By Richard Beene
The downtown arts district is in the midst of another growth surge. Among the businesses relocating downtown are the Ice House Framing and Gallery, which is moving over near The Metro Galleries on 19th Street, and Tasha's, a new clothing and gift boutique. Meanwhile, Metro Galleries is adding another 1,100 square feet on the Eye Street side of the building. The folks at 1612 Eye Street (the old Hay Building) tell me they expect to sign another new tenant, a bakery, within the next few days. By the way, the first residents of 1612 City Lofts should be moving in within the next 30 days.
Local farmer Greg Wegis was quoted in a Los Angeles Times story about the lack of immigration reform, saying he is having trouble finding enough migrant workers to help harvest his crops of cherries, tomatoes, pistachios and almonds. Wegis, a fifth generation farmer, told the Times' George Skelton that he had to cancel a cherry pick last year because of a shortage of workers. "Migrant workers," he said, "are moving to other states that are friendlier and where there's less likelihood of getting harassed or deported."
A national survey by Boston University has found that beer, and specifically Budweiser, is the favorite alcoholic beverage of underage drinkers. Among its other findings: almost 70 percent of those surveyed had drunk either beer or hard liquor, and about 50 percent had consumed flavored drinks. "For flavored alcoholic beverages, the respondents preferred Smirnoff malt beverages (Smirnoff Ice, and others, in many flavors.... Smirnoff vodkas were the number one choice for hard liquor, followed by Jack Daniel's bourbons," according to a New York Times piece on the study.
My recent blog post on Bakersfield being deemed one of the nation's least romantic cities (based on the rentals of romantic movies) drew this smart rebuttal from local Realtor J.R. Lewis: "It seems to me that Redbox is drawing the wrong conclusion from its data. Using Redbox's logic the most athletic city would be the city where more people sat on their couch and watched sports on TV.
"Real romance doesn't involve renting movies; real romance is about living, sharing, loving and caring. I'm lucky to be living out a grand romance with my wife, Kim, and we haven't rented a movie in years."
There will be an interesting exhibit this Saturday at the downtown Kern Superintendent of Schools building on 17th Street. It's an art show showcasing and celebrating the artistic talents of children with learning and emotional disabilities, an exhibition being put on by eight high school students who comprise the Dream Builders, part of the Jim Burke Education Foundation and Ford Dimension. The show runs from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and is worth checking out.
Charles Duran wrote to tell me that his aunt and uncle, Stella and Chon, owned a small restaurant just off the southwest corner of East 19th and Baker Street that was named La Estrellita. They and their two daughters made enough money off the restaurant to move back to El Paso, Texas, where they bought a cotton farm. Anyone remember La Estrellita?
You would have to be a real Bakersfield old timer if you remember this high school cheer submitted by Sheryl Stuhr: "Ma He, Ma Ha, Ma Hoe, Rominickle, Dominickle, Nip Fat, Soap, Rag, Kern County Union High School, Rah! Rah! Rah! ... By the way the football team that year won the state championship!"
-- Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.