Sunday, July 15, 2018

The hottest place in Bakersfield is the emerging "Eastchester" district of 18th Street, a local couple run into Billy Bob Thornton on the road and the telephone scammers are out in full force

Monday, July 16, 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 

 * ... EASTCHESTER: The hottest area in town these days is the corridor of 18 Street east of
Chester, dubbed "Eastchester" by the downtown crowd. This new, emerging arts and restaurant district extends from Chester all the way east to Mexicali, and it includes such iconic mainstays as Bill Lee's, the Rice Bowl, Sequoia Sandwich Co. and Goose Loonies. What has made the area so hot? Well it isn't because of government incentives or planning but rather business people who have a vision and passion and the capital to make their dreams come true. People like city councilman Bob Smith and his investors who built the 17th Place Townhomes and the adjacent Cafe Smitten, where Smith's daughter Stasie and her husband Shai have created something unique and special. A few blocks farther east you have the renovated Silver Fox Starlite Lounge, where serial entrepreneurs Rod and Julie Crawford (Pyrenee's Cafe) have laid their claims to part of Eastchester's charm. More changes are coming, so stay tuned.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Yawning is your body’s way of saying 20 percent of battery remaining."

 * ... BILLY BOB: So what do you do when you are out of town bowling and in the lane next to you is actor Billy Bob Thornton? If you are Doc and Joyce Victor of Bakersfield, you strike up a conversation. Doc, president of Summit Bible College and Joyce, a retired teacher, were in Nevada when Thornton complimented Doc on his bowling game (he had thrown five straight strikes). Turns out the Victor's daughter, Selah, is an actor as well and played in "Bad Santa" with Thornton. And it also turns out that Doc Victor is an accomplished singer and he left Thornton with a CD of his new songs.

 * ... SCAM: There seems to be no end to those telephone scams. There are scammers who pose as Internal Revenue Service agents, and others who claim to have kidnapped your son or daughter. And now comes this: scammers who say they are from the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Listen to local Watson Realtor Mary Christenson on what happened to her: "Just had the scariest phone call: supposedly from the Bakersfield sheriff's office (blocked caller ID). He told me I had missed jury duty on July 9th and I was under electronic arrest, quoted me two counts of criminal citations-failure to appear, etc., and I must post a $1,000 bail bond. I must stay on the phone while I go to my bank and withdraw $1,000 cash, then he will be on the phone with me while I come straight to the sheriff's office to post this bail bond. I said I have never heard of this before. I demanded his name and ID and he got very angry and said he was sending deputies out to arrest me! I hung up and called 911 and the dispatcher said it is a scam.
That's okay, my dog would tear him apart if he came to arrest me. Charlie would make him into pulp!"

 * ... MORE SCAMS: And did you hear about the latest scam hitting people who have Medicare insurance? This one involves the new Medicare identity cards that are being issued to some 60 million Americans. The reason: the new cards will no longer display your Social Security number, replacing it instead with a new Medicare ID number. Seizing on this change, scammers are calling Medicare members and demanding payment, threatening steep fines or even jail time if people do not comply. It's all a scam, the latest example of people trying to take your hard earned money.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this classic photo of Bakersfield circa 1958.

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