Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Midnight North will appear at Temblor Brewing Co. this Sunday and some random acts of kindness around town

 * ... MIDNIGHT NORTH: What happens when combine an incredibly talented young band with the hottest musical and eating venue in town? You wind up with the San Francisco-based band
Midnight North appearing at Temblor Brewing Co. this Sunday at 6 p.m. If you haven't heard this band, this description about sums them up: "For this band, it’s all about the song. When you come to a Midnight North show, you’ll find Elliott Peck, Grahame Lesh and Alex Jordan sliding into three part harmonies that are as comfortable as an old pair of jeans. You’ll hear bassist Connor O’Sullivan and new drummer Alex Koford making themselves at home in any groove from a stomp to a slow-burn or boogie. Settle in and you might find Midnight North writing a new page in the American songbook." Tickets are $25 at the door. Come enjoy amazing craft beer, great eats and can't miss music.

* ... GEESE: Local attorney Katy Raytis shared an adorable picture of a family of geese (seven little ones led by, presumably, their parents) crossing a busy Mohawk Street and California Avenue while traffic came to a stop during rush hour. It's about the only time traffic slows down around here.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Michele Garrison sent this shoutout to Derek Carr who was in town this past weekend for a good cause. "A sincere thanks to Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders for his heartfelt ministry at the Upper Room on Sunday night and thanks for signing one last football. Thank you, Richard Beene, for giving us Bakersfieldians a personal format that is always interesting to read. " And thank you, Ms. Garrison.

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: And here's another uplifting nugget to start your day, compliments of reader Doris Thometz: "I was getting gas intending to use the ATM at the pump but it wasn't working," she wrote. "I use a walker and I have trouble getting around so I asked the young lady at the next pump if she would go into the store for me if I gave her $5. She came back and chatted with me while I pumped the gas. When I was done, she handed the $5 back and said she wanted to pay for the gas. There's so much negative in the world today. I just had to share a positive. Thanks, Laura, you made my day!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "What if dogs bring the ball back because they think you enjoy throwing it?"

 *  ... ROSE PARADE: Local attorney Barry Rosenfeld has been selected to serve as a director of the Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee through 2018. Said Rosenfeld: "All of the directors are from the six Southern California districts that sponsor the float. We are all either past club presidents (I served 1992-1993) or past district governors. The these of this year's Tournament of Roses theme is Echoes of Success." 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Jackson Browne, Chris Stapleton and Bill Walton roll through town and another Great American Cleanup success

 * ... GEESE: A friend shared an adorable picture of a family of geese (seven little ones and the parents) crossing a busy Mohawk Street while traffic came to a stop on a busy day to watch nature at work.

 * ... WEEKEND: You didn't have to go far this weekend to find an event to attend, be it Links for Life at Seven Oaks, Relay for Life at the fairgrounds, a dinner for Catholic Charities, Cal State
Bakersfield's community day or the Great American Cleanup that saw folks spread out across town sprucing up our community. The cleanup event grows every year and brings out the best in us. Add to that concerts by Chris Stapleton and Jackson Browne and the town was hopping.

 * ... BILL WALTON: I was among the 200 or so people who showed up to hear UCLA basketball legend Bill Walton speak on behalf of Bike Bakersfield. His theme of second chances, hope, persistence and gratitude was infectious, and it was good to see Ward 2 city council candidate Andre Gonzales in the audience to support bicycle commuting. The venue - the outdoor Gardens at Mill Creek with its finely trimmed lawn  - could not have shown off better.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Just got a Cheerio stuck between my toes walking through the kitchen. Clearly my dog isn’t doing his part of the chores around here."

 * ... SUMMER CALORIES: How many people who order those Caramel Frappuccinos from Starbucks realize they might be better off ordering a milkshake from McDonald's?

 * ... BAD FORM: What is it about men and the need for speed? On Friday I witnessed two young men in separate, lowered cars racing down Union Avenue (it didn't end well when one of the speeders plowed into an SUV that was leaving the Burger King parking lot; thank goodness no one was seriously injured) and on Saturday a middle aged man peeling out of a parking lot off Ming Avenue and almost hitting a oncoming car near Old River Road.

* ... GOOD FORM: Reba Mullen submitted this simple thank you directed at an unnamed Good Samaritan: "I would like to express my sincere thanks to the woman who found my keys at the Valley Plaza and returned them to Total Woman fitness gym where I am a member. Such kindness will never be forgotten. I hope I will be able to help someone,  as she helped me,in the future. May God bless her."

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's a good one from Ronal Renyier: "You might be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember 'Freddie's' at the Circle. You might have seen the actor Ward Bond when he was in town having his typical breakfast of four eggs, six bacon strips, four pieces of toast, two pancakes,
one dinner steak and a double order of hash-browns. Freddie did not know what to charge him the
first time and so charged him for three meals."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kern Health Systems pulls out of negotiations to build new administrative building downtown and some good and bad moments downtown

 * ... MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Well, the city passed up a chance to have a major employer (Kern Health Systems) purchase vacant land and bring a couple hundred jobs downtown. The land, across from the Maya Cinemas, has sat vacant for years and the Kern HMO was ready to purchase it
outright for new administrative offices. But when bureaucrats become involved, things never seem to go as smoothly as they should, and Kern Health walked away after the city set too many conditions. The two councilmen who represent the wards closest to the project - Terry Maxwell and Willie Rivera - called it a missed opportunity for downtown development and jobs in a time when growth is stagnant. On this issue, they got it right.

* ... ACHIEVER: Congratulations to Bakersfield native Connor Mojo who has been named an "outstanding senior" at Oklahoma State University. A graduate of Stockade High School and the son of Jeff and Dena Mojo, Connor is an industrial engineering and management major. He is a member of the Honors College and also served as vice president in the OSU Student Foundation (STUFU), an organization that promotes philanthropic giving on campus, as well as an officer in the Sigma Nu fraternity.

 * ... FOODIE: Friends have been raving about the new Victor's Mexican Grill on F Street downtown, so I sauntered in to see what the fuss was all about. Don't expect sit-down service or a cold margarita, because this place was birthed on the Chipotle model: a simple take-out menu featuring fresh burritos and bowls, all at a reasonable price with speedy service. If that is your ticket, punch it here at the new Victor's.

 * ... PADRE: And speaking of food, it was good to see that the folks over at The Padre Hotel finally succumbed and brought back some of the favorite bar food items that disappeared from the menu some time ago. The Brimstone's popular sliders and nachos are back, as well as some tweaks to the hotel's popular salads.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you don’t have anything nice to say, you’re probably just being realistic."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: A friend posted this on his Facebook page: "I spotted a guy at Starbucks today. He had no smartphone, tablet or laptop. He just sat there drinking his coffee. Like a psychopath."

 * ... BAD FORM: Note to the driver of the white Mitsubishi with the gold "in loving memory" sticker on its back windshield: was it really necessary to toss your empty McDonald's cup and a handful of used napkins out your window the other day?

 * ... GOOD FORM: But hats off to the young man named Cody who came to the aid of a 93-year-old World War II veteran who had slipped in the parking lot while headed to Denny's on Panama Lane. He later spent time with him and walked him back to his motel.

 * ... BARBECUE: And don't forget the St. Francis of Assisi annual barbecue next Thursday in the east church parking lot. For $30 you get to hobnob with your neighbors and dine on a New York steak, fettuccine, green beans, salad and rolls, and all for a good cause.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Three young men get a Darwin award nomination for busting into a huge gun store overnight (yes they were arrested) and NBA legend Bill Walton will be in town Thursday to support Bike Bakersfield

 * ... DARWIN AWARDS: Just how stupid were the three young men who broke into Second Amendment Sports and were arrested after being trapped inside? Never at a loss for words, another
local gun shop owner, the colorful Gene Thome, described the two suspected gang members and a juvenile as being "industrial strength stupid," which is a nicer way of saying they should be in the running for the Darwin Awards, which recognizes folks who have "contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions." Outside of banks and other financial institutions, is there a riskier place to rob or burglarize than a gun shop?

 * ... ROAD WORK: Tom Ware wrote about a construction project that has motorists fuming, particularly at rush hour. Said Ware: "It appeared that a right turn lane at the southeast corner of Calloway and Rosedale Highway was in the works. Houses have been taken down and the corner business vacated. Now, new curbs and sidewalks are in on that southeast corner as if no right turn lane is going to appear. The traffic there backs up about a half a mile at times. A designated right turn lane going on to Rosedale Highway east is badly needed. Do you have any information or pull?"

 * ... BILL WALTON: UCLA and NBA legend Bill Walton will be in Bakersfield this Thursday speaking at a fund raiser for Bike Bakersfield. His prowess on the basketball court is well known, but his messages of persistence, second chances and hope are what has defined his life since retiring in 1987. I chatted with Walton on NewsTalk KERN 96.1 on the Scott Cox show, and his energy and enthusiasm for life is intoxicating. And did you know his father was from Taft? Walton knows the oil patch, and he had this advice for local folks who have lost their jobs in the oil industry. "These are defining moments of your life when the ball bounces the wrong way," he said, noting his 30-plus surgeries on his 6 foot, 11 inch frame as well as his personal struggle with stuttering. Look at these setbacks as opportunities, he said, and with faith and persistence anything is possible. Walton will appear at the Gardens at Mill Creek (712 19th Street) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Go to bikebakersfield.org to buy tickets.

 * ... HAPPY THOUGHT: This note from Mary Moreland brought a smile to my face: "Yesterday as I was walking my dogs Scruffy and Rusty east of Bakersfield College I noticed some chalk drawings on a driveway. I thought how great it was that despite cell phones, kids still do that. The important message in large script: LIVE LIFE HAPPY."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You trust me holding your child? Do you know how many iPhone screens I’ve cracked?"

 * ... FOODIE: I was saddened to hear that Quig's BBQ and Catering, housed in a huge trailer that has graced the Garces circle for a few years, is closing down. Owner Scott Quig and his young family are moving to Maryland and hope to sell the trailer.

 * ...  LIBRARIES: Have you considered how you will vote on Measure F, the proposed tax to save our public libraries? Linda Fiddler is among those who supports the measure, and shares this memory from when she was a child in Taft. "I remember visiting the Taft branch library and participating in the summer reading program. After swimming at Taft High, we would spend the rest of the hot afternoon at the library picking out books, listening to stories and doing art projects. I went to the community meeting at the Taft branch recently. It looks just the same, only smaller."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A local attorney rides 224 miles over a 24-hour period just because he could, yet another memory of Merle Haggard and white glove service at the Craft Tap House

 * ... THOMAS MORGAN: Do you ever wonder what drives people to excel, or achieve feats of physical pain and endurance that would make most of us shrink from the challenge? I posed that
question to my friend Thomas Morgan, who just punched his bucket list on a quest to climb on his bike the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, some 29,000 feet. Morgan, deputy county counsel with a fascinating personal story (years ago as a young deputy sheriff he was shot in the neck at point blank range and left for dead) took his bike to the base of Round Mountain and put in 224 miles over a 24-hour period, climbing 29,137 feet in some nasty and wet conditions. Why? Morgan told me it would be easy to answer "because it is there," but more deeply said he was moved at what it brought out in his friends who rallied to help by bringing food, shoveling mud off the road and riding alongside to help him stay awake. "Why indeed?" he told me. "At first it was the idea that I could, even at an age far beyond most great athletes, do something extraordinary. I wouldn't need any support or fanfare or a pile of money. All I would need is a mountain and a bike and a little free time. However, in the end what was really extraordinary was all of the people that came out to support me... At times it seemed they willed me back up that climb when all I wanted to do was go home and sleep."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When life throws me a curveball, I try to duck so it hits someone else."

 * ... BILL MURRAY: And there was this quote floating around social media attributed to comedian Bill Murray: "I don't trust people who don't like dogs, but I trust dogs who don't like people."

 * ... FOODIE: After hearing friends rave about its bar food, I finally stopped by the Craft Tap House on Truxtun the other day and settled into one of their custom hamburgers. The bacon burger was outstanding, but more impressive was the white glove service provided by on site manager Robert Reyna.

 * ... MERLE: Reader A.S. McClaren has this memory of Merle Haggard when McClaren was a young deputy sheriff back in 1972: "I was working as a reserve deputy sheriff in 1972 when we got a call to meet the man at the Hart Park offices regarding a possible assault with a deadly weapon. Upon arriving we found a very wet Merle Haggard. He had been across the river at Shell Beach with a female friend when her significant other showed up. According to Merle, he had a very large gun and told Merle he could save his skin if he swam the Kern River, which he did. A few years later I was working in Los Angeles when I heard a new song by Merle Haggard entitled 'I'll Never Swim Kern River Again.' I just about fell out of my truck. I don't know how many know the story behind songs but this is one that only a true song writer could write because he had been there. And I was a witness. Sad to have lost him."

 * ... CALM: The California Living Museum (CALM) is putting on a fancy dinner and musical evening on Saturday, May 7, to expose more folks to the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in the southern San Joaquin Valley. It's called the Beastly Ball and it will feature a gourmet dinner, music, and auction and an opportunity to walk the grounds around the CALM zoo. Tickets are $125 or $900 a table.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Monday Bako bits: Fifty years ago Merle Haggard kept a promise, some random acts of kindness and more on former weather caster Marge Stiles

 * ... MERLE: We have read a lot of tributes to the late Merle Haggard recently, but I couldn't resist sharing this one from reader Pete Parson: "It was spring break of my first year at Cal Poly just over 50 years ago when I went to one of the local honky tonks that didn't check many IDs, especially if
one was over 6 foot tall and was wearing a cowboy hat, boots and a white T shirt. I sat down at the bar next to Merle and asked if he'd heard of the band that had played at the Western dance at Cal Poly a few weeks back. He affirmed that he had and said they had one really good picker. At length I asked if he'd be interested in playing for the next dance a year hence. He said they'd probably need about $200 more than I was authorized since they would have to rent some rooms in San Luis Obispo for the night. I assured him I could swing it and we shook hands. Within the next six months some of his records (many of which had been out for a while) were at the top of the country charts and after an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry he and the band were on network TV.  By the time the date came around a lot of my fellow students were expressing doubt that he would show up but they were there as promised and played from 7 p.m. until past midnight.  The old Crandall Gym floor and bleachers were filled to capacity. It was a blast! The club treasurer expressed his relief and admitted his previous doubt when we didn't even have a written contract.  Merle simply said, 'I gave him my hand on it, that's contract enough for me' and stuffed the $500 check into his pocket."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know what I like about people? Their dogs."

 * ... MAILBAG: This handwritten note from Lela and Rodney Nahama showed up at my office, and it speaks for itself: "Kudos, accolades and many thanks to the emergency room staff at Mercy Southwest Hospital. We are grateful for their attention, kindness and knowledge that was given to us on April 2-3, 2016."

 * ... GOOD FORM: And Vicki Utt added this: "My husband and I were having lunch at downtown Mexicali this week, and he was wearing a Vietnam combat veterans cap. Two gentlemen at a nearby table stopped as they were leaving to shake his hand and thank him for his service. This is not an uncommon, but always appreciated gesture since 9-11. But we were taken completely by surprise when we were informed they had paid our lunch tab. We would like to publicly thank them and let them know just how much we appreciate it. Bakersfield is truly filled with good people."

 * ... ST. FRANCIS: Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 28, when the St. Francis Parish will holds its 14th annual barbecue in the church parking lot. The menu features a New York steak, green beans, salad and all for $30, with proceeds going to the 63 parish ministries.

 * ... MEMORIES: Retired social studies teacher Harry Love shared a few memories about former KERO TV weather caster Marge Stiles and others: "I came to Bakersfield in 1967 to teach at Foothill High School. I was born in Los Angeles and went to college there. Of course , TV station personalities were rarely seen. Well I had to go to the KHSD office, then on 24th Street, to the audio-visual department, to get a 16mm film (pre DVD times) to use in class. There was Marge Stiles. She was the head of the department. Her day job. This meant that a TV personality was waiting on me! Maybe that is why I stayed here for the remainder of my teaching career."

Saturday, April 9, 2016

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy recognizes the heroes that live amongst us

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill.

"True heroes are all around us. Each day hundreds of people impact our communities, touch lives, and generate immense positive change. This week I was fortunate to spend time with several of our heroes and recognize their actions.

 "Last Saturday, I had the honor of presenting the Military Hero award at the Kern County Red Cross Heroes dinner. It was a pleasure to spend time with Julio Torres, this year’s recipient, who served in the Marines for 12 years, and now helps fellow veterans suffering from PTSD regain their independence by pairing them with trained service dogs. Torres’ efforts have played a critical role in alleviating symptoms of PTSD and have helped numerous veterans gain a new lease on life. Torres, and all of those recognized by the Red Cross, have made our community a better place through their selfless acts of courage and humanitarian service.

 "Another highlight of my week was welcoming a piece of the World Trade Center to Bakersfield. The arrival served as a reminder of the strength of our country and how in times of crisis we always come together – not as Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, but as Americans. It was special to see our local police, firefighters, and others drive alongside the steel beam as it made its way through downtown. The six-and-a-half-ton beam traveled nearly 3,000 miles from New York and will be used for a 9/11 memorial between the Bakersfield Fire Department Fire Station and the Police Department substation at 1315 Buena Vista Road.

 "It was an emotional scene as all of us in attendance took a moment to reflect on one of the darkest days in American history. It's hard to believe fifteen years have passed, but I will never forget the response of the men, women and children in our community and in every community across the nation. We were overwhelmed with emotion, but while we mourned, we chose courage and we chose unity over division. And America was at its best.

 "That is why we never forget the fallen and the first responders who rushed into the rubble in search of survivors, including our own first responders from Kern County who flew to Washington to help at the Pentagon. We also must never forget the important role first responders play in our daily lives. Their work takes place every day often with little fanfare.

 "I urge everyone in our community to take a moment and thank our local heroes who without fail, endure danger and challenges every day to keep us safe.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Noting the passing of Merle Haggard and his theme of "rebellion and escape," recognizing the rise of young musicians from North High School and Bakersfield Track Club plans an event this Saturday

 * ... MERLE: The coverage of Merle Haggard's death by my colleagues here at The Californian was without peer, but I am always interested in how others viewed the passings of local legends
. These phrases from The New York Times pretty much tell the story: "a supple baritone suffused with dignity and regret; the pliancy of his singing voice, a deeply expressive instrument that lent itself to a variety of tempos, arrangements and emotions; an architect of the Bakersfield sound, a guitar driven blend of blues, jazz, pop and honky tonk that traced its roots to Bakersfield, Calif."  And finally: "Rebellion and escape, themes steeped more in rock 'n' roll than in country music."

 * ... FOODIE: My recommendation for a refreshing (and super healthy) summer salad is the chilled seaweed salad from Jin Sushi on 19th Street downtown.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he’s too old for it."

 * ... NORTH HIGH: I was leaving a downtown restaurant the other night when the melodic sounds of jazz caught my ear, a siren's call that enjoined me to follow the source of the music. I ended up at the beautiful outdoor seating area at The Mark restaurant where the 30-piece North High School Jazz Ensemble (led by band director Mike Wawrzynski) was performing before a group of parents, boosters and strangers like me who happened to be in the area. I know little to nothing about jazz, but I am a sucker for the soft wail of horns while watching youngsters embrace a musical education, and these kids were simply amazing. It was all part of Bakersfield Jazz Workshop that performs every Tuesday at The Mark, sometimes featuring acts like the kids from North High and other times impromptu jazz sessions from folks in attendance.

 * ... THE JUICE:  Tony Malon has been following the recent docudrama and coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial and had this comment: "I have watched everything published, TV, magazines, books etc. since the original O.J. trial. Do you know they still continually get the verdict wrong?"

 * ... RIVER RUN: If you are into fitness check this out: This Saturday is the Kern River Trail Run out at Hart Park, starting at 7:30 a.m. The Bakersfield Track Club is putting on the event to raise money for scholarships, and it will feature runs of 5K, 10K and a killer 10-mile run. (Please, no strollers or dogs). The cost is $50 for the 10K and 10-miler and $40 for the 5K.

 * ... MEMORIES: Can you stand one more memory about former KERO TV weathercaster Marge Stiles? This comes from former station employee Vinny Calaustro: "I worked at KERO-TV (then channel 10) as a props-assistant back in the summers of 1969 and 1970. At that time, Marge had her own separate studio which was permanently set-up. She used 'mirrors' to recreate that unique effect of writing backwards while delivering the weather forecast. I remember that the lighting and the angle of the mirrors was very critical. Very cool then and is still very cool. I also worked on the Don Rodewald Show, Meet Mitchell Show, and Uncle Woody Show. I was blessed to have known and worked along side these people."