Friday, July 25, 2008

Top Quarterback in the Land, Updated

Los Osos High quarterback Richard Brehaut, who has given a verbal commitment to play at UCLA in fall 2009, won the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge at the national Elite 11 quarterback competition that concluded Thursday. He also won several other awards, and was camp MVP runner-up to Georgia-commit Aaron Murray.

The significance, of course, is that this clearly distinguishes him as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the United States. I'm sure there will be plenty written about him in the coming months, too.

A great story appears in today's Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, as well as others on, Los Angeles Times and other media outlets. Click on the links to read those accounts. Pretty big-time stuff. Congratulations to Richard on this tremendous accomplishment, and best wishes for a great senior season at Los Osos.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

One of the Best

The kudos continue to follow Richard Brehaut, who is turning heads this week at the Elite 11 camp in Mission Viejo. The national competition featuring the top high school class of 2009 quarterbacks in the country comes to an end today, and Richard is establishing himself as one of the best of the best.

According to coverage on, he stood out on the third day of the competition, setting an Elite 11 record in the accuracy competition with 24 points. The article indicates Richard is among the quarterbacks separating themselves from the rest of the elite group. Here is the account from Greg Biggins of
After two solid workouts, Richard Brehaut was spectacular on Wednesday. His arm was strong, he was deadly accurate and his athleticism was off the charts. He moves around effortlessly and has a great body for the position.

The unique thing about Brehaut is he does his best work in the pads. Some quarterbacks look better in shorts and shirts, but Brehaut can run over guys, improvise, scramble and make plays off the cuff -- and those skills aren't really showcased at this camp.

So Brehaut has had an incredible week in an environment that doesn't even show what he's really about. He set a new Elite 11 record with 24 points in the Accuracy Challenge and is now just five points off the lead with one day to go.

"I thought he was incredible today," national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said. "In 7-on-7 action, he threw some great balls and has been one of my favorite quarterbacks all week.

"If I had to pick my three favorite guys, Brehaut would definitely be one of them and I would put Aaron Murray and A.J. McCarron in that group as well."
Richard is the first quarterback from the Inland Empire to compete in the prestigious Elite 11, and clearly he is making a mark not only as the No. 1 QB locally, but one of the best high school QBs in the United States. We'll try to have more here Friday with the event wrap-up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Best Things in Life

Okay, this one is for my own peace of mind, so please bear with me on this one… Maybe some of you who have been there can relate, and those who are headed there will be forewarned...

It sounds cliché, but the simple pleasures in life really are the best. I had one of those “moments of realization” just last week as I watched the Major League All-Star Game with my son Sid. It was a simple thing, but it truly was one of the things in life that makes me happiest…and all we did was watch a baseball game on TV together.

For the past eight or nine years, I really haven’t been able to sit down with my family and watch the All-Star Game, since we always seemed to have conflicts with Little League all-star games or practices. It wasn’t a big deal, but with those commitments in the past, I knew I’d get the chance to watch this one.

Sid remembered a tradition of “keeping with the theme” that we had when he was young, so he grilled some hot dogs and had them ready for when I got home from work. Sam had friends over, but they were preoccupied with other things (and he’s doing what a 15-year-old boy should be doing—goofing around with friends). Beth wasn’t really interested in a meaningless exhibition baseball game. So Sid and I just watched the game, which got better and better with one great play after another until it dramatically ended in the 15th inning with another American League victory. We were disappointed in the outcome, but both clearly delighted that we experienced a great game together – and each other’s company.

I bring up this otherwise insignificant story because my son Sid is moving back to school this week for his second year at Cal State San Marcos. The realization that my buddy is going away again is just a little hard for me.

Actually, last year it kicked my butt. I was excited for him to be going away to college and really didn’t give it much thought up until about three days before he had to move. Then reality hit me hard and I was a mess. But it was for all of the right reasons. My boy was going to college. I was –and still am, of course – about as proud as a dad could be. It just hit me: “How did we get to this point so fast?”

The truth is that he had a great first year in college and experienced the things you are supposed to. I wouldn’t want it any other way. He lived on his own and learned to play beer pong (even if it’s not the same game of skill that we played). He ran on the university’s track team and joined a fraternity. And he made some friends that will probably be some of his best friends for life.

And it will be even better for him this year. He may have even stumbled onto a job that will lead to a career that lasts him well after he has finished college.

He’s a great young man, and I love him (I recently told him that I think he is a great guy, and he asked if I was drunk). Yep, he’s still my buddy.

I’m better prepared for his departure this year, but I’m sure it will get me. I already know I’ll miss terribly the time we spend together watching Dodger games or football games. Or comparing fantasy football lineups or just talking about track times or baseball scores or the things that really matter or nothing at all. And I’ll miss the “completeness” that is missing from our family when one of us is away. There is a certain dynamic that happens when Beth, Sid, Sam and I are all together. It’s special to us, and we all feel it, but it’s different when a piece is missing and the unit is not intact.

Okay, maybe I’m being I wimp. He’ll only be a little more than an hour’s drive away. He’s not back east somewhere. And he’s assured us he’ll be coming home a lot more on weekends this year.

And he’s not really fully moving this week, since he’ll be with us for our upcoming family vacation and for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (another crazy and wonderful family tradition).

Actually, I’m fine, and still very proud. And I’m thrilled for Sid. I just know I’ll be sad when the Dodgers come on TV and the recliner next to me is empty.

Already, I can’t wait for him to be home, and he hasn’t even left yet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

End of Summer Concerts

As mentioned here a few days ago, the Los Angeles County Fair did indeed officially announce today the lineup for this year’s End of Summer Concert Series. The Fair runs from Sept. 5-28 at Fairplex in Pomona.

As in the past, the lineup includes a diverse variety of acts. VP Dale Coleman does a good job of finding something to appeal to most musical tastes. And along with the concerts are a host of other events, like monster trucks, bull riders and motocross championships.

War returns to open the Fair on Friday, Sept. 5. For many years the band was the traditional opening night act, even back to the days when I worked there. After a break of a couple years, they’re back. War puts on a solid, entertaining show and is worth seeing.

The Doobie Brothers return on Sunday, Sept. 7, along with Grand Funk Railroad. The two groups paired for a Fair show in 2006, reminiscent of those old concerts of the 1970s (like when I saw the Doobie Brothers at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino in 1976). They still put on a great show, especially with Grand Funk as the opening act.

There are several other shows of note, including the legendary Smokey Robinson (no relation) on Friday, Sept. 12; The Bangles, Berlin and the Motels on Friday, Sept. 19; and Lifehouse and Gavin Rossdale on Sunday, Sept. 28. Also, Jessica Simpson is slated to perform on Saturday, Sept. 20 (Tony Romo and the Cowboys are in Green Bay the next day, so I doubt there will be any celebrity sightings of the Dallas quarterback at the Fair).

I’ll be back doing the “house” announcements before each show, so be sure to listen for “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the End of Summer Concert Series at your Los Angeles County Fair.” If you make it to any of the concerts, be sure to look for me at the sound board right around 8 p.m.

Also, there is usually a lot of great music elsewhere around the Fair, and it goes well into the night on weekends. It’s kind of nice to keep checking out good music after the grandstand shows. I hope the popular Ravelers will be back at the park stage, and there is usually good music in Avalon, the restaurant across from the grandstand. Click here to see a Ravelers clip. They'll be at the Fair's Stage in Park Square on Sept. 19.

Here’s 2008 the grandstand stage and sports lineup:

  • Sept. 5, War
  • Sept. 6, Sugarland
  • Sept. 7, Doobie Brothers and Grand Funk Railroad
  • Sept. 11, Monster Truck Madness
  • Sept. 12, Smokey Robinson
  • Sept. 13, KC and the Sunshine Band and Village People
  • Sept. 14, Jaguares
  • Sept. 18, American Daredevils
  • Sept. 19, The Bangles, Berlin and The Motels
  • Sept. 20, Jessica Simpson
  • Sept. 21, Mariachi USA Fiesta
  • Sept. 25, Guilherme Marchi Classic Professional Bull Riders
  • Sept. 26, Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band, with Rose Royce and Lakeside
  • Sept. 27, LG World Championships of Freestyle Motocross
  • Sept. 28, Lifehouse and Gavin Rossdale

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Local Star -- International Stage

Congratulations to Cal State Fullerton outfielder Josh Fellhauer, who recently completed his sophomore year playing for the Titans. He was named to the 2008 USA Baseball National Team (collegiate division).

A former Upland resident, Josh played baseball and football at Rancho Cucamonga High School, and he is one of just four outfielders on the 20-man national team roster, which is playing in Europe this summer.

Of course, most significantly is that he was my top draft pick when I managed the Upland National Little League Minor “B” Dodgers when he was 8 years old. He helped lead that team to the league title, although nobody outside of the players, families and coaches really cared – or remembered.

He comes by his talents honestly, with a couple of athletically gifted parents, Julie and Bob Fellhauer, who were outstanding local athletes and were Josh's coaches through most of those youth seasons, except the one year Josh and brother Justin were on different teams in different divisions, and I got to draft Josh.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Concerts at the Fair

The Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona has yet to announce its concert lineup for this September, but it should be out fairly soon -- maybe even later this weekend. In the meantime, Ticketmaster has posted a couple of the acts in advance: Sugarland on Sept. 6 (I think that must be a country act, which explains why I haven't heard of them) and alternative artists Lifehouse and Gavin Rossdale on Sept. 28. Lifehouse has played at the Fair twice previously, and they are pretty good.

It looks like the Fair will continue to have its usual share of monster trucks (Sept. 11) and bull riders (Sept. 25) on Thursday nights, too. The Fair runs Sept. 5-28, and there are typically concerts at the grandstand stage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, with a pretty diverse lineup of musical acts.

Elite 11

Quarterback Richard Brehaut from Los Osos High is among the top quarterbacks from around the country who will participate in the Elite 11 event next week in Mission Viejo.

The event will be held June 21-24, and will be covered by ESPN, which is apparently making a TV show around the four days of activity. Not just coverage, but some sort of reality TV program.

Brehaut, who gave a verbal commitment to play at UCLA, is one of two QBs from California who were invited to attend (the other is Mission Viejo’s Allan Bridgford, who intends to play his college ball at Cal). The Upland quarterback, who also has gotten some national attention, was not invited, even after Mater Dei’s Matt Barkley (USC) dropped out of the event.

ESPN has a preview on its Web site, as does the Los Angeles Times (click the links to read the stories).

With respect to another item relating to Richard, there was a wrap up section to the "Where Are They Now?" article in the current (July 14-21) Sports Illustrated, called "Where Will They Be," a look at up-and-coming athletes. Los Osos catcher Jake Hernandez was among those included, which is interesting, because he hasn't really been the team's catcher, since Richard has held that position for the past two years. However, Hernandez will likely get his chance to show if he is for real this year, because Richard will probably shift to a less-vulnerable position to protect his future in football.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Things That Aren't Here Anymore

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen will occasionally include columns in the newspaper or on his blog site about restaurants and businesses that have closed, been replaced or are simply not there anymore.

I started thinking about some of the places I’d go with regularity around Claremont and the Pomona Valley when I was younger. It’s surprising just what isn’t here anymore.

For example, way back when I was really young, there was a restaurant on the corner of Foothill and Garey in Pomona called Henry’s, where you could park and the carhops would take your order and serve you in your car. It had an elaborate dining area inside, which seemed like a contradiction to the pre-fast-food approach outside. That place was long gone well before I could drive, so I never really experienced it much. It gave way to a series of other restaurants, including Tiffany’s, the Northeast Corner and the Odyssey Disco before becoming a strip mall.

My family would often shop in the center on the southeast corner of Garey and Foothill, where we called the Thriftymart grocery store “The Big T” because of the huge “T” sign. There was Owl Drug, Sprouse-Rietz, a pet store, a baseball card shop and a Keds shoe store that was run by midgets. Across Garey was the bowling alley, which was one of the few places kids could go hang out, along with the old miniature golf course on the corner of Foothill and Lynoak (where Dave Bosson was successfully convinced to switch girlfriends—for a couple of days).

The movie theaters were still single-screen theaters, except for the one behind the Montclair Plaza that had three separate theatres. Claremont had the Village Theater, which was the one and only form of nightlife in downtown Claremont at the time. The streets shut down early, including the few downtown restaurants. At night, Claremont was a ghost town, except for the Village Theater.

Pomona had the Fox Theater and the United Artists Theater. The Fox is still there, but it hasn’t been the Fox in probably 40 years – although it is currently being renovated. The Mt. Baldy Drive-In at White and Foothill in La Verne went away 20 years ago, but was always great fun on a summer night.

When the “new” Albertson’s opened on Towne and Foothill, we found ourselves venturing a mile east for some of our shopping. And in the same center sprang up a Value Fair, where you could find pretty much anything. All of those places – gone.

The other grocery store in town was the Stater Bros. on the southeast corner of Foothill and Indian Hill. There were tunnels that went under those streets so pedestrians wouldn’t have to cross in heavy traffic on the way to the old Claremont High School. I can barely remember when that was a campus, but I remember the previous iteration of shops that replaced the classrooms, as well as the Griswolds’ Restaurant. The old gym was known as “the Pavilion” before it became the Candlelight Pavilion, and we had quite a few dances and other events over there.

For a quick dinner, we’d go to Tugboat Annie’s or Magic Towers on Foothill. My friend Mike Radlovic’s dad owned Magic Towers, and I think most kids who grew up in Claremont around then remember the day when Batman and Robin made guest appearances.

We’d often eat at Jongs Chinese restaurant in Cucamonga, which is now a Vince’s Spaghetti restaurant (we always went to the Ontario Vince’s too, but that is still there). Any trip to the east meant a ride over "the dips" on Baseline just east of Padua. Those were flattened as the road was widened from the Piedmont Mesa area just west of Claremont east through Upland and beyond.

Even after the dips were gone, I still remember being in high school and driving home late from Jim Moore’s place in Upland, and not feeling the need to stop at any of the few stop signs scattered between Mountain Avenue in Upland and my house in west Claremont. There was nothing but orange groves on both sides of the street, and no traffic. The stop signs served little purpose late at night. There wasn’t a stop at Baseline and Towne until my senior year, and when they finally put one up, Jim wanted to take an axe to it.

All of those orange and lemon groves brought an incredible and memorable smell to the entire area. That is what I remember about summer nights in Claremont, but that strong but welcome aroma doesn’t exist here anymore, either.

When I got into high school, my friends and I would venture off campus for lunch down at the In-N-Out on Towne Avenue just north of Arrow, or across the street to Jack in the Box. Sometimes we’d get a burger over at the Orange Julius at Foothill and Berkeley, where lots of Claremont High people worked. Those are all gone.

There were all sorts of after-game Claremont hangouts that aren’t around anymore, like Betsy Ross (where I worked in high school), Sambo’s, the Railroader, Straw Hat Pizza (now Eddie’s Pizza). We’d go there when we weren’t headed to the after-game dances, which they don’t hold anymore, either.

Back when Claremont High was an open campus that operated with a college-style “module” class system, we’d frequently pass time by going to the Sportsman sporting goods store owned by Bim Jollymour and Rhino Records in downtown. Rhino is still around, but it has moved twice since then, now occupying the old Bentley’s market. Then we’d go look for more records at the Wherehouse and Music-Plus stores on south Indian Hill, and then go test stereo equipment at Pacific Stereo. I eventually worked there, too. Another place I worked, the Pomona Valley Creamery on Mission in Ontario, is also gone.

Indian Hill was an interesting street, too. I remember when my mom would drive past the bank in the downtown area, where the fountain was always filled with soap suds. It got to be such a problem that they filled the fountain with dirt and it became a planter. Up the street was Memorial Park, which we’d pass going to and from Little League games at College Park. It was during the 1960s, and I remember all of the hippies sitting in a circle smoking weed in Memorial Park, and we couldn’t go there because it was dangerous.

College Park is still the home of Little League in Claremont, but back then there were two leagues. They shared the fields, but Claremont National played its major league division over at St. Ambrose field, which was on Mountain Ave. south of the church on Bonita Ave. It’s been an apartment complex for probably more than 30 years now.

There were also a couple of Pony League fields in Claremont. They were the baseball fields from the old high school, just south of what is now the CHS football field. Those had to be the absolute worst baseball fields ever, but I bet Claremont school officials wish they had the land back to expand their athletic fields. Instead, the fields are now the site of town homes and weed-filled parking lots.

Looking back, the other thing people probably remember are the places they could buy beer before turning 21. There were a bunch of them, but I don’t think any of them exist today -- probably because they sold beer to minors. There was North Hills Liquor on Towne, right next to the Driftwood Dairy. Both were very lax about asking for IDs. Bourbon Street and Lasagne Liquor in Claremont were a little harder, as was the Liquor Locker in La Verne. But the best place was the 7-11 on Garey and Harrison in Pomona. It was a sure thing (except for Doug Jollymour). Everybody called the owner “Ali-Baba,” because he wore a turban (well before the days of being politically correct). Ali had to know he was selling beer to minors, because the pricetags seemed to change every time we’d go in. He knew he could get away with hiking up the price. Simple economics, until he got caught too many times and was shut down.

When I reached college and beyond, we'd go to drink and eat at now-defunct local places like Sneaker's, Lord Charlie's, El Gato Gordo and a few places in La Verne that seemed to change names and ownership every six months. Those have all disappeared, except the Buffalo Inn, which is still a reliable venue for a cold beverage.

I'd meet friends there after our softball games or after covering local sporting events for the Pomona Progress Bulletin. That was great experience and a lot of fun. The newspaper merged with the Ontario Daily Report many years ago. The old “Prog” building is still there in downtown Pomona, but it’s no longer used for the newspaper business. That’s another industry that has seen its better days, and may not be around too much longer, either. That’s because people can find all they want by reading blogs and such. And so it goes.

I’m sure there are a lot of other places and things that I’m forgetting about. If you have memories of these places, or of other things that aren’t here anymore, please leave a comment.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Say Cheese!

The Orange County Fair opened Friday. That’s not a big deal for most people in the Inland Empire, since they can wait for the bigger Los Angeles County Fair in September. But the Orange County Fair -- this year themed "Say Cheese" -- is a different animal, and it’s a good event. It’s much smaller, which is one of the things that makes it different. And, as you'd expect, the crowd is different. It's a summer fair, which means there are usually good attendance numbers on weekdays, too.

Thanks to free admission and parking during the Fair’s first hour Friday, the opening day attendance was on a record pace for the first day.

People accustomed to the Pomona event can traverse the Costa Mesa version in less than a day, and then make their way to the Pacific Amphitheatre on the fairgrounds for some quality entertainment in a great venue. For many years the amphitheatre was closed, thanks to complaints about sound from the neighbors and years of legal battles. And when the venue finally opened under the operation of the Orange County Fair, the shows have been a top draw. Claremonter Ray Woodbury heads the Pacific Amphitheatre production team.

For those who can’t wait for the Los Angeles County Fair, the Orange County Fair runs through Aug. 3 and has plenty of carnival rides, animals, exhibits, vendors and fun fair food. And our good friend Doug Lofstrom, who brought cattle to the streets of La Verne and Pomona for several years with the L.A. County Fair cattle drive, will once again stage the second Orange County Fair cattle drive on July 26. That's definitely an event worth seeing.

Daily Pilot photo

Friday, July 11, 2008

Swimming Update

When last we checked in on Jack DesCombes, he had just finished competing in the “AA” long course championships in Ventura, and was headed to the 40th Annual Semana Nautica in Santa Barbara over the Fourth of July weekend (while his family graciously allowed us to spend the holiday at their place on Balboa Island).

Swimming for the Cota De Caza Coyotes, all Jack did at Santa Barbara was win the 13-year-old division 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 400 IM, and was second in the 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly. With the seven first place finishes and two seconds, he captured the overall meet individual championship for the 13-year-old boys division. Congrats Jack, and good luck at the Junior Olympics.

Back to Blogging

The tough thing about writing a blog is keeping it updated. Just when I got on a bit of a roll, I took a little vacation last week, and it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things. But I’m back at the keyboard in an attempt to get this going again and keep you coming back.

It’s not easy coming up with topics every day, when everyday responsibilities and activities take priority. No wonder newspaper columnists (as they were known before they became bloggers) usually write just one or two columns a week. I had planned to write a piece about the Fourth of July, and our great float entry in the 1980 Claremont parade (but I'm still looking for photos).

The other thing is the realization that not everybody likes what you have to say. Of course, every columnist who has an opinion is likely to offend people. For the most part, this is where I try to spread good news, or share my views about other local “topics of the day.” I simply try to present an honest and balanced observation. Sometimes that means taking a look at the other side of an issue, too. It’s just my opinion.

One such instance happened recently on a blog in which I referenced the prospects of a local high school quarterback who has given a verbal commitment to an out-of-state university. While I praised the player and his abilities, I questioned whether he’d ever actually go to that school. I stand by my opinion, but I pulled the blog item, because it won't be worth dealing with a particularly oversensitive parent. But rest assured, I question if I should have pulled the item, and I won’t grant that courtesy in the future.

For now, it’s back to the blog. Thanks for reading, and your comments and contributions are welcome.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Everyone in the Pool

With all of the attention on the Olympics and summer sports, it’s time to give swimming its due. I have to admit I’ve been watching the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials, along with the track and field trials as well.

He may not be headed for Beijing, but look out for 13-year-old Jack DesCombes, who is ranked seventh in California in the 100 butterfly and will be competing in the Junior Olympics in Mission Viejo in August.

Jack, whose parents Susie and Gordon are both Claremont High grads, recently competed in the “AA” long course championships in June. He figures to be among the top swimmers in his age class next year when he turns 14. At Ventura, he finished second in the consolation finals of the 50-meter freestyle. His time of 27.62 was only .33 off of being a Southern California Swimming Recordable Time (SCSRT), which recognizes the top 16 times in Southern California.

He was sixth in the finals of the 100 butterfly, competing as the only 13 in the finals. His time was only .05 seconds off an SCSRT time. In addition, he was fifth in the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle, and second in the consolation finals of the 200-meter individual medley. His seeded time was 2:35.21 coming in to the meet, but in the prelims he dropped to 2:31.61 and then dropped more time in the consolations to 2:29.78.

Before he moved up in age class, Jack swam four SCSRT times in one meet last fall, qualifying as an 11-12 year old in the 50 freestyle, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly and 100 individual medley.

As Jack sets off for the Junior Olympics, he’ll do so knowing that several swimmers from his team were in the running for bids to the Olympic Trials, including a 14-year-old girl who qualified to compete in Omaha.

Go Jacko… we’ll be rooting for you!

The link to Southern California Swimming is