We interrupt my already interrupted Pilipinas travelogue to call all you Blizzard-loving sistahs to action! I was just informed by J-Sto (after she read another Ramona High School pal, Nova's blog), that MY CHILDHOOD DAIRY QUEEN is on the City of Riverside's redevelopment chopping block.
Yeah sure, the DQ ain't nothin' but a chain, and the "something different" logo calls out the fact that it's trying too hard to be otherwise. But like I say over and over again in the RELOCATIONS project, it's what you make of the chain that transforms it and you. Chains of love, baby!
Even though this DQ (built "mid-century" in the 50's) was part of the whole prefabbing of America, it's still a place with grain and moxie. It's still my place. It was my first hang, a mere S-shaped block and a half away from the 'rents place. [MAP: From Midway down Santee Place to the green arrow on the corner of California and Monroe] I'd ride there on my first banana- yellow 10-speed bike with the brown ram's-head-handlebars and the "I heart My Dog" sticker on the rear reflector. Soundtrack of choice: "Ghost in You" by the Psychedelic Furs on my Walkman. I had to rewind the casette manually to put it on "repeat."
This DQ is where I'd go to cool off after a game of street-baseball using novelty mini-bats and chewed-up tennis balls with the neighborhood fellas, all who adopted me as their immigrant tomboy. This was one of my first tastes of "America" and its dreamy soft-serve.
Plenty has already been leveled at that corner called "California Square." Some of it I don't mind. While I loved the Alpha Beta grocery for its healthy selection of Smash Hits mags, I'm down with the fact that it's evolved into a Maxi Foods, a Mexican chain that services the new demos of West Riverside. My mom buys all her oxtail there for crockpots of Kare-Kare.
But I sure do miss Geno's Pizza (I was the "Centipede" stud). And I owe my wicked Rom-Com knowledge to my very first video store directly across the faux-courtyard from Geno's: Marie's Pick-a-Flick. Marie, the deaf Native American owner, and her Wilford Brimley-eseque former G.I. hubby used to give me free movie posters. I was probably the only 11-year old within the city limits (or anywhere for that matter) who wanted the one for "That's Life!" starring Julie Andrews and Jack Lemon. You gotta give it up to my proto-geriatrica.
I ultimately graduated from DQ slushies to Flaming Hot Cheetos and bottles of Cisco, Bartles & Jaymes and Club "Sex on the Beach" at the liquor store tucked next to the produce entrance of the AB. The owners confused me with my mom and didn't card me all through my senior year at RHS, so I was the BBPOC (big booze pimp on campus) for Thespian cast parties. H-O-TTT. Aside from the DQ and its precarious life, that liquor store is all that's left of the California Square that held me ever so tight through my awkward adolescence. Even though it's just another So. Cal stripmall, these places are special to me and to so many. Each square foot of that transient lease-space has staged countless rites of passage.
If this isn't enough to make you want to run out and chain yourself to the bulldozers, maybe Nova's story will:
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Save the Riverside Dairy Queen!
Many of you in the Inland Empire see all the new development in the IE. Some of the developments are no doubt for the better; the Riverside Plaza is so much better than the old Monkey Wards building. The latest is revamping the shopping center on Monroe/California Avenue and the demolition of the old Dairy Queen building. I believe this should be seriously reconsidered by the City. Those of you who reside in the 'Side know this little building with two walk up windows is nostalgic; it's also part of the charm of Riverside that might be quickly dismissed by those who never truly lived in Riverside. This Dairy Queen has history, memories, long lines, and not to mention some good blizzards! It's unique from most Dairy Queens because it's a tiny building built in the 50s, and walk-up windows that only sell soft serve, no food. There was no air conditioning or cash registers until the 90s! [Photo below features Riverside resident, Melissa Lewandowski, who began the letter-writing campaign to city officials].
The DQ is one of the rare buildings left in Riverside that have a little history and charm. In LA there are tons of cool old buildings that remain [comment from I.Emperor--"It's an epidemic sistah. I suppose the grass is always greener"]. An LA business like Pink's in an old structure that hasn't changed since the 40s, but people still love it after so many decades. The DQ in Riverside is certainly no Pink's in LA [I. Emperor--"It sure isn't...it's BETTER!"], but is nonetheless legendary in its own vein. This hits home for me since this particular Dairy Queen is where I had my first job. Interestingly enough, today I work for a city/redevelopment agency that would generally take the opposing position in this situation. For those of you who still live in the Riv, if the Dairy Queen means anything to you, write the Mayor & appropriate City Council Members. It may not be too late! Please click on this PRESS ENTERPRISE article for details on the story: Thanks!!!
Rollin' deep in the heart of the I.E. through the gnarled concrete arteries of 60+10+91 east to neon sunsets and Naugles, Taco Tia, the Mad/Friendly/Happy or Lucky Greek,The Menagerie, Spanky's, Butch's Grinders, The Denny's Cocktail Lounge at Hardman Center (in pace requiescat). We spell Paris P-E-R-R-I-S, bitches!