This was meant to be my goodbye column. I’d been planning it for weeks much in the same way that people plan the speech they will be delivering at the Oscars or when they accept their Pulitzer.

I wanted to be sure to thank my loyal fans. The people who have been reading what can only be described as “a brilliant and singular body of work.” I am quoting myself because that’s the sort of thing that creeps into farewell pieces late at night when you’ve had too much tequila.

When I think about my “brilliant and singular body of work,” that spans more than 5,000 columns, I am reminded of Jack Smith, the great columnist for the L.A. Times. Jack, who was from Bakersfield, once told me (and about half the people in LA), that writing columns was like making love to a nymphomaniac— there is never a finish line.

In the spirit of nymphomania, if this were my goodbye column, I probably should written more about sex. Those are the only columns people read. Columns about sex and dogs, preferably one but not both. Grandchildren find an audience, too, if you have grandchildren but if you don’t, people think you’re nuts.

I could talk about what an honor it has been to have written this column for more than 30 years but my nose would poke a hole in my computer screen. Writing is misery. It’s like having the flu and none of the over-the-counter medicines work and you can’t get enough fluids.

I could thank my co-workers. “Thanks.” Feel better now?

I might thank my string of former bosses but that would be disingenuous. They made more money than I did and wore clothes that said, “I am the boss. I’ll call you into my office anytime I want, close the door and make you sweat like you’re in a hot yoga class.”

I had this planned out. I was thinking six more columns and then the goodbye column for the ages. The one that makes people cry, laugh, pick up the phone and say, “Did you hear the news? The greatest columnist in the history of South Kern County (other than Jim Day, Lois Henry and about 20 others) is leaving.

That was the plan and the fantasy because I wasn’t sure the new owners were going to keep me and I couldn’t blame them because “how could he top what he’s already done?”

Turns out their judgment is worse than I thought because I’m on the team. For now. Or at least until this last paragraph.

The better news is that they are keeping most of the reporters: Bob, Ema, Trevor, Kelly, John, Mike, Maureen, Steve, Sam and a bunch of other good people. Now that shows some good judgment.

This gritty bunch at the Californian has been putting out this paper (We’re also saying goodbye to many good people who have worked their backsides off) against fairly steep odds for as long as I’ve been here and way before then.

July is the start of a new era, and given that it doesn’t do much good to conjure winter and the White Walkers (“Game Of Thrones” reference to show my withitness), I am choosing to be optimistic.

Hang in there. Keep your subscriptions on autopay. Maybe, the future will be “one for the ages.”

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

(3) comments


Well you & my two favorite columnists at the SF Chronicle have bailed this week. I am bereft!


Congratulations! I really love reading your stuff!

Carol Westover

I am truly going to miss your column. Please consider starting a blog -- WordPress, Blogger, wherever you like, but do continue writing. You won't have to keep a schedule for posting as you've done with your column--write when the urge hits. Whatever you write, there's fans out there who love your writing and will love you for keeping them informed of what's going on in your life. Kindest regards, Carol

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.