Sunday’s column is a tribute to Harry Jaffa, a Claremont man who in 1964 coined the phrase “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” for Barry Goldwater. Jaffa died Jan. 10 at age 96. I met him once and in my column try to make up for a sin of omission from my 1999 profile on him.
I play Drought Scold at a Claremont elementary school, where I happened upon the sprinklers on a full force right after last weekend’s rainstorm. Also: news from Upland (a longtime restaurant closes, and more) and Chino (a tour of police HQ, and more). All this is in Friday’s column.
El Fortin No. 3, 5368 Riverside Drive (at Ninth), Chino
A specialist in food from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, El Fortin occupies an unassuming aqua-and-white building a little east of busy Central Avenue below the 60 Freeway. I’d been meaning to go for some time. When an interview took me to that part of Chino, I went in afterward for a late lunch. (The first El Fortin (“The Fort”) is in Fullerton, the second in Stanton, according to its website. Yelp commenters appear to prefer Chino’s.)
It’s not fancy inside, with worn booths, tables, Oaxaca posters on the walls and TVs at either end of the dining room showing soccer. But it was comfortable and clean. The server brought me some very good chips with salsa and cheese.
I pored over the menu and ordered the plato especial: marinated pork and beef, plantains, guacamole, refried beans, fried cheese and, substituting for a chile relleno, a cactus salad ($8.50). I upgraded to handmade tortillas for $1 more and ordered a Jarritos soda.
The food took a little while but was well worth the wait. Delicioso! I cleaned my plate. Also, the handmade tortillas, crisped in a pan, were excellent, and they were served in a basket wrapped in a kind of doily.
The table service was friendly and the place had a nice vibe to it. And with my bill came four tiny pieces of gum, in various flavors. Back at the office, I showed them to a Latina colleague who lit up, saying she hadn’t seen Canel’s gum since she was a girl. I shared them.
Thank you, El Fortin No. 3.
My Saturday morning flight in a hot air balloon from Upland’s Cable Airport to the best landing spot we could find in Claremont is the subject of Wednesday’s column. Here are some additional photos. And you can watch a short video from near the end of our flight. Above, I’m hanging on for dear life and we haven’t even left the ground.
And we’re off! This photo and the one at top are by Christine Canepa.
Here’s my view of essentially the same scene: a former (?) homeless encampment southwest of Cable.
Here’s pilot Paul Cheatham with (I think) Pitzer College in the background.
That’s the Arco station below at Foothill and Claremont Boulevard. We were drifting northwest and hoping for a decent patch on which to land, which we found at Chaparral Park.
Above, the Eagle has landed. Actually, it’s not the Eagle, it’s the Hummingbird, Cheatham’s name for his smallest balloon. The balloon was deflated and packed away. Thus ends Dave and Paul’s Excellent Adventure.
The longtime LA Times columnist died Monday at age 85 of congestive heart failure.
I met him in Pomona in 2009. He was at Pilgrim Congregational Church as part of the Big Read for Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” to talk about his career, which included a book about his dog, Barkley. I had him sign my copy of “Dancing Under the Moon.”
I was, darn it, too shy and awed to really engage him in conversation, what with so many people around, but I did write a few paragraphs about what I observed at the dinner afterward. Martinez and his wife, Joanne, whom he called in print Cinelli, her previous name, had a conversation about his speech that was much like the exchanges that enlivened his columns.
Martinez: Could you hear me all right?
Cinelli: I could hear you pretty well.
Martinez: What does that mean? Could you hear me or couldn’t you?
Cinelli: I could hear you fine.
Martinez: Then why did you say ‘pretty well’?
Cinelli: You don’t project.
LA Observed, the site where he continued to write after the Times retired him, has a tribute.
These two old-time photos were sent to me by reader Joe Mannella. The one above is said to date from 1946. The future Stinky’s is on the left. The view is looking east on Foothill, or Route 66, with Mountain Avenue beyond the building.
An even older view is below. This is said to be from 1934, looking north on Mountain from Foothill.
These are not the best photos — they’re reproduced the size I got them, if you click on the images for a larger view — and yet they give us latecomers a glimpse of how rural Upland once was. It’s hard to reconcile these views with today’s busy intersection with retail stores, restaurants and gas stations and multiple lanes of traffic.
Thanks, Mr. Mannella.
Sunday’s column starts with an anecdote from the ever-entertaining Rabi’s Cafe. Then I have some Claremont items, a couple of books with local references and — I hope no one minds — a list of stores that stock “Pomona A to Z.”
Having enjoyed myself last month, I returned to a Chino City Council meeting this week and was not disappointed. It was a relaxed, humorous session. See Friday’s column for my account.
Seventh Heaven Cafe, 1042 N. Mountain Ave. (at Foothill), Upland; closed Monday
This Italian-influenced cafe, which bills itself as “gourmet casual dining, pizza and art,” opened in July 2014 in the old Albertsons center on the northeast corner of Foothill and Mountain. Reader Rick Cuevas tipped me off that it was good, and people on Yelp agree. I scheduled dinner there with a friend.
A wood-fired pizza oven is the big draw; supposedly it’s the only such pizzeria in the area. For more authenticity, the kitchen uses only organic flour from Naples. This isn’t the place to get your pepperoni pizza for the big game; while they do have pepperoni, toppings run more to organic roasted pork, peso, artichoke hearts and grilled eggplant.
The pizzas themselves come in 10- and 14-inch sizes and the 14-inch one we got, with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and provolone ($15), was in the charred Italian style, not the chewy, heavily sauced American style. We liked it a lot.
The interior is minimalist but stylish: blond wood tables and chairs, drop-down pendant lights, interesting art on the walls, even a few jars of jam and handmade jewelry for sale. That weeknight, the dining room filled up with actual adults. “This place is really popular with people who aren’t teenagers,” my friend said approvingly.
Most items are made from scratch, including the sauces and dressings, and customer favorites from the menu are said to be salads, chili and the pizza. They have craft beers and wine by the glass.
Dinner wasn’t perfect: They delivered the pizza to our table but we had to remind them we’d ordered two sides and that I’d ordered a drink. My friend didn’t like the side, a kind of rice pilaf (it was a special and I can’t remember what they called it); I ate mine.
I’d have written this post back in December but I wanted to go back for a second meal. I did go back the next week, but it was a Monday, which turns out to be the one day they’re closed. The year ended and my column item on my favorite restaurants of 2014 appeared, and a woman phoned to ask, didn’t I know about Seventh Heaven? I was impressed and told her I did know about it and that I’d have the post done this week.
So, on Tuesday I went in for a late lunch. I was going to try one of the panini sandwiches, but a daily special, gnocchi with homemade sauce ($9), was tempting. Well, I liked that too. It was a light lunch, and probably I should have ordered a side of some sort, but they don’t seem to have a small salad.
I expect I’ll go back for a salad or panini, and maybe dessert: They have biscotti, lemon bars, cookies, semi-freddo and granita. Nice to see a restaurant trying to achieve a higher level. Seventh Heaven is a blissful addition to Upland.
To accompany Wednesday’s column on my reading for the year, I’ve compiled all 68 books I finished last year into the list below.
Numerically speaking, I’ve done better, I’ve done worse. Since I began reading intensively again, I read 75 in 2013, 80 in 2012, 60 in 2011, 52 in 2010 and 58 in 2009. That was five years and 325 books, which now that I see it makes me wish I’d hit 75 last year just to even it out at 400. Well, 393 in six years isn’t shabby.
The photo doesn’t have every book from last year: a few were borrowed and a couple are already in my “sell” pile and weren’t worth the bother of finding. But it’s got most of them.
Below you’ll see some authors represented two or three times, even four in one case. Looking back, I’m satisfied, although I didn’t get to everything I wanted to read. Early in the year, I set three goals: one Shakespeare play, the “Dangerous Visions” SF anthology and “The Three Musketeers.” I accomplished the middle one. Also, in my post last year, I wrote of Twain: “Definitely I’ll read ‘A Tramp Abroad’ this year.” You, er, won’t find that one listed. Well, I’ll definitely TRY to read it this year.
Here’s the list, from January through December.
1. “Alone Against Tomorrow,” Harlan Ellison
2. “Deathbird Stories,” Harlan Ellison
3. “Shatterday,” Harlan Ellison
4. “18 Best Stories,” Edgar Allan Poe
5. “The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales,” Edgar Allan Poe
6. “Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By,” Anna Jane Grossman
7. “Betsy-Tacy,” Maud Hart Lovelace
8. “Betsy In Spite of Herself,” Maud Hart Lovelace
9. “Orange Blossoms Everywhere,” Mary Thiessen
10. “Ubik,” Philip K. Dick
11. “Ubik: The Screenplay,” Philip K. Dick
12. “Waging Heavy Peace,” Neil Young
13. “The Swerve,” Stephen Greenblatt
14. “Stranger Passing,” Joel Sternfeld
15. “Silverlock,” John Myers Myers
16. “Tales From the ‘White Hart,’” Arthur C. Clarke
17. “The Woman in Black,” Susan Hill
18. “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop,” Lewis Buzbee
19. “The Red Pony,” John Steinbeck
20. “Darker Than Amber,” John D. MacDonald
21. “The Green Hills of Africa,” Ernest Hemingway
22. “The Green Hills of Earth,” Robert A. Heinlein
23. “Outlaw Blues,” Paul Williams
24. “Gently Down the Stream,” Bill McClellan
25. “The Farther Shore,” Robert M. Coates
26. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Jules Verne
27. “Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys: How Deep is the Ocean?” Paul Williams
28. “Coming Up for Air,” George Orwell
29. “All the President’s Men,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
30. “The Final Days,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
31. “President Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer
32. “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time,” Jeff Speck
33. “The Portable Poe,” Philip Van Doren Stern, ed.
34. “What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East,” Bernard Lewis
35. “The Gateway Arch: A Biography,” Tracy Campbell
36. “The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister,” Chris Nichols
37. “L.A. in the ’30s,” David Gebhard and Harriette von Breton
38. “On Reading,” Andre Kertesz
39. “The Bronze Rule,” Mary Sisney
40. “Shakespeare Wrote for Money,” Nick Hornby
41. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll
42. “Through the Looking-Glass,” Lewis Carroll
43. “Gullible’s Travels, Etc.,” Ring Lardner
44. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories,” Ernest Hemingway
45. “The Chandler Apartments,” Owen Hill
46. “Urban Tumbleweed,” Harryette Mullen
47. “Dangerous Visions,” Harlan Ellison, ed.
48. “Mind Fields,” Harlan Ellison and Jack Yerka
49. “Eye in the Sky,” Philip K. Dick
50. “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Zora Neale Hurston
51. “One Fearful Yellow Eye,” John D. MacDonald
52. “The Machineries of Joy,” Ray Bradbury
53. “Chips Off the Old Benchley,” Robert Benchley
54. “No Poems, Or Around the World Backwards and Sideways,” Robert Benchley
55. “The Tomb and Other Tales,” H.P. Lovecraft
56. “God and Mr. Gomez,” Jack Smith
57. “Weird Heroes 2,” Byron Preiss, ed.
58. “The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes,” Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr
59. “Jungle Tales of Tarzan,” Edgar Rice Burroughs
60. “The Drums of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer
61. “Mockingjay,” Suzanne Collins
62. “The Prisoner of Zenda,” Anthony Hope
63. “The Crack in Space,” Philip K. Dick
64. “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” Edgar Allan Poe
65. “Great Tales and Poems,” Edgar Allan Poe
66. “The Essential Ellison,” Harlan Ellison
67. “Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far),” Dave Barry
68. “The Martian Chronicles,” Ray Bradbury