Column: Laemmle theater owners love art films, sex kittens

A special screening of the classic French film “Contempt” in Claremont on Sunday drew not only cinema lovers, but the owners of the Laemmle theater chain, who reflected on the theater’s fortunes and the film’s star, Brigitte Bardot. That’s the first item in Friday’s column, which also works in items from Montclair, Chino, Chino Hills, Rancho Cucamonga and Pomona.

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Column: Fresher pastures as Claremont’s Cheese Cave expands to LA

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Reed Herrick and Lydia Clarke, seen at Grand Central Market.

The Cheese Cave, a Claremont gourmet food shop, is opening a second location, this one in downtown LA’s Grand Central Market. It’s a rare example of a business from the 909 expanding to LA rather than vice-versa. Wednesday’s column tells the story.

For careful readers, this is the interview in LA that I combined with a Metrolink trip to LA Opera last Wednesday, as mentioned in last Friday’s column.

Grand Central Market, founded in 1917, is one block north of the Pershing Square subway stop, making it easy to visit for Metrolink riders. The market is well worth a visit.

The Cheese Cave’s website is here, and a 2010 feature from this newspaper by my former colleague Wendy Leung offers a detailed, lyrical take on the shop.

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Column: Pomona College origin story leaves no cornerstone unturned

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What may be Claremont’s most obscure monument has stood at Fourth and College since 1895. It commemorates a new Pomona College headquarters that was started miles away in the foothills in 1888 and never completed. But the cornerstone was rescued seven years later and moved to the Claremont campus. The strange story is in my Wednesday column.

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Gabrielle Giffords, the Scripps years

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Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman, came to Scripps College in Claremont on Saturday to receive the Ellen Browning Scripps Medal. The 1993 alumnus, who was commencement speaker in 2009, later toured the campus and posted a couple of photos to her Instagram account of her name on the Scripps graffiti wall (evidently from 20 years ago) and of her and her husband in front of her old dormitory. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Latin American history (!). Scripps sent us a few photos, including these two, from her 1993 yearbook. Her Wikipedia entry explains her career, including her near-fatal 2011 shooting and her 2012 resignation to concentrate on recovery.
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Claremont, the poster

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I saw this poster on an Expo Line train last weekend in L.A. The MTA has posters for many, maybe all, of the county’s cities, which are displayed at various subway and train stations. The one for Pomona is, or at least was, at the Civic Center stop. This Claremont poster, with art by Jessica Polzin McCoy, is relatively new, as is the Expo Line itself. (it currently runs from Seventh Street downtown to Culver City. A second phase, to Santa Monica, is due in 2015.)

“Delicate watercolors depict a college town that flourishes within the creative environment of The Claremont University Consortium,” the text reads, “and opens an informal invitation to visit a backyard, ride a bike, step into a shady grove and attend school.”

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Pie judges had plenty of wedge issues

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I was a judge, one of 16, at the Claremont Pie Festival on Saturday. I describe the experience in my Wednesday column.

Above, I’m hard at work, a moment captured by impish Claremont Councilman Sam Pedroza, who wasn’t a judge (Corey Calaycay was) but kibitzed with us. Below, a typical serving, of which we generally ate half, and below that, the scene afterward in which bakers served free tastes of their entries.

piefest2piefest3And you can watch a 45-second video — my first, and it shows — of a portion of the pie-eating contest here.

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‘World War Z’ and Claremont

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Careful readers of the book “World War Z” have noted one incident in the war against zombies takes place at the Claremont Colleges. In full:

“Just outside of Greater Los Angeles, in a town called Claremont, are five colleges – Pomona, Pitzer, Scripps, Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna College. At the start of the Great Panic, when everyone else was literally running for the hills, three hundred college students chose to make a stand. They turned the Women’s College at Scripps into something resembling a medieval city. They got their supplies from the other campuses; their weapons were a mix of gardening tools and ROTC rifles. They planted gardens, dug wells, fortified an already existing wall. While the mountains burned behind them, and the surrounding suburbs descended into violence, those 300 kids held off 10,000 zombies! Ten thousand over the course of four months, until the Inland Empire could finally be purified. We were lucky to get there just at the tail end, just in time to see the last of the undead fall, as cheering students and soldiers linked up under the oversized, homemade Old Glory fluttering from the Pomona bell tower.”

Max Brooks, author of the 2006 novel, is a 1994 Pitzer graduate, and he gave the college’s 2011 commencement. A Claremont McKenna College writeup tells the whole story and links to a video of his speech.

The movie version, starring Brad Pitt (presumably not as a zombie) and probably not featuring the Claremont Colleges, is due in theaters Friday.

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Raku folds after 56 years in Claremont

Wednesday’s column tells the history of a long-lived Claremont gift shop, Raku, that closed earlier this year.

And let me say, without my blog, this column might not exist. I posted news of Raku’s closure here, several of you commented (Meredith Evans and George Goad’s comments made the column), and Doug Lawrie, the store’s co-founder, saw the post somehow and emailed me. Then he put me in touch with Jerry and Peggy Miller, the other co-founders.

Seemed like a piece of Claremont history that ought to be told. Rather belatedly, here it is.

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