Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bakersfield College celebrates Earth Day with surgery drinks and junk food, remembering Maison Jaussaud's and some good form at a local Walmart

 * ... EARTH DAY: An interesting note from Stephen A. Montgomery on Bakersfield College’s
Garden Fest held on Earth Day. "(It) sort of implies a concern for the environmentalism and sustainable living. Yet in the face of long term concerns about the health affects of sugary beverages on diabetes and weight and now new concerns about the health risks of artificially sweetened beverages the BC Culinary Arts food concession sold sodas for a buck and charged $2 for water! Food consisted of pulled pork sandwiches or hot dogs with salty chips. Healthier options? Not here. Hello! Are we a little tone deaf?"

 * ... OVERHEARD: At the Starbucks downtown a man is complaining to his wife: "Starbucks has become like United: crowded, horrible service and uncaring."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Siri pronounces Spanish street names like a white guy in a Hawaiian shirt ordering in a Mexican restaurant."

 * ... GOOD FORM: "Last Tuesday my husband and I went in to Walmart on Gosford to shop for our Vegas snacks. We were in a hurry so we went through the 'self’ checkout line and upon checking out we (received) cash for $100.  We left the store and once inside the car we realized we didn't collect our $100 from the cash dispensary. We ran back into the store and the family behind us were still checking out. The lady noticed the look on our faces and asked if we were looking for our $100 cash. We told her we forgot to collect it and she proceeded to tell us she turned the money in to a Walmart clerk. It's so awesome that there are still honest people in Bakersfield! We did try to compensate her $20 for her honesty and she refused to take it. So we paid it forward in Las Vegas!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's one more memory of Maison Jaussaud's from Richard Stricklen, president of the Motor City Auto Center. "For many years, the Bakersfield New Car Dealers' Association held their monthly lunch meetings at Maison Jaussaud's. In the late 1960's I was absent for the annual election of officers meeting and was informed the following week that I was elected president. I was 23 at the time and got a call from John Barber saying, 'See kid, that's what you get for being a no-show.' Also in that era, the hit singing groups, 'The Four Seasons' and the 'Leland Four' performed at Maison Jaussaud's several times. The Jaussaud family had a knack for attracting the very top entertainment."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And there was this from reader Phil Foster: "My father Les Foster and his brother Lawrie Foster came to Bakersfield in 1929. My father formed a dance band and played the Crystal Inn, The Beardsley Ballroom, the La Granada Ballroom (where City Hall annex is today), The Barn in Oildale, The Bakersfield Inn, The El Tejon Hotel, (where the Bank of America Tower sits today). They taught music for the Phillips Music Company on 19th Street and had many
students of music in the 1930s and 1940s. Footnote: the Crystal Inn is now the Basque Club on South Union Avenue."

 * ... CRYSTAL INN: Finally, Gail Oblinger was in high school in the 1950s when the Crystal Inn was popping. "It was always crowded with couples dressed up… girls in pastel colored formals and boys wearing rented  tux on prom nights.  hey served meals late into the night, so you could attend the dance and go out to dinner afterwards. I felt very special to be all dressed up and going to a such special place with my date. I had been told me a time when I had to be home, no exceptions. One such evening, the service was a bit slow due to the crowds. I was directed to a dimly lit  back office by the waiter, when I asked if there was a place I could phone home. My mother understood about the dinner crowd and extended my curfew. As I was starting to leave, a man I hadn’t noticed before, got up off the couch and came staggering towards me, I guess he had been drunk and sleeping it off, but it sure gave me a fright. I didn’t tell that part to my mother, for fear she wouldn’t let me go another time."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Wednesday Bako Bits: a trip down memory lane with Maison Jaussaud, Saddle and Sirloin and that time when the Shah of Iran stopped by for some food and libation

 * ... MEMORY LANE: My mailbox has been full with notes from readers about a walk down memory lane. Today's blog is a tribute to just that. Enjoy.

* .. THE BLUFFS: Supervisor Mike Maggard wrote to talk about the early days of Panorama Drive and the bluffs, so he turned to his mother Neta to remind him of a story told by his late father Bill. "Around 1951-1952, there used to be an air strip along the bluffs near the cemetery. Mom remembers the gas station at the corner of River Boulevard, and the liquor store next to it to the east, but few if any homes were in the area. No bar, as far as she recollects. Anyway, the airstrip was used by 'brave' young east side car enthusiasts to stage drag races. My father raced there often and when he began courting my mother during her senior year of high school, she would hop into the front seat of his “flat head ’40 Ford” with him and they would drag race up the runway. When he and his buddies, who we called the 'Original Brat Pack' (Bill Maggard, Bob Martin, Jack Saba, Bob Peabody and Eddie Wright) were a bit younger, they used to play football in the center median on Beale, near the corner of Quincy."

 * ... MEMORIES: The recent posts about the elegant old Maison Jaussaud's restaurant triggered this memory from Gary Crabtree: "Along with the Saddle and Sirloin, there used to be another small restaurant called the Crystal Inn, I believe located around South Union and Planz Road. It was a small place with great food and top notch entertainment. I remember my parents taking me to dinner there for my 10th birthday. The entertainment was a piano player and a female singer named Margaret Whiting who was about to explode on the national recording scene. I’d be interested if anyone else remembers the Crystal Inn."

 * ... MORE MAISON: Ronal Reynier brought some historical content to Maison Jaussaud (JoSo's) with this missive: "It was built by my cousins Martin and Babe and yes the Shah of Iran was there for lunch. I believe it was in the early 1970s. Martin and Babe's cousin Henri, from France, worked as maitre d'. It was his day off but they had him come in. The Shah must have enjoyed his
lunch; he gave Henri $1,500 to be divided by the staff on duty and today it would be equal to a $9,500 tip; Henri's tip was a nice Rolex watch. People from the French Embassy stopped for lunch at JoSo's twice a month when traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They left a $300
tip each time. I have no idea why they traveled by car and not by air; maybe just to eat lunch at JoSo's."

 * ... FAMILY TIES: And if you wanted more proof, check out this note from Gary Jaussaud,  son of one of the brothers that founded Maison Jaussaud's."I can tell you first had, in fact the Shah of Iran and his group did in fact have lunch at Maison Jaussaud’s during that period of time. I remember because I was there and saw it with my own eyes. Two things I remember the most is, once our chef found out they were coming he went out and bought all kinds of interesting items they might like, and when it was said and done, the Shah wanted an American hamburger. The second thing was, the U.S. security team with the group, paid for the lunch with a federal check, as the Shah was the guest of the United States. The event realty happened, so you can tell your readers, you got the information from the source."

 * ... MORE MAISON: And Hank Webb chimed in with this memory: "I was home on leave from the Navy wherein I was a navy hospital corpsman. As a treat for my 21st birthday,  my brother-in-law, Denny Haynes, who was later finance director for the city of Bakersfield, my sister Elizabeth, and my mother Benita took me to Jaussuad's to see Sally Rand, the world famous 'fan dancer.' She was an ecdysiast, aka a stripper, who used two huge ostrich feather fans in her act. At one point Ms. Rand exposed larger quantities of her physique than my mother could tolerate, so she tried to put her hands over my eyes and cried out, 'Oh don't look!"'I calmly replied, 'It's ok momma, I'm a medical man.' Thus making me one of my family's enduring jokes."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Beetle infestations threaten to wipe out millions of trees in California and the debate rages on: are high taxes and regulation forcing Californias to leave for Texas, Nevada and other states?

 * ... SHOT HOLE BORE BEETLE: Did you read the story in The Las Angeles Times about the threat to hundreds of thousands of trees in Southern California? It's a serious issue that could make our region "look, feel, sound and smell much less pleasant than it does now." According to The Times,
botanists have documented insect infestations that threaten to wipe out the California live oak, avocado, ash, almond, peach and even our stately sycamores that are so common in Kern County. The threat: something called the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle that "could kill as many as 27 million trees in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including parts of the desert." Can you imagine if this infestation reaches Kern County? One expert from UC Riverside had this warning: "If we cannot control the shot hole borer, it will kill all the sycamores in California."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How long are you supposed to wait before you unpause the TV after your wife tells you she wants a divorce?"

 * ... LEAVING CAL: We've sparked a lively debate here over the issue of leaving California because of its burdensome taxes, which are soon going higher. Whether you stay or leave one thing is certain: there is a net outflow of Californians to other states, with Texas being the top destination. Said one report in the Sacramento Bee based on US Census data: "The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon."

 * ... LEAVING: Among those weighing in is Chad Jackman: "In response to Mr. Jon Johnston taking issue with folks taking their retirements that they were 'given' and moving out of the state of California. First off, no member of the community 'gave' me anything, I earn it. As a proud member of the Bakersfield PD I served my community and like all that wear a badge, put my butt on the line for them. We have the right to live in whichever state we chose. (It's kinda in the name United States) Those of us that chose to leave California no longer use any services or infrastructure. So that would be taxation without representation, we fought a war about that kinda stuff. By the way, in the great state of Tennessee there are no state income tax and the roads are great and trash free."

 * ... MORE LEAVING: And there was this from Chris Padham: "Pretty hilarious about Kathy Harlan. Her comment about the entire state of Arizona has crummy air quality compared to California, then reading the article with the tag line of 'California again leads cities with sullied air.' And I looked and looked at the list of the top ten polluted cities and gosh, not one from Arizona,  but five in California. I can only assume she has never traveled out of state. Oh, by the way I can assure Kathy that when I retire I will gladly leave California. And I'm certain I'll be very happy in Arizona. "

 * ... THE BLUFFS: Jon Sarad had this to say about the location of an old bar in town. Said Sarad: "I remember the Bluffs Bar as being a beer bar on southeast corner near North Baker and Irene Street. The building is still there‎, but no cool ones for years. I think Hannings liquors was owned by family who had a famous old bar catty corner on 17th from Haberfelde Builfinh. Was it Mike Huston, or Hutson who remembered Panorama Liquors? If Huston, his family owned Arrow Liquors on Columbus. Before the days of 7-11 and Thriftymart all the College Heights kids got ice cream, candy and sodas there."

 * ... MORE BLUFFS: Johnna Beard Hall ended the note this way: "My parents owned The Bluffs for 45 years. It was on the corner of North Baker and Irene Street, a small neighborhood bar."

 * ... MEMORIES: Jim Smith poses this question about the old Maison Jaussauds on south Union: "Did not the Shah of Iran and his entourage stop at Maison Jaussauds for lunch on their way north to Yosemite Valley back in the 1970s? Am I right or abysmally wrong? You're archives or a reader can confirm."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Putting to rest a myth about Obamacare, get ready for the fourth annual Mac 'n Cheese Festival out at CSUB and remembering when Maison Jaussaud on south Union was the hottest restaurant in town

 * ... OBAMACARE: There has been a lot of disinformation about the idea that members of Congress are eligible for some sort of gold plated federal health insurance while the rest of the country must rely on the Affordable Care Care (ACA) more commonly known as Obamacare. But let's put this popular myth to rest: According to The Washington Post, the ACA requires members of Congress to subscribe to the D.C. exchanges, and because congressmen and senators make too much money, they must pay it themselves. So in this case, that means they all must subscribed to Obamacare.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I ran into my ex the other day. I could have sworn the light was green."

 * ... MAC 'N CHEESE: The hottest ticket in town this weekend is for the fourth annual Mac 'n Cheese Festival out at CSUB's Alumni Park. The event features a couple dozen food vendors who vie for the best version of macaroni and cheese, live music from Mento Buru and plenty of craft beer and wine. Last year the event was a near sell out, so get your tickets early at The festival is sponsored by American General Media and supports the CSUB athletic scholarship fund.

 * ... BLOWBACK: Kathy Harlan took me to task for writing about the exodus of people from California due to high taxes and regulation. In her words: "Richard, will we ever hear the end of Republican complaining? You have taken it to a fine art form. Focus on the fact that you have the presidency and congress and what a fine mess Republicans are making of that. California is doing just fine. If you don't like the gas tax and the clean air we enjoy, by all means, move to Arizona. The entire state has crummy air quality and a poor level of government services. You would be very happy there, I am sure."

 * ... MORE BLOWBACK: And Jon Johnson added this: "Richard, I love it when these people like Diane Alburger take their pensions, that are largely paid for by the taxpayers of California (Pers Sters, Kern County Retirement etc) and move out of state. Thus escaping any tax (I understand they still have a liability for state income tax) paid in California. Also not contributing to any of the other social or economic benefit their retirement income might bring back to the communities that gave them these 'fine' benefits. Maybe we are better off with out them?"

 * ... THE BLUFFS: On another note, Maureen Myers said the old bar called The Bluffs was not located on Panorama and River Boulevard but rather it "was a divey little place set deeper back in the neighborhood towards Jefferson Park."

 * ... MEMORIES: From the archives of The Bakersfield Californian, as cited on Facebooks' Kern County of Old, was this entry about the iconic Maison Jaussaud’s on south Union, known as  Bakersfield's "classiest restaurant and nightclub of the 1950s... Upon its stage Johnny Carson once endured his most ignominious flop as a stand-up comedian.” For years "wealthy farmers once brought their fur-stole-draped wives for Manhattans and Porterhouse steaks” in the popular restaurant. "Singer Dorothy Dandridge performed here too, along with a succession of over-the-hill veterans whose names still packed punches at the time, like the then-ancient Marx Brothers and the equally aged Three Stooges. Actress Jane Russell appeared on the Maison Jaussaud stage and so did Carol Channing and the Ink Spots.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The exodus of Californians to lower cost states continues as the state passes yet more taxes, lamenting some of the architectural treasures lost in the 24th Street Widening Project and remembering an old bar on the Panorama Bluffs

* ... GOODBYE CAL: Is California running people and businesses out of the state with higher taxes and regulations? Diane Alburger thinks so and she dropped me this note: "I have lived in Cali since 1977. Gone to college here, gotten married here, raised my kids here, and made a career here
(teaching). Now, its spring break and I'm writing to you from the breakfast table of the Westin in Scottsdale. We're in Arizona scouting our retirement locations because we want to leave Cali. Both my brothers and their spouses, and my parents are also scouting out Arizona. Filled up the gas tank last night for $2.14 a gallon which we thought was great. Turns out, if we apply for a Circle K debit card, we can save an additional 20 cents a gallon and pay $1.94. Take that, Jerry Brown!"

 * ... 24TH STREET: Debby Rodigues wrote about the city's attempt to sell some of the vacant homes on 24th Street that will soon be razed. She said: "Referencing today's note on the homes south of 24th, and there being no interest by anyone to purchase and move them. Sadly, all the city regulations, requirements, and large monetary deposits, in addition to the short time frame between one opportunity to do a walk thru in a boarded up house with no electricity, and the final bid date made it impossible to pursue  bidding and moving  any of them. So the salvage value is all that is left of these formerly handsome homes. At least one has some interesting history as the home of a local pioneer telephone system, as well as the solid wood doors, frames, cabinets. Unfortunate situation."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The downside of dating intelligent women is having to Google what they call you when it ends badly."

* ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to a crew from the Kern Wheelman Bicycle Club who pitched in to help repair a water line on a property off Amberhill Lane on the Poso Grade this past week. Keith and Monica Anderson, who own property along the road, were kind enough to run a water line from their property to the roadside so cyclists could access fresh cold water on long, hot days. The line needed repairing the the Wheelmen pitched in to have it repaired. Good from all around.

 * ... EATERY: Here is a shout out to the downtown farm to table business that regularly serves up nutritious meals at reasonable prices. From Lois Caswell: "You may have talked about this place before but I am out of town a lot. My daughter and I had lunch at Locale (Farm to Table) today. It is across from the downtown post office. Previously a deli and the old deli sign is still up. Amazing, locally sourced food. Good prices and incredible quality. We spoke to the owner, Heather Laganelli, and she has wonderful ideas for the place.We will be back, as there are several items we would like to try."

* ... MEMORIES: Michael Hutson responded to the query about an old bar that once stood at Panorma and River Boulevard. "I grew up in the La Cresta area during the 1960s and 1970s. We used to walk from La Cresta Drive, (through Greenlawan cemetary) up to the liquor store for candy.  The store was owned by Ray Hanning, named Hanning’s Liquor. There was a gas station on that corner of Panorama and River Boulevard but I don’t recall a bar being there.  I’ll be curious as to the response from your readers.

 * ... LOFT: Yet another reader, Rhaya Lemons, thought the bar was called "The Bluffs."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The ugly side deals made by Gov. Jerry Brown in the gas tax deal begin to emerge, a hats off to the volunteers who made the Haggard childhood home unveiling a success, and Watson Realtor Mary Christenson brings back her colorful Easter display

 * ... GAS TAX: The details of how Gov. Jerry Brown managed to get the votes to pass the state's large gas tax hike emerging, and they are not pretty. It turns out Brown had to promise reluctant
legislators some $1 billion in pet projects (payola some call it) to assure passage. As the conservative blog FlashReport noted: "The deal is so bad they needed $1 billion in payola to buy enough votes to pass it. And shamefully, only 60 percent of the gas tax collected from SB 1, authored by Democrat Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), will actually be used for road maintenance and repairs. Environmentalists got plenty of taxpayer-funded payola as well including money for more public transit, and for walking and bicycling projects. SB 1 does nothing to relieve traffic congestion or expand highway lane capacity. If Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown are trying to force California’s middle class out and small businesses, then it’s working."

 * ... HAGGARD HOME: The official unveiling of the Merle Haggard childhood home at Kern Pioneer Village was a success, but the real story unfolded behind the scenes thanks to scores of volunteers. Since the resignation and departure of museum director Zoot Velasco, the museum was been rudderless as its board of directors determines what they need in a future director. So it was left to the Board and other volunteers to pull off the event, among them Steve Sanders, Sheryl Barbich, Beth Pandol and Tracy Walker-Kiser.

 * ... EASTER: Mary Christenson, the award winning Watson Realtor, is at it again this Easter. This is the sixth year that Christenson has decorated her Seven Oaks home with thousands (3,000 at last count) of plastic Easter eggs to celebrate Holy Week. It has become something of a Seven Oaks tradition with families stopping by to snap pictures on the "bunny bench" and this explosive mosaic of color. The eggs will be removed the day after Easter.

 * ... SPOTTED: A woman hiking with two men on the Panorama Bluffs gingerly picks up a soiled diaper and walks it 30 feet to the nearest trash bin. Her male companions would not touch it.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A middle aged man is asking a friend if he would recall the name of an old bar that once stood at Panorama and River Road on the site now occupied by a car wash. Anyone remember?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Marriage is like a public toilet. Those waiting outside are desperate to get in. Those inside are desperate to get out."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Posted by my friend Joe Drew: "Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason."

 * ... FIRESTONE: I've become a fan of the privately owned Firestone Grill on California Avenue and Highway 99. Twenty plus big screen TVs, robust salads and a fine signature burger, but what is with the tiny napkins that, unfolded, are barely the size of your palm?

 * ... 24TH STREET: Kelly Giblin dropped me this note about the houses being razed on 24th Street: "Each day as I drive past the homes and buildings on 24th Street that are being torn down for the street widening project, I can't help thinking that there must be a huge amount of material and fixtures in those structures that could be salvaged and repurposed. Does anyone know if that is being done? With all the structures being torn down for the widening project and the Centennial Corridor Project, I cannot help but think that it is a real tragedy if everything just ends up in a landfill."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Maze Cup, Plein Air Festival and Haggard home all happening this weekend, some good form about town and a shout out to the Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust

 * ... WEEKEND: Here are three things to consider this weekend, each unique and affordable: this is the weekend of the Plein Air Festival and on Friday a dozen artists will be painting downtown with their works on display at the Metro Galleries on 19th Street for First Friday. On Saturday, other
paintings by these artists will go on sale at The Bakersfield Museum of Art from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. If that doesn't suit your tastes, head over to Stockdale Country Club where the Maze Cup features some of the best 16 and 18 year old tennis players in the nation, and admission is free. Finally, on Sunday you can drop by Kern Pioneer Village to check out the public debut of Merle Haggard's family home, appropriately opening on the year anniversary of his death.

 * ... CYNTHIA LAKE: And by the way, here's a big shout out to the Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust that funded the restoration of Merle Haggard's childhood home, an expensive undertaking that will serve generations of Kern County residents.

* ... RAIDERS: The move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas triggered this note from Alan Hine: "Good news for Bakersfield Raider's fans. Google says it is only two minutes longer to drive to Las Vegas than it is to drive to Oakland, and there is a lot more to do in Vegas than there is in Oakland and the food and lodging is also better."
* ... TRASH: My earlier post about the people who use Fairfax as their personal dumping group drew this response from Sam Colt: "Thanks for the article on trash along Fairfax. I too have seen alot of it along Comanche Road on the way to the dump. It might be a good idea to refresh memories the city will pick up large items (matresses, etc) from your house just call them at (661) 326-3114 to make an appointment."

* ... SPOTTED: In the Kern River near Beach Park a man is being baptized on the shoreline. Nice to see a little rain bring out the religion in us.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When going on a roller coaster bring nuts and bolts, lean to the person in front and say… 'Woah dude, these came out of your seat!'"

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here's a note from Larry Jenks that should brighten your day: "I would like to share with you a recent event my wife and I were party to. We were having dinner at Chili's Monday night. After ordering and receiving our meal the server approached and handed us our bill, saying a couple had paid for our meal. Written in the bill was the following: 'We wanted to treat you to dinner! This is our second anniversary, we pray to be as in love and as cute as the two of you are as we grow older together. Have a super blessed night. Love, the Swatzells.' My bride and I are going to celebrate our 65th wedding anniversary June 28. We are blessed!"

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: And there was this from reader Don Luvisi: "Purchased some items at Floyd's this week and when checking out the cashier asked if I wanted to round up my three cents to an even five e cents with the two cents going to a charity. A great idea. If more stores followed suit less pennies to deal with and local charities would benefit."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle takes a pulse of Kern County and our pro Trump voters, high school lacrosse comes to Bakersfield and calling attention to a local eyesore

 * ... CHRONICLE: If your perspective of politics and life comes from a Bay Area high rise, you can bet it will be different than how we feel here in the great Central Valley of California. For many in the more populous regions of San Francisco and Los Angeles, Kern County is a mere curiosity, a vast region serving the blue collar poor, the under served and those of us employed in such unpopular pursuits as fossil fuel extraction and water hogging agriculture. And you wonder why we are so often misunderstood? Which is why I was pleased to read a fairly balanced story on Kern County this weekend in the San Francisco Chronicle, which sent a reporter to our town to explore the support for Trump and our more conservative tendencies. For the most part the Chronicle eschewed broad stereotypes and focused on our quest for job growth, water security and the expansion of Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act. It is worth your read.

 * ... OBAMACARE: The number of folks who are now insured under Medi-Cal because of the
Affordable Care Act in California is staggering. These are some of the numbers from the Chronicle story: “51 percent Merced County residents have Medi-Cal, 45 percent in Madera County, 50 percent in Fresno County and 55 percent in Tulare County."

 * ... LACROSSE: It's nice to see the sport of lacrosse taking a hold in Kern County. Up at Garces Memorial High School, a club team has emerged featuring players from Garces, Frontier, Centennial and Stockdale high schools, many of whom had never played before. The lads recorded a 4-3 win on goals by Cameron Garcia, Logan McMurtrey, Corbin McMurtrey and the game's most valuable player, Jack "Wags" Waguespack.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If I ever go missing and there’s a big search party out looking for me, you can save time by not looking at any gyms."

 * ... SUMMER: Enjoy these springs days because summer is coming and in this town that means bracing for 106-degree days. My choice for a light meal on a scorching hot day? Try the new yogurt Parfait from QwikCafe on 18th Street, a perfect compliment to a season when the heat rules.

 * ... BAD FORM: If you regularly travel on Fairfax Road from Alfred Harrell Highway up to Panorama, you know it is often used as a dumping ground for old mattresses, discarded appliances and trash. It's an eyesore and in recent months it has gotten worse. Memo to my friend Sal Moretti at the city Solid Waste Division: can I strong-arm you into looking into this mess?

 * ... BARNES: Hats off to CSUB basketball coach Rod Barnes who chalked up another honor after leading the Roadrunners to the National Invitational Tournament semi finals. Barnes was named the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year. Can we keep Barnes or will he be recruited by a larger program with a higher salary? Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hold on Californians because the state is about to add another 50 cents per gallon to the price of gas, thousands flocks to see the wildflowers and Kerry Ryan gets some love

* ... NEW TAXES: Are you ready for a new round of gas taxes? That appears where we are headed if Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic majority in Sacramento pass a legislation that will
result in a sharp spike in the gasoline tax. The Democratic infrastructure bill alone would add another 12 cents to the price per gallon, and according tho Assemblyman Vince Fong, the state's cap and trade program could potentially add another 40 to 50 cents per gallon. So could 60 cents in new state taxes be tacked on to the price of a gallon of gas? Fong says it is a possibility. "This is the wrong approach that hurts ordinary Californians. I cannot say this enough," he said about Brown's infrastructure bill. The Bakersfield Republican has his on infrastructure bill pending that calls for no new taxes, but it remains to be seen if he can attract enough moderate Democrats to make it a reality. Whatever happens, it looks like state tax on gasoline is going up, so be prepared.

 * ... WILDFLOWERS: The explosion of wildflowers across California is drawing record crowds almost every weekend. I was told that more than 100,000 people visited the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster last weekend, and closer to home the Wild Wolves Preserve is also experiencing record crowds as folks flock there to enjoy poppies, lupine and fiddle necks. With the weather warming, now is the time to take in the wildflowers.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I hate when I catch a bouquet at a wedding and everyone judges me for lighting it on fire."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Whenever someone asks me to sign their cast, I always write: ‘Last warning, you have a week to get the money together.’"

* ... GOOD FORM: Steven A. Barnes wrote to give a shout out to Kerry Ryan over at Action Sports for his generosity in supplying top quality volleyball nets to the sand cours off Truxtun. "Kerry has been donating these nets for well over a 15 years, and thousands of players and families have enjoyed countless hours of play over that time. I’d also like to thank Tim Barnes, Applied Technology Group and Roeling Bryant, Dependable Pool Service, for helping me over the years with the two hours per net process (six hours total) of cutting, crimping, chaining, etc. it takes to deter theft and keep the nets tight with very little sagging (yes, this is very important to volleyball players.)"

 * ... DISNEY RIDE: And finally, I got a chuckle from this note from Stephen A. Montgomery: "Those detour ramps connecting Highway 99 northbound to Highway 58 eastbound and 58 eastbound to H Street/Chester Avenue so remind me of the old 1950s era Autorama ride at Disneyland! That ride actually allowed the rider to control their car, a glorified go-cart, between two high curbs. That was a favorite ride of mine in Tomorrowland at a time when Tomorrowland actually focused on the promise of future technology rather than fantasy as it is today."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

West Rotary spins off another successful Cioppino Feed at Monsignor Leddy Hall, Jersey Mike's Subs shows some good form and more memories from the old Hart Park archery club

 * ... CIOPPINO: I don't know how the folks over at West Rotary prepare clams and cioppino for 500 people, and serve it hot and steaming without missing a beat, but I hope they keep doing it. I am
talking about the annual Cioppino Feed at Monsignor Leddy Hall that benefits so many worthy causes, a three hour feast and social  that rivals just about any other fund raiser in town. The Saturday event was yet another sell out, more good news for its beneficiaries this year: the West Rotary Breast Cancer Fund, the West Rotary Stroope Family Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

 * ... NETWORKING: In addition to raising money for good causes, events like the Cioppino Feed serve an important role in our community in terms of networking and bringing people together. Among those I spotted there were Mayor Karen Goh, Assemblyman Vince Fong, District Attorney candidates Cynthia Zimmer and Scott Spielman, Supervisor Zack Scrivner and wife Christina, Rabobank's Kym Moore, Mission Bank's Lisa Boydston, Mike and Dona Chertok, Pat and Terri Collins, Gina Pearl, Ron Eaves, Al Sandrini, Jack Gotcher, Realtors John and Katy Glentzer, Adventist Health's Kevin Burton and all those West Rotarians who made it happen, starting with President Angela Paquette to Rick Kreiser, Ricki Peace, Howdy Miller, and so many more.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I had a great time. Not tonight, but I've had a great time before."

* ... KEYSTONE: Former oil executive Lynn Blystone dropped me this note: "Jobs aside, it makes total sense for the nation's security to be directly tied into North America's biggest petroleum reserve with the Keystone LM Pipeline."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to Carrie Asbury and the other owners of the three Jersey Mike's Subs deli and sandwich shops for stepping forward to support the Alzheimer's Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC). This Wednesday only, 100 percent of all Jersey Mike's sales will be donated to the ADAKC to support its new facility off Buena Vista Road.

* ... FOUNDATION: If you are involved with a non-profit focused on summer based literacy programs or animal welfare, make sure you check out the The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation that has put out calls for its Spring grant cycle. Proposals for grants are now being submitted. Only 501(c)3 organizations need apply, and for details go to

 * ... GARCES MEMORIAL: Congratulations to four local folks who are being inducted into the Hall of Honor by the Garces Memorial High School Alumni Board. They include Tom Anchordoquy, class of 1965; Arnold Cattani, class of 1964; Yolanda (Papasergia) Griffiths, class of 1951; and Frank Maitia Jr., class of 1960. In addition the Mac and Stella McMurtrey family will be recognized with the legacy family award. The 10th annual Hall of Honors Banquet is set for Saturday, April 29, at Monsignor Leddy Hall.

 * ... HART PARK ARCHERY: My post recalling the days in the 1950s when an archery club held tournaments at Hart Park triggered this memory from Lyn Switzer Kalar: "I too remember spending lots of weekends with my folks, Darwyn and Bette Switzer, at Hart Park babysitting the archers' kids or participating as a teenager in the youth group. We went to the state tournament one year and camped at Griffith Park in the middle of the horse track. During the tournament the dads took the kids to the zoo and not until the moms came back to camp after the tournament did anyone realize that one of the kids had been left at the zoo! Good job dads!"

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rio Bravo Country Club to shut down at the end of May, a USC study identifies the worst traffic choke points, and Cheesecake Factory to open at Valley Plaza

 * ... TRAFFIC: Traffic in Los Angeles is already bad, and it is getting worst. That's the word from the USC Annenberg School which identified the five worst freeway interchanges. For those of us who
occasionally commute to LA, these will come as no surprise. Among them: The 405 south to the 101; the 405 north to the 105 and 90; the 10 east to the 405; the 110 North to the 10; and the 405 south to the 10 and the 90. The study concluded: "There is no sign of traffic letting up, either. Over the last year, average rush-hour speeds at the worst interchanges have dropped from two or three miles per hour all the way up to 13 mph. On the eastbound I-10 during evening rush hour, average speeds just after the 405 interchange tanked from about 25 mph in 2012 to just over 12 mph this year. The smallest declines may not sound like much, but they amount to double-digit percentage drops when you’re already crawling by at 15 mph. And they become significant when multiplied across dozens of lanes throughout the city."

 * ... LOCAL TRAFFIC: Locally, here is my list for some of Bakersfield's worst traffic chokepoints: the east-bound Westside Parkway at Truxtun in the morning; Truxtun and Oak at rush hour and at noon; Oak and California; California and Stockdale Highway; Rosedale Highway virtually anytime; and Highway 99 at Highway 58, Ming Avenue and 24th Street. What is on your list?

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "At the end of the day, life should ask us, ‘Do you want to save the changes?’"

 * ... RIO BRAVO: Folks who live in the Rio Bravo area are reeling after learning that the Rio Bravo Country Club may be shutting down at the end of May. Homeowners say they were notified of the pending closure and are hoping someone buys the club and saves the spectacular, 7,000 yard course located in the scenic foothills at the mouth of the Kern River canyon.

 * ... CHEESECAKE: I heard the other day that a Cheesecake Factory is being built at Valley Plaza Mall on the site of the old Sears auto and tire shop. No word yet on when that will be open for business. Meanwhile, Sears itself is in dire straits, and it warned investors this week that it may not survive.

 * ... WARD 5: Ward 5 City Council candidate Bruce Freeman has launched an aggressive social media campaign via Facebook and other digital offerings. Expect the spending in Ward 5 to increase as Freeman and challenger Ryan Nance work the Southwest for vote.

 * ... MEMORIES: I received a sweet, hand written note from Frances Doyle of Taft sharing her memories on an archery club that held tournaments out at Hart Park in the 1950s. She recalls a cardboard bear target and the founder of the club, Jim Murphy. Later, her son and daughter took up the sport with much success. Sherilyn, the daughter, won her first junior state championship at the age of 10, became a national champion at Clemson and was inducted into the Bob Elias Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. "I wish I could name all of our archery friends, such as Tom and Bev Beaty, Clarence Kozloski, Jake Thomas, Bob Poznoff, Betty Nelson, Richard Land, Gladys McCain, Bud and Ruth Greer... so many more."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SEIU targets House Majority Leader McCarthy with radio campaign, CSUB continues its magical year in the NIT and water in the river triggers an explosion of activity

* ... HEALTH CARE: Big money from both the left and right is being thrown into the health care debate, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is one of the prime targets. The latest radio
advertising campaign attacking McCarthy for supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act comes from big labor, in this case the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). The local unit of the SEIU was among the organizations that recently protested in front of McCarthy's personal residence in the Southwest.

* ... WIND WOLVES: I spent four hours hiking the majestic Wind Wolves Preserve this past weekend and was heartened to see so many people taking in the beauty of its 93,000 unspoiled acres. I arrived to a half full parking lot at 9 a.m. and when I left at 1 p.m. there were so many cars entering it looked like a scene from Woodstock. The wildflowers are spectacular so get out there before the summer heat settles in.

 * ... ROAD RUNNERS: Is there a hotter team in college basketball than CSUB, which continued its run through the National Invitational Tournament with yet another impressive win over Colorado State? The branding power of seeing CSUB on national TV cannot be underestimated. Up next: Texas-Arlington in the NIT quarterfinal on Wednesday.

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: This post from my friend Jolie Brouttier, a teacher at McKinley Elementary: "If I wanted to touch the past, I'd touch a rock. If I wanted to touch the present, I'd touch a flower. But I want to touch the future, so I teach."

 * ... PADDLE BOARDING: Summer isn't here yet but I have already spotted some paddle boarders on the Kern River. The last time we had this kind of water in the river there was an explosion of recreational activity from Beach Park south to the Park at River Walk: canoes, paddle boards, rafts and swimmers. Expect an even bigger summer this year.

 * ... MAILBOX CRIME: A friend of mine reached out to share this rant. It speaks for itself.
"Twice this week we've had our credit cards stolen! My new corporate card never made it to my house, so I suspect mailbox theft (again). A few months ago, our mailboxes were broken into and our new debit card was stolen. Somehow, the thieves were able to activate the card and immediately stole $2,000 from us. Why is this a low level crime in the eyes of BPD and the USPS? Is it because the banks make us whole again? It is such a hassle! I'm having our new cards (three of them this week alone) be delivered via Fed Ex, with signature required."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kern County GOP endorses Bruce Freeman in the Ward 5 City Council race, get ready for another Cioppino Feed and will success lead other colleges to court CSUB coach Rod Barnes?

 * ... WARD 5: The Kern County Republican Party endorsed Bruce Freeman for the Ward 5 city council seat, but not before slapping down challenger Ryan Nance as beholden to union interests. Nance is an executive with the local Carpenter's Union, the same group affiliated wth all the unpopular "Shame
On" protests around town a few years ago. By contrast Freeman, former chief executive officer of Castle and Cooke, represents the business community in an area where unions are not exactly wildly popular. In a press release, the county GOP said it interviewed both candidates but was concerned that Nance was "too beholden" to union interests. Earlier this week there was a big fund raising event for Freeman at the Seven Oaks home of Bob Hampton

 * ... BARNES: Rod Barnes led the CSUB Roadrunners to a first round victory over California in the NIT Tournament and now heads to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State in the second round. Runner fans could not be happier, but with success comes the likelihood that Barnes will be courted by other universities who have head coaching vacancies. At 51 years old, Barnes is a prime candidate for greener pastures, even though he has always insisted he is comfortable here and staying put. But success (and money) talks, so don't be surprised if other colleges make a run at Barnes to lure him away.

* ... CIOPPINO: If it is spring, it must be time for my all time favorite local charity event, the annual Cioppino feed over at Monsignor Leddy Hall at Garces Memorial High School. The event is planned for Saturday, Saturday 25, and tickets are going for $100 each. Proceeds go to the West Rotary foundation. The night features salad, fresh hot clams and the main dish cioppino-a stew of fish, crab in a secret sauce. For tickets call (661) 747-5380.

 * ... SCAM: Beware of people posing as employees of California Water Service who come to your home and ask to view your water bill. Cal Water says its employees always carry proper identification.

 * ... QWIKCAFE: I was among a small group of people who was afforded a sneak peek at the new QwikCafe on 18th Street which opens on Monday. QwikCafe is owned by the same folks who run Sequoia Sandwich Co. next door and will feature an array of "to go" sandwiches, salads, desserts and healthy drinks. My favorite: the beet salad and homemade "parfait" are outstanding.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I'm currently helping my husband look for his chocolates that I ate last Friday."

 * ... MEMORIES: Did you know that Kern County actually had a "homecoming" week to invite former residents back to town? This comes compliments of local historian Ken Hooper who posted the following on Facebook: "We have all heard of homecoming events at high schools. But did folks know that for several years Bakersfield and Kern County promoted a 'Home Coming' week? The purpose was to invite former residents to return to town as a way to promote tourism and pride in the community. The first 'Home Coming' was in 1913."