By Allen David
As sad as it is to read about the continuing disintegration of San Bernardino’s once-thriving E Street shopping district, I consider it poetic that the news about the impending death of Casual Living—the go-to place for kick-back outdoor furniture since 1979—was delivered by back-sidedly surnamed Press-Enterprise columnist, Cassie MacDuff. It’s also reassuring that Casual Living isn’t a victim of the international recession, the local economic doldrums or the local political dum-dums. Nope. Owner Sandy de Does tells MacDuff that Casual Living’s locale—in the semi-deserted midst of used car lots, weedy blacktop and logoless buildings—had nothing to do with her decision to close. Likewise, de Does says she was unfazed by the noisy, dusty, confusing construction on an express-bus project that has characterized E Street since January. Casual Living is closing because de Does wants her living to get casual-er. She’s retiring. At 70, after a long and successful career, she’s pulling up a midcentury patio chair and plopping down on her MacDuff.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 30
Not to say there isn’t a bottomless well of human unkindness when it comes to people’s treatment of animals, but there are also times when I sense that part of the problem is the disconnection among people’s sense of proper and improper care as well as the connection between money and care. Even in cases like Traci K. Murray’s July 19 misdemeanor conviction for failing to care for her 19 dogs, something in the air suggests that poor treatment might not have been the intent. Or maybe that’s the stench of urine and animal feces that authorities described when the visited the house. Murray disputes the reports. She contends her 19 dogs were healthy. She refuses to sign papers to surrender ownership of the animals—but that’s because she’s afraid they will be euthanized. Meanwhile, the 19 dogs have been well treated at the Ramona Humane Society, getting proper play time, toys and love. And why not? The chief executive officer is a Sheppard . . . a guy named Jeff Sheppard. Just listen to him: “We’re going to have some brainstorming sessions to see how we can help these animals,” Sheppard says. “We’re going to make every effort to find them a forever home. We’re looking at our options to have the animals evaluated by a behaviorist” to help make the dogs adoptable. Smart dogs, them Sheppards.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 31
The end of baseball’s “dog days.” Coincidence?
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
The college football season begins, and the cheerleaders can exhort me all they want to give ’em a C, an R, an A and a P, but somehow I just can’t anymore.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
It’s about 2 p.m. when I arrive in the middle-class neighborhood on a middle-sized hill in the middlin‘ city of Jurupa Valley for the end-of-summer party my brother and his wife are throwing. It’s hotter than hell . . . which I think I read somewhere is the literal translation of “Jurupa.”
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
Hotter than hotter than hell. I believe that’s what’s called a Super Jurupa.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
Rep. George E. Brown, Jr., was 79 years old when he passed away in July 1999. The Democrat from San Bernardino was also California’s longest-serving member of Congress—35 years and counting . . . until, you know, the counting stopped. So it’s not surprising that the personal papers Brown left behind fill 525 boxes and nine filing cabinets. Yet it’s hard to imagine Brown being elected by Inland Empire voters of today. As a young man, Brown personally helped integrate student housing at UCLA by taking a black roommate in 1940. He opposed the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. As a congressman in 1966, Brown cast the sole vote against the Vietnam War. He was an early environmentalist, leading the charge to remove lead from gasoline and pressing for air quality protections. Brown supported women’s rights and encouraged women on his staff to pursue careers in public service. If he brought that kind of resume into an Inland Empire election today, the closest he’d get to a swearing-in would be swearing in front of the television. Although it has taken awhile, Brown’s papers have finally been given a home at UC Riverside. But the nonprofit George Brown Legacy Project first must raise funds to hire two archivists to prepare the papers. There’s a lot to do: indexing the material, selecting which documents, photos and files should be digitized to be available online for scholars and the public and . . . I’m suspecting, getting rid of a pretty strong old-man smell.