I’m off this week for a visit to — why not? — San Antonio, Texas. I’ll have a column Wednesday, written last week from items left over that really needed to get in, but otherwise you probably won’t be hearing from me. I’ll check in a time or two to see if anyone commented, though.
For Wednesday I’m writing my column on the 50th anniversary of a national monument, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, with which I’m fairly familiar. Here are a few extra photos.
Above, the Arch is framed in an entranceway to the Old Courthouse. (I was exiting on my June visit, saw someone taking a photo and quickly took one myself.)
Below, a view from under the Arch, which is 630 feet high and the same span wide.
And, below, a family snapshot from 1968 of your young columnist on his first visit. My legs, like the Arch’s, are bare.
Have you ever been to the Arch? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it.
Monday is our first day in our new office, 9616 Archibald Ave. in Rancho Cucamonga. Boxes are everywhere and people are getting oriented, getting their computers hooked up and unpacking.
As with our old office, I managed to get two adjoining cubicles: one for storage and memorabilia, the other for work. At this point, they’re still virgin territory, a blank slate on which to write.
We use laptops, technically, but for office use hook them to a standard keyboard and monitor. It may seem confusing, but it’s simpler to have various Internet windows on one screen and my column (or, for reporters, their story) on the other. This is the view from my chair.
If I turn around, though, there’s a window onto Archibald. Our old, bunker-like office infamously had no windows. Our new office is a clear win in that regard.
We’ll have an open house in a few weeks once we’re settled in but before it goes to seed.
Having cleared off much of my main desk on Friday, on Monday afternoon (after writing much of Wednesday’s column, because deadlines never stop) I tackled my second cubicle, on which I keep various tchotchkes: commemorative items from local events, strange gifts and the like. See above.
Newsroom types call it Dave’s Museum and suggest I put up velvet ropes and charge admission. They also suggest I organize it, which I never made time to do.
And now I have to pack it or toss it. I’m doing a little of each. I tossed two military Meals Ready to Eat that someone gave me. I tossed a Debbie Acker real estate ad that described her as “a name you know and trust.” I tossed a couple of Mike Antonovich’s famous Christmas cards.
And, with some heartburn, I tossed all my Daily Bulletin reporter notebooks, the ones I take on assignment and use at my desk, going back to around 2002. All along we’ve been officially discouraged from saving notebooks, but I kept mine, and a couple of times they came in handy, including earlier this year, when I found my interview notes with Archie Wilson from years ago. (Shockingly, I found them within about one minute.)
By and large, though, the notebooks just take up space. Unless I have a change of heart and rescue them from the trash bin, they’re gone too.
We’re cleaning out, packing up and moving our office, as noted in Sunday’s column. I’ve got two adjoining cubicles to deal with in the coming days. Among the items: these two whiteboards, on which I would note column ideas.
Most of the potential ideas above were scribbled down 5 or 10 years ago, and only a very few were ever written and erased, or semi-erased. The board below is newer and its ideas are more like a year old. Clearly a whiteboard is not the best place to write ideas if they’re going to remain there semi-permanently. What can I say, I do cover news, and stray ideas tend to fall by the wayside.
For a clean slate (literally) for the new office, I erased both boards. But by posting these photos, at least the ideas are here if I need them. That is, if I can read them, and then remember what they mean.
Readers tend to ask me the same general questions, namely, ones that might occur to anyone (do I work at home, what’s my favorite column, how’s the paper doing, did you grow up here, etc.). But now and then a question seems to come out of nowhere.
For instance, there was the woman who, after a book signing in Pomona in February, asked conspiratorially, “Are you really bald or do you just shave your head?”
This brings us to last week, in a Q&A in Rancho Cucamonga, where a man threw a very original Q at me: “Is ‘David Allen’ your real name or a pen name?”
After a couple of seconds of gaping at him, I replied, “Because ‘David Allen’ is such a glamorous and exciting name, it can’t possibly be real?”
“It’s a yes or no question,” he said defensively. (It’s not, though, is it?)
For the record, it’s my real name. I’d like to think that if I wanted a pen name, I could come up with something a little more exotic.
On Thursday I spoke to the Rancho Cucamonga Kiwanis Club and received a gift in a be-ribboned box, which I opened that evening at home. Expecting a coffee mug, the typical takeaway from these gigs, I was instead surprised with….punctuation. This statuette is now in an honored position on my desk — at least until Crosby Stills Nash Young tell me it’s theirs and ask for it back.
In a series of classroom visits by library representatives, Ontario kindergartners are all getting library cards. I asked about tagging along and instead wound up making a visit myself — and reading to children. Yikes! But, anything for literacy. I tell the story in Friday’s column.
Above photo by Courtney Saldana of the library; photos below by Jana Dupree from Ontario-Montclair School District. In the bottom photo, the adults are, from left, teacher Sally Kinderstuth, Saldana and myself, all of us overshadowed, I think, by the giant on the right.
I got an Ontario City Library card the other afternoon. I had always thought of getting one, especially after shaming Gary Ovitt into signing up a few years ago, under the theory that the guy whose name is on the building ought to have one. Since I only work here rather than live here, I didn’t know if I qualified.
But then I was volunteered (note verb tense) to help get library cards to kindergartners, and that seemed like a good time to ask what the rules are, because it felt like if I were handing out cards, I should have one. Turns out anyone can get one. So I got one.
Later, the library director, Helen McAlary, told me there’s no residency requirement because so many potential users may work in the city but live elsewhere, or have some other reason for wanting to visit.
There’s not even a minimum age. “Even a newborn can be given one,” she said. “But we prefer they be old enough to know what they’re getting.”
I didn’t check anything out, and given all the unread books and unwatched DVDs in my home, I don’t know when I will. But I can, if the mood strikes. When the circulation clerk told me I could check out 20 items at a time, my heart beat a little faster. It took me back to the excitement of getting a library card as a boy and all the happy hours I spent at the library.
My assignment isn’t quite as special as the firefighter’s, and definitely not as dangerous. To explain this note in today’s print edition, my column for Wednesday was very different, and on a sensitive but newsworthy subject, one potentially of interest to our sister papers around LA. So we decided to hold it to run Sunday, where it will have more impact anyway, and make sure we’re presenting it right.
That’s a good call, even if it meant forgoing a column for Wednesday.
Now, I’ve got to get to work on Friday’s column, as well as tomorrow’s Restaurant of the Week blog post.