Tennis: I stopped by the Bakersfield Racquet Club on Saturday to watch the qualifying round for a big USTA tournament there. The club has never looked better, the players were phenomenal, and I was pleased to see that Randy Martin and his crew from Covenant Coffee had taken over the snack shop and were running a brisk business. The tournament runs through this week, and there is no cost to come watch tennis on a professional level. Drop by to catch the action.
Merle: Merle Haggard performed before a sold-out crowd at the Fox Theater Saturday, and longtime Californian photographer John Harte (now retired) shot the concert. Said Harte: "My favorite Merle Haggard song is and always has been 'Silver Wings' ever since the day my longtime friend Bill Wheeler introduced me to his music, driving around Taft in the 1970s in his Datsun pickup. 'Mama Tried' is my second favorite. When I got the assignment to photograph Merle for The Californian, it came with an odd request: He was asking that we shoot songs four, five and six. I've been covering concerts for 35 years, probably hundreds of them, and this is the first time anyone has ever made four through six the songs we can shoot. It has always been the first two or three. Anyway, I waited out the first three songs, and song four started. Guess what? Yep, 'Silver Wings.' Then 'I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink,' and then, yep, 'Mama Tried.' This, my friends, is the first version of a story I will tell forever -- the story of the night Merle Haggard gave me my own personal concert!"
Bullying: After one reader accused me of "bullying" by questioning the appearance of Kim Novak at the Oscars, John Sarad wrote in with his take. "I usually smile when I read your blog. I did not when I read today that you are officially a bully. It's about time we decide what bullying really is. If you say something that is not threatening or coercive, but with which someone with thin skin takes offense or merely disagrees, is it really an act of bullying? Is calling someone a bully under those circumstances actually bullying as well under that definition? I recall when the neighborhood bully beat up on the nerds and was an actual threat. My mom always told me to defend myself and remember what is now so out of favor: 'Sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me!' What an age we live in."
More bullying: And there was this from Phillip Anderson commenting on Kim Novak: "I agree with you. Way too much work. I am her age and look at me! Wait ... forget that. But I do think you can comment on their looks as they are celebrities and they're the ones showing poor taste in their appearance."
Bad form: Kathryn Guerra was driving to Tehachapi on Highway 58 when she witnessed some appalling behavior. A truck driver was passing another truck and correctly signaled his intentions as he passed and then pulled back into the slow lane. But apparently he didn't do it fast enough for a car of young people that was behind him. "The twenty-somethings paced themselves next to the truck, rolled down all four windows in the vehicle and proceeded to direct a one fingered wave at the truck driver for almost two miles," she said. "Do these young people not have any patience? Do they not realize that trucks deliver many of the things they use daily? Why must people be so rude? The truck signaled in plenty of time and did what was necessary."
Village Grill: We all make our own traditions, and one that has been going on for more than 10 years happens the first Monday of every month at the Village Grill. It's a reunion of a group of retired Bakersfield High School teachers, many of whom retired in June 2004. Among them are Marjorie Bell, Jim Cowles, Maria Polite, Vicki Bousquet and Donna Long. "Darn good food and service," Bell told me. "And our waitresses have always been great about writing separate checks. And don't forget to mention their special coffees."
Email Richard Beene, Californian president and CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.