Coming soon: ‘Pomona A to Z,’ the book


For years, people have asked, “When are you going to do a book?” At last I have an answer: “On July 18.”

That’s the release date of “Pomona A to Z,” a collection of newspaper columns by yours truly from a decade back. Each of the 26 columns, published in 2004 and 2005, featured something unique or unusual in Pomona for each letter of the alphabet.

This book has been in the works for more than a year, but this is the first I’ve mentioned it. For one thing, I didn’t want to get my hopes up until the book was in my hands, i.e., real. Also, I’ve hesitated to beat the drum too hard by starting too early. Now that we’re close to a release date, though, it’s time you knew. (And note that you blog readers have the scoop before print readers.)

For your $20, you get the original 26 columns, and the photos, as well as a couple of related columns that rounded up the reaction. You also get introductions before each letter that update the original columns. There’s also a foreword by KPCC-FM host Steve Julian, a Pomona native, and an introduction by me. It’s a paperback, 244 pages.

All this and, at no extra charge, a dedication, front AND back covers and a copyright notice. Gosh!

Readings and signings will be announced as they’re set up, but I can tell you now that a release party is planned for the evening of July 18 in downtown Pomona (where else?). Mark your calendar.

In the meantime, here’s a press release, here’s the Amazon listing, here’s the Facebook page and here’s a blog post by Chris Nichols of LA Weekly. The publisher is Claremont-based Pelekinesis. The writer is a familiar name, but I can’t place him.

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Restaurant of the Week: Saigon Village Bistro

saigon 005

Saigon Village, 1280 E. Holt (at East End), Pomona

One of a handful of Vietnamese businesses in Pomona’s far-eastern (where else?) stretch of Holt, Saigon Village opened in 2011, replacing Pho Express and the earlier Pho 54. Oldtimers will remember the location as Breakfast at Carl’s, a beloved breakfast spot that moved to Claremont and was renamed BC Cafe.

But that was then, this is now, as S.E. Hinton once said, and this spot has been a Vietnamese restaurant for maybe a couple of decades now. A friend and I met at Macho Pollo across the street for dinner but did so on the one day a week it’s closed. Saigon Village was an acceptable substitute.

The interior still looks a bit like a ’60s diner: crushed stones, big windows, comfortable booths, slinky hanging fixtures. The menu has a zillion items, lettered and numbered. One specialty is called 7 Courses Beef and apparently lives up to its billing (see photo below). An explanation is on the restaurant’s website.

My friend had CS5, special combination crispy egg noodles with chicken, shrimp, squid and vegetables ($9, pictured at bottom); I had the beef pho, another specialty ($7, below).

The noodle dish was constructed like a bird’s nest, very cool. “I liked it a lot,” my friend said.

I’ve had pho a few times, although I tend not to order it because I’m very poor with chopsticks and end up using a fork. The server, who may have thought I’d never had Vietnamese food before, pushed the pho, and when she brought it she explained what to do with the plate of condiments: strip the leaves from the mint and put them in the bowl, add the bean sprouts, mix Sriracha and hoisin sauce in a dish and swirl the meat in it, and add Sriracha to the broth. I have to say, nobody has ever offered instructions before.

Some on Yelp say the broth is bland, and I wouldn’t disagree — that may explain all the Sriracha — but I’m too inexpert to feel comfortable making much of a value judgment. Only large bowls of pho are served; I couldn’t quite finish mine, but I ate too much to bother taking the dregs home. I liked mine, although I feel like I’ve had better.

So, not a bad place, and if you like Vietnamese food, old diners or have fond memories of Breakfast at Carl’s, you might want to try it. Also, as my friend said of the cuisine: “It’s good hangover food.”





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‘A potty mouth mayor’

That was the headline on the lead letter in today’s LA Times letters section. The letter reads:

“My young children and I watched the televised rally Monday celebrating the L.A. Kings’ Stanley Cup victory, while my husband and older children attended at Staples Center.

“What a surprise when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stood to congratulate the Kings and fans and quipped that a politician shouldn’t be heard swearing, but then proceeded to use the worst of all obscenities. How appalling that a leader in a position to positively influence a community would feel it appropriate to resort to such degrading language on a national stage.

“Language should be uplifting and clean. To resort to obscenities signals a weak mind incapable of expressing intelligent thoughts and emotions in appropriate ways.

“Mayor Garcetti, please refrain from making any statements publicly if you cannot control your potty mouth. My children are listening.”

Stinging — and I reproduce it here because the writer is Julie Bourgeous of Fontana.


While I don’t entirely agree with her, I still think it’s awesome that the leader of America’s second-largest city was upbraided for boorish behavior by someone from the sticks.

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Still dancing

mordohI saw a familiar face a few feet away from me at the Jack White concert at the Pomona Fox last Thursday: Howard Mordoh, the guy I once dubbed the Dancing Man. He’s an inveterate concertgoer around L.A. and usually dances. I wrote about him a couple of times in 2012, here and here. First time I saw him was at a Fox show by LCD Soundsystem and here he was again, even though he lives in Woodland Hills.

Once Jack White came on, I gave Mordoh some room and he was shaking it, spinning with one hand over his head and all the rest. Others around us were amused or impressed, or both. Alas, shooting video was impossible due to the dim lighting. Mordoh, 61 when I wrote about him, is now 63 and shows no signs of slowing down.


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Jack White at the Fox


The ex-White Stripe performed Thursday night at the Pomona Fox, one of the highest-profile concerts the venue has seen. (Green Day, Morrissey and a few more were bigger.)

After a set by the Cold War Kids, White — looking stylish in a black and white checked suit and a fedora — rocked the house for nearly an hour with 11 songs, took a short break and then returned for another 40 minutes and nine songs. Here’s the setlist. Either this was a really long encore or a full second set.

White was energetic, jumping around the stage, playing a lot of lead guitar (and, on a couple of tunes, piano) and moving quickly from one song to the next. We ate it up. Here’s my colleague Wes Woods’ review, with a video.

An announcement before the old-school White came on asked that people “enjoy the moment” rather than take photos. This got a cheer of approval, surprisingly. Professional photos would be taken, posted on White’s website and available for download for anyone who wanted mementos, we were told. While some around me on the floor did take photos anyway, there were a lot fewer than is typical at a concert these days.

So, that explains the two high-quality images with this blog post. You can find more on White’s site.

White has performed three previous times in Pomona, all at the Glass House: with the Stripes in 2002 and 2005 and with another band, Dead Weather, in 2009. He made joking references to past appearances at one point. His fabulist spiel went something like this (I pulled out a piece of paper and pen about halfway through):

“In 1993 my band the Rabble Rousers played the Glass House. In 1995 I played the Glass House with my new band Jerry’s Kids. In 2001 I played the bar next to the Glass House with my band Deeper Purple. In 2003 we played Pomona again. But it was Pomona, Montana. It was a scheduling mishap. A promoter booked us on a tour from San Diego to Montana. We had 10 hours between gigs.”

Ha ha! What a kidder.


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Remembering Casey Kasem

I spent the late 1970s and early 1980s listening fervently to “America’s Top 40,” the syndicated weekly show hosted by the smooth-voiced Casey Kasem, who died Sunday at 82. And I spent the early to mid 1970s watching various Saturday morning cartoons that used Kasem’s voice talents. His characterization of lovable hippie Shaggy on “Scooby Doo” was classic, but there were others.

From the top 40 show, “a long-distance dedication,” “and now, back to the countdown” and “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” were staples, delivered in Kasem’s warm, earnest cadence. Here’s an appreciation from NPR.

Did you listen, and if so, what do you recall?

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