Thursday, October 23, 2014

Downtown Bakersfield gets a new bistro, and Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis stops by the Californian studio to talk about his year

 * … FOODIE: Another privately owned restaurant has opened downtown, this one a cozy bistro that features soft leather couches, a comfortable, homey interior, a wide selection of drinks and light salads and sandwiches. It's called CraSh Lounge and it is located on Eye Street next to the Caribbean eatery Mama Roomba. Check out the Mephistopheles panini but be warned it is spicy. Opened by Muertos Lounge owner Shawna Haddad-Byers, CraSh should not be confused with another relatively new wine bar and restaurant called Krush located in the Northwest off Hageman Road. Both are excellent choices for a quick bite. (a panini by CraSh and a view of the inside of Krush)

* … COLBY: It was good to see former Bakersfield College standout pitcher Colby Lewis in the California video studio this week, talking to local sportscaster Greg Kerr about his year with the Texas Rangers after coming off hip surgery. Lewis managed to pick up 10 wins in a shortened year and is feeling good and back in form. Kerr hosts a new weekly show streamed live on called "The Renegade Report," devoted to BC athletics. It airs every Thursday at 11 a.m.

* …. SCAM: Dwayne Ardis shared his story about how to avoid a scam: "I was getting gas at the Chevron/Fast Trip station at White Lane and Gosford one day when a lady approached me and asked me if I could help her get back home to Tehachapi because she ran out of gas. I said sure but I also requested to see her driver’s license to verify she lived in Tehachapi. She gave me a dirty look and walked away. Scam averted."

 * … GOOD FORM: Kudos to the woman who regularly pulls a litter barrel and cleans up trash along Alfred Harrell Highway and Fairfax Road. Said a reader: "May you be richly rewarded for all your time and effort  It is wonderful to have a leisure drive up the hill on a nice clean highway."

 * … WASTE: Amid the long drought, Jon Stuebbe wonders why "the Beach Park men’s toilet still has a trough urinal with a constantly running waterfall of water? Imagine how many million gallons of water run through it in a year. Apparently the water used by the city Parks and Recreation comes from a different and inexhaustible source."

 * … BLUE STAR: The Blue Star Moms, a group of mothers of current service members of all branches of the armed forces, is hosting a blood drive from Nov. 10 to Nov. 15. The group is looking for folks to donate blood at the two branches of the Houchin Community Blood Bank and is soliciting donations for care packages for military men and women stationed overseas.

 * … PETS: Remember that Busters Pet Fund, a group that helps abandoned and rescued pets, is collecting blankets and old towels at the Petco on Gosford Road this weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cal State Bakersfield to christen new state-of-the-art dorms for 500 students and a scammer is busted when he hits up the same generous couple

 * … SCAMS: Can you stand another story on people getting scammed out of their money? This one comes compliments of Irene Edmonds, who was going to a local restaurant with her husband Tom
when they were approached by a clean-cut man who claimed he was trying to get back to Fresno after his truck broke down. "For some reason, probably because he was so clean cut looking,
we gave him $20, figuring he was telling the truth and not looking for booze money… Maybe a month later we were going to an event at the Museum of Art and he approaches us again, same story. We informed him that we had given him money recently and he had that story then too… I would say that the look he gave us was pure hate. If I had been alone I would have been scared."

 * … WASTE: Hats off to the folks over at the Kern County Waste Management Department who opened their doors this past weekend to accept household hazardous waste. I dropped off some old paint and pesticides that had cluttered my garage and the process was simple and efficient. The facility is located at 4951 Standard Street and is open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Isn't it nice when local government works?

 * … CSUB: There is some really good news out at Cal State Bakersfield where they are getting ready to christen the new student dormitories. A ribbon cutting is set for Tuesday, Nov. 18. The dorms will house some 500 students, all part of President Horace Mitchell's vision to bring a true "campus experience" to the local university.

 * … HALLOWEEN: Halloween is coming up and Bakersfield police will be out in force with DUI checkpoints. Unfortunately, Halloween is one of the deadliest nights of the year for alcohol-related accidents. Be safe and if you drink, don't drive.

 * … OVERHEARD: A reader shared these thoughts on water rationing he has heard on the street: "Recent opinions I've encountered are 'I'm not going to stop overseeding rye grass in winter until they pass a law' and 'I'm going to continue overseeding in an effort not to put gardeners out of work.'  Is denial just a river in Egypt? Good news: in a recent visit to Famous Dave's restaurant recently, some nice gentleman paid for dinner, honoring the military service of one person at the table. He said 'I just wanted to show my son a real hero'. I was blown away. And 'Famous CJ' was the greatest waiter.  Thank you for such a nice gesture whoever you are! Now I will make sure to pass that favor on."

 * … MOVIE: A friend passed along a note that at 1 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, TCM (Turner Classic Movies)  will be airing the movie Hells Angels on Wheels. Said a reader: "This was made in 1967 mostly here in Bakersfield. Hart Park, the road to Hart Park, the Tilt-A-Wheel and other rides at Hart Park are made to look like a carnival. Also it shows Outlaw Hill, The Bakersfield Inn (Mexican tiles) and I think scenes using a church at the Pioneer Village (Kern County Museum).

Monday, October 20, 2014

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy: Government should be helping to solve our water problems, not imposing more bureaucracy and red tape

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week I joined agricultural leaders and policymakers from across the state to discuss the future of our agricultural industry at the first annual Kern County Agricultural Summit hosted by Bakersfield College. The importance of Kern County agriculture to our community is highlighted by the $6.7
billion worth of products produced in 2013. And this significance extends beyond county lines as we greatly contribute to California’s overall production, which happens to be the top agriculture producing state in the U.S. with over 80,000 farms and ranches.

 "The Summit came at a significant time for our community. For generations before us to the present, the rich Central Valley soil and long days of sun have established us as America’s food basket and have turned the ole shantytowns from the Grapes of Wrath into the community we all cherish today. But cultivating the land is hard work and the reliance on cooperation from Mother Nature is never certain. Our historic drought reminds us of that every day. But compounding the naturally occurring impacts are regulations from Sacramento and Washington to preserve the Delta smelt in lieu of water deliveries to our communities.

  "There is no doubt that the issue of water is the top priority for our agriculture industry and our state. What we never expected however, nor should any community anticipate, is our government becoming so disconnected from the needs and realities of the communities they are supposed to serve.

 "Our government should be focused on solving problems that exist within our communities and society; not piling onto challenges that are not proven to exist with more bureaucracy and regulations. In Washington, I am leading the House in a renewed approach to governing that focuses on results. This will be critical as we continue to forge a solution on a long-term California water bill. A result-oriented approach to a successful water bill will ensure water moves through the Delta, benefits State Water Project contractors, and creates more storage – including dams and groundwater banking. Absent these provisions, any California water bill will simply be business as usual. And that is unacceptable.

 "The drought’s effects are a daily reminder of the damage harmful governmental policies can have on our community.  Through events like this week’s Agricultural Summit, it will be imperative that as a community we remain informed on the actions from Sacramento and Washington and involved in working to reverse them. In Washington, my work to this approach drives me every day.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Monday's Bako Bits: Is anyone else sick of the political attack ads that have flooded the airways? And veteran reporter Steve Swenson shares his battle with pancreatic cancer

 * … POLITICS: Is anyone else sick of the political attack ads that have flooded the airways? You'd think there would be weightier issues than how many times Pedro Rios voted while serving on the
Delano city council, or if Andy Vidak had suddenly "sold out" to the Sacramento politicians. But polling shows attack ads work, so get ready for another couple weeks of the incessant negativity.

 * … SEVEN OAKS: Hats off to the Seven Oaks homeowner who took things in his own hands after someone's dog kept leaving unwanted presents behind on his lawn. The homeowner put a small sign in the yard reading: "Is it really that difficult to pick up your dog's poop? Be a good neighbor!!" Ah, first world problems behind the gates.

 * … STEVE: Did you catch the essay by Steve Swenson in Sunday's Californian about his battle with pancreatic cancer? Steve spent 33 years as a reporter so it's no surprise that he writes with such honesty and wit, but this piece was moving in its authenticity and candor. Here's hoping Steve has many years left swinging his golf clubs and making that birdie now and then.

* … ENDEAVOR: It was so nice to see so many organizations reaching out to Endeavor Elementary School after someone burned down its playground equipment. This is one of the many things that gives this community such heart. Said Jay Stodder: "As published in the Californian Thursday,  several groups have stepped up to help pay for Endeavor Elementary  School's playground that was recently destroyed by arsonists. Among them is my place of employment, the Gaslight Melodrama in Rosedale. We're adding a benefit performance of Witches of Westchester to our schedule: Thursday October 24, 7 p.m."

 * … SCAMS: Yet another reader weighed in on this panhandlers who hit us up for money at local gas stations. "Another funny thing happened at that same station about a year ago. I was filling my car with gas when a gentleman with a young girl walked up to me and said that his wife and son were in an automobile accident near Fresno. He and his daughter needed bus fare to go to Fresno to be with them in the hospital. About two weeks later, the same gentleman at the same station approached me and said that his mother was near death at a hospital in Fresno and he needed bus fare hoping to visit her before she died.  I said, 'I'm sorry to hear that so much tragedy has happened to your family recently. Two weeks ago you needed money to go to Fresno to see your wife and son in a hospital in Fresno.'  If looks could kill… He left the station without talking to anyone else."

* … MEMORIES: Ronal Reynier is one reader who enjoys it when we reprint old front pages of The Californian. A recent one from 1911 raised a few questions for him:  "Where have they gone?" he asked, referring to all the small communities in the valley. "In this issue they print about Toltec and the Catholic Colonization in the Rio Bravo district. In this era each oilfield and farming area had their own small village. Most are long gone or swallowed up by other cities such as Bakersfield; but the names live on. The most common live on in our daily lives as areas we know of as Rosedale, Greenacres, Rio Bravo, Smith's Corners, Greenfield, Heck's Corners, or how about Mexican Colony?  Its been in the news a lot lately; how many of you have ever been to Tupman? From a 1916 map of Kern County I counted 47 that are no longer there."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bako Bits: beware of all those panhandlers at our local gas stations and who in the world would put a metal clamp on a dog's leg to keep him tethered?

 * … SCAMS: I can't get enough of these scams going on around town. Listen to this reader who had an encounter at the downtown AM/PM gas station where a nicely dressed young man was seen using a plastic container to pour gas into his own car. "While I was filling my car, I saw him talking to another
customer and heard him say he ran out of gas in the country; a friend picked him up, and brought him to the gas station.  'If you could just fill my gas can with gas, I think I will have enough to get my car back into town.' Sounds honest enough; clean cut guy; not asking for money. But he would take the full gas can to his car, parked behind Subway, poured it in his car tank and then went back to the station, telling the same story to another unsuspecting customer."

 * … BAD FORM: This week brought a torrent of bad news, starting with the discovery of a stray black dog who was found with a large metal clamp piercing his leg. The clamp was used to tether the dog to a post, and veterinarians believe it was put there about a week ago. What kind of monster would do this to a dog? Then, later this week, someone burned down the playground equipment at Endeavor Elementary School in Rosedale.

 * … GOOD ADVICE: But every bad deed is answered by someone like Drew Douglas, who at just 9 years old has something to say about our litter problem. In a well thought note to The Californian, she said this: "Littering is bad but people do it anyway… Littering hurts animals, the ground and the earth. If you’re one of those people, then I would try to stop as much as you can. Littering destroys the world with trash! Me and my friend found all kinds of trash at our school and we threw it away. Don’t you want a better, cleaner place to live too?" Sound advice.

* … FOODIE: I have two recommendations if you are in the downtown area: The Union Station Deli across from the post office on 18th Street offers excellent service and a killer pot pie soup, and The Wall Street Cafe on L Street features one of the best beet salads I have ever had.

 * … CARR: Local talk radio host Ralph Bailey, who boasts an impressive deep knowledge of sports and the Oakland Raiders in particular, dropped me a note to share a few differences between the pro football debuts of brothers David and Derek Carr. "In David's first 167 pass attempts he was sacked 41 times, while Derek, even behind the blocking of my Raiders, has only hit the ground three times, according to CBS Sports. From a loyal yet miserable Raider fan." Thanks Ralph. (file photos of the Carr brothers)

 * … KUDOS: Hats off to the folks at Chevron for volunteering to clean up trash along China Grade Loop. Said reader Carole Cohen: "There were at least 15-20 volunteers working, and the before/after difference is quite spectacular. Take a drive through the area - start at Manor - and enjoy the results of their hard work. Thanks to all who participated for a job well done."

 * … PETS: The other day I mentioned the annual effort to collect blankets for stray dogs and cats that is planned for Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Petco on Gosford Road. Turns out I didn't correctly identify the group accurately. The organization is called Busters Pet Fund. Kudos to these folks who care for the strays among us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The never ending scams that exploit the kindness of strangers, this one appearing at gas stations around Bakersfield, and get ready for the Bakersfield Film Festival coming up next month

 * … SCAMS: Here is yet another example of the scams going on around town. The person who submitted this asked not to be named. Here is his story: "A few weeks ago I was filling up at a gas
station near Taft Highway and Highway 99. Two young men came up to me, one carrying a gas can, and said they needed help. The older looking one said his father had a heart attack and they were trying to get to Los Angeles to see him. They said they were out of money and gas and they pointed towards an older, white, Ford Explorer. I said sure, just pull your car around I will fill it up for you, so they did. As they were filling up I asked the one whose father had the heart attack, what is your father’s name was and if I could pray for him. He said sure and I prayed and they both hugged me and thanked me, and then they took off. I finished my business at the gas station and proceeded to head to the post office on Larson Lane. So I got on the 99 North and low and behold there was that same white Ford Explorer right in front of me heading North instead of South to Los Angeles. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought they might be getting something to eat. As I got off on White Lane to turn on to Wible, there is another gas station. The same white Ford Explorer pulled in to the station, I thought surely not, hopefully there was a good explanation. So I went ahead to the post office knowing that I would have to come back by the gas station, and as I passed back by the gas station, there was those same two me, with their gas can, going around to every customer. I thought about confronting them, and taking the situation into to my own hands,  but then I remembered Romans 12:19; and left it in God’s hands."

* … FESTIVAL: Mark you calendar for the weekend of Nov. 7-9 when the Bakersfield Film Festival gets under way at the historic Fox Theater. The festival will feature some 50 movies over four days, including "Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound" and an inspiring Spanish documentary called "Unstoppables." Tickets are just $10 per day or $20 for all three days. (file photo from Unstoppables.)

 * … SPOTTED: A friend posted this on her Facebook page: "Seeing as I drive up and down Union Avenue everyday, I'm kinda used to seeing people do strange stuff. This morning was a winner. Traffic came to a screaching halt by the on-ramp to 58 as a dude crossed the street (against the light of course) on a pogo stick... I think I saw that on an episode of the Roadrunner once."

 * … CARR: This from the news source SF Gate: "Oakland Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr of Bakersfield has more four-touchdown games (1) than his brother, 2002 No.1 overall pick, David, had in his 11-year career (94 games)."

 * … THE WALK: If you are looking for a way to spend a splendid day while helping a terrific cause, consider attending the Kern County National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk this Saturday at the Park at Riverwalk? Registration is at 9 a.m. and the walk program starts at 10 a.m. KBAK anchor Kurt Rivera, emcee of the event, reminds me that mental illness is all too common but yet gets so little exposure. You can register at the walk itself or beforehand online at

 * … BLANKET DRIVE: It's not too early to start putting away old blankets for the annual blanket drive at Petco on Gosford Road. This one is put on by a group called Love Buster and the group wants to collect blankets, towels and dog and cat beds. Volunteers will be at Petco on Saturday, Oct. 25.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Craig Holland says you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember "Congoland with Jean-Pierre Hallet at 30th and F streets where Lyles Beauty College is now."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: Dr. Ravi Patel to appear on First Look this week to talk breast cancer awareness and noted bluegrass great John Jorgenson to appear in Bakersfield for the Guitar Masters series

* … CANCER: October is breast cancer awareness month and a brief look at the statistics are humbling. For example, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2014, an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were
expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. And, about 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2014. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. On Tuesday, at 9 a.m. on NewsTalk KERN 1180 and on First Look with Scott Cox, I will be talking with Dr. Ravi Patel of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center about the progress being made against this deadly disease.

* … SPOTTED: I spotted this post on a friend's Facebook page: "I've totally been taken advantage of… at the gas station on the corner of Cali and Oak this man told me he was trying to get to the hospital because his wife was in an accident. He left the house without his cell and wallet and ran out of gas. He was dressed nice and had an older Ford Taurus. He reminded me of my dad. Then a few days later I saw him running the same scam at another gas station."

 * … OVERHEARD: "You are a true '08er if you live south of Decatur (street)."

 * … GUITAR MASTERS: If you appreciate great musicians, then you should consider attending the final session of the Guitar Masters season this Thursday over at American Sound Studios, 2231 R Street. The brains behind this series is local businessman Rick Kreiser, and he told me this final session will feature multi Grammy winners John Jorgenson (Desert Rose Band, Hellecasters, Elton John) and Jim Cox (Mark Knopfler, Lyle Lovett). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $30 with a cash bar by Cafe Med. (file photo of John Jorgenson)

 * … SABA Congratulations to Tom Saba and the folks over at the Saba Agency, the creative media group that is now celebrating 25 years in business locally.

 * … MEMORIES: The memories of life when Baker Street was the center of town keep rolling in. Consider this one from Richard Giachino: "I also have some great memories of Baker Street. I went to Saint Joseph's, remember watching all the pretty girls across the street at Washington Junior High.
Mothers Bakery was great. Tejon theater, where forgive me Mr. Lemucchi, we would walk in backwards while people were leaving after the movie was over! I also worked there after, but kept that to myself. Great memories and great times!"

 * … MORE MEMORIES: And finally this last word on the old Golden Crust Bakery from reader Dennis Claxton: "My dad was a salesman for Golden Crust Bakery, one of the 60 salesmen employed by Golden Crust in Bakersfield. In the summers, between the ages of 9 and 11 years old, dad would take me on his route which covered Taft, Maricopa, and Ford City.  He would wake me around 4 in the morning to go down to load his truck.  The smell of the fresh bread is something you don’t forget.  We would travel to the stores and restaurants that were on his route.  When we arrived at Jo’s restaurant, in Taft, i would get a piece of fresh pie or cake from the owner.  One time, again in Taft, i was at the back of truck and a guy rode up on a horse to go inside the market.  He asked me to hold his horse, and of course i said yes.  As soon as the rider walked into the store, this huge animal stepped on my foot and i couldn’t get him off, that hurt. In Ford City, my dad and I would meet Al Green, aka “Whitie”, and have lunch. Al, founded Pizzaville here in Bakersfield, and from time to time still drops into the business, now run by his son.  At the end of the work week, my dad would pay me $10 for the weeks work.  I still have one or two of the Golden Crust key rings and i think i have one of his old work shirts, lots of good memories."

House Majority Leader McCarthy: While the world focuses on the Ebola virus, the Central Valley continues to battle Valley Fever

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "The health of family and friends is so often at the top of our minds that we toast to good health at dinners, take daily vitamins to keep our immune systems strong, carry around small bottles of de-sanitizer in our bags and pockets, and console those who have fallen ill.  And as we are all aware, the front pages and nightly news programs over the past month continue to lead with the spread of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I share the concern of many about this disease making its way onto our shores.  Our public health officials are working diligently to ensure any cases that are found here at home are isolated immediately as well as preparing to control and ultimately defeat this horrible illness in the West African countries where it has stricken thousands.

 "We also know that more must be done about indigenous diseases as well.  In the arid Central Valley, we have a disease called Valley Fever that is also a frequent topic in our local and regional news.

 "For decades, so many of our neighbors were stricken with an illness that could not be identified or treated with any certainty that one would be fully healed. Much of the country outside of the Valley, including the medical community, was virtually unaware of it. This led to frustration and concern in our communities over the seemingly helpless fight. It left us with only the blind hope that a loved one wouldn’t contract the disease.

 "It is my goal to change that.

 "Our community symposium last year has focused much needed attention on Valley Fever, and our discussions have not stopped. Recently, I discussed our current effort with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I remain in contact with CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins as we continue our work to raise awareness about the disease as well as develop our random clinical trials on Valley Fever treatments.

 "Just this week, it was announced that Kat DeBurgh, who has been working with us to develop a continuing medical education program on Valley Fever, will be taking over at the Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) as their Executive Director.  She has been instrumental in HOAC’s efforts to educate California doctors and public health officials on this disease. A Valley Fever CME raises awareness of this disease with medical providers, helping them make earlier diagnoses that can potentially reduce the length and severity of Valley Fever in patients. I look forward to continuing to work with Ms. DeBurgh on Valley Fever and other important public health issues in the Central Valley and California.

 "While the fight against any unknown pathogen can be long, just a year after the Valley Fever symposium, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released positive news that a potential treatment drug for Valley Fever was going to be fast-tracked into clinical trials. In 2012, Congress passed what was called the GAIN Act, which helps provide support for treatments for fungal and bacterial diseases. The news of a potential treatment, nikkomycin Z, entering the critical clinical stages through the GAIN Act highlights the strides our community has made in fighting Valley Fever.

 "More progress must be made and we continue to collect real data on this potential treatment. But progress alone towards curing a disease that was largely off the radar of health officials no more than four years ago gives us reason to be optimistic that our neighbors who are suffering from the disease could soon find relief and that future generations will not have to resort to hope alone in the fight against Valley Fever.

 "Enough cannot be said of the hard work of the people in our community, from Dr. Claudia Jonah, the Einstein family, the Larwoods, Dr. Royce Johnson, and countless others, who make the time and commitment to continuing the fight against a disease that has affected too many of our loved ones.