Thursday, September 21, 2017

CSUB's incoming recruiting class called the "most intriguing" in the WAC, Milo Yiannopoulos appears headed to CSUB and Stockdale Country Club unveils a new tennis facility

 * ... ROD BARNES: College basketball season is just around the corner and already a new group of recruits at Cal State Bakersfield is putting the spotlight on the Rod Barnes-led Roadrunners.
SB Nation recently called the 'Runners incoming class "the most intriguing" in the Western Athletic Conference, led by freshman guard Jarkel Joiner. Interestingly, although Joiner averaged nearly 40 points per game, the Oxford, Miss., native never got a scholarship offer from Ole Miss. Enter Coach Barnes, who not only played at Ole Miss but coached the Rebels and won 2001 Southeastern Conference 'Coach of the year' honors.  “That’s really tough, sometimes frustrating, because I’m right here in their back yard,” Joiner said about being overlooked by Ole Miss. “I feel like I’ve proven myself time after time. It just makes me work harder and adds fuel to my fire." Said SB Nation: "That lack of interest from a program Barnes played and coached for paid off for CSUB. The Oxford connection may have been a factor, as Jarkel mentioned that his father used to cut Barnes’ hair. Whatever the ultimate selling point, Barnes signed Joiner away from schools like Middle Tennessee and TCU. The WAC has some explosive point guards lately, and — if all goes right — Joiner seems built in that mold."

* ... MILO YIANNOPOULOS: Keep an eye on Cal State Bakersfield and the wrestling match between the CSUB College Republicans and the administration over the appearance of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos on campus. Fearful that Yiannopoulos could trigger a disruptive backlash if he appears, the administration seems to be dragging his heels on approving his appearance. My advice to President Horace Mitchell and others: allow him to appear on campus and move on. Squashing free speech, even if you don't agree with it, sets a terrible example for a university.

 * ... STOCKDALE: I dropped by Stockdale Country Club for the unveiling of its new 7,500 tennis center, a marvel of a facility that includes a full fitness center, yoga and cycle spinning room and kid's room outfitted with the best of flooring, fixtures and lighting. Hats off to tennis pro Hank Pfister and the Stockdale membership for introducing a world class facility to town, which was built at the princely price of around $1.7 million.

 * ... GARCES BBQ: For all of you who count yourselves as part of the Garces family, make sure you calendar next Thursday, Sept. 28, for the annual Garces Holy Smoke barbecue. This long tradition started more than 50 years ago and this year it marks the 70th anniversary of Garces Memorial High School. To spice things up this year, organizers have included live music and the traditional New York steak has been replaced by a Harris Ranch "choice" filet in addition to a twice baked potato, salad, Pyrenees French bread and Jake's Tex Mex famous cake. Music will be provided by Lonely Avenue and proceeds from the event will fund student subsidies. Tickets are just $30 per ticket. The feed starts at 6 p.m.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you keep following your dreams someone is going to file a restraining order against you."

 * ... COLUMNIST: Kudos to the management of The Bakersfield Californian who opened their pages to contributing columnist Justin Salters, who brings a fresh, sober and thoughtful perspective to local and state politics. In the wake of the firing of Danny Morrison, it's refreshing to read a columnist who relies on facts and accuracy to make a point.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Is California ready for legal marijuana? Bakersfield College goes to a smoke free campus and my recommendations for the best fall soups in town

 * ... LEGAL CANNABIS: Is California ready to usher in an era of legal recreational and medicinal marijuana in January? One person who thinks we aren't is Assemblyman Vince Fong, who told me
her personally has concerns that legal pot will lead to a host of public safety concerns especially when it comes to impaired driving and cannabis use among young people. Nevertheless, it is coming and we should expect to see details in terms of how cannabis will be distributed, tested and taxed emerging soon from Sacramento.

 * ... HOMELESS BEATING: What possessed a Centennial High School student to attack a homeless man recently off Union Avenue. The victim, 64-year-old Harold Barlett, was sitting with his back against a building when the 14-year-old student hurled a plastic soda crate at his head. It was all caught on video and the student was detained. He has not been identified because of his age.

* ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the middle aged woman wearing a floppy sun hat who was picking up trash along Panorama Drive in the area near Juliet Thorner School.

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Good move by Bakersfield College to make the campus a tobacco free campus. The move takes effect this semester and includes all indoor and outdoor areas of the campus.

 * ... BAD FORM: Consider this a form of public service, but I am here to warn you about one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. The movie is "Mother" and it boasts a terrific cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Barden, Ed Harris and Michelle Pefiffer. Yet even with all that talent, it is a gratuitous, rambling waste of time that left me wondering this: what would be worse, suffering from an acute outbreak of psoriasis while undergoing a root canal without anesthesia or viewing this movie again?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "People don't leave jobs. They leave bosses."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: :"Friendly reminder that if you hate our current government, pay attention to your state representatives and vote in local elections too."

 * ... FALL SOUPS: As we head into fall and cooler weather, here are my recommendations for the best soups in town: hard to beat the albondigas (meatball) soup with vegetables at Nuestro Mexico on 21st Street, while over at Mama Roomba's they boast an excellent vegetable soup featuring spinach, mushrooms, potatoes and herbs.

 * ... MONSIGNOR: Ronal Reynier attended the celebration of Monsignor Perry Kavookjian's 30th year in the priesthood and had this to say: "I joined my family and 500 of Father Perry's friends
at Buck Owens Chrystal Palace. Unknown to Father Perry it was going to be a 'roast.' Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, head of the Diocese of Fresno, started the evening off followed by Monsignor Ronald Sweet, Monsignor Craig Harrison and Kevin Reynier. No one laughed and clapped harder
than Monsignor Perry of the stories of his friends of 29 plus years. Monsignor Perry's turn to speak was humorous, laughably biting and inspirational. How about another one on your 50th year friend Perry?"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is a steady stream of state regulations driving the price of housing out of the reach of most Californians? And I visit the new Happy Hour Bar and Tapas while readers give me tips of dealing with weevils

 * ... HOUSING CRISIS: A steady stream of state mandated regulations is increasing the cost of new home building, creating a housing crisis that is pushing the cost of an average home out of reach of most Californians. That was the word from Matt Towery and Dave Dmohowski of the Home
Builders Association of Kern County who appeared on my radio show this week. Dmohowski, the HBA's executive officer, said there are literally more than 130 bills pending in Sacramento that would increase the cost of building a home, legislation that could add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home. The regulations deal with everything from mandating homes be more energy efficient to small transactional fees that drive up the cost of housing.

 * ... HAPPY HOUR: I finally got around to checking out Happy Hour Bar and Tapas, one of our downtown's newer eateries. Located on 18th Street near Chester Avenue, Happy Hour is a cheerful bar featuring some amazing smaller dishes. Among my favorites were the chicken waffle sliders and a delectable version of the standard chicken tender that come with a mouth watering white sauce.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Relationships should come with an icon that shows you how much time you have left like your phone’s battery."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Attended a health fair today and a young, presumptuous sales clerk asked if I wanted a free diabetes cookbook. I responded, 'Why would I want to cook diabetes?'"

 * ... WEEVILS: When I wrote about the appearance of weevils in my cupboard and gnats outside, it triggered a few responses like this one from Mary Helen Barro: "Tell your readers that they should put a few bay leaves in all flour products. It will keep the weevils away. Also, it may be time to remind folks again about taking vitamin B-1 to repel mosquitos. Mosquitos tend to bite people that are low in B-1. At least, that’s what my doctor told me decades ago, when I was attacked by a swarm of mosquitos. Since then, I take B-1 and have not been bitten."

 * ... WEIGHT WATCHERS: This note from Chuck Doremus showed up in my mailbox: "At Weight Watchers (WW) last Monday morning, one of the members, while waiting to weigh-in, noticed she had lost an earring. Later during the meeting, Laurie, an employee at WW, came in announcing she had found the earring as well as the back to it. There was applause. Then someone asked, "Do you take off your earrings to weigh-in?"

 * ... GNATS; And Gary Kozy added this: "A few years ago there were a large number of gnats in my area. Enough that it was difficult to breathe, afraid I might breathe one in my nose. No matter how careful I was gnats still managed to enter my home. I found a simple solution.  Just fill a sink or two with water and a sweet smelling liquid dish soap. I use Costco brand. The house will be free of gnats. But don't be surprised to see a mess in the sink in the morning. Ever since then I continue to fill a sink with  soapy  water. It attracts other bugs also. And gives me confidence in having a bug free home. A side benefit is that it leaves the sink sparkling clean. No scrubbing necessary."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Five California universities make the top ten of the nation's best public colleges, get ready for Santa Carota beef to hit the market and battling an infestation of weevils

 * ... TOP UNIVERSITIES: U.S. News has unveiled its annual list of the top public colleges and universities and once again the state of California occupies five of the top ten spots. In no particular
order the top ten are the College of William and Mary, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia.

 * ... SANTA CAROTA: If you haven't heard of Santa Carota steaks yet, you will soon. The brainchild of Kern County ranchers Justin and Corrine Pettit, this new beef is totally gluten free and a perfect addition to the farm to table movement that values free range beef raised without grains. How do they do it? The cattle are grass raised and carrot finished, meaning they eat up to 200 pounds of carrots a day. The steaks are leaner, lighter and tastier. They are available now at the Luigi's deli and soon Santa Carota ground beef and steaks will be on sale at the Wood Dale butcher shop.

 * ... WINE: When did Trader Joe's famous "two buck Chuck" become "three buck Chuck?"

 * ... WEEVILS: I opened a cupboard this weekend to find a nasty infestation of weevils, those pesky insects that exploit any opportunity to crawl into an open bag of flour or grain. That, along with an equally irksome infestation of gnats at Bakersfield Racquet Club, left me thinking about the effect of our wet winter and its connection to an insect explosion across town.

* ... PICKLEBALL: Congratulations to Nick Jacobs who staged a successful inaugural Renegade Cup Pickleball tournament up at Bakersfield College this weekend. Jacobs, head tennis coach at BC, said he had more than 100 players from Fresno, Visalia, Lancaster, Hanford and Phoenix attend the tournament.

 * ... SOUTH HIGH: South High School is holding a gala at the Doubletree Hotel later this month to honor a new group of inductees into its alumni hall of fame. Hats off to all the folks who are being honored, including Californian columnist Herb Benham. basketball player Winston Crite, educators Jeanne Johnson Harry and Richard Giese, Mike Davis, former educators Bill Miller and Mike Stricker, and former coach John Wren,.

* ... MEMORIES: Bud King wrote with some memories of the old Lebec Hotel. "King Trucking of Bakersfield did the demolition of the Lebec Hotel.  They were getting so many flats on the trucks that they got with the Fire Department across Highway 99 and Interstate 5 to use their parking lot to make repairs. That is where I learned a lesson about split rim truck rims, always put the split side down. One of the tire repairman didn't, it blew off during inflation and took the top of his head off. "

Thursday, September 7, 2017

San Luis Obispo is crowned the best college town in America, avocado prices spike because of a bad harvest and Steve Schilling prepares to retire from Clinic Sierra Vista

 * ... COLLEGE TOWNS: So where is the best college town in America? Would it surprise you if I told you it was just up the road in San Luis Obispo, home of Cal Poly? That's what the website
College Rank found in its research, crowning SLO as the "best college town" in the country. Rounding out the top ten were Cambridge, Mass. (Harvard); Gainesville, Fla. (University of Florida);  Amherst, Mass. (Amherst College); Boulder, Colo. (University of Colorado); Burlington, Vt. (University of Vermont); Charlottesville, Va. (University of Virginia); Ann Arbor, Mich.  (University of Michigan);  Santa Cruz, Calif. (UC Santa Cruz) and Athens, Ga. (University of Georgia).

 * ... AVOCADO: If you've noticed a sharp spike in the price of avocados, it should come as no surprise. The average retail price for avocados rose 35 percent in the first half of this year to $1.21 per avocado, according to the Hass Avocado Board. The reason: smaller than average harvests in California, which produces more avocados than any other U.S. state.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Just drove my mechanic's vehicle and his check engine light was on."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You're never too old to be nice to people."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to new Californian columnist Justin Salters who broke ranks from the divisive and self pitying nature of other voices and called for more "Jefferson Dinners," venues for people of all backgrounds and political philosophies to come together for constructive conversations. It's an idea whose time has come, and I salute Salters for suggesting something that I for one plan to adopt.

 * ... SCHILLING: Steve Schilling, who built Clinica Sierra Vista into one of the largest and most important health organizations serving the needy in Central California, is looking to retire. That's the word from Jennifer Self, Clinica's communications and advocacy director, who said a search is under way to replace Schilling as the organization's chief executive officer. "He will stay until his successor is on board," Self said, adding that might be accomplished by the end of the year. Schilling almost single handedly built Clinica into a powerhouse in providing basic and preventative health care to thousands of Californians via a vast network of public and private partnerships.

 * ... SHOUT OUT: City Councilman Andrae Gonzales was making the rounds in Ward 2 the other day when he gave a shout-out to an important local organization that works quietly and doesn't get a lot of press: The Assistance League of Bakersfield. Said Gonzales: "The Assistance League is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, serving the community through ongoing philanthropic programs. One program, Operation School Bell, provides new school clothing to children in need. In 2017, the group helped over 3,600 children with back-to-school clothing! The organization's thrift store, the Bargain Box Thrift Store, is the group's biggest fund-raiser. The store is located at 1924 Q Street and is open Monday though Saturday, 11a.m. To 3 p.m. Stop by and visit!"

* ... MEMORIES: So who remembers Beryl's Cafe, a small country style cafe located at the corner of South Union and Bear Mountain Boulevard? According to Fatima Al-Bugharin, writing on the Kern County of Old Facebook page, it was originally a gas station owned by Vern Sweitzer (Sweitzer's Corner) from 1917 to 1961. "In 1961 Mrs. Beryl Mitchell purchased the property from Mr. Sweitzer and turned it into Beryl's Cafe. The cafe was successful and became a home away from home for many visitors, farmers, and truckers. Beryl's cafe closed in 2006 and in 2009 Mrs. Beryl Mitchell passed away. Unfortunately, the old place fell apart through the years and was demolished as a result."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Where were you when the wild weather hit over Labor Day weekend, Superior Court Judge David Lampe suffers a nasty bike crash and Monsignor Perry Kavookjian celebrates 30 years in the priesthood

 * ... EPIC WEATHER: Where were you when the storm moved through town Sunday afternoon?
Did your power go out? Were you stuck on the Westside Parkway unable to see because the rain was coming down so hard? Sudden, unexpected weather events like this bring out the best in us. There were impromptu block parties, neighborhood pool parties and I ended up enjoying a rare patio dinner reveling in the 25-to-30 degree drop in the temperature, eating by candlelight because my friend's power was out.

 * ... SICK BAY: Superior Court Judge David Lampe is recovering after a nasty accident that happened while he was riding his bicycle on Labor Day. Lampe, an avid and experienced cyclist, was participating in a group ride when his front tire hit a rock and his tire shredded, sending him over the handlebars and onto the pavement. He suffered a broken clavicle and numerous bruises.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It's time to eliminate triggering words like industrious, diligent and conscientious. They stigmatize those who choose not to be."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You know that you're officially lost when you turn down the car radio and take off your sunglasses.

 * .. MONSIGNOR: When I wrote to commemorate Monsigner Craig Harrison's 30 years in the priesthood, Liz Neuman reminded me that Monsignor Perry Kavookjian is also celebrating his 30th anniversary. It turns out Harrison and Kavookjian were classmates in the seminary and were ordained together. Said Neuman: "As you may know, in 2008 Monsignor Perry was tasked with the challenge of beginning the first new Catholic parish in Bakersfield in 40 years. He has taken St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish from a small group of people meeting at Frontier High School, to a booming and vibrant parish of over 4500 families! The beautiful church at the corner of Old Farm and Reina Road represents Father Perry's dedication to serving the Catholic community in Northwest Bakersfield, but the true testament of his priesthood can be found in the deep affection his parishioners hold for him. ..
We are throwing an anniversary party for our beloved pastor on Sept 16th.  We have sold out the Crystal Palace with people wanting to celebrate his ministry, which I believe is proof that Bakersfield loves Monsignor Perry!"

 * ... LEBEC HOTEL: Jack Kelley wrote with his memories of the old Lebec Hotel. "My wife and I spent our wedding night at the Lebec Hotel in 1948 (it was very run down then) we were on our way to Catalina. The hotel was built by a saloon keeper Thomas O’Brien and a partner Cliff Durant. Cliff Durant was the playboy son of William Durant the founder of General Motors. The hotel was started in 1919 and the $225,000 grand hotel was opened to the public Friday, May 21, 1921, in a blaze of glory as Hotel Durant. Jack Dempsey heavy weight champion of the world was a registered guest. Other guests were silent film stars Rex Bell, Clara Bow and Buster Keaton. Cliff's father ran out of money due to bad investments and pulled out, forcing O’Brien to buy him out and renamed the Hotel Durant to Hotel Lebec. The hotel never made money always about breaking even. O’Brien sold the hotel to Foster Curry, son of the concessionaires of Yosemite, and the hotel was renamed for a short time as Curry’s Lebec Lodge... The hotel gradually went down hill. The county of Kern condemned the hotel, Tejon purchased and burned it and buried the rubble. There is a Cypress tree and a historical marker at the site."

 * ... MORE LEBC: And Nikki Heitman added this: "I remember the hotel, in fact my grandfather worked there for a while. The family lived up in the hills and while riding home on the back of their flatbed truck, they encountered a mountain lion. I think they moved not too long after that. My grandmother was concerned for her nine kids' safety.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Football is back, but participation in high school football takes a nosedive because of concerns over concussions, and Uricchio's Trattoria reopens after being closed almost a week

 * ... FOOTBALL: For those of us who love college football, the season is finally upon us. USC plays Western Michigan, preseason No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 3 Florida State and my alma mater
Georgia Southern travels to Auburn to take on the Tigers. But the future of football is in doubt, and nowhere is that more visible than in local high schools. Trevor Horn, the Californian's prep sports writer, cited a CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) study that showed while participation among boys in high school sports jumped 3.5 percent over the last decade, participation in high school football actually sank more than 10 percent. The reason: concerns over concussions and other safety concerns. The sport making huge strides in popularity? High school lacrosse.

 * ... URICCHIO'S: Uricchio's Trattoria has reopened after being shut down for almost a week because of a mechanical issue. The popular downtown restaurant was forced to close last week and it remained shuttered over the weekend because the part had to be shipped in from out of state. Owner Claire Porter told me they are now back in business and she is hoping to see the familiar faces of her regulars back at the bar and in the restaurant.

* ... GOOD FORM: A big thanks to Ron Lommen for sharing this example of good form in our community: "Hats off to the Boy Scouts of Troop 188 out of East Bakersfield. They spent a very hot weekend morning walking part of the bike trail picking up trash. They worked their way from Manor Street west towards Lake Ming. In the few miles they covered they picked up eight large trash bags of garbage. These scouts prove there are some very good youths in our community."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sorry that we don't have any fun snacks in the house, but we do have a variety of knee braces and reading glasses."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "What wine goes well with two ungrateful teenagers, an oppressive boss and insurmountable credit card debt?"

 * ... CHAIN COHN: Ray Pruitt, a former information officer for the Kern County Sheriff's Department, has joined the law firm of Chain Cohn Stiles as an investigator. Given the number of times the law firm has sued the sheriff's department over the years, there is a certain synergy to this announcement.

* ... GOOD FORM: David Milbrodt reached out to commend All Climate Air for its prompt response and service repairing his air conditioning unit. And he also put a plug in for two teams he follows: the UCLA Bruins and the Los Angeles Angels.

 * .... LEBEC HOTEL: How many of your remember the old Lebec Hotel that existed on the old Ridge Route highway before the interstate of built? According to the history Ridge Route website, the hotel was built in 1921 and was officially closed in 1968. It fell into disrepair, was eventually bought by the Tejon Ranch Co. and burned down in 1971. Said the website: "The Lebec hotel was a 'complete gambling joint with a ball-room, rooms and apartments' during its heydays from 1925 to 1934. Clark Gable and his actress wife, Carole Lombard, as well as gangster Benny 'Bugsy' Siegel, frequented the Lebec Hotel. A 1926 touring guide describes it: 'Hotel Lebec is new and high class, 80 rooms, thoroughly modern single $2-$3, with bath $4, coffee shop open 24 hours.' The Lebec Garage nearby was the largest and best equipped on the ridge. Labor was $1.75 an hour, increasing to $2.40 after 6 p.m."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monsignor Craig Harrison celebrates 30 years in the priesthood, Ben Stinson III gives away $93,000 in non-profit grants and lamenting those crazy Bakersfield drivers

* ... FATHER CRAIG: Congratulations to our own Monsignor Craig Harrison, who celebrates 30 years in the priesthood in September. Harrison began his journey in Merced and his first parish
was in Mojave and Rosamond, then on to Firebaugh and finally now at St. Francis where he has been for 19 years. There are few more popular religious figures in town than 'Father Craig,' and as one friend said to me: "I'm not even religious but talking to Father Craig makes me want to join the Catholic faith."

 * ... GOOD FORM: People who are in touch with their own "true north," that internal moral compass that guides decision making and feeds the soul, are invaluable to the success of any community. We are blessed with many of them here, and one of them is Ben Stinson III, who has guided Stinson's Stationers to a growth path despite the challenge from big box competitors and online shopping. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that Stinson, to celebrate his company's 70th anniversary in business, decided to give away $93,000 in $1,000 grants to local non profits. At his vast warehouse off Union Avenue Tuesday morning, more than 200 representatives from local non-profits gathered to network and enjoy a robust breakfast.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Racism is alive and well. I entered a plane and a white lady started freaking out. I laughed so hard my grenades fell out of my pocket."

* ... DRIVING: Are drivers in certain parts of town more reckless and prone to speeding than others? That occurred to me the other day while driving on Coffee Road near Meany Avenue when I was passed by not two, but three different drivers doing at least 80 mph plus on a quiet Saturday morning. Is it the width of the roads in the Northwest and Southwest that turn them into our personal German autobahns?

 * ... GET A GUN: I spent a lazy morning this past weekend at a relatively new firearms store called Get A Gun over off Patton Way in the northwest. For you hunters and enthusiasts gearing up for dove season, owner Rafael Esqueda and his staff have put together a remarkable destination for firearms and accessories.

 * ... MEMORIES: My pal Gene Bonas, a proud Navy submarine vet, submitted this memory on growing up in Bakersfield in a simpler time. "I was reminiscing about growing up in east Bakersfield during the 1950s when I realized what today's youth missed. I remember pasta had not been invented yet. Back then it was called macaroni or spaghetti. Pizza? Sounds like a leaning tower somewhere.  Potato chips were plain, oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking. Healthy food consisted of anything edible! Sugar was considered white gold. Water came out of the tap; if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than gasoline for it, they would have been the laughing stock.  There were two things mom never allowed on the table: elbows and hats, and there were always two choices for meals: take it or leave it!  I really miss those days!"