Thursday, July 19, 2012

Three men on classic motorcycles visit all the Bakersfield cities in the country on epic summer adventure

 * ... BAKERSFIELD: Think you had a good summer? Check out the adventure that three Bakersfield men experienced when they set off on motorcycles to visit every city named Bakersfield in the United States: one in Texas, another in Missouri and one in Vermont. It started as an idea between friends Ryan Smith and Jorge Gonzalez, owners of vintage BMW bikes called “airheads," and eventually included Californian photographer Felix Adamo, himself a longtime motorcycle enthusiast.  The trip also included a stop in Cincinnati at the Bakersfield themed restaurant 'Bakersfield OTR.' The entire round trip was 6,500 miles and took 22 days to complete. Said Adamo: "In all we traveled through 18 states, averaging about 350 miles a day. While we did stay with some family, friends and a couple of hotels along the way, a majority of the time we camped at various sites along the way. Everything we needed was packed on our motorcycles." Adamo is planning on an photography exhibition of the trip in the near future. (photos courtesy of Felix Adamo)

 * .... BANKRUPTCIES: The list of California cities in or nearing bankruptcy continues to grow, with Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes leading the way.  And according to Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, Tehachapi is among a new list of cities that are signaling they are in trouble. Skelton said Tehachapi and seven other cities - Arvin, El Monte, Fairfield, Grover Beach, Lancaster, Monrovia and Riverbank - had told potential bond buyers that they are in serious trouble.

* ... TRASH: Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about litter, and my post the other day about the piñata party that left Jastro Park a mess triggered this response from Rosalyn Malamma, a teacher at Standard Middle School. "In my sixth grade classroom at Standard Middle School, the last ten minutes are devoted to cleaning the room. While we have a great custodial staff, my students need to learn to clean up after themselves.  Have a gread day and keep writing!"

 * ... HITCHING POSTS: Remember those old hitching posts that used to be so common around town? Deputy city fire chief Tim Lynch tells them there are two across the street from Fire Station No. 2 on East 21st Street just west of Pyrenees Bakery.

* ... MOTTO: City councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan gave me a call to promote the eighth annual fund raiser to promote "In God We Trust" as our national motto. The event will be held Thursday, July 26, at the Marriott Hotel downtown. Call Tina Miller at (661) 325-7601 for reservations.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Catholic Online's Michael Galloway resorts to name calling and racial epithets as he is grilled by KBAK TV's Kurt Rivera, and our local housing market remains red hot for sellers

 * ... CATHOLIC ONLINE: There are few things as entertaining as watching the subject of a local investigation squirm, lose his cool and resort to name calling when pressed to answer a simple question. The latest case of bad form involved Michael Galloway, a local entrepreneur who apparently has built a pretty good business through his for-profit website (Don't confuse with being the official arm of the church) The business has been the subject of numerous investigations and fines, and last week KBAK's Kurt Rivera followed up on a complaint that the company had withheld payment to a contractor. Galloway turned ugly when Rivera pressed him for answers. "You're an angry little Hispanic man. Geraldo. Isn't your name Geraldo? Is your name Geraldo? You're dressed like a pinhead. You are a pinhead," Galloway said while being filmed. Rivera didn't back off and Galloway ended the interview with yet another racial slur: "Goodbye little man. Go eat some tacos.'" Really Michael?  Seems not even a website with the name of can buy one class. (photo courtesy of KBAK TV)

* ... TIGHT MARKET: Christine Zimmerman is a local Chevron employee who has been house hunting in one of the tightest real estate markets in recent memory. Unfortunately, the supply of homes is near an all time low, and what she is encountering is all too common. "Yesterday, we found 'the house:' price, location, amenities, aesthetics, the entire package. It was newly advertised, and we were enthusiastic. I contacted the local real estate company whose ad we found first thing this morning, using their online form to request a showing... The second email from the company explained to me that the property had been 'contingent' since April as a short sale, agreed to between seller and buyer pending bank approval." Christine wondered if this was ethical, but experts told me in this case, it is. Short sales take months, and backup offers are discouraged, so they homes remain listed in case the deal falls through. Gary Belter of Coldwell Banker told me reasonably priced homes are "going in a heartbeat" via multiple offers. "It's a crazy market and there just isn't enough inventory," he said, "and the process of a short sale can really drag out the process." In the meantime, good luck to Christine and her husband in their search for a new home.

 * ... BAD FORM: A pox on the family who left Jastro Park littered with candy wrappers, used paper plates and gift wrapping paper after holding a piñata party Saturday. The broken piñata and other assorted pieces of trash were left exactly where they fell onto the grass. Is it really too much to ask parents to clean up after their children?

 * ... GOOD FORM: Meanwhile for every example of bad behavior someone, somewhere is trying to do the right thing. Just two blocks from Jastro Park and the piñata party, a woman walking her dog casually picks up discarded cups and trash as she makes her afternoon rounds.

* ... PAINTING: Hats off to Rich Johnson and his crew of meticulous painters for giving my 1909 downtown bungalow a fresh coat of paint that makes the old place look nearly new. Old homes are like relationships; they need a lot of love and care to keep fresh, and Johnson is an expert in breathing new life into houses that have seen better days. Johnson came to me via word of mouth and local recommendations. Give him a call as (661) 706-1077 if you're in the market for an expert painter.

 * ... COMPOSER: Congratulations to Coral Rose ("Coco") Chapman, the 6-year-old daughter of KEDC director Richard Chapman who just also happens to be a terrific young piano composer. Her original composition was among a handful chosen from over 500 statewide entries. Earlier this month, she performed her piece at the Composers Today Symposium in San Diego (held during the annual convention of the Music Teachers Association of California).  She attends Harmony Road Music School in Bakersfield.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Californian Radio (KERN 1180) to look at Bakersfield's pension costs with City Manager Alan Tandy, and Derek Benham hits another home run in selling his wine company

* ... CITY FINANCES: Three California cities - Mammoth Lakes, Stockton and now San Bernardino - are headed to bankruptcy court thanks to the effects of the long recession and bloated pension costs. Is Bakersfield facing a similar threat and what are the prospects for our city in the longer term? I'll be chatting with City Manager Alan Tandy Monday on Californian Radio KERN 1180 to review the state of our municipal finances. Join us at 9:15 a.m. and call in your questions at (661) 842-5376.

* ... PINOT: Former Bakersfield resident Derek Benham has done it again, building a private label wine company into a national powerhouse and selling it for a nice profit. That's the word from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that said Benham has sold his Mark West pinot noir brand for $160 million to beverage giant Constellation Brands. "The deal, one of the largest local wine label sales in recent history, marks the second time wine entrepreneur Derek Benham has built a small Sonoma County wine brand into a national powerhouse and sold it," the paper said.  "In 2001, Benham and his brother, Courtney Benham, sold their Blackstone merlot wine brand for $140 million to a partnership created by Constellation and BRL Hardy. The transaction includes the Mark West trademark and inventories of wines from three California appellations: California, Russian River and Santa Lucia. Grapes from the Russian River appellation make up a small fraction, less than 1 percent, of the pinot noir produced by Mark West."

 * ... HALL OF FAME: Kudos to Andrea Zander Norman who is being inducted into the Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame at Stanford University. Andrea is the daughter of Phil and MaryLee Zander and grew up on the tennis courts at the Bakersfield Racquet Club.  Not only did Andrea win the Valley Doubles title with Karin Blom, but she also worked at the Racquet Club flipping hamburgers for Gerry Karr. Thanks to old friend Ginnie Eschner for sharing this bit of good news.

 * ... OLYMPICS: A fund raiser to help send the family of local wrestler Jake Varner to the London Olympics will be held at the SkyBar Lounge on Rosedale Highway next week. The event is being put on by the Coyote Club Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 4208 Rosedale Highway.

* ... SPOTTED: Reader Ginny Espinoza spotted this touching scene recently involving a young hand and his dog on a hot Bakersfield day; "A young man walking with his little dog suddenly bent down to feel his doggie's feet - then put his hand on the sidewalk cement - and continued his walk with his dog in his arms! Regardless what anyone says – I love your column and look forward to reading it!"

 * ... ACHIEVER: Laurie Barnes, a graduate of Bakersfield Christian High School, is spending the summer in southern France as an exchange student. She will be a junior at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where her sister Katie graduated from. Katie went on to attend George Mason University School of Law in Virginia and is preparing for the bar exam. The girls are the daughters for Brad and Julie Barnes.