Tag Archives: Rancho Cucamonga

Kicks, Cars, and the Green Book: Route 66

I first knew the song thanks to Depeche Mode, my Dad probably knows it thanks to Chuck Berry, most kids today probably know it from Pixar’s movie Cars, but the song Route 66 first hit the charts in 1946 thanks to Nat King Cole.

I live on Route 66.

I get both my kicks and my groceries there.IMG_0374

Touted as Americas first interstate, Route 66 stretches from Chicago to
Santa Monica. Oddly enough, for a road that stretches across so much of the country, most of that road goes through nowhere.IMG_6160 My particular stretch of that old road is the kind of no where that filled up with people yet never quite became a place. There isn’t a solid there here.

When driving through nowhere you best mind the gas gauge.IMG_6165

Back before the Prius cars needed lots of gallons for very few miles and this meant pulling over and filling up in places like Cucamonga California- or Barstow. Because of that long gone need, or maybe somehow in honor of it, my little stretch of this road is frequented by all sorts of cars you don’t see every day in other places.

I live where old cars go after they die.IMG_1699

When me and my little one stopped by the only museum in my city, they had one artifact that surprised me. They had a Green Book. I had heard of it, known what it is, but never seen one. It wasn’t in great shape and was framed.IMG_6153

The Green Book was something like a AAA travel guide for Black people. This was necessary because, much like planning out where to plug in a Prius, in those days you had to plan out your pit stops, and only certain pits would do business with Black people. The Green Book listed the places a Black family could fill up, eat, or stay the night.

Which I knew but didn’t really think about in California. Not that California is immune to that sort of thing entirely, but sometimes in my mind, back when stuff like that was in its hey-day, California didn’t even exist.

Sometimes my mind is wrong.IMG_3176

Anyone out there know where I can get my hands on a copy of the Green Book? That little museum (which has the friendliest docents I’ve ever met) could use a better copy.

Green Book

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Filed under history, places

Sea of Sweet: I have no idea what that stuff is but it works

So there is this place in Rancho Cucamonga, CA (yes that is an actual place), where all diets go to die.I would describe it as a middle eastern creperie that specializes in calories. Like, Olympic levels of calories.img_8538

The place looks harmless, like some suburban strip mall afterthought, but do not be fooled. The Nutella double chocolate Twix crepe will send you to a joyful early grave.

But that is just for the average “I want extra helpings of the sugar I know” palate. They have other stuff too. For instance, if you want to overdose in calories derived from things that should otherwise be healthy, you can indulge in any one of their fruit cocktails.img_0134

This thing took ten days to build, not because they are slow, but because the guy behind the counter just kept stuffing things into that glass.

Then there is this stuff I had never heard about called “ashta”. I would describe it as something in between heavy cream and cottage cheese. Apparently it can be turned into ice cream, like a less-sweet vanilla, and then be piled on top of a crepe then sprinkled with rose water, then dusted with pistachio and then drowned in honey, then devoured by me.img_8602

I saw behind the counter they have baklava, and dates, and every combination of phyllo dough stuffed with sweet stuff imaginable and I want all of it.

It is a bad thing that I found this place. Curse you JJ. Curse you.

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Filed under food, Uncategorized

Black Friday: If you did it right five years ago you can sleep in.

Today, as my fellow Americans celebrate our most American qualities, consumerism and competitive bargain shopping, I choose to celebrate not buying anything. I do this in an effort to illustrate that there exists is a higher moral standard. We can do and be better than material possessions and conspicuous consumption. I gladly step forward as the standard bearer for this cause as I am full of moral superiority, and also, I am cheap, and quite often I am  broke.IMG_7803

Being broke and pious makes me an expert on poor purchasing decisions. For example I once bought an ’84 Jeep Cherokee. Don’t ever buy an ’84 Jeep Cherokee no matter how shiny its rims as it will only break your heart and leave you stranded in a snowy canyon miles away from civilization. Do not under any circumstances purchase a second hand generic laptop because it comes with a pirated copy of Photoshop pre-installed. The seller will appear quite trustworthy but you should resist.

With my expertise clearly illustrated, let me now give some advice as to what you, both the general and specific you, should buy.

Good shoes. How and where and which ones is up to you, but you should do it. Then, when they one day get holes in their soles, you don’t throw them away, you go visit the most poorly named shoe repair shop in California.

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I did not expect to find a cobbler, or any person who cares about and practices a craft, in a strip mall. But here he is. This man took my Allen Edmonds shoes, told me exactly how old they were and how much I paid for them, then evangelized on the subject of buying quality footwear. He said a bunch of stuff I think I have heard, and ignored, Tinseth telling me for years. Tinseth would like this guy. Really, anyone would like this guy as he is very likable and knows what he is doing.IMG_7807

Mostly Tinseth would like him because as he was ringing me up the cobbler said, “these are good shoes…” He then looked down at my feet and finished, “but those are horrible.”

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the Barbershop

I have learned that the two places where I most naturally feel at home are the high mountain desert or Philadelphia. I’m not really in either of those places too regularly these days. I doubt my geography will change any time soon, or maybe ever, so I am open to adjustment.

I recently discovered a place that may help me do just that.

This discovery came right after I discovered, or realized, that my hair was slipping well past hip and right on into hippie. Time to hit the barber’s.

For the past eight or so years when in need of a trim I would walk down to the corner of the block and take a seat next to a grumpy old man at Ricco & Son’s Barbershop. Ricco was long since retired but son was still there.  Sitting in their chair getting a straight razor drug down my neck is where I learned my picture was in the local paper. It was that kind of place. They knew everyone by name, they read the local paper, and they would trim your eyebrows without warning you first.barbershop Riccos

It’s a little too far to walk there now.

I know of another place nearby that is trying to be what Ricco & Son’s naturally is, but it is expensive. Men’s cuts should not be expensive.

Men’s cuts should also not be at Great Clips, or similar places. But in a land of strip malls and Olive Garden’s what choice is there?

I stumbled upon the Barbershop.

That’s the name of the place, the Barbershop.IMG_2809

I find it amazing that a place that has only been open a year or so could be the first to claim that simple name. Perhaps it speaks to the newness of the whole neighborhood.

It is in a poorly located strip mall, mostly big box distribution centers for neighbors and the front door faces the parking lot and not the street. I drive past the place every day and look over at the lawn sign that reads “barbershop. Now open.” So I gave them a shot.

I’m glad I did.

The place is new so what it lacks in generational patina it makes up for in cleanliness. It had no real artwork on the walls, I have ideas for that, but the angled mirrors stretching both sides of the shop work quite well. When I sat to wait my turn I realized Handel’s Water Music was playing on the sound system. I know it was Handel because that is about the only classical piece I recognize. It was maybe amateur hour playing choosing that for the background music, but it was exactly what I needed that day. I relaxed a little bit. It told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about that one barber who approaches you with a “Yo I can do you up with the flyest cut on the streets!”

I have nothing against fly street cuts, they just don’t match my normal work wear.

They shined my shoes. For free. They insisted.IMG_2807

When it was my turn they listened to what I wanted. Not the head nodding that proceeds whatever cut the barber intended to give all along, but the kind of listening that included restating my request. I have learned the hard way that this isn’t universal at barbershops.

They did a good job. Better than passable. There was no eyebrow trim but there was a straight razor.

And there were beards.

You should go. I did and I will.IMG_2808

www.thebarbershoprancho.com

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California

My mind has been taught to associate palm trees with vacation.

Every morning I wake, look out the window and there they are. I go to work and look out my windows, huge windows, and there they are again.vintagetraffic

Every now and then, but not too often, I wake up to cloudy skies… but then a few hours later the sun burns these “clouds” away and the sky is blue. Completely blue. Not a cloud.

It has been three weeks since I have seen a panhandler.

It has been about that long since I have even seen a piece of trash on the ground.

Out here, even the dirt is kept clean.
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The kids have started school but the pool is still open. The pool is going to stay open.
It doesn’t close.
Ever.
I no longer toy with airports and rental cars. I traded those in for an office with my name on the door.

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There was a moment,
I’ll admit more than one,
as I was driving past the Cheescake factory, then the Olive Garden, and then Chili’s, when I began to regret my decision. I missed the Hinge Cafe’ and the rat meat cheese steak under the L…
And then I ate a burrito.

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Regret all gone.
I may never eat another cheese steak.
Viva la burrito.

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Rancho Cucamonga

In less than two weeks the Brohammas corporate headquarters will be relocating. I’m typing this now at my office desk, surrounded by boxes. The Company logo has been taken off the wall and I’m avoiding cleaning out the drawers in the kitchen.intheoffice

I will be trading in colonial cobblestone and corner stores for the palm trees of California. I’m conflicted.paradecolonial

Not just East to West, but old to new, urban to… sub *gulp* urban.23rd

It may be a good idea for me to break the rear view mirrors off of life for a little while. But I’m not deleting that “Philly” tab at the top of this site.cityview

Onward and upward.redlands_memorial_chapel

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