Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Millennials give up on network and cable TV, disrupting yet another industry, a decorated Vietnam veteran responds to a columnist and another fall fund raiser for Saint Vincent de Paul center

 * ... CABLE: Big changes have come to traditional TV and cable programming, and not surprisingly the millennials are leading the way. The latest research shows the millennials (aged 18 to 34) are
abandoning cable, not watching traditional network television and instead "grazing" the internet and watching niche programming on their smartphones, computers and tablets. This, of course, has huge consequences for TV viewership and advertising, and it affirms what analysts have been saying: "Among viewers 14 to 25, TVs finally have lost out... Millennial households without children are the least likely to have cable - one quarter use the internet or antennas instead." Likewise, the New York Times reported that "time spent on smartphone based entertainment - music, videos, games (but not instant messaging or social media) - has doubled in just a little more than a year among those 18 to 34."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard."

 * ... GASPAR: Joe Drew, who recently retired from Tejon Ranch, served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and had this reaction to a recent column by Jose Gaspar in The Californian: "I read Jose Gaspar’s article on how Ben Carson’s comments about Muslims are demoralizing them. For me, the absolute lack of condemnation of ISIS from the Imam’s leading American Muslim religious communities is an import indicator of where the Muslim community stands on its commitments to our country. And this goes all the way back to 9/11." (file photo of Joe Drew)

 * ... STEAK: There are few better combinations in life than a Gary Icardo-cooked Harris Ranch New York steak and helping a cook cause. Add to that near perfect weather and you have the annual Fall BBQ at the Saint Vincent de Paul Center on Baker Street, where Gary and Adam Icardo will hold court to help the less fortunate in our community. The event is this Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. at 316 Baker Street. Cost is just $25 person.

 * ... ACHIEVER: Hats off to Hilary Gevondyan, a Bakersfield High School graduate who now works for First Republic Bank as vice president and associate general counsel. Some of her remarkable non-work activities include serving in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan, providing pro-bono legal counsel to immigrants seeking asylum and teaching a class at the Berkeley Law School.

 * ... MEA CULPA: I made a mistake in passing along a query from Darlyn Baker about the identity of a DJ who used to sit on a chimney to greet motorists downtown. The correct location was at 24th and Beech streets and the DJ used to sit up on the roof for days. If you remember who this was, or who sponsored it, let me know.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sacramento Democrats fear how Kevin McCarthy might wield influence if he becomes Speaker of the House and Bakersfield begins losing some of its most majestic trees due to the drought

 * ... MCCARTHY: I spent some time in the Bay Area this weekend and had a lot of time to think about California issues and politics while driving Interstate 5 through the spine of our state. If Rep. Kevin McCarthy becomes Speaker of the House as expected, you have to wonder about how he
might influence some of the major issues facing California. He is opposed to the High Speed Rail project, is at odds with Democrats on how to help Valley farmers during the drought, and he has proposed revising (or eliminating) environmental regulations that he believes are weighed more in the favor of fish than humans. This makes Democrats in Sacramento extremely nervous, as it should be, but only time will tell how he uses his new clout to influence state policies.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "A woman saying 'I’m not mad at you' is like a dentist saying 'You won’t feel a thing.'"

 * … SPOTTED IN LA CRESTA: A homeowner near Garces Memorial High School planted this  sign in her yard: "Drive Like Your Children Live Here."

 * … DROUGHT: As I was reminded the other day, just because you allow your grass to die in the winter doesn't mean you can stop watering your trees. Some of our community's largest and most beautiful trees are dying because homeowners are not watering their deep roots.

 * … WEATHER BIRD: Stephen A. Montgomery responded to my earlier post about the old 'weather bird' sign that once stood on the Sill Building at 18th and Chester. Said Montgomery: "Oh, yes, I remember the Coca-Cola weather bird sign and, no, I don’t miss it. With its multi-colored neon lighting it was quite an elaborate affair and a rather discordant addition to the efficient lines of the sleek streamline moderne 1939 Sill building designed by Charles Henry Franklin and Ernest J. Kump, Jr. The real disappointment is that the building was never finished the way it was designed as a six-story structure with a louvered facade on the elevator structure on the roof."

 * ... ONE BOOK: There will be a lively discussion on the economic plight of the working poor in Kern County this week at Beale Memorial Library. The Tuesday evening event is sponsored by One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern and will be devoted to exploring ways to create positive change in our communities. One Book is a community wide reading project and the group is asking folks to read "The International Bank of Bob," a book by Bob Harris that looks at ways to make positive change in the world. The discussion is set for Tuesday, at 5 p.m.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Darlyn Baker is seeking answers to a question that has bugged her:  "Whenever I pass by the home on Beech and 22th Street, I smile as I still visualize the DJ who perched atop their chimney for a fund raiser. I would like to know if anyone remembers who he was, what radio station was sponsoring that cause, when it was and how long he was up there."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More layoffs hit the oil patch as the energy market struggles, remembering Steve Ruggenberg and George Martin brings the Bakersfield Business Conference back

 * ... LAYOFFS: There was yet another round of layoffs this week at California Resources Corp. (CRC), the
spin-off company from Occidental Petroleum that holds huge reserves here. One manager called this the deepest round of layoffs yet at CRC during the downtown in the energy market. Chevron has been undergoing similar cutbacks as have almost all of the local suppliers. And, for the first time, local Realtors tell me the bad times in the oil patch are now starting to impact sales in the local real estate market.

 * ... RUGGENBERG: The phrase 'life is short' may be a cliche, but it's one that Steve Ruggenberg took seriously when he walked away from his six-figure salary at Golden Empire Transit and moved to Napa Valley to pursue his love of baking. Ruggenberg died this week after battling leukemia, and I was among those lucky enough to call him a friend. A Vietnam War veteran and CSUB graduate, Ruggenberg had spirit, wit, drive and charm, as well as the courage to pursue his dreams. Ruggs, as he was known to friends, never seemed to waste a second on the trivial or the small, and instead chose to look on life as a grand adventure to be cherished and nourished. How many of us can say that? Keep his widow, Shana, and their family in your thoughts. I miss him already.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t."

 * ... BUSINESS CONFERENCE: It looks like George Martin is at it again, following through on his promise to bring back the hugely successful Bakersfield Business Conference. If you are new to town and never attended one of Martin's events, put the next one on your calendar because they are spectacular. For years the local attorney with Borton Petrini put on one of the best shows in the West, drawing speakers as diverse as Margaret Thatcher to Rich Little, George Bush and Jimmy Carter to a huge tent at CSUB. The conference eventually ran out of gas, and when it ended in 2010 Martin promised to bring it back every five years or so. It is now planned for Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, perfect for an election and Olympic year. (No word on where it will be held) His hints about speakers: a legendary NBA great, a former head of state, an Academy Award winning actress, a former governor and a business icon. Tickets for this event are never cheap, but they are worth it.

 * ... MUSIC FESTIVAL: And speaking of entertainment, the food vendor lineup for the 99 Music Festival has been released and it represents some of the best of Bakersfield. The '99Fest' is planned for Saturday, Oct. 10, at the CSUB amphi-theater. There will be two stages and some incredible talent featuring Americana music, all backed up by these food vendors: Pyrenee's Cafe, Cafe Med, Iron Horse Saloon, Champs BBQ, Michelangelo Pizza, Johnny Rockets, The Curbside Kitchen and Brookside Market and Food. For tickets go to 99musicfest.com.

 * ... MEMORIES: Navy and submarine veteran Gene M. Bonas reminded me that it was 70 years ago this month when Japan officially surrendered to the United States to end World War II. Said Bonas: "You know you're an old timer if you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the words: 'The war is over!' I was six years of age playing in the back yard by an old cottonwood tree when I heard my mom screaming 'The war is over, the war is over!' I remember mom flew out of the house, ran to where I was playing and lavished me with hugs and kisses. What a marvelous memory that is."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy seeks to address the fears of the right wing of the GOP, expect strong Santa Ana winds this winter and beware of the latest scam making the rounds

 * ... MCCARTHY: Now that Rep. Kevin McCarthy has officially entered the campaign to become the next Speaker of the House, there is no shortage of experts offering him advice. One opinion
column in The Wall Street Journal summed it up nicely with this: "One of his strengths is that he is on good terms with much of the caucus, most of whose members see him as willing to listen. Mr. McCarthy's ties stem from another potential strength: he is a political animal ... (but) the worry about Mr. McCarthy is that he's too much the political animal... (and) the bigger question is whether the rump GOP caucus gives a new speaker a change. Mr. Boehner is leaving, but the rest of Washington remains." McCarthy has been quick to try to reassure the conservative wing that he has the "courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people."

* ... SANTA ANA WINDS: Fall is here and winter is coming, and that means we are all looking forward to the expected El Nino and the strong rains it will bring. But fall also ushers in the Santa Ana winds, and that means the likelihood of even more fires across the state. According to The Los Angeles Times, "climatologists say there is evidence that this Santa Ana's season could be serious: They have seen a higher frequency of high pressure systems over Southern California this spring and summer." That means we can expect the Santa Anas to blow in by November and December, followed by rains from El Nino in January and February.

 * ... AIR QUALITY: All those winds and fires can really damage our air quality, and more and more folks around town have taken to wearing surgical masks to help filter out pollutants. But experts say there is little evidence these masks work. Said The New York Times: "Gases can penetrate masks, but certain highly rated masks divert a significant share of particles from the air." So save your money on those surgical masks and instead spend time outdoors when the pollution levels are lower.

 * ... SCAM: Here's yet another scam that the Bakersfield Police Department says is making the rounds about town. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from BPD who says there is a warrant out for you for missing jury duty, hang up. The first thing they ask for is your Social Security Number and credit card information. Beware.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: From the comedian Albert Brooks: "I’m trying to get excited by the discovery of water on Mars. I wish they found it in California."

 * ... KUDOS: Hats off to Kate (McWhorter) Carlson, a 2005 Stockade High School graduate who has been elected to the University of Massachusetts at Boston Hall of Fame for volleyball. While at Stockdale she helped the Mustangs win two Valley Championships.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember the huge "weather bird" poster that sat on top of the Sill Building off Chester Avenue. Under the "weather bird" was a Coca-Cola sign that read: "Thirst Knows No Season."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The nation turns its attention to Rep. Kevin McCarthy as he maneuvers to become the next House Speaker, looking for common sense on the 'kiss cam' and Rotarians pitch in to clean the streets

 * ... MCCARTHY: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy started the week posing with Pope Francis and ended with him the odds-on favorite to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the U.S.
House of Representatives. This is enough to give anyone a healthy case of vertigo, and it is just beginning. To say McCarthy's rise to power has been quick is an understatement, and the national press (and public) have a renewed interest in understanding just what makes this Bakersfield Republican tick. The Kevin McCarthy we know is now under intense scrutiny by people with their own agendas, and no doubt he will have to have some thick skin to endure the inevitable arrows thrown his way.

* ... KISS CAM: Whatever happened to common sense? Consider this story about the familiar
"kiss cam" in sporting arenas, which often features couples on a Jumbotron kissing during breaks. It's an innocent and often sweet way to show an open display of affection, but it is now under attack. During a recent football game between Syracuse and Wake Forest, a man named Steve Port said he witnessed "two incidences on the kiss cam in which women indicated they didn’t want to be kissed. Yet, the men nearby kissed them anyway to cheers from the crowd." So he wrote a letter to the university and it now looks like the "kiss cam" has seen its last days at Syracuse. Said his letter: “The instances I witnessed at the game encourage and condone sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement, at best. And they are an actual instance of assault, at worst."

* ... SPOTTED: Spotted on the placard of a panhandler, who was standing atop a freeway offramp: "Ugly, Broke, and Stupid."

 * ... GOOD FORM: If the streets of downtown Bakersfield look a little cleaner today, you can think the Rotary clubs of Bakersfield whose members hit the streets this week to prepare for next week's District Conference. Rotarians throughout Kern County and the Central Coast will be coming to the Marriott and surrounding area for the conference (the first we've had in Bakersfield in 25 years), so local Rotarians pitched in to clean the streets. The clubs are also asking downtown businesses to please sustain our efforts by keeping the sidewalks, gutters, and streets in front of their establishments free of debris.

 * ... BAD FORM: On Sunday morning, at two different intersections downtown, motorists stopped at a red light simply blew through it and took a left against the red. I understand things are slow on a Sunday morning, but this is beyond reckless.

 * ... BARBECUE: Fall means barbecue fundraising season in Bakersfield. Among the biggest, and most worthwhile: the annual St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center BBQ. Mark your calendars for this year's event - Thursday, Oct. 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the center, 316 Baker Street. Chefs Gary and Adam Icardo will be grilling Harris Ranch New York steaks served with all the trimmings. Tickets are available at the Thrift Store on Baker or the night of the BBQ.  For more information, call (661) 323-2942.

Friday, September 25, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shares the historic visit of Pope Francis to Capitol Hill

"Yesterday was a historic day in Congress as we welcomed Pope Francis to the U.S. Capitol. I was humbled to meet Pope Francis and wanted to share some photos of the special moments. Also, it was ​great to have Monsignor Craig Harrison in town for this historic occasion as well."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rave reviews for Tehachapi's Grand Fondo bike century, remembering those classic lines from Yogi Berra and a new skate park is coming to NOR

 * ... TEHACHAPI: I didn't participate in the Tehachapi Grand Fondo bike ride this past week, but it is getting some rave reviews, including this one from Deb Wells: "As a long time cyclist and runner, I was not surprised by the stats you quoted in your column today about injured cyclists. This brought to mind the recent Grand Fondo, put on by the city of Tehachapi.  This was the second year I rode the
event and mentioned to my friend while riding, how friendly the people of Tehachapi were, the spacious bike lanes and clean roads. Bakersfield could take a lesson from Tehachapi to improve the cycling experience.  Also, proper bike etiquette seems to have been forgotten on the bike trail.  A simple, on your left, while passing alerts the other rider that you are passing.  There is nothing more irritating than being brushed by a cyclist that is passing too fast and not announcing themselves. Cycling is a fun sport, making a few changes can make it a great experience for all riders.

 * ... CYCLING: And speaking of cycling, there will be a one-of-a-kind event on Oct. 10-11 at the Kern County Raceway where bicyclists will be competing on the Nascar-style oval track. This is a criterium-style race, requiring great technical skills and speed. The event will benefit CSUB and the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down event. Called the Jumpstart Classic, this event is sponsored by Pat Brown Systems, Sam Barn Productions and the Kern County raceway. The race is free to spectators.

 * ... ADDICTION: Most of us have experienced addiction, or know someone in our family who has, be it alcohol, tobacco, pain killers or any other drug or psychological dependency. It can be a painful and deeply personal experience, and Friday (today) I will discuss it with Michael Hopper at 4 p.m. on The Ralph Bailey show on KERN Newstalk 96.1 FM. Hopper, an on-air personality with the American General Media radio group, will share his own experience of getting sober and how that has changed his life.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’d be 100 percent more motivated if Samuel L. Jackson yelled at me to get things done."

 * ... SKATE PARK: The newest and largest skate park in town is being planned by the North of the River Recreation and Parks district over at Beardsley Park. NOR is planning to convert the 50-year-old Beardsley pool into a huge skate park that will rival, and be possibly larger, than the skate park at Beach Park. NOR marketing director Lisa Plank told me it should be completed in the summer of next year.

 * ... YOGI: What better way to close than by including some of the hilarious quotes attributed to the late Yogi Berra? Enjoy: "No one goes there nowadays, it's too crowded... A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore...You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six...You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you... It gets late early out here... If the people don't want to come out to the ballpark, nobody's going to stop them... Pair up in threes... When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

American cyclists more likely to die in bike crashes, Temblor Brewing Co. opens its doors to the public and good news for the Boys and Girls Club of Kern County

 * ... CLCLING: There are few better forms of exercise than cycling - the benefits to the
cardiovascular system are well known - but there is a dark downside to the explosion of recreational cyclists on our roads. I have chronicled numerous cycling accidents in this blog, and almost invariably they involve inexperienced or "beginning" cyclists riding beyond their talent level. Surprising? Not really according to The New York Times, which reports that "per kilometer and per trip cycled, American bicyclists are twice as likely to get killed as German cyclists and over three times as likely as Dutch cyclists." Why? American motorists are largely intolerant of cyclists, bike lanes here are rare and often inadequate and American riders are simply going too fast or not paying attention.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The first 80 years of adulthood are always the toughest."

* ... TEMBLOR: I stopped by the new Temblor Brewing Co. to see what all the buzz was about in the community. This new local craft brewery is located in a cavernous building off Buck Owens Boulevard and is run by founders Thomas Maxwell and Don Bynum, two 30-somethings living the dream of owning their own brewery. (Maxwell is the son of local restaurateur and city councilman Terry Maxwell and Bynum the son of local developer Greg Bynum). Maxwell told me there are about 30 local investors and on the Sunday I visited, the place was busy with folks tasting Temblor's line of craft beers and enjoying entrees from the kitchen. Temblor is undergoing a soft opening with the official "grand opening" set for mid October.

 * ... RESCUE DOGS: Last week I wrote about a new thrift store that has opened to benefit the HALT (Helping Animals Live Tomorrow) rescue organization. Liz Keogh wrote to remind me that some 40 years ago, the Kern Humane Society opened its own thrift shop (aka "The Antique Store" as one client at a clinic referred to it). It is located at 2111 Brundage Lane, and the proceeds from the sales are used to fund their much-needed and successful programs for spay/neuter and limited medical assistance vouchers. Good luck to both these worthy organizations.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Jason Cohen is a financial adviser who spends hours volunteering as the president of the Boy and Girls Club of Kern County. He is understandably proud of this organization,  which was named the best Boys and Girls Club in the nation recently in several categories, and he shot me a note to remind me of all the good it does. In his words: "The Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County now has 535 incredible employees who day in and day out work tirelessly to give our 8,000 kids a day tools to be productive and caring citizens. We started this school year with 62 sites making us the largest club in California. All really amazing facts we should be proud of as residents."

 * ... NORIEGA: Longtime business attorney Rob Noriega is joining the Young Wooldridge law firm in its business law department. Noriega, who serves as legal counsel for TBC Media, has been carrying on the practice of his late father, Joe Noriega, since his retirement 20 years ago.
"I did so with a wonderful partner, Eric Bradshaw, for many years. After Eric left the firm to join the Kern County Superior Court in 2009, I became interested in joining a larger law practice. A few months ago, I was approached by the Young Wooldridge firm about joining the firm’s Business Law Department and we appeared to match up well from the beginning. I was attracted to the firm’s long history in this community, the firm’s culture, and its excellent reputation in some core areas of legal practice."