Wednesday’s column rounds up six tidbits from Ontario, including news about the city’s volunteer of the year award, and two from Pomona.
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.
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) — but 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?
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.
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.
Above, the Rendezvous Court of the Biltmore Hotel — so swank! — and, below, one of the wall panels in Biddy Mason Park.
The Bradbury Building, above, is ornate and filled with natural light. Below, Moremen and Chase relax on a sofa in the Last Bookstore.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday’s column starts with a plug for a kung fu series at the Ontario library. If the movies are half as entertaining as the plot descriptions, hilarity awaits. Also, a follow-up to my column about a pre-fame concert in Pomona by Beck, with added details, and a few cultural notes.
These trash receptacles line Ontario’s Euclid Avenue downtown, and while they’re obviously needed based on their nearly full state, the plastic lids don’t seem very durable.
On a recent Sunday walk, Councilwoman Debra Dorst-Porada pointed them out to me. The trash pickup claw may be damaging the tops, she said. Some are either skewed, as in the example below, or missing entirely, such as at bottom.
Sunday’s column has news briefs from Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills, a plug for this blog and a reader’s story about where she purchased “Pomona A to Z” — Kansas.
Olive Grill, 320 S. Milliken Ave. (at Airport), Ontario; open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday; closed Saturdays and Sundays
I hadn’t remembered hearing of Olive Grill until it made a listicle of 10 notable Ontario eateries on The Culture Trip’s website. It made me feel out of it. Isn’t it my job to know these things? The reader who sent me the list made a reconnaissance mission and said the place was fantastic. I’ve since made a couple of visits myself.
Getting there for most people will involve taking the 10, getting off at Milliken and heading south through the truck-choked intersection near the Travel Centers of America truck stops and under the relatively new train overpass. Once past that, Olive Grill is on the west side in an industrial park between Airport and Brickell.
Don’t let all that deter you. Olive Grill is colorful and cheery, if fast-paced on a lunch hour. They have breakfast burritos, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, burgers, teriyaki, yakisoba and smoothies.
On my first visit I got the Korean BBQ sandwich ($8, pictured below), curious how it would compare to the version at the nearby Corner Deli. It’s marinated beef with grilled onions and mushrooms, mozzarella, soy, garlic, pickled red ginger and garlic aioli.
It’s quite a rendition: less drippy than the one at Corner Deli, less meat, more flavors. Call it a draw. And you get a small salad, two orange wedges and a thin apple slice. I added a bag of chips and regretted it as the meal turned out to be filling as it was.
Next visit I tried the Edo charbroiled chicken sandwich ($8, pictured at bottom), with teriyaki chicken, Asian slaw (cabbage, green onions, carrots), mozzarella, pickled red ginger and garlic aioli, and again coming with the sides. (Having wised up, I didn’t get chips.) Another very good sandwich, unusual, tasty and satisfying.
I arrived moments before 1 p.m. and the dining room was mostly full, with a half-dozen people standing up waiting for to-go orders. By 1:05, half the people had left.
Why it’s called Olive Grill, which suggests Greek food, I don’t know — there may not be an olive in any of the dishes — but under any name, this Asian-owned mom and pop shop is well worth repeat visits.