I stopped by the new Five Guys burger joint over on Calloway and Rosedale Highway the other day. The verdict: a solid, good burger served by a friendly staff in a lively environment. The french fries were delicious, if a tad thick for my taste, and I enjoyed the free peanuts, a nice touch borrowed from the trend in the Deep South where free peanuts are a staple in many restaurants. The downside: my bacon cheeseburger, fries and a small drink cost $14 and change. That seems a tad pricey no matter how good the burger was. By my calculation, the best casual dining burger in town remains at In-N-Out while the Hudson burger at Muertos Kitchen and Lounge eclipses the field as the best restaurant burger in Bakersfield.


Marty Butt is the former superintendent of the Standard School District (1990-1998) and she sheds this light on the "Big Indian" statue that now stands next to Ethel's Corral out off Alfred Harrell Highway. Said Butt: "The Indian mentioned by Ken Barnes spent some years as a mascot for Standard Middle School before the school's mascot name was changed from Indians to Warriors. While I served the community, the Indian that is now at Ethel's was transferred to its current location. A plaque at the Indian's base mentions its time in SSD."


"It's a good thing our bodies age slowly. It's so much easier to be horrified just a little bit each day."


Did you know that between 60 and 70 percent of the students enrolled at Cal State Bakersfield are the first in their families to attend college? In an area with an alarmingly low percentage of adults with undergraduate degrees, that is good news.


Another (perhaps) unexpected outcome of our wet winter: a spike in valley fever cases. That is the word from Dr. Raj Patel of Preferred Family Care who said 2017 is on the verge of becoming the worst case for valley fever cases since 1992.


Ed Cadena has this to say about the drownings in our local Kern River: "I was in Morro Bay Saturday for the Morro Rock to Cayucas Beach Run. Saw this sign by the Rock 'Death from drowning happens once in a lifetime.' Post signs like this along the river."


Ronal Reynier dropped me a note so he could congratulate, and "embarrass," his granddaughter Kristen Reynier. She graduated this June from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in biomedical engineering with a minor in mathematics magna cum laude. She will soon be leaving for the University of Virginia to start her six-year scholarship in biomedical engineering advance studies. Her goal is to have physically handicapped children walk again. Said Reynier: "Every day I thank God she and her two siblings, Michelle and Patrick, get their intelligence from their parents, Kevin and Pamela Reynier, and not their grandfather."


A letter to the editor in Saturday's Californian triggered this response from retired police officer Joe Moesta. "Wearing your hat was part of the required uniform of the day (in the 1970s). It didn't make any difference if you were out of your vehicle on a call or inside your vehicle on routine patrol. You were required to wear your hat. It might be 3:30 in the morning and you were the only car on the street, but if Sgt. Benfield saw you bare-headed, you could expect to hear on your police radio, 'Able 1-4, put your hat on!' Those were also the days when the only difference in the winter and summer uniform shirt was 'wearing a tie.' The winter uniform shirt was the long sleeve navy blue wool shirt with a tie, and the summer uniform shirt was the long sleeve navy blue shirt without a tie. The temperature of the day made no difference. And those were the 'good old days.'"

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