Thursday, January 12, 2017

California welcomes the "atmospheric river" of rain and snow, what's going on at the Fox Theater and my seven month retirement ends with a daily radio show starting next week

 * ... RAIN AND SNOW: Take a deep breath and enjoy this "atmospheric river" of rain that has been pummeling California for the past few weeks. To be sure it is not enough to end the long drought, but there is plenty of good news for our lakes and reservoirs. As Louis Sahagun of the Los
Angeles Times reported: "Lake Tahoe has risen 12 inches in just the last two weeks as the storms have dumped 33.6 billion gallons of water into the massive landmark, which measures 72 miles around and has a capacity for 37 trillion gallons of water. As of Tuesday morning, 154 of the largest reservoirs tracked by the California Department of Water Resources had filled to about 97 percent of their collective average for the day ... Just a year ago, many were at or below 50 percent of average." Even Lake Oroville has risen 90 feet since December. (photo courtesy of SFGate)

 * ... GOING, GOING, GONE?: The Wall Street Journal recently compiled a list of popular products that have fallen out of favor with consumers. Among them: powder detergent (replaced by pods), processed cheese, bar soap, margarine, ground coffee (replaced by the Keurig cups), frozen juice concentrate and alkaline batteries.

 * ... FOX THEATER: What is going on over at the Fox Theater and the folks who are running the show? Jennifer Self, the Californian's longtime features editor who is plugged into the local entertainment community, shed some light this week when she questioned what happened to Bob Bender, who apparently lost his job running the Fox and booking shows at the iconic venue. So who is running this local community treasure? I hope it's not Melanie Farmer, the head of the Fox Theater Foundation who has zero experience in concert promotion. Other than telling Self the foundation was looking at being a more "hands-on operation" (what does that mean?) we are left in the dark. Memo to Farmer: The Fox is a community treasure and many of us have opened our wallets to preserve and restore it. If Bender is out, tell us what the plan is for the grand old dame of Bakersfield.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I've never done jail time, but I've been stuck in a group text with my family and it can't be much worse."

 * ... RADIO: I spent a career in print journalism but my second love has always been news radio, a more free wheeling environment that is both authentic and unpredictable. So I am pleased to announce that effective this Monday, Jan. 16, I will host my own two hour daily talk show on KERN NewsTalk (96.1 FM/1180 AM) from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (I will be the lead-in for the popular Ralph Bailey Show that comes on at 3 p.m.) Join me on inauguration week for a lineup of special guests including Monsignor Craig Harrison, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, Reuters Washington, D.C., correspondent Bill Trott, CSUB political science professor Jeanine Kraybill, water expert Harry Starkey, Californian columnist Lois Henry, CSUB basketball Coach Rod Barnes, Californian executive editor Bob Price and many more.

 * ... FOODIE: Were you surprised that the Mimi's restaurant on California Avenue closed? Eateries come and go but Mimi's always seemed to have a steady clientele. But the food business is a tough one, and the public can be fickle in its loyalty. Across the street, I made my first visit to the Habit Burger and while it is no In-N-Out, the burger was rich and tasty and the service was excellent. I was also pleased to read that RJ's Bar and Grill had reopened and was back in business on Hageman Road.

 * ... STOLEN CARS: Car and truck theft is rampant here is Bakersfield, and here are some of the most popular targets according to the Bakersfield Police Department: 1990 through 2000 Honda Accords and Civics; 2000 through 2008 Chevrolet Silverado trucks; 2000 through 2008 GMC Sierra trucks; and 1990 through 2000 Acura Integras.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

When marriages end in a most public way via social media, Bakersfield's Joey Porter is in trouble again and remembering a time when Bako was the home of a bicycle speed record

* ... DIVORCE: By sheer coincidence a number of friends and acquaintances of mine are seeing their marriages end, or at worse slowly unravel in a most public manner via postings on Facebook and other forms of social media. The indescribable heartbreak of divorce for those of us who have
been through it - as I have - is compounded by the way social media allows people to peek behind the curtain of our private lives. (One social media ritual is a Stalinesque purge of the soon-to-be ex spouse's photos, a sure sign that something isn't right at home). My advice to these folks: whatever pain you feel now will eventually be replaced by hope, new beginnings and salvation. If you have a friend going through a tough time, do as the late poet Maya Angelou advised and "be the rainbow in somebody else's cloud."

 * ... MARY: Watson Realtor Mary Christenson was out for dinner at Wiki's Wine Dive and Grill the night of the Alabama-Clemson college football championship when a stranger asked her if she was rooting for Alabama. Why? She was wearing a black checked wool wrap reminiscent of the late Alabama football legend Bear Bryant's houndstooth cap. (Full disclosure: Mary and I have been friends for years, I have used her to buy and sell homes and she is the generous sponsor of this blog.)

* ... JOEY PORTER: Why can't Joey Porter just stay out of trouble? The former Foothill High star, now a coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was arrested outside a Pittsburgh bar for assaulting a doorman. This is just the latest in a long string of incidents that seem to follow Porter.

 * ... FRIENDLY: Did you see that a driver fell asleep at the wheel and ran his car into a restaurant on North Chester that used to be the home of the Friendly Cafe? The Friendly, and its famous multi-egg omelette, was one of the first places I visited after moving here years ago. And yes, I still miss it.

 * ... SPOTTED ON INSTAGRAM: "There should be a millennial edition of Monopoly where you just walk around the board paying rent, never able to buy anything."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Filing my taxes online this morning and Vladimir Putin texted to say I shouldn't be using form 1040EZ."

 * ... SPOTTED BY PETER: Peter Wonderly spotted a young man at a local Target wearing a T-shirt that read, "I like big butts and taco trucks."

 * ... SCHWINN: My buddy Randy Martin of Covenant Community Services turned me on to this interesting factoid from a history site. In 1941, a man named Alfred Letourneur "was able to beat the motor-paced world speed record on a bicycle, reaching 108.92 miles per hour (175.29 km/h) on a Schwinn Paramount bicycle riding behind a car in Bakersfield, California."

* ... EAST HIGH: Sue Lueth reached out to me to remember Roger Chichester, a former biology teacher at East High who was so kind and inspirational to her daughter, who at one time was had a rare immune disorder and was facing a potential bone marrow transplant. "Mr. Chi in his usual graceful way, made her a  teacher's assistant during the time Physical Education classes were supposed to be held. This single act of kindness guided a scared isolated  teen to pursue a career in science. Her excitement was  invigorating and a joy to watch... We were blessed with the grace of God, to follow a much  less rigorous course of treatment, thus avoiding the need  for the transplant thanks to the incredible medical professionals at UCLA. My daughter went on to college to pursue her dreams. Ken Chichester is his father's son, and this gentle dynamic man is keeping his father's dream alive. In the obituary it lists a scholarship fund for East High  students excelling in Science. Donations can be made to: East High ASB, 2200 Quincy Street, Bakersfield, Ca. 94306 . Please write Roger Chichester on the memo section of the check.