On vacation

As noted at the top of Sunday’s column, I’m on vacation this week, as I was for part of last week, and there won’t be another column until June 15. See you then. And pay attention to my Twitter feed (a feature on the right-hand side of this home page) if you’d like to see some of what I’m up to.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Capri Deli

capri1

Capri Deli, 713 E. San Bernardino Road (at Grand), Covina

I saw a newspaper ad for Capri Deli on a recent Saturday morning, which reminded me that I’d once clipped a newspaper ad for Capri Deli and never went there. Having nothing to do, I decided to try it for lunch. “Serving great sandwiches since 1954″ is an enticing motto, after all, promising not only a good meal but history.

Capri was easy enough to find, not far west of Kellogg Hill off the 10 Freeway (and equidistant from the 210). Inside there was a line at the counter, which had multiple staffers taking orders and making sandwiches. This gave me time to look around and think over my options. I also grabbed a bottled soda from the alcove of grocery items, where sodas are sold individually.

I got a meatball sandwich, the 12-inch version ($9), which was soon delivered to my table on a garlic roll, marinara on the side. A very good sandwich. The dining room has kitschy, humorous decor.

This is a busy place, clearly still popular in the Subway era, and that made me think of Grinder Haven in Ontario, which hasn’t been able to cut it in recent years. Capri Deli proves that people are still willing to line up for a better sandwich. The menu even uses the term “grinders” for its subs.

I came back the next Saturday, this time getting the cold cut combo grinder, the 6-inch version ($7). The counterwoman listed all the toppings for me but I couldn’t remember them all: salami, ham, mortadella and a few more, with oil, lettuce and tomatoes. Another good sandwich, and this time I knew to grab my soda from the refrigerated case, where they seem to have everything. The dining room was almost full this visit.

There’s a case of desserts too (see below), which looked tempting. The menu also has pizza and lasagna, salads and specialty sandwiches.

Capri opened in 1954 nearby and moved to this location in 1979. It’s rare that I write about a restaurant that’s not within the Inland Valley, but this is close enough, and it might be of interest to sandwich fans, including those who miss Grinder Haven’s glory days.

capri2

capri4

capri5

capri3

capri7

capri6

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Reading Log: May 2015

booksmay5

Books acquired: “The Record Store Book,” Mike Spitz and Rebecca Villaneda.

Books read: “Martian Time-Slip,” “The Zap Gun,” “Our Friends From Frolix 8,” Philip K. Dick; “The Stars My Destination,” Alfred Bester.

Greetings, fellow readers. Following my April Reading Log, in which I concentrated solely on Ray Bradbury, May saw me concentrating on another classic SF writer, Philip K. Dick, but with a diversion to a third classic SF writer, Alfred Bester. Who says I don’t mix up my book choices?

Dick is becoming one of my favorite writers, and I can understand those who think he’s one of the 20th century’s greatest. His heroes tend to be conflicted middle-class losers, more like the mechanic who works on the rocket ship than the hero who pilots it. “Martian Time-Slip” is about the failing conquest of a parched Mars, but also about autism; “The Zap Gun” is a spoof of the Cold War involving competing weapons designers; and “Frolix 8″ takes place in a society divided between telepaths and geniuses, in which the planet’s savior may be a gelatinous, space-faring 20-ton blob.

These are terrible summaries, but Dick is hard to summarize. His outsized imagination, paranoia and freewheeling plotting are for a cult audience, but I’m proud to be part of it. “Time-Slip” was the best of the three.

Bester’s “The Stars My Destination,” from 1956, is sometimes described as SF’s greatest novel, making it all the more surprising that two SF fans who saw me reading it said they’d never heard of it, or him. Maybe it, and Bester, aren’t as well known as I’d thought. Well, it may not be the greatest, but it’s awfully good, and any novel that takes a William Blake quatrain (“Tiger, tiger, burning bright…”) as its starting point clearly has a lot on its mind. It’s a revenge story, an exciting one, and well-told.

I imagine Richard Pietrasz has read it, and maybe a few more of you. Also, do let us know what you’ve been reading. Balance has to come from somewhere and my choices aren’t providing it.

All four of these books have been in my collection, unread, since the early 1980s; that shrinking number of older books has been my focus in 2015 and will continue to be through year’s end, when I hope to have finally read them all. We can only hope.

Next month: Yet more SF, by more authors.

booksmay6

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

A pet peeve about palms

palms1

I like palm trees, useless as they are — in contrast to the LA Observed website, which caused a stir last year with anti-palm comments (such as here and here) — ┬ábut I like them maintained. It must be the orderly, neatnik side of me, but to see layer after layer of dead fronds cascading down the side of a trunk like a hula skirt makes me want to bring out shears, or maybe a flamethrower.

The scenes above and below could have been shot in any city in the Inland Valley, or Southern California for that matter. Both happened to be on Indian Hill Boulevard in Pomona, a couple of blocks apart. The one at bottom is in Claremont and was shot from the Metrolink parking lot.

Why oh why won’t people — and possibly public agencies, in the latter case — trim their trees? Most of us would never notice if an elm weren’t trimmed, but all the beauty of a palm is lost when the dead matter starts accumulating in plain sight. How many years of dead growth are on display in these photos?

palms2

palms3

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Ontario will truck in recycled water for Euclid

Sunday’s column revisits the question of what Ontario will do regarding the Euclid Avenue median with the pending state ban on irrigation. Answer: The city will truck in recycled water five days a week and spray. Four parks will also get the spray treatment; the Mission median won’t.

By the way, I was stunned to open up Sunday’s paper and find my column is our lead story! That’s a first.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

A day trip in LA

daytrip1

Wednesday’s column is about Grace Moremen and Jacqueline Chase, two Claremont residents who’ve written a guidebook, “Loving LA the Low Carbon Way: A Personal Guide to the City of Angels via Public Transportation.” For the column, we took a Metrolink trip together. The online version has hyperlinks to more information about some of the sights we saw. Here are some photos from the day, all shot by me except the one I’m in, which is by Moremen, an enthusiastic photographer.

Above, Moremen, left, and Chase walk through Union Station; below, Chase and I knock on the World Peace Bell (clang! clang!). If world peace doesn’t break out, it won’t be our fault. Below that, they look at books in the Central Library’s children’s room, a lovely space with enormous windows, custom carpet and murals.

daytrip9

daytrip2

daytrip3

Above, the Rendezvous Court of the Biltmore Hotel — so swank! — and, below, one of the wall panels in Biddy Mason Park.

daytrip5

daytrip4

The Bradbury Building, above, is ornate and filled with natural light. Below, Moremen and Chase relax on a sofa in the Last Bookstore.

daytrip6

daytrip7

Moremen and Chase chat on the Red Line subway back to Union Station. Below, a Virgin of Guadalupe mural adorns a wall off Mariachi Plaza.

daytrip8

daytrip10

Moremen photographs a Buddhist temple in Little Tokyo from a Gold Line train. Below, our Metrolink train pulls into Union Station for the ride home. We were tired, but it was a good kind of tired.

daytrip11

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Los Portales, Chino

losportales4

Los Portales Mexican Grill, 12542 Central Ave. (at Walnut), Chino

I’ve been to, and liked, the Montclair location of this two-location operation, which is farther up Central Avenue. A Chino friend told me the Chino restaurant is better, although she might be biased. It’s in a busy, working-class shopping center south of the 60 Freeway with a Big Lots and a Dollar General.

Los Portales might be the most upscale business in the center, with an etched glass entry, a greeter station, a full bar, capacious seating for 149 and live piano music some evenings. On my two visits, it was bustling.

The lunch menu is all pictures because the pricing is “any item $8.25,” including a drink. There’s quite a list: burritos, enchiladas, tamales, shredded beef salad and more. I got a shrimp quesadilla, which was satisfying, and not oily or greasy. It came with so-so rice, beans and little salad. For the price, a good meal. The salsa is thick, tomato-y and uninteresting, the chips might be bagged, but they’re free.

The dinner menu has dinner plates, grilled items and seafood, including oysters, and that made me want to return. I did so and ordered grilled halibut ($16), with diced onions and cilantro, filling but nothing special, with the so-so sides.

Service was slow, which based on Yelp reviews may be common. I ate half my bowl of chips before anyone took my drink order, and had finished them before my iced tea arrived. They might want to snap it up.

The place was busy and a piano player and vocalist near the bar on the opposite side of the restaurant was performing Van Morrison, Beatles and other classics, an unexpected touch, especially mid-week. I ran into an old source at the bar and he visits frequently from Pomona.

Los Portales has a pleasant atmosphere and many swear by it. I wasn’t wowed, but it’s possible I’ll go back, at least for an $8.25 lunch.

losportales3

losportales5

losportales2

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email