Thursday, July 26, 2018

California oil production is surpassed by other states, Supervisor David Couch gets another opponent and the late restaurant critic Jonathan Gold's love affair with Bakersfield

Friday, July 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 place. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... OIL PATCH: The folks in the local oil industry are finally able to relax a bit after three years of belt tightening and anxiety over soft prices and world demand. The industry is doing well, with the
price of a barrel of oil hovering around $70 and the U.S. on its way to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer. But Chad Hathaway, president of Hathaway Oil, told me that California continues to slip in terms of overall production because of a hostile state government in Sacramento and burdensome regulations. States that are now producing more oil than California, or headed that way, include Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and Colorado.

 * ... FOURTH DISTRICT: Supervisor David Couch has another opponent in his bid for reelection, Lamont Chamber of Commerce president Jose Gonzalez. Gonzelez joined Delano mayor Grace Vallejo in challenging Couch, who us running in a newly drawn Latino majority district thanks to the MALDEF lawsuit that forced the redistricting. Vallejo was the choice of a group of Latino leaders to run, but she has all but disappeared from public view, spurning offers for interviews and raising questions about her desire to run. Lamont was previously part of Supervisor Leticia Perez's district but landed in the Fourth District due to the new boundaries. (file photos of Gonzalez and Vallejo)

 * ... RIP JONATHAN GOLD: Bakersfield lost a true friend this week with the death of Jonathan Gold, the award winning Los Angeles Times food critic who was one of Bakersfield's biggest fans. Gold visited here frequently, bringing the likes of Dewar's, Luigi's, Pyrenees Bakery and Woolgrower's to his wide audience. He loved our food, our quirkiness and our people. Consider the opening of a piece Gold wrote in the LA Weekly: "I have been accused of overpraising Bakersfield, and perhaps it is true. Dewar's, across the street from Bakersfield High School, is still the best old soda fountain in the state, and even if it didn't make the world's best nut chews — little Tootsie Rolls of taffy stuffed with crunchy, salty almonds — I would still go there for the thrill of seeing the counterwomen tamping the ice cream into sundae goblets in a way that makes the marshmallow crème spurt out the sides. Luigi's may not be the oldest surviving Italian restaurant in the western United States, but it feels as if it is, and the platters of pasta and beans, the Saturday-only burgers on toast and the homemade spumoni are straight out of 1906. The Arizona Café features a style of California-Mexican cooking that feels a century old... Bakersfield, a scant two hours away, offers the not-inconsiderable pleasure of being in a place that is neither Los Angeles nor part of greater Los Angeles, a town that is thoroughly Californian but can also feel a lot like the good parts of Oklahoma. It's the home of the Bakersfield Sound, the Merle Haggard/Buck Owen/Rose Maddox thing that brought a bit of grit back to country music, and without it the radio now would probably sound even more like Taylor Swift. But mostly, at least for me, there is the old-fashioned cooking at one of the city's Basque dining halls, huge, multicourse feasts originally intended for the Basque shepherds staying at the local boardinghouses. They have become so popular that the few sheep men who show up are treated like local celebrities."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "In the event of a tornado, put some weiners in your pocket. That way the search dogs will find you first."

 * ... LOCAL CRIME: A group of thieves are hitting businesses across town in a most brazen way: they are using stolen pickup trucks to pull the glass entrances of businesses and cleaning the places out. It has happened at least four times in the last month, the latest occurring at a Cigarette shop on Stockdale and Allen Road and at the Finish Line bicycle shop across from CSUB on Stockdale Highway. The thieves, who all appear to be young white men, wear masks to hide their faces and use stolen trucks to pull off the glass entrances. They are hitting these businesses between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

 * OILDALE: The "welcome to Oildale" sign on North Chester just can't seem to get a break. Shortly after it was installed it was destroyed by a car, and now the replacement sign has been tagged by graffiti.

 * ... MEMORIES: Take a look at this picture of North Chester, compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

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