Friday, August 31, 2007


I don't know who actually broke the news (possibly LA Observed), but a couple of months ago, all the SGV blogs were abuzz with the fact that Pasadena Now has outsourced its city hall beat to India, where a nice young man hired off of Craigslist reports on all the latest news using nothing but the web. Since then, at least one blog has had a good time taking the piss, to everyone's delight.

This morning's Franklin Avenue -- not usually first on the 909 beat -- reports that the outsourcing ain't over yet. Apparently KHIZ, based in Victorville, is not afraid of bloggy opprobrium: They produce "the Inland Empire's only newscast" in Erie, Pennsylvania. Clearly it's waaaay more than 15 miles on the Erie Canal.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

claro que si

We threw a party for a friend's Nice Round Birthday last night, and one of the shopping stops was Claro's, in Upland. If you're not familiar with it, you should be: It's a pretty darn good Italian market, at Baseline and Mountain, just north of the Stater Bros. [Actually, in finding the link, I learned that there are several locations.]

I usually get fancy prosciutti (they have several kinds, ranging from $6/lb to $25/lb), salami, olives, and cheeses there, but they also have a deli case of prepared salads, a freezer full of stuff, various Italian dried goods, a pastry case, and an alcove full of overpriced wines. Oh yeah: They have good inexpensive dried pasta.

I had forgotten -- assuming that I ever knew -- that they are closed on wednesdays, so the party had to go without. Trader Joe's isn't terrible for charcuterie; it's just not nearly as good as Claro's.

But the reason I'm posting is that in their window was one of those Public Notice: Change of Ownership signs. Say it ain't so! Not Claro's! Argh!

I was so nonplussed that I hopped out of the car to get a better look, and it's a good thing that I did. Next to the big yellow sign was a small sign informing us that they are not selling Claro's, but that the family matriarch died and left her portion of the store to other family members -- which, under state law, requires a change-of-ownership posting. Phew, crisis averted.

So: Shop at Claro's, but don't go on wednesdays. And always read those change-of-ownership signs carefully, checking to see if the tiny "stock change" line has been circled.

Monday, August 27, 2007

as long as it's not a *dirty* martini...

How can we get this guy elected mayor of Pomona? I bet there would be no unseemly scrapping with blogs if he held the reins...

(Hat tip to Admiral Seamus for the link.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

roll up your sidewalks!

We've done it a million times since we moved to California 12 years ago: Go see a 7pm flick and then wander around town looking for somewhere, anywhere, to eat. When we came west, we thought we were moving to the promised land, and in many ways we were, but what is it about Califas that shuts down the eateries at 9pm?

It happened again last night, but we stumbled on somewhere different: Sakura Ichi (beware -- tons of Flash, embedded sound, and "lorum ipsit" gibberish) in the Mission Promenade complex across the street from city hall. Verdict: Snazzy decor, mediocre food.

I spent a good chunk of my 20s living in Japan, and Sakura Ichi ("Cherry Blossom One" -- sounds like a spaceship name) reminds me of Asian nightclubs. Everything is black and white and red all over, and there's even a wall of vertical red neon rods behind the bar. The light fixture is the size of a spaceship (perhaps Cherry Blossom One?). All in all, it's like walking into a very swanky cosmopolitan bordello, except that bordellos don't usually have black-laquer booths that seat six. They do have tatami rooms (at least in Japan), but I didn't see any futons in the ones at S1 (which is how they style themselves -- à la spacecraft).

Before I let the bordello theme go, I have to mention the "gum-cracking hostess," as K. called her. On first glance, everything seems completely kosher: You walk in, and a tiny Asian woman in kimono calls out the usual Japanese restaurant greeting. But she says "irasshai," not "irasshaimase" (too casual for the hostess), and her kimono, as I saw later, was entirely appropriate for a bordello: It was a snap-off fake, and underneath she had a giant t-shirt and knee-length leggings (paging Cindy Lauper...). I will say, it was a good fake -- it fooled me, at least in that light.

The last thing about the hostess was that she wasn't Japanese, nor were any of the other employees. And that foreshadows the menu, which is Japanese in nomenclature and ambition, but mainland Asian in general tenor and flavor profile. I'm not sure where on the mainland (Taiwan, perhaps?), but definitely not Japanese. The miso soup had too many different ingredients in it (and not enough miso); the chicken donburi was just boiled chicken on rice; the pickles were definitely Chinese (too much sugar, not enough salt).

K. had the chicken donburi and was deeply disappointed, which was partly his own fault: He was expecting oyako ("parent & child" -- ie, chicken and egg) donburi, whereas the menu just mentioned chicken. But it certainly looked like a dog's dinner.

I was luckier: Because my spidey-sense was tingling, I steered toward something that was more about construction than cooking -- and even then I was worried. In the event, I ordered chirashi ("scattered") sushi, which in this country is basically a bowl of sushi rice with some pieces of fish on top. The rice was pretty good, which assuaged my biggest fear; treatment of rice is a big differentiating feature between Japan and China. The fish (salmon, yellowtail, salmon roe, tuna, shrimp, octopus, and something bland I didn't recognize) was all perfectly good, so I was satisfied, if not ecstatic.

All in all, it's a workable option for late-night dining, although it definitely has a party vibe and seems geared toward young Asian hipsters ($1 sake bombs, anyone?). And you'd have to choose your meal rrrrrreally carefully. But it'll do when you're not in the mood for an all-night taco at Alberto's.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

m-m-m-m-m-my magnolia

There is a small magnolia tree (at least, I believe it is a saucer magnolia) in our front yard, and over the past three weeks or so, the leaves have been turning brown. It's looking quite forlorn, and both K and I, in our new state of home-ownership, take every botanical whimper as an accusation of poor parenting. It gets plenty of water, but not too much, I think; we're abiding by the previous owner's watering plan, pretty much. Are saucer magnolias just very sensitive to heat? Or to new owners? Or do they normally go brown in August? Any advice from the assembled company would be most welcome.

The King's Canyon trip was followed by an excursion to the Getty and Venice Beach, and today we're off to the Huntington and Gamble House -- there's nothing like trying to cram all of California into six days. Real blogging will resume as soon as I spend more than eight hours straight in Pomona.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

drive-by shootings

My desk faces the street, and I've noticed at least one drive-by per week: A middle-aged person in a shiny sedan stops outside our house -- always on the other side of the street -- and snaps a couple of photos of the house from the car. It never fails to arouse the urge to go charging out there. "What are you doing? Are you from the Department of Homeland Security? If you're from the FBI, we have nothing to do with the drug dealer you arrested here three years ago. Now, I'll take that camera, if you please."

Yeah, right -- we know that's exactly how it would happen.

I think I've figured it out, though. They've got to be realtors doing comps for houses that they're bargaining on. At least, I hope so.

We're off to King's Canyon to go camping with a friend visiting from the east coast; blogging will be light for the next few days.

Friday, August 17, 2007


We received a certified letter yesterday. Well, actually, we didn't; instead we got the little orange slip saying they tried to deliver it but we weren't here. Well, actually, they didn't; I was sitting in the living room when the mail carrier dropped off our mail, and she made no attempt whatsoever to see if anyone was home. And the orange slip was already filled out, because she just walked up to the house, dropped off the mail, and went on to the next house.

That's just about the only thing I miss about living in Claremont: our wonderful postman, Tom. He's like Mr. McFeely or the benign mailman from a 1940s picture book -- and I wrote a letter to the Postmaster General praising Tom when we moved away. No response from the PG (or Tom's supervisor, whom I cc'ed), though -- maybe the letter was misdelivered.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a day late and a dollar short

This past weekend was the Pomona Heritage Restoration Workshop, which we had been looking forward to since before we even moved into the neighborhood. I recommend it to anyone interested in older houses, not just folks in the neighborhood. I met folks from a number of surrounding towns, in addition to those from down the street.

We also met and hung out with the people who bought the house we withdrew our offer on... which, in the event, turns out to be rather convenient, because today's email contained a note from a friend who moved away while that offer was on the table, in which she said that she'd sent us a little something -- at the other address. Ruh-roh!

The restoration workshop was about the best way you can spend a saturday. Everyone was really nice (especially when we helped clean up afterwards -- people thanked us way more than necessary), and we were pleased to see a level of diversity that mirrors the area. As K said, we were afraid that it was going to be bunch of fussy yuppies wanting information of dealing with contractors, but in fact it was normal people needing information on how to do the work themselves.

Most everybody seemed a lot handier than we are, although 1) I could be imagining it, 2) that's not saying much, and 3) we're getting handier every week. My project for today is to knock some shelves out of the laundry closet, so Cagles can come install our new washer and dryer (finally! sorry, Frantz). Removing shelves might not seem like much, but these have been painted into place several times over, so I think my putty knife and I are going to spend a lot of time together today.

I've also discovered that early morning is the only bearable gardening time. Yesterday I whacked the morning-glories out of the plum tree (those things ought to have a German name in light of their invasional tendencies... although, as an American I suppose I have no room to talk), and this morning I repotted a bunch of herbs. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Friday, August 10, 2007


Like everyone else in the neighborhood, I imagine, we got a flyer today for a local construction company (read: guy). He looks pretty cool -- lives in the area, does things we need, is licensed and bonded.

All except for one thing: his name. Who names their company TNT Construction?!? I mean, I'm sure they do a bang-up, knock-out job, but I don't even like the word "TNT" to share a sentence with our home. I can just imagine it now: K asks, "Who were you thinking of to work on that closet?" I answer, "Oh, let's just use TNT." And that's the last you ever hear from me -- and no jury in the world would convict him.

cat calls

Now that I'm back from the East Coast, and K is on his way back from his conference, we can finally get a cat... with one big if: IF there is some magical moment in which the pound is open and K is not at work.

In preparation for this big step -- a step that I've been talking about for years -- I got online and did my homework on the local animal shelters. And all I have to say is, when did adopting an animal from the pound become a diabolical process designed by a committee made up of Nazis and New Agers?

It's amazing what some of the shelters require. There are extremely nosy forms to be filled out in advance (so that they can call your references -- no, I'm not kidding), multiple interviews (with humans, not animals) to schedule, and mucho dinero to shell out. They're taking the word "adopt" waaaaay too seriously; getting a cat is clearly modeled on the process for adopting a white infant with no disabilities.

And then there are the suitability clauses: If you plan to let your cat outside, no cat for you. If you rent rather than owning, no cat for you. If you've used the word "pet" as a noun in the last year, no cat for you. If your chakras haven't been aligned recently, no cat for you. I guess I'd better not tell them that I've eaten both cat and dog (overseas! 25 years ago! and I didn't inhale!), huh?

I understand the need to make sure that the animals are going to end up in healthy environments (and not back in the shelter or on the street), but invading our privacy and making huge financial demands isn't the way to find them good homes.

So, if anyone knows of an adult cat looking for a good home, leave a comment.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

dateline: Lincoln Park, 7:49pm, Thursday, 9 aug 2007

What's with the helicopter circling overhead nonstop? Judging by the geometry of the flight pattern, there's a hostage situation in our garage, but if there is, no one informed me of it.

Where does one go to find out the late-breaking news? I'm already on the police chief's email alert list.

Now there's a silver truck idling outside the house. I think I'll go doublecheck the garage for hostage situations...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

dine out, dine in

I don't know how a full week passed since the last post -- must have been all that painting and carpet-pulling that caused me to lose track of time.

I have a few restaurant updates to report:

• Guasalmex, at Holt and Garey, now has chicken pupusas, but only for take-out. I can't imagine why they don't serve them in the restaurant (are they afraid of litigation?), but I didn't ask when I was picking up the big bag o' pupusas to take to some friends' house.

• Lela's on Second Street seems to have packed up its tent and skulked away in the night. That's a blow for Pomona's dreams of having an "entertainment district," but its good news for anyone who wants a nice meal out. Maybe that's why Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares still hasn't aired that episode.

• Last night as my big bag o' pupusas and I were heading over to said friends' house, I passed the new Korean restaurant Koki's, in the same strip mall on Indian Hill as Pho Ha. We still haven't tried it, and I don't think we will be soon: A Hummer had crashed into the front window, such that its back end was poking out, wheels in the air, with glass spewed everywhere. Firetrucks and ambulances were on the scene in force.

UPDATE: On the way back from Ikea to get a rug for my study, I checked out Basha Market, on the corner of Arrow and Sunflower. It's a good bit bigger than the Upland Farmer's Market (which, as you may know, is in fact a Middle Easter grocery store), with a larger meat counter, more pastries and take-out food, and better produce. Definitely worth the drive.