat of Foods.” Its last decade, it was Toad in the Hole Pizza, which seems less aristocratic somehow. As for what the stand served, Charles Phoenix said it was “filet mignon tucked inside baked potato,” while a Fair spokeswoman said it was “a piece of toast with an egg fried inside it.”
It’s not surprising these recollections differ, is it? Anyway, above is the Tam o’ Shanter version, below is the Tam’s sign and at bottom is the Fair’s stand, as seen on the Panoramio website by Pomona’s Danny Mac.
Sunday’s column reports on the last two (!) Ontario City Council meetings. (I had to watch one on video.) They’re starting to act up again, which will teach me to abandon them for Chino.