‘World War Z’ and Claremont


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.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Shop is on a quest for new comic readers

Friday’s column is about a comic shop, the cleverly named A Shop Called Quest, that opened recently in Claremont. It’s downtown, a rarity for a (these days) niche product like comic books, meaning that plenty of people who aren’t looking for comics are passing by and, in some cases, walking in.

Saturday, not coincidentally to the timing of today’s column, is Free Comic Book Day, a national promotion in which you can walk into a comic shop and get a free comic book. The FCBD website lists all the free comics and has a store locator. My column also gives the names and addresses of our handful of local comic shops.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Peppertree Square remodel

The Peppertree Square shopping center in Claremont, which occupies the southeast corner of Indian Hill Boulevard and Arrow Highway, is undergoing a makeover. In this view looking east from Indian Hill, you can see the original look at the far right and a new roofline in various stages of completion along the rest of the center.

I don’t know much about the center but I believe the current look was installed in 1980 and that the center predates that. Can anyone fill us in on that and on past stores at that corner?

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Ray Collins, eternally hanging out

Google Street View now in some cases allows interior views of shops, as in the case of Some Crust Bakery in Claremont. And as reader Gavin alerted me, to my astonishment, the panoramic view of the otherwise-unpopulated shop reveals a familiar face seated at his favorite table outside: Ray Collins, the singer, Mothers of Invention co-founder and Village habitue who died in December.

The fine print on the image says it was shot in August. For those of us who miss him, it’s nice to think that in cyberspace, at least, Collins is still parked outside Some Crust with a cup of coffee.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Some Crust’s well-aged shelves, new-ish door


I learned a couple of interesting facts recently about Some Crust, the bakery at 119 Yale Ave. that may be as perfect a summation of Claremont as any business in the Village.

There’s been a bakery at that location since 1916 — I’ll leave it to a Claremont expert to give me some names — with the Some Crust name inaugurated in 1978. The Feemster family bought it in 1997 and continues operating it today.

The door is notable for an aged-looking crossbar promoting Mother’s Bread. (Ray Collins, the Mothers of Invention co-founder and Some Crust regular, was once photographed pointing deadpan to the word Mother.) This isn’t the original door but rather was installed in 1993 when the movie “My Girl 2″ was filmed downtown. “That was one of the things they put here for set decoration,” manager Scott Feemster told me. Could’ve fooled me (and everyone else).

Inside, however, there’s a very old touch that might not be recognized as such. The shelves behind the counter have been there roughly a century, dating to a dry goods store in that storefront prior to conversion to a bakery in 1916, Feemster said.

There’s a little old and a little new at Some Crust, but it can be hard to tell the difference.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

White smoke seen over Buca di Beppo

A bust of Pope Benedict is pictured above in the popular, tongue-in-cheek Pope Room at the Buca di Beppo Italian restaurant in Claremont on New Year’s Eve. The room, a feature at all the chain’s restaurants, is round, has a round table with a lazy Susan and appropriate art in alcoves and on the domed ceiling. (A friend placed his hat atop the cube, where it seems to float above the Pope’s head.)

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email