Sunday, January 31, 2010

Love, Barack

In looking over the agenda for tomorrow's (Feb. 1) city council meeting, I noted that one of the items was the approval for the city to enter into a business assistance agreement with CMS productions for filming in the city of the feature Love, Barack. So what is this film that we're offering to spend $13,225 in assistance to entice here?

A quick search in IMdB gives this synopsis of the film: "Politics makes strange bedfellows, but never stranger than when a month before the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, a beautiful, idealistic local Obama volunteer coordinator reluctantly falls for her Republican counterpart: a sexy, savvy, African American conservative. Sparks fly, tempers flares, heads turn, and romance blossoms for this mismatched pair of campaigners in the frantic and intoxicating days leading up to Election Day. Can the politics of love conquer all? Written by Nuclear Mango", Directed by Doug McHenry (New Jack City)

Further looking into the production company, it looks like they're mostly into TV with shows like Love Accidentally, CSI, The Good Wife, back to a 1955 production of CBS Television Workshop. Sounds like good credentials.

Love, Barack is set to star Bollywood “Bombshell” Mallika Sherawat (their description, for more information see the article at The Urban Network --

Looking over the agreement document, it looks like they will be filming mostly downtown.

Also on the agenda is an appeal by the city's redevelopment agency of the Historic Preservation Commission's denial of a demolition permit for an early 1880s house owned by the city. The house is older than the city which was founded in 1888.

murder and mayhem

Ed hasn't posted his Homicide Watch in a while, but this morning's paper informs me that there has been yet another deadly shooting within a mile of the house. Yesterday afternoon, two guys were killed and one wounded at Ted Greene Park (on LaVerne Ave. between Towne and Garey).

It seems like a nasty bit of business, which is another way of saying that I don't feel any less safe in our fair city, unless I develop a sudden penchant for dressing in particular colors and tangling with no-goodniks. I have no intention of doing so, and don't you start!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

supermarket socializing

I stopped by Hoa Bin, the Vietnamese supermarket on Holt, the other night, mainly to get some dill. They don't have it all the time, but they usually do, and it's always cheaper than the other supermarkets (and about the same as the Persian market in Upland).

While I was there, I picked up a few varieties of mushroom for the Hungarian Mushroom soup I was making, some dandelion greens, cilantro, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (all for a grand total of $9.13 -- suck it, Von's!).

Standing in line at the till, a young Asian(-American) woman fell in behind me. The grandma in front of me was having a long conversation with the cashier, and as we waited, the young woman asked me, "Do you know how to cook with these ingredients, or did you get a recipe off the Food Network?"

The question still kind of boggles me. The clause about the Food Network wasn't derisive or anything, but I gotta wonder, what's so hard about cooking with mushrooms, herbs, and sweet potatoes? It's not like my basket contained jackfruit, bitter melon, and chicken feet.

On the other hand, I enjoyed chatting in line. That doesn't happen very often around here, or at least not most of the places I shop. It would be nice to do something about that, but then again I don't want to turn into my grandmother, who would tell family stories to toll collectors.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

whoever you are...

Speaking of fine upstanding young men of Pomona, does anyone know whatever happened to Geggy Tah? Sonic Youth had their usual effect on me, Vampire Weekend will rock my world, and Owl City, well, I'll give him a chance to convince me that he has more than one song in him, but if Geggy Tah played the Fox, I would REPRESENT.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Theater of the Absurd at Pomona Council

While the Pomona City Council meetings are often portrayed as "theater," last night's meeting spilled over into that weird world of "Theater of the Absurd." And David Allen wasn't even there to witness it. While the agenda was relegated to a single public hearing (along with the normal consent agenda and closed session), it went on all of Monday night and into Tuesday morning (so much for the short meetings).

The topic last night was the Conditional Use Permit for Angelo's Pizzaria (sic) (although logos and signage seem to be a bit schizophrenic as they call it Sports bar, Restaurant, or Bar & Grill depending on whose PowerPoint we were looking at). The issue was that after months and months of Angelo's operating as an entertainment venue, without an entertainment permit, an agreement was made, in October, with the city setting new CUP conditions for the venue. These conditions had time limits for compliance that ranged from immediate to 60 days depending on the item. Three months later, the location was still out of compliance with the agreed to conditions, so the city was considering next steps. Those steps might include revocation of their CUP, essentially shutting them down, or some other form of sanctions, or modification to the conditions of the CUP.

Because revocation was on the table, the hearing was different than normal public hearings before the council. This time lawyers were involved. The city seated a special prosecutor, not the city attorney, and both he and the applicant's attorney could cross-examine "witnesses" who spoke.

First up was Angelo's group who had a large number of "witnesses" who attested to how wonderful Angelo's was and what a great place it was to work or to frequent. With the exception of the facilities entertainment/marketing manager, none of them really addressed the issues of whether or not the location was in compliance with their CUP or why conditions were either reasonable or unreasonable. The marketing manager talked about the unreasonableness of limiting the site (with its full hard liquor license) to those 21 and over after 9:00 pm and the limiting of their hours serving alcohol to 11:00 pm.

Then Jason Aboud, the owner of Angelo's presented his case. He stated that he thought that he should be receiving an award for his work in the city and NOT being chastised for not meeting unreasonable conditions on his business (which he had previously agreed to). He wanted his hours extended and to be able to allow 18-21 year-olds in at all hours. He expressed that he had complied with all the conditions and that someone at the city was "out to get me and close me down."

Now comes the absurdist part. There were two speakers from the general public who put in speaker cards, Virginia Madrigal and myself. Mrs. Madrigal gave an impassioned speech about how the site had changed from a family-style pizza parlor to a "bar" and that they were not complying with the regulations for a bar. That their descriptions of the place as a restaurant was in conflict with their marketing as a sports bar, nightclub, and music/dancing venue. All to the core of whether or not the conditions of the CUP should be enforced and were reasonable.

Then the applicant's attorney asked to cross examine her. He went on the attack asking her what her personal stake was in Angelos. He asked her if she frequently spoke at council meetings, suggesting that this was in some way her entertainment. He went on to attack her as someone who was nosing in on something that didn't concern her.

Given his attack on her, I was not particularly looking forward to my own testimony. However, I forged ahead and spoke directly to the issues of whether the conditions of the CUP had been met. My point was not that the CUP should be revoked or that the conditions were reasonable or unreasonable, but that the perception of the city is that anyone can come, do what they want, and then just fight it and they can get away with it. We've seen it over and over again in our city on a number of issues. Here it is definitely "easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission."

Then it was my turn to face the inquisitor. He questioned why I was, at the late hour of 9:45 taking up the council's time with an issue that did not directly affect me. Didn't I trust my council to be able to make their own decisions? He portrayed me as a gadfly who just likes to get up and talk on issues that don't concern him. THEN, he asked if I had ever been to the People's Republic of North Korea! WHAT???? I refused to answer and stated that I was very offended by the question (However, full disclosure demands that I respond here that I've never been to North Korea, however I have been to the People's Republic of China--my only visit to a communist country). He then asked me a series of questions about what I thought was permissible in a pizza parlor or sports bar.

Now maybe I've watched too much Law and Order but I didn't see where any of his questions related to my testimony or to the issues being decided. This guy went way out of bounds.

After all the testimony and rebuttals (we looked back at 9:45 with longing), the final decision was to restrict the liquor sales to beer and wine and to require all CUP conditions be met prior to the March 1 council meeting (actually by Feb. 23) or staff would bring back a recommendation to revoke the CUP. Mayor Rothman (who seemed to feel that letting them get away with ignoring the CUP conditions would in some way send the message that Pomona was "Business Friendly") and Councilman Atcheley voted against. We finally got out at about 12:20 AM.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lessons from history

Stew and I attended last nights Miss Pomona Scholarship Pageant, as did our Mayor, most members of the Council, a couple members of the school board, loads of proud families, and at least one couple shopping for a caterer.

After enjoying good eats from the buffet line, we listened to rockin' speeches given by the three finalists about the history and future of Pomona. After each speech, the Mistress of Ceremonies offered reflections and insights about the pageant.

During one such reflection, she commented that David Allen had asked her if the pageant was sexist. She said no, and offered the following two lines of evidence in support of her position:

1. Pageants have been around for a long, long, long, long time. [Ah yes, now I understand why unequal pay for equal work is also not sexist. Huh?]

2. Boys could answer these questions, too. [Right. So why don't we invite them to do so? Surely the young men of Pomona would also like to compete for scholarship money.]

I have no idea how either of these points connect with the issue of sexism. Perhaps someone out there can enlighten me. While you're at it, what do you think about the idea of Mister Pomona Scholarship event? Or maybe even an inclusive, less gender dichotomized event?

There were a couple other cringe moments during the pageant, but mostly the event was a lovely celebration of the achievements and promise of the young women of Pomona. Thank you to all the sponsors and volunteers who made the event possible! And, a truly heart felt thank you to the 22 contestants who stand as the jewels in Pomona's crown. You impress and inspire.

Now, how do we go about booking the Queen and her court for community events?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Happenings

A couple of events going on this weekend in our city:

Miss Pomona Pageant Coronation Ceremony

Saturday January 23rd. at 5pm at the Masonic Lodge, 395 S. Thomas St.

The field of 22 has been whittled down to the final 3. See who the winner is. This is being billed as a "Scholarship Pageant" and NOT a beauty pageant. Today's event will include food and beverages and the winner will be picked after a 5 minute speech from each of the remaining contestants. To RSVP or more information, (909) 469-1121

The judges are DPOA president Carolyn Hemming, Western University President Phillip Pumerantz Ph.D, Daily Bulletin Columnist David Allen, Director of Community Outreach College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences Cal Poly Pomona, Jonnie Owens, and former teacher and PUSD Board Member John Avila.

A Tribute to the USO: Buckingham Burlesque
And on a little less wholesome note:
Buckingham Burlesque att the American Legion, 239 Holt Ave., Pomona, (909) 620-0943. Saturday, 8PM. $30 pre-sale; $40 at the door. 18+.

Sometimes you’re really glad that you live in the era that you do. Sometimes. Not often, because all of the really cool stuff seems to have come and gone. Thanks to the gals at Buckingham Burlesque, however, that old-timey art of voluptuous females draped in feathers and sequins cavorting playfully on a sparkling stage and showing some—but not all—of their jewelry is alive and well. And you don’t have to hide in dark alleys and feel sleezy going to see them, like you did back in the old days of prohibition and the Moral Majority. To celebrate the ladies of the fanning fans and bubbling bubbles, Buckingham Burlesque is throwing themselves a five-year anniversary party this Saturday where you not only get to hang out at theAmerican Legion, you also get dinner, a DJ and dance floor, the Americana rock of Count Smokula, and oh, yeah, Hottie McHottertons smoldering up the room! Sirens include: Mable, Isis Starr, Lolita La Vey, Pepper La Rue, Venus De Mille, Audrey DeLuxe, Victoria Vengeance, Diamondback Annie and, Charlotte La Belle Araigneé.

Monday, January 18, 2010

grumpy as they wanna be!

Hey, everybody, Claremont Insider got back on the bike! After a nearly-six-month absence, the auteurs and curmudgeons behind Claremont's least temperate blog have started writing again -- one more great thing to come of this glorious rain. I don't always agree with the Insider, but I sure missed 'em when they fell silent.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

whither journalism, part 873

I'm surprised that the usual sources of reliable local information aren't all over this, but the Daily Bulletin's parent organization, the Media News Group, has filed for bankruptcy. Now, if there's one thing we've learned from all the SoCal newspaper jiggery-pokery of the last half-dozen years, it's that declaring bankruptcy doesn't mean the end of the print run, but it doesn't bode well for quality, at least if the LA Times is any indicator.

I'm planting my flag now: If there is any attempt to sack Dave Allen, I will be calling you all to the barricades, and I damn well expect you to be there with me. Despite being a benighted Claremonster, Dave has been a good and loyal friend to Pomona, and we take care of our own. Ploughshares into swords, people.

The pikkie is Dean Singleton, owner of the Media News Group, not Dave Allen. To my knowledge, Dave has never leaned back in red suspenders, gloating like the cat who pulled the turkey off the dining room table..

Saturday, January 9, 2010

semper gumby

I've been a fan of Gumby and Pokey since the mid-60s, when it was one of the very few tv shows my mother considered wholesome enough for me to watch (Captain Kangaroo and Walter Cronkite being the other two). Little did I know that Gumby's roots are in the West Inland Empire! You gotta read the obituary for Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby, whose story began when he was adopted from a halfway house at age 11 by an art professor at Pomona College. Given that Gumby was the first claymation on tv, I think we should add it to our list of Cultural Triumphs of the Inland Empire.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Housing Division Annual Report

I arrived home the other day to find not one, but TWO(!) copies of the city's Community Development Department Housing Division Annual Report for Year 2008 to 2009.

Then, last night while feeding the youngster, I read the report cover to cover (good times had by all). My read through left me with both questions and a better sense of official city efforts to make Pomona an even more livable city.

My biggest question is this: Which budget line paid for the production of this 8 1/2 X 11, 10 page, high-gloss piece loaded with nonsense clip art? Presumably all Pomona households received a copy (or, in some cases, two copies), so this was a large scale mailing. Given the fiscal state of our fair city, I question whether the city might have saved a few pennies by creating a less glossy report with less filler material. It just seems wasteful.

Despite my concerns about costs, format, and the absence of an articulated purpose for the piece (I would have liked to know why I received the report, for instance, or why the report exists in the first place), I was nevertheless impressed by the number and scope of housing-related programs in the city.

If you haven't read the report, give it a quick glance. I'm guessing many of us have unknowingly benefited from these programs. Those of us in the Garfield Park area have certainly benefited from some of the public facility and infrastructure improvements like new playground equipment and alley improvements.

And, most importantly, take the time to complete the needs survey, located between pages 6 and 7 of the report. My two copies of the report each contain two copies of the survey -- I guess this means our household can vote early and often? Submit surveys by February 5 to inform decisions about where the city should focus their housing development efforts.

The survey instructions tell us to call the city if we don't know our district info. Sure, you could do that. Or you could turn to page 7 to see a map of the city with districts specified.

truer words were never spoken

The word of the day (à la Pee-Wee's Playhouse) is DRINK.

DRINK is what Pride in Garfield Park and I went out for last night, pointing the car toward dba256. But as we drove past the Fox, there was a sign reading DRINK. We took this as an imperative -- there was no question mark after it -- pulled over the car, and went inside.

DRINK is the ground-level bar at the Fox, DRINK is what they serve, and DRINK is what we did. PiGP had a manhattan (although they were sadly out of cherries), and I had a dirty gin martini[1].

In the event, our drinks were served by Dan-O (Danno?), who used to serve us at dba256. And who should stop by to chat with us but Jonny, who still pours at dba. Downtown Pomona now has three rather posh (or at least non-divey) bars, and there seems to be a lot of congress between them. All three are certainly at the top of my playlist.

DRINK is very low-key and sophisticated, verging even on elegant. Lots of dark wood furniture (and chairs upholstered in either dark leather or taupey tweed), poshly-lit bar, the whole shebang. But it's not dark or moody, either (like Acerogami).

PiGP and I agreed that while excellent, DRINK could reach perfection by putting in an espresso machine and opening during the day as a coffee bar. After all, three nice bars but not a single café? That's not a proper downtown!

DRINK has wireless (locked), and the tables are already laid out in perfect coffee-bar configuration. For the price of an espresso machine and a barista, they could really turn DRINK into a unique BDTP (Beautiful DownTown Pomona) destination. Pleeeeeease?

[1] Yes, you purists, I know I shouldn't have to specify "gin" when speaking of martinis, but I dare not risk being served insipid vodka. That is what the world is coming to, yea verily, and I will go to my grave protesting. You may bury me with a bottle of Martin Miller's, or at least Plymouth.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

ushering in the new year

I hope 2010 is off to a galloping start for everyone. 2009 was rough on a lot of folks I know; let's hope we've put such nonsense behind us.

K. and I just got back from 10 days on the wrong side of the Continental Divide, seeing family and reminding ourselves that no matter how catastrophic the state's budget and leadership crisis is, we'll always have the weather. (Feel free to rub my nose in this sentence come August.)

The cat weathered our absence just fine, thanks to wonderful neighbors who attended to his physical and emotional needs. That didn't stop him from waking me up every 90 minutes last night, nuzzling my face and purring, as if he were a newborn baby. Not that those purr, in my (limited) experience.

My to-do list is predictably enormous, and I'm calling for advice on one item. I generally buy my xmas cards right after xmas and put them away until December. Does anyone have suggestions for stores with spiffy cards on deep markdown?

The best xmas card we got this year (or perhaps any year) was a picture of a friend posed next to light-pole graffiti that read "Pretty boy looking for strap-on girl to make me her bitch" -- with the inside message of "May all your wishes come true!" So, as an alternative to cool cards on sale, suggestions of appropriate local graffiti are also welcome.

In addition to stacks of xmas cards (and I mailed mine from the east coast), we came home to a big packet from Pomona Heritage: It seems they are revising their bylaws and have sent them out to the membership for review. I haven't looked over them yet, but it certainly seems like a good idea. As the president's cover letter said, no more notification of board members via telegraph has got to be a win. Three cheers for all the folks who slaved over the revisions -- and God bless us every one.