Bakersfield lost a pair of local businessmen this past week. Sherman Lee, owner of Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks and a major landowner downtown, died of pancreatic cancer, and Pete Cattani, owner of the Ammo Dump gun store, also passed away. Lee was 76 years old while Cattani was 84. Cattani was active in shooting competitions and his Easton Drive gun store was a must-stop among shooting enthusiasts. In June, we lost Gene Thome, owner of Bear Mountain Sports off Weedpatch Highway.


I moderated a panel on homelessness at CSUB recently and some of the statistics were just stunning. Some of what I heard: The homeless population is getting younger, particularly among women and their children. In addition, fully 65 to 70 percent of the homeless veterans without combat experience have substance abuse issues, and there is a clear distinction between panhandlers (many of whom have places to live) and the true homeless. Another worrying sign: their numbers are steadily increasing, not only in Bakersfield but across the country.


The oddest, and most stunning, photographs that appeared on Facebook this week were the pictures taken at Disneyland while the Anaheim Hills fires turned the skies an eerie blood orange. The amusement park remained open while just a few miles away the wind-whipped fire consumed a dozen expensive homes.


"The problem with drinking with people from work is they’re the ones I bitch about when I’m drunk."


This tweet from "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak spoke volumes: "OK, let me explain this again: We're celebs. We're wiser and more empathetic than you. We are famous. Please take our opinions more seriously."


Former mayor Mary K. Shell has always been known for her resourcefulness and it was on display last week when she attended the Holy Smoke barbecue at Garces Memorial High School. Navy veteran Gene Bonas shared a table with the former mayor and reported this: "My wife noticed she was eating her steak with a plastic fork, so Robbie offered her one of the steak knives she always brings to BBQs for everyone to use. With a sly smile, Mary K. held up a Swiss Army knife and stated she was doing quite well. Mary K. was a totally delightful person to have dinner with."


An odd sight along the bike path near North Chester this weekend when a group of riders headed west turned the corner to come upon two homeless men laughing hysterically as a muscular black pit bull was hanging from a rope tied to a tree, his sturdy jaw clenched tight to the end of the rope in an apparent show of strength.


I was out and about this weekend and caught friends going to a couple of notable class reunions. The West High School class of 1987 was enjoying its 30th reunion at The Padre Hotel while Highland High class of 1977 was celebrating its 40th reunion.

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