A final thought as we head into 2018 after a tumultuous year politically and socially. My simple wish is that we as a people can reject the poisonous attitudes of tribal politics that focus on blame and character assassination and instead look for the beliefs and traditions that bring us together. No matter who is in the White House or Congress, it is up to us as individuals to establish a more civil discourse. Identity politics that categorize us by the color of our skin, our gender, our nationalities or our political affiliation serve only to divide us and do precious little to advance a meaningful and honest conversation. Enough of pettiness and blame. Surely we can do better.


"When I told my parents over the phone that my husband had the flu, my dad said 'Have you tried euthanasia?' and in the background my mom yelled 'For the last time, it’s echinacea!'"


"Reflections on sexual harassment: Be respectful and don’t say anything to a woman at work that you wouldn’t want another man to say to you in prison."


One of the local eateries I frequent, Muertos in the Wall Street alley downtown, is adding a handful of custom hot dogs to its menu. Among them: the "serrano dog" featuring grilled serrano peppers and onions, chopped bacon jack cheese and tomatillo slices, the "cheesesteak dog" featuring grilled carne asada, onions and bell peppers with melted jack cheese, and the "bird dog" with grilled chicken, pico de gallo, melted jack cheese, chopped ortega chillies and tomatillos salsa.


Meanwhile, they are now serving food over at the newly renovated Silver Fox Starlite Lounge across from Mexicali on 18th Street. Bar manager Andrew Willingham told me the Starlite is now serving street dogs and tacos along with a few other items. The Fox is owned by Rod and Julie Crawford, owners of the iconic Pyrenees Cafe in east Bakersfield.


Did you know the fastest growing sport in America — including here in Kern County — is pickle ball? The paddle sport, played on a court about a third the size of a tennis court, has been embraced across town. At the Bakersfield Racquet Club, "pickle ball only" memberships are nearing the 100 mark, and private clubs like Stockdale Country Club and Seven Oaks have also restriped tennis courts to accommodate its popularity. Nick Jacobs, a Garces High graduate who is now the men's tennis coach at Bakersfield College, is preparing to hold his second "Renegade Cup" pickle ball tournament this September. Last year, its inaugural year, he had more than 100 entries.


If you own an old home like I do, it's good to know folks who can attend to the occasional problems that older homes present. So here are some recommendations for your new year, courtesy of my own experience: family owned Bakersfield Plumbing for those clogged sewer lines and water issues, Rich Johnson Painting and his crew for quick, affordable and thoughtful attention to detail, Dean Farnsworth for a versatile handyman who can handle just about any job, and General Tree Service for those seasonal trimming jobs.

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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