So close, and yet so far apart


A banner in Ontario International Airport behind the Travelers Aid information booth depicts those two bosom chums, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ontario Mayor Paul Leon. Maybe they if actually met face to face, or side by side, we could get a resolution of the airport ownership issue (our mayor is a charming fellow), but this may be as close as we’ll see them. The previous, pre-Garcetti banner had Antonio Villaraigosa and Leon.

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Column: Go set a time to read ‘Mockingbird’ in public

Sunday’s column is about the “Go Set a Watchman” novel by Harper Lee, a sequel of sorts to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The new book is out Tuesday; the old one will be read aloud in a daylong event Monday at Barnes and Noble stores. If you can get to the Rancho Cucamonga store at 9 a.m., you can set, er, sit and watch me read the first chapter.

Or some of it, at least. I sat down Saturday at the Pomona Public Library to refamiliarize myself with that chapter. In the edition I picked up, it was 15 pages. I got a little tired of reading it silently and am not sure I’ll have the voice to read that much aloud. Also, the second and third pages, about the history of Maycomb, are kind of dull, and I could imagine eyes glazing over. But the chapter ends great, and I’ll see if I can get through the whole thing.

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Column: Superior deal? Chino to buy old courthouse


In a foray to a Chino City Council meeting, I cover the news that the city is buying the former Superior Court building across from City Hall. With the entire Civic Center in city hands, this could be the first step in selling the whole thing off and relocating. I tell the story in Friday’s column. Above, what you see when you look through the glassed front entry. I assume the five framed photos show the Board of Supervisors of 2012.

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Restaurant of the Week: Afters Ice Cream


Afters Ice Cream, 13920 City Center Drive (the Shoppes at Chino Hills), Chino Hills

There aren’t many food items the Inland Valley is willing to line up for. Ice cream at Handel’s, especially on $1 cone days (Wednesdays in Upland, Thursdays in Rancho Cucamonga). Menudo on weekends, various locations. Maybe turkey legs at the Fair.

But there’s almost always a line out the door at Afters, a start-up ice cream parlor at the Shoppes. (The first Afters is in Fountain Valley; a third one is coming.) Part of that is demand, part is cleverness. There may always be 20 people in line, give or take, and that’s impressive. But the staff isn’t in a hurry to move them along, which means the line usually stretches outdoors. A well-connected friend says: “The strategy I’ve heard is, they have two cash registers, but they only open one. They know that a line creates buzz. It connotes popularity.”

I’ve been there three times since its opening in January. (Somehow Afters was able to locate across from Pinkberry, which makes me wonder if Pinkberry failed to get a non-compete clause in its lease.)

Afters makes its own ice cream, in creative flavors such as Vietnamese coffee, acai blueberry, milk and cereal, and cookie monster, and it offers some mix-ins. The thing to get is the milky bun. It’s a doughnut-like bun about the size of a hamburger bun, which they’ll cut open and put your ice cream in, then heat briefly. The bun is warm, the ice cream stays cold. A milky bun with one flavor and one mix-in is $5.

I’ve had jasmine milk tea (with mochi, below), mint monster (with Oreos, up top) and churro (with Cinnamon Crunch ice cream). Once I had the unglazed milky bun and switched back to glazed the next time. I ask the staff what mix-in they recommend with my flavor choice and go with that. They do this for a living, after all.

The result is like a soft ice cream sandwich. You can get ice cream sandwiches at Dripp, elsewhere in the Shoppes, and those are excellent, with homemade cookies and ice cream. The milky bun is unique, though, and while it’s not pie, it’s awfully good. If your attitude is, “Isn’t that just a doughnut with ice cream in it?”, my answer would be, “Basically, yes. And it tastes amazing.”

If the milky bun is too much for you, they sell their ice cream by the scoop.






Their spelling could use some work, I regret to say. Let’s hope no one is using this hashtag. *

* It turns out “No Ragrets” is a sly joke that began in the comedy “We’re the Millers.” See comments below.

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’50s Atomic Age art at Pomona College


An atomic whirl that adorned a Pomona College science hall since 1958 is back with a new coat of paint after 18 months in storage as the building was torn down and rebuilt. Sculptor Albert Stewart crafted the piece for the opening of Millikan Lab and it’s added a dose of verve to the facade ever since. I write about the sculpture and the symbol, as well as the refurbished building, in Wednesday’s column.

Below is a view of the sculpture and building in 2013 by the college’s Carrie Rosema. Notice the piece is against a blank facade — the window is just one of the improvements.


Below are Stewart’s two other sculptures across College Avenue, one illustrating mitosis, from the Seaver South biology building, and the second depicting particles, from the Seaver North chemistry building. (I’ll have to take everyone’s word for it.) All three are cited in Charles Phoenix’s “Cruising the Pomona Valley 1930 Thru 1970″ guidebook.



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Ontario’s 4th of July parade in photos


Impressed by Ontario’s parade in 2014, I returned in 2015 to enjoy myself and tweet photos. Here are a few. Above, the parade route was marked by giant arches made of balloons over Euclid. (Unlike St. Louis’, you can’t climb up inside.) Below, Iwo Jima was re-enacted on one float.



The back end of this float looked to me like the Liberty Bell meets Clifton’s Cafeteria. Speaking of bears, the entry below was not a promo for “Ted 2.”



The Rancho Cucamonga High School marching band was resplendent in purple and black. As the school’s former principal for a day, I couldn’t have been prouder.

One of my favorite moments was the Shriners whizzing around in their signature tiny cars. No offense to Claremont, which puts on a great Americana parade, but they don’t have the Shriners. I shot a one-minute video of the action. Whee!

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Fireworks and fantasy


If you own a unicorn in Rancho Cucamonga, you’re on the horns of a dilemma and might face a downward spiral. This sign at 19th and Haven was altered; you can see “unicorns” is pasted over the word “fireworks.” The photo was posted to a Facebook group and shared with me by reader Elizabeth Peterson Rynear, who said the sign had been removed by July 4. So if you do own one or more unicorns, it’s hard to say if animal control will be after you or not.

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Column: The Huntington is closer than you think

Sunday’s column has a bunch of Claremont items, starting with the odd coincidence (or is it?) that both the outgoing and incoming presidents of the Huntington Library in San Marino are from Claremont. (Will we Claremont residents get a discount? Are we in with the in crowd?) Also, malaprops are discussed after a recent flub of mine. Incidentally, the “editor’s note” in this column is mine. I just thought a reaction was called for.

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Restaurant of the Week: Smashburger


Smashburger, 13855 City Center Drive (the Shoppes at Chino Hills), Chino Hills

Chino Hills gets interesting restaurants these days. In this case, the city got the Smashburger chain’s first Inland Empire location — yes, even before Victoria Gardens. I met a local friend there for lunch to try it out.

I’d heard of Smashburger, which is based in Colorado and operates in 32 states, but I hadn’t had a chance to eat at one. It’s one of the wave of better-burger restaurants. They use fresh, not frozen Angus, egg buns and fresh produce. You can get fries with rosemary, olive oil and garlic. And their shakes are made with Haagen-Dazs.

The one at the Shoppes is in a walkway across from Panera and a few yards from Dripp. It’s bigger inside than it looks. The menu has eight burgers, with create-your-own options (including six kinds of cheese), plus chicken sandwiches and salads. It’s unusual to find a Cobb salad at a place like this, but they have one. They also haveĀ a black bean vegetarian sandwich and veggie frites, which appear to be carrots and string beans served in a basket like fries.

I had the classic Smashburger ($5.39, below) with Smash fries (the ones with rosemary, olive oil and garlic, $2.29) and a Butterfinger shake ($4.59).

It was a very good burger, very close to the two I’ve had on the East Coast at Shake Shack; it was heartening, in a weird way, to know I can find their local equivalent. The fries didn’t do much for me and I left half of them. Good shake. (Trivia note: I’m a sucker for Butterfingers in ice cream, such as at Foster’s Freeze.) Did I want it as a malt? Sure. How about with whipped cream? What the heck. No extra charge for either. And you get the old-school metal cup with a little extra shake left.

My friend had the buffalo and blue cheese burger with sweet potato fries (next photo). He liked both and was especially taken by the fries. At least someone at our table finished his fries.

You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. They also check on you and take your trays, at least when it’s only moderately busy, like when we were there. I liked it.





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