Thursday, December 29, 2016

Some wishes for 2017, honoring those among us who give so unselfishly, recognizing good service and my personal list of things I would like to see accomplished in the new year

 * ... NEW YEAR: I think it's time to move on from 2016, which delivered some sad news on the passings front (everyone from Carrie Fisher and mother Debbie Reynolds to John Glenn and local
icons like Ray Dezember) to a presidential election that left the country divided. Here are some random thoughts as we head into the New Year.

 * ... PAY IT FORWARD: A few things I would like to see more of this year: random acts of kindness, a more civil discourse among those who disagree, empathy and understanding for those who struggle emotionally or economically, appreciation of those who came before us to break barriers and improve our lives, good service, charity and love.

* ... FORGET ABOUT IT: Conversely here are a few things I can do without in 2017: police shootings and gang violence, illegal trash dumping, so called 'micro aggressions and safe zones' in our public schools and colleges, political correctness, selfies, political hate speech on both sides of the aisle, group think, alarmist rhetoric on fossil fuels and academic arrogance.

 * ... ANGELS AMONG US: I'd also like to end this year with a personal thank you to some of the people who live among us and unselfishly give so much back. You may know of these names or not, but trust me these people give back to our community in ways big and small. So here goes: Deborah Leary, Tracy Walker-Kiser, Jim and Beverly Camp, Tuesdy and Kevin Small, Sheryl Barbich, Lois Henry, all the volunteers at the Assistance League, Jenny Waguespack, Marv Steinert, Vickie Thrasher, Monsignor Craig Harrison, Randy Martin, Janis Varner, Diane Lake and Marjorie Nixon.

 * ... SERVICE: Here are some tradesmen and business people I regularly do business with. Not only are they masters of their crafts, but I count them among my friends: house painter Rich Johnson, handyman Dean Farnsworth, Realtors Mary Christensen, Gary Belter and John and Katy Glentzer, restaurateur Claire Uricchio Elieff,  arts promoter Don Martin, Rami who owns Ramco Express on F Street, Tony Warren at Bakersfield Plumbing, Jeff Simpson at Sequoia Sandwich Co., and the staff and managers at Mission Bank.

 * ... GET IT DONE: Some things I would like to see done locally: finish the 24th Street widening project and Centennial Corridor; clean up Highway 58 and Highway 99, a new Bass Pro Shop on Highway 99, more downtown development and in-fill and finally, someone needs to figure out how to end the rash of mailbox thefts.

 * ... SURPRISE: My biggest surprise in 2016: I didn't think anything could smell sweeter than a puppy until my granddaughter was born. Here's to all you grandparents out there.

 * ... TALENT: Two local broadcasters I miss are former KERO anchor Jackie Parks and KGET morning anchor Kiyoshi Tomono. Both had an intelligence and style that is unusual for a market our size.

 * ... CAROLING: How about a shout-out to the members of a CSUB fraternity and sorority who took the time to sing Christmas carols to the residents of the Carriage House Estates? Said Phyllis Adams: "Their reasoning was they wanted to bring back caroling to people. It was thoroughly enjoyable to have these young people do this on their own."

 * ... GOOD FORM: And finally a reader dropped me this note about the folks over at Nothing Bundt Cakes who demonstrated some over the top customer service. "On Christmas eve my daughter's friend, who has undergone chemo and radiation in her fight against cancer for the past year, realized her husband forgot to pick up their cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes for their Christmas dinner. On Christmas morning my granddaughter e-mailed Nothing Bundt Cakes, they replied and agreed to meet the customer at their shop to give them their cakes. If you are in the market for a cake I suggest you go to Nothing Bundt Cakes, they take customer service seriously."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Graffiti vandals tag cars in the La Cresta neighborhood, more thieves target local mailboxes and another memory of the talented Bryan Kelly

* ... SCROOGE: Some folks in the neighborhood near Garces Memorial High School awoke the day after Christmas to find their cars had been tagged by graffiti vandals. I suppose these "artists" have
tired of bridge overpasses and alleyways and are now moving through the darkness randomly vandalizing cars parked in driveways. Let's hope they all get a visit from bad karma in the days and months ahead.

* ... MAILBOX THEFT: The amount of mailbox theft across town is simply staggering, and hardly a day goes by without someone telling me it happened to them. This time it happened to Nellis Johnson, who had put some Christmas cards in a stuffed blue postal receptacle only to find out later someone had fished our her mail. Said Johnson: "A nice lady came to our door with four of our Christmas cards she had found in the calendar department of Office Depot on Stockdale, stamps not canceled, letters opened. She was a mail carrier and advised me to go to the Post Office and report it. That afternoon, we received a UPS package from Office Depot containing six more cards, uncancelled and torn open, with a very, very nice letter of apology from the store. These letters had been found in their men's bathroom. The mail had been taken from the mail boxes outside the Stockdale post office! I had stupidly put them in an already stuffed box, laughing at us dummies who were trying to get the cards delivered at the last minute! The postal employee I spoke with was truly saddened by this event, suggested I bring the mail inside when the box was full, apologized for not having an empty post box, asked me to come in when I see this again (?) and gave me the number to the postmaster. He said he would report the matter himself, but knew my call would be needed. I learned a lesson I shouldn't have had to learn because I know better."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you get a present from me with scissors and a roll of tape trapped under the wrapping paper, I'm gonna need those back."

 * ... BRYAN KELLY: Mary Bensusen-Page wrote to remember the well-lived life of Bryan Kelly, who died earlier this month at the age of 63. "Thank you so much for the  Bryan Kelly mentions in your column. I have known him for 35 years. I had the privilege of being one of his original dressers when he and Michael Izquierdo performed in 'Greater Tuna.' This is a two man show in which they portrayed over 20 different characters. The show ran for nearly a year. It was done at the Moose Lodge on Old Stine Road playing Sunday evenings only.  It became almost cult-like with full houses each performance. Jim  Baldwin led the audience in singing the Star Spangled Banner each performance to kick off the show. What a special time that was! He was a professional actor having earned a SAG card after appearing in a made for TV movie starring Judith Light and David Ogden Stiers. He has performed with almost every theatre group in town in addition to co-owning with Michael, TB Productions which gave local talent a chance to shine in commercials and in print. It was an honor to have called him friend. He and Michael, on stage and off, were incredible!"

 * ... OBITS: John Pryor was reading the obituary page and had this reaction to the death of Kathryn Bailey.  "We attended East High together although she was a senior when I was a sophomore. In that year, Kathryn and three of us sophomore trumpet players (Jim Jones, David Hauser, and I) entered a talent contest sponsored by the East Bakersfield Progressive Club on Baker Street where a temporary stage was constructed over the canal.  A huge crowd gathered.  What was special was Kathryn's talented transposition of her piano score of Aram Khachaturian's Sabre Dance into a trumpet trio.  Despite the high number of contestants, with Kathryn's piano accompaniment, we won first place!  As her obituary indicates, she went on in life to work with major performers in the Bay Area such as Pat Boone, Anita Bryant, Johnny Mathis, Billy Holiday, and The Four Freshmen to mention but a few -- plus multiple mentions in Herb Caen's columns in the Chronicle. Who says Bakersfield doesn't produce world-class talent? "

 * ... MEMORIES: Evelyn Johnson, the longtime secretary of the downtown Rotary Club, remembers when she and husband Roy moved to Bakersfield in 1947 and "all the police motorcycles were red. One day one of the wives of a city or county official complained.. eventually they all got painted black and white."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hats off to Sal Moretti for cleaning up a community eyesore, Californians rush to buy guns and ammunition and Jackie Parks remembers Bryan Kelly

* ... TRASH: Here's a shout-out to Sal Moretti and the folks over at the city Solid Waste Division for taking the time to clean up a stretch of road that has become a community eyesore. After I posted last week about the mounds of garbage (mattresses, chairs, couches, old washing machines etc) that people
illegally discarded off Fairfax (the old county dump road) Moretti privately messaged me that he was going to send crews out to clean it up. And that they did. Supervisor Robert Manuel and his team filled several dump trucks full and left the area pristine. The city can't force people to do the right thing, and it must be tiring to spend so much time and energy cleaning up after people who view the world as their own personal toilet. But thank you Sal. So here is my remedy for that road: since it already is a dead end, close it off at Fairfax with a gate and code to allow access to authorized personnel. There is no reason for any vehicles to travel that road. And finally, shed the name Old County Dump Road and name it after Sal. (Before and after pictures provided by Sal Moretti)

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "On my marriage license, where they ask in which state I live, I wrote: Depression."

 * ... GUN LAWS: There's another rush on guns and ammunition in California, thanks to a legislature that embraces some of the toughest anti-gun laws in the country. Remarked Realtor Michael Richert: "I’m not good on a crowded day at Disneyland, or anywhere for that matter where my space bubble is pierced. That was never more evident on Saturday, December 17 when I stopped by for some ammo at a local gun store. The last Saturday to purchase certain types of riffles and it was chaos. We usually stay dormant unless someone tells us we can’t have something anymore."

 * ... BRYAN KELLY: When I wrote about the death of 63-year-old Bryan Kelly the other day, it triggered this response from former KBAK anchor Jackie Parks, who moved to a TV market outside of Baltimore with husband Todd Karli. Said Jackie: "You see, he was a dear friend of my eccentric aunt Millie when she lived in Bakersfield many, many years ago. He would later keep her updated on my life (from watching me on TV) and was thrilled to meet me one day at Trader Joe's so he could let Millie know. Over the years he chatted with me about the birth of our kids, recommended kid-friendly foods, talked to them about their interests, encouraged piano and ballet lessons (neither which took hold for long) and never failed to ask about Millie who, at 92, will be heartbroken to hear he is gone. Thanks for writing such a nice farewell."

* ... MAILBOX THEFT: I received a note from reader Kelly Clanton with this plea: "We have suffered our third mail theft this year, this time Friday night with Christmas packages taken from our dropbox. Last time a check was forged and we had to get a new account. At least 10 mail thefts have occurred within a half mile radius of our 'safe' northwest neighborhood this year. Sending this to encourage Postmaster Linda La Force, postal inspectors Jeff Fitch and Bill Zembridge and  Congressman Kevin McCarthy to work faster on this for us, and come up with an immediate solution please.  Running to the mailbox to pick up our mail mid day and driving miles to the post office to drop off outgoing mail is not the answer."

 * ... GOOD SERVICE: James in Taft wrote to thank someone who goes over and above with customer service: "Last Sunday morning (12/18/16) at 7 a.m. I was warming up with my morning tea as it was 32 outside, when my doorbell rang. I thought who would be hear that early. When I opened the door and I was surprised it was my Californian deliverer, Michelle Ayala in Taft. She handed me my paper and said it was too cold to have to come out and get it. She has been doing a great job and it was a pleasure to give her a Christmas gift as I try and do every year.  So all you subscribers be sure and do the same for your deliverer as they have to endure all types of weather and conditions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Noting the loss of a friend who made me smile, Condoleezza Rice heads to Bako for a fund raiser and Kurt Rivera winds up in Sacramento as an anchor and reporter

 * ... FRIENDSHIP: I lost a good friend the other day, and I am kicking myself for not taking the time to stay closer in touch. His name was Bryan Kelly and many of you may remember him as the cheery, wise cracking host at Trader Joe's who was forever sharing stories and making people laugh. Many more of you may remember him as a regular in the local theater scene, primarily at the
Bakersfield Music Theater where his mile-wide personality felt at home on stage. He would often appear in the same plays as his husband and life partner, Michael Izqierdo. After Bryan left Trader Joe's on disability we stayed in touch, always planning a dinner party that somehow was never scheduled. His rapier-like wit was in evidence when he would fire off a politically incorrect email, and both being cat people, he would faithfully sign off with a reminder like this: "Now go get some fresh tuna for that queen puss and rub her tummy." But I lost touch over the past several months and I was not even aware Bryan was battling liver cancer until two friends - Susan Reep and Jim Baldwin - alerted me to the bad news. He succumbed to it last week. Thanks for the laughs and the smiles, my friend.

 * ... CONDI RICE: I heard the other day that the folks over at the Boys and Girls Club have scored a home run by booking former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to appear at a fund raiser early next year. The club's Ricki Peace confirmed that Rice will appear at the Feb. 22 fund raiser, along with our own House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Rice will no doubt be a hit and the beneficiary will be the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.

 * ... KURT RIVERA: Remember Kurt Rivera, the KBAK news anchor who lost his job when he was accused of abusing his girlfriend? It looks like Rivera landed on his feet at KXTV in Sacramento, where he is both reporting and anchoring. Rivera, it should be noted, was never formally charged by the District Attorney, but the incident was enough to end his career in Bakersfield.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: From my friend Joe Drew's Facebook page: "The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends."

 * ... GOOD FORM: I ran into a local banker during last week's rain and he shared this inspiring story with me. "I saw a homeless guy on 17th Street and his pants were totally soaked," he told me. "I always have an extra pair of pants with me and he was about my size, so I gave it to him. I also gave him my Rotary cap. Think about all the old clothes we all have that we give away and there is so much need out there. Please don't use my name." Your request is granted, and thank you for your generosity.

 * ... APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: I never knew of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar until a friend shared his secret to healthy living. "I mix a little unfiltered apple cider vinegar with water every morning and I have not had a cold in five years." That is good enough for me; count me a follower.

 * ... SUBARU: Hats off to Sangera Subaru for donating a Subaru Impreza to the folks over at Convenant Coffee, the non profit dedicated to helping former foster youth gain job skills. The car will be used by Covenant employees to perform service calls. Subaru general manager Damon Culbertson noted he hoped to employ some of the Covenant clients, and added "the coffee is really good" as well.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Out with the old guard and in with the new and Bakersfield welcomes a new mayor, police chief and new council members, and recognizing the remarkable work of retiring Californian photographer Casey Christie

* ... CITY COUNCIL: Change is inevitable, particularly in politics and government, but it was bittersweet to watch the new City Council being sworn in. We will all miss Mayor Harvey Hall, the
eternal optimist and ambassador of goodwill, but I am confident incoming Mayor Karen Goh will display the same inclusiveness that was the hallmark of the Hall years. It's in her nature to do so. Terry Maxwell and Harold Hanson are also gone, and in their places are Andre Gonzales (downtown) and Jeff Tkac (southwest). New energy for new times.

 * ... CASEY CHRISTIE: Also leaving the local scene is longtime Californian photographer Casey Christie, whose stunning photographs graced the pages of the local newspaper for more than 25 years. Like Harvey Hall, Christie was always gracious, kind and thoughtful as he went about his work. Life will go on, but we will all miss his keen eye for capturing life in this place we call home.

 * ... LYLE MARTIN: And finally I am not sure there could have been a better choice to lead our police department than Lyle Martin, who replaced the retiring Greg Williamson as police chief. Martin's personality is one of openness and honesty, and he will have to call on that to confront a department under attack after yet another officer-involved shooting, this time claiming the life of an unarmed 73-year-old man in the southwest. Martin deserves a change to address some of the cultural and training issues facing the Bakersfield Police Department.

 * ... DUMP ROAD: Most of you have never been on the old County Dump Road right off Fairfax and Alfred Harrell Highway. The dump has long been closed, and the road is a dead end so it doesn't get much traffic other than cyclists who like its long steady climb to the top. And even though "no dumping" signs are posted all along the way, the road has become a favorite spot for people to discard everything from soiled mattresses to washing machines to old sofas and chairs. It is an absolute mess, a civic embarrassment, and it resembles something out of a dirt poor Third World country. Can we get it cleaned up?

* ... MEAN STREETS: My earlier post about the growing criminal element on our streets hit a nerve and prompted responses like this one from reader Lydia Dunton: "I think 'prison realignment' and the subsequent early-release programs are a direct cause of our mean streets. It doesn't take a genius to foresee that this would happen. Thanks federal mandate!"

* ... TAFT COLLEGE: There was a nice scene out at Taft College recently when the college foundation surprised Chevron with an announcement that it was naming its STEM Lab after the energy company. The Chevron STEM Lab recognizes Chevron's generosity to the college, totaling more than $1.3 million over the last several years. Said Dr. Deb Daniels, president of Taft College: “We are grateful to Chevron for their continuous generous support of not only the programs and students of Taft College but of their support for education from elementary school through college. Their investment in our community has made it possible for more students to go to college and become part of an educated workforce to return to our community."

 * ... MEMORIES: Lastly, Bill Clayton wrote to talk about the old 34th Street Junior Baseball diamonds off 34th Street. "I played Little League there in the 1950s and my team was the Hod Carriers sponsored by the labor union by the same name. Our coach was Mr. Pigg who I think was a union member. I like your Bakersfield Observed column!" Thank you Bill.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Are the streets of Bakersfield growing meaner by the day? And would it surprise you to know that the labrador retriever is among the dogs that need the most attention?

 * ... MEAN STREETS: Are our streets growing meaner by the day? I've been mulling this over for the past year or so as I've noticed an explosion of homelessness as well as an alarming rise in young men who clearly of the criminal bent. For the most part the homeless are harmless, and many are
suffering from emotional or mental disorders or just simply down on their luck. But the restless, jobless criminal element is also out there, contributing to the spike in petty thefts and burglaries that has not left any neighborhood unscathed. And we wonder why folks want to live behind the gates in Seven Oaks and other planned communities.

* ... DOGS: Do you know what breeds of dogs need the most attention? By that I mean they thrive on human interaction. According to the website, the Australian Shepherd tops the list follows by the Labrador Retriever, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Border Collie, Brussels Griffon, German Shorthair Pointer and the Cocker Spaniel. Personally my tastes have always run toward pound mutts.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Russia hacked the election and I can't even hack my neighbors wifi."

 * ... PROVIDENCE: Congratulations to Tracy Leach and her crew over at Providence Strategic Consulting which held a holiday open house at its newly renovated offices on F Street. Leach furnished the offices with some handsome locally made tables and wrought iron, a testament to the creativity that Kern County offers.

 * ... WOOD WORKING: And speaking of local artists, I recently purchased a seven-foot long handmade wood table from Sam Ames, a friend who has been repairing wood instruments (violins etc) for years and has now turned his attention to making custom furniture  The table is made from reclaimed vineyard stakes and - like the piece in Tracy Leach's office - speaks to our local history, our agricultural heritage and a burgeoning local artisan scene.

* ... STARS THEATER: The Stars Dinner Theater has been struggling financially for several years now, but its regulars give its performances rave reviews. Said Marilynn Dunbar: "We attended Forever Plaid, the Christmas version, and it was delightful. The talent was amazing, as good as anything you would see in Los Angeles. The only thing lacking was a larger audience."

* ... MEMORIES: Here's some more on those junior baseball fields that existed next to Memorial Hospital, from reader Warren Pectin. "There were 10 baseball diamonds at the JBA fields on 34th Street near the Memorial Hospital. I played two years in the minor league (junior high school age) and two years in the major leagues (freshman and sophomore years.) ... There were close to 60 different teams consisting of about 15 to 18 individuals/ team, each with a sponsor that provided uniforms, bats, baseballs, etc... The managers and assistant managers were guys who enjoyed baseball and coaching, some of whom were fathers of the players but not on the same team as I recall. We usually played one game a week on a Saturday and the 'season' started before school was out and ended by the last days of summer. Each age group had an all-star game that was played at Sam Lynn field on North Chester. The playing fields were moved to the Sam Lynn area my second year in the minors (1959) and remained there for some years after I quit playing. The 1,000 or so boys who played and the 120 managers and assistant managers were kept up to date weekly as standings were published weekly by the Californian and occasionally an article about an individual or team would also be featured in the Californian."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Quick thinking neighbor helps save the life of an injured dog, Ryan Alsop gets a big endorsement and watch out for those thieves who steal packages off porches

 *... ANIMAL CONTROL: Catherine Sarad sent a shout-out to an animal control officer who possibly saved the life of her dog. "One of our dogs, Callahan, jumped over a six foot high gate and
got out of our yard. This was not normal behavior for him  We had had some very odd occurrences at our home for entire week prior to this. We believe something had scarred him so much he felt he had to escape anyhow possible. We live on 21st Street and Beech. He was hit by a car on the corner of our intersection. Someone called animal control right away, and thankfully an animal control vehicle was close by and responded quickly. The animal control officer called my husband, John, and he was able to get there immediately. The animal control officer drove Calahan to our family vet with John following behind. Calahan did survive, but his recovery will take some time. If animal control had not been called quickly and responded so quickly Calahan would not have survived.
He has had jaw surgery at the VCA Veterinary Specialists of the Valley in Woodland Hills.  He has had to have four teeth removed.  His left front leg is paralyzed, but we are working with it and hoping he will use out of it again and will not need amputation. We are so grateful to the person who called animal control and the quick response of the animal control unit. As with a lot of pet owners, our pets are part of our family."

 * ... ALSOP: The county's new chief executive officer, Ryan Alsop, got a sterling endorsement from Chris Frank, longtime former director of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. Frank reach out to me to say she hired Alsop as a legislative intern when he was in his last year of college. "He worked with GRC (governmental review council), air quality committee and petroleum committee. He traveled with me on legislative trips and was the just a standout in innovative thinking. He left to work for Congressman Stephen Horn in Washington D.C.  I could not be more excited that he is back to lead the county through the challenges ahead." Alsop grew up in Bakersfield and attended Cal State Bakersfield.

 * ... PACKAGES: This is the high season for thieves who follow the UPS and postal service trucks to steal packages left on porches. I caught two younger men doing just that on a house just down the street, and after confronting them, they put the package back on the porch. Talk to any police officer and they will tell you it is happening all over town.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If your story doesn’t end with 'but his eyebrows will eventually grow back,' I don’t wanna hear about it."

 * ... FAIRNESS: Patti Garcia wrote to defend folks on the quiet eastside street of Ina Court. She was responding to a reader who said someone on Ina Court was tossing dog feces into another street. Said Garcia: "I found your blog this morning from Nancy Vibe quite interesting since my home backs up to Auburn Street  on Ina Court.  I applaud the gentleman who helps keep our community clean. However I am a responsible pet owner, who owns a pooper scooper and picks up after my dogs almost daily. If you are a regular driver on Auburn Street you may have noticed this Hispanic lady walking her two dogs daily with her 'pickup bag'  in hand. Well that is me, Patti, who lives on Ina Court.  I have wonderful neighbors who I can't imagine would be that irresponsible. I have noticed that a lot of people allow their dogs to do their business on other people's property and just keep on walking. So to mention Ina Court in your otherwise GOOD FORM, not only took the focus off a good deed done, but unfair to the residents on Ina Court." I stand corrected, Patti.

 * ... MEMORIES: And finally,  Dave “Doc” Rangel, the retired athletic trainer at Stockdale High School, shared this "Just read about the JBA (Junior Baseball Association) blog. I remember the Bakersfield Batting Range was also there with JBA the fields. My father would be getting a haircut on the south side of 34th street and I would go across the street and hit at the range. Thanks for the memories."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Will Majority leader Kevin McCarthy play an important role as the liaison between the House Republicans and Donald Trump? And noting some really good form, as well as some bad stuff

 * ... MCCARTHY: It looks like the election of Donald Trump as president could thrust Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy into an important role in a Trump presidency. That's the word from Dan Walters, a longtime political columnist for the Sacramento Bee who appeared at the Vision for the Valley
symposium at Bakersfield College Tuesday. With Trump at odds with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Walters said Majority Leader McCarthy is in a unique position to be the liaison between Trump and House Republicans. "He is in a good position to play a larger role, and that can be good for California and Kern County," Walters told me. Another panel member, Marty Wilson of the CalChamber, said McCarthy was on the short list of people who Trump called on election night. Stay tuned.

 * ... GOOD (AND BAD) FORM: Here is some good (and bad) form all in one take, compliments of Nancy Vibe. "First off, I would like to send out a heartfelt 'thank you' to the elderly gentleman that walks up and down Auburn street between Oswell and Fairfax. This awesome man makes this trek maybe twice a month with a cart covered with a trash bag and a rake, and he picks up trash! I am sorry I do not know his name, but he is an angel. I have stopped to say thanks but didn't take the time
to ask his name. I will soon. And then there is the other side of the coin. There is a family that lives on Ina Court whose yard backs up to Auburn Street. This owner of a dog(s) has taken the time to FLING dog feces over his fence onto what he thinks is the easement of bushes next to the sidewalk.  Well this lazy moron has such a great arm on him (her) that it makes the sidewalk. Guess who ends up cleaning up the mess? Yeah, the man with integrity!"

 * ... STARBUCKS: The downtown Starbucks at 24th and L streets lost a regular customer the other day when he was verbally assaulted by one of the many homeless men who hang out in front asking for money. "I walked past him leaving with my coffee and he muttered something," he told me. "I didn't really hear him until he screamed and me, stood up and flipped over the outside table and told me he was going to kill me." Sick of being hit up for spare change, he has sworn off the downtown location.

* ... NORIEGA'S: I can only go a few months before I need a fix at Noriega's, one of the Basque treasures that has served our community for so many years. There are few things better than a hearty Basque meal on a chilly night at the iconic Bakersfield restaurant. My favorite: fried chicken night.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My parents believed you should never go to bed angry. They were awake for the last 17 years of their marriage."

 * ... REUSABLE BAGS: This interesting note from reader Steve Hollick showed up in my mailbox: "I just was getting caught up on your columns and wanted to put in my two cents on the reusable bags. I ordered three canvas bags from Each of the bags bought feed a starving child for a year. They are super durable bags and I constantly get compliments on them. They hold a ton of groceries. Plus, it makes me feel good that I am helping out a child in need."

* ... MEMORIES: I ran into a Bakersfield old-timer who was waxing poetic about growing up in a much simpler time. As a child, he said JBA (Junior Baseball Assn.) had fields across from Memorial Hospital where Gregg's Pharmacy stood.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally, Jean Burette added these memories: "I remember when the Bakersfield Californian was delivered in the evening, and once a month a man came to the door to collect for the bill. Oh yes, and I too remember the Union Avenue pool and also the pool at Hart Park. We used to enjoy badminton at Kern Union High School in the evening, supervised  by Cap Harlson, and afterward go to Reed and Bell for a great root Beer."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

CSUB appoints a new director of fund raising, Tracy Walker-Kiser gets some well deserved recognition by Memorial Hospital and it's time for the final First Friday of the year

* ... CSUB: Count me among those who are hoping CSUB made the right choice in appointing Victor Martin as the new vice president of university advancement. This is the key fund raising job on campus, requiring someone with high energy and deep connections in the community. The past two
to hold the job - David Melendez and Beverly Byl - were washouts and neither did much tap into the generosity of this town. The last person to do the job well - and he was terrific - was Michael Chertok, and he retired nine years ago. If I were Victor Martin, I would take Chertok out to lunch and pick his brain.

* ... GOOD FORM: Congratulations to three friends of mine who received some well deserved recognition recently. At the annual dinner of the Memorial Hospital Foundation board, Beverly and Jim Camp were feted as "patrons of the year" in recognition of their generosity to the hospital, and Tracy Kiser-Walker was named volunteer of the year. Tracy, who owns H. Walker's mens clothing store downtown, is a tireless volunteer for at least a half dozen organizations in town (downtown Rotary and the Junior League among others) and she was a driving force behind the annual Larry Carr Memorial Golf Tournament that raises so much money for hospital causes.

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: The final First Friday of the year kicks off at 5 p.m. today in the downtown Arts District. Traditionally businesses in the district have used this night promote holiday shopping. Metro Galleries has two exhibits opening. Italian photographer Masilmilliano Marchetti will be showing "Transitions," a series of beautiful photos of the California coast. Also, "Small Works 2016" features paintings by local artists priced under $500. First Friday creator Don Martin says past three First Fridays have had record Fall visitors and that the ArtWalk (sponsored by the Arts Council of Kern) continues to grow and will have 70 plus artists this month. Martin moved the monthly event under the umbrella of the new Bakersfield Arts District Foundation earlier this year, says there will be some major new additions to the event in 2017, including the launch of an Arts District app.

* ... CRIME: Mailboxes in the Seven Oaks area have been hit again, this time by someone with a master key to open the mailbox cluster unit. These thefts are happening all over town, frustrating folks who use these neighborhood "cluster" boxes.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I want the confidence of someone who doesn't bother putting a lid on their to-go cup."

 * ... SUSHI: A new sushi restaurant has opened downtown and it will host its grand opening today (Friday). It's called Yamato and it is located in the same space on 19th Street where Enso operated until recently. Ray Watson, president of Uniglobe Travel, told me the space has been spruced up and both the sushi and rolls were excellent. Yet another friend, Miranda Whitworth of the Kern Federal Credit Union, also raved about the place and posted a picture on social media of a sushi roll covered in seaweed salad.

  * ... YARD SALE: If you like yard sales and bargains, be advised there will be a huge one at Temple Beth El this Sunday. The temple, located just north of Garces Memorial High School on Loma Linda Drive, will  host the yard sale from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Temple vice president Greg Broida said some 100 families have donated furniture, tools, clothing, housewares and other items.

 * ... ACHIEVER: A few years ago I wrote about Phillip McGill, a Stockdale High student who graduated 10th in his class at the University of San Diego. Well now I learn that McGill has been named one of San Diego's "rising stars" for 2017 by Super Lawyers magazine. He is a mergers and acquisitions attorney working for Cooley LLP.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The ban on single-use plastic bags changes our behavior, a local business owner appears on a Food Network cookie challenge, and singling out a high achiever

* ... PLASTIC BAGS: Count me among those who are not unhappy with the new law banning single-use plastic bags. Most stores have already gotten rid of them, forcing folks to pay extra for a new, thicker plastic bag that can be used multiple times. But what happens if we treat the new bags the same way we did the thinner versions? I liked this thought from a Los Angeles Times editorial:  "The better solution is for consumers to eschew these thicker lookalikes and invest in bags made of materials such as canvas, cotton, nylon fiber or even woven plastic. They cost more upfront, but can last for years with the proper care and cleaning. Transitioning away from the 'paper or plastic?' days may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s the right thing to do for the environment. Make it count by embracing the spirit of the plastic ban, and not just swapping one plastic bag for another." My new favorite bag are those from Target: sturdy and capable of easily hauling weighty purchases. (photo courtesy of The Los Angeles Times)

 * ... CAT NAP: If you have a cat, as I do, this may come as no surprise: but did you know the average cat sleeps 15 hours a day and many sleep up to 20 hours a day? And if you are like me and you awaken to a gray tabby nudging you for food or staring you in the face, you won't be surprised to know they are most active at dusk and dawn. According to the website PetMD, cats "either doze in a light sleep or sleep very deeply. When your cat dozes (which lasts about fifteen minutes to a half hour), he will position his body so that he can spring up and into action at a moment’s notice.
 During deep sleep, cats experience rapid (or quick) brain movement. Deep sleep tends to last about five minutes, after which the cat goes back to dozing. This dozing-deep sleep pattern goes on until the cat wakes up."

 * ... FOOD NETWORK: If you are a fan of the Food Network, chances are you might have seen a local celebrity on its Christmas Cookie Challenge episode. Mai Gifford, a former pastry chef at The Padre Hotel and now the owner of De Coeur Bake Shop behind the downtown Post Office, was featured on an episode where she made soft ginger cookies with eggnog and a cream filling, as well as gluten free honey-cherry pistachio cookie. (photo courtesy of Gifford's Facebook page)

 * ... SICK BAY: I dropped by Memorial Hospital the other day to visit Jason Barnes, the local businessman who took a really bad spill on his bicycle while going 28 mph on the bike path near Enos Lane. After eight days in the hospital with five broken ribs and a fractured clavicle, Barnes was anxious to spend a night in his own bed and he finally got his wish. Doctors say his prognosis is good, and knowing Jason I expect to see him back on his bike after the first of the year.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If my kids don't give me the answers I want to hear I just start annoyingly tapping their foreheads and swiping like on a touch screen."

 * ... ACHIEVER: Here's a big shout out to Brooke Fries, a Centennial High and Bakersfield College graduate who went on to UC Santa Barbara. In May she graduated from the McGeorge School of Law (25th in her class) and she recently passed her California State Bar exam. Her mother, Natalie Dunn Fries, is a three-time world champion (figure roller skating) and Bob Elias Hall of Fame inductee while her father, Dan Lloyd, is a 38-year administrator at the Kern High School District.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here is a question for some of you old timers out there: a reader asks if anyone remembers the years of operation for the old Thunderbird Drive-In. If you happen to know, drop me an email.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Another Bakersfield Pie Run is in the books, a local bicycle rider takes a nasty spill and Cafe Med serves up some delicious morsels while catering

* ... PIE RUN: Here's to John Rous and his team of volunteers for another successful Thanksgiving Pie Run at Hart Park. It looked like a record crowd in the 400 to 500 range who gathered at sunrise to get in a brisk and chilly morning hike or run to start the holiday. There was plenty of food, and each
year Sid Fulce and his wife Karen take the leftover pies (up to 70 at a time) to the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter. Soundman Pete Wonderly, wearing a Cossack fur cap to ward off the chill, served as emcee while Fluce tended to a roaring fire that welcomed the runners back to the starting line. Among those I spotted were Marcia Giumarra (one of the organizers), Mark and Betsy Ramsey and son Miles, Rob and Sally Baker and their three daughters (Katie, Sarah and Maggie), Hillary Haenes and Patrick Wells, Pam Binns, (Bakersfield Track Club president) Margaret Scrivano Patteson, Jim and Kelly Damien, Pete Elieff, Andrea Ames, Sam and Lauren Benham and daughter Nora, Mike Toland, David Rous, Bill Elrich, Rogers and Esther Brandon and Herb and Sue Benham along with grandson Andrew.

* ... THANKSGIVING: I spotted this on my friend David Jenson's Facebook page: "A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store but she couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, 'Do these turkeys get any bigger?' The stock boy replied, 'No ma'am, they're dead.'

 * ... SICK BAY: Wishing a speedy recovery to my friend Jason Barnes who was involved in a nasty bicycle accident the other day. Barnes was doing a mid-day ride with a small group when he accidentally overlapped another rider's wheel, forcing him to the pavement. He broke five ribs and has a fractured clavicle but is expected to fully recover.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The sole purpose of a child’s middle name, is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble."

 * ... SPOTTED DOWNTOWN: A new business downtown is called "Herban Legend." Think about that one for a moment.

* ... GOLDEN SPIKE: 'Bunny" Giraud Haaberfelde, Bakersfield High class of 1945, wrote to say she remembers the old Golden Spike Cafe located at 1510 F Street. Said Haberfelde: "Hi Richard, in reference to the cafe, if I remember correctly it was next to the railroad track and had pretty good food. We’re talking around 1949. Many Thanks for your column that continually contains many wonderful old and happy memories of my beloved hometown." Thank you Bunny!

 * ... CAFE MED: Hats off to Meir Brown and his crew over at Cafe Med who knocked it out of the park while catering a recent fund raiser to support CSUB wrestling. Brown's spread included an assortment of fresh pizzas, pastas and seafood that were so good I had to take some home in a plastic to-go box.

 * ... HOLIDAY HOME TOUR: It's that time of year again for the popular 27th Annual Chez Noel Holiday Home Tour. This annual event, a major fund raiser for the Assistance League of Bakersfield, is set for Friday and Saturday December 2 and 3. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased from the Bargain Box Thrift Store at 1924 Q Street, Christine’s in the Stockdale Fashion Plaza, Kern Travel at 3501 Mall View Road,  Sugar Daddy at Stockdale Village and Victoria’s at the The Marketplace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's Thanksgiving, can we spend a few days without the post election vitriol? And celebrating the annual Pie Run and remembering the old Golden Spike Cafe on F Street

 * ... GIVING THANKS: I hope we can all spend the next few days giving thanks to the blessings in our lives. There has been poison in the air ever since the election, and I for one am weary of the vitriol and insults that have worked their way into our everyday conversations and our musings on
social media platforms like Facebook. So I am calling for a truce. How about this for starters? Let's spend the next few days thinking about the things that bring us joy: the new grandchild, the children coming home for Thanksgiving, a morning run in the crisp fall air, wet puppy kisses, that new job, that new love (or even an old one), the memory of someone special who is no longer here. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

* ... PIE RUN: The annual Thanksgiving Pie Run, one of my absolute favorite things about living here, is back on for this Thursday at Hart Park. Thirty-five years ago John Rous and a couple of
running buddies decided to do a run on Thanksgiving morning, followed by a slice of homemade pie, and since then it has grown into one of our town's signature events. The idea is attractively simple: bring a pie, donuts or cookies and gather at Hart Park and then head out for a walk/run/or hike at the crack of dawn. Return and reward yourself with some breakfast treats. It's free of course and all it requires is an early wakeup and the will to join a couple hundred of others in a Thanksgiving tradition. The walk/run starts at the crack of dawn, so get there early.

 * ... GOLDEN SPIKE CAFE: Nobody really leaves Bakersfield without taking a piece of the town with them. That enduring theme was reinforced the other day when I struck up a conversation with a stranger and his son at the bar in the Padre Hotel. It turned out Robert Williams, a lawyer, and his son Ryan had driven up from Mission Viejo to take in the Sturgil Simpson concert at the Fox Theater. Williams expressed an unrestrained love for his hometown, and told me he regularly returns so his son can share in the quirkiness and warmth of Bakersfield. Williams grew up in Oildale and first attended Roosevelt Elementary and later Franklin Elementary, and then Golden Valley Junior High School. The family left Bakersfield in 1955 to move to Los Angeles. He told me his parents, Otis and Dell Williams, ran the Golden Spike Cafe at 1510 F Street. Anybody remember the Golden Spike?

* ... WRESTLING: I dropped by the home of Kevin and Tuesdy Small last week to attend a fund raising event for the storied Cal State Bakersfield wrestling program. One thing cannot be disputed: the folks who support our wrestling program (Coyote Club and others) are organized, energetic and they simply don't quit. Some 200 supporters turned out to get an update on the wrestling program and open their wallets to make sure the sport is properly funded and continues for years to come.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I hate it when I forget my password and don't answer my secret questions right. It's like I don't even know me."

 * ... SAFETY PINS: My earlier post about folks wearing those anti-hate safety pins triggered this response from Chris Padham: "So it's come to this? If I'm not wearing a safety pin I could be considered a unsafe person to talk or sit next to? Seems like assumptions are being made if a pin isn't worn. And if you always sit next to someone who shares your views and won't challenge your beliefs how can you grow and expand your horizons or understand the hows and whys of opposite views?"

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Some wise thoughts as our nation struggles to understand the election, the Padre Hotel rolls out an extended Happy Hour and here come the kids home for Thanksgiving

* ... ELECTION: There have been some terrific essays about the election of Donald Trump and the vitriol and reactions that have swept the nation since. One of the best, in my view, was penned by Charles Einstein, who summed it up this way: "We are entering a time of great uncertainty.
Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. It may seem that the world is falling apart... For many, that process started on election night, when Trump’s victory provoked incredulity, shock, even vertigo. 'I can’t believe this is happening!' At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. Anyone who disputes the blame narrative may receive more hostility than the opponents themselves, as in wartime when pacifists are more reviled than the enemy." It is well worth your read. Google his name and enjoy.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Call your dad now and ask him what the wifi password is so he has time to find the little paper it's written on before Thanksgiving."

 * ... HAPPY HOUR: The Padre Hotel downtown has extended its happy hour and is now offering half price deals on wine and other specials on beer and mixed drinks. The happy hour now runs from 2 p..m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 * ... THANKSGIVING: This is my favorite time of year, and one reason is the flood of young people who will come home to reconnect with family and friends over Thanksgiving. Expect to see these college kids (or recent graduates) at all their familiar haunts: Luigi's, Pyrenees, Woolgrower's, Noriega Hotel, Uricchio's Trattoria and Cafe Med, just to name a few.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here's a tidbit that will make you feel good about our local Boy Scouts, compliments of Ron Lommen: "A follow up on the veteran’s day parade. For the last three years, the Boy Scout Troop 188 out of east Bakersfield meets at the American Legion at 6 am on veteran’s day to help serve breakfast to the veterans.  We than stay until the parade is complete, and sweep the trash from the sidewalks and business fronts along the entire route, we are the unsung final group to walk
the parade route.  The Boy Scouts spend their entire day off from school donating their time to the veterans and the city. Just letting folks know that a there are good kids out there trying to help
keep the city clean and support our veterans without any fanfare."

 * ... TRASH: And speaking of trash, Bob Moses passed this along: "I was at Riverwalk last Sunday and the park was spotless even though the Brews and Bacon event took place the day before. I complimented the park worker about the cleanliness and he said BARC had cleaned it. Let's have them out after all the parades, it will be good for everyone."

* ... MEA CULPA: Ellen Cypher was among a dozen folks who wrote (some more politely than others) about an error I made in explaining the "safety pin" campaign. In her words: "I feel compelled to correct your misconception that wearing a safety pin is 'a show of solidarity against our president elect.'  In fact, it is an anti-hate message. It lets others know you are a safe person to talk to or sit next to--that you won't attack them or discriminate against them. Even Trump supporters can wear a safety pin if they do not subscribe to the rhetoric of xenophobia."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A tale of two cities: celebrating the success of the first Bakersfield Marathon and lamenting the trash left behind after the annual Veterans Day parade

 * ... MARATHON: Kudos to the organizers of the first Bakersfield Marathon that succeeded on levels far beyond the athletic endeavor for almost 2,000 participants. From elite runners to folks
doing their first 5K, this was an all inclusive event that filled our streets with good cheer on a near perfect November morning. Across town, from the southwest to Panorama Drive, neighbors met on the street, coffee mugs in hand and dogs in tow, to watch the runners pass. When was the last time an event like this brought so many of us together?

 * ... VETERANS DAY: I wish the same could be said for the annual Veterans Day parade, but shame on those parade goers who thought it was okay to leave their cups, soiled napkins and fast food wrappers along the parade route. Here's a thought: next year let's hire folks (the homeless?) to walk the route with empty trash bags to encourage people not to litter.

* ... TRUMP: If you start noticing people wearing safety pins on their shirts or blouses, there is a reason. The idea: people who have felt insulted or maligned by Donald Trump are being urged to wear a safety pin as a show of solidarity against our president elect.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a huge house and cry in any room you like."

 * ... NEXT GENERATION: When I moved to Bakersfield more than two decades ago the community leaders included people like Jim Burke, Ray Dezember, Wendy Wayne, John Petrini and Eric Matlock, all tremendous people who have since died. I was thinking of them recently when a group of Bakersfield's "next generation of community leaders" gathered for dinner to support Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Miracle Society. These young philanthropists include Lindsay and Nick Ashley, Gianna and Ken Beurmann, Stacie and Clayton Campbell, Antone Chicca, Jen and Dan Clifford,  Lauren and Jeremy Helper, Elizabeth and Jeff Holz, Jill and Morgan Houchin, Jen and Dawson Li, Nicole and Jacob Panero, Lara and Michael Riccomini, Anna and Austin Smith, Victoria and John Trichell, Jennie and Beau Woodward and Briana and Dominic Zaninovich. Miracle Society donations this year enabled the purchase of a motorized gurney to transport patients who arrive at Memorial Hospital via air ambulance.

 * ... HARBOR FREIGHT: When did the Walgreen's on White Lane become Harbor Freight tools?

 * ... GOOD FORM: And finally there was this note from Mark Schaefer: "As a proud father of a student and husband of a teacher there, I have to say the annual Veterans Day celebration at Veterans Elementary School in the Norris School District was another wonderful event. Since opening in 2006, they have stayed true to the school's name during the week of Veterans Day. Monday night was another packed event with thank you letters to veterans written and read by students, patriotic singing, a guest speaker, and a flag planting ceremony by all the families in attendance. Nearly 1,000 attended this celebration, and made me proud of our school and community yet again! I can't wait to do it again next year."