ZAGAT’S LIST OF INLAND EMPIRE’S BEST STEAKHOUSES

The 2012 Zagat guide to Southern California restaurants lists the following steakhouses as being the best in the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside counties):

Arnold Palmer’s, La Quinta

Chop House, Palm Springs and Palm Desert

Davey’s, Palm Springs

The Falls, Palm Springs

Fleming’s, Rancho Cucamonga and Rancho Mirage (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

LG’s, Palm Springs and La Quinta (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

Morton’s, Palm Desert (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

Outback, multiple locations

Ruth’s Chris, Palm Desert (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

BAD JOKES HAVE A ‘RICH’ TRADITION IN SAN BERNARDINO

Here’s an expanded version of my Sept. 28 column with extra jokes from the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino’s 31st annual Lyman Rich Joke Telling Contest:

Jokes are good. They lighten the mood. They ease tension. They offer a measure of much-needed relief in troubled times.

Obviously, we need jokes more than ever.

Thank goodness the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino is doing its part to keep the supply strong.

Last week the club hosted its 31st annual Lyman Rich Joke Telling Contest at the San Bernardino Golf Club.

Almost two dozen Kiwanians tried to outdo one another in earning laughter, applause and groans from their colleagues.

They earned plenty of groans, that’s for sure.

After all, it’s a contest named after Lyman Rich, the local civic figure, pioneer Kiwanian and legendary corny joke teller who died in 1981.

This year’s contestants competed in three categories: “Best Joke,” “Worst Groaner” and “Most Like Lyman Rich.” Only a fine line separated best from worst in this competition, which made judging a challenge.

I know, because I was the judge.

Yes, for the seventh straight year, I was asked to serve as arbiter in this distinguished and time-honored event.

I have no idea why the Kiwanians think I’m such an expert on bad jokes, but I don’t want to screw up a good thing. It’s a free meal, after all.

Without further ado, here are the three winners:

Laura Gonzales triumphed, if that is the correct word, in the “Most Like Lyman Rich” category.

She told a joke about two cannibals who are sitting around the fire, eating and talking. One guy says to the other guy, “You know what? I can’t stand my mother-in-law.” The other guy says, “Well, just eat the potatoes, then.”

Carrie Schmidt was victorious in the “Worst Groaner” category with her joke about the convalescent hospital patient who was a bit of a playboy.

The old gent scandalized the whole institution when when he started up a relationship with Lorraine, but then started cheating on her with another woman named Claire Lee.

When Lorraine suddenly passed away, everyone went to the funeral in the hospital chapel, and the old geezer was asked if he wanted to say a few words. He shocked everyone when he stood up and broke into song:

“I can see Claire Lee now, Lorraine is gone!”

Jay Zercher won in the “Best Joke” category. He told a yarn about the late comedian Bob Hope and his wife of many years, Dolores Hope, who recently passed away at the age of 102:

About 20 years ago, Zercher said, when both Bob and Dolores were still alive, they were sitting outside one evening, enjoying their lovely home in Palm Springs.

Bob said, “Dolores, we’ve been married a very long time. Sometimes I wonder how you’ve put up with me all these years.”

Dolores replied, “Oh, I have a system, dear.”

Bob said, “A system? What is it?”

Dolores answered, “Whenever I get angry at you, I work it off by going around the house and cleaning all the toilets.”

Bob laughed and said, “Cleaning the toilets! How does that help?”

Dolores replied, “I use your toothbrush.”

Here are selected additional jokes told during the competition:

Steve Weber: This short, dumpy balding guy was at the gym one day and he saw a beautiful woman. He was smitten. He went to the trainer and said, “I really want to impress that new girl. She is so beautiful. Which of the machines here should I use?” The trainer said, without hesitation, “The ATM machine out in the lobby.”

Rex Ramsey: A woman holding a baby was walking on the sidewalk. A drunk stumbled toward her from the opposite direction. As they passed, the drunk said, “Madam, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!” The woman burst into tears. A mailman saw her and asked what was wrong. “That man just insulted me,” she cried. The mailman said, “Now, now, don’t cry. Everything’s going to be fine. Here’s a tissue.” The woman stopped crying and said, “Thank you. You’re very kind.” The mailman reached into his bag and said, “You’re very welcome. Oh, and here’s a banana for the chimp.”

Christney Barilla: A guy had a curse put on him. He could speak only two words per year. He figured out that if he said nothing for a year he could save those two words and combine them with the next year’s words. In fact, he could keep doing this year after year, building up his supply of words. One day he met a princess and fell in love. He spent five years in silence, thinking of the perfect words to say. At last he met the princess and spent all his words at once: “How I adore you, my Princess! Will you marry me?” The princess said, “Pardon?”

Verlene Riddle: How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on it! How do you catch a tame rabbit? Tame way!

George Gorian: The beautiful blonde boards the jetliner for a nonstop
flight between LAX and New York. She sits down in first-class. Shortly
before takeoff, an attendant approaches her, points out that her ticket
is for coach, and offers to take her to the correct seat. She refuses.
Next, the co-pilot tries to reason with her. Same result. Finally, the
pilot says, “I can handle this.” He approaches the woman, leans down and
whispers something. She immediately stands up and walks back to coach.
The co-pilot and attendant are amazed. “What did you say to her?” they
ask. The pilot said, “It was easy. I told her this section isn’t going
to New York.”

Dick Bueermann: Jose was visiting America. He wanted to go to a baseball
game. His friends took him, but the seats were bad. They were way out under the
flagpole in center field. Afterward, his friends were apologetic but
Jose said, “No, no, I’ve never had a better time. The game was
wonderful, and the fans were fantastic. I loved the way they all stood
up at the beginning, looked toward me, and sang that song that starts
‘Jose, can you see?’”

Gwendolyn Nelson: A man enters the health care center and announces, “I have shingles.” The receptionist takes his name, address and insurance information and tells him to have a seat. Fifteen minutes later, a nurse’s aide takes him in back, records his weight and height and asks him to take a seat in the examination room. A half hour later, a nurse checks his blood pressure, asks him if he has any allergies, tells him to disrobe and leaves. An hour later the doctor steps in, finds the man sitting naked on the exam table, and asks, “How can we help you today?” The man says, “I have shingles.” The doctor asks, “Where?” The man says, “Out in the truck. Where do you want me to unload them?”

As anyone can see, the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino is a fun bunch, if ever there was one. They meet at noon every Wednesday at the San Bernardino Golf Club, 1494 S. Waterman Ave. For information on joining the club (and the fun), visit online at www.sanbernardinokiwanis.org.

ODE TO THE HANGOUTS OF OLD

My friend Steve Portias, a San Bernardino lifer, has started work on a list of old restaurants, bars, markets and other businesses that were the popular hangouts of San Bernardino and environs back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It’s a work in progress, and Steve welcomes suggestions. Contact him at buffaloportias@aol.com.

Here’s his list so far …

Price Club
B&G Market
Coffees Market
Dodsons Auto Parts
Wilson’s Gun World
Gene’s Trading Post
Peebles Coins
Lazar Cadillac
Millers War Surplus
Bobby McGees
Temple Theater
Gateway Auto Parts
Cullen’s TV & Appliances
Dick Gray’s Bar
Betty & Bert’s Market
George’s Home Center
McFarlane’s Boat and Marine
Georges Smorgasbord
Price Rambler
Rose Auto Parts
Bob’s Auto Upholstery
Canada Dry Bottling Company
Mother Goose Shoes
Braviroff’s Music
Bob Brown Muffler
Evans Seat Covers
Victoria Guernsey Dairy
Colton Dairy
House of Lords Men’s Wear
Christensen Ice Cream
Squires Lumber
Stembridge Hardware
Albright Chain Link Fences
Larson’s Drug Store
Tri-City Concrete
Richards Beauty College
Norton Battery’s
Bill Bader Chevy
Friendly Chevy
L.J. Show Ford
Casey’s Portable Toilet Service
Farrington Tires
Little Mountain Tire Service
Lazio’s Sporting Goods
Skinners Restaurant
Royal Tahitian Restaurant
Ole’s Home Repairs
Precision Dyno Tuning
Home Base
Legion Caf
Big M Drive In
Santa Fe Caf
Cadillac Motel
Ivy Motel
Norton Pet Shop
Cozy Corner Bar
Pirate’s Den
L&J Liquor
San Franciscan Restaurant
Little Kitchen
J&L Machine
Dale’s Modern Cycle
Zulch Auto Works
Pail O’Chicken
Maria’s Cafe
Uncle John’s Pancake House
Rose Auto Wrecking
Merrill Auto Wreaking
Becker’s Auto Wrecking
Midnight Auto Wrecking
Wilson Auto Parts
Burn’s Automotive
Ace Radiator
Green Onion
Hudson Gas Station
Astro Gas Station
Johnny’s Steak House
Penguins Frozen Yogurt
Home Lumber
Suverkrup Lumber
Tik Tok Restaurant
Harry’s Schwinn Bikes
Pup & Taco
Coop’s Coin Store
Payne’s Corner Coins
Al’s Coin Store
Papa Joe’s Bar
Lang’s Men Wear
Lopez Studio
Muntz Stereo
Naugle’s Drive In
Sage’s
Van Wyk’s Volkswagen
Gemco
Fedco
Food Bank
Mayfair Markets
Paul’s Markets
Market Spot
Boys Market
Viva Markets
Smith’s Super Markets
Shopping Bag
Highland Farms Market
Norton Air Base Commissary
Boulevard Market
Zody’s
Fedco
Fed-Mart
Cunningham Drugs
ABC Flowers
Currie’s Flowers
Eastside Maple Shop
Bill Logue Hi-Fi Stereophonic
Mercy Ambulance Service
Courtesy Medical Service
Arden Ice Cream
Foster Freeze
Dill Lumber
Engleman’s Men’s Wear
D&M Office Equipment
San Bernardino Camera
Western Surgical
Phillips Truck Rentals
Wrights Tire Service
House of Plastics
Arrowhead Blind Company
San Bernardino Wrestling Arena
Arrowhead Tire & Battery
Sierra Equipment Rentals
E&E Tux Rentals
Stuart Auto Parts
Jerry Berman Auto Sales
Home Lumber
Swiss Dairy
Harris’ Department Store
Ellis Ford
White Front Department Store
A.B.C. Department Stores
F.O.R.E. Department Stores
Kinney’s Shoes
Robert Halls Men’s Store
Black’s for Men
Grayson’s
Lerner’s Woman’s Clothing
Janet’s Dress Shop
 Sammy’s Bar
Aquarius Night Club
Eros & Bogarts
Monkey’s Hide Out
The Market Night Club
Swing Auditorium
C.C. Cinnamon Cinder Night Club
Municipal Auditorium
Kaiser Dome
Ski-Land, Colton
Indigo Room
Tut’s
Uptowner
Players Night Club
Cowboy Saloon
Cop Out Night Club
Candy Legs Night Club
Ken’s Corner
Mt.Way Club
Pit Stop
Booby Trap Night Club
Torrid Zone Night Club
California Hotel
Ritz Theater
West Coast Theater
Studio Theater
Pussy Cat Theater
Baseline Drive In
Mt. Vernon Drive In, San Bernardino
Bing’s Cathay Inn
Golden Bull
Hot Dog In A Box
Queen’s Grinders
Traders Island Restaurant
Gourmet Restaurant
Heywood’s Ice Cream
La Paloma Mexican Food
Foxy’s Restaurant
Angels Home Supplies
Builders Emporium
Standard Brands Paint & Supplies
Blair’s Toy Store
Pratt Brothers Sporting Goods
Lyle’s Record City
San Bernardino Racing Equipment
Mt.Vernon Speed Shop
J&M Speed Center
Brent’s Dyno Tuning
Denvers Choppers
San-Hi Bowling Alley
Barbara Ann Bakery
Recap Cheater Slicks (Tires)
Jack Coyle Chevy
Mission Pontiac
Center Chevy
Brown Cadillac
Garner Ford
DeRoque Buick
Bob Wickett Chrysler
Bill Ellis Ford
L.J. Snow Ford
Roger Harmon Mercury
Floyd Brown Rambler
Winston Head Sales
Downtown Auto Parts
Strout’s Automotive
M&M Garage
Gene’s Brakes
Sure-Fit Auto Upholstery
Reliable Auto Wrecking
American Auto Wreaking
Richard’s Beauty College
Citrus Belt Bowling
National Dry Ice
Lindsey Blocks and Bricks
B&B Equipment Rental
McOmie Pharmacy
Royal Chrysler
Holiday Olds
American Rambler
Dales’ T.V. Repair
ARA Car Air Conditioning

(TAKE A SPIN ON) STATE ROUTE 210

Here’s the back story on my composition of the song parody, “(Take a Spin on) State Route 210,” along with the 2007 column in which it first appeared. To hear an audio-only version of the song with guitar accompaniment, go to http://www.sbsun.com/ci_6200128?IADID=Search-www.sbsun.com-www.sbsun.com and click on the “Audio” option under the headline. To view a video version, in which I sing the song without accompaniment, go to the San Bernardino Public Library’s website, sbpl.org, click on “California of the Past,” then “State Route 210.”

Imagine a day, and it will come sooner rather than later, when the 210 is just as famous as Route 66.

It will be an icon, a pop culture fixture, a treasured portion of our shared American lore and legend.

That’s what happens to roads when they come to the Inland Empire. We know how to treat them right. We know how to celebrate them properly.

One example: Our Hwy. 18, which traverses the San Bernardino Mountains, might have been just another mountain road. But no, we gave it a fancy name — Rim of the World — and we took steps to have it designated, by the United States Federal Highway Administration, as one of America’s Scenic Byways.

Another example: Interstate 10 crosses all of Southern California, from the Arizona border in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. But we have claimed such an ownership of it, here in the Inland Empire, that for most of its length, even into the very heart of Los Angeles, it is known as the San Bernardino Freeway.

A third example: Route 66 is famous from end to end, and that’s a 2,000-mile stretch from Chicago to Santa Monica. But where is the big celebration of Route 66 held each year? A celebration that draws a half million visitors from around the world?

That’s right, the Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous is held in downtown San Bernardino, in the heart of the Inland Empire. This year’s edition starts Sept. 15. And where else but in San Bernardino County are there three — count them, three — Route 66 museums to be found? We have the Route 66 Museum in San Bernardino, the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum in Barstow.

So, now that the last link of State Route 210 is in place, and the Foothill Freeway has finally and fully arrived in the Inland Empire, its fame is assured.

This road is going to get the star treatment.

One day there will be a Stater Bros. Foothill Freeway Festival that will rival the Rendezvous in size. Cruisers will line the road from where the 210 enters San Bernardino County in Upland to where it completes its journey in Redlands.

People will wear Foothill Freeway t-shirts and buy State Route 210 souvenirs. They’ll plaster their cars with State Route 210 decals and bumper stickers.

The festival will last just a weekend or two, but the Foothill Freeway will draw visitors year-round. Hotels will spring up along the highway. Restaurants will advertise “Foothill Freeway” specials. Tourists will flock to such roadside attractions as the Maloof Historical Residence and Gardens in Alta Loma, Fontana’s Miracle Mile, the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in San Bernardino, and the Citrus Plaza in Redlands.

Many more attractions will spring up. And the Foothill Freeway’s legend will continue to grow.
State Route 210 highway signs will become pop culture icons.

There will be dozens of State Route 210 guide books, State Route 210 history books, and even State Route 210 recipe books featuring the 210′s fabled roadside diners.
There will be a buddy-cop TV show called “Foothill Freeway.”

And, of course, there will be a song, an anthem, known and sung throughout the world.
It will be a little ditty that goes something like this, sung to the tune of  “Route 66″:

If you feel like a foothill cruise,
There’s only one that you can choose.
Take a spin on State Route 210.

Well, it stretches from Sylmar to Redlands,
A hundred miles of easy curves and bends.
Take a spin on State Route 210.

Well, you hit La Crescenta, then La Canada,
Pretty soon you’re parading through old Pasadena,
You’ll churn through LaVerne, and Upland, and then Ontario,
Rancho Cucamonga, don’t forget Fontana,
Rialto, Muscoy, San Bernardino.

You should take advantage of these clues,
If you choose to make that foothill cruise.
Take a spin on State Route 210,
Take a spin on State Route 210,
Yeah, take a spin on State Route 210. 

SAN BERNARDINO AND ‘ROUTE 66′

An aspiring songwriter named Bobby Troup arrived in L.A. in 1946 after a long drive west on Route 66. It didn’t take him long to hit it big. During his road trip he had written a tune called “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” Nat King Cole heard it, liked it, and turned it into a national hit that same year.

The song mentions San Bernardino by name, and that’s just one of the interesting connections between the city and Bobby Troup.

In the 1950s he met Julie London, an aspiring singer who had grown up in San Bernardino. In 1955 he produced her first hit, “Cry Me a River,” and they married in 1959. The marriage lasted for 40 years.

London, who became one of the most famous torch singers of her era, died in 2000, one year after her husband.

Here are the lyrics of Bobby Troup’s classic song, as recorded in 1946 by Nat King Cole:

“(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66″

If you ever plan to motor West,
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66.

It winds from Chicago to L.A.,
More than 2,000 miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route 66.

Now you go through St. Louie, Joplin, Missouri,
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo, and Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.

Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip,
Get your kicks on Route 66,
Get your kicks on Route 66,
Get your kicks on Route 66.

TOP 10 WEIRD COUNTY FAIR FOODS

Here’s a Top 10 list, culled from delish.com and other online sources, of weird foods actually served at county fairs throughout the USA:

  • KOOL-AID PICKLES: Dill pickle chunks soaked in various flavors of Kool-Aid.

  • MEALWORM COVERED CARAMEL APPLES: Only the brave-hearted ever will know if it tastes any better than it looks. It looks pretty dreadful.

  • DEEP-FRIED JELLY BEANS: Buy ‘em by the bag.

  • DEEP-FRIED STICK OF BUTTER: A variation is called Deep-Fried Butter Balls.

  • PYTHON KEBABS: That’s right, roasted snake on a stick. Seriously.

  • DEEP-FRIED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS: Actually, it’s only one large meatball, with spaghetti bits mixed in, dipped in batter and fried.

  • A CHEESEBURGER WITH FRIED ICE CREAM: It’s a cheeseburger that includes a thick wedge of batter-fried ice cream. Better ask for extra napkins.

  • FRIED BEER: Pretzel-dough pockets are filled with beer, sealed, then deep-fried.

  • KRISPY KREME CHICKEN SANDWICH: Think chicken sandwich in a bun, only the bun is a doughnut.  And then the whole thing is batter-dipped and deep-fried.

  • FRIED COCA-COLA: Coke-flavored batter blobs are deep-fried then garnished with Coke syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon sugar.