In the final meeting for six weeks of the Pomona City Council, a HUD audit comes to light that doesn’t look good for Pomona or a council member. But the city says the 2-year-old findings should work out okay. Also, another council member is said to be able to balance bulky objects on his face. It’s never dull in Pomona, as those news items and more make up Wednesday’s column.
Books acquired: none
Books read: “Howards End,” E.M. Forster; “Howards End is on the Landing,” Susan Hill; “Then We Came to the End,” Joshua Ferris
Are the end times here? They were for me in July, when my three books all had the word “end” in them. Two, in fact, had “Howards End” in them. How meta.
I’m an admirer of Forster’s work, having enjoyed “A Passage to India” in college and “A Room With a View” three years back.
“Howards End” is his best known. In short, three families from different social classes intersect in ways both comic and tragic. It’s an examination of the difference money and privilege, both financial and male, can make, and an ode to a pastoral England that seemed to be disappearing. If you don’t mind reading a book from 1910, this is a good one.
I bought it (at DTLA’s Last Bookstore, in 2013) shortly after buying Hill’s book (at Powell’s, in Portland), which I had seen that spring at the St. Louis Public Library and made a note to look for. It’s a book about books, as Hill, a literary celebrity in England (she wrote “The Woman in Black”), goes looking for her copy of “Howards End,” can’t find it, but in her search realizes she has a lot of books she’d forgotten about, or had never read. (She might be a distant cousin of this blog.)
She spends a year taking a fresh look at her collection, rereading old favorites and thinking of the associations they called up, sometimes because she knew the author. So there’s name-dropping, and some readers lose patience with this 2009 memoir for that reason, which is understandable. I liked it anyway.
And now we come to “Then We Came to the End,” a debut novel from 2007 about office life, a ripe but scarcely explored fictional subject, and written in the first person plural (“we”). That proves a witty way of reflecting the collective unconscious of a company’s employees. A Chicago advertising agency circa 2000 begins downsizing, leading to angst and desperation. The ensemble cast slowly reveals themselves to us as distinct individuals, the observations ring true and the hi jinx are balanced by heartache. And time and again, like when Tom Mota hides a piece of sushi in enemy Joe Pope’s office until it becomes rank as a corpse at a homicide scene, it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
I bought “…the End” at Powell’s in 2013 too. Oddly, my three books this month were bought in either September or October of 2013. I couldn’t resist reading “Howards End” the same month as “Howards End is on the Landing.” Another connection: Hill, as a mental exercise, winnows her collection to 40 keepers, listed at the end, while Ferris, in an appendix, lists around 50 of his favorites. There’s no overlap. I love lists like these, even if they’re slightly depressing — I’ve read six of Hill’s 40, and even fewer of Ferris’ 48.
In another tie, one book cited by Hill, “The Diary of Francis Kilvert,” of whom I’d never heard, is mentioned in a book I started over the weekend. “Ah, Kilvert’s ‘Diary,’ of course,” I could say to myself sagely.
And thus we’ve come to the end, ha ha, of another blog post. How was your July, readers? Did it end well?
Next month: a book that mentions Francis Kilvert, and more.
Turning to the political scene in Upland, council members there created more upheaval last week when they fired their city manager of two years. Sunday’s column shares details, speculates, prods and mocks.
A story kind of fell in my lap as I walked out of Upland City Hall to see work being done to the Veterans Monument to deter skaters. That seemed newsworthy and became the top part of Friday’s column, followed by a Cinema Corner and other items. (Several other items prepared for the column are bumped to next week, or never. That’s the way the items crumble, folks.)
Mi Cafecito, 101 S. Main St. (at First), Pomona; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday
A coffeehouse with a Latin twist, Mi Cafecito is the first independent coffee shop in downtown Pomona in some years. It’s in the former VFW building, renovated and carved into storefronts and offices, by the railroad tracks.
I met a Pomona friend there on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago. It’s a small place on the corner, with floor to ceiling windows on both sides, letting in lots of light, and the interior is cheery.
The menu has espresso and coffee drinks, most available hot, iced or frozen, all 16 ounces, with such flavors as cajeta, caramelo and hazelnut, plus brewed coffee and pour-overs. They also sell some bakery items, including flan, cookies, dessert empanadas and cakes, made by a bakery owned by the owner’s father.
My friend had a frozen coconut latte with almond milk ($6) and I got an iced horchata latte ($5.45). We took one of the small tables and on this warm afternoon caught up over our cold drinks.
She called hers “yummy,” said she’d be back (she has) and hoped Mi Cafecito would succeed despite its corner location a block above Second Street.
Since then it’s become a near-weekly stop for me. I’ve ordered something different each time. I’ve had two iced lattes — tres leches (made with three milks: regular, condensed and evaporated) and coconut — and four frozen lattes: mocha Mexicano, churro (!), masapan and vanilla. The latter three are my favorites. Tres leches, pictured above, was a little sweet for my taste, but that’s personal. I tried an apple empanada ($1.50), which I liked, on the same visit. The churro latte is below.
The staff I’ve dealt with are exceptionally nice and remember my name, and on my fourth visit even recalled the three previous drinks I’d ordered. On one visit they had cafe de olla, which they don’t always make, and gave me a small cup. (They have no idea I have a blog or anything; they just recognized me as a regular and gave some away near closing time.) That was actually among my favorite drinks too, and I’m not a hot coffee person.
Mi Cafecito seems to have caught on. It’s got a five-star rating on Yelp, and on my visits, a heartening range of customers walk in, from chipsters to middle-aged couples to families with small children or grandchildren. Hours have increased, another good sign: They recently added an extra hour in the evenings and two hours more on weekend mornings, although they’re still closed Mondays.
A bookish friend doesn’t like the stark, modernist seating, all stools with high-top tables, and it’s true too that the tables are so small it’s hard to get more than two drinks (if you’re with someone) or a drink and a laptop on them; on one visit I put my dessert plate on a nearby chair.
But they’re trying to make good use of a small-ish space, and they are. Warm regards to them. Also, you can watch trains go by, which is kind of cool.
A beloved tree in Pomona is spared the ax for a second time as the permit to chop it down is revoked. A strange tale of civic bureaucracy, a crying neighbor, a homeowner’s plumbing issues, a council member’s phone call and more makes up Wednesday’s column.
Traveling from Ontario International in June, I paused to take a look at the George Chaffey relief sculptures on permanent display in Terminal 4. They were done in 1998 by sculptor John Svenson, who died in April.
With Svenson’s life and work fresh in my mind, and with time before my flight, this was a good opportunity to examine them more closely, and take photos to document them here, a less harried place than an airport, for everyone’s examination and contemplation.
The individual panels, presented in a row (two can be seen above), illustrate aspects of the Ontario and Upland founder’s legacy or accomplishments, followed by an angled view of the main image, to highlight the lizard at Chaffey’s foot, and the artist statement.
Take a look at the sculptures in person next time you’re flying Southwest, and reflect on Chaffey, not to mention Svenson.
A few years ago, I started jotting down Restaurant of the Week possibilities by city, crossing out spots where I went or that closed, adding new spots that I saw or that were suggested to me. It was only recently that I started over with a fresh sheet of paper. Above is the endlessly revised first list; click on it for a readable view if you like. Even without clicking, one thing is obvious: This list should have been tossed long before I finally did so.
A T-shirt manufacturer is relocating to Ontario from Orange County and taking over the former Sunkist plant. A ceremonial ground-breaking took place Friday and I was there to hear more, especially about the landmark water tower, now newly refurbished. That makes up my Sunday column.
For Friday’s column, I write about traveling the breadth of the Metro rail network, Azusa to Santa Monica, for dinner. It was a long night, but a cheap one. Above, a view of the pavement mentioned in the column, which gives a sense of the effect. Even in the photo, it appears to rise and fall, but it’s flat, really.
Update: Metro’s transportation blog The Source linked to my column with some commentary about the length of my journey compared to NYC rail lines and about (eventual) ways such a trip will be marginally faster. I like the Google map too.