Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Orchard Supply Hardware is going out of business, photographer Casey Christie set to retire from The Bakersfield Californian and Alissa Carlson prepares her return from maternity leave

 * ... ORCHARD: I was sad to see the huge "Store Closing" sign draped across the entrance of Orchard Supply Hardware on Ming Avenue. I suppose it was just a matter of time before Orchard
was gobbled up (Orchard was bought by Lowe's a few years ago) but I will miss the attentive customer service at this location. The days of the smaller mom and pop hardware stores seem to be coming to a close, a shame, but a sign of the times.

* ... CASEY CHRISTIE: I ran into Casey Christie this past weekend and the award winning Californian photographer told me he is retiring at the end of this year. Over the almost three decades Christie has worked at The Californian, he has won legions of fans for his stunning photography that has graced the pages of our local newspaper. His shots of wildlife are a particular favorite of mine, and who can forget the way he captured a family of owls standing at attention? Most photographers do their work in anonymity, but Christie has always been a fan favorite. So here's to Casey Christie, a family man, a true professional, a gentleman and a friend.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: And speaking of local treasures, I ran into Casey Christie at the Fox Theater where Monsignor Craig Harrison was unveiling his new star on the Fox sidewalk. Harrison's star was sponsored by his eight adopted children and a gaggle of grandchildren.

* ... ALISSA CARLSON: Reader Sue Bramen wrote to ask when that "sweet weather" forecaster Alissa Carlson was returning to KGET from maternity leave. Well according to her Facebook page, it looks Carlson is set to resume her role as KGET's chief meteorologist any time now. Carlson took three months off after giving birth to her daughter. Meanwhile, KGET morning anchor Maddie Janssen is taking a few months off to prepare for delivery of her third child.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Marriage is an institution. And like all institutions the inmates are always looking for ways to escape."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A local lawyer is speaking to a friend: "Last year we were all thinking about the drought and only one person on my street planted winter rye. This year everyone is."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Up on Panorama Drive on Saturday morning, a man and his young son are walking the bluffs with a large black trash bag picking up the litter others have left behind.

 * ... MEMORIES: Former mayor Mary K. Shell responded to John Pryor's post about the open fields west of Oak Street. "He mentioned local Joe Shell’s oil patch.' My husband, Joe, an independent oil operator in those years, liked to tell the story of flying from LA and landing his plane on an open field west of Oak street to check on a well. This was in the late 1940s or early 1950s after World War II. But Kern County Land Company eventually brought a halt to his idea of efficiency.  They said the plane scared their cattle."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Step aside all you negative people, researchers show happy people really do have more fun ... plus a trip to Lakeside School and LGBTQ group shuns both mayoral candidates

 * ... LAKESIDE: Want to feel good about America and our country? Spend a few hours in one of our local classrooms and chances are you will come out impressed with the level of teaching and
surprised at how bright our kids are these days. I rarely set foot inside a school these days, but this week I spoke to Joseph Andreotti's AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class at the Lakeside School. My thoughts: a committed teacher, promising and bright students and a supportive faculty and administration.

 * ... HAPPINESS: And here's something else that lifted my spirits: researchers say people who are genuinely happy, kind and sympathetic really do have more fun. That's good news in a world where narcissism and pettiness seem to rule the landscape in politics and entertainment. Said the Wall Street Journal: "Nice people, rejoice: Notwithstanding the prominent examples today in political and popular culture, the best available research still clearly shows that in everyday life the nice people, not the creeps, do the best at work, in love and in happiness."

* ... QUEER THE VOTE: So what do you think of the movement to write in "Queer the Vote" instead of voting for either Kyle Carter or Karen Goh as mayor? That's the recommendation of some folks in our local LGBTQ community who are unhappy with either candidate. Neither Carter nor Goh, they argue, has done enough to embrace the gay, lesbian and transgender community. To his credit, Carter has been up front about saying he would not participate in a gay pride parade for fear or angering some segment of the community. (Carter says he has gay friends but on this issue he will not get involved.) Goh has been consistent too in dodging the question and failing to return calls. This issue is hardly large enough to turn this election, but it's an interesting sideshow in this show we call the 2016 election campaign.

* ... FOODIE: If you like food that talks back to you, try the new spicy chicken sandwich at The Padre Hotel, part of its new menu that was rolled out recently.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Bad Hombre" is the name of the cologne I buy at the Dollar Store."

 * ... WATER TOWER: Remember the old water tower that was taken down at Bakersfield High School to make way for the renovation at Griffith Field? It's now at the Kern County Museum and a group of Driller supporters are looking for input on how to make it a star attraction there. There will be a meeting at 4:30 p.m. on November 2 to discuss this. For more information call Jami Anderson at (661) 633-0340.

 * ... GOOD FORM: And hats off to those ladies over at the Assistance League of Bakersfield who will be contributing books to the students at Stella Hills Elementary School this Saturday. Said Dona Chertok: "We are participating in the Make a Difference Day; on which thousands of volunteers will be giving back to their communities. On Oct. 22, volunteers from across the country will unite for Make A Difference Day, one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide."

 * ... LIBRARIES: Those mini, roadside libraries about town are about to celebrate their fourth anniversary. Named after the late Wendy Wayne, an educator and inspiring community activist, there are now some 63 libraries in Kern County, according to Susan Reep. One of them, located in front of Bernadette Ferguson's house on C Street, was featured on a Times Square billboard as a finalist in a Black and Decker contest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bobcats are spotted on the bike trail in southwest Bakersfield, outdoors columnist Steve Merlo dies and sharing some memories of old Bakersfield

 * ... BOBCATS: There have been more bobcat sightings out on the bike trail to the west of town, the latest coming earlier this week when my friend Jason Barnes was cycling out toward Enos Lane.
Barnes managed to snap a handful of pictures of the young cat as he rode past. The bobcat seems undisturbed by Barnes on his bike and simply sauntered alongside the path as Barnes rode past, cell phone camera in hand. The drought has pushed bobcats and other wildlife closer to the neighborhoods in the southwest, but there have been no indications that they pose a threat to anyone.

 * ... CYCLISTS: And speaking of cyclists, Bakersfield has always had a robust cycling community but there has been a noticeable spike in the number of cycling "commuters" on our streets, particularly in the downtown area where millennials on fixed gear bikes share the road with the more serious recreational cyclists. If you are driving, make sure you are alert and "share the road" with these folks.

 * ... STEVE MERLO: I was saddened to learn that outdoors columnist Steve Merlo died of an apparent heart attack. Merlo was an avid outdoorsman, and I appreciated how he wrote about the hunting and shooting sports in ways that made them accessible to folks who never owned a weapon. He was a strong advocate of the 2nd Amendment, a proponent of the environment and a level head when it came to how the shooting sports can play a healthy role in our society.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A commuter who lives on the east side of town but works off Truxtun is telling a colleague: "I just won't go through California and Oak at rush hour anymore. I am thinking of taking Rosedale to Mohawk ... that is how bad it has gotten."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK:" I’ll call it a smartphone the day I yell 'Where’s my phone' and it yells 'Down here! In the couch cushions!'

 * ...MEMORIES: Here’s a follow-up on Loren Stroppe’s memories of Ewing’s Stockdale Inn, compliments of Cheryl Saki: "After the Ewings failed to renew the lease on the site with the owner of Tenneco Oil, the building was purchased by a group of local businessmen. It was cut in half and moved to California and Oak at the site of the Santa Fe Railroad Roundhouse. The building was remodeled to resemble a train station with a vintage Pullman car sitting on the tracks in front. An authentic red caboose was located inside for additional seating for diners. The restaurant was named the Iron Horse and it was decorated with artifacts from closed train stations throughout the state. Milton Huggs of Milt’s Coffee Shop was the owner of the Iron Horse. Milt eventually sold the restaurant and the property was turned into the the strip mall that currently occupies the corner of California and Oak. I am honored to say that Milt is my dad and I am so proud of his creative genius that has enhanced and enriched the restaurant scene in Bakersfield for the past 50 plus years."

* ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally, John Pryor adds this memory when "all development west of Oak Street was limited to cattle grazing land of Kern County Land Company. My uncle, dentist C. E. (Doc) Pryor lived on the west side of Oak, north of Brundage. He had horses corralled behind his home... My parents belonged to Stockdale Country Club at the time (with something like $22 per month for dues).  o get there, we had to drive through all open fields between Oak and Fairway except for one little frame building. The sign said Shell -- not global Shell Oil but rather local Joe Shell's 'oil patch.' That was in the 1930s and 40s. Even in the 1950s when I played on the Bakersfield College golf team (Jack Frost was coach) this was evident. The surroundings of Stockdale were all open fields for cattle grazing."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Emilio Huerta launches dishonest attack ad in the 21st Congressional District, City Councilman Bob Smith shows some real class and local school bond measures face an uphill fight

* ... BAD FORM: If they gave out Academy Awards for dishonest political attack ads, then Emilio Huerta would walk home with the Oscar. His latest video ad is built on the twin themes of deceit and dishonesty. In it, he ties incumbent Congressman David Valadao to Donald Trump, when in truth
Valadao has denounced Trump and make it clear he has no intentions of voting for him. In fairness to Valadao, he was one of the early Republicans who put distance between himself and the Republican presidential nominee. But the attack ad doesn't stop there, implying somehow that neither Trump nor Valadao believe the water crisis in California is real. Really? There is little chance that voters in the 21st Congressional District will fall for this malarkey, but this is the political currency that Huerta and his mother, Dolores Huerta, choose to trade in.

* ... GOOD FORM: But enough of the dishonesty of the Huerta clan and let's shine the light on a local politician who has done what we hire these folks to do. I'm talking about City Councilman Bob Smith who displayed a rare display of leadership by forging a compromise to establish a sound buffer along the Westside Parkway. Residents wanted a sound wall, but Smith came up with the idea of a large earthen berm that should do the trick. And guess what? Everyone seems to be happy with the results. It's rare these days when our political leaders actually show some initiative to bring us all together.

 * ... BOND MEASURES: What are the odds that some of the local bond measures for schools will pass with the required 55 percent of the vote? So far Measure J (Kern Community College District) Measure K (Kern High School District) and Measure N (Bakersfield City School District) are getting little to no attention in this heated election season. And the fact that there will be more than a dozen local and statewide initiatives on the ballot this year, few people are betting that any of these measures will pass.

* ... CSUB: Are you ready for some big time college basketball? Last year Coach Rod Barnes and the CSUB Roadrunners won the Western Athletic Conference tournament and appeared in the NCAA tournament, losing to Oklahoma in the first round. The Runners are picked to finish third on the men's side and fourth on the women's side. This is a team worth following, folks.

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I will be glad for the election to be over so I can have my friends back."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sorry I sent a card saying, 'my condolences during this difficult time' when you said you're engaged. I hadn't realized this was good news."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I've managed to keep a plant alive for six months now, so obviously I'm ready for a serious relationship again."

 * ... MAGIC: More feedback from the folks who got to meet Magic Johnson when he spoke at the Bakersfield Business Conference last week. Said Jerome Caneta: 'Magic was VERY gracious backstage. He posed for pictures and signed autographs until everyone had theirs. It took a large amount of time and he did so with that winning smile the whole time! Then he asked if everyone got their pictures, they all nodded, he said his goodbyes and drove off.  There's more to this story, but he was pure class."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Daniel Rodriguez spots his son on a billboard in New York's Time Square, Magic Johnson brings a message of hope to the Bakersfield Business Conference and will Terry Maxwell's obsession with the 24th Street widening derail his campaign?

* ... SMALL WORLD: So how would you react if you were in New York City and you spotted your own son on a billboard in Times Square? It happened to local plaintiffs lawyer Daniel Rodriguez recently when his son Tomas (2006 Garces Memorial High graduate) was featured in a billboard ad for The Trade Desk Company, a digital marketing firm. The story: the company went
public three weeks ago and bought ad space on the giant electronic billboards in Time Square to celebrate the event, and Tomas was among several company employees who were featured. Tomas moved to New York about a year ago (he lives in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn near another Garces graduate, my daughter) and serves as product marketing manager for the company. "It was surreal to see my son's face on these giant billboards," Rodriguez said. "How many people from Bakersfield have had their images grace Times Square? I could not be prouder."

* ... MAGIC: Thoughts on this weekend's Bakersfield Business Conference: the scaled down version of this iconic Bakersfield event was a hit, but it did have its challenges. The lines for beer and wine were so long it took a full 30 minutes standing in the sun to get served, and promoter George Martin would have done better with a bit more levity (remember when Rich Little, Jay Leno and other comedians were regulars?) to counterbalance the vitriol of the political season. The hit of the day? Clearly it was former LA Lakers great Magic Johnson, who wooed the audience and worked the room like an old time preacher, offering up a message of hope, loyalty, focus and trust. It just goes to show you how powerful a positive message can resonate in a world that seems to have lost all sense of sanity and decorum.

* ... WARD 2: If Terry Maxwell beats Andrae Gonzales and wins re-election to the Ward 2 seat on the City Council, the experts will no doubt credit the power of the incumbency and the fact he is so well known about town. But if he loses, they will blame his own obsession with the 24th Street widening which has alienated more than enough people to turn the election.

* ... GERT: Congratulations to Gert Prejean, who turned 100 years old on Saturday. Prejean was feted by the Bakersfield Duplicate Bridge Club, where she holds forth regularly. Said her friend Patricia Basset: "She has lived in Bakersfield for nearly 50 years, and still plays a darn good game of bridge three to four times a week. Gert is independent, spunky and continues to drive herself to the club daily. You can't help be in awe of her energy and enthusiasm. We should all be so lucky to have such a long, productive life.  "

 * ... GOOD FORM: Congratulations to the Bakersfield High class of 1956 that recently held their 60th reunion and donated $2,000 back to the school.

 * ... SCHOLARSHIP: One of the more successful foundations in town - the Joe Alexander Scholarship Foundation - is affiliated with the Bakersfield East Rotary Club and this year the big fund raising dinner is set for this Saturday at the home of Dr. William and Evid Nyitray. The foundation provides scholarships to needy students and this year they hope to award some 35 scholarships. If you are interested in tickets or sponsorships contact Jackie Blevins at (661) 410-0326.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

California cities prepare local rules for legal marijuana, texting contributes to more traffic fatalities and First Friday kicks off a perfect October weekend

 *... TRAFFIC FATALITIES: This may not surprise you but traffic fatalities are surging, thanks in part - experts say - to our love affair with the dangerous habit of texting while driving. The Wall
Street Jounral said traffic deaths rose more than 10 percent in the first half of this year. Said the Journal: "While drunken driving is historically a big culprit for fatalities, motorists are also inundated with more technology in the car cabin, and the use of smartphones by drivings remains a concern for regulators."

 * ... MARIJUANA: Interesting to read that the city of Arvin is looking into ways to regulate the indoor growth of marijuana. It's yet another sign that experts expect an easy passage for Proposition 64, the measure which will largely legalize marijuana in California and put into place a system to tax and regulate it. Expect more cities to follow Arvin's lead and start preparing for the inevitable.

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: A big first Fall First Friday is on tap in the Arts District of downtown Bakersfield. A new exhibit by former Bakersfield resident Robin Noble is at Metro Galleries. Noble married and moved to the central coast a few years ago and once settled discovered a huge talent and passion for painting. Her show' "Language of Light" kicks of the evening at 5 pm. Also on display at Metro is "Breath of Fresh Air." A series of paintings by local artists and BHS art students that will be used in a clean air, healthy lungs public art campaign sponsored by Dignity Health. A number of the pieces will be installed in the Arts District in February."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I am in my truest form when the food comes at a restaurant and I side-eye plates, suspicious that everyone got more fries than I did."

 * ... FOODIE: And speaking of food, when was the last time you were at an event catered by Moo Creamery? Lamb tacos, bacon wrapped meat with blue cheese, chicken pot stickers, mini tortas and dessert trays that will make you blush.

  * ... INFANTRY: Fred Drew is a proud Vietnam veteran, and he recently returned from Fort Lewis, WA., for a special ceremony. "There was a ‘change of command’ parade on the Division parade field where I was inducted as the Honorary Regimental Commander of the 23rd Infantry Regiment. This is one of the oldest Infantry Regiments in the US Army, and has fought in every war from the Civil War to the global war on terrorism. I commanded a company in the regiment in Vietnam from August 1969 to March 1970 as a 22-year-old captain. This was a great honor for me and my family. It was awesome to see and meet so many great young Americans who have sworn to protect and defend the United States of America."

 * ... MEMORIES: How many of you have lived here long enough to remember when the "southwest" part of town ended short of West High School? Loren Stroppe does, and she shared this memory: "I worked for the Ewings at the Tam O' Shanter in the early 1960s and in 1964 they decided to open the Stockdale Inn and wanted me to be the assistant manager, so I worked there from the ground up literally. We were the real pioneers all out there by ourselves. Some of my good memories were that the southwest was just starting to develop and some of the people I got to meet.  Occidential Petroluem had just been formed, they were located about where the In 'n Out Burger is now. Armand Hammer and Gene Reid would would bring their entire staff 30-40 people over for drinks after work whenever they hit a big well. Other people of note that also dined there was Del Webb as he was just starting Kern City and Park Stockdale. Also the Valley Plaza was just being built by by Farber and Gladstone whom also dined there."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's white knuckle time in local elections with one month to go, Cafe Med's new brunch spread gets some love, and it's that time for high school reunions around town

* ... ELECTIONS: I can't imagine anyone being more sick of this election season than the candidates themselves. Who wouldn't grow weary of the constant begging for money, public appearances, candidate forums, interviews and precinct? And with just a month left before we cast
ballots, things are only intensifying. Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries, held a 'meet and greet' for Ward 2 city council candidate Andrae Gonzales, local supporters of Measure J (improvements in the Kern Community College District) are working hard to make sure the measure doesn't get lost in the landslide of local initiatives (good luck with that) and I haven't seen a Facebook newsfeed in weeks that doesn't feature a smiling Karen Goh or Kyle Carter out glad handing the public.

 * ... FOODIE: Do you ever wonder where local restaurant owners go when they are not dining at their own place? Rod Crawford, who along with wife Julie run the successful Pyrennes Cafe, recently posted on Facebook high praise for the Sunday brunch at Cafe Med on Stockdale Highway. Crawford confirmed the word on the street that Meir Brown has introduced a can't miss brunch at the iconic Mediterranean eatery. "This is our favorite restaurant, and the place we feel like home when we leave ours," he said. "It doesn't happen often but when it does that's where we go."

 * ... SAVE WATER: Meanwhile over at La Costa Mariscos the waiters have new T-shirts with this message: "Save Water. Drink Tequila."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Johnny Depp was the ultimate bad boy until he started looking like my great aunt."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A recent retiree is telling a friend about becoming a driver for Uber: "I prefer to drive in the morning. People are showered and nice and headed somewhere. You don't know what you are going to get at night."

 * ... SPOTTED: This is the season for high school reunions, and they were happening all over town this past weekend. There was a big group of Highland High grads who celebrated their 40th anniversary at The Petroleum Club, and there wasn't a better looking group of 40 year olds than the group who descended on The Padre hotel to celebrate the Bakersfield High class of 2006.

* ... DEE: My post about retired educator Dolores "Dee" Whitley struck a never readers who know her and worked alongside her. This from Dr. James L. Sullivan: "Thank you for recognizing one of the true treasures of our community.  I had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Trustees of the Panama-Buena Vista School District from 1980 to 1994, at which time Dee was one of my daughter's teachers both in the second and fourth grades (lucky girl). She served as principal of Van Horn and McAuliffe elementary schools. She later was  an outstanding member of the school board. Her kind leadership and devoted efforts on behalf of the students, staff and parents has made our community a much better place. 'Special' is someoneto be admired, to be considered valuable and someone who cannot be replaced.  'Special' is the word that best describes Dee."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Local restaurants take to social media to promote specials, Dee Whitley gets a school named in her honor and more memories of old steak houses about town

 * ... DEE: Congratulations to retired educator Dolores "Dee" Whitley who will have an elementary school named after her in the Panama-Buena Vista School District. Whitley was principal of Christa
McAuliffe Elementary when my two daughters attended there in the 1990s, and her kindness and steady hand did not go unnoticed by the school staff and parents. The new school will be located at the corner of Wible and McKee roads and will open in 2018.

* ... FOODIE: In food news, the downtown Padre Hotel is about to roll out new menus for both the Brimstone bar and the more upscale Belvedere lounge. One of the new items that caught my attention was a toasted "avocado torta." Meanwhile, savvy locally owned restaurants are doing a good job in using Facebook and other social media platforms to announce their specials. Make sure to follow Cafe Med and Uricchio's Trattoria on Facebook to see what they are up to. And finally, a new grab and go eatery getting a lot of buzz for its healthy local offerings is the Hens Roost downtown on G Street. Make sure you check the hours for the Hens Roost before stopping by.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A 91-year-old woman is at a local restaurant celebrating her son's birthday when the conversation turns to local politics. "Kyle Carter is running for mayor?" she asks. "I thought all those signs were for sale signs."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: 'My friend isn’t promiscuous, per se. She just prefers to think of her sexuality as festival seating.'

* ... ARNOLD PALMER: Two days after Arnold Palmer died the requests for the tea and lemonade drink named after him skyrocketed over at Muertos Kitchen downtown. Owner Shawna Haddad Byers said lunch orders for Arnold Palmers were up 50 percent.

* ... MEMORIES: Dave Krecklow wrote to recall some of the late and great old steak houses about town, including a place called "Happy Steak" at the northwest corner of 34th and Union. "Next and north to it was the Coachlight Inn. It always had the patio, and later they did add the bar at the back. Further up Union Matia's built a new building and opened a Basque restaurant, now a church.
I don't recall the Stockdale Inn ever being Coachlight II but I do remember the Coachlight being on California near Mervyn's. Stockdale Inn, Tam O'Shanter and Ewing's on the Kern were all from the Ewings originally. Stockdale Inn was eventually moved and reconfigured with some railroad cars at northeast corner of California and Oak and became Milt's... My wife and I were at KC Steakhouse last week and lamenting they are all gone except KC. Toss Maison Jassaud's and House of Don in there. Sure there are lots of good places but we miss the steakhouses. Two thumbs up for KC, still dark, red leather and great food."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And lastly, Navy veteran Gene M. Bonas added this memory:
"You've done it again, Richard. The Coachlight Inn comments brought back so many excellent memories of when I first was separated from the Navy. Friday and Saturday nights were always reserved for dinner at the Inn with many a lovely acquaintance. My date and I thoroughly enjoyed picking out our own steaks, and then sipping a choice cabernet while waiting for our salads. Mr. Wright had a very good wine list, and we always saw many friends enjoying themselves. Then, after dinner it was off to the Jasmine Tree for dancing. I'm confident many of your readers remember the Jasmine Tree which brings to mind other fond memories."