Sacramento Bee’s love letter to Claremont

I’m late on this, but the Bee ran a lengthy paean of praise about Claremont back in November. The piece, detailed, fond and witty, ran in the Travel section. It’s nice to see an outsider so jazzed about the characteristics of a place we may take for granted.

That said, he goes a little overboard, and his superficial dig at Pomona after apparently seeing a few blocks of Indian Hill irks me. Hey, you can find Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican and soul food on Indian Hill in Pomona, arguably more diversity than what he’s marveling about in Claremont. Grr. (Characteristically, the only reason I know this article exists is because a Claremonter bragged to me about it — by bringing up the Pomona slam.)

Oh well. I do like this line: “…you’ll encounter all the markers of a college-town milieu, from the grossly disproportionate number of frozen yogurt establishments to the cadre of crunchy, burned-out locals who lounge outside coffee shops all day.”

Read the piece here, look at the photo gallery here and offer your reaction below.

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The Laemmle theater chain’s seventh annual “Sing-Along ‘Fiddler on the Roof’” will screen at the Laemmle Claremont 5 at 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Lyrics will be provided to the film’s songs, which include “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life” and “Sunrise Sunset”; trivia and prizes are promised and attending in costume is encouraged, if your wardrobe runs to early 20th century Russian village attire. Admission is $18, or $15 for seniors.

The movie lasts (ulp) three hours, by the way.

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Stephen Neil Hyland Jr. in the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial


I visited the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial in November, the subject of my Wednesday column. Lt. Col. Stephen Neil Hyland Jr., a Claremont native, is honored there. Here are photos of the scene. Above is the explanatory display outside the memorial.


Victims’ names are in alphabetical order and their year of birth is noted.


The memorial itself.


Around the perimeter of the memorial, a wall rises from 3 inches to 71 inches, the age range of the victims. Panels show each birth year. 1955 was Hyland’s.


I turned and saw this line of benches. Some years have one, some have many. Benches for Pentagon employees face the building; ones for passengers on American Airlines Flight 77 face away, along the path the plane took, according to Wikipedia.


This is Hyland’s.


Above is another view, Hyland’s bench in the foreground.


On my way out, I noticed this panel. Someone had used ground cover to spell out “Love.”

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Bummer! Hip Kitty jazz club to close



Hip Kitty, a Claremont lounge specializing in fondue and live music, will soon end its run. The business is in the process of being sold and is expected to close Jan. 31.

I was there with friends on Saturday celebrating a birthday. (Hi, Allison Evans!) Owner Nancy Tessier came over to say hello and I gave her the third degree. Ehh, it’s what I do. She confirmed that the club would soon close.

She opened the club in April 2007, shortly after her husband, Jerry, had finished renovation of the old citrus packing plant and opened it as the Packing House, which has businesses and lofts. She’d like to focus on her family, and maybe expand it, and decided she was better off selling the business, which is still successful, as the full house showed.

The new owners plan a speakeasy theme and may call the place Whisper. They will serve small plates and concentrate on cocktails. No fondue and, more crucially, no live music. Tessier was sorry about that and so are musicians: She’s always booked jazz and swing bands for the retro-themed club.

That night, the Lindy Sisters, a trio in the mold of the Andrews Sisters, performed, backed by the Hepcats. Watch a video here of them performing “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Tessier said she’s booked other favorites for farewell appearances through January. The last night is undetermined but may fall in early February, depending on when the sale closes.

I’m sorry the lounge is closing, but at least it’s going out in style, and while it’s still popular. Check it out one — or more — last times before Hip Kitty slinks away into the moonlight.

* Update: The club is now expected to close in late March. My colleague Wes Woods wrote a feature on the place with photos.


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‘Christmas’ in Claremont


“A Christmas Story” will screen at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Garner House Courtyard in Memorial Park, 840 N. Indian Hill Blvd., courtesy of Claremont Heritage. Dress warmly as the screening is outdoors — although with a storm expected, the screening will be moved indoors at the same location. Admission is free and hot cocoa and cider will be provided. Film-specific attire is encouraged — but please, don’t bring a BB gun.

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Column: The life artistic? Bill Murray-themed art show coming

A small art show Dec. 13 in Claremont is causing a stir because it will consist of artists’ views of actor Bill Murray — and because some misconstrue the wording of the flier to think Murray will attend. I set the record straight on this crucial matter, as well as offering items from Pomona, Montclair and the cultural scene, and plugging two “Pomona A to Z” events, in Friday’s column.

(Look for references to four examples of Murray’s work, one of them in the headline, although I kept the nods subtle, as Murray would. Can you identify them all?)

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An artistic ‘no thank you’


This whimsical but pointed placard decorates the front door of John and Karen Neiuber’s home in Claremont. (Nobody says “get lost” like a Claremonter.)

The placard was made by artist Fred Babb, who had a store in Cambria and who died in 2006. The Neiubers own a second Babb piece, which reads, “Art is working on something until YOU like it and then leaving it that way.”

John says of the piece above: “The no-soliciting sign works really well. We get stuff dropped off on our porch, but even the Jehovah’s Witnesses pass us by.”

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