Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two Bakersfield quarterbacks square off in the USC-Fresno State game, the rash of horrific drunk driving accidents continue and the ride sharing service Uber comes to town

 * … ACCIDENT: The madness of reckless and drunken driving continues, with the latest incident claiming two lives on Rosedale Highway and Verdugo Lane. In that case, early Saturday morning, police with 29-year-old Dontrell Collins was speeding going west on Rosedale when he slammed into a compact white car, causing it to burst into flames. Two passengers were killed and a third was
hospitalized with burns. These kind of tragedies are all too common, and in fact some folks in the Southwest have taken to calling Ming Avenue "blood alley" because of the high number of accidents involving alcohol or simply reckless driving.

 * … HOMETOWN BOYS: How fun was it to watch the USC-Fresno State game this weekend featuring two outstanding quarterbacks from Bakersfield? Cody Kessler, the former Centennial High standout, led the Trojans to victory but former Driller Brian Burrell represented the Bulldogs well in the loss. Two more young men in a long line of great local athletes.

 * … ROLE MODEL: Hats off to Katie Arriaga, a young mother who spent last weekend picking up trash and litter in the Riverlakes area. Katie took along her three daughters - 10-year-old Briony and 7-year-old twins Brevony and Bregan - to give them a lesson in community service. Thanks to Katie's proud mother, Bobbie McWhorter, for passing this along.

* … BAD FORM: Steve McCalley spotted someone driving an ATT Prius the other day, going 35 mph while texting. "Clearly the massage hasn't been received by the cell phone providers," he said.

 * … UBER: Über, the San Francisco-based ride sharing service that compete directly with local taxi cabs, is now servicing the Bakersfield area. Uber is wildly popular among consumers because no cash is exchanged (the transaction is completed via a cell phone app) and Uber is much cheaper than conventional taxis. To use the service, download the Uber app and when ready for a car, simply use the app to have one pick you up wherever you are.

* … DMV: Ruth Fee wrote to share how government bureaucracy: "I was heartened by your experience with an 'appointment' with DMV and I hoped I would have the same quick result. I needed a California ID and not knowing about appointments, I first waited in line for two hours, presented my paperwork and was told I needed my marriage certificate. I had not been told that when I called the DMV initially. A little more savvy, I made an appointment via internet and arrived with the required certificate. I was told by the clerk that I needed a 'certificated' marriage document. I was more than a little miffed as that was not specified by the first clerk. I was then given a number to call in California to get the required form and told to make another appointment. I called that number and was told I needed to call a number in the county I had been married in. (  didn't see the point as my husband was deceased.)  Calling the San Francisco number, I was given yet another number to call.
Rather than doing something uncivil, I threw up my hands and decided to try another day. To be continued - or not."

 * … HISTORY: Navy veteran Gene M. Bonas asked me to remind everyone that Tuesday will mark the 69th anniversary of the Japanese surrender of World War II aboard the USS Missouri.

 * … NOTE: I received a beautifully written letter, in cursive, from a woman who wanted to be known only as "Grandma." She only wanted to thank several women who came to her aid when she took a tumble. In her words: "I found that day there are some good caring people in Bakersfield. That's one of the reasons my late husband and I moved here. I have never seen any other town where people come to your aid like in Bakersfield."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friday Bako Bits: Another telephone scam, this one from crooks claiming to have a local doctor's daughter in the trunk of a car and demanding a king's ransom… will this stuff ever end?

 * … SCAMS: A local physician shared yet another telephone scam that I simply must share with you. He was at his office when he received a telephone call from someone warning, "we have your
daughter in the trunk of our car." At that point, the doctor heard a young woman crying and screaming for help. The caller then said: "We are from the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico and we will kill her now unless you agree to send us some money. Are you willing to send us money now or we kill her? Do not call for help or she will be immediately killed." Wisely, the doctor was speed dialing his daughter on another phone and, thank goodness, his daughter answered and he knew she was safe. At that, the caller hung up. Police told the physician that another local couple fell for the scam and sent money. The FBI is apparently investigating. Will these telephone scams ever end?

 * … DOG TAGS: Here is a reminder to all of us that we need to make certain are pets where ID tags. From Gladys Lawrence: "Please, please have him wear a tag with a telephone number where you can be contacted in the event that he accidently gets away. On Aug. 22 a neighbor came to my door attempting to find the owner of a small white Chihuahua mix dog (white with brown ears and spots) as he had been hit by a vehicle. They were attempting to pick him up and to take him to a veterinarian without success. Finally animal control was called to pick up the injured dog. We later found out that he had to be put down due to severe injuries. If the family that owned this dog is reading this, I want them to know that we were able to comfort him and give him some love until animal control arrived. A special thanks to the young man responding for animal control. Your patience and gentleness with the injured dog was wonderful."

 * … LITERACY: Bakersfield ranks dead last in a survey of the 77 U.S. cities with populations greater than 250,000. Based on a number of things including bookstores, educational attainment and other factors, the survey was conducted by Central Connecticut State University. Washington, D.C., was first in literacy, followed by Seattle, Minneapolis and Atlanta.

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: La Costa Mariscos has moved into its swanky new digs in the Ice House, and it is worth checking out. Many loyal La Costa customers worried the move would sacrifice the intimacy of the old location near Central Park, but the new place is brightly decorated and offers the same excellent food and service.

* … TEXTING: This bit about a distracted driver comes from Mike Glinzak: "I was northbound Friday about 9 a.m. on Calloway north of Stockdale when I got behind a slow moving Frito-Lay delivery truck (the kind that delivers to the local stores, not a semi) in the center lane with its left turn signal flashing.  After passing a couple of streets and the Westside Parkway where the truck could have turned left, I pulled over to the right one lane and we both were stopped at the next traffic signal.  Maybe the driver was so inattentive because I watched him fool with his cell phone IN HIS LAP, apparently trying to keep it below window level so the cops wouldn't see. But that big glass door by the right passenger shows all!  I tried calling the local Frito-Lay distributor about one hr later, but the phone only led to voice mail hell. Apparently they weren't too concerned about the safe driving of their driver, because they never called me back. "

 * … GOOD FORM: Susan Willis and her car were blocked in at a local gas station while police investigated an accident, until a driver of a local Pepsi delivery truck came to the rescue. "He stopped and directed traffic until I could leave the lot," she said. "John Morales (the driver's name) was so polite and helpful. I had almost forgotten about manners since everyone is always in a hurry."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

House Majority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy raps the White House on its "unknown" foreign policy, calls the Islamic State a direct threat to U.S. interests that the administration needs to address

 * … MCCARTHY: There is no greater threat to peace on the world stage than the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group that has carved out a caliphate in a large swath of Syria and Iraq. This is the same group that videotaped the beheading of American journalist James Foley, leading the Obama administration to order a limited bombing campaign. But critics, including  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), say the White House has not gone far enough and is reaping the whirlwind of a failed foreign policy. I chatted with McCarthy on First Look with Scott Cox and he pulled no punches, calling out President Obama on his lack of a clear U.S. policy in the Middle East. "Our friends don't trust us and our enemies don't fear us," McCarthy said. "I hear it all the time from our allies across the world."

* … LEASH LAW: On to a more mundane topic on the local level, my recent posts about folks who don't put their dogs on leashes brought this response from reader Ted Grove. "Another part of town with people walking their dogs off leash is on the equestrian trail on Jewetta Avenue between Noriega and Reina roads. Some dog walkers have armed themselves with golf clubs, wooden clubs and pepper spray (that we can see). It's only a matter of time until trouble erupts. People should go to dog parks if they want to walk their pets off lead."

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: I finally made it out to Wikis Wine Dive and Grill, the upscale eatery located at the corner of Ming Avenue and Buena Vista in the Seven Oaks area. Best bet: try the excellent spinach pizza as a lunch special.

 * … GUILD HOUSE: And speaking of good meals, a reminder that The Guild House downtown is reopening for lunch on Tuesday, Sept. 2. All proceeds benefit the Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic.

 * … TRASH: Here's to all the folks who do their small part to try to keep our community free of trash and litter. Said reader Deanna Haulman: "My husband and I have been meaning to write to you and thank the woman who is frequently out with her garbage can on wheels picking up litter in the same area of Fairfax. Other then those large eyesores she does an amazing job."

 * … CARL'S: My mailbox was full, once again, with notes from readers who are not pleased with those Carl's Jr. ads featuring Paris Hilton and another woman writhing on top of a truck in bikinis while eating burgers. Said Julie Brown: "Many years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor complaining about these ads.  I pointed out that many parents have either installed a V-chip or just physically monitor the things that their children watch on TV. There is no way, however, they can protect their children from the porn Carl’s Jr. is putting into commercials! This really needs to be stopped!"

 * … MORE CARL'S: But some, including Bryan Kelly, took a more whimsical view of the ads. "I contacted Carl's Jr. advertising department and asked why they did not give equal time to scantily clad men enjoying the new Texas burgers," he said. "Although I am extremely shy, I proffered my modeling services and sent a demo DVD. They responded saying that I already looked as if I owned stock and thanked me for my past patronage. What an insult to my Speedo."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: more scams running amok on social media, the city responds to illegal dumping and giving a shout out to Coconut Joe's restaurant

 * … SCAM: Here is yet another scam that leverages our obsession with social media. A friend's nephew is vacationing in Mexico and the lad mentions it on Facebook. Someone sees this, and calls the
nephew's grandmother (how he got the number, I don't know) posing as a Mexican lawyer, saying her grandson was in jail and he needed $100,000 to get out. The grandmother, wisely, checked on the safety of her nephew before wiring money to the would be thief.

 * … TRASH: Hats off to the city Solid Waste Division which will partner with Sean Battle and Garden Pathways’ volunteers to clean up a stretch of Fairfax Drive that is littered with discarded furniture. Said Sal Moretti, city solid waste superintendent: "The city will provide a trash truck and driver and Garden Pathways will provide the workers.  Let me know if you need any more information.

 * … THEFT: This is an example of both bad, and good, form. First the bad: a woman who had erected a small "free library" stand in her yard (the idea is to provide free books to neighborhood children to encourage reading) was upset that her stash of books had been stolen not once, but twice. Now the good: after word of the theft was circulated on a neighborhood watch e-mail list, neighbors downtown pitched it to restock the free library.

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: The very best locally owned restaurants have several things in common: consistently outstanding service and food that never disappoints. Luigi's Delicatessen and Uricchio's Trattoria are two, and you can add Coconut Joe's to that list. Try the fish and chips, among the best in town.

 * … CARL'S JR: I was surprised at the number of responses i received to a post questioning how appropriate the Carl's Jr. ads are featuring scantily clad women eating burgers atop a black car. There are too many to print, so here is a sampling. This one from Robin Kraucyk was typical: "Yes Wanda G. Reilly, we have noticed. Many friends and relatives have emailed Carl's Jr. with our opinions of their 'sex' sells hamburgers ads. We all received a 'form' email back saying, thank you for your opinion. I was not satisfied with that and wrote back again with stronger opinions stated. I then received an email with an actual name on it stating the same … thank you and we don't mean to offend anyone. We are now writing to the television stations which show these commercials.  Please join us in standing up for decency and letting Carl's Jr. know that they should stand behind their product because it is good food and that they don't have to use what constitutes as pornography catch our attention. Maybe if enough people talk, they will listen."

* … MORE: David Losa added this: "If Wanda Reilly wants to know who else is put off by Carl's Jr. TV ad, she can count me in. Remember the 'If it doesn't go all over the place, it doesn't belong on your face' ad? That, I also found disgusting and it encouraged our young to be slobs. Here I am a grandparent trying to teach my young grandchildren good basic table manners being exposed to this disgusting ad. I found this business's burgers decent but I don't take them there as a sign of a one man protest."

* … MORE: And Tim Unruh was another, saying he hasn't eaten at the burger chain since its Hugh Hefner campaign around 2003. "Obviously, this burger restaurant does not care for my demographic. The reality is that it is their choice to run the ad and ultimately my choice to ignore them. In-N-Out burgers are better anyway."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: the murder of James Foley is a direct attack on the United States and our way of life

 House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives his view of the threat from the Islamic State terror organization.

 "This week, the world witnessed the purest form of evil through the deplorable actions of ISIS on
American journalist James Foley.  First and foremost, I offer my deepest condolences and prayers to his family and friends. His work to shine light on the darkest corners of the world was a heroic service that is indicative of the value of free press that has strengthened America into the greatest democracy in the world.

 "For weeks, I have expressed support for targeted airstrikes against ISIS.  But since the first strikes began, the Administration’s strategy against ISIS has been unclear. It has been made clear that the threat posed by ISIS is not isolated to the Middle East and its people. The murder of James Foley is a direct attack on the United States and our way of life. Therefore I stand ready to work with the Administration to confront this terrorist organization directly. 

 "The men and women of our military selflessly and courageously serve to protect our freedoms. It has been said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Throughout our nation’s history America’s leadership has helped thwart evil throughout the globe.

 "Notably, the greatest generation helped topple one of the most dangerous threats to humanity in World War II. We honor these veterans, as we do all veterans, in Washington with monuments and memorials. One of my greatest honors as a Member of Congress is hosting our own local heroes as they travel 3,000 miles with the Kern County Honor Flight to visit the places that honor their service. This week, my office in Washington, DC welcomed and hosted 39 veterans and their guardians with the Honor Flight as they visited the monuments and toured the U.S. Capitol.

 "These heroes have made our country and the world a safer place. We as a nation are forever grateful for their service.

 "As we continue to fight evil throughout the world, let us never forget the sacrifice so many have made to secure our freedom.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More scams involving the Internal Revenue Service make the rounds, texting while driving a motorcycle and the best meat in town? Wood-Dale market

 * … SCAM: I have been alerted to yet another telephone scam make the founds. This one involves a call from someone purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service, claiming that back taxes are due and threatening to jail you unless the case is settled immediately. It happened to Terry Kropp of Rosedale,
who described herself ad pretty savvy about these things. "This was scary," she told me. "They were very, very convincing. I demanded to talk to a supervisor, they gave me a case number and they wanted me to admit I owned them money." Terry wisely called her attorney and then the IRS itself, which confirmed the scam. "They told me they get five to six calls a day like this," she said.

 * … SPOTTED: Motorcyclist driving down Rosedale Highway during rush hour with one hand on the handlebars while texting with the another.

* … GOOD FORM: Jayne Lee passes on this nice note about the folks over at Advanced Smog on District Boulevard. "Last week while paying for my smog inspection at Advanced Smog I noticed something out of place in a large pen behind the counter. Looking closely I discovered seven, six-week old puppies. The staff had seen a dog wandering in the busy street, took it in, and three days later the rescue had seven puppies. Homes had already been found for five of the babies. Kudos to the employees there for their care for this new mom and her babies."

 * … BAD FORM: My friend Pete Wonderly poses this question: "Folks, is it at all possible to show consideration for others (and obey the county law) by having your dogs on a leash when walking or running along the bike path or foothills? For three out of the four past Saturdays, I've crossed paths with a woman accompanied by her two Labrador Retrievers, both off-leash. My two small terriers, both on-leash, are not terribly impressed when her dogs rush them. My friends and I have patiently tried to explain courtesy and the county leash law to her, but to know avail. I'm tempted to carry an extra lead and put the woman on leash the next time I encounter her."

 * … TRASH: And speaking of bad form, it looks like Fairfax Drive between Panorama and Alfred Harrell Highway has become a new dumping ground for old mattresses, sofas and love seats.

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: It is hard to beat the freshness of the steaks, chicken and pork - all offered with outstanding customer service - at the Wood-Dale Market on Stine Road.

 * … BAD TASTE?: Wanda G. Reilly wonders if anyone else is put off by the Carl's Jr. commercial of the scantily clad models eating burgers on a car. In her words: "Is anyone other than this 80-year-old woman offended by the tasteless, trashy commercials Carl's Jr. places in prime time? I can't believe those wet bodies slithering over cars has any thing to do with eating a sandwich!"

 * … MEMORIES: A reader dropped off a version of The Californian dated July 4, 1976, celebrating the nation's Bicentennial. Some tidbits from the advertising: porterhouse and T-bone steaks were going for $1.98 a pound and an above ground swimming pool for $769.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bakersfield enjoys an emerging arts scene with top musicians appearing about town, and more feedback on the death of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri

 * … MUSIC: I stopped by a free concert at Imbibe Wine and Spirits this weekend and was wowed by the vocals of Emily Danger, a band whose lead vocalist (Emily Nicholas) hails from
Bakersfield but now lives in Brooklyn. Her concert before a packed room is reflective of something special that is emerging in our community, especially if you are a fan of live music. Almost every day, in some venue across town, you can hear some terrific talent, whether it's hometown favorite Mento Buru (who showed up at the Alley Cat for an impromptu concert this weekend) or the house band at KC Steakhouse. If you are into master guitarists, Rick Kreiser hosts a regular "Guitar Masters" series while three friends are bringing new talent into town with the "Passing Through" series of concerts held either at The Metro Galleries or The Bakersfield Museum of Art. We're not Austin yet, but we have come a long way. (file photos of Emily Danger and Mento Buru)

 * … ACCIDENT: The traffic accident at the intersection of Old River Road and Ming Avenue that took the life of a 67-year-old woman triggered a flood of responses on social media. This response was typical: "People have just got to slow down in this town. Old River isn't a country road any more."

* … FERGUSON: I received a lot of feedback on my post talking about my father's advice about staying out of trouble with the police. Pamela Wildermuth was disappointed with me, noting that a "even though a black man in this country may be very successful, and may have followed ALL the advice you quoted, he is still more likely to have an unpleasant encounter with the police than is his white counterpart. Race is an inescapable issue in the complex relationship between citizens and law enforcement. It's too bad that you didn't address it."

 * … MORE FERGUSON: Kendall Moya Arthur agreed and added this: "Please reconsider your platitude of how any young man should behave. Your response reflected insensitivity to the immediate history of how young black men are treated, particularly at the hands of the police, who are entrusted to be super-heroes of justice and defenders of the weak and disenfranchised. If only it might have been so simple as young men following your father’s advice to remain unhurt." Note to both Pamela and Kendall: I did not mean to imply race was never an issue, but rather repeating some sound advice from my father about holding yourself accountable.

* … MORE FERGUSON: Tony Malon was a bit more agreeable with my post: "I agree with your father completely, sounds like mine. I am 77 years old , living in Bakersfield the past four years. I was born in St. Louis, then moved to a suburb called Overland , then to Cool Valley bordering Ferguson, for about 25 years. Ferguson and surrounding areas have alawys been a problem such as has been happening now even when times were good. I'm not taking sides as I have known many police officers in the area for years. Some good some not so good. I have a question, if the officer was a six year veteran with a clean record  why would he fire six bullets into an individual for no reason whatsoever?... When I was quite youn , and a police officer stopped me to ask me a question, I was told to obey officers or hell to be paid when I got home."

 * … REUNIONS: Royal Reynier will soon be attending his 60th East Bakersfield High School reunion, and he recommends touching base with long lost friends as frequently as possible. "The first reunion is attended to see if others have gone on to better lives and to mingle with the same people you did in high school... The sixtieth? Who knows. The only sure thing is that there will be a smaller group and the stories may be not quite right as memories fail. My advice is to attend a reunion. You have changed and so have they. You may have not have been in the so called 'in group.' but there is always
someone there that has a pleasant memory of you."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: Kern County's unemployment rate improves, Bland Solar and Air gets some recognition and some bad form out in Seven Oaks

 * … SHOOTING: The shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., and the unrest and rioting that
followed has triggered a lot of soul searching about behavior by both the police and regular citizens. I found this advice about "how to avoid being shot by police" strikingly similar to what my own father cautioned me years ago. Here goes: "Don’t be in a gang. Don’t rob convenience stores. Don’t do or sell drugs. Don’t loiter on street corners or walk down the middle of the street. Don’t carouse at night. If you are stopped by a police officer, comply with his or her orders. If you don’t like what they are doing, record the incident and hire an attorney. Do not, under any circumstances, attack the officer, hit the officer, or try to take the officer’s gun away from the officer." Said the author: "These seem pretty simple to most people, but there are large segments of our society who seem to believe that you can do these things and then they are aghast when things spiral out of control and someone gets shot."

 * … JOBS: Good news on the local job front. The Kern Economic Development Corp says the Kern
County jobless rate dropped in July to 10.4 percent, compared to 11.6 percent the same month last year. Year-over-year, July also saw an increase in jobs across all industries.  California’s unadjusted July 2014 unemployment rate is 7.8 percent and the nation’s rate is 6.5 percent.

* … SPOTTED: A friend posted this on his Facebook page: "PG and E wished me Happy Birthday by making my power go on and off, over and over again, from 2:15 a.m. to 7 a.m."

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: KC Steakhouse, the popular downtown eatery know for its dark, vintage interior, has brought back its "buy one dinner (or lunch) and get one free" special. It also is offering 50 percent off select bottles of wine every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 * … SOLAR: Congratulations to Bakersfield's Bland Solar and Air, which was ranked ninth on the list of the top 100 best residential solar companies in the country. Bland Solar and Air has been in business and installing solar since 1985 and is the largest local installer in the San Joaquin Valley. The top three were SolarCity, Vivint Solar and RGS Energy. The rankings were compiled by Solar Power World.

 * … GOOD FORM: Hats off to the Bakersfield police officer who went out of his way to make sure a woman made it to her car in the dark. From reader Gerald A. Starr: "Seen on Wednesday evening after 8:30 p.m. on 17th Place and 18th Street. A lady diner was returning to her car after the CASA graduation and dinner at Uricchio’s. Her car was parked north of 18th Street (it was quite dark). A BPD patrol car on 18th Street came to a stop while the lady crossed the street and then turned right to escort the lady to her parked car illuminating the sidewalk and the area with the patrol car’s spotlight. Thank you to that officer as one of Bakersfield’s finest to take 2-3 minutes for an act of human kindness!"

 * … BAD FORM: A reader was walking in Windsor Park in Seven Oaks this weekend she she spotted a man walking his two dogs, off the leash. "They I observed him go to two different drinking fountains and turn on the water while the larger dog stood on its hind legs and drank from the fountains." Yuck.

 * … RETAIL: Jay Stodder tipped me off that a new retail clothing store has moved into the old Gottchalk's at the East Hills Mall.  "They are called 'Sarah' and actually relocated from a smaller unit in that mall. Great to see any local business succeed as well as prosper."