Monday, June 18, 2018

Will California voters decided to split the state into three states? Sugarland and Jerry Seinfeld help pack the downtown restaurants and tune in to hear the story of a "safe surrender" baby

Monday, June 18, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... FAREWELL CALIFORNIA?: So what do you make of the attempt to divide California into
three different states? Under the proposal by millionaire Tim Draper, which will be decided by voters in November, California would be split into three states: A "Northern California" encompassing San Francisco and Sacramento north, a "Southern California" covering Fresno down to San Diego, and a "California" covering the populated coastal areas including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and the parts of the central coast. The idea has been floated before and before you get too excited, it would have to be approved by the state legislature and even on the federal level. That means, simply, it isn't going to happen.

 * ...  DOWNTOWN: If you were looking for a spot to eat downtown last Friday, chances are you were out of luck. Thanks to two big shows at Rabobank Arena and convention center (Sugarland and Jerry Seinfeld), virtually every restaurant downtown was booked solid, from Uricchio's Trattoria to Mexicali to Muertos and to Chef's Choice Noodle lounge. Oldtimers told me they had never seen Mexicali so crowded as it was Friday.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.'

* ... NUESTRO MEXICO: When the wildly popular restaurant La Costa Mariscos moved to the Ice House a few years ago, a few of the employees stayed behind to make a go of it in the small but cozy original location on 21st Street. On Tuesday, I will have owner Francisco Martin join me on The Richard Beene Show (KERN NewsTalk) 96.1 FM to talk about his secret to success, as well as the opening of a new Nuestro Mexico lounge in the northwest.

 * ... SAFE SURRENDER BABIES: Also on Tuesday tune in to hear the uplifting story of Ali and Anthony Davis, a couple who have adopted three children including one who was a "safe surrender" baby left at a local fire station just hours or days old. Nathan is now a healthy and rambunctious lad who loves cowboy and rodeos. Tune in to hear this heart warming story of a couple whose love knows no bounds.

 * ... MEMORIES: This old photo is courtesy of the Facebook page Kern County of Old. Its caption reads:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bakersfield loses another icon in Mary K. Shell, T.L. Maxwell's needs a new owner with new ideas and poke bowls become the new lunch rage

Friday, June 15, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to 

* ... RIP MARY K. SHELL: We lost another local icon this week with the death of former Bakersfield mayor and county supervisor Mary K. Shell. She was 91 and died at her home on 21st
Street downtown. "Miki" as she was known to her friends was one of the first people I met when I moved here more than 25 years ago. She was smart as a whip, engaged, curious and kind to everyone, no matter their position in this world. I will always remember Miki telling me about learning to fly at the old air strip on the Panorama Bluffs where Greenlawn Cemetery now stands, and how the planes would fly off the bluffs and take a scary dip before gaining altitude. She served as mayor from 1981-85 and later served on the Board of Supervisors. As a child she worked in a shop owned by her father, and recalled servicing a Buick when news of the D-Day landing was announced on the radio. She was married three times, including to Joe Shell who ran for governor only to lose in the Republican Party primary to a candidate named Richard Nixon. No word yet on funeral services.

* ... T.L. MAXWELLS: Former city councilman Terry Maxwell is closing down the restaurant that bore his name. T.L. Maxwell's was opened in 1999 and enjoyed a steady (if small) and loyal following, but recently ended up in the news after a former waitress sued it claiming she was fired for reporting extremely unhealthy conditions in the food prep area. The end came with a sour note: employees learned it was closing when Maxwell announced in on his local radio program. Maxwell's is gone, but the downtown alley space could be a gold mine for an entrepreneur with vision.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you ever feel sad remember that there’s a number you can call and a pizza will be there in 30 minutes."

 * ... SPECTRUM: I don't know who is running the local offices of Spectrum cable, but it can't be a fun job these days. Customers are furious with Spectrum's service - or lack thereof - and Spectrum bashing has become the most popular theme on social media. My advice: switch to DirectTV, like Spectrum not cheap, but virtually problem free.

 * ... BIRTHDAY: I celebrated my birthday this week and did so with a leisurely dinner on the patio at Uricchio's Trattoria, the marvelous family owned downtown eatery known by regulars as "The Italian Embassy." When the weather is mild there are few better place to break bread than dining al fresco.

 * ... POKE BOWLS: And speaking of food, have you sampled the hot new food trend called "poke bowls?" Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish — usually tuna — which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces. Some people are calling it the next generation of sushi, and they are popping up all over town.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers Cy's Coffee shop that was located at the northwest corner of 18th and Eye streets?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Experts fear a "suicide contagion" after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, a young cowboy lifts my spirits and Dr. Horace Mitchell gets a rousing sendoff

Monday, June 11, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to

 * ... SUICIDE: How many of us have been touched by the tragedy of suicide? How many of us have lost a loved one, family member or a friend from the despair of depression? It is more
widespread than you might think, and it comes as little surprise that the suicide rate in the United States has jumped 30 percent since 1996. And now with the suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain, experts are worrying about something called "suicide contagion," where suicides spike in the wake of celebrity suicides that gather a lot of media attention. Madelyn Gould, a professor at Columbia University, told The Los Angeles Times that research has shown that the phenomenon is real and suggests that media coverage of celebrity deaths can influence those who are vulnerable or at risk and can lead to a spike in suicide rates.

 * ... HERE AT HOME: Most suicides go unreported by the media out of respect for the families and survivors, but some are too public to ignore. Locally, we have experienced more than our share: community activist Jai Bernstein killed herself in Hart Park, city councilman Jeff Tkac did so a mere week after taking office, and local farmer Jeff Thompson committed suicide as well.

 * ... CHOOSE LIFE: In the midst of all this heartache about suicide, state Senate candidate Shannon Grove posted a picture on Facebook that lifted my spirits. Grove was at the Glennville Rodeo when she spotted a cute little boy in a cowboy hat. She posted this with the picture: "Nathan living life to the fullest - competed in his first rodeo - got a trophy. God has big plans for Nathan, I know this because he was a safe surrender baby, 1 lb 4 oz when he was born. Nathan has always wanted to be a cowboy."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Drove through Rocky Mountain National park today so my kids could enjoy the beautiful scenery of their iPads."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I just wanna be rich enough to forget when payday is."

 * ... RAISING CANE'S: One of the country's most highly rated fast food chicken restaurants - Raising Cane's - is coming to Bakersfield. Construction is under way at the corner of Coffee Road and Downing. No word on when it will open but they are advertising for employees. Cane's is known for its singular focus on chicken, and its meals are said to feature some of the best chicken strips around.

* ... HORACE MITCHELL: A dinner honoring outgoing CSUB President Horace Mitchell was held this weekend at the Marriott, drawing a huge crowd of local dignitaries from academia and local businesses. Some 400 people attended to say farewell to the man who has guided CSUB for the past 14 years. Mitchell told me he and his wife Barbara are planning to retire in Huntington Beach, where they have owned a home for years. Among the honors bestowed on Mitchell was a key to the city presented by Mayor Karen Goh.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this photo from the corner of Chester and 20th Street, the northeast corner, then and now.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Is Assemblyman Rudy Salas in trouble? The Casagrande family gets its 1936 truck back and Grimmway hands out 55 college scholarships

Friday June 8, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to

 * ... RUDY SALAS: One of the biggest surprises on election night were the results in the state
Assembly District 32, where Bakersfield Democrat Rudy Salas finished second to Hanford city councilman Justin Mendes. Salas held onto Kern County easily, carrying 60 percent of the vote, but was overwhelmed outside the county by Mendes. The two will square off in the November general election, but clearly Salas has some work to do outside of Kern County.

 * ... DONNY YOUNGBLOOD: And perhaps the dirtiest race in Kern County was that waged by Justin Fleeman against Sheriff Donny Youngblood. It started ugly, got uglier and even ended on an ugly note when Fleeman told The Californian he was going back to the sheriff's department to be the "watchdog" on Youngblood. Speaking on my radio show, Youngblood was still reeling from the negative campaign and said his first order of business was to rebuild a culture of trust in the sheriff's department.

 * ... DIVIDED CALIFORNIA: This map showing how Californians voted in the governor's race tells the story of a divided state: liberal along the populated coasts and conservative inland.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When girls have a great night out, they talk about it for months. When guys have a great night out, that night will never be spoken of."

 * ... GRIMMWAY: Hats off to Grimmway Farms which awarded 55 college scholarships to recent high school graduates as part of the Rod and Bob Grimm Memorial Scholarship Program. The program has awarded more than 600 scholarships totaling more than $1.65 million to high school seniors since it was created in 1997.

 * ... GOOD NEWS: I was glad to hear that the Casagrande family of downtown Bakersfield has been reunited with its 1936 Diamond T truck. The classic truck was stolen about a week ago but showed up in Buttonwillow with a few scratches but otherwise in good shape.

 * ... MEMORIES: An old 1930 postcard featuring the northbound Grapevine headed into the San Joaquin Valley.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

If it's election season in Kern County, is it any surprise that charges of dirty politics arise in the days before the election? And is someone lying and then trying to cover it up? And a classic 1936 truck disappears from a downtown home

Monday, June 4, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to

 * ... ELECTIONS: I suspect there will be few surprises in this week's primary election. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will move on to November likely to face Democrat Tatiana Matta, who looks like the sharpest of the Democrats vying for the seat. Shannon Grove and Vince Fong will
move on with no problem, and my money is on Sheriff Donny Youngblood to beat challenger Justin Fleeman in a romp. But that doesn't mean there isn't drama. Will district attorney candidate Cynthia Zimmer be hurt by revelations that legally questionable TV ads were aired supporting her campaign? She is locked in a tight one with assistant DA Scott Spielman. And in the hottest judge's race, will Brandon Martin be hurt by revelations that his candidacy may in fact be tainted itself because his degree to practice law was suspended eight years ago? Stay tuned it will be a fun week.

 * ... POLITICAL HIJINKS?: Keep an eye on what happens when someone looks into the behavior of Cathy Abernathy's Western Pacific Research in support of district attorney candidate Cynthia Zimmer. This much is known: staffers from WPR may have violated the law by coordinating the airing of pro Zimmer campaign ads on several local TV stations. What is more interesting is that Abernathy denied any wrongdoing, as did Zimmer, who said she had not used WPR since earlier in the year after the death of Mark Abernathy. Yet, campaign disclosure statements show that Zimmer's campaign was paying WPR for services as late as the April and May reporting period. So who is lying here? Or are we all consuming so much Ambien it is clouding our memories?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I tried killing a spider with hairspray. He’s still alive, but his hair looks outstanding."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You cannot make everybody happy. You are not a taco."

 * ... HARVEY HALL: It took literally minutes after the public service for late Mayor Harvey Hall before the sniping started on social media. The topic: apparently Hall's biological daughter Shelley Christine Brown was not invited to speak while her half sister, Amy, did pay tribute to her father. Brown posted her lament on Facebook and it was quickly shared. My advice: every family has its issues and frankly it is none of our business. Going on Facebook to lament that Shelley was not part of the inner circle is dabbling in private family matters that should be left to the Hall family and them alone. (photo by Felix Adamo)

 * ... BEAUTIFUL BAKERSFIELD: The Beautiful Bakersfield Awards were held this weekend, a night that sponsor KGET hypes as "Bakersfield's version of the Oscars." The evening does recognize some good work and people around town, but comparing it to the Oscars is like comparing the Bakersfield dirt tack speedway to the Monaco Grand Prix. It's a painfully long evening for those forced to endure it and I wouldn't wish it on anybody, but as I said, some good folks and organizations are honored. A couple of my favorites: the 17th Place Townhomes won the award for architecture and design, Bob Meadows of Mission Bank won business person of the year and CSUB President Horace Mitchell was honored with a chairman's award.

 * ... STOLEN TRUCK: A classic 1936 red truck was stolen out of a driveway on 20th Street downtown the other day. The truck. purchased new by the owner's late father, is a fixture in the annual July Fourth Westchester parade. Contact Bakersfield police if you see it.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of the original City Hall compliments of the Bakersfield Memories Facebook page. The caption reads: "Originally the Kern County Courthouse, it became City Hall in 1912. It was badly damaged in the '2 quake and had to be demolished. The new City Hall occupies the same spot today. This view is southwest at Truxtun and Chester. The Mission style tile roof in the foreground suggests this was taken from a perch on the Hotel El Tejon which, by the looks of the cars, would put this between 1926 and 1930ish."

Friday, June 1, 2018

Dirty politics in Kern County? Tell me it ain't so! District attorney candidate Scott Spielman cries foul , Jane Fonda will appear in town next week and the building that houses Trout's is sold

Friday, June 1, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... DIRTY POLITICS: Are you shocked to see dirty politics just days before an election? Well this is Kern County, home of Western Pacific Research, the well oiled and successful consulting firm that wrote the manual on last second deceptions and half truths. This time it involved WPR's legally questionable role in last minute advertisements for district attorney candidate Cynthia Zimmer. It turns out the ads were paid for by People's Advocate, a conservative PAC that has direct ties to WPR (both groups share some staffers apparently). The problem here is the ads could violate Measure K, a campaign finance law passed in 2002. Zimmer's opponent, Scott Spielman, is understandably furious and WPR's Cathy Abernathy said she would remove the ad but she denied violating the law. Sounds fishy, right? Well, this is Kern County and we have seen this movie before.

* ...  TROUT'S: So did you hear that the building that housed the iconic Trout's bar on North Chester has sold? Word is it will be converted into a medical complex, marking the end of a long and storied history of one of the last true honkey tonks in Bakersfield. Still missing: the famous Trout's sign that disappeared when the previous owner skipped town.

 * ... HANOI JANE: Jane Fonda is coming to Bakersfield next week, and it looks like she will be greeted by a group of veterans and others who are none too happy that she is in town. Chad Garcia, host of the weekly KernVets radio show on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM, is organizing the protest to call attention to Fonda's anti-war activities and visit to Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Stay tuned because this should be rich.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I replaced 'alcohol dependency and erratic behavior' with 'love dogs and books' in my Match profile and now I have 11 dates lined up."

 * ... GOOD FORM: David Dobbs owns Imbibe Wine and Spirits, the wildly popular wine, craft beer and spirits shop over off Truxtun extension. But what you may not know about him is his deep generosity to various causes, so it should come as no surprise that he has teamed up with the SPCA to help the organization raise money. Next Wednesday on June 6, Imbibe will host a wine tasting featuring "Mixed Breed" wine to raise money to help Julie Johnson and the SPCA raise much needed money. The cost is just $10 and $3 from every bottle of Mixed Breed sold will go straight back to the SPCA.

 * ... MOVING UP: Congratulations to Jennifer Self who has accepted the position of director of communications at Omni Family Health. Self was most recently with Clinica Sierra Vista, and prior to that spent 20-plus years as a lifestyles editors with The Californian. Said Self: "My work advocating on behalf of the medically underserved in our valley has come to mean so much to me, satisfying a part of my soul that I didn't know needed nourishing until I went to the clinics, met the patients and saw the power that community health centers have to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and isolated."

 * ... MEMORIES: This picture appeared on the Bakersfield Memories Facebook page with this caption: "The Arlington House and the brand new William H. Scribner building on Chester Ave. as they looked in 1886. The Arlington was at its peak as one of the finest hostelries in the west. Truly a five star establishment of its day. The Scribner Building housed the A. Edmunds Clothing store and W.H. Scribner's store.  Scribner owned a few buildings in town including the Scribner Water Tower on the corner of Truxtun and Chester. It was the only major downtown structure to survive the 1889 fire. These two buildings were not not so fortunate.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. trey Gowdy help raise money for Shannon Grove and Fernando Jara to tell his story on KERN Newstalk 96.1 FM

Monday, May 28, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to 

* ... SHANNON GROVE: There was a big fund raiser for Shannon Grove this weekend up in
Tulare, and it was a star studded affair. Appearing on behalf of Grove were South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and his colleague in the House of Representatives, Trey Gowdy. It was well attended and served to fatten the campaign coffers of the Grove for State Senate campaign.

* ... POLITICS: Isn't local politics something? The brouhaha on the Board of Supervisors has become something of a spectator sport, pitting the "old guard" against Supervisor Leticia Perez who somehow has become a threatening figure on what always has been a clubby group of insiders. And much of the enmity directed toward Perez has to do with her husband, Fernando Jara, head of Savage Consulting. Jara represents marijuana interests and has his own personal story to tell about how the medicinal uses of hemp and cannabis changed his life. He will tell that story this Wednesday on The Richard Beene Show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) at 2 p.m. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jara worked in the Middle East after 9/11 and speaks Arabic. What happened while he was there? What role did he play? Hear his story this week only on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You think you’re pretty smart until you have to figure out how to turn on someone else’s shower."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off the the lone man who was walking up Fairfax Drive on Sunday picking up trash. Just think if we all did this once a week how much better our community would look.

 * ... LOGAN MOLEN: Logan Molen, who spent more than 25 years at the Bakersfield Californian including the last five as chief operating officer, has been appointed publisher of the Steamboat Springs Pilot. Molen most recently served as publisher at the Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon, and now joins Reno-based Swift Communications at the Colorado publication.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy this picture of the old Lakeview Hotel in Maricopa around 1910. Photo courtesy of Jerry Gibby and the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And then here is one of the Tejon Pass on the original Ridge Route. At 4,213 feet it was the highest of the three routes (Old 99, Alternate and I-5). This is also the only place where all three routes are still visible next to each other. Photo and caption courtesy of Bakersfield Memories Facebook page.

 * ... MEMORIAL DAY: Some shots of Memorial Day around Kern County. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

CBD oil picks up a fan in Kyle Carter, turmoil over at Clinica Sierra Vista under a new CEO and Father Craig Harrison heads to Italy for a sabbatical

Friday/Memorial Day Weekend May 25, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... CBD OIL: You know the world is changing when someone like former home builder Kyle
Carter, a staunch conservative who rarely drinks, comes out in favor of CBD oil, the non-intoxicating marijuana extract that is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems -- everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. Carter, who lost to Karen Goh in the last mayoral election, told me a friend turned him onto CBD oil to help him deal with pain and other issues associated with five surgeries for scoliosis. "They put two drops under my tongue" and it helped alleviate his pain, he said. Cannabidiol is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication. Instead, marijuana's "high" is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

 * ... CLINICA: So what is happening over at Clinica Sierra Vista? The once proud health organization, built by now retired CEO Steve Schilling, has been in turmoil since Schilling retired and was replaced by new CEO Brian Harris. I am told Harris came in with a swagger, telling a group of managers a week into the job that there was "a new sheriff in town" and to expect changes, and that a number of key employees have been unceremoniously fired. "He is dismantling everything Steve built" is how one former employee put it. So is this a simple matter of a new CEO mixing things up and facing a "deep state" of employees loyal to the previous boss, or is Harris the proverbial sharp elbowed bull in a china shop eager to put his own stamp on the organization? Stay tuned. (file photo of Brian Harris)

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How many consecutive weeks do you have to miss church to requalify for visitor parking?

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "It doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty… it’s clearly almost time to order another drink."

* ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison is headed to Italy for his annual trip, but this time it is not for a week or two, but for three months. Harrison told me this three-month trip recognizes a well deserved sabbatical after 30 years in the priesthood. While there, he hopes to meet with Pope Francis, preside over a wedding of a couple from Bakersfield and meet with friends touring Italy.

 * ... CRIME WAVE: If recent events are any indication of things to come, it will be long summer of crime here in Bakersfield. Oleander has been hit with a long string of car break-ins and windows smashed, with one street seeing five cars hit in one night. Meanwhile over in Seven Oaks, a rash of home burglaries near the Ronald Reagan School has homeowners on edge. And if you really want to be frightened, go to and check out the video of two teenagers trying to kick in the door of a home near Stockdale and Old River Road, in broad daylight.

 * ... TACOS: Check out these tacos offered at the Silver Fox Starlite Lounge on Taco Tuesdays. The iconic lounge, restored and reopened by Pyrenees Cafe owners Rod and Julie Crawford, has been enjoying a gangbusters business since reopening.

 * ... RIDGE ROUTE: Here's a great picture of part of the old Ridge Route on a bad stretch of road call "Deadman's Curve" as seen along the southbound later of I-5 about two miles below Lebec. Photo courtesy of the Bakersfield Memories Facebook page.

 * ... BEST BETS: Check out Los Angeles Americana singer Chelsea Williams Friday night at Temblor Brewing. Showtime is 7 p.m. Then make reservations to hear the Birds of Chicago June 8 at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Both great shows featuring rising artists.