Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bakersfield is among the fastest selling home markets and another example of some really bad homophobic form at a local bar

 * ... HOME MARKET: The average home in Bakersfield stays on the market just 44 days before being sold, putting our town on the list of cities with the fastest selling home markets. According to, our median home price of $149,500 "is the lowest on this list, except for Detroit, and only a little more than a fifth of the median price of a San Francisco house. Only 1,815 houses were listed on the market, a decline of more than 47% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the 44 days on the market is a drop of 22.8% from a year ago, compared to the national average of 9.67%. The labor market is far weaker in Bakersfield than it is in some of California’s healthier local economies, with an unemployment rate of more than 14% in June, compared to about 7.5% in San Francisco and 8.2% in the United States."

* ... BAD FORM: Ty Shaffer was enjoying an evening at Tahoe Joe's Sunday when he witnessed an extreme case of bullying mixed with homophobia. "This wasn't a kid bulling another kid, this was a grown adult bulling two other grown men he claimed where gay... This man was at the bar and told these two men that he was going to take them out to the parking lot and kick their asses." A couple in their 50s intervened and sure enough the bully turned on them and tried to grab the woman, only to be deterred by her husband, who got into a tussle with the bully. "The fight was broken up. The older man left with a gouge above his eye from the fall.  He and his wife said that people at any age need to stand up for others and put bigots like this guy in his place. By the way I overheard the bully say he was going to call the cops on that man and have him jailed. Really, didn't he just commit a hate crime? Typically response from a bully!"

* ... HALLOWEEN: Another seasonal oddity from my correspondent Craig Holland. "Facebook friends are bemoaning the fact that Wal-Mart and Target already have Halloween costumes for sale." In August?

 * ... BAKO FAMILIES: Sean McNally of Grimmway Farms tipped me to this tidbit about the first cousin of former Fresno State football player and now New York Giants Bear Pascoe: "(His) first cousin, Kathleen (Pascoe) Clerou, recently had a baby girl named Lucile Pauline Clerou after the matriarchs of two great longtime Bakersfield families.

* ... SPOTTED: Jon Bennett is a resident of Seven Oaks and regularly spots a young man driving a gray Buick Ranier SUV who has the bad habit of tossing trash out his window into the street. "He has been tossing trash all around the neighborhood for months even after being confronted by numerous residents," he told me. "Some people are just jerks." In fact, Bennett sent me a video of the young man doing that, callously throwing trash out the window of his silver-gray SUV.

* ... SEVEN OAKS: And speaking of Seven Oaks, the old truism "all politics are local" is alive and well even at homeowner associations across our community. Which is why I found it interesting that an old friend, retired dentist Robert Smith, is running for the homeowner's association board of directors at Seven Oaks Grand Island. Bob is trying to increase homeowner influence and threw his hat into the ring for the August 22 election.

* ... QUAKE MEMORIES: Marjorie Poore Payne shared with me her memories of the 1952 earthquake, when her family was living at their dairy farm in Lamont. After the "big July shaker," Marjorie's mother took the children to the then-famous Union Avenue pool. "My mother stayed while we swam for several hours until, over the loud speaker, it was announced that everyone should get out of the pool and go home that there had been another big quake. We did return home to Lamont to find that waterlines were broken and major damage for the operation of the dairy barn. My dad had to truck in water for the cows and of course have a generator to milk the cows. The memories still linger and every July and August I remember that unexpected and most frightening event."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Downtown Bakersfield boasts new eateries including the new upscale steak house The Mark, and local kids bust the clays in skeet tournaments

* ... EATS: I wandered into the new downtown steak house called The Mark this week and I have one word for it: spectacular. It's located in the old Goose Loonies building on 19th Street just around the corner from the Fox Theater and the Padre Hotel, and though its sign is not yet up, the renovated building with a handsome outdoor patio are easy to find. The eatery features wide distressed wood floors and long dark bar that remind me of some old place on Union Square in San Francisco or a rusty speakeasy in the swank Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The owners, two podiatrists, tell me the grand opening will come later, but this is a place to stop by if you are in the mood for something new and exciting. Meanwhile just a block down the street Dr. Nick Hansa says business is brisk at his Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, a clean and welcoming Thai restaurant with a friendly buzz and terrific food. Chef's Choice opened in April of last year and has now gotten into the catering business as well. If you are one of those who live in the Southwest or Northwest and haven't ventured downtown recently, you are missing some terrific eateries. (file photos of Chef's Choice Noodle Bar)

* ... SKEET: Bakersfield has a long tradition of producing world champion skeet shooters, and the Buoni children continued that legacy at the Junior World Skeet Shoot in Stockton this past weekend. Dominic Buoni, a graduate of Bakersfield Christian High School who now attends Lindenwood University on a skeet scholarship, was crowned Collegiate .410 bore champion and Collegiate high overall runner up by busting 397 out of 400 targets. Meanwhile his little sister, Jenna, took home high overall Junior Lady Runner-up third and Junior Lady .410 champ. Congratulations to these kids. (Dominic, center, shown with his skeet squad)

... SPOTTED: Donald Taylor spotted actor Ned Beatty at Noriega's last week enjoying lunch. "He looked fit and was very gracious to all. Semper Fi," Taylor said. (file photo of Ned Beatty)

 * ... OVERHEARD: A resident of La Cresta is sharing the story of a neighbor who stumbled upon a homeless encampment at the rear of his property near Garces Memorial High School. "It looked like someone had been living there for months," she said.

* ... LANE SPLITTING: What is your feeling about motorcyclists who split lanes in traffic? Kerry McGill said he generally has no problem with it unless it is done at reckless, high speeds. "Several years ago while returning from Irvine I was in the car pool lane doing 10 miles an hour when a motorcycle passed me doing 65 mph and hit my passenger side mirror. He ended up crashing, breaking both legs. A motorcyclist behind him stopped and said he could not believe how reckless that guy was. How many times, I wonder, have we drivers been startled by those lane splitting in stopped or almost stopped traffic. I think it should be illegal, and I have a motorcycle license."

* .... EARTHQUAKE: Here's one last memory of the 1952 earthquake, a note from Linda Meadows Polston who was just three and a half years old but recalls it vividly.  Her parents had been awakened by a loud roar and ran into their back yard where her father held her tightly. "My grandma Perry was saying loudly, 'I hear the trumpets of the Lord.' She kept repeating it ... my grandma was convinced that the Lord's kingdom was coming and right now! It's amazing how a traumatic incident sticks in one's mind with clarity, even for a small child." (photo courtesy of

 * ... LEGION: The good folks over at the American Legion Post 26 have opened a thrift shop on the southeast corner of 21st and H streets. It is staffed by volunteers and customers pay what they can afford. All this to support local veterans, a cause worth supporting. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The final word on the old O'Hare house near Beale Park and readers rant about trash along the road, texting while driving and motorcycle lane splitters

 * ... TEXTING: David Moren dropped me a note to add his voice to the debate over folks texting while driving. "All day long you can see people driving in and out of the Superior Court parking lot at 1215 Truxtun... while talking and texting on their phones. I have often wondered why BPD does not station an officer in plain clothes there and start collecting revenue for our city. Make the fine $1,000 per infraction and the city will have a surplus of money in a week's time."

* ... TRASH: Patty Orsburn witnessed a good deed on Rosedale Highway recently that she wanted to pass along. There, on the east side of the highway near the old PGE facility, was a woman picking up trash. "I then realized the vast amounts of trash that were all mixed in with the weeds and realized what a daunting task she had taken on and on such a hot day! I wished there hadn't been so much traffic and that I didn't have so little time so as to be able to pull over and help her or at least bring her some water to show that I appreciated her effort to clean up Bakersfield."

* ... SMALL WORLD: Christine Nichols was on an Alaskan cruise in May when she ran across a tour guide who once called Bakersfield home. "We were on a bus tour of Mount McKinley when we learned our guide was from Bakersfield of all places," she told me. "She is a retired teacher named Karla Gallaghan and her maiden name was Karla Stormount. She was just a wonderful guide and says she has family here. What a small world!"

 * ... CAL RADIO: Join me on Californian Radio KERN 1180 Monday when I will be chatting with Bruce Jay, the president and CEO of Valley Republic Bank, which was recently cited as one of the safest banks in America. We'll also be talking with Jeff Konya, Athletics Director at CSUB, for an update on Cal State athletics.

* ... LANE SPLITTERS: A reader's complaint about motorcyclists splitting lanes (legal in California) this commentary from Stephen Montgomery. "If traffic is stalled at some long stoplight and there is room to avoid, among other things, whacking anyone's side mirror I'll slide through it. As far as those who resent bikers splitting lanes I pointed out that if done safely, it's legal. And, importantly, this practice doesn't cause the cage driver any delay. Furthermore every motorcycle on the road is one less car taking up space on an already overcrowded road. My message to those resenting the freedom gained by two wheels is you don't have a real complaint so get over it!"

 * ... O'HARE HOUSE: My thanks to reader Nancy Thomas, who provided me with the complete history of the old "House On the Hill" on Dracena Street near Beale Park. It turns out the house, which became a home for priests after the 1952 earthquake, was owned by the family of Nancy's best friend, Judy O'Hare Newman, granddaughter of James and Sara O'Hare. "Judy is currently residing in Morro Bay, with her husband Terry Newman (son of former Bakersfield College football coach, Ray Newman)," she said. The history of the house: "The house on O'Hare Hill was owned by James and Sara O'Hare. The O'Hares were  a pioneering farm family in Kern County, establishing the family farm in 1869. The original land grant was signed by President Grant.  Jim O'Hare's father, Peter O'Hare, was a member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors (Third District) at the time of President McKinley's death. The O'Hare family also owned the Jewel Dairy. They raised  seven children in that house: Mary Katherine (Franey), Pauline (Pascoe), Teresa (Lacques), James Michael (married Katherine lnez Rea), Josephine (Lugar), Colleen (Catzin) and Margaret Ann (Hislop). James Michael (Bud) was a member of the Future Farmers Association and sold pigs he raised to MGM.  They appeared in the original film 'Little Abner.' Sara O'Hare's sister was Mae Saunders, believed by the family to have been the first woman reporter for the Bakersfield Californian. Mary K. Shell was a cub reporter when Mae was a lead reporter. Jim and Sara were the grandparents of 48 grandchildren, many of whom still live in Kern County.  One of their great grandchildren, Bear Pascoe, is currently playing football with the New York Giants."