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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Herb Benham

A note from Will Winn on the column about getting a surprise man-kiss from a friend: "After finishing graduate school in Virginia Beach, VA, Karen and I ministered to a rural congregation in Harrisonburg, VA, that was primarily Mennonite. Mennonites range from "old order," Amish-like to liberal, progressive peace varieties. In one of our first elder-board meetings, we discussed what was and was not an appropriate display of affection in the church.

"The Apostle Paul mentions a "holy kiss" four times in his letters. Most of the time guys gave a "holy hug" with three short pats on the back (I was told that the three pats stood for "I'm-not-gay."). However, hugging between genders, we were told, could not be a full, frontal embrace. The side hug was acceptable. It seemed a serious issue at the time; the elders and wives had many laughs when we greeted each other the next 13 years."


Is there anything more satisfying than planting tomatoes? Not much. Not in the gentler arts.

Last weekend I cleared the garden of a clover-like weed, turned over the rich soil with a shovel, heavy-raked it and then planted Champions, Roses, Green Zebras, Sweet Olives, San Marzanos, Early Girls, and Better Boys, using the Harvey Campbell method. Harvey, a local farmer, grows the best tomatoes I've ever seen:

Dig a hole 16 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Reserve garden soil and fill in with a combination of the soil you just removed and Miracle Gro Potting Mix, plus three tablespoons of slow release fertilizer. Plant tomatoes deep, removing the first and second leaves, so you can build a water well around your plants, which you will fill with water.

Every three weeks, spray with BT. It's not too late to plant. Be strong and be bold and get off the bench.


Harvey Campbell is making my life better -- yours too if you take his advice, and so are a couple of other people. The unflappable Rick Kreiser is one.

Rick started Carney's Office Supply with his then father-in-law, Bob Carney, in the summer of 1978. His sons Chris, 35 and Jeff, 32, are his partners now.

That's fine, but I don't want to talk about Carney's; instead, I'd like to mention something Rick does and loses money at, called Guitar Masters at Studio A. He's done about a dozen -- all at American Sound Recording Studios on R Street -- and has the Doyle Dykes' show scheduled for April 24. (We went recently and listened to Richard Smith, and his wife, Julie Adams.)

Studio A at American Sound is one of the best 75- to 100-seat venues in town. The acoustics were so good that when I was helping myself to the dessert table -- which included carrot cake, German chocolate cake and Smith's thumbprints -- I could hear the music two rooms away.

The dessert was included with the $30 admission, but you could buy beer, wine or mixed drinks. The concert was tremendous. It was like watching the Futures Tournament at the Bakersfield Racquet Club a couple weeks ago. It's some of the best music I've ever heard from 15 feet away.

Get on Rick's mailing list and keep an eye out in the event listings in this paper. This is like Imbibe -- one of those things that makes Bakersfield a better place in which to live. If you want to take my advice, and there is no reason not to, contact Rick:


Tehachapi's Peter and Deborah Hand-Cutler also are bringing great live music to Kern County -- specifically, Tehachapi. Fiddlers Crossing is their creation and they have been holding folk, bluegrass, Western, Celtic and Americana music concerts in a listening room format in Tehachapi for the last four years.

Listening room means you can hear the music.

Peter has produced the "FolkScene" radio show at KPFK for 41 years. He's met everybody and heard everything. Peter and his wife have exquisite taste in music. Fiddlers Crossing does between 20 to 24 concerts a year with people you may never have heard of but who will charm you, entertain you and basically knock your socks off with how good they are.

See you when the tomatoes get ripe.

Contact Californian columnist Herb Benham at 395-7279 or hbenham@ His work appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own.