Column: Gun-protest Nativity canceled in Claremont

Remember the controversial Nativity scenes at a Claremont church in recent years, the subject of columns here the past two years? This year’s didn’t happen, a fate that became the subject of my Wednesday column — with a rendering of the startling scene the artist proposed. I can see the pastor’s point as well as the artist’s. Where do your sympathies lie?

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Column: Claremont High’s unclaimed celebrity: Frank Zappa

This talent show photo from the 1954 Claremont High yearbook is said to depict Frank Zappa.  He is not officially recognized as an alumnus, but many in the Class of 1958 remember his having attended briefly. (Courtesy photo)

This talent show photo from the 1954 Claremont High yearbook is said to depict Frank Zappa. He is not officially recognized as an alumnus, but many in the Class of 1958 remember his having attended briefly. (Courtesy photo)

Did Frank Zappa ever attend Claremont High School? No official record has ever surfaced, and he’s not considered an alumnus. But Zappa once listed Claremont among the four schools he attended (his family moved frequently), and many 1950s classmates say they remember him. And have they got stories. My Sunday column explains.

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Claremont music school’s recital brings cheer, cash

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The Claremont Community School of Music hosted its sixth annual Mayor’s Recital and dinner Nov. 21 at Padua Hills Theatre, an event to which yours truly was invited.

Some 200 people were there and more than $13,000 was raised for scholarships to defray tuition for lower-income students, who range from preschool age to senior citizens. The school also wants to expand that opportunity to chamber music, which gives students the chance to perform in small groups, something usually not available to them until college courses, executive director Matt Keating says.

We saw instrumental performances (and a couple of vocal turns) by students, usually children, and while I thought it might be a long night, the students were quite good and the pace brisk.

Oh, yes: Mayor’s Recital? Claremont Mayor Corey Calaycay was there — he’s pictured in the center, holding a proclamation, with┬áthe bushy-haired┬áKeating — but he didn’t perform. He could have, though: He said he studied piano at the school as a boy.

The venue, Padua Hills Theatre, was of course lovely. I’ve been there a handful of times over the years — for a luncheon and for a memorial service — but hadn’t seen a performance in the main room before, just like when the Mexican Players strutted the stage in the old days. I’m glad I attended.

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Column: Little Bridges hits right notes for 100 years

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Sunday’s column is a tribute to Claremont’s Bridges Hall of Music, one of the most gracious civic spaces in the Inland Valley. It turned 100 over the summer. Top three photos courtesy of Pomona College, with the third one showing a detail of the ceiling. The bottom two are by me from the Sept. 27 concert; performers pictured are, from left, Gayle Blankenburg, Holly Shaw Price and Ray Burkhart.

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Farewell, Jeni Wren’s

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I’d had three or four meals at Jeni Wren’s, a new cafe in what had been the Inka Trails location in Claremont on Foothill Boulevard just east of Towne Avenue, and was stockpiling photos and notes for a Restaurant of the Week. It was a cute place, the food was good and the owner was nice.

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My last meal there was Aug. 21, a breakfast pictured above. Isn’t that lovely?

The next time I pulled in was Sept. 2. The restaurant was closed, the exterior was bare and in the back, a faux shutter from the front (pictured up top) was propped up by the trash. Noooo! A few days later, Yelp, where the cafe had a 4.5-star rating, was reporting the restaurant had closed. It had only opened in February.

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A new cafe opened up the next day (there was no exterior sign, so I don’t know the name), also serving breakfast and lunch. It may be perfectly good or even better, who knows, but I’m sorry Jeni Wren’s is gone. It was becoming my new favorite restaurant before it was nipped in the bud.

In its honor, here’s a link to Paul McCartney’s 2006 song “Jenny Wren,” which came to mind every time I thought of the restaurant.

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Column: Latest dirt on Claremont City Hall is in a mound

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A mound of dirt was fronting Claremont City Hall on Monday. Baseball? No, it’s part of the renovations to the landscaping. Ontario City Hall has also torn out its lawn. That’s the first part of my Wednesday column, followed by five Chino Valley items, three Culture Corner items and one about the royal family that comes from (why not?) a reader in La Verne.

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