‘Pomona A to Z’ party

booksign1

Look at all the people! I’m standing up in the background by the banner, talking to my friends Elizabeth Casian and Doug Evans and feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

Pomona’s literati and glitterati turned out July 18 for the launch party for my book “Pomona A to Z.” Delayed at work, I walked in the door of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association office moments before the official 5:30 p.m. start and people were already waiting for me. I didn’t have plans for a reading or questions — I didn’t have any plans, really — but there was no need to fill time: I sat down, a line formed and I didn’t budge for the next two hours.

Having been to my share of book signings as a fan, I knew the drill, even if I hadn’t expected to ever be doing it myself: Shake hands, chat people up, ask how to spell their name and think up something to write in their books — in ink, which is unforgiving.

One woman told me she thought there’d be a line around the block, which is a bit unrealistic for a book signing by someone who’s not, say, Hillary Clinton. But the line was to the door, usually had eight or 10 folks in it, and some said they waited half an hour. Everybody was cheerful about it. It was all very flattering, believe me. It beat my usual Friday night routine, which is to unwind in a Starbucks by myself and read.

A few close friends came, and one co-worker, and various Pomona people, some whom I know well, some whom I know only slightly. Among the latter was a music fan named Alonso, who had approached me at the Pomona Christmas Parade to tell me how much he liked my column on the late musician Lou Reed. Willie Campos, who was featured in one chapter as a devotee of discount stores, tried to swap me a painting for a book, but we took his $20 instead.

I met brand-new people too. One treat was finally meeting Michelle Dubas, whom I’ve known via email and social media for eight or nine years; I remember her because, like me, she’s a fan of the 1970s TV series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” And I met Jill Carol, who like me has two first names; a photographer (her Pomona blog is That’s So Second Street), she had contributed a photo of my parade appearance to this blog.

One couple, John and Patti, told me they’d read all the “A to Z” columns when they were first published and had been waiting 10 years for a book version. They like my book because, unlike other Pomona books, it’s “intimate,” John said. I liked that.

Besides books, I signed a cast for Jerry Tessier, and I met the Goddess of Pomona, who’s shorter than you’d expect. She also sounds suspiciously like Upland artist Dee Marcellus Cole. I signed books for three members of the Pomona City Council (all women) and for one former member (also a woman). I also shook hands with an Upland City Council member, Gino Filippi, who waited in line with a friend but didn’t buy a book. Men!

We sold 61 books, not a bad evening’s work. I would have liked to float omnisciently above the room; I saw things from the limited vantage point of being seated in one corner. The photo of the whole room was startling to see. A lot of people came to see me!

Thanks to Sally Egan for the photos. She also photographed me for the book cover.

booksign3

I stall for time while thinking up something lame to write in a book for my friend Alan Saunders. By the way, I’m wearing the same shirt as on the book cover so people would recognize me. Also, it was next in the rotation.

booksign2

I’ll sign anything except a blank check. This is Jerry Tessier, who renovated the Fox Theater, the Claremont Packing House and the Padua Theater. In the achievement for which he will be best remembered, however, he bought five copies of my book.

booksign4

“Pomona A to Z” and I get the blessing, I think, of the Goddess of Pomona.

booksign5Danielle Soto, left, a former councilwoman, and Paula Lantz, a current councilwoman, display their books proudly. As they should.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

No. 10 with a bullet

AtoZ2

“Pomona A to Z” is on an end-cap display at Rhino Records (235 Yale Ave., Claremont) right when you walk in, my book placed between Led Zeppelin vinyl reissues and Morrissey’s new album. This is such a thrill, I’ve gone in twice just to admire my end-cap. As of Sunday, Rhino had sold four copies of my book, enough to put me at No. 10 in sales for the week. Morrissey was No. 1.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Under the radar, Walmart market ventures into Pomona

In a surprise, a Walmart Neighborhood Market is headed for Pomona without any public meetings. Officials decided that since the grocery was replacing a 99 Cents Only store, permits could be granted with only staff review. (They took a more democratic approach in La Verne, sending the matter to the Planning Commission anyway.)

That news leads off Sunday’s column, which also has news from Chino and Ontario, and two Culture Corner items.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Ontario councilman sends shirtless photo to colleague

It was another unusual Ontario City Council meeting, and your humble servant was there to take notes (and file public records requests later). Read all about it in Friday’s column.

* Newest feather in his cap: Councilman Avila now has his own “topics” page on the Daily Bulletin’s website. All our Avila news (mostly my columns) gathered in one handy spot!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Cannataro’s

cannataros1

Cannataro’s, 12345 Mountain Ave. (at 60), Chino

Cannataro’s is a family owned Italian restaurant and one of the better-known eateries in Chino. That’s why, when friends and I were brainstorming a Chino place to meet at, Cannataro’s came up immediately as one we were curious about.

Located in a small shopping center on Mountain Avenue just below the 60 Freeway, Cannataro’s isn’t exactly in a Tuscan glade, but on the other hand it’s easy enough to find. The interior is casual and unpretentious. Apparently it was updated not long ago. The menu has pasta, seafood, chicken, veal and steak, sandwiches, calzones and pizzas. Entrees range from $7 to $17 and pizzas from $7 to $22.

We got our own entrees: pasta primavera ($12), pasta Cannataro’s ($12), a small Hawaiian pizza ($12, below) and an antipasto salad ($9, bottom). Two got Italian sodas ($3), vanilla and coconut, which they liked.

Reactions from those who ordered the dishes: The pasta primavera “needed salt.” (Luckily, this unusual seasoning could be found inches away.) The ham and pineapple pizza, whose right to exist was vigorously debated at our table, was nevertheless said to be “delicious.” The salad was “fantastic.” My pasta Cannataro’s (chicken breast in olive oil with basil and sundried tomatoes in penna pasta) was okay, but bland. I wouldn’t order it again.

Overall, we were satisfied, but unexcited. It’s worth mentioning too that the service was a little friendlier and more personal than the norm. Reviews on Yelp are all over the place: Cannataro’s gets 4 stars out of 5, but a lot of people are at one end or the other.

cannataros2

cannataros3

cannataros4

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Red Car schedule, 1914

redcar

At the end of Wednesday’s column on Metrolink cutting the 11 p.m. weekday train from L.A. to San Bernardino, I mention the Red Car trolley schedule from 1914. Below is the full schedule as taken from the July 12, 1914 San Bernardino Daily Sun. (It’s unclear if the weekend schedule was the same or different.) Read more about the Red Cars on Wikipedia’s entry here; the photo above is from Wikipedia too.

SAN BERNARDINO TO LOS ANGELES (times leaving SB/arriving in LA)

6:38 a.m./8:55 a.m.

8:08 a.m./10:30 a.m.

10:05 a.m./12:31 p.m.

1:05 p.m./3:21 p.m.

4:05 p.m./6:30 p.m.

5:08 p.m./7:25 p.m.

7:30 p.m./9:19 p.m.

10:28 p.m./12:53 a.m.

LOS ANGELES TO SAN BERNARDINO (times leaving LA/arriving in SB)

3 a.m./5:22 a.m.

7:20 a.m./9:10 a.m.

9 a.m./11:20 a.m.

11:30 a.m./2:05 p.m.

2:15 p.m./4:35 p.m.

4:23 p.m./6:40 p.m.

7:10 p.m./9:29 p.m.

11:15 p.m./1:41 a.m.

As a point of comparison, here’s the Metrolink schedule for the San Bernardino Line: more trains than 1914, and faster travel times (faster trains and/or fewer stops), but clumped together at rush hours rather than spaced out over 24 hours.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Wet view at Bon View

bonview

Ontario reader and fiscal watchdog Earl DeVries sent this photo of Ontario’s Bon View Elementary after reading mention in Friday’s column about its newfound status. “This school has the money to put up a new sign as the International Baccalaureate School but can’t fix its sprinklers,” DeVries groused. “I guess there is no drought in OMSD, even in their coffers. Money and water to waste.”

He added that the school has three flag poles but only flies two flags. Maybe the third flag could be for Waterworld.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Bye-bye, Brand Bookshop

brand1

Brand Bookshop is one of my favorites, both for what it is and where it is. It’s a great used bookstore, open since 1985, with personality and a deep selection of 100,000 books. And it’s located on Brand Boulevard in Glendale, the downtown drag, with shops and restaurants all around and, across the street, the grand 1925 Art Deco Alex Theatre and a second used bookstore, Book Fellows. Best block in SoCal? Well, it’s not, but it’s in the running.

Brand, alas, is closing next month. Owner Jerome Joseph, who’s in his 80s, suffered a fall last year and can no longer run the business, according to a sad story in the Glendale News-Press, and his son, Noriaki Nakano, who’s 66, is ready to retire.

The store, at 231 N. Brand, never really made the transition to the Internet age, and up until a year or two ago still contacted customers (like me) by postcard to announce sales. I only visited once a year or so, but I usually bought something and sometimes sold something.

Joseph was a bookstore owner of the old school. He knew his stock well and had a quick wit and a sharp tongue. He referred to employees, even his son, in gentlemanly fashion as Mr. or Ms.

“Mr. Nakano!” he would call out. “Do we have” — and he would name a title. “We do, Mr. Joseph,” his son might say.

A small touch, but the store sold handmade bookmarks made from laminated foreign postage stamps. I think they sold for $1 from a basket in front of the register; Joseph once gave me one with my purchase. It’s lovely (see picture at bottom) and I still use it.

One that got away: a vintage slipcased set of the then-three “Dune” novels by Frank Herbert was on the paperback SF shelves about three years ago for $15, or maybe $12. I saw it, thought about it, walked away. Ten minutes later, having persuaded myself, I walked back to claim it and it was already gone.

One example of the store’s personality: the copious number of categories. The LA Times says a master list was available at the counter and bore “1,500 highly curated categories,” citing a few: Papacy & Vatican, ESP, General Military Aviation, Sea Adventures, Gold Rush and Shrubbery. The ones I loved were in the sociology area, side by side on the same shelf: Hoboes and Elitism and the Rich (see below).

Passing by on the 101 on June 5, I stopped at Brand for old times’ sake. Books are 50 percent off the marked price. Shelves were starting to empty, although they still had tens of thousands, and to slip into alphabetical disarray.

I didn’t buy anything as I’m on a book diet, but I’m glad to have stopped in to say goodbye to paths I have trod many times: graphic novels to classics to science fiction to mystery to fiction and then through the doorway to the store’s far side: books on books, humor, music and California. In retrospect I wish I’d bought a second bookmark.

Bookfellows (238 N. Brand) is arguably superior, at least for genre reading, and I’ll still visit it on days when the Alex (216 N. Brand) screens a classic I want to see, but I’ll miss having that other store, Brand Bookshop, the third leg of a great cultural triangle.

brand2

brand4

brand5

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email