VILLAGE VENTURE, the street festival that represents the one day of the year Claremont welcomes outsiders (and their money), is Saturday. As a true Claremonter, that's my cue to leave town.

But I may have to hang around this time. Outside the Claremont Library, 208 N. Harvard Ave., people will be reading aloud from banned books.

A project of the Friends of the Claremont Library, the Banned Books Readathon is a belated marking of September's Banned Books Week.

"We chose Village Venture because it's a big event and a lot of people will see it," Friends president Laura Bollinger told me.

People can sign up in advance or at the event to read for 3 to 5 minutes from any book that has been banned or challenged at a library or school.

The readathon begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. - unless the forces of oppression or political correctness shut it down.

Thirty people had signed up as of Monday, and a selection of books will be available for anyone inspired to go to the microphone, according to Rose Ash, the Friends member who proposed the event.

"It's something various communities around the country have done. It's an activity sponsored by the American Library Association. I thought it would be a neat thing for our community to do," Ash explained.

This promises to be the edgiest event at the festival, which typically draws 20,000 people who enjoy street food, shop for craft items and learn about community-based nonprofits.

Bollinger said the readathon's purpose isn't to shock and that reading questionable passages would be discouraged.

"We're not screening what people are reading. But we've told everyone we're doing a family event," Bollinger said.

Children and teens are encouraged to participate, said Ash, noting that "Where the Wild Things Are" is an often-challenged book. Judy Blume's books are another perennial target.

Ash said that the books that are challenged aren't "sensational" - which makes sense, since they were accepted into libraries or classrooms.

"It's the most innocuous books you can imagine. It's Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the Bible, the Quran," Ash said. "Someone wanted to censor them for everyone because they didn't like them."

Books are challenged by liberals and conservatives alike because of language, ideas or political correctness, Ash said.

When a selection of banned books was displayed at the Claremont Library last month - with police "Caution" tape around the case - Ash said one comment was, "Why on earth would someone want to ban `The Giving Tree'?"

Giving? Sounds anti-capitalist to me.


VALLEY VIGNETTES:

• Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB 469, the bill limiting big-box stores that officials decried in a recent press conference outside Ontario City Hall. In his veto message, Brown said the bill was unnecessary. He made no comment on Mayor Paul Leon's new beard.

• At dinner Monday in La Verne, I overheard a middle-aged couple at the next table tell the surprised owner at 7 p.m. that they were going home to bed. "We get up at 3," the woman explained. "We go for a walk at 4," the man added. I was tired just listening to them.

• The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it would hear the case of Pomona's Xavier Alvarez, the first person prosecuted for lying about having served in the military. Well, unless the Supreme Court was lying.

• Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter will appear in Rancho Cucamonga at Barnes and Noble from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 to sign her latest tome, wishy-washily titled "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America."

• Happy birthday in advance to my friend Beth Page. The La Verne resident and longtime volunteer with Friends of the Pomona Library on Oct. 24 turns 100.


I FLEW out of Ontario International Airport last week for the first time since full-body scanners were installed. Before entering the scanner, which resembles the Orgasmatron from Woody Allen's "Sleeper," you have to take off your belt and empty your pockets. 

"Anything in your pockets will create an anomaly," the screener told me. A good straight line, but I resisted the temptation.

You step into a half-enclosed cylinder, feet spread, arms over your head. The machine hums, a portion of the cylinder turns, an image of your body is taken and examined, and you are cleared to proceed.

Much like life, the experience is brief, odd and probably deadly.

Eventually, perhaps, the tube will be enclosed and more services can be provided. After a jet of air whisks off your clothes, you will be soaped, showered and dried within seconds, sprayed with self-tanner if desired, and your clothes magically blown back in place.

In the meantime: Assume the position, kiss another freedom goodbye and think subversive thoughts about banned books.


IN ST. Louis, where I spent last week visiting the folks, interest was high in the baseball playoffs. "Go Cards!" banners were displayed throughout the city. Even a church's marquee sign got into the spirit.

It read: "His eye is on the sparrow - and the Cardinals!"

David Allen keeps his eye on things Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Email david.allen@inlandnewspapers.com, call 909-483-9339 or write 2041 E. Fourth St., Ontario 91764. Read his blog at dailybulletin.com/davidallenblog