Friday, February 16, 2018

District attorney looking into a conflict of interest on the Board of Supervisors, a classic Craftsman comes up for sale downtown and a new Greek eatery gets some love...

 * ... CANNABIS: It appears the Kern County District Attorney's office is looking into the controversy involving Supervisors Letitia Perez and Mike Maggard in the ongoing debate over
marijuana. Specifically, KGET's Danny Freeman reported that the DA public integrity unit was looking into allegations that Perez had a conflict of interest when she voted to regulate marijuana in the unincorporated areas of the county. Fernando Jara, Perez's husband, is alleged to have been deeply involved in the cannabis fight therefore creating a conflict for his wife. Stay tuned because all this is just heating up.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The problem with drinking with people from work is they’re the ones I bitch about when I’m drunk."

 * ... CRAFTSMAN: One of my favorite homes in Bakersfield, a beautifully restored Craftsman on 19th Street downtown, has come up for sale. Easily one of the most recognizable homes in the downtown area, the home has 2,637 square feet of living space, four bedrooms and two baths, a detached garage and a classic wrap around porch. The price: $625,000.

 * ... DARLINGSIDE: Don't miss the Boston-based group Darlingside when they appear at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday, March 7. Sponsored by Passing through Productions, tickets are available on for just $20 each. Consider this excerpt from a recent review of the group: "Boston quartet Darlingside manage exactly that on their new album, Extralife, a sumptuous set of harmony-heavy songs that, like an impressionist painting, conjures the feeling and texture of end times while leaving plenty of space for the listener to decide just what such an event would actually look like. The follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 album, Whippoorwill, finds Darlingside eschewing the Americana-leaning folk-rock of their earlier work to explore experimental, complex chamber pop, all while spinning sparkling yarns of underground bunkers and nuclear fallout."

 * ... SULTAN'S: Have you tried Sultan's Mediterrean Grill out off Allen Road? A friend swears it is the hottest new eatery in town, featuring fresh Greek entrees at affordable prices. The restaurant is located on the corner of Allen and Brimhall roads.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison may be one of the most joyful, hopeful and spiritual person I know. But even a man of the cloth has his limits. What bugs him most? Negativity, divisiveness and personal attacks. "That's the main reason I defriend people on Facebook," he told me this week. "I use Facebook to uplift me, not to make me angry." And the other reason he defriends on Facebook? "People who post every meal they eat." Sounds about right, Father Craig.

 * ... OLD BANK: I found this photo of the old Anglo-California bank, located at 18th and Chester, on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The building now houses the Chain Cohn Stiles law firm.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

RIP to the old mainstream media, and get ready for a new "gold rush" by podcasts and streaming video platforms to fill the void. .. and hey how about a cool old photo?

 * ... LOCAL MEDIA: The graveside services for what was known as "the mainstream media" - your local newspaper, network TV and its local affiliate news stations - were held long ago. Media is splintering, newspapers are struggling to keep the lights on and TV ratings are shrinking. In its place,
blogs, podcasts and new video streaming platforms are flourishing, if for no other reason than they don't need truckloads of cash and advertising to stay in business. This is particularly true on the local level, where new "media channels" position themselves to capture the audiences that have abandoned newspapers and other "mainstream" platforms. Locally, look no further than KERNCAST.COM, a new venture catering to the political right and run by former mayoral candidate and pro cannabis activist T.J. Esposito. So far, he has signed up former KNZR radio personalities Chad Garcia and Inga K. Barks, as well as Denise Gary, to do weekly video streaming episodes, and more are in the works. (KERNCAST also hosts a lively "Bored in Bakersfield" channel that is worth checking out). Esposito can be a polarizing figure about town, but it would be wrong to prematurely dismiss him or KERNCAST. The gatekeepers of old media are dead, and there is a new gold rush to see who will fill the void.

 * ... CANNABIS DRAMA: Speaking of old media, it took our local newspaper more than a month but it finally got around to covering the dramatic charges and counter charges involving Supervisors Mike Maggard and Leticia Perez in the local cannabis debate. It's another example of how shrinking staffs in "old media" simply can't keep up with more nimble news sources, and how new alternative news outlets are now leading the way. By the way, if you want a real, unfiltered view of this cannabis mess, go to the KERNRADIO.COM archives to hear interviews with all the players in the local pot debate: Heather Epps, David Abbasi, T.J. Esposito, Kim Schaefer, Ben Eilenberg, Fernando Jara, Maggard and Perez.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: Pat Sajak, host of "Wheel of Fortune," posted this: "It must be exhausting to spend your days monitoring everyone’s speech searching for something to turn into a hashtag hate campaign. #Getalife"

 * ... DISNEYLAND: There is some bad news at the happiest place on earth. That's right Disneyland is raising its prices again and those on the annual season passes are getting slammed. For annual passes, the least expensive pass now costs $729, up from $619, and the Signature Pass (includes parking) is now going for a princely $999 a year. A family of four can easily spend near $4,000 a year for the passes, and that doesn't include gas, hotels or food.

* ... VETERANS: Comrades and Canopies, a group of local veterans dedicated to improving the lives of those who have served, is taking eight Honor Flight vets out to Skydive Taft this weekend. Event organizer Chad Garcia said some of the War World II and Korean War vets had not jumped out of a plane in decades. Garcia and other veterans will be raising money this week at BJ's Brewhouse on Stockdale Highway and Salty's BBQ on White Lane.

 * ... MEMORIES: Tell me you are not transfixed by this photo shared by Mark McGown on the Facebook page "Kern County of Old." In McGowan's words: "L to R: May Stark, Adalaine Nicholson, and Ella Faye in 1894. They were teachers at Kern County High School."

Kehinde Wiley, the artist who painted the portrait of Barack Obama, coming under fire for previous paintings depicting beheaded white women

 The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have drawn fire, and some criticism and praise, for their unconventional take on the former president and first lady. Now comes word that the artist who painted Obama, Kehinde Wiley, has done paintings of black women holding the severed heads of white women. Artistic license or in bad taste? You decide.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A new report says virtually all of the Central Valley is doing well economically ... except for Bakersfield. Meanwhile, another successful Crabest for the St. Francis Parish and Imbibe features its top 100 wines

Monday February 12, 2018

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 * ...
CENTRAL VALLEY: A new study by the University of the Pacific has some good and bad news for the Central Valley. The good: Central Valley cities fare well in the study, except for one, and of course that one is Bakersfield. Modesto is doing well as are Sacramento, Fresno and Stockton. But
Bakersfield plunged in the rating. "When economies are so reliant on natural resources like oil or water, external shocks can cause significant drops in a growth based ranking," the report said. It continued: "In Bakersfield's case, it was affected by the contraction in the oil and energy sector and California's drought that only recently ended." 

 * ... ROCK COBBLER: If you noticed hordes of bicyclists around town this weekend you can thank the annual Rock Cobbler, a torturous 80-mile race through the streets, foothills and mountains that is not for the faint of heart. Organized by Sam Ames and Keith Barnden, the race attracted more than 320 riders who crossed through town, tackled the hills overlooking Hart Park and even detoured through the living room of a home off Panorama Drive. That's right, the course took the riders through a resident's back yard and right through his house.

* ... CRABFEST: When it comes to fund raisers it's hard to beat the celebrations hosted by the St. Francis Parish and Monsignor Craig Harrison. Catholics, let's face it, know how to wean more milk from their flock. And this year's Crabfest was no exception, a huge event that drew hundreds to benefit the parish school operations. The dinner, featuring fresh crab, salad, potatoes and quite yummy dry rubbed ribs, honored Mike and Marcie Soper and long time teacher Shirley Ottenstein. Among those I spotted were Rep. Kevin McCarthy and wife Judy, Assemblyman Vince Fong, Mayor Karen Goh, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, District Attorney candidates Cynthia Zimmer and Scott Spielman, deputy DAs Gina Pearl and Kim Richardson, taxpayer's advocate Mike Turnipseed, Brian and Katie Kirschenman, John and Ginette Brock, Dr. Mark Root and wife Bernadette, George and Cindy Meek, Kim Schaefer, Robin Lake Foster, Jason and Laura Barnes, and too many to list here. But you get it: they know how to raise money for good causes.

 * ... IMBIBE: Imbibe Wine and Spirits held its 10th annual "top 100" wine tasting Saturday and a little known wine from the Suisan Valley near Napa took the top prize. The winner: GrapeHeart Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. My other personal favorite: the 2016 Toloso No Oak chardonnay that sells for under $15 a bottle.

 * ... FOOD: For me, the best food in town is served at our locally and family owned restaurants about town. And there are plenty of them. But perhaps nowhere in town are so many locally owned eateries clustered than downtown. Consider this: within a few square blocks you will find these family run restaurants, and they are all good: Muertos, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, Mama Roomba, Jin Sushi, TOSSit salad bar, The Mark, Uricchio's Trattoria, Sequoia Sandwich Shop, Cafe Smitten and Bill Lee's.

 * ... CLOCK TOWER: Check out these photos of the old Beale Clock Tower that once stood at Chester and 17th Street.