When a queen visited Pomona

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A request to local librarians for information on a visit to Ontario and environs by the royal family of Thailand in 1960 turned up a different but related piece of information.

In 1962, the queen of Afghanistan visited Pomona. Why, we even have photographic evidence. (She’s the woman in the sunglasses, no doubt worn for protection against the harsh Pomona sun.)

According to Kimberley Erickson of the Cal Poly Pomona University Library’s special collections department: “Here is a photo taken Sept. 15, 1962, during the Queen of Afghanistan’s visit to Cal Poly Pomona. The Queen, Her Majesty Homaira of Afghanistan, is standing next to the Arabian stallion, Poly Royal. Immediately to her left are campus president Charles McPhee and Mrs. McPhee.”

The horse was named Poly Royal? The queen must have felt right at home among fellow royalty.

So what was with all the Asian monarchs — Afghanistan, Thailand — traipsing around out here in the Kennedy years? That I can’t answer.

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Fireworks and family

Fairplex has offered me a family package (admission for four, $60 value) for its Kaboom! fireworks show, which you won’t be surprised to learn is July 4, to be given to readers in whatever fashion I choose. “The evening features monster trucks and motocross stunts as well as one of the largest fireworks displays in California,” says Heather Tanji, communications associate.

Rather than ask you to be the seventh caller to my blog, let’s do it like this: Share a favorite memory of fireworks shows past, from whatever venue, state or time of life you wish. Best story (at my discretion) gets the package. A winner will be named Friday morning.

This is new to me, too, so we’ll see if this idea goes well or goes Kaboom! Above is a 1:28 video from the 2007 show.

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Pedestrians pause at pocket parks in Pomona

Downtown Pomona in the past year has created eight parklets, generally by converting a parking space into a public space by adding a bench, planters, a trash can and a bike rack. Neat idea, successful elsewhere, but the city’s efforts were overlooked by a Westways magazine feature on L.A. County parklets. Naturally, that’s where I come in, as I do with Sunday’s column.

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Japandroids @ the Glass House

I’d only heard of the Japandroids, rather than having heard them, but knowing they were coming to Pomona, I bought their “Celebration Rock” CD last weekend to study up. The chance to see an acclaimed indie band on their way up, without having to drive more than a few miles from home, is too good to pass up.

It’s just two guys, but they make a mighty racket.┬áSince January they’ve performed in England, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, North Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, both weekends of the Coachella festival and, in between, Oakland. Pomona was their last date for a month.

“Your enthusiasm is basically the only thing keeping us alive and playing at this point,” singer-guitarist Brian King said a couple of songs in.

He asked the audience to sing along during “Nights of Wine and Roses”: “If you can help us sing, it would be much appreciated. Our throats are full of Coachella dust.” As the song had been playing in my head all day, it was particularly satisfying to hear it live.

The audience loved them, and there was a lot of bumping going on near the stage. I was back along the wall or, toward the end, up on the mezzanine. It was a relatively short set, just under an hour, and with no encore. But they seemed to be giving everything they had, or everything they had left, both of them flailing away, and with King even climbing onto David Prowse’s drum kit during “The House That Heaven Built,” the closer. A fun night.

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the xx @ the Fox

The English pop band the xx performed a sold-out show Wednesday at the Fox Theater in Pomona between dates at the Coachella festival. Above are bassist Oliver Sim, foreground, and guitarist Romy Madley-Croft, left, the band’s principals.

Very moody and atmospheric stuff, as the lighting hints at, and the audience ate it up. There were screams as if we were watching the Beatles. I was curious to see them because several of my friends are big fans, and critics love them too, but I haven’t connected, at least not yet. They did put on a good show and seemed genuinely touched by the rapturous response: “Again and again and again, thank you so much,” Sim said earnestly toward the end.

On the floor, it seemed like half the fans had cell phones or cameras to take photos or record videos, as the picture below indicates. In front of me, both halves of a couple viewed the show almost exclusively through tiny screens. What, can’t they share a single video later? Try to coexist (to quote the title of the band’s latest album)!

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Arby’s site gets a boost

Something’s coming soon to the old Arby’s in Pomona, but it’s not a restaurant. Rather, a Boost Mobile store will occupy the Conestoga wagon-shaped building at 2250 N. Garey Ave. Arby’s opened in 1970 and closed in May 2012, taking its charming ten-gallon hat-shaped neon sign with it.

Richard Nichols, who alerted me to the sign, joked: “For $55 a month you get unlimited everything, including Horsey Sauce.”

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Postal Service @ the Fox

Above are Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard of the pop group Postal Service, performing at the Fox Pomona on Monday night. Excellent show and my new favorite band. Is it possible to say that about a lineup that released its one and only album 10 years ago? It was reissued with bonus tracks last week, and purchased by yours truly, who had never heard of them until recently. The band has reunited for a spring tour and Coachella festival appearance, but probably not for new recordings. Well, I love them anyway.

They performed every song off their album (how could they not have?) but in arrangements that were more urgent and guitar-driven. Beautiful stuff.

Below, fans congregate outside the Fox afterward. Third Street is blocked off at Garey and Thomas streets, allowing fans to take photos of the blazing marquee without fear of traffic. A nice touch.

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