Column: ‘Love A Fair’? Then this might be for you

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A sort of shadow fair is taking place in downtown Pomona at the dA Center for the Arts, where the exhibit “Love A Fair” pays tribute to the postwar version of the LA County Fair, the contemporary version of which is going on elsewhere in town. My Friday column tells what it’s about. There are events the next three Saturdays. Above, Barry Cisneros’ “Clock Tower, LA County Fair.”

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Restaurant of the Week: The Stackz Co.

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The Stackz Co., 9223 Archibald Ave. (at Sixth), Rancho Cucamonga

I’ve passed by Stackz, which wasn’t far from our old office, but never pulled over. The aging business center is uninspiring, and then there’s the Z in the name and on the second sign, “Subz, Saladz and Brewz,” which subtly offended me.

Then we moved our office over to Archibald, where we’re now 3/10ths of a mile from Stackz. A couple of newsroom colleagues reported how good it was, as did a random reader. So I dropped my prejudices and went in.

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Stackz has beer and wine cocktails, and also sandwiches and salads. The interior is industrial chic, with plank walls, exposed ductwork, corrugated metal trim, a barrel and some interesting art, all vintage B&W photos of early airplanes and bicycles, I think to match the old-timey design of the logo.

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You order at the bar and take a seat at a table, a picnic table or the bar. On my first visit, I got the meatball sandwich ($8) as a combo with fries and drink ($3 more). This sandwich was very good, especially the springy roll, which tasted fresh. It was a pleasant surprise. No wonder people say nice things about Stackz.

I went back another day and got the cold Italian sub as a combo with chips and drink (same price as above). While I’m not generally a fan of cold sandwiches, this was pretty good too.

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The atmosphere is somewhat male. The majority of customers are men, and on my first visit, a picnic table of them silently eyeballed the female server as she walked away. That said, the service is friendly, there are women customers and the menu even has kids items. Also, the sandwiches are quite good. I’d go back even if I had to drive a few miles.

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The Terra Vista 6

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Rancho Cucamonga’s Terra Vista 6 may be the Inland Valley’s forgotten movie theater. It’s not owned by any of the majors and is tucked away off Town Center Drive behind the Terra Vista Town Center shopping center.

Sometimes it comes to mind, especially if I’m on Haven Avenue and see the small monument sign with that week’s titles, and think, I ought to go there sometime.

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Weeks ago, I did, catching “Captain America: Civil War” back in May. (I couldn’t decide whether to write a column item or blog post and ended up doing neither, until now.) That evening, a Tuesday, I pulled up to the spacious, near-empty lot and walked around to the ticket window, which faces a courtyard near the food court.

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Had I ever been to the Terra Vista 6? Not that I could recall. I rectified that by buying a ticket, at $8.50 a bargain these days. The ticket taker cheerfully checked my ticket and said, “This will be a good one.” Non-robotic service? It’s appreciated.

The mulitplex opened in 1991 — “The Doors” was among the first films that played — and was an Edwards originally; if you didn’t know that, the restrooms on the mezzanine level, an Edwards hallmark, would tip you off.

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The theater has a 1980s, padded-wall look, like stepping back in time to a hokier era of cinema. The seats have been replaced, though, with semi-recliners. Basically, they tip back whether you want them to or not. It was not entirely comfortable, but it was okay, and the movie was good enough that I didn’t care.

Terra Vista 6 is owned by Tristone, which has five other theaters: Brea, Jurupa Valley, Palm Desert, Simi Valley and Temecula. Enjoy the Rancho Cucamonga one while it’s still around, flying under the valley’s radar.

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Reading Log: August 2016

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Books acquired: none

Books read: “Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books,” Paul Collins; “Mary Shelley: A Biography,” Muriel Spark; “John Carter of Mars,” Edgar Rice Burroughs; “The Divine Invasion,” Philip K. Dick.

The dog days of summer were a good time for me as a reader, yielding my first four-book month since March. I read a book about books, a literary biography with criticism, an entry in a classic science fiction-adventure series and a modern-ish science fiction novel.

In “Sixpence House,” an American bibliophile relocates temporarily with wife and toddler to Hay-on-Wye, the small Welsh town with 1,500 people and 40 antiquarian bookstores, where he observes UK life, thinks about books and quotes amusingly from rare ones. Slight, perhaps — some find it twee and annoying, or un-American because he’s (gasp) critical of things like our health care system — but to my taste this was witty and gentle. If you think you would like it, you probably would.

After reading “Frankenstein” and (especially) “The Last Man,” I wanted to know more about Mary Shelley. “Mary Shelley: A Biography” helped. The daughter of a famous feminist (who died days after giving birth) and a famous philosopher, she ran off with the married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, had five children with him (four of whom died, not atypical for the era) and soldiered on after Shelley’s death. Hers is one of the great literary stories of the 19th century, even if she’s often relegated to the role of Shelley’s wife rather than a great writer in her own regard.

Spark’s writing, alas, was neither here nor there, a fascinating life was made less so, and in the conclusion, the points she said she’d made hadn’t made any impression on me. Oops. You might be better off with her Wikipedia page, although I have a second Shelley tome awaiting me, one that seems more feminist and provocative.

“John Carter of Mars” is, surprisingly given the title, the last in the John Carter of Mars series. I own but haven’t read the previous 10, but saw no reason to stick to the order in this case, as No. 11 is composed of two novellas and required no previous knowledge. The better one was meant as the first part of a novel that was never written. The other was said to have been ghost-written by a Burroughs son. This slim book is an addendum to the whole series and sends it off with a whimper. Nice to have it out of the way. On the other hand, what boy, or former boy, can resist a story titled “The Skeleton Men of Jupiter”?

Lastly, “The Divine Invasion” is the middle part of Dick’s Valis trilogy but is so loosely related that one doesn’t have to have read the first, “Valis.” God has been exiled to a far world by Belial. He chooses two emigrants to be a new Mary and Joseph to carry his son to Earth to redeem it in hopes this time it will take. A serious (mostly), audacious, quasi-mystical disquisition on God, Satan, good and evil, this is one of PKD’s finest, most realized novels, and to my mind a step up from “Valis.”

Where’d I pick up these books? The Collins and Burroughs books were the last of my unread Powell’s Books purchases from 2013 (the former from the Burnside location, the latter from the main store). I wanted to read them before my next trip to Portland, occurring within days! The Spark bio came from the Iliad in North Hollywood earlier this year. The Dick novel was bought off eBay a few years ago.

How was your August, readers?

Next month: I go all Mexican on you.


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Restaurant of the Week: Combine Kitchen

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Combine Kitchen, 12750 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Etiwanda), Rancho Cucamonga; open daily

Combine Kitchen is in what some of us call Foncho, the area east of the 15 Freeway that is almost Fontana but is still Rancho Cucamonga. Specifically, it’s in a modern center near Sacred Heart Catholic that has (ooh-la-la) Tilted Kilt, Starbucks and the area’s first dim sum restaurant, China Republic.

Combine is like almost nothing else in the area: a hipster coffeehouse with gastropub food, from a menu that changes seasonally. A foodie pal raved about it. A friend and I took a long lunch there recently.

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First you order a drink and they prepare it, then they’ll take your food order. They have espresso, chemex, nitro cold brew and pour overs, plus some oddities, like the Mello Yello, which is tumeric and ginger tea mixed with almond milk, and More Fat Coffee, with grass-fed butter, coconut oil and cinnamon — as the menu puts it, “don’t knock it till you try it.”

The menu has only a few items — five sandwiches, five breakfast items and three bowls, plus a special or two. Vegetarian and gluten-free items are marked, although there may not be enough of them; a vegetarian friend whom I invited for dinner declined because all she could get was one item, which had goat cheese, which she didn’t like. So there’s that.

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There are muffins and cookies at the counter, by the way.

But back to lunch. My friend had the Combine breakfast, scrambled eggs with bacon, potatoes and garlic toast ($11.50), plus an iced coffee ($4.45). I got the pork belly banh mi sandwich ($11.50) and potatoes, plus a cold brew float ($6.50).

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For seating, there’s a counter, communal tables and a shallow window counter, plus some nooks and crannies, the whole room sleek and modern, with lots of natural light. At one table, a mother was teaching her young son to read. There are a few shelves with specialty items arranged for sale, including books.

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We liked our food, including the potatoes, which are smashed flat. As a non-coffee person, I’m not sure what I was thinking by ordering a cold brew float. I had the jitters from the first sip that lasted the rest of the day. But that might be your thing.

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My foodie friend at last report had enjoyed the steak and eggs on garlic toast, shrooms and eggs on toast, lox and pork belly, all of which he called amazing, as well as several coffee drinks.

Combine is open for coffee from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For food, breakfast and lunch are served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; after a two-hour break, the dinner menu runs from 5 to 9 p.m., except Mondays.

Basically, it’s a bit of Silver Lake in Rancho Cucamonga. If that sounds as appealing to you as it does to me, further instructions are unnecessary.

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Update September 2016: I had breakfast: shrooms on toast, with a side of bacon, and it was even better than I’d hoped, plus a chai latte.

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Column: Ontario dreamed of high-rises, settled for warehouses

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You know that sprawling field north of the 10 Freeway in Ontario? Since the Reagan years it was set aside for a new, urban downtown with high-rise offices, restaurants, apartments and more. Now it’s being developed with warehouses. (This is why we can’t have nice things.) Wednesday’s column delves into the dream that was.

Above, the view from Fourth Street, looking east.

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