Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tis the season for political hit pieces to fill our mailboxes, the Dodgers run in the playoffs adds some cheer to a rancorous political climate, and how many sex offenders live in your neighborhood?

Monday, October 15, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... CAMPAIGN SEASON: If there was any doubt the gloves have come off as we head into the final stretch before the November elections, just open your mailbox. The hit pieces come daily, and
some are hyperbole and some are outright intentionally misleading. Supervisor Mike Maggard's campaign has been throwing big money into direct mailers in his campaign against challenger Jeff Heinle, who is labeled a "liberal Democrat" in one Maggard hit piece. Why that matters in a nonpartisan office is besides the point: hit pieces often work. In the Maggard piece, it lists his supporters as Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Rep. Kevin NcCarthy, former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and Assemblyman Vince Fong. It lists Heinle's supporters as one person: Supervisor Leticia Perez, and the world knows there is no love lost between Perez and Maggard. And so it goes.

 * ... DODGERS: There's nothing like the LA Dodgers in the playoffs to give us some much needed relief from the acid rain of local and national politics. Put the Kavanaugh hearings and the rancor on the Board of Supervisors behind us, because the Dodgers are making another run for a return to the World Series. If you went anywhere this week - bars, restaurants, the homes of friends - folks were watching Dodger baseball, one of those rare times when we are united in cause, and spirit.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Since every living being has a soul, does that mean that all of us are haunted?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You know that nice tingly feeling you get when you’re falling for someone? That’s common sense leaving your body."

 * ... SEX OFFENDERS: So you think you live in a safe neighborhood? Think again. You might be surprised how many felons, and even sex offenders, live close by. I know this because a friend turned me onto a new iPhone app called "Offender Locator." Download the app (it costs 99 cents) and you can zoom into your neighborhood, or anywhere in town or the country for that matter, and see where sex offenders live. I live downtown south of 24th Street and the area is (thankfully) free of offenders, but Oildale and the east side have enough to make you uncomfortable.

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this photo I spotted on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Its caption: "Comparison photos / SW Corner Chester at Truxtun. When the Kern County seat was moved from Havilah to Bakersfield a new courthouse was constructed in 1876. It soon became inadequate for the growing county. In 1896 it was reconstructed with additions that doubled the size of the original building (Post card photo below). When a more modern courthouse was built across the street in 1912, the county sold the old courthouse to the City of Bakersfield for use as its city hall. Both the old and new courthouses were damaged in a 1952 earthquake and demolished. The 1876 architect was Albert A. Bennett. The 1896 expansion was designed by architect Charles Barnett McDougall. A cement-and-wrought iron fence that enclosed the 1896 courthouse now stands inside the entrance of the Kern County Museum."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Los Angeles reports typhus cases linked to rising homelessness, San Francisco has a new app to report feces and urine (from the homeless), TLO wines will open a tasting room in town and Liberty Roche will debut her new album

Friday, October 12, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... SNAPCRAP: Just how bad has homelessness affected San Francisco? Well, it is so bad that an app has been created so people can take pictures of feces on the sidewalk and send the images to the
city to have it cleaned up. It's called Snapcrap, and it allows people to take shots of feces and deliver an alert to the Public Works Department. It uses GPS to track the specific location and also creates a ticket so user can make sure their complain is received and dealt with. Meanwhile, health officials in Los Angeles are warning of a typhus outbreak linked to the homeless encampments that are so prevalent downtown. Typhus outbreaks linked to homeless encampments have been reported in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Long Beach.

 * ... RIP PAT DEMOND: Pat DeMond, who served as the Ward 2 represented on the City Council, has died. Not sure what was the cause of death. Demond served as a councilperson and vice mayor from 1987 to 2000. Said current Ward 2 councilman Andrae Gonzales: "Among her notable contributions to our city and downtown revitalization include approval of the Chester Avenue streetscape, the Cenntenial Garden (now Rabobank) arena, the Holiday Inn Select (now Marriot) hotel, and the Amtrak station."

* ... TLO WINES: Here's a first for Bakersfield: TLO winery, owned by the Zaninovich family, is opening the first tasting room downtown. Andy Zaninovich and his daughter Avery say the tasting room, located on 18th Street across from Sequoia Sandwich Co., should be open by the end of the month.

 * ... WINE DEALS: And speaking of wine, if you head over to Imbibe Wine and Spirits and partake in their "six for $60" offering (six bottles of wine for $60) you will receive two Reidel wine glasses free. Tell them you want "the Richard Beene deal." Imbibe is a sponsor of The Richard Beene Show that runs daily from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Kids today don’t know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Just installed one of those little dentist's sinks on my wife's side of the bed."

 * ... LIBERTY ROCHE: Liberty Roche, a 16-year-old song writer and singer, will debut her new album at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 25. Roche is a junior at Bakersfield Christian High School and has been singing when she was just 11 years old. She is working with American Idol contestant Amy Adams for the past five years.

 * ... MOVING ON: Bob Meadows is leaving Mission Bank to become business development director for the city of Shafter. Meadows served as vice president/community development officer for the bank but said he could not pass up the "amazing opportunity" in Shafter. His last day will be next week.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers Helms bakery from back in the day? Check out this photo from the Kern County of Old Facebook page, where the caption read: "The Helms Man. Every drawer in the back of the truck was loaded with pies and donuts. A childhood delight in Westchester."

Sunday, October 7, 2018

With the Kavanaugh vote behind us, will we ever return to a state of civil dialogue in this country? And it was a weekend full of events including craft beer at Imbibe Wine and Spirits

Monday, October 8, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... KAVANAUGH: I can only speak for myself but I am glad that we have seen the end of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. No matter where you stand on Kavanaugh, this has been a sad and sordid time for the country. As one friend told me: "I can't speak to my in-laws about it and I am
afraid to even talk about it at work people are so riled up. It's impossible to have a civil dialogue." Opposing Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court doesn't equate to convicting a person without evidence, and neither does supporting his nomination make you a woman hater. It's time to move on. The process and ultimate confirmation vote has boosted the base of both parties, and we will see in November if either party will pay the price at the ballot box.

 * ... MORE KAVANAUGH: A friend on the east coast posted this on her Facebook page: "Let's make Facebook great again. I'm going to refrain from posting or commenting on anything political. It's tearing us apart a a country. I'm going to stick to posts that make people smile or laugh. And, not at the expense of others. Who's with me?"

 * ... WEEKEND: If it's October, you can be sure our weekends are jammed with events. There was the 10th annual Latination Friday night at Metro Galleries, followed by the Greek Food Festival, the Farm to Tableaux event benefitting the Boys and Girls Club, the Valley of Hope Gala for the American Cancer Society, the 20th anniversary of Rabobank arena, the annual Action Sports Marathon at Lake Ming, the Village Flea at the Kern County Museum and Imbibe Wine and Spirit's Craft Bear Festival. And who says there is nothing to do in Bakersfield?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you enjoy roller coasters and near death experiences, falling in love with a redhead might be right for you."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Sixty may be the new 40 but 9 p.m. is the new midnight."

 * ... OOPS: A sharp eyed friend, Chris Lowe, caught an error in a campaign mailer for Supervisor Mike Maggard. The flyer touted Maggard's accomplishments and included a picture of a freeway with brown hills. The problem: the freeway is in another county. Said Lowe: "Shouldn’t that be a picture from Kern County if you’re running for election in Kern County? The picture is from Ventura county between Calabasas and Agoura Hills. Whoops!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old picture looking East on 19th Street, the Bakersfield Opera House is the first building on the right circa 1910.

Friday, October 5, 2018

St. Vincent de Paul holds its annual barbecue fund raiser, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant downtown gets some kudos and local businessmen turn to security shutters to combat crime

Friday, October 5, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... HOMELESS BBQ: One of the older organizations in town dedicated to helping the homeless is the St. Vincent de Paul homeless center off Baker Street, which held its annual barbecue fund raiser this week. Organizer Deborah Leary said more than a thousand New York steaks were served
Thursday evening, along with Casa Munoz beans, a salad and dessert. This facility feeds hundreds of homeless every day as well as provides them showers and a place to pick up mail. St. Vincent closes daily in the afternoon - it is not an overnight facility - and serves an important role in giving a helping hand to our growing homeless population. Among those I spotted were Monsignor Craig Harrison, Teri and Barry Goldner, Fran and Gregg Gunner,  Judge Robert Anspach and his wife Rosemary, their daughter and son-in-law Dr. Tom and Mary Berry, Eleanor Etcheverry, Gordon and Lynn Westhoff, Jim Sakowski and so many more.

 * ... CRIME: How bad is crime locally? Well, it is so bad that the King Door Company is doing a brisk business in security shutters for local businesses. Company owner Roman Ruiz said local businesses are being regularly broken into, and they are taking steps to combat this dangerous new wave of crime. King Door now offers a wide range of metal security shutters and steel reinforced doors. Some of their clients include a new California Highway Patrol facility, school cafeterias, Infiniti of Bakersfield, United Rentals and the Kern Oil Refinery. A sign of the times.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "To anyone that ever gave up on me all I have to say is ... good call."

 * ... MAMMA MIA: I finally stopped by Mamma Mia's, the new Italian restaurant downtown run by a chef who worked at Luigi's for more than 20 years. As expected, the menu features some Luigi's look alikes, as well as some new offerings. The night we were there it was jammed and service was spotty, but the food was excellent. My beef: my salad, the size of a normal dinner salad, cost a pricey $12.99. Yikes.

 * ... HEN'S ROOST: Meanwhile if you are looking for something more healthy, either vegetarian or vegan, try the Hen's Roost behind the downtown Post Office on G Street. Run by Jaclyn Allen and a small but dedicated staff, this new twist on a health food restaurant features some of the best non-meat burgers in town, including the "Impossible Burger" featured here.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these photos of 19th Streets back in the day, and today. Something went wrong methinks.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Valley fever cases spike, there's a push to kill the high speed rail project and The Bakersfield Californian endorses the anti-fossil fuel candidate Gavin Newsom for governor. Really.

Monday, October 1, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... VALLEY FEVER: It looks like 2018 could turn out to be a record year for valley fever cases in the Central Valley. That is according to a report by CalMatters, which said we are on track for the
worst year yet. In 2016, there were more than  6,000 cases reported - then a record - but in 2017 that jumped to 8,103. Through August this year, we have had more than 5,000 cases and were are entering the peak season for valley fever infections to emerge. And, experts say valley fever is spreading to areas well outside the Central Valley, with many cases being reported in places like Monterey, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties.

 * ... HIGH SPEED RAIL: Here is one emerging state initiative that I can get behind: there is a push to put an initiative on the 2020 ballot to kill the high-speed rail project. The same people who were behind the initiative to kill the gas tax - that will appear on the November ballot - are pushing the high speed rail effort. The high speed rail project is grossly over budget and honestly, do you really believe it will be completed in our lifetime? I can think of a thousand better ways to spend that money.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you enjoy roller coasters and near death experiences, falling in love with a redhead might be right for you."

 * ... OVERHEARD: One friend to another: "I don't know which is worse: the (homeless) people outside the downtown Rite-Aid or those inside it."

 * ... HOMELESS IN LAUREL GLEN: A family in Laurel Glen awoke last week to find a homeless woman living in their back yard by the pool. The woman, middle aged and disoriented, had makeshift bedding and had made herself at home. When asked to leave, she became belligerent. The family had no idea how long she had been there.

 * ... GAVIN NEWSOM? I was stunned to see that my old employer, The Bakersfield Californian, endorsed Gavin Newsom for governor. Not only did the paper endorse Newsom, but it did so enthusiastically. Count me among those who just don't get it. Republican John Cox may lack experience, but Newsom is so clearly out of step with Kern County - think single-payer health care, sanctuary cities, opposition to oil and gas drilling and support for high speed rail - that it seems TBC did the journalistic equivalent of dousing itself with gasoline and lighting the match. Good luck with that.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers the old Padre Drug store? Check out this remarkable old picture.

* ... KAVANAUGH HEARINGS: I am going to take the liberty to reprint here a post from my friend Tim Gallagher, former editor of the Ventura Star. His take on the testimony of both Dr. Christina Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is thoughtful, and worth a read. Here it is:

  "I have seen a number of posts that deal with two ideas: 1) Dr. Blasey Ford would be called hysterical if she lost her temper and behaved as Judge Kavanaugh did, and 2) Judge Kavanaugh’s anger proves he is not fit to serve on the court.
 Let me offer two thoughts on those two thoughts. And I would welcome your thoughts.
Dr. Blasey Ford would have been labeled as “emotional and hysterical” if she had done what Judge Kavanaugh did. Undoubtedly true. But by whom? Who would have described her this way? Politicians? Conservative talk show hosts? Who cares?
 I saw a person who has been deeply hurt – both by the sexual assault and the relentless media spotlight that we empower. She reverted to the training that so many women have received – keep quiet, stay under control, be a good girl, don’t lose your temper. I felt so sorry for her and her family because they are in a lot of pain. I wish her well and a return to her normal life as soon as that is possible, if it’s possible. I understand that she is a marvelous professor and a brilliant researcher. I believe that.
 “Judge Kavanaugh is a rage-aholic and this proves we can’t trust him on the bench.” The record shows otherwise. All of his disinterested reviews from the ABA and fellow jurists show he is a measured, thoughtful judge who carefully researches the facts and rules on them, not emotion. There are no incidents of rage or anger in his professional life.
I saw a person who has been deeply hurt and was responding according to his training. From an early age, most boys are taught to fight back with all the anger and strength you can muster. Never accept defeat. Defend your family and your honor and do it loud. I felt sorry for him and for his family. They’re all in a lot of pain. If I ever had a case before him, I think it would be adjudicated fairly and according to the law.
 For now, I am going to leave out my comments on the political pandering I saw from both sides yesterday. I don’t know how this vote is going to turn out. I don’t know exactly what happened that summer of 1982. We live in a culture of relativism, unfortunately, and I saw too many posts from friends who merely parsed the portions of the testimony that fit their notions before the hearing.
 I know that there are two people who responded yesterday as we have trained them in modern America and I am going to pray to God to give both of these people and their families some peace. That was one of the worst days in America’s political history."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Good intentions and asking people to "join the fight" against homelessness isn't enough. Frustrations grow over concerns about health and public safety issues.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... HOMELESS: Homelessness in Kern County is growing steadily worse, and as the problem
spreads to neighborhoods that never previously had to deal with it, there is a growing frustration that we simply aren't doing enough.  Short of real solutions, we have the predictable, well meaning but empty platitudes from the Kern County Homeless Collaborative asking for us to "join in the battle" against homelessness without giving us a clue how to help. (Check out Jessica Janssen's recent opinion piece in The Californian).  While Ms. Janssen cautions it will take "time and conversations" to deal with the issue, a real health and human crisis is playing out before us and nobody seems to have a clue to where to start. If you want the average citizen to join the cause, tell us how we can help. And it better be more than just a call to "join the fight."

* ... SINK BATH: Consider this note from Michael Thibodeaux: "I had a homeless encounter this morning that I can't unsee. I ordered a coffee at the Starbucks across from the Outback. Went to use the bathroom, opened the door and there is a buck naked black man washing his privates at the sink!!! WTF? He kinda screamed, I may have also. I closed the door."

 * ... MEANWHILE AT BURGER KING: Responding to Thibodeaux on Facebook, Jason Absey chimed in with this: "I was in Lake Isabella Saturday. Before heading home we stopped at Burger King, I went to was my hands in the bathroom, and there was a homeless guy with his shirt off washing his armpits. WTF is wrong with people."

 * ... NEAR MISS: And finally, a friend of mine who delivers beer and other beverages for a local company told me this: "I was listening to you on the radio (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) talking about the homeless in the streets when one walked right in front of my truck. I almost hit him."

* ... HOMELESS CENTER: The folks over at St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center have been dealing with this issue for years, and once again they will hold their annual barbecue to help fund the effort. On  Thursday, Oct. 4 volunteers will fire up the grills for the traditional fall barbecue at St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center at 316 Baker Street. This is one of the biggest and most successful events of the fall in town, and money raised goes to provide meals and services to 400 men, women and children who visit the center daily. The center receives no government funding and relies on this event. The doors open at 5 p.m. and they will start serving at 5:30 p.m. The menu features local businesses - your choice of a NY steak or Teriyaki chicken, Wool Growers salsa and salad, a Pyrenees french roll, Casa Munoz beans and Smith's Bakery cobbler. Drive-thru and take-out, along with complimentary valet parking are also available. You can purchase your $30 ticket at the door.

 * ... DOWNTOWN THEFT: Check out this post from Jerry's Pizza about a grill that was stolen. Seems like this truck should be easy to spot. "So two men in a red Chevy pick up decided to steal our grill this weekend Sunday September 23 at 7 AM. Please keep an eye out for this truck and our grill we were not the only one’s hit this weekend downtown. Will post a video later. There will be a reward for Information leading to our barbecue grill 661-633-1000 or Msg is here.

 * ... MEMORIES: Remember The Plunge on Union Avenue? Enjoy this old clipping from its grand opening, courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

Palo Alto is home to the richest people in California, Dana Culhane Brennan moves back to Bakersfield and Felix Adamo is retiring at The Bakersfield Californian

Monday September 24, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... UBER WEALTHY: Where do the richest people in California live? It probably won't surprise
you when I tell you it is in Palo Alto, home of the coveted 94301 zip code and the birthplace of the Silicon Valley. According to the Los Angeles Times, the state "scooped up just under $1 billion from nearly 9,000 tax returned filed in 94301 in 2016 - more revenue than from any other zip code in California." The newspaper went on to say that residents in that single zip code paid 28 times more in taxes in 2016 than all of those living in Tehama County, 200 miles northeast of Palo Alto.

 * ... MOVING UP: Congratulations to Dana Culhane Brennan who is moving back to Bakersfield after serving on the staff of state Sen. Jean Fuller, who is being termed out of office. Brennan recently started a new job as director of Corporate and Government Affairs at Grimmway Farms.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "No reaction from my eye doctor when I playfully walked into his desk. He’s seen this schtick too many times."

 * ... FELIX ADAMO: Felix Adamo, the award winning photographer at The Bakersfield Californian, is retiring at the end of this month to spend more time on his corporate clients. Adamo is virtually without peer in the news photography business and his pictures have graced the pages of our daily newspaper for four decades. Here's a random sampling of some of his work. Enjoy.

 * ... RECYCLING: Here's a novel idea: why don't we move these pop-up "recycling centers" away from residential areas? They are magnets for the homeless and incompatible with commercial areas that back up to residences. The recycling center at the corner of Columbus and Mount Vernon is a particular eyesore.

 * ... GREEN ACRES: Check out this photo from a 1942 calendar put out by the folks who owned the old Green Acres cafe. It was located and framed by local antique colleague Sarah Kirschner. Does anyone remember this place?

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these pictures of Bakersfield back in the day long before the 1952 earthquake changed the face of the city forever.