Column: With sandwich, Montclair meeting becomes dinner theater

For a change of pace, and also to hear the discussion about the Gold Line, I attended Tuesday’s Montclair City Council meeting. I decided kind of late to go, and was starving. So I got a sandwich on my way, to go, and took it to eat during the meeting. Despite having attended hundreds, maybe a thousand, public meetings in my career, this was a first. Who says I can’t innovate?

(Although the audience was sparse and I tried to eat discreetly — such as taking bites of my crunchy sandwich when people were applauding — I felt a little guilty about the whole thing. Didn’t want to seem rude. Of course, there’s no sign on the door banning “outside food and drink,” I bought my meal in Montclair and everyone expects newspapermen to be ill-mannered slobs, so maybe I got a pass.

Sunday’s column about the meeting can be read here. And I’ve updated my 2008 blog post about Super Sandwich here, adding photos.

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Column: Montclair Plaza’s birds now roosting at City Hall

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Remember the bird sculptures from Montclair Plaza’s JC Penney atrium? You might if you lived here prior to the mid-1980s, when they were removed. Now they’re back, only this time they’re at City Hall, inside and out. Read all about it in my Friday column.

Above, an undated photo from the book “Images of Montclair.” Below, a view of the west lobby of City Hall, showing five of the 12 birds that are back on display.

A city employee talks about the restoration in a short video. There’s also a hyperlink in the column for (heh heh) a scene from “The Birds.”

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Don Jose marks 40 years

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The one in Montclair opened in 1979, but Southern California’s Don Jose Mexican Restaurant chain (its website is here) is marking its 40th anniversary, its Orange location having opened in 1972.

I’ve only eaten there once or twice, but I enjoyed the experience. It was the first time I ever ordered fajitas.

Montclair reader Anna Hernandez alerted me after the fact to the anniversary, which featured a one-day rollback in price one recent weekend.

“I enjoyed dinner for $2, plus margaritas! As did many, probably hundreds, more,” Hernandez, a regular, told me by email. She lauded the professional staff, tasty food, fun atmosphere and an operation that ran smoothly despite the crush of customers.

She said apologetically: “If you missed it, sorry I didn’t alert you sooner.”

That’s OK, Anna. I probably wouldn’t have wanted a delicious meal from a friendly staff for $2 anyway.

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A courthouse memento

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There’s a long wooden bench for customer seating at Toyotech, an auto repair business in Montclair. Where did it come from? From the old courthouse that used to stand at Sixth Street and Mountain Avenue in Ontario, now the site of a shopping center.

Toyotech owner Rick Kaplan used to be a deputy in the sheriff’s substation at the courthouse, which closed in the late 1980s. He claimed a bench prior to the courthouse’s mid-1990s demolition. The hard wooden benches were used as seating in courtrooms.

“Everyone thinks it’s a pew from a church,” Kaplan said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth!”

The full-length cushion is a recent addition, a gift from a customer — and much appreciated.

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Wiggle room

After a photo appeared with my column of the platter of fried worms I had in Mexico City…

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…I took my car to my mechanic in Montclair for an oil change. He and his wife welcomed me back from Mexico with a surprise: a bowl of worms. Of the Gummi variety, on a bed of crushed Oreos. I have the weirdest — but nicest — readers.

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