Wednesday, December 29, 2021

What is your traditional New Year's meal: black eyed peas and greens? Tamales? Plus a great white shark kills a surfer off Morro Bay and volunteers clean up a mess on the off road trails on the east side of town

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... NEW YEAR'S TRADITIONS: Does your family have a New Year's traditional meal? If you are from the South, as I am, that would mean black eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread (hold the sugar,

please). If you are from Mexico, it may be fresh, homemade tamales. If you are from Spain, you will no doubt enjoy 12 grapes on New Year's Eve to ring in the new year. A quick search found these regional favorites: for the American South it would be black eye peas and greens for Mexico count on tamales, for Spain twelve grapes and for Japan Soba noodles. What is your tradition?

 * ... GUITAR STOLEN:  If you shake your head about how bad crime is these days, consider this: A guitar once owned by Buck Owens has been stolen from the Oildale post office that was renamed after the late country music star. According to the Kern County Sheriff's Office, two suspects wearing hooded sweatshirts and face masks broke into the post office and stole the red, white and blue guitar that had been displayed in a case. The post office is located on Minner Avenue and a the guitar was donated in 2008 by the Owens family.

 * .. SHARK ATTACK: Did you year about the latest shark attack near Morro Bay? Well officials now think the victim was killed by aa great white shark. The victim's name has not been released but his body was pulled from the water near Morro Bay on Christmas Eve. (photo courtesy of The Los Angeles Times)

 * ... CHICK FIL-A: With the possible exception of the burger joint In-n-Out, Chick fil-A may be the most popular fast food franchise in town. When the company closed its Stockdale Highway location for a remodel a few months ago, the restaurant's legions of fans were bereft, but they stormed back when the place was reopened. And now comes word that a second Chick fil-A will be opening on Rosedale Highway where Pier 1 once did business. No word on exactly when it might open.

 * ... BRAVO! Let's end this year with a shoutout to everyone who contributes to the common good, who chooses not to run with the herd but to be honest and make a difference. That was seen two weeks ago with a group of citizen volunteers descended on the dirt roads off Morning Drive, popular with cyclists and off road motorbike enthusiasts, who spent the day picking up tons of trash. That's right, the group collected just over 14 tons of trash in an area that has long been a favorite dumping spot. Bravo and thanks to award winning local photographer Felix Adamo who caught all this on his camera.

 * ... MEMORIES: This is a photo of a building the old armory, that I never knew existed until I saw it on the Kern County History Fans Facebook page. Feast on this for a second.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Did the Diocese of Fresno fail to include five more priests on its list of "credibly accused" priests who have been accused of preying on young men and women? And what secrets will the church personnel files reveal about how the church covered up and concealed priest abuse?

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... SEXUAL PREDATORS: One thing seems certain about the ongoing sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church: it just never seems to end. And it gets worse virtually every day. Communities like Bakersfield who have seen priests outed because of accusations of sexual abuse - the rise and dramatic fall of former priest Craig Harrison is a classic example - are understandably weary of hearing how a once

beloved priest has been accused of such sickening deeds. But all this isn't ending anytime soon, and now new allegations have emerged implicating five more priests who were once assigned to the Diocese of Fresno. Jeff Anderson and Associates, a law firm that specializes in priest abuse, alleges the Diocese omitted five priests who had been accused of sexual abuse over the years. They include Rev. Efren Cirilio Neri, Monsignor Anthony Moreno, Father Gaspar Bautista, Rev. Orlando Alberto Battaglioia and Father Edgardo Arrunataegui.  Battaglioia and Baustista have since died while the other three are believed to be alive. Anderson & Associates said the names of these priests were left off the list of "credibly accused" priests issued by the Diocese of Fresno. That list, which included Harrison of Bakersfield, is viewed as important because with it the church is acknowledging that there is credible evidence to believe the men who have come forward to accuse the priests.

 * ... AB 218: What's the point in outing dead priests as abusers? Lawyers for victim advocates hope that by doing so more victims will come forward to take advantage of the California Child Victims Act (Assembly Bill 218) which gave survivors of childhood sexual abuse a chance at justice and healing. 
The law opened a three year window, beginning January 1, 2020, for survivors of any age to pursue justice, no matter how old they are, when the abuse occurred, or if their abuser is alive or dead. It also 
increased the time limit for commencing an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault to the age of 40 or within 5 years of the date the survivor discovers that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of 18 was caused by sexual assault (whichever is later).

* ... PERVERT PRIESTS: This may not come as a surprise but the sex scandal in the Catholic Church is taking its toll on parishioners who seem to be increasingly either boycotting Mass or leaving the church altogether. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, 27 percent of U.S. Catholics said they had reduced their Mass attendance because of the abuse crisis. In fact, a survey by Georgetown University found that 31 percent of all U.S. Catholics said the abuse crisis "made them embarrassed to identify themselves as Catholic." And there is this: 26 percent of U.S. Catholics have reduced the amount of money they donate to their local parish. That seems to be happening locally over at St. Francis Parish in the fallout of a former local monsignor, Craig Harrison, who has been accused by multiple men of sexual abuse over several decades. While Harrison seems to enjoy the loyalty of a small group in town, some of whom are withholding their weekly contributions to the church, the once popular priest faces a future that looks nothing like his past. The lesson: sex and abuse scandals are easier to ignore until they come to your town.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My daughter: Can we stop for ice cream, and then not get any for John? Me: Stop being awful to your brother. Someday you might need a kidney. Her: Mom, you know how much water I drink. I will never need that."

 * ... MEMORIES: This post is compliments of Mark Peterson who shared it on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. It's all about Gordon's Ferry here: "Gordon's Ferry was located on the Kern River and was later replaced by the China Grade Loop Bridge: Actually 4 bridges have been built over the history: The first was a wooden bridge that replaced the ferry in about the 1930s (If I am correct) That bridge later replaced with a Cement bridge that was washed out during the flood in the 1950s and rebuilt, then replaced again in 1992 with the current bridge of today."

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

California brings back the mask mandate but don't expect compliance in Kern County, a son of Bakersfield is running for office in Texas and a new study finds that 75 percent of all coronavirus deaths occurred with the elderly

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... MASKS ARE BACK: So are you ready to wear a mask again indoors? Are you willing to comply with a new state mandate that requires wearing a mask indoors regardless of your vaccination status? Well if you live in Kern County, the answer likely will be a resounding "no!" In the past, local authorities have

made it clear they won't do the state's dirty work in enforcing the mask mandate, and given our reputation for bucking the mandates of Sacramento, I bet very few local businesses will comply. Some of the most popular restaurants in town will simply ignore the new rule and there will be no consequences. Meanwhile in other parts of the state the mask mandate will be rigorously enforced, but don't expect to see much of a change here.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD LOVE: Bakersfield got some love recently when The New York Times published an article highlighting our lower cost of living and the influx of younger couples looking for affordable housing. The piece mentioned the cost of housing, urban development, downtown development and geography as reasons why Bakersfield remains a destination for Californians desperate to find affordability and a lifestyle conducive to all ages. You never know where these stories from out of town media will go, but this one was no doubt helped because the writer, Jill Cowen, worked at The Californian as an intern a decade ago and is well versed on our lifestyle.

 * ... ELDERLY AT RISK: After all the politically inspired debate about the coronavirus, and resistance to the idea of wearing masks, we come to find that the most vunlerable are those age 65 and older. That's according to a report in The New York Times that said we are on the cusp of hitting 800,000 deaths nationwide due to the virus. But when you look at the numbers more closely, you see fully 75 percent of those who died were 65 and older. That means 600,000 of the 800,000 deaths are among the most vulnerable of the population. Wearing a mask, then, is more about protecting the older population if not yourself. Said the Times: "Seventy-five percent of people who have died of the virus in the United States — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.
The heightened risk for older people has dominated life for many, partly as friends and family try to protect them. “You get kind of forgotten,” said Pat Hayashi, 65, of San Francisco. “In the pandemic, the isolation and the loneliness got worse. We lost our freedom and we lost our services.”

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "So apparently, telling a woman 'I wanna rock your body' makes women happy in the USA and scared in Afghanistan."

 * ... ROB MCCARTHY: A former Bakersfield resident whose family moved to Texas is running for a seat in the Texas legislature. Rob McCarthy, son of Rob and Judi McCarthy, announced his bid to run for Texas House District 47 as a Republican. The district includes the cities of Austin, Bee Case, Lakeway and western Travis County. McCarthy is a graduate of Garces Memorial High School and USC and later served as a senior aide to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. After earning his MBA McCarthy worked as business development director for Lightspeed Systems, a family owned educational software business. Fed up with California's high taxes and burdensome regulations, Rob and Judi McCarthy left California more than five years ago and moved the company to Austin. Judi McCarthy was one of the founders of the Women's and Girl's Fund, a philanthropic arm of the Kern Community Foundation that funds programs to help women in need.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out the scenes from old Bakersfield back in the day, compliments of the Kern County of Old and Kern County History Fans Facebook pages.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Interstate 5 in California ranks as one of the most dangerous highways in the nation, a publisher with deep roots to Kern County retires and City Serve raises $558,000 with the Mayor's Ball

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... DANGEROUS ROADS: Some of the most dangerous interstate highways in the country are located right here in California. According to the insurance website The Zebra, Interstate 5 is ranked No. 3 out of the 10 most dangerous roads in the country. The website also found that California contains portions of

four of the deadliest U.S. interstates, spanning from Northern California to Southern California: I-5, I-15, I-40, and I-80. Interstate 95, which goes through major cities like New York, Baltimore, Boston, Jacksonville, Florida and Miami, Florida, was found to the most dangerous highway in the U.S.

 * ... LOGAN MOLEN RETIRING: A longtime editor and journalist with deep ties to Kern County has retired. That's the word from Logan Molen who announced his retirement as publisher of the Steamboat (Co.) Pilot after 3 1/2 years. If that name is familiar it should be: Molen served in a variety of editing and management positions at The Bakersfield Californian over the course of more than 20 years, and he also served as publisher and CEO of the family-run Eugene (Oregon) Register-Guard before joining Swift Communications in Steamboat.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sorry I couldn't respond to your emails. Supply chains are messed up right now."

 * ... KERN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: Hats off to Aaron Falk, formerly a district field manager for Rep. Kevin McCarthy and now newly hired as head of the Kern Community Foundation. Falk succeeds Dr. Kristen Beall Watson, who held the position for six years before leaving to serve as chief of staff to the president at California State University, Bakersfield. Falk takes over as CEO of perhaps one of the most undervalued non -profits in the community. It arguably helps more people throughout Kern County, particularly via its Women's and Girl's Fund, than most other non-profits and has grown into an important and influential voice in our community.

 * ... MAYOR'S BALL: And speaking of valuable non-profits, the CityServe organization benefitted from the annual Mayor's Ball this past weekend, an elegant evening that raised some $558,000 for the charity that aids families in need. That's almost twice the amount ($271,000) raised last year, and it drew an eclectic mix of Bakersfield representing the goodwill generated by the work of CityServe. Its success was due in no little part to the popularity of Pastor Robin Robinson, whose sheer energy and commitment has elevated her to perhaps the most popular (and effective) religious leader in town. (Her ability to tap into corporate donations for a worthy cause is impressive.) The event was held in the old Montgomery Ward building on F Street, now owned by Canyon Hills and used as a headquarters for CityServe.

 * ... ST. FRANCIS CHURCH: How many of you have seen this picture of the old St. Francis Church, circa 1920, before the 1952 earthquake destroyed it? Thanks to the Kern County of Old website for sharing.

 * ... MEMORIES: And take a look at this map, circa 1923, of the downtown area around Jastro Park. Some of the older homes have been built but others not. Thanks to Matt Revenaugh for posting this jewel.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A teacher laments the state of our public schools, a Netflix special puts the spotlight on priests who prey on young men and the victims society ignores and a son of Bakersfield returns home to share some "cosmic outlaw country at Temblor Brewing Co.

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS: Bakersfield High school history teacher Jeremy Adams has become an important voice in the debate over the state of our public schools, and his latest essay in Newsweek magazine sends a strong message that something has gone terribly wrong. After a career of teaching both in high school and over at Cal State University Bakersfield, Adams has witnessed the decline of public

education in America, whether it be the lowering of academic standards or the lack of discipline in the clsssrooms. Earlier this week he published "Hollowed Out,"a remarkably candid and often alarming look at the state of our public schools, and now Adams is sharing his thoughts with Newsweek magazine. As Adams told Newsweek: "Amidst the vandalism and endless spigot of foul language, standing in front of students who brazenly take out their phones and start playing video games in the middle of class, walking amongst the trash that is left strewn in stairwells after lunch, phoning security to accompany 17-year-olds to the bathroom because they can't be trusted, is the American teacher who knows deep down they have lost the basic quest for decency on school campuses. Within the classroom, we have become softies, asking little, tolerating everything, knowing we are expected to take late work, knowing that open book tests are increasingly the norm, group projects are all the rage, and asking students to engage in sustained reading of texts or master large quantities of information is something a post-COVID student probably lacks the acumen to do."

 * ... PRIEST SCANDAL: For any community that has endured the upheaval of having a local priest accused of sexual abuse, there is a new documentary on Netflix that will undoubtedly hit home. The new movie is called Procession, a feature about six men who survived childhood sexual assault at the hands of Catholic priests and clergy. The film premiered earlier this month at the Telluride Film Festival, where it instantly began generating buzz as a potential Oscar player. At the heart of every abusive priest case are the accusers, who are often - as happened here in Bakersfield when former priest Craig Harrison was put on a "credibly accused" list of wayward priests - denounced as opportunists out only for themselves and money. "Procession" focuses on six men who kept the secret of their abuse for decades, sometimes at great cost to their emotional sanity and happiness. The documentary makes a convincing case that we listen to their stories before dismissing their allegations.

 * ... HERBIE BENHAM IV: Mark your calendars for Thursday, Nov. 18, when a prodigal son returns to Bakersfield to lay down some "cosmic outlaw country" for an audience at Temblor Brewing. Herb Benham IV, son of The Californian's Herb Benham, has been honing his skills in the California desert and returns to town to croon a few tunes. Herbie was born and raised here, lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco before moving to the Mojave desert and was influenced by Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound. His own sound has traces of out;aw country, psychedelic folks, punk rock and stadium rock but he makes it all his own. This is a show you don't want to miss. Thursday, Nov. 18, at Temblor.

 * ... SHOOTERS: In the parlance of the newspaper business, photographers are often called "shooters" because of the number of times they "shoot" pictures, and over the course of my 20-plus year career at The Bakersfield Californian I was fortunate to work with some terrific "shooters" - Felix Adamo, Casey Christie, John Harte, Henry Barrios to name a few. Casey Christie was known for his nature shots, and today I share one of his more famous pictures, the owls at CALM. Enjoy and thanks to The Californian for allowing me to republicize them.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here is a remarkable aerial view of the Garces Circle taken soon after its completion, date unknown.

Friday, November 5, 2021

The debate heats up over Critical Race Theory, Jordan Love to take the field for the Green Bay Packers and former TV anchor Ron Kilgore passes away

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... CRITICAL RACE THEORY: It looks like our local school boards, traditionally viewed as venues of decorum, have become ground zero in the debate over Critical Race Theory. Already activists have

descended on meetings of the Kern High School District to oppose CRT, and some analysts say it was this debate that led to Glenn Youngkin winning the Virginia governor's race. Tune into the Bakersfield Observed podcast on Spotify for a lively conversation on CRT between Pastor Angelo Frazier and me.

 * ... JORDAN LOVE: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has tested positive for coronavirus meaning he will sit out this Sunday's game at Kansas City. Filling in for Rodgers will be Bakersfield native Jordan Love, a Utah State graduate who has been playing a backup role for Rodgers while in Green Bay.

 * ... WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Bakersfield has seen some great TV news talent come and go through the years and today we put a spotlight on some of the best we have lost. One of those who’s made it big: Melissa Magee.  McGee was at KBAK for three years in the early 2000s. After Bakersfield, Magee switched to weather reporting and received her Broadcast Meteorology Certificate from Mississippi State. She spent 11 years at East coast powerhouse WPVI-TV in Philadelphia before joining KNBC Los Angeles in 2020. She replaced longtime KNBC weatherman Fritz Coleman upon his retirement last year and is now the lead forecaster on the NBC4 News at 5, 7 and 11 pm.  

 * ... TV PASSINGS: And speaking of news personalities, former anchor Ron Kilgore passed away this week. Keep him and his family in your thoughts. Kilgore was news director, reporter and an anchor  at KBAK, KERO and KLYD radio.  He passed away earlier this week. He had most recently been a radio news reporter at KNX Newsradio in LA. Beverly Carr was one of the first women in Bakersfield TV news at KBAK in the late 1970s. She later spent the 1980s and 1990s in Spokane at KREM and KHQ. Carr passed away last September at just 66. (pictures courtesy of Facebook Group Bakersfield Radio and TV Broadcast Group).

 * ... RIP ROSE: We lost Rose Lee Maphis recently, one of the great names in the story of the Bakersfield Sound. Maphis performed as a harmony singer and rhythm guitarist as a duo with her husband Joe Maphis. They were pioneers of the Bakersfield Sound that developed in the mid-1950s and were known as Mr. and Mrs. Country Music. In her later years, she worked as a greeter at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, sharing stories about the genre's legends. Maphis's guitar is on display, next to that of her husband's double neck Mosrite and sheet music for their recording of the song Dim Lights.


 * ... MORE MEMORIES:  Who remembers Granite Station, located a bit northeast of Bakersfield just outside a Woody? This station is the location of an historic stage coach stop. Sadly the station accidentally burned down with all the historical artifacts in the mid 1990s. Thanks to the Facebook history page for this Greg Iger soht of Granite Station.


 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about this old bar on Chester Avenue, which I spotted on a Facebook page devoted to old bars and saloons. The caption read: "Inside the "Arlington Hotel Bar" at 19th Street & Chester Avenue in Bakersfield, California......c.1895."

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Leticia Perez will not run again for Supervisor while eyeing other options, Home Depot kicks out a resident tabby from the paint department, and medical marijuana for depression and anxiety?

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 community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... MUSICAL CHAIRS: It's that time again when politicians across Kern County starting looking at their options: who is being termed out, who isn't, and what is the next step? And this week, Supervisor

Leticia Perez confirmed this week that she will not seek reelection, presumably to set herself up for a run to succeed Rudy Salas in the State Assembly. In normal times this would come as no surprise as Perez solidifies her position as a popular Democratic centrist whose views embrace some positions - like how fast do we get off fossil fuels - that are highly unpopular in more liberal circles. But these are not normal times and Perez is not saying what she might do, despite the fact that Salas is vacating District 32 to run against Congressman David Valadao. What is Perez planning? Stay tuned. (Perez photo by The Bakersfield Californian)

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know you’ve reached middle age when you choose your walks or hikes based on which parks have the most benches and bathrooms.

 * ... MOMMA CAT: Have you ever noticed how many cats live, quite peacefully, at so many local retail shops about town? Go to almost any Home Depot, Lowe's or a privately run nursery like Bolles and you will find them, cats of all sizes, shapes and dispositions living harmoniously among the shoppers and inventory. That was the case at the Home Depot on Rosedale Highway where a sweet "momma cat," a black and white tabby, has lived for more than 10 years. That is until someone in management decided she had to leave. Thank goodness for "momma cat," an employee found her a home. One customer told KGET's Bob Price that the cat made her home in the paint department while employees paid for her food out of their own pockets. “During the day you’d usually find her asleep in the shelves somewhere,” the customer told Price. “But she would come out if you were wearing an orange apron. She would come out and let you pet her. But if you weren’t wearing an orange apron, forget it because she couldn’t trust you. But if you were wearing an orange apron she’d let you because she knew you were her friend.”

 * ... POT FOR MENTAL HEALTH?: Now that cannabis has been legalized in California, some folks are finding other uses for it other than getting a recreational high. According to The Wall Street Journal, more people are turning to cannabis for anxiety and depression, many of them dropping their standard anti-depressants to give pot a try. "Research has found that anxiety, depression and sleep problems are among the most common reasons why people use medical cannabis," the Journal said. Some studies have found CBD can alleviate social anxiety while other research is looking into marijuana as a remedy for chronic pain.

 * ... KERN NATURAL REFUGE: Some random shots from the Kern Natural Refuge compliments of my friend Pam Taylor.

 * ... MEMORIES: My thanks to the Kern County History Fans for these pictures of the old French Shop and what it is today.