Thursday, January 31, 2008

claremont after hours

Last night we were hunting for supper after 9pm, which is well past the roll-up-the-sidewalks hour in our frontier of the West Inland Empire. We'd eaten at Viva Madrid the night before (I had already disposed of all perishables from the fridge), and we weren't in the mood for the Press or KBBQ, so we ended up down at the Village Expansion.

We have been to Hip Kitty three times, one of which we actually got served, and I'm on record as thinking that place can't possibly make it. But it was open late, and cheese fondue sounded good, so we gave it a shot.

The first plate of words I have to eat is the business prospects of the place: As the song goes, that joint was jumpin'. And it was jumpin' with clientele that one doesn't usually see in Claremont -- longhairs, hipsters, Fred Sanford clones, all sorts of folks. It was a pretty good vibe overall. It was an open jam night (maybe they all are, I dunno), and even for non-jazz fans like us, it was entertaining watching the anthropology of each song and set. And the music seemed pretty good too.

Hip Kitty still doesn't seem like a bar run by experienced professionals, but our fondue was mighty tasty. They have four different choices of cheese fondue (as well as other fondues -- meat, chocolate, etc.), but we went with the classic -- gruyère, garlic, and brandy. (Yes, I know, it should be kirschwasser, but the brandy was just fine.) It was served with teacups full of breadcubes; apples & grapes; and broccoli florets & carrot fingers. The bread was the tastiest; I ended up just nibbling on the other things sans cheese.

K. had a Pomona Queen (three cheers for the Dale Brothers!), and I had a glass of Fat Cat pinot noir (eh, it was okay -- but it was several bucks less than the more enticing options). All told we spent about $35 before tip. They didn't charge us the "$10 per person entertainment fee" threatened by a sign, plus we got to snuggle up in a big round booth, like 1950s cool cats.

§ § §

Speaking of the New Mall, over at Claremont Insider, we learn that the Maui Wowie franchise is already for sale, for a mere $240k for everything. There goes the dead pool I was going to organize. I would have lost, anyway; my money was on Edible Arrangements, which, according to pal who lives in the nabe, is hanging in there just fine (to my complete mystification).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

league of ordinary gentlemen

The 1960s British duo Flanders and Swann (who, for my money were at least as funny as Tom Lehrer and quite possibly more so) had a song in which they posited a League of British Bedstead Men, responsible for scattering used mattresses around the countryside.

I'm here to talk about the League of Pomona Bicycle Men, about which I was recently informed by a neighbor (not the block captain) who had an interesting conversation with someone who works at the county jail.

You've seen the Bicycle Men -- they pedal past our houses, going places, looking down on their luck. According to our informant, they are generally parolees and often undocumented immigrants. They ride bikes because if they're in cars, they get pulled over and arrested again.

And down-on-their-luck is certainly what they are. They're just trying to get by, looking for opportunities to get a little something in life, legally or otherwise.

Our informant gave solid advice: If any of the bicycle men offer to do work for you, Just Say No. As he said, "You don't want those guys in your life." This, of course, runs counter to my middle-class liberal give-a-guy-a-break mentality, but I've learned the hard way not to let sticky people of various kinds get close enough to stick -- or close enough to pull anything away.)

When our neighbor started telling us to beware of men on bicycles, I was all, like, "Oh YEAH! They're full of erithropoietin and artificial testosterone and lord knows what shit, and you don't wanna get messed up in that." Now that I know the full story of the League of Pomona Bicycle Men, I still stand by my advice to keep Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, and especially Ivan Basso out of your life.

Monday, January 28, 2008

cheaper by the dozen

[UPDATE: Certain details edited out of both post and comments to protect folks' privacy]

According to our Neighborhood Watch Block Capitan, a nearby street features a full-time house of prostitution, with the attendant concerns about human trafficking. I cruised around, trying to figure out which house it was, but all the houses looked the same to me. Anybody know anything about it? [UPDATE: Never mind!]

I'm happy to announce two new co-authors of M-M-M-My Pomona: Frequent commenters (and neighbors of renown) John Clifford and Ed have signed onto the good ship Bloggipop. Thanks very much, chaps! And if anyone else wants to sign on, just drop me a line.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Apologies for the recent silence. It's been a hectic month -- Christmas; a work conference right after Christmas; 10 days of maternal nursing duty up in the holler; and now I'm about to leave for TWO MONTHS (a work trip to England -- I know, poor baby).

I actually have a mental list of things to post about, and those posts will trickle in. But unless K gets inspired, things are likely to be slow around here...

...which is why I'm issuing an open call for guest bloggers. Ed has agreed to help out, and it would be great to have others as well. If you have a couple of blog posts in you but don't have the time and energy for a blog of your own, make M-M-M-My Pomona Y-Y-Y-Your Pomona. Hell, if you'd just like to reserve the opportunity, even if you end up not posting at all, drop me a line.

In the meantime, I leave you with this little number. I wonder how many heads would explode down at City Hall (and, indeed, in Lincoln Park) if one of us built a castle and hid it completely with hay bales to circumvent the planning department?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

food bargainza

Due to our dependence on good Middle Eastern yogurt -- none of that hippy-dippy Mountain High (snort) stuff for us! -- I hit the Middle Eastern market on a regular basis. It's also a great place to buy cheap herbs, nuts, and lamb, to say nothing of weird-ass Mediterranean products that once you've tasted you can't live without (sour cherry syrup, carrot jam, turnip pickles, dried barberries...).

My usual place is the Upland Farmers Market at the corner of Mountain and Foothill. Don't let the name fool you; it isn't a farmers market by any stretch of the imagination. Only when you get inside do you realize that it's a Middle Eastern grocery, complete with a halal meat counter, a full range of Middle Eastern cooking implements, and a corner of the store devoted to dried spices you never heard of.

The same goes double for Basha, on Arrow and Sunflower in Covina: double the size, double the meat counter, double the everything (although their produce isn't as nice -- the UFM owner grows some of the tomatoes himself). Both stores are conveniently close to a Big Lots, aka the Palace of Heavenly Crap.

Yesterday I was in a rush. I'd told friends I'd bring a veg and a dessert to dinner, and I hadn't really left myself enough time for everything. There I am, driving up Garey toward Target, thinking, "Dang, do I have time to get to either UFM or Basha?" when I look over into the Aladdin shopping center (on Garey between Grove and Drake) and notice a sign for halal meat. Screeching brakes, sharp turn, full speed ahead!

Food Bargains is about as unprepossessing looking as a market can get from the outside; the Pomona Ranch Market on White and Arrow looks more inviting (and that's a real cesspit inside). But once you get inside, it's a decent little Middle Eastern market. The selection is really small (only two brands of yogurt), and they don't carry much in the way of the usual fresh herbs, but it will meet all your basic Middle Eastern needs -- and the prices are good.

I should note that the selection is small with one exception: dates. They got 'em comin' out the ears. I'd guess a full quarter of the store is dates of various sizes and species, fresh and dried. All I can guess is that the owner has family down in Indio along Highway 111 on the way to the Salton Sea, where there are all those date farms and date-shake stands.

The pikkie is of barberries, aka zereshk. Delicious in rice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

mine eyes have seen the glory

I touched down in beautiful smoggy ONT yesterday about 4pm, and 5pm found me across the street, thanking our neighbor for having taken care of Furface while both K & I were away. I brought her back some artisanal bacon from up in the holler, plus a t-shirt from Honey Rock Herb Farm, which is the holler equivalent of Dawn Van Allen's Garden.

While we were chatting, I saw my very first bona fide Lincoln Park drug deal! (Needless to say, I've seen lots of drug deals elsewhere, including the Stater Bros. parking lot -- even made a good many back in high school -- but never before on Our Fair Streets.)

I'm used to seeing a middle-aged hispanic guy in a sweatshirt wheeling aimlessly around on a bike that's too small for him, but yesterday he stopped in front of our neighbor's house -- while we were standing 30 feet away -- and a car pulled up next to him. Things were exchanged, and the car raced off. The Pushbike Pusher wheeled off aimlessly off to another block.

Neither Neighbor nor I called the cops, but I think someone did, because the patrol car made about 10 loops of our block in the following hour.

Monday, January 7, 2008

high culture in the low mountains

K is home in H-H-H-His Pomona, but he's been too sick to post here. I'm sure that if he didn't have a rotten cold (thank you, Niece and Neph!) he would be posting up a storm.

I didn't get quite such a bad case of, um, holiday cheer, but I'm still up in the holler. I have no more Pomona sightings from Appalachia to report, but I have encountered one thing that Pomona, I'm pretty sure, ain't got:

An retaurant outhouse -- unheated and unplumbed -- that has a motion-activated paper-towel dispenser.

Come to think of it, I bet restaurants in Pomona aren't allowed to have outhouses in the first place, with or without magic paper-towel dispensers.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Give me an A! Give me an L! Give me a V!

Greetings from up in the holler, where I'm posting from a free-wi-fi cafe, handily located next to the Beef Jerky Outlet. I guess Slavlandia has some competition in the cured-meat Olympics.

I never thought I would have anything worth posting about Xavier Alvarez. I've got plenty to say, but none of it's worth writing down, being comprised mainly of exclamations of surprise and wordless headshaking.

But, in fact, I DO have something to say about the Mustachioed Fraudulator.

Towit: The Holler Tribune, a two-section (News and Classifieds) little mullet-wrapper, saw fit to pick up the Alvarez story from the national wire.

Yes, Alvarez's well-meaning fib earned a 20-column-inch article, not counting headline (which was 4 inches itself), in the Holler Tribune. Part of me is all "Yee-haw!" but the other part tsk-tsks at the fact that the Alvarezian antics got more coverage than the Iowa caucus on the very day of the latter. I guess that's what one can expect from a newspaper that puts world news next to the comics, in the middle of the Classifieds section.