Sunday, December 16, 2018

One in four Americans want Santa to be gender neutral (seriously), downtown traffic is a mess due to the 24th Street widening project, and setting the record straight on the history of Mexicali

Monday, December 17, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your tips to

 * ... DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC: The 24th Street widening project downtown is now in full swing, and boy has it created a mess. The city closed off parts of 23rd Street over the weekend to install a
storm drain at D and 23rd, forcing traffic into the Westchester neighborhood to skirt the construction. And if you think this is bad, prepare for all those bridges for the Centennial project (across Stockdale Highway, California Avenue and Truxtun) that are just now getting underway.

 * ... GENDER NEUTRAL SANTA: Well here is a sign of the times: a recent survey in both the United States and Briton revealed that one in four people believe Santa Claus should be either female, or gender neutral. Given the changing views of sexuality, all this is not unsurprising but it does reflect society's evolving view of the role of gender in society. And so it goes.

 * ... JAKELIN DEATH: I think we can all agree that the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Makin at the border was a tragedy, but do both sides really need to politicize it? Sen. Dianne Feinstein has called for an investigation, asking how the Border Patrol "allowed this to happen." Say what? The youngster, suffering from dehydration, died after just six hours into U.S. custody after being hospitalized. Isn't blaming her death on the Border Patrol a bit like blaming the death of a car crash victim on the Hall Ambulance medics who responded to the scene? Or blaming Kern County sheriff's deputies for the death of a person who was swimming in the Kern River after they respond to reports of a drowning? The child's death is lamentable, but politicizing it serves no purpose. Check out this meme lifted from Facebook with this caption: "Jakelin AmeĆ­ Rosmery Caal Makin- only 7 yrs old - died of thirst, shock and exhaustion while in U.S. Border Patrol Custody. No child should be placed behind cages, no child should die because of inhumane treatment."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Running is the best way to remind yourself how much you love sitting."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A middle aged man is relating the story of a shoplifter who was chased out of a Rite-Aid downtown: "So he is chased out the door and he runs to a newer Mercedes parked in the parking lot and drives off."

 * ... MEXICALI: My friend David Lyman sent me this note to correct the record: "You refer to Mexicali West as the 'second' Mexicali.  It actually is the fourth. The company's first location was on Baker Street. It then opened its second location downtown on 18th Street. The third location was on Niles Street which has since closed. Mexicali West is number four."

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of Emerson School from 1904, courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bill O'Reilly picks Biden and Bloomberg as the Democratic frontrunners for 2020, Guapo's Tacos offers a full line of vegan meals, Mexicali West prepares to close and a cookbook benefits the homeless

Friday, December 14, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

  * ... BILL O'REILLY: Former Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly doesn't think the Democrats will push to impeach Donald Trump, at least based on what we know now about the investigation into
alleged Russian collusion. That's what he told me when he appeared on The Richard Beene Show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) this week. Looking ahead to the 2020 general election, O'Reilly thinks the Democratic front runners are former VP Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg. He dismissed the others - Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Kristen Gillebrand - are too far left for even the Democrats to nominate.

 * ... GUAPO'S TACOS: One of the hottest vegan restaurants in town is located off White Lane and Highway 99. Run by Ali Gazali, Guapo's Tacos offers a full selection of steak, chorizo and chicken but also an ever evolving offering of vegan tacos, vegan nachos and vegan chili cheese fries. I tasted them all when Ali appeared on my radio program (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) and they were simply outstanding. They are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My boss said 'Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.' Now I’m sitting in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman."

 * ... MEXICALI: The choice has been clear for years: are you loyal to the downtown location of Mexicali, or do you prefer the Mexicali West location on California Avenue? If you are the latter, chances are you have made a pilgrimage to the "second" Mexicali as it prepares to close down at the end of the year. The building has been  sold and the family that runs the restaurants will concentrate on the downtown location. Scores of loyal customers have been visiting the California Avenue location, just to get that last meal (and margarita) in before it closes for good.

  * ... 23ABC COOKBOOK: Hats off to Allison Gargaro and her crew at KERO-TV for pitching in to help the Mission of Kern County. Gargaro, who handles the weather and is studying to become a meteorologist, partnered with different local personalities (Mayor Karen Goh and Rep. Kevin McCarthy among others) to write a cookbook. All of the proceeds from the sale went to the Mission.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this photo of our old train depot, courtesy of the Kern County History Facebook page. The caption read: "Southern Pacific Depot, East Bakersfield, California
Postcard Dated: 12 September 1918."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The LA Times comes out against Tejon Ranch's Centennial project, Gregory Porter comes back to the Fox Theater and the U.S. has become a net exporter of oil

Monday, December 10, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... TEJON RANCH: The Los Angeles Times has come out against Tejon Ranch's Centennial development, citing its negative effect on climate change and arguing against more development in "remote" areas. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote on Centennial,
which envisions a 19,000-home mini city within the county of Los Angeles. The Times editorial was brutal: "California continues to approve sprawling developments and people are driving more, not less. Emissions have risen despite the arrival of electric cars and vehicles that burn less fuel per mile. ... Why do we accept business as usual when radical change is needed? Why do we keep building houses in the path of wildfires, only to act surprised when people are forced too flee? Why do we build in remote areas and then wonder why people drive so much." Stay tuned.

 * ... TEJON OUTLETS: Meanwhile here is one thing Tejon Ranch did right: the Outlets at Tejon were buzzing with holiday shoppers this weekend, and why not? Most stores have slashed prices anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent, including the wildly popular Pottery Barn.

 * ... OIL EXPORTS: Here's a bit of good news or the oil patch: for the first time in decades, the United States has become a net exporter of oil and other refined fuels. That's according to The Wall Street Journal which said the very thought of the U.S. being an oil exporter was unthinkable 10 years ago.  The Journal noted that OPEC's decision to try to curtail production was a direct result of surging U.S. production. In short, the U.S. exported 3.2 million barrels of oil the last week of November, along with 5.8 million barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

 * .. SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "No one in my entire life has believed in me more than the waiter who just gave me a single napkin to use while eating my lunch.'

 * ... OVERHEARD: At a southwest gym a man is telling a friend: "I would enjoy the Christmas parade more if people didn't leave it so littered. It's disgraceful."

 * ... GREGORY PORTER: Looking to spice up your holidays? Then grab a ticket to see the incredible Gregory Porter on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Fox Theater. The Grammy-winning Porter is returning to his hometown (that's right, he's from Bakersfield) to benefit the Agapeland Christian Academy, where his own son attended. Porter is one of today's most acclaimed jazz musicians and his upcoming concert is a must-see event.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's an old photo of Highway 99 through Gorman from 1952.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Rep. Kevin McCarthy secures funding to widen Highway 46, winners and losers in the city sales tax and Michael Bowers lands a job at Centric Health

Friday, December 7, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... HIGHWAY 46: Rep. Kevin McCarthy had some good news this week, announcing that he had
secured $17.5 million from the Department of Transportation for the widening of Highway 46 to four lanes in Lost Hills. This comes on top of the $50 million that McCarthy helped secure for the Centennial Corridor, and it will go a long way in making "blood alley" a much safer commute to the coast.

 * ... BUSH FUNERAL: McCarthy went on to say he was moved by the funeral for President George H.W. Bush, adding he hoped it would lead to a "resetting" of the national debate that has turned so ugly. The funeral allowed "America to take a deep breath," he said, and hopefully that will lead to a more civil dialogue.

 * ... JUDY MCCARTHY: And speaking of the House majority leader, here's a big happy birthday to his wife, Judy Wages McCarthy, a true class act.

 * ... SALES TAX: The big winners in the narrow passage of the city sales tax: Bakersfield police chief Lyle Martin who will get another 100 sworn officers on the street, City Manager Alan Tandy who will be able to make the city's pension obligations, and possibly homeless center executive Louis Gill who may benefit from a city contribution to his organization. The big loser? That would be Sheriff Donny Youngblood who may lose dozes of sworn deputies to BPD as they seek higher salaries.

 * ... MICHAEL BOWERS: Congratulations to Michael Bowers who is leaving the political world to become head of public affairs for Centric Health. Bowers worked for state Sen. Andy Vidak until Vidak's defeat in the mid-term elections.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The worst thing about seeing my parent's sex tape was remembering the day I filmed it."

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." - Mark Twain

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this series of photos from a Kern County historical Facebook page. It appeared with this caption: "DARE DEVIL DERKUM
Paul J. C. Derkham
2 Jul 1881 to 17 Apr 1958 (aged 76)
Burial : Union Cemetery
Bakersfield, Kern County, California

--Pro bicycle racer 1898-1902
--Pro Motorcycle racer -California, US and World Champion 
--Manager: Kern County Fair 1913-1924
--Owner of 1st "Drive-in" Service Station in Bakersfield 
--Owner of 3 Tire Businesses
--Operator of Stage Line: Kern Co. to Santa Maria 
--Beverage Industry Distributor 
--1939 Manager of "Cotton is King Festival"

One of the greatest motorcycle riders of his time, if not all-time, Paul "Dare Devil" Derkum dies at 78. He was owner of Derkum Service located at 2200 Chester Avenue at 22nd in Bakersfield, California with a 2nd location on Center Street in Taft, California.

Born on July 2, 1881, he had the need for speed even as a youngster. By the time he reached his teens, he had already been racing bicycles nationally for two years. Motorcycles were just a natural progression.

Indian was the bike of choice for many of the early racers, but Paul J.C. Derkum literally made his name on a 1908 Indian twin. On February 22, 1908, Derkum broke ten speed records at a one-mile dirt track in Los Angeles—clicking off the fastest time ever for a flying mile, two miles, three miles and so on up to ten miles!

His achievements were chronicled in the California newspapers, with one Los Angeles reporter dubbing him “Dare Devil Derkum,” a name that stuck throughout his racing career.

The following excerpt is from the Los Angeles Herald, July 27, 1909.....

On July 20, 1909, at 11:15 a.m. Paul “Daredevil” Derkum checked in at Temecula during a timed 320 mile roundtrip race between Los Angeles and San Diego. He was determined to lower J. Howard Shafer’s June 30, 1909 record of 16 hours and 50 minutes. In a cloud of dust, Derkum raced his Indian north out of town and into the record books. His finishing time was 10 hours, 59 minutes, and 30 seconds.

Everyone wondered if J. Howard Shafer could break Derkum’s record and reclaim the title. On July 26, 1909, at 5:00a.m. Shafer revved up his two-cylinder Thor motorcycle at the Los Angeles Herald office on First and Broadway. Shafer was confident that he could make the run in ten hours flat. However, at 12:20 p.m., he returned to the newspaper office failing to set a new record.

“Shafer, who went as far as Santa Ana, was met by a large brown hen at that city and in the mix-up which followed, Shafer, the hen and the motorcycle precipitated into a nearby ditch with the result that Derkum's record is still unsullied and that Shafer returned with a badly battered up machine and a whole handful of chicken chicken feathers as the result of his effort.” Source: Today in Motorcycle History, April 17, 1958

Monday, December 3, 2018

Remember George H.W. Bush's connection to Bakersfield, we should learn the fate of the city sales tax this week and the eight-day Hanukkah celebration begins

Monday, December 3, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... RIP 41: Looking back at the remarkable life and career of George H.W. Bush, our 41st president, we should remember the Bakersfield connection. It was June of 1949 when George and his then pregnant
wife Barbara, with little George Bush in tow, moved to a 967 square foot home on Monterey Street in east Bakersfield. The elder Bush was just 26 years old and was working for a subsidiary of Dresser Industries, an oil supply business later bought by Halliburton, and he was selling supplies out of the trunk of his Studebaker. The family lived here for only three months, but the house remains standing today.

 * ... SALES TAX: We should learn this week if the proposal one percent sales tax for the city of Bakersfield (Measure N) will pass or fail. The last we checked the "yes" votes on the sales tax were just 13 votes behind, with some 2,900 ballots still to be counted. The results of those last ballots should be released this week. The way the votes are trending appear to give an edge to the sales tax passing, which will make City Manager Alan Tandy and most of the city council happy. Stay tuned.

 * ... SOCCER PARK: Another big decision is coming up, possibly this week or next, on the fate of the Kern County Soccer Park out ate Hart Park. This 21-field park is run by a non-profit foundation, but the person who founded it all, John Trino, wants out. The problem: the county has neither the money nor the will to run the park, so Trino is trying to line up an operator who could operate it in agreement with the county. One thing is for sure: the soccer park is a community treasure, it lures tens of thousands of visitors here a year, and the county supervisors need to find a way to keep it operating.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It's all fun and games until you piss off a redhead. Then it's just a barren landscape of death and destruction."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "If service dogs knew that they wear signs that say “don’t pet me” all day they’d get really upset."

 * ...HANUKKAH: Happy Hanukkah to Bakersfield's Jewish community. Hanukkah began Sunday and is observed for eight nights and days. The celebration commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this photo of North Chester circa 1943, compliments of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Michael Lukens appointed chief of staff to CSUB president, T.J. Cox outs David Valadao, and a local entrepreneur comes up with a deck of cards featuring local personalities and iconic places

Friday, November 30, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... BLUE WAVE: If you didn't think the predicted "blue wave" happened in the mid-term elections, think again. With the news that Democrat T.J. Cox narrowly beat three-term incumbent David Valadao in the
21st Congressional District, the Republicans suffered a near wipeout in liberal California. More important, Cox's victory means the Democrats picked up an impressive 40 House seats in the mid-terms. And perhaps predictably, our own Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was in line to become Speaker of the House had the Republicans held the lower chamber, has come under heavy criticism for failing to protect the majority. More specifically, the Los Angeles Times ran a critical piece of McCarthy, blaming in part his chummy relation to President Donald Trump.

 * ... HOMELESSNESS: One of the potential ways to deal with our homeless issue is something called "low barrier shelters," a facility that allows men and women and their possessions - dogs, grocery carts - to live temporarily together. Homeless director Louis Gill introduced me to the idea, saying existing facilities like his come with rules that many homeless simply don't like. These "low barrier" shelters allow couples to remain together and - more importantly - it also allows dogs and their possessions, however meager, to remain with the clients. Communities across the country are experimenting with these types of shelters to remove folks from the street.

 * ... CSUB APPOINTMENT: Michael Lukens has been appointed chief of staff to Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, president of California State Bakersfield. Lukens previously worked as director of Public Affairs and Communications at CSUB, and before that worked closely with Zelezny when both worked at Fresno State. In his new role, Lukens will direct the university's governmental relations efforts, as well as working at a liaison between the president's office and the community.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I guess the Caesar salad my wife just gave me must mean the romaine scare is over."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Running is the best way to remind yourself how much you love sitting."

 * ... B-TOWN CARDS: Have you seen the new deck of cards devoted to celebrities, personalities and iconic businesses in Bakersfield? You can order them on the BTown Cards Facebook page and the deck features folks like Sheriff Donny Youngblood, the late Buck Owens, Mayor Karen Goh, radio hosts Ralph Bailey and yours truly, the Fox theater and the Kern County Museum. It's a whimsical stocking stuffer perfect for Christmas.

 * ... JOHNNY GARLICS: Perhaps no surprise but Johnny Garlic's has closed at The Marketplace. In typical Bakersfield fashion, the restaurant opened to huge crowds a few years ago but was faltering for the past year. This is a fickle town, and unless the restaurant is locally owned, the churn rate for new eateries is quite high. No word on what business will occupy the space.

*  ... MEMORIES: Picked up this picture on the Kern County of Old Facebook page with this caption: "Dr. Edward Robert Victor, graduate of the University of Illinois and Northwestern College of Dentistry, was a well known early dentist in Kern County. His office was at “19th at Chester” over Hughes Drugs (Archie Vest Drug location). He discontinued his practice in 1917 at age 51 due to illness. I suspect it was tuberculosis. He died at Jack Ranch in the summer of 1921 at age 55. He is buried in Historic Union Cemetery. (CORRECTION: BORN 1 NOV 1867)"

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Another Basque pub crawl goes into history, Ken Keller is promoted to CEO of Dignity Health's Memorial Hospital and media executive Louis Amestoy heads to Colorado

Monday November 26, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... BASQUE PUB CRAWL: I rarely miss the celebrated Basque Pub Crawl, that annual ritual when thousands of people flock to the iconic Basque eateries and bars on the east side around
Thanksgiving. This is the biggest night of the year for people like Rod and Julie Crawford, owners of Pyrenees bar and restaurant. Rod Crawford said Pyrenees was packed all day and well into the evening. When I popped in Friday afternoon, it was buzzing with people and young professionals who return home for Thanksgiving. Other spots on the crawl list include Woolgrower's, Noriega Hotel, Amestoy's, Luigi's Deli and Delicatessen, the Silver Fox, Mexicali downtown and Bill Lee's. They aren't all Basque, but that doesn't mean they don't make the list.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Saw a guy wearing a winter scarf with a T-shirt in Los Angeles today and I just can't live like this anymore."

 * .. SPOTTED ON A FRIEND'S FACEBOOK PAGE: "My parents moved a lot when I was young. But I kept finding them."

 * ... OVERHEARD: Two men are talking about the Rite-Aid on 23rd Street, notorious for the amount of homeless who gather and beg for money at its entrance. "About two weeks ago I am driving east and I see a Rite Aid employee, a small woman, tackle some homeless guy in the parking lot. He who stole something - booze, cough syrup- not sure what, but she chased him down. She got it back and let him go. Happens all the time I hear."

 * ... KEN KELLER: Ken Keller, chief operating officer at Memorial Hospital, has been promoted to chief executive officer, replacing Jon Van Boening who has moved into a more corporate role at Dignity Health overseeing multiple hospitals.

* ... MOVING UP: Congratulations to Louis Amestoy, a public affairs specialist at Aera Energy who is moving to Colorado to become director of content for the Greeley Tribune. Amestoy previously worked as editor of The Bakersfield Californian before moving on to a stint in radio at American General Media and later Aera. Greeley is owned by Carson City-based Swift Communications, which operates newspapers and magazines across Colorado and much of the west.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this shot of JC Penny's on Chester in 1930 compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Environmentalists and loggers seem to agree that thinning the forests will help prevent more huge fires, traffic downtown is a mess and it's time for another Thanksgiving Day Pie Run

Monday, November 19, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. 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 to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... FOREST THINNING: We may be in for some good news when it comes to California wild fires. After years of butting heads, it looks like state forestry officials and environmentalist are
nearing a consensus that our forests need to be thinned to prevent more fires like the ones that devastated the town of Paradise and the Malibu area. The idea: by clearing the forests of smaller trees and underbrush the fires could be more easily contained and the forests would recover faster after a fire. A new initiative would focus on the Sierras, where the U.S. Forest Service estimates that 129 million trees have died due to the drought and bark beetle infestation. Stay tuned because this could be very good news.

 * ... DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC: After years of delays, and lawsuits that cost the city a small fortune, work is finally getting under way not he 24th Street widening project. And boy, what a mess it will be. Two lanes will be closed periodically on 23rd and 24th streets downtown to allow for construction, and for downtown residents, the C Street entryway onto east bound 23rd Street has now been closed.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Pretty excited about making a huge Thanksgiving feast so my daughter can eat a roll."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Listen, if you are going to someone's house for Thanksgiving, compliment their baseboards. That is what they are spending today cleaning."

 * ... PIE RUN: It's time for another Thanksgiving Pie Run, that long tradition where runners, walkers, hikers and bikers gather at Hart Park at dawn for an energetic hike in the hills. This will be the second year we have done this without founder John Rous, who helped organize the first Pie Run a couple decades ago. John was struck and killed on his bicycle two years ago but his son, David Rous, has stepped in to help organize it. Want to join the fun? Just show up at Hart Park at dawn and follow the cars. The run/walk starts at dawn. Bring a pie, donuts, cookies or rolls. And don't forget your dog. Dogs are welcome too.

 * ... TBC FOR SALE? Rumors were flying last week that the privately held Bakersfield Californian had been sold to a Canadian company. More than a half dozen people reached out to ask me about it, and it was a hot discussion topic on social media. But not so fast, because I have been told the rumor is not true.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture from Hart Park back in the day. Wow.