Pastor Dawn Wilder offers ashes outdoors near the courthouse on L Street, in this file photo. A small group from Emmanuel Lutheran Church assisted with prayer and informing passersby they can receive ashes. Ash Wednesday is the start of the season of Lent.

Announcing the return of the "notes" column ...

That guy who looked like Dennis Quaid that you saw north of Bakersfield earlier this week might have been Dennis Quaid. Film crews were spotted Monday in an almond orchard on Zerker Road, just off Seventh Standard Road, filming a scene for the Amazon series "Goliath."

The show's third season features Quaid as a billionaire rancher and Billy Bob Thornton as lawyer Billy McBride, who takes on a case in the drought-stricken Central Valley. He comes face-to-face with a new "Goliath": Quaid and his sister, played by Amy Brenneman.

Quaid is a busy guy.

Quaid the actor has Sony’s "The Intruder" and Universal’s "A Dog’s Journey" in the pipeline for big-screen release this year.

Quaid the musician is performing Saturday night with his band, Dennis Quaid and the Sharks, at the Mint in Los Angeles in support of their first studio album, "Out of the Box." Quaid, who says Gene Autry, the original Western movie singing cowboy, was his third cousin, calls his sound “a junkyard of American music.”

During his visit here Quaid was in the company of singer Tanya "Delta Dawn" Tucker, who we might expect to see perform with the Sharks Saturday night. They were on stage together Jan. 20 at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles with Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings and — get this —  Marilyn Manson for a rousing rendition of Kristofferson’s 1972 song “Why Me.”

Word is, Quaid's current list of reading material includes a certain book about displaced Okies and the Bakersfield Sound.


The motorists of this drive-thru nation just keep getting more and more comfortable conducting personal business while restrained by their seatbelts.

In addition to our all-but-constitutionally protected right to obtain drive-thru fast food, drivers disinclined to park and get out can do business with upscale coffee bars, banks, dry cleaners, car washes, post offices, pharmacies and, in some states, liquor stores — all from the safety and comfort of their vehicles. Drivers can vote, settle their taxes, or engage in non-tax deductible philanthropy by simply entering a queue and lowering their driver's-side windows.

I bring this up because today, and today only, practicing Christians will have another drive-thru option — the opportunity to acknowledge Jesus Christ's 40-day wilderness fast, the start of Lent, without budging from their Buicks. Emmanuel Lutheran, and perhaps other churches, will be offering drive-thru forehead smudges of ash, a symbol of repentance, to motorists on Ash Wednesday. The Lutherans will be accommodating all interested faithful at 7:30 a.m. at the corner of L Street and Truxtun Avenue (with no set end time). Then they meet at 7 p.m. for services at the church, 1900 Baker St.

This strikes me as a potential growth area for churches. Drive-thru communion, anyone? Don't tell me: Someone's already doing that, right?


Here's another chapter in my ongoing (and potentially limitless) series of acknowledgments of local people who have gone on to do remarkable things out in the big, broader world beyond Bakersfield. Bakersfield High School/Bakersfield College graduate Warren Coats had a noteworthy career as a banker/economist with the International Monetary Fund, and now he is being recognized for it

After BHS (1960), BC (1962), UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D., Coats joined the University of Virginia as an economics professor. Five years later, in 1976, he went to work for the IMF as a monetary policy expert. Over the course of his career, Coats worked with the central banks of Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan, rebuilding what were, in many cases, decimated monetary systems.

Now his career body of work is being celebrated: The Central Banking Journal will award Coats its “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building Award” at an awards ceremony in London March 13. 

One might say Coats is such a big deal they created the award for him. "The inaugural winner of this award," the Journal says, "is a man who not only has worked to develop capacity at central banks in more than 20 countries, but actually helped found some of them."

Coats, who lives in Bethesda, Md., with wife Sue, is the first cousin of Bakersfield City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan.


You may have read about Ethan Lindenberger, the Ohio teen who testified before a Senate health subcommittee Tuesday about his mother's opposition to vaccinations. After he turned 18, Lindenberger, who had researched vaccinations but failed to convince his mother of their safety, sought them out on his own.

"My mother would turn to anti-vaccine groups online and on social media," he told the subcommittee, "looking for her evidence in defense (of that position) rather than health officials and other credible sources."

The hearing was called to address the significant rise of measles cases in the United States, one of several outbreaks of preventable diseases that seem to be sweeping the nation.

That got me wondering if anti-vaccination forces have a foothold here, and, possibly as a consequence, whether measles cases are up locally.

The partial, preliminary answers are no and no. As of Jan. 1, 2016, according to spokeswoman Erin Briscoe, the Kern High School District does not enroll students who seek vaccination exemptions by citing religious or personal beliefs. And Michelle Corson, of the Kern County Public Health Services Department, says the county has seen no evidence of a measles outbreak.

Thank you, parents, for not buying in to this thoroughly debunked vaccines-cause-autism nonsense.

Contact The Californian's Robert Price at 661-395-7399, rprice@bakersfield.com or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. The views expressed here are his own.

(1) comment


I am aware of several "anti-vaxxers" in town. I guess the also choose to home school.

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