It’s almost funny. It’s almost apocalyptic. It’s almost the end of August.

This must be a test. This must be a measure of our resolve. This must be life asking us if we are fundamentally optimistic or just situationally, when things are going our way.

“This” is heat. “This” is smoke. “This” is COVID.

Look at it this way. Can things get worse? Maybe, but it might take an earthquake, a volcano or a tidal wave that rises from the depths of the ancient inland ocean.

That was our message to Alicia, our future daughter-in-law, who moved to town a week ago Friday when it was 106.

“You’re seeing Bakersfield at its worst,” we said, but we were wrong because then the smoke drifted in from the fires north and south. We probably should have said, “much worse.”

There was an upside: The smoke cooled things down and made the sunrise and sunsets more beautiful. That was something.

Forty-five days until fall. We’ll get there. Beaten, bedraggled and on our Band-Aided knees, but we’ll get there.


I was reading an article about Jeff Bezos and Amazon.

Bezos refers to the company’s management style as “Day One thinking: Willingness to treat every morning as if it were the first day of business, to constantly re-examine even the most closely held beliefs. Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day One.”

Dramatic but maybe not a bad way to look at life. Every day is Day One. Neither the day before nor the day after matter much.


Contrary to what I said in the column about ordering boots from Hong Kong, Jerry Jeff Walker was not responsible for the phrase “manly footwear,” according to Mason Lee Harrison Grayson, son of the Republic of Texas with 192 years of Texan lineage.

“It was not Jerry Jeff who called boots 'manly footwear' on the 1973 album 'Viva Terlingua' but Gary P. Nunn, one of the finest musicians in Texas,” Grayson said. “Nunn, who now serves as the official Texas music ambassador, wrote 'London Homesick Blues' about a depressing trip with Michael Martin Murphey to London where he and Murphey’s band recorded the album 'Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir' at EMI Studios, now known as Abbey Road Studios. The wording of 'manly footwear' is a direct reference to 'Okie From Muskogee,' by Merle Haggard. Please be sure to not publish any more bogus information in your future articles.”

Thanks for the correction but I wouldn’t count on the bogus information part.


Not only were the boots from Hong Kong small but neither Haggard nor Nunn would ever refer to them as manly footwear, which wouldn’t stop Kim Weddle.

“I love the bootlets ... if you don't find a buyer I'm interested. They are cute and rather feminine. I wear a women's 9,” Weddle wrote.


Reader Andrea Jones had a similar experience with a pop-up product on the Internet.

She wrote, “Herb, I feel your pain ... a couple of years ago I succumbed to an ad on Instagram and ordered a cool dress, at an attractive price. When it finally came, it wouldn’t have fit my 8-year-old granddaughter. It was so cheap, I donated it to the Bargain Box as no return was given.”


This week’s song recommendation is “The Cape” by the late Guy Clark. As E.B White said about good writing, there is not an extra word in it nor one out of place. The message is beautiful and uplifting and we can’t get enough of that right now. Although this is a later version of the song when Clark was not quite as frisky, you’ll get the idea.

Search for "Guy Clark 'The Cape'" on YouTube.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.

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