Sunday, January 17, 2021

Kevin McCarthy can please no one: Not the radical right, certainly not the left and not the moderate center of the GOP. Plus can you still shed the coronavirus even after vaccination? And a horrendous accident on Alfred Harrell Highway

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... KEVIN MCCARTHY: The political fate of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, now into his eighth term in Congress, has never been more uncertain than it is now. And not because he is in immediate threat of losing his seat, but rather because never before has the popular congressman known simply as "Kevin" or "KMAC" around town come under such intense criticism. Consider for example the appearance of McCarthy's longtime mentor, former Congressman Bill Thomas, on KGET where he labeled McCarthy a "hypocrite" for

supporting the lies perpetuated by President Trump. It was a remarkable scene: Thomas seated next to KGET's Bob Price, taking his protege to task for not only voting against impeachment but for challenging the election results just hours after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by an angry mob. Thomas labeled the vote on impeachment "hypocrites and heroes, "noting that Rep. David Valadao had voted for impeachment. while McCarthy sides with the president. And then, on Sunday, McCarthy was the subject of a New York Times analysis in which it cited the Thomas criticism but also added that McCarthy was under fire by the extreme right of his party for not doing enough to defend the president. Said the Times: "Democrats and some Republicans called on him to step down. The anti-Trump Lincoln Project released an ad calling him a 'pathetic enabler' and urging his staff to 'pack up your desk and leave that loser behind.' A scathing Sacramento Bee editorial denounced him for having 'a soulless lack of principle' and for abusing his authority 'to promote big, dangerous lies about the election.' But in his home district — one of the most conservative in California — Mr. McCarthy has been under fire for not being loyal enough. The split illustrates the gulf between the national outrage over the violence at the Capitol and the local hold the president still has on conservative parts of the country. Mr. McCarthy’s district, which includes the city of Bakersfield and most of Kern and Tulare counties in the San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento and north of Los Angeles, is a place where oil, agriculture and MAGA dominate." To be sure, McCarthy's support in the 23rd District is solid and even critics like Ken Mettler (mentioned in the Times article as a voice of the extreme right) have little chance of unseating McCarthy. But for the first time, McCarthy finds himself in the precarious position of pleasing no one - not the left, not the moderate wing of the GOP as seen in Bill Thomas, and not the radical right representing by Mettler and his ilk. Stay tuned.

 * ... BILL THOMAS ON THE RADIO: We will hear more from former Congressman Thomas this Tuesday when he appears on The Richard Beene Show to talk about the future of the Republican Party, the crisis facing our nation and his ideas on how the GOP can rebuild in a post Trump world. Thomas will come on at 2 p.m. Tuesday on NewsTalk 96.1 FM/1180 AM.

* ... CORONAVIRUS: Here is something to consider while you wait for your Covid-19 vaccine: once you are fully immunized, there is a chance you might still have the live virus and pass it on to others. That's the word from medical experts who are cautioning that there mere fact that you have been vaccinated does not mean you are done shedding the virus. The reason? Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines simply suppress the virus, and experts simply don't know if an asymptomatic person who has already been vaccinated may still be able to pass it on to others. That's way, the experts tell us, that reaching "herd immunity" (where 80 percent of the population has been vaccinated) is so important.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Lots of jokes about the My Pillow guy but ask yourself this: does anyone know who Biden’s pillow guy is?  we’re about to have a president who has no advisors from the pillow industry, let that sink in."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Wow so when a dog humps someone's leg, it's cute and funny but when I do it, I'm not allowed to enter the church again. Is it because I'm brown?"

 * ... CAR ACCIDENT: Did you hear about the accident on Alfred Harrell Highway this weekend in which a 24-year-old driver was killed? The woman was east bound behind the wheel of a Ford Expedition when she apparently lost control and the truck flipped multiple times. Nine children were inside - the vehicle was not made to seat that many - and all miraculously survived. The children were between the ages of 5 months to 15 years.

 * ... MEMORIES: And just take a look at the old Kern County Courthouse around 1910 with the Beale Clock Tower in the background.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Former Congressman Bill Thomas pays to send a message about our current political troubles, seniors line up for the Covid-19 vaccines and the Bakersfield Museum of Art prepares for a virtual show on the Bakersfield Sound

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... BILL THOMAS: When Bill Thomas retired from Congress as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, leaving his seat to his protege Kevin McCarthy, the world was a different place.  But even Thomas could never have seen what would become of the country he loves, and the institution of

Congress that he helped mold. Now, Thomas has come forth to let the world know where he stands by purchasing a full page advertisement in The Bakersfield Californian to highlight a letter from a former staff member, Will Le. In it, Le details the story of a disaffected moderate Republican whose party seems to have abandoned him. "It saddens me to see what has happened to the Republican Party over the last four years under the grips of Donald Trump and Trumpism," he wrote. "And it is with even more sadness that those who have supported him and cheered him on are those who I once worked with and greatly respected... I am a man without a party. Both parties have stooped to the lowest levels to drum up anger against a political and economic system that has worked so well for so many people of so many different backgrounds."

 * ... COVID-19 VACCINE: The state of California opened up the coronavirus vaccine to residents 65 and older, and there was a tsunami of a response. Express Pharmacy on Brimhall was overwhelmed the first day and other urgent care centers had similar experiences; And now experts are warning that even with both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, there is no guarantee that you might still have the virus and be unknowingly shedding it. "We just don't know yet," is how Dr. Brij Bhambi of Centric Health put it, saying researchers don't know if fully vaccinated people could still be contagious. The hope, of course, is achieving herd immunity across the country.

 * ... ART EXHIBIT: If you are a history buff and interested in the Bakersfield Sound, make sure you check out a new online exhibit from the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Called The Bakersfield Sound: Roll Out the Red Carpet, the exhibit will showcase major figures and stylings of the sound with costumes, guitars and posters from the era. Among those part of the exhibit is Felix Adamo, retired Bakersfield Californian photographer whose black and white shots of the time are can't miss items. The virtual exhibit will run from Jan. 28 to Aug. 28 this year. (Felix Adamo poses with some of his work below)


 * ... PARLER: There is a lot of chatter about Parler, the new social media website that caters to disaffected Republicans fed up with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The site has become a hotbed of rumors and conspiracy theorists have found it a home for their musings. Below is just one of the postings on Parler that speaks to conspiracies. Kicked off the Amazon hosting site, Parler is currently off line and it is not known when it will go back live.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these pictures of old Bakersfield, borrowed from some of the many websites that chronicle our history.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about this picture of the old Rainbow Gardens on South Union Avenue. Date unknown.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Immigrants respond to the attack on the Capitol with warnings of false prophets, Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes heat for his support of President Trump and CSUB gets a sweet over Cal Poly in men's basketball

 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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... THE LONG TAIL OF THE CAPITOL ASSAULT: Some of the more visceral reactions to the assault on the U.S. Capitol have come from immigrants and their children, many of them people who left unstable governments for the promise of an America that offered stability and predictability. But the Capitol assault has left many of them questioning whether their adopted country has changed, and some are left wondering if America is

on the road to becoming just another nation perpetually at war with itself. Raji Brar, whose parents immigrated from India only to build an impressive business of Countryside markets and other businesses in the Bakersfield area, said the January 6 assault made her rethink the idea of an America that would always offer "safety and security." Dr. Brij Bhambi, a cardiologist and co-owner of Bakersfield Heart Hospital, wrote and essay warning of the dangers of false prophets who trade in lies, conspiracies an myths. 

 * ... KMAC: In the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol last week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy has come under enormous heat for failing to denounce President Trump's role in the events that led to five deaths and dozens of arrests. While strongly denouncing the violence as un-American, McCarthy is among a handful of Trump loyalists who are sticking with Trump while many of his GOP colleagues (Senators Ben Sasse and Lindsay Graham among them) have turned on the president. In a piece in the National Journal, writer Josh Kraushaar wrote this: "Time will tell whether McCarthy pays a political price for his political cowardice. He was coming off a successful election, with House Republicans benefiting from a Trump-fueled turnout surge while maintaining enough support from more traditional Republican voters to wildly beat expectations. His party is within striking distance of the majority in two years. But the GOP is also splitting apart, with a growing number of republican officials backing a complete break from Trump after this week's events. that split is forcing Republicans to choose between democracy and Trump. If the institutionalizes prevail in the looming GOP battle for the soul of their party, McCarthy will rue the day he chose to stay on the Trump ship until the bitter end."

 * ... PARLER: Die-hard supporters of President Trump have been moving their online social media accounts off sites like Facebook and Instagram to more conservative-leaning new websites like Parler, and now Big Tech has turned on Parler saying it has become a home for threats of violence. The above mentioned Rep. McCarthy established a Parler account along with Sen. Ted Cruz and Congressman Devin Nunes as well as President Donald Trump’s family members and surrogates. But now, both Amazon and Apple have kicked Parler off their web hosting services, meaning that Parler will have to find a new home for Trump'sfollowers. Below is an example of some of the chatter being seen on Parler.

 * ... CSUB ROADRUNNERS: The CSUB Roadrunners swept Cal Poly this weekend to improve to an overall record of 6-4 (2-1 in the Big West Conference). The great tragedy this year is that no fans can enjoy CSUB's entry into the Big West Conference, where CSUB will play more regional rivals like Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Some fun from Facebook.

 * ... RIP TOMMY: There have been lots of tributes to the late Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, but few as sweet as this picture of the late Nick Uricchio posing the the legendary great. Thanks to his grandson, Bryan Porter, for sharing this.

 * ... MEMORIES: Some classic old pictures from the Highway 99 Facebook page of life on the road back in the day.

Dr. Brij Bhambi shares his thoughts on the attack at Capitol Hill: American exceptionalism and the dangers of false prophets who traffic in conspiracies, lies and myths

 Dr. Brij Bhambi is a cardiologist and one of the physician owners of Bakersfield Heart Hospital as well as an owner and director at Centric Health. He is a regular guest on The Richard Beene Show, which airs weekday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM/1180 AM. He appears Fridays at 2 p.m. What follows are his thoughts on the attack on the U.S. Capitol, American society and American exceptionalism.

"I  have been raised in double speak of third world politics. Flag and religion are the usual failsafe drapes that hide ugliness in the guise of populism. Corrupt agendas are adorned in digestible slogans. Divisions are created. Divisions are exploited. A few win. All else lose. Always!

 Never occurred to me that wheel could come a full circle in a place that birthed modern democracy.
Democracy is founded on the sacred covenant that outcomes have to be accepted. Allegations repeated and amplified don’t erase reality that actually transpired. Hugo Chavez may have risen from dead to reprogram Dominion voting machines to the benefit of Biden. 
 And yet be dumb enough to recklessly let down ballot vote go unchanged. Either way he left no crumbs. None that any election officer, any court of law, all the way to SCOTUS could find. Remember SCOTUS was purposefully packed to find the crumbs, when none existed. Third branch of government redeemed itself by just not lowering itself into gutter. Courage in any incarnation is worthy of applause. Thank you SCOTUS.
 At personal level, I have been awed by a lot of things. Three memories figure prominently.
 A visit to Nagasaki is a spiritual exercise. It grabs your soul, wrenches your guts and compels kindness as human-speak. Devastation begs not to be repeated. Sombre.
 A visit to Vatican is divine. The beat that sustains your heart feels a different flutter there. Sublime.
 A visit to Oval Office... speechless! That little real estate is sacred. Thats where Right is Might has been practiced. Like life, it's a work in progress. Yet it symbolizes the best in pursuit of human endeavors. Awe inspiring and humbling.
 I have not had an occasion to visit Capitol Hill yet. I intend to. The desecration of Jan 6th, 2021 has accelerated that impulse.

 The spectacle of violent assault on Capitol Hill was a repulsive actualization of vitriolic rhetoric. A rhetoric built on manufactured grievances and considered lies. Lies repeated and amplified in echo chambers of the faithful. Faithful to a false prophet.
 The crescendo was carefully choreographed to deliver the democratic republic a decapitation strike.
To witness dystopian events of January 6, 2021, unfold at the sanctum sanctorum of the birth place of modern democracy convulsed mind and singed soul. The nation that cultivated the notion of “government of the people, by the people for the people” witnessed a disfigured interpretation. Government of the people incited insurrection against government for the people to perpetuate a corrupt regime through deception and intimidation.

 Faithfuls were misled in to embracing the conspiratorial and contrived myths, to the ill of the country.
For years, naked greed, narcissistic self aggrandization, nepotism, authoritarian tendencies, flood of lies and sophisticated marketing of snake oil succeeded in building a large constituency of the committed believers. That, Trump would sell these believers for profit, was obvious.
 Trump equalled a historical precedence of losing big, AFTER first term AND taking down both houses with him.
 As the flame flickered, it laid bare the core of Ttrumpism. There was no soul. Never was. Only swamp. And selfishness.

 In due time, shock will wear off. Politicians will go back to political dealings. Jan 6, 2021 will remain the abyss. A routine day that had ceremonial duty of electoral vote count was denied rendezvous with destiny. No destiny, it joined Pearl Harbor to live in ignominy.
“Remember the day”, outgoing president tweeted; to adorn the proceedings of an inglorious day.
Injury to insult.

The democracy was shaken not stolen. Republic stood unsteady. Resiliency endures. Sanctity will be restored.
 Let's rebuild decency as the foundation to politics. Let's rebuild camaraderie as foundation to governance. Let compromise be the bridge. Let love be the strength.
Whats good for goose is good for the gander. Access to equality is foundational. Jan 6th was not our finest moment. Let's not respond in kind but with kindness. Let's unclench the fist and reach out with an open hand.
We don’t need to regress to trial by combat. Aaron Burr won a version of that. Nation lost Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr walked a dead man’s walk to his final death.

 Pathetic ambition seeking furtherance on the ruins of decency and democracy is un-American to the core. At the end, when we do inventory of life, it's the good deeds we did, comfort us the most. America I came to had an inner beauty, an exalted message, a propulsive energy that encouraged the best in a person. That America is eternal. The carnage in Capitol Hill, the desecration of sanctum sanctorum is not demolition of American dream. Its an opportunity to write the next chapter. We need a time out from hate. We need to make time for love. We need to listen. We need to be humble. We vote once every two years but we live every moment. We need to regain equilibrium.
 The Jeffersonian prophecy prevailed. The temple was bloodied by the reviled. Instigator got away.
A few can’t win at the expense of all else this time.
This time let “all else” change the paradigm.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Battered by a president who stands accused of inciting mob rule and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Republican Party looks for ways to press on in a post-Trump world, state Sen. Shannon Groves tweets (and then deletes) a conspiracy theory and a wounded country looks for grace

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... A PRESIDENT UNDER FIRE: The mob attack on the U.S. Capitol accomplished one thing that President Trump's critics and Democratic detractors would never do: it rendered the president impotent, a lone tragic figure holed up in the White House while his own vice president and members of his own party abandon him to

the judgment of history. There is talk of yet another impeachment or even invoking the 25th Amendment (reserved for removing a president who no longer has the capacity to lead) and while neither of those may come to pass, the events this week have left Trump permanently damaged. The question now: what will happen to the Republican Party? It is hard to imagine Trump retaining his position as head of the party once out of office, and the damaged, tattered GOP that he left behind will have to find a way to reinvent itself in the face of a nation that is rapidly changing. Look no further than Georgia, where analysts blame Trump for the heretofore unheard of possibility that a black pastor and a 33-year-old Jewish man who has never held office could be elected to the U.S. Senate in the conservative South. There will always be a role for conservative thought and representation in Congress, but it seems increasingly clear that the road taken by this president has led only to division, hate and now violence. 

 * ... QUISLINGS AMONG US? The term "Quisling" is reserved for those among us whose behavior is so extreme and unconscionable that it is considered traitorous. Named for Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian war-time leader who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, it is not thrown around lightly but it is now being used to describe Republican law makers who have stood behind President Donald Trump even when his behavior and words have been beyond reproach. And now that the president is accused of inciting a riot and trying to illegally block the transition of power through mob force, it is not a charge to be taken lightly. And among those accused of collaborating with the president is our own Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader who has been unwavering in his support for the president. After the attack on the Capitol, many members of McCarthy's own party turned on the president, indicating they had experienced enough and would not longer continue to contest the election with unsubstantiated claims of fraud. To be sure McCarthy denounced the violence, but unlike other Republicans he continued to question the validity of the election, incurring sharp words from his critics. The Sacramento Bee called out McCarthy and other GOP members for "fomenting dissension," and his own message board was peppered with sharp criticism from those who believe it is long past the time when McCarthy needed to distance himself from the president. Not long ago President Trump referred to McCarthy as "my Kevin." It remains to be seen if that is a moniker McCarthy still wants to carry.

 * ... SHANNON GROVE: State Sen. Shannon Grove is wildly popular with her core constituency in her district, and she has spent years cultivating local contacts and positioning herself as a champion of the Red State of Kern County. But she is also drawn like a moth to flame by unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and in the midst of the Wednesday chaos, she posted a Tweet implying that Antifa had infiltrated the Trump rally and was responsible for the violence. Although she later deleted the Tweet, this is not the first time Grove has latched on to conspiracy theories that expunge Trump and his supporters of blame. 

 * ... MEMORIES: Take a break from politics and check out this old picture of the Bakersfield Fire Department back in the day. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The politics of rolling out the Covid vaccines, state Sen. Shannon Grove attends a New Year's Eve event with a largely maskless crowd of 2,500 and an anti-mask protest forces Trader Joe's to close early

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... VACCINATE VACCINATE VACCINATE: The stunted rollout of the Covid vaccines has drawn fire, and never more so than from Dr. Brij Bhambi, a local cardiologist and owner of Bakersfield Heart Hospital. Bhambi is fearful that doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are sitting on shelves due to the strict adherence to the established protocols of who gets it first. Still, Bhambi said the thrust should be "vaccination is vaccination" no matter who gets it. Said Bhambi: "Guidelines should not become

impediments to expanded vaccination. Vaccine should not sit in refrigerators and dosages should not be wasted in commitment to compliance.... The real scandal is not that some scattered healthcare worker or administrator 'broke in line.' That behavior is reprehensible. The real scandal is vaccine sits in freezers. The real scandal is that blind adherence to guidelines will compel trashing the unused vaccine. It is too late in the pandemic to double down on the blame game. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate."

 * ... BAD FORM? So what did you make of state Sen. Shannon Grove attending a New Year's Eve church celebration where a mostly maskless crowd of 2,500 gathered to worship? Grove snapped a selfie at the concert - no mask - to celebrate the concert by Sean Feucht, an anti-lockdown pastor who has held similar rallies in defiance of the state crackdown. On Grove's Facebook page the response was overwhelmingly supporter, with a few exceptions like this one: "This was very reckless and playing with people’s lives!! Very few people wearing masks. I’m a Republican AND a Christian but you should respect your constituents enough to protect them." So what is your take? Is Grove a courageous leader defending our God given right to worship, or a clueless politician whose actions endanger others during a pandemic?

 *... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "A shark could swim faster than me, but I could probably run faster than a shark. So in a triathlon, it would all come down to who is the better cyclist."

 * ... TRADER JOE'S: Meanwhile the Trader Joe's in Fresno was forced to close Saturday after a group of anti-mask protesters tried to enter but were turned away. After a tense confrontation outside, in which maskless protesters were arguing with store employees, the store was locked and closed.

* ... WEDDING DAY: Congratulations to Connor McCarthy, son of Congressman Kevin McCarthy and wife Judy, who married Emily Norris over the weekend. Below, the happy couple poses with Connor's sister, Meg.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo from the Highway 99 Facebook page group. It is dated 1928
and said this: "Infamous deadman curve. On the left can be seen some of the daylighting that was done in 1924 to help improve the line of sight. Not much room to speak of... making it a daunting prospect especially at night. Also known as the 'junkyard' for all the cars and trucks that went off into the canyon."

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let's kick 2020 to the trash bin and start anew, local hospitals seeking traveling nurses at $200 an hour and local lad Cooper Adamo heads east for a prestigious fellowship

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... HAPPY NEW YEAR: About the kindest thing you can say about the year 2020 is "good riddance." More colorful language may be appropriate but let's leave it at that. Here's to everyone for a more

prosperous, healthy, predictable and kind new year.

 * ... TRAVELING NURSES: Did you know that traveling ICU nurses are in such short supply during this COVID-19 pandemic that they are demanding salaries in the $200 an hour range? And that is even if you can find a nurse at that rate. That's the word from Matt Constantine, director of Kern County Public Heath, who said local hospitals are competing against themselves for skilled nurses who are now demanding hourly wages in the $200 range. To save yourself the bother, a $200 hourly rate comes to $8,000 a week or $416,000 a year. And many might say they are worth every penny.

 * ... COVID SURGE: Here's a dirty little secret no one really wants to talk about. Our local hospitals are so full of Covid patients that ambulances often drive through the streets of Bakersfield looking for a medical facility to place their patients. With the beds full and elective surgery all but put on hold, patients will other illnesses are often held on the local ambulances for an hour or more as drivers try to find a hospital that will admit them.

 * ... RISING STAR: Cooper Adamo, son of author Teresa Adamo and photographer Felix, heads to Washington, D.C., to attend the swearing in of Congressman elect David Valadao who is returning to Congress after defeating Democrat T.J. Cox. Cooper was a regional field director for the Valadao For Congress campaign for the 21st Congressional district seat, focusing on the Kern County region of the district. Following the swearing in, Cooper heads to the John Jay Institute  in  Langhorne, Pennsylvania to start his four month fellowship. Once there, Cooper will delve into  readings and topics from interdisciplinary studies in theology, philosophy, ethics, history, politics, culture, and jurisprudence. The John Jay fellowship program is intended to prepare Fellows for careers in public service, whether they take shape in the public, non-profit, or for-profit spheres.

 * ... FACES OF THE HOMELESS: I was struck by these black and white pictures taken at the Christmas dinner at the Mission of Kern County. Hats off to local photographer Mark Duffel for some amazing photography.

 * ... SHANNON GROVE: Did you catch this vintage picture of Shannon Grove when she was in the Army boot camp? The state senator posted it on her Facebook page this weekend.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of pictures for all you fans of the old Ridge Route, the circuitous and dangerous road that connected Los Angeles with Bakersfield before Interstate 5 was built. These pictures are featured on a Facebook page devoted to the old California state route 99. They were taken in 1932 during a fire on the Ridge Route. The last picture shows the new route and its official opening in 1933.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

If it's California, it's time to celebrate the season with Christmas tamales, the Fox Theater celebrates its 90th birthday, the Christmas star makes an appearance and a special New Year's celebration

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... FOX THEATER: Did you know that Bakersfield's historic Fox Theater opened on Christmas Day

back in 1930? Showing that day was the movie "Just Imagine" that was set in the then future year of 1980. To celebrate the 90th birthday, the Fox is encouraging everyone to tour the Fox Walk of Stars outside the theater. And if you donate, you will receive a free large popcorn. (Selected Fox pictures taken by The Bakersfield Californian)

 * ... CHRISTMAS TAMALES: Tamales are a California favorite, and no where in the Golden State are tamales more popular than here in Kern County. If you are lucky, you have a grand mother (abuela) or an aunt (tia) or even a mother (madre) who is known for her Christmas tamales. If not, you need to head over to Grandma's Tamales at 100 Bernard, right off Union, perhaps the most popular tamale vendor in town. Enjoy these pictures from Grandma's Tamales.

 * ... SHANNON GROVE: State Sen. Shannon Grove is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army and this weekend she posted some pictures of the young recruit while in boot camp. Check them out here.

 * ... CHRISTMAS STAR: So did you check out the Christmas Star this week, the uber rare convergence of Jupiter and Saturn that drew comparisons to the star of Bethlehem appeared Monday at sundown and - depending on where in town you were - it was visible for about 45 minutes. He best picture I spotted was this one from someone in Athens, Ga. Enjoy.

 * ... NEW YEAR'S: There is an old Italian tradition that says we should all leave our front doors open at midnight on New Year's to allow all the negative energy out. Given what we have been through this year, I think that sounds like a grand idea.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "A $600 stimulus check? Hell, prisoners in California make more than that in unemployment benefits!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Well look at this, the Garces traffic circle back in 1932 thanks to the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.