Thursday, March 2, 2017

Zoot Velasco out as director of the Kern County Museum, more developments on the 18th Street Corridor and remembering when Bonanza's Hop Sing came to town

* ... ZOOT: So did Zoot Velasco get the boot as chief executive officer of the Kern County Museum? The official word is that he resigned, but there was plenty of bad blood in the air during his short eight-month tenure, so we can all read what we like into what really happened. Almost from the day
Velasco started the job, there were grumblings about his management style (some board members viewed him as arrogant and aloof) and that doesn't play in a meat and potatoes town like Bakersfield. Velasco joins a long and growing list of folks who have been recruited to come to Bakersfield for important fund raising jobs only to quickly flame out.

 * ... QWIKCAFE: Attention downtowners: the new QwikCafe, a new "to go" venture by the folks who own the popular Sequoia Sandwich Co., will officially open on Monday, March 20, the first day of Spring. QwikCafe is located next to the downtown Sequoia Branch at 18th and L streets and will feature 'to go' salads and sandwiches. An attractive new dark awning just went up this week to match it to the Sequoia shop just next door.

 * ... CAFE SMITTEN: Meanwhile a few blocks east down 18th Street, the newly opened Cafe Smitten coffee house continues to do a gangbusters business, making it hard to get into at times. Said Sharon Antongiovanni. "I took your advice on the 27th of February and attempted a trip to CafĂ© Smitten. I was reminded why I do not go downtown. There is no where to park, it was 3:30 in the afternoon and there was not a table available due to students with laptops taking up all the tables with empty cups. I hope they can stay open but they need us baby boomers to spend money in there instead of just college people that are just taking up space. I had an out of town guest and we were looking forward to some coffee and something sweet. Unfortunately it will be along time before I venture downtown again." Give it another shot Sharon, it is worth the wait

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "'Engagement' can mean either planning to marry or initiating combat. Coincidence?"

 * ... GOOD FORM: Karen Frost shared this scene that will make your day. "My job takes me down Union Avenue, with all of its sad sights, twice a day. This morning I saw something that I just have to share with you. It is 42 degrees outside and as I sat in my car at a red light, a woman with bare feet walked across the street in front of me.  When she reached the other side of the street, a woman in a Kia pulled over, beckoned to her, got out of her car, and gave the barefoot woman the shoes off of her own feet. No idea who that woman is, but I'd like her to know she inspired me to do something for someone else today."

  * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Sunny Kapoor, my favorite Ohio State Buckeye, shared with me some good news on his son, Arie, who has been accepted into the Royal Veterinary College of London, beginning in September. Aries is a graduate of Centennial High School and of Chico State where he earned a degree in Animal Sciences. "He most likely will end up with some hefty college loans, but it is a fulfillment of a lifelong dream of being a veterinarian," he told me. "My younger son, Nigel, also a Centennial grad, is a senior at University of Arizona in the Electrical Engineering program. Bakersfield has been good to our family."

 * ... MEMORIES: And finally, there is this from reader Jim D. Smith: "The blog about Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame caught my eye. A couple of years after the series ended, the Cartwright cook, Hop Sing, was in Bakersfield.  Real life name Victor Sen Yung. He gave a cooking demonstration in the houseware department of Brock's where I worked. It was at the beginning of the wok craze."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

YouTube reaches one billion hours a day of usage, further threatening traditional television, Nuestro Mexico enjoys a solid fan base and the Merrill store signals it is leaving the Outlets of Tejon

 * ... MASS MEDIA: Here's a startling statistic: Across the world, viewers of YouTube are watching more than one billion hours of videos a day. Yes, one billion hours of video every day. And we wonder why the old guard 'mass media' (local and network television, print etc) has seen such an
erosion in viewer and readership over the past decade. As noted in The Wall Street Journal: "It represents a 10-fold increase since 2012, YouTube said, when it started building algorithms that tap user data to give each user personalized video lineups designed to keep them watching longer." The billion hour mark "underscores the wide lead of the 12-year old platform in online video-threatening traditional television, which lacks similarly sophisticated tools."

 * ... NUESTRO MEXICO: I stopped at Nuestro Mexico recently and was heartened to see it continues to enjoy a loyal dinner crowd. Located in the same cozy 21st Street building that formerly housed La Costa Mariscos, Nuestro Mexico is home to some of the best chips and salsa in town, not to mention tacos and seafood specialties.

 * ... OUTLET MALL: The Merrill shoe store in the Outlets at Tejon is going out of business and it is offering some killer deals. Everything in the store has been discounted by 60 percent, so if you are in the market for some hiking or running shoes, it is worth the drive down Highway 99 to score a deal.

 * ... MCCARTHY: Last week I wrote to express sympathy for Republican congressmen (like our own Rep. Kevin McCarthy) who face unruly crowds at town hall meetings. If the meetings cannot be civil, I argued, why hold them at all? It triggered the expected blowback, including this note from reader Wade Eagleton: "For a person of influence and community standing to defend Representative McCarthy decision to freeze out his constituents, locking his district's office door and refusing to hold town hall meeting  during this critical time of change I cry foul. I call you out declaring shame on you. Shame on you for undermining the process of free expression and protest which is the definition of democracy." Thanks for the note Wade, but I never endorsed McCarthy "freezing" out constituents.  Your words, not mine. On this one we will have to agree to disagree.

 * ... MORE KMAC: Yet another reader, Alicia Ortega-Welch, send me this: "I was one of those candelight protesters. It is my right to protest. These past seven seven weeks I have marched for the first time in my 64-years of life. Mr. Beene, I assure you that at 4 foot, 10 inches tall I did not pose any threat to the in-excess-of-6-feet tall men guarding Mr. McCarthy's home that evening. I respectfully and peacefully held my candle in memory of all the citizens who will loose their health insurance and lives. Yes, I can not sit quietly this time. If all I can do is peacefully march, I will do so."

 * ... MEMORIES: Richard Alsop reacted to my piece on the late Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame appearing in Bakersfield. Said Alsop: "I saw your piece referring to Dan Blocker. I was 13 in 1961 and had a friendship with Cousin Herb's son Rusty. As I remember Cousin Herb's house was the two story on the south side of Bell Terrace at Highway 99. I think it's still there."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally Carol Penfield added this: "The clip about Tri-Valley Rambler brought back memories. I started to work there in 1969. When it was at 26th and Chester, we got to watch the Howell House being moved around the Chester Avenue Circle to the Museum. It took several days. Still there when it sold to Valley American, and when it moved to 149 Union Avenue next to the old Motor City location. It was sold in early 1972 and closed in May, 1972. That ended that job."