Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What do you do when your stolen bike ends up on Craigslist? A local chiropractor tells his harrowing story, and mourning the loss of Giuseppe's in Pismo Beach

 * … CRIME: These are the days when thieves roam our community with virtual impunity. They steal our bikes, our cars, our water heaters, packages off our porches and even our sago palms (more on that another day). So what do you do when someone steals your bike and it shows up on Craigslist the next
day? That happened to local chiropractor Dr. Courtland Keith recently when his expensive Cannondale road bike was stolen out of his garage in Oleander and promptly showed up for sale on Craigslist. "I thought, you have to be kidding me?" he told me. Keith reached out to the seller and agreed to meet at Jastro Park, and then called Bakersfield police who agreed to closely watch the transaction and move in for the arrest. (For the record BPD does not recommend that citizens set up these stings) When it all went down, Keith said three BPD vehicles moved in but the thief fled on his stolen Cannondale, but as karma would have it, he was broadsided by a car on Truxtun and arrested. No word on the condition of the thief but Keith's bike was reduced to a pile of expensive rubble. "It is like being violated," Keith said. "The whole scene was surreal."

*  …GIUSEPPE'S: Let's hope the folks that own Giuseppe's Cucina Italiana in Pismo Beach decide to rebuild the landmark eatery after it was gutted by fire this past weekend. If you are from Bakersfield, chances are you have dined at the popular restaurant and even didn't mind waiting 90 minutes for a table while enjoying some of the best people-watching on the central coast.


 * … BAD FORM: And speaking of inviting bad karma into your life, while the Erskine fire was devouring homes and leaving thousands devastated two KGET reporters tweeted out a cheery, self serving selfie in fire gear. Someone needs to remind reporter Anne Di Grazia and her male colleague, Alex Fisher, that amid such loss and heartbreak, the story is not about them.

* … SICK BAY: Gene Thome, the gregarious owner of Bear Mountain Sports, is at home recovering from surgery to have one of his kidneys removed because of a cancerous tumor. "Thank God that he gave me two," Thome told me. The surgery was performed at the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte and Thome is back home recovering.

 * … FOODIE: Uricchio's Trattoria is featuring a summer grilled cajun chicken salad with avocado that is perfect for these hot Bakersfield days.

 * … SPOTTED ON TWITTER: From comedian Allie Borden: "If you don't like me asking what tricks they can do then please stop introducing me to your small children."

 * … SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "When my wife falls asleep in public I shake her and yell, 'DON"T YOU DIE ON ME!" When she wakes up people start clapping."

  * … GOOD FORM: Midge Bradford shared this experience at a local Walmart: "Earlier this month I shopped at the Walmart on Colony and when I departed the self checkout I left my change behind in the tray.  Even though I was sure it was gone forever I went back to see.  I was surprised to find that whoever discovered it in the tray had turned it in to the Attendant.  I would like that person to know that I am forever grateful and my faith in humanity has been restored.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Archeologists descend on Wind Wolves Preserve to study the ancient Chumash indians, and what kind of woman puts kids in the trunk of her car on a day when it is over 100 degrees?

* … WINDWOLVES: A large group of archeologists, botanists and scientists have descended on the majestic Wind Wolves Preserve and are discovering ancient caves and artifacts associated with the
Chumash Indians a thousand years ago. I was fortunate to share an afternoon with these scientists and amazing students and spent the Solstice in a Chumash cave watching a sliver of light enlighten ancient cave paintings as the sun set on the horizon. Among the other finds have been woven reed water jugs, beads associated with Russian traders and woven grass cooking baskets. The scientists and students are from around the world, including some from England, Spain and U.S. universities including Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and U.C. Berkeley. Wind Wolves consists of 93,000 acres of pure unspoiled terrain, owned and operated by the Wildlands Conservancy. It is located off Highway 166 and is open to he public for hiking and sight seeing. (photo of Chumash cave is from another preserve)

 * … MOTHER OF THE YEAR: By the time you are 35 years old you should know better, but a woman named Maricela Celio was arrested this week for placing three children in the trunk of her car after apparently seeing a movie at Maya Cinemas. That's right, and as if that were not enough, a witness said Celio also was driving with another child on her lap with others in the back seat. A sharp eyed witness spotted the incident and alerted police.

 * … GARCES: Bakersfield High School isn't the only local school whose football field is getting a makeover this summer. Up at Garces Memorial High, new sod is going into Sam Tobias Field as the private Catholic school gears up for another year of football.

 * … SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "My sex life is like a Ferrari. I don't have a Ferrari."

 * … SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I don't have any kids yet but I am already looking forward to the day they move out."

 * … SUMMER FOOD: The folks over at Jin Sushi downtown know how to finish a meal on a hot Bakersfield day: two slices of ice cold seedless watermelon. This the season for watermelon to have a place on your regular summer menu.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bakersfield deals with a nagging jobless rate as another company, Lightspeed Systems, abandons California for Texas, and pickle ball comes to Bako

 * … JOBLESS: Kern County has dropped two spots and now ranks 55th out of 58 counties in the state with the highest unemployment. That's the word from local appraiser Gary Crabtree, who noted
that all six of the counties that comprise the Central Valley are ranked 50th or worse. Grabtree said our unemployment rate is now at 8.6 percent while California is sitting at 4.7 percent.

 * … LIGHTSPEED: Adding to those jobless woes will be the decision by Lightspeed Systems to abandon Bakersfield altogether for the more favorable climate of Austin, Texas. The local tech company, owned by Rob and Judi McCarthy, has provided jobs for hundreds of local people over the years, but high taxes and California regulations led to the decision to leave for Texas.

* … PICKLEBALL: Do you know what the fastest growing sport in America is? It is a tennis/ping pong hybrid called 'pickleball,' and it is gaining popularity in Bakersfield and across the west. In fact, retired arts teacher and longtime tennis pro Art Sherwyn put on his first pickle ball tournament at the Bakersfield Racquet Club this past weekend, running Thursday through Saturday with singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Pickleball uses a smaller, re-striped tennis court using smaller paddles and wiffle balls, creating a sport that is quick, intense and good for virtually any age. I participated in the tournament, if for no other reason than to give others a reason to feel good about their game.

 * … FROM COMEDIAN EDEN DRANGER: "I typed in 'frustrated and annoyed' and WebMD diagnosed me as 'married.'"

* … SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I burned my mouth on my pizza and I feel this is a strong metaphor showing me that the ones we love can hurt us the most.

 * … DAVID PRICE: Looks like my old friend David Price III is facing some more delicate surgery next month as he battles an ongoing medical issue. Price is the former director of the county Resource Management Agency who retired to Johnson City, Tenn., a few years ago. Known for his keen dry wit and easy going style, Price left countless friends in Bakersfield who keep in touch on social media. Keep Dave in your thoughts as he prepares for the July 8 date with the surgeon.

* … MEMORIES: Mary Clark remembers Scotty's Pie shop but notes a tad differently than her brother, Superior Court Judge Thomas Clark. "Occasionally, when Tom and my sister were in school, Mom would walk to Scotty’s, with my younger brother and me. She would order one piece of pie, and share with us. Don’t remember which pie it was. I do remember sitting at a window table, and looking outside, while we had a special treat!"

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dining al fresco before the temperature rises to 106, beware of those sting rays at the beach and lamenting the dying coastal redwoods

 * … HEAT: Are you ready for 106 degrees next week? How about 108? It seems improbable after
this incredible mild week we have had, and I took advantage of it by dining al fresco: dinner outside at Uricchio's Trattoria, brunch on the patio at Tahoe Joe's, and appetizers at Wiki's Wine Dive. Remember this week when the sidewalks are frying in a few short days.

 * … FOODIE: And speaking of food, my recommendation of the week is the tuna salad atop a bed of avocado over at the Union Station Deli downtown across from the Post Office. The tuna comes with diced green apples and cranberries.

 * … DROUGHT: One of the long-tail effects of the drought: the sheer number of coastal redwoods dying about town. From the east side out to White Lane, hundreds of these water-needy trees are brown and dying. Beautiful trees true, but not suitable for our dry climate.

* … SUMMER: My friend Howdy Miller had some sound advice about visiting the beach this summer. Listen up: "Just a reminder to all those who enjoy the ocean by swimming - surfing - or wading in it! Please remember to SHUFFLE IN AND OUT to eliminate any possibility of stepping near, around or in my case on a cruising stingray. Happens about 1,500 times a year on the beaches of California, Texas and Florida. Last September I came out of the water in Solana Beach (near San Diego) stepping on top of a relatively small stingray. It reacted by giving me a four inch slash on my ankle and I still do not have any  feeling in the big toe of my right foot. The barbs and venom deposited by said stingray resulted in great pain and discomfort that could have been avoided by a simple shuffle. My podiatrist suggests the response may indeed last a year or longer. I love the ocean and will be surfing again this September, but lease learn to do a simple shuffle to avoid a lot of discomfort or worse!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Oh, you hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s called 'Everybody' and we meet at the bar."

 * … SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "If you want to test the strength of your willpower, just try ignoring a mosquito bite."

 * … PIE SHOP: Superior Court Judge Thomas S. Clark wrote to say he was among those who remember Scotty's Pie shop near Brundage and Highway 58. "I remember the pie shop well.  I grew up just to the east of Chester, a couple blocks away.  I have fond memories of the pies, but I only got to patronize the shop on very special occasions. The building is still there.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what type of chocolate they used, but it was very good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

They hyperbole and cynicism over the call for a ban on 'assault rifles,' Griffith Field at BHS gets a makeover and lamenting the death of the library tax

* … GUN CONTROL: In the wake of our nation's bloodiest mass shooting, it is only human to demand something be done, be it expanding background checks, doing more to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill or outlawing so called "assault rifles." The focus today seems to be on the AR-15 'assault rifle,' but let's remember some basic facts: the technology behind the
AR-15 was first developed in the late 1890s and is the same technology used in rifles for deer hunting or target shooting. Yes the AR-15 looks menacing, but at its core it is simply a semi automatic rifle not unlike those used to shoot varmints or squirrels. It is not the rifle or the design that makes it lethal, but rather the ability in some states (not in California) to use it with high capacity clips along with "push button"magazines to make for easier fast reloading (also outlawed here). Those are two distinct issues; the look of the weapon and the larger clips that make it lethal. The idea of regulating designs that "look" menacing is akin to banning Corvettes because they look faster than my Subaru. Both are capable of inflicting great harm in the wrong hands. I am all for a robust debate on how to keep weapons out of the hands of madmen, but concentrating on the cosmetics of design seems to appeal more to emotions, rather than logic. A good first step for the rest of the country may be modeling their own gun laws on those of California, which already outlaws the configuration of the AR-15 used in Orlando. (Below a 1940 assault rifle with the AR-15)

 * … DRILLER FOOTBALL: The renovation of historic Griffith Field at Bakersfield High School is well under way. The field has been torn up as have some of the field buildings. It's worth a look-see if you are passing through the downtown area.

* … LIBRARY TAX: Still reeling from the defeat of the library tax, Pete Parson offered this assessment: "Is it merely coincidental that the number of voters who opposed the library tax and the number of illiterate persons in the county are approximately the same?"

 * … RETIREMENT: Thanks to all of you who were so kind to reach out to me noting my retirement. Barbara Fleming sent me this sweet valentine which I so appreciate: "I know you announced your retirement, and being retired myself, I am glad for you. Knowing this and opening my Monday morning paper to your column, I yell -'NO!'  I don't see your face but a stranger looking out at me. On a serious note, I want to thank you for your sometimes humorous and sometimes serious reflections about we, as citizens of Bakersfield, and concerns for society as a whole.  Your writing has made my soul smile and my brain engage." Thank you Barbara, and remember I will still occupy this space on Wednesday and Friday.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I can't decide if I need an XL coffee, a hug, eight shots of vodka, 826 chicken nuggets, or two months of sleep."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I hope I get a chore list cleverly disguised as a Home Depot gift card again this Father's Day.

 * ... PIES: And finally there was this query from Donna Boyt: "I am just wondering if people remember Scotty's Pie shop that was located what would now be between Brundage Lane and the Highway 58 on ramp, facing Chester Avenue? Best pies ever, and always a line out the door waiting to purchase one. Does anyone know the type of chocolate they used?  Have never tasted it anywhere else."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bakersfield mayor's race headed for runoff while the main event in November will pit Councilman Terry Maxwell against challenger Andrae Gonzales

 * ... MAYOR'S RACE: So now it's down to two in the mayor's race, former homebuilder Kyle Carter and nonprofit director Karen Goh. Both are Bakersfield natives, yet both bear the burden of re-introducing
themselves to the community to earn our votes. Goh is relentless in attending every chicken dinner and non profit event, but that tells us little about who she is, her values, and what makes her tick. Goh is a former supervisor (she was appointed to finish a term and lost to Leticia Perez in an election) and she is widely assumed to wear her political ambition like the scarf around her neck. Carter is the more relaxed and open of the two, yet he too will need to spend more time explaining who he is and why this job appeals to him. Let's hope, over the next few months, we can dig a little deeper into the personalities, views and values of these people who want to be our next mayor.

 * ... CITY COUNCIL: And now that the June primary is behind us, we can start looking to the November election when one of the main events will pit Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell against challenger Andrae Gonzales. Like others I wish Maxwell would end his Don Quixote-like opposition to the 24th Street widening (sorry Terry, I just don't buy your arguments) but he does play an important role in questioning spending and refusing to kowtow to City Manager Alan Tandy's pet projects. And say what you will about Maxwell, you always know where he stands. Gonzales will position himself as a more thoughtful, younger, inclusive member of the council, and no doubt he be a formidable contender. This is one November race to watch.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I love when strangers smile at me and I smile back and we have that nice stranger smiling moment."

 * ... BAD FORM: A pox on the house of whoever decided to dump their ashtray full of cigarette butts at the entryway of the 24th Street Starbucks. Hey genius, there was a trashcan less than five feet from your car.

 * ... OVERHEARD: Outside a local In Shape City are two homeless couples, both with dogs on a rope. One greeted the other with this: "There seems to be more of us every day."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I need to stop lying to my therapist. I also just need to stop lying. I don't have a therapist."

 * ... LIBRARY TAX: Local Realtor Ken Barnes had this to say about the defeat of the proposed library tax: "I only wish it were possible for me to face each person that voted against Measure F so I could look them in the eye and ask why they could not afford an extra one penny for every $8 they spend. Shame, shame on all of them."

 * ... MEMORIES: Paul Poor shares these memories of being a young man growing up in Bakersfield: "My memories of downtown are summer camp and swimming at YMCA at P and 23rd streets, Vincent’s Cyclery 18th across from post office, Jumbo drive-in on 24th between Union and Golden State, Bakersfield Bowling Academy 24th and Golden State, Farmer Johns Coffee Shop at Union and Golden State, original Lorene’s (24th Street CafĂ©), Royal Palms Golf Course Union at Columbus, Stan’s Drive In (Funny Farm) at 19th and Union, Stan’s Car Wash at L and 24th. As ki’s my brother and sisters in the 1960s 1970s we would ride our bikes from northeast Bakersfield to downtown and back again (or catch a ride home with our parents). We were 8 to 15 years old. Those were the good days in Bakersfield."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kern High School District to comply with federal policy on transgender access to restrooms, the crowded Bakersfield mayor's race and more memories of old Bako

 * ... KHSD: No matter how you feel about the issue of transgender rights, the Kern High School District board of trustees did the right thing in voting to comply with the new - albeit controversial -
law regarding open access to restrooms. Now, with that said, I do believe President Obama erred in not allowing a full national debate on the issue before handing down the guidelines, but that's the way it rolled out and we have to deal with it or potentially forfeit millions of dollars in funding. As for trustee Chad Vegas' decision not to seek reelection because federal law conflicts with this religion, that was the right move for a pastor who believes his personal religious views trump civil policy. Jesse Aguilar spoke to it eloquently: "The board has no authority in deciding which laws the district
will follow and which they will not. If the latter is what some board members want to do, I suggest a run for the state legislature or congress. Please do not use our Kern High students as political hostages for personal, ideological agendas."

 * ... MAYORAL FEE: Did you know it only costs a $25 filing fee to run for mayor? So is it any wonder we had 25 candidates, some well meaning, some a bit odd, some resembling Manchurian candidates and all vying for our attention? Is it time to raise the cost of entry, if for nothing else to attract those who are truly serious about serving our community?

* ... KERO: I ran into KERO TV anchor Tim Callahan the other day, and he introduced me to Jacki Ochoa, his new evening co-anchor replacing Jackie Parks, who left to join her husband in Maryland after 27 years in the local market. Ochoa is a native of California who most recently was a reporter in Seattle. She also worked in Phoenix, Omaha and Redding and is a graduate of the University of Denver.

* ... SPOTTED: "Cardigans. Because you don't want to be murdered while pulling a sweater over your head."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I live for those really small but special moments in life, like when I see the waiter bringing my food to the table."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Susan Reep wrote to brag about the white-glove customer service she received from Lupe Sanchez, assistant service manager at Jim Burke Ford.  "He told me that he loved reading about the old days and he remembered Krauter’s Nursery on Kentucky Street where he grew up. He said they had lots of animals around there and once they found a big snake in their yard and called Mr. Krauter who came with his forked stick and got it and took it back to his place. "

 * ... ICE CREAM: Earle Murie is among the readers who remembers when ice cream came packaged in paper cubes. Said Murie: "I distinctly remember cubed ice cream because my father worked for the Arden Farms Milk Company from the early 1930s to the 1960s when he retired. In 1948 my mother opened a restaurant in Pomona, where we lived and where my dad was assistant manager for Arden. He was excited about the new product his company was promoting: cubed ice cream. So he convinced my mother to include the product in the menu. I was working for my mother at that time, having graduated from Pomona High School in 1947, and experienced the frustration of trying to make a milkshake or iced cream soda from a cube that had to be unwrapped before it could be placed in a container. Needless to say, cubed ice cream did not last long, at least with Arden!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Marjorie Poor Payne wrote that her farther was a dairyman who shipped milk to the Carnation plan on Union Avenue years ago. "My other and I plus four to five siblings would drive into Bakersfield to shop and one sibling took piano lessons at Toons Music Studio on Chester Avenue. I remember driving by the big Carnation plan and stopping for a milk shake - always a special treat - and they served food also."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hats off to all those high school graduates earning academic scholarships, a hunter's lament on California gun control and another walk down memory lane

 * ... GRADUATION: Hats off to all the high school graduates who have won hard earned academic scholarships to prestigious universities across the country. Kern County has always been well
represented on the athletic front, but we also produce outstanding students known for their academic prowess. And with college tuition steadily rising both for California and out of state universities, these partial and whole scholarships often make the difference between staying or going. So to all these unsung achievers, good luck.

* ... TRASH: Hats off to the city maintenance crews who descend on our local parks to clean up the bottles, trash and sandwich wrappings that so many of us carelessly leave behind after a picnic. Do you think these folks do this to their own homes?

 * ... GUN CONTROL: Bud King is a hunter with a clean record, and his frustration over new gun control laws moving through the California legislature is shared by many recreational shooters. Said King: "I am a hunter, a shooter, and a law abiding citizen, but with the new gun laws I will become a criminal. All my rifles whether it is bolt action or semi auto, has some kind of button to release the magazine. It will be just up to the judgment of law enforcement if my firearms bought legally make me a criminal or not.  I know the people coming up with these hare brained ideas would not live in my neighborhood without armed guards to protect them.  People are at their breaking point with their rights being taken away little by little each day. "

 * … SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The true test of any loving relationship is having two phones and only one functioning charger."

 * … MORE TWITTER: "The challenge of modern relationships is proving more interesting than the other persons smartphone."

 * ... MEMORIES: It was Susan Reep who started the avalanche of memories about the old Carnation ice cream shop on Union Avenue, and now she shared another memory from her husband Mark Smith. Said Reep: he seems to remember a guy in Mettler in a peanut suit and people along the route trying to attract travelers into their restaurants, which was all very exciting to a 5-year-old kid. And then his parents always took the kids by the big horse and the big shoe on Chester. Such wonders!"

 * ... MARY: Howard Polland dropped me a note to recall taking his three daughters to the Carnation plant for ice cream, but he also sent thanks to Realtor Mary Christenson for sponsoring this blog. I thank Mary too, and from my experience, you could not have a better Realtor than Watson's Mary Christenson.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And lastly, another reader (who requested to remain anonymous) asked if anyone remembers "ice cream cubes back in the 1950s. They were about 2 inches square, packaged in a fold out light cardboard and lots of different flavors. I’ve been thinking they were made by Carnation and at that same plant. But, Peacock was another ice cream plant in Bakersfield and I wonder if any of your readers can help solve this nagging question."