CSUB basketball coach Rod Barnes grew up Mississippi, played for Ole Miss, where students cheered while waving Confederate battle flags, and later coached Ole Miss to an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. As an 51-year-old African-American coach from the Deep South, Barnes's take on the NFL protests is unique, a perspective formed through his own life experiences and intertwined with his deep faith in God and his fellow man. Listen to Barnes as we chatted on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM this week: "My suggestion is if we just sit down at the table and we talk about the great country we live in, and (how great) the people around us are, and we can talk about relationships, then we can find some good, at least where there is no hatred. There is a place for protests but when you sit down you can find peace, and right now I don't find peace in our nation." Barnes went on to say the protests could migrate to the college level, and he views his role as a coach as "having these conversations every day" with his players to concentrate on what brings us together, not apart. To listen to my entire conversation with Barnes go to


Beth Espinoza added this about the protests: "We wouldn’t still be talking about the National Anthem and the American flag had the NFL done their job in the first place. Any other employer in America would not allow an employee in uniform, during work hours, to interject their personal beliefs or opinion while on the clock or in the workplace. Players need to do what they are getting paid to do and nothing more. When you want to complain about politics or talk about your boss, co-workers, etc., you go and meet your friends at happy hour after work just like the rest of us."


I spotted this bit of inspiration on social media that seems particularly relevant these days: "Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start."


"Why are you always complaining about us being unhappy? People would kill to be as unhappy as we are."


How nice are these mild days and evenings? Fall is upon us and in many households, that means it's time for seasonal soups. I mentioned earlier the albondigas (meatball) soup at Nuestro Mexico, and my friend Margaret Scrivano Patteson wrote to recommend the New Vintage Grill on Hageman and its vegan lentil soup.


I was glad to see The Californian and writer James Burger post the spotlight this week on Critters Without Litters, one of my favorite nonprofits that does so much to offer spay and neutering for dogs and cats at discount prices. All great efforts start with a passion and an idea, and in this case it was Joann and Larry Keller who started the organization out of a deep concern for the most vulnerable pets in our community. In the five years of existence, Critters Without Litters has altered more than 43,000 animals. Well done.


Don't forget the Holy Smoke Barbecue up at Garces Memorial High School this Thursday, an annual steak and potato feed now in its 50th year to support the good work done at the school. This year Garces is introducing live music and replacing the New York steak with a Harris Ranch cut. This is always a can't-miss networking opportunity to support a good cause.


Ken Cornelius Sr. added this memory about the old Lebec Hotel: "In the late 1940s and early 1950s there was a radio station in the old Lebec Hotel. It broadcast the big band sound from early evening to midnight. The acts were Al Hart and Dixie Darling. It was loud and clear where I grew up in Arvin."

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at His work appears here on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at

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