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Price: If it's December, this must be Dining Guide season. And the Year in Quotes season. And the Year in Politics season. And the Year in .... Everything season. It's the time of year that we present readers with all of the retrospectives and prognostications we can fit into these pages and put a cap — a fuzzy red one with a white rim — on 2016.

Our end-of-the-year features will start with the Dec. 17 Dining Guide, starring the iconic Pete Tittl and possibly the largest supporting cast he's ever had.

A few of the contributors: Herb Benham, on his favorite walking-distance hamburger joint; Harold Pierce, on the best burrito in town you've never heard of; Kelly Ardis, on the challenges of being a vegetarian in a more-meat town; and James Burger, with a beer-drinker's guide to Bakersfield. Lifestyles editor Jennifer Self, who's been coordinating this thing for weeks, has outdone herself.

I'll empty my notebook from my fascinating and occasionally hilarious interview Friday with the people who make the Crystal Palace sing: Mel Owens, Jim Shaw, Mathy Hufford, Jerry Hufford and Melanie Owens-Chandler.

The Crystal Palace, Buck Owens' restaurant-museum-concert venue, opened 20 years ago, and though he didn't erect the 20-foot-tall, bronze Fender Telecaster out in front, like I once suggested to him, Buck did it right, scrutinizing every little thing before and during construction. In fact, Buck scrutinized to the tune of 132 change orders. "It took two years to build," Shaw told me. "It was supposed to take one year, but Buck helped."

We talked about everything from how the menu was developed to some of the performers who cut their teeth on that stage as newcomers.

Later in December, we'll pay tribute to some of the people we lost in 2016, some of the year's wackiest and most infuriating political cartoons, and memorable moments from local athletic fields. Local tracks, too: Look for Mike Griffith's motorsports special, also on Dec. 17.

So, if I haven't answered your email, I hope this partial schedule of upcoming projects helps explain why.


Reader: I never write The Californian, nor any other newspaper, magazine or periodical. I do have opinions but, I guess, not strong enough to argue them.

In today’s paper (Nov. 26) a writer’s letter was printed in your Sound Off column. It was by Leslyn Knight, who I agree with 100 percent. I want you to know that, like Leslyn, I — LOVE — The Bakersfield Californian. It arrives at my home in the country, about 10 miles outside the city, every morning, without fail, before dawn. I’m out shortly after and read the whole paper, propped up in bed, with a cup of coffee, before I start my day.

Sometimes I agree, sometimes I disagree. And I move on. What these people expect, with such anger in their letters, I don’t know. I think you are very fair, nonpartisan, and fairly thorough with your stories. Keep it up!

I cringe when told that the printed paper will soon be a thing of the past. I hope not in my lifetime. I’m already sick that photographer Casey Christie will retire this month.

Keep up the good work and ignore the people who have nothing better to do than write stupid, biased letters.

— Joe Bugni

Price: Well, for the first letter you've ever written to a newspaper, I'd say you did quite well. But perhaps I'm biased.

As for your concerns about the printed paper: relax. It may go away one day, but not for a long, long time. Too many people need the caress of newsprint in their hands. Me, I prefer the E-Edition. And I'm over 50.

Robert Price and The Californian welcome your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voice-mail message or send an email to Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.

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