Column: Ontario couple traded up by moving one house over

I write about Pat and Virginia King, who gave up their Ontario home 39 years ago to buy the house next door. After that come a bunch of items from Pomona involving Mexico Lindo, the redwood grove, an art exhibit, two Big Boys and the 1956 Pomona High fire, plus a plug for my next author talk and a note that I’m leaving for vacation, all in Sunday’s column.

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Column: It was ‘Idol’ finalist, crew, Ben Harper and one columnist

Prior to Alejandro Aranda’s Pomona activities, he stopped in Claremont at the Folk Music Center. And (intoning gravely) I was there. This fly on the wall saw the “American Idol” finalist reunite with store owner/musician Ben Harper, tour the store, talk and jam, with the store staff and the TV crew the only witnesses. Get the inside scoop in Sunday’s column. And yes, I know I’ve written three straight columns on Aranda. Don’t worry, Sunday will be something different. After that I’m on vacation so you’ll get a break from both of us.

 

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Column: Triumphant homecoming for Pomona’s ‘Idol’ finalist

I was there Tuesday for Alejandro Aranda’s return to Pomona for his “American Idol” “hometown visit,” which comes with being in the Top 3. And so were thousands of others. “Idol” had said to expect 8,000 to 10,000 and that seemed possible based on what I saw. That segment will air during Sunday’s finale.

It was a fun day, culminating in a free concert. It was also a stressful day for yours truly, as when the concert was over, at 7:30, I had until 8:30 to finish my column, partly written earlier in the day but with lots to add and adjust. I made it. Read about the day in my Wednesday column. And look for a sequel on Friday, as I had an inside view of Aranda’s low-key visit to Claremont earlier Tuesday.

Above, Aranda tunes his guitar while speaking from the stage in front of the Fox.

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7-Eleven sign now less heavenly

This old-school 7-Eleven sign at Towne Avenue and Mission Boulevard has delighted me the past year or two that I’ve been eating regularly at a couple of Mexican restaurants nearby. Last November, when I was parked next door at Taqueria Oaxaquena, I thought I’d better document the sign by taking a photo.

Good thing I did, because in March the sign was updated. The new version said “Open 24 Hours.” It does not say “Oh thank heaven!” I shot this one while parked at a red light, so it’s the opposite face of the sign.

I had this post all ready to publish last Tuesday when I happened to be stopped at the intersection Monday evening and saw the sign had been switched out again. Instead of “Open 24 Hours,” it now says “Slurpee,” on both sides. So I stopped, took a fresh photo and put the post on hold until I had a chance to update it. Sheesh.

If the sign has been changed in the past week, I don’t want to know about it.

The “Oh thank heaven!” slogan appears to date to the late 1960s, which doesn’t mean the sign was necessarily that old. It was emblematic enough to be used as the title of a corporate history, 1977’s “Oh Thank Heaven!: The Story of the Southland Corporation” by Allen Liles.

Last I looked, La Verne still had a 1960s 7-Eleven sign, pre-slogan. Thank heaven.

 

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Column: ‘Idol’ visit swings on Sunday vote for Pomona contestant

If Alejandro Aranda, now in “American Idol’s” Top 5, makes the cut Sunday for the Top 3, the show will visit his hometown of Pomona on Tuesday, with events including a parade downtown and a free concert outside the Fox. If he doesn’t, then none of that happens. I write about the planning for an event that may not happen, but hopefully will, in Sunday’s column.

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Column: ‘American Idol’ sensation was regular at open mic

Alejandro Aranda has been wowing them on “American Idol” since March 6. He says he’s a dishwasher from Pomona, a description that, combined with his humble manner and way with an acoustic ballad, have made him a sensation. I delve into his recent past as an open mic and street performer in Pomona and Claremont in Sunday’s column. Photo from March 30 Pomona appearance by Liliana Pardo.

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Restaurant of the Week: Metro Ale House

Metro Ale House, 197 E. 2nd St. (at Gibbs), Pomona; open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Sunday

Taking over a 1925 building that originally housed a dry goods store, Metro Ale House opened in 2015 after two years of renovations and, according to its slightly bitter “our story” on its menu and website, five years of red tape. (There’s litigation.)

I had seen the interior at one point during the construction and was impressed at all the effort being expended. The brick building is three stories tall, with a basement tavern, a restaurant and bar on the main floor and an events center on the top two floors for wedding receptions, private parties and such.

I had never eaten at Metro until a few weeks ago. A friend and I were meeting for lunch on a Monday at the Rookery, which turned out to be closed Mondays; ditto with Dia de los Puercos, the next restaurant as we walked east on 2nd Street. After crossing the street, we saw Metro Ale House and figured, why not?

We sat near the bar, ordered water and perused the menu. It has appetizers (and many more than is typical, probably since they make for good bar food), salads, sandwiches, tacos, pastas, seafood, steaks and chicken. As you might suspect from the wide-ranging menu, there’s something for everyone, but probably not the best versions of anything.

My friend had the Santa Fe salad ($14), with romaine, bacon, peppers, corn, avocado and chicken, tortilla strips and pico de gallo. No foodie, he said with a shrug, “It’s a salad.”

I got the fish and chips ($12), cod fillets in a Guinness batter with seasoned fries. These were acceptable, if not as good as at O’Donovan’s a block away.

On my way back from the men’s room, I saw a number of well-dressed folks taking the stairs up to an upper floor for a post-funeral luncheon. And there were a fair number of customers on the main floor where we were. Metro Ale House likely fills a need, especially on weekends and as an event space, or as a bar.

It gets 4 stars on Yelp, for whatever that’s worth, but I wasn’t enthusiastic about the place, at least as a lunch spot.┬áHad my friend and I kept walking east, we would have found Slummin’ Gourmet, which would have been a more satisfying choice.

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