The sturdy man in the blue batting helmet, hands thrust deep into his blue windbreaker against the blustery February chill, strolls at a tourist’s pace across the thick green grass. All around him, two dozen young men in blue ball caps are going through their paces: step, step, high kick, st…
Raise your hand if you ever experienced this on a Saturday night in Bakersfield. You drive through the alley-slash-parking lot behind KC Steakhouse, the downtown institution on F Street, and, sure enough, you spot that immaculate turquoise 1971 VW bug. Yep, Richie’s here.
Among its many casualties, the pandemic has silenced cash registers at Kern County businesses that cater to two noteworthy species of tourists: adventure-oriented outdoorsy types drawn to the Sierra Nevada and upper Kern River, and pilgrims fascinated by that local canon of uniquely American…
The outrage still wells up in Pastor Ralph Anthony’s voice more than half a century later. The pain, the disbelief, the discouragement.
I was pumping gas in Mesquite, Nev., when I learned that the U.S. Capitol had been breached by a renegade mob. Aside from the staggering sense of dismay and anger that that previously unimaginable event provoked in me, I was struck by two things.
In three days, America will hear one of the most consequential speeches in the nation’s history.
Sixteen months ago, in this space, I urged Kevin McCarthy to begin pulling out of Donald Trump's orbit. The House minority leader from Bakersfield, I said, needed to disengage from the downward-draining whirlpool created by this utterly failed president before he’s sucked out to sea with Rud…
Merriam-Webster decided last month that its 2020 Word of the Year is “pandemic,” and it’s tough to quarrel with that choice. Daily dictionary look-ups of “pandemic,” from early March on, increased an average of 4,000 percent over 2019 levels — including more than 115,000 percent on March 11,…
As part of my campaign to point out things that actually went right in 2020, I call your attention to Measure N, the 1-cent sales tax increase that Bakersfield voters approved … in November 2018.
We no longer need evidence that Bakersfield’s Historic Preservation Commission is a toothless entity ignored by all but a passionate few.
Eight months ago, when many of us entered voluntary or employer-encouraged semi-quarantine, a finish line was visible on the horizon. It was blurry and at an indeterminate distance but it was out there, like waves rising from hot asphalt. We would get past this pandemic like one gets past au…
Can we be friends again now? No, I suppose not. Certainly not this week, and probably not anytime soon. Those more sophisticated than I — and that’s a serious chunk of the population — will insist it can never happen. Not when more than 70 million Americans somehow voted for that guy despite…
You’ve heard this metaphor already, probably many times: Kern County is a red island in a sea of blue. Blue California is one of the nation’s most liberal states and red Kern County its most stubbornly conservative outlier. With the exception of the state’s sparsely populated far northeast, …
I have tried to look at this from every angle, but there’s no way to view it as anything but what it is.
It was a latter-day anthropologist’s dream: an unconfirmed sighting of an artifact of another era. Evidence of the way humans lived before the digital age, long before cell phones, Uber and Michelob Ultra.
If you’ve spent any significant time, at work or at play, on Bakersfield’s true main street, 18th, you have seen them: solitary souls, faces of grit and exhaustion, towing battered, wheeled suitcases piled high with backpacks and shopping bags and worried Chihuahuas in tiny cages.
If it seemed for an extended period of months one could not travel anywhere in metro Bakersfield without being abruptly shepherded to merge by a row of traffic cones — if not halted entirely — it’s because that was in fact our reality. Still is, in places.
Mayf Nutter doesn’t look like anyone’s idea of an environmentalist, sitting there in a Bakersfield recording studio in his boots and sparkly Western shirt, but irrefutable evidence says he was and is. Whether that particular word entered his thinking at the time he took his first anti-pollut…
The single biggest economic godsend to hit Kern County thus far this century might not be hitting Kern County at all, in the strictest sense.
The integration of Bakersfield’s most noteworthy contribution to American culture into the mainstream of polite society continues.
When you cast your vote this fall, whether by precinct-issued black-tip marker or, assuming some of them remain, U.S. postal drop box, you won’t merely be grading the progress of that whole great-again thing.
In times like these it’s always thoughtful to check in on old friends you haven’t seen for a while. Allow me to save you one phone call: The Fox Theater is fine.
Under the best of circumstances, tabulating the number, household size and ethnicity of 330 million people, spread across nearly 4 million square miles of prairie, desert, mountain and asphalt, is a formidable feat.
There’s something innately human in our need to create physical, lifelike representations of ourselves and our world. There’s something deep-seated and instinctive about our urge to fashion objects of commemoration or worship.
We’re exactly 100 days out from the November election, and though we won’t see the full-on biennial deluge of advertising for another six weeks or so, the pace of hyperbolic, down-ballot finger-pointing should start catching up with the presidential contest any day.
Like virtually all societies throughout human history, we Americans have always romanticized our wars. The more significant the war, the more vivid the romance. We build legends and traditions around the wars and paint the combatants in boldly contrasting colors of good and evil.
When Dolores Huerta Foundation executives brought their plans for a $20 million downtown cultural center and organizational headquarters to city officials last year, they were met with great enthusiasm.
It had a special symmetry. 2020. The configuration conveyed order and balance, almost a harmony of sorts. Twenty on your side of the ledger, twenty on mine. In a society that bats around phrases like equal justice — never mind what the reality might always have been — its rhythm felt like a …
What Bakersfield needs now, to go with its state-mandated mask requirement, ever-climbing unemployment rate and still-simmering Black Lives Matter conversation, is a good Confederate monument debate.
It was a clear, perfect day at the perfect man-made oval known as Pinewood Lake. Hazel-gray ducks cut across the water in threes and a daring squirrel darted straight up the trunk of the substantial cottonwood at water’s edge. Jacquie Sullivan served apple juice on the back patio in tall, sl…
That young woman with the guitar, the one up front at the microphone urging healing and restraint in the midst of this country’s most prolonged stretch of civil rights turmoil in a generation — yes, her, with the Tracy Chapman urgency and dreadlocks to match.
We interrupt this pandemic, and these street demonstrations, and this tragicomic political theater of the absurd, to bring you this announcement:
There’s a homemade sign planted along Stockdale Highway a short distance from my house that makes what seems like a patriotic declaration: “Stop the Tyranny,” it shouts. “Open California Now.” A small U.S. flag attached to the top certifies the sign-maker’s credentials.
We’re not clear of this pandemic, not even close, no matter how much we might want to be, but we are starting to get a picture of what it might look like when we get there.
A commercial has been airing on national television for the past three weeks that promotes something I’ve not seen advertised before: science.
Note to my investment adviser: Buy Party City. When church bells across the land peal the all-clear and we emerge from our respective homes, squinting into the unfamiliar sun like rescued copper miners, we will want to have parties. Lots of them. So buy Party City, Jose Cuervo and KFC.
I used to feel occasional twinges of regret about the relentless pace of my life. Only a month ago, it seemed so hard to slow down. There was always something important to do. Always a deadline. Someone was always counting on me to fulfill some obligation, complete some task.
Until a month or so ago, Mary Barlow could’ve said she’d seen all this before — the poverty, the uncertainty, the disconnectedness. She’d lived it as a child and she’d witnessed it as a grade-school teacher trying to understand how in America a boy can walk to school every day in footwear wi…
Two weeks into my new full-time gig, I can report that life at a television station, in and of itself, does not make one better looking or more well-spoken. It does, at least, encourage the expansion and refinement of one’s wardrobe, which in my case was a dire need.