Notes on a move


Having cleared off much of my main desk on Friday, on Monday afternoon (after writing much of Wednesday’s column, because deadlines never stop) I tackled my second cubicle, on which I keep various tchotchkes: commemorative items from local events, strange gifts and the like. See above.

Newsroom types call it Dave’s Museum and suggest I put up velvet ropes and charge admission. They also suggest I organize it, which I never made time to do.

And now I have to pack it or toss it. I’m doing a little of each. I tossed two military Meals Ready to Eat that someone gave me. I tossed a Debbie Acker real estate ad that described her as “a name you know and trust.” I tossed a couple of Mike Antonovich’s famous Christmas cards.

And, with some heartburn, I tossed all my Daily Bulletin reporter notebooks, the ones I take on assignment and use at my desk, going back to around 2002. All along we’ve been officially discouraged from saving notebooks, but I kept mine, and a couple of times they came in handy, including earlier this year, when I found my interview notes with Archie Wilson from years ago. (Shockingly, I found them within about one minute.)

By and large, though, the notebooks just take up space. Unless I have a change of heart and rescue them from the trash bin, they’re gone too.

But most of the tchotchkes will be moved. Including the ampersand. And the Festivus pole.


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Wall of ideas


We’re cleaning out, packing up and moving our office, as noted in Sunday’s column. I’ve got two adjoining cubicles to deal with in the coming days. Among the items: these two whiteboards, on which I would note column ideas.

Most of the potential ideas above were scribbled down 5 or 10 years ago, and only a very few were ever written and erased, or semi-erased. The board below is newer and its ideas are more like a year old. Clearly a whiteboard is not the best place to write ideas if they’re going to remain there semi-permanently. What can I say, I do cover news, and stray ideas tend to fall by the wayside.

For a clean slate (literally) for the new office, I erased both boards. But by posting these photos, at least the ideas are here if I need them. That is, if I can read them, and then remember what they mean.


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Column: Glendora shop grabs ring for LA’s best doughnuts


Friday’s column starts with word that LA Weekly chose Glendora’s Donut Man as the LA area’s best doughnut shop, the only nod to this entire part of the county, grumble, grumble. Then there’s a long item about “The Best American Comics 2015,” a new anthology edited by a writer in Claremont, with an accompanying book signing on Saturday. Lastly, a TV show mentions Pomona.

Above, Donut Man’s famous strawberry doughnut; below, its rare peach version, only available for a few weeks in late summer.


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Restaurant of the Week: Blaze Pizza


Blaze Pizza, 7833 Monet Ave. (Victoria Gardens), Rancho Cucamonga

Fast-fired pizza specialist Blaze Pizza opened over the summer in Victoria Gardens, the sole local outlet for now. The chain is based in Pasadena. Because I wasn’t around for the opening specials, the company sent me two coupons for free pizzas, which a friend and I recently redeemed.

Blaze is on Monet, the street undergoing a hipsterification. The pizzeria is a good fit for the street, which is being designed to appeal to the younger crowd.


The setting is casual and lively, with some high-top tables. Because of the high, open ceiling, the room is a little loud, which must be how the young people like it. Only semi-populated on a weeknight, the noise level didn’t impede conversation.


Like Pieology, you can order a pre-designed pie or customize one from a long list of ingredients (but not long enough to include anchovies). And much like at Subway or Chipotle, you move down a line past ingredients that a series of employees will add at your request. You pay at the end of the line, your pizza is popped into an oven and your number will be called in about five minutes.


We each ordered “signature” pizzas: The White Top for her (white cream sauce with mozzarella, applewood bacon, chopped garlic, oregano and arugula) and the Link In for me (Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, mozzarella and red sauce), typically each $8.


These were pretty good pies, about the right size for one person. “On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d say it was a 4 1/2,” my friend said. “Because I wish the crust was a little thicker.” I can appreciate that, although the thin crust is what allows it to be baked so fast. I liked Blaze and its crust better than Pieology’s. Neither compares with going to an actual pizzeria, but the experience is novel and you can be in and out in a lunch break. I would go back.

Oh, yeah, and we sprung for the S’mores dessert ($2.50), a sort of cookie filled with chocolate and marshmallow. You might want to try one.

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Reading Log: September 2015


Books acquired: “Wonder,” R.J. Palacio; “Tangled Vines,” Frances Dinkelspiel.

Books read: “After 1903 — What?,” Robert Benchley; “The Best of Philip K. Dick,” Philip K. Dick; “The Big Orange,” Jack Smith.

September was a three-book month, which seems to be the groove I’ve fallen (autumn reference?) into of late, now that my shorter books are mostly out of the way. One of the three is among my favorites of 2015, even if it was published four decades ago.

Benchley’s book (published in 1938), the title of which is probably meant to mock the notion that civilization peaked in this or that year of the speaker’s lifetime, is his usual collection of whimsical essays. There seem to me to be fewer classics here than other books of his I’ve read, meaning more smiles than horselaughs. The pieces, which appear to have been written for newspapers rather than magazines based on references and brevity, seem less thought out than usual, but they certainly go down with the customary Benchley smoothness. Amusing more than hilarious, but amusing is good.

Dick is revered for his novels, in part because he pretty much abandoned the short form by the time he hit his stride as a novelist. But his stories are often very good, and by exploring a simple idea (or telling a sort of extended joke) they avoid the ungainliness of some of his novels. This is a solid collection of stories, with two, Imposter and Paycheck, clever enough to have inspired movies. Not a dud in the bunch. This is another of the mid-’70s Ballantine “Best of” books by SF authors discussed here previously.

And so to Jack Smith. These mid-1970s pieces explore 30 attractions around LA and Orange County, including the Farmers Market, Rose Bowl Flea Market, Watts Towers and, inevitably, Disneyland. Forty years on, most of these attractions are still around but altered, while a few, like Lion Country Safari and the Pike, are vanished, making this a record of a different time.

Smith is gentle, descriptive, witty and respectful, and these articles for Westways magazine are delightful. If you love LA and its history — i.e., you think reading a mid-1970s view of SoCal is appealing rather than pointless — you might want to track this down. This if the fifth of Smith’s 10 books that I’ve read, and tied with “Jack Smith’s L.A.” as my favorite. (The overpraised “God and Mr. Gomez” might be my least favorite.)

I bought the Benchley at Powell’s in Portland two years ago, Dick at my hometown used bookstore in Illinois in the early 1980s (and never read until now — another one crossed off the list) and Smith at Acres of Books in Long Beach maybe six years ago. More about that in a separate blog post, if I remember.

How was your September? Hit the comment button and let us know.

Next month: “Wonder,” plus probably two more.


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Pomona Reads A to Z


Saturday’s inaugural Pomona Reads! festival was well-attended, with adults, children and families strolling the vendor booths, listening to music, making crafts and listening to authors. Above, I’m signing a copy of “Pomona A to Z” for two readers while another waits to buy one. This was about as close to a rush as it got, but I sold almost a dozen copies, and also moderated a panel on Pomona history. Photo contributed by Pomona’s Ren.

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Column: Little Bridges hits right notes for 100 years


Sunday’s column is a tribute to Claremont’s Bridges Hall of Music, one of the most gracious civic spaces in the Inland Valley. It turned 100 over the summer. Top three photos courtesy of Pomona College, with the third one showing a detail of the ceiling. The bottom two are by me from the Sept. 27 concert; performers pictured are, from left, Gayle Blankenburg, Holly Shaw Price and Ray Burkhart.





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