I Remember Those Wide Streets

I haven’t talked about my mom lately. Not since her 99th birthday in April. There will be more forthcoming. I talk to her almost every day. But yesterday she mentioned something that is directly tied to recent national news about Bakersfield.

Mom told me she had a visitor from out of town asking about me. The lady said she didn’t know where Bakersfield was located in California. Mom said she knew it was north of Los Angeles but the main thing she remembered was Buck Owens and those wide streets everywhere in town.

Yeah, Buck was still kicking and he gave my mom a big hug and he and the Buckaroos sang a Happy 90th Birthday to her (9 years ago.)

But the wide streets are a phenomenon to most visitors. Not just the main arteries, but most neighborhood streets. I believe that is one of the main reasons Bakersfield made a Top Ten List recently.

When Bakersfield makes a list it’s usually about the bad stuff…and there’s plenty of that. I’m tired of talking about those things. But this Top Ten list is a good one.

A website called “Nerdwallet” (go figure) listed the Top Ten Cities in the USA to Drive (like, your car)
Traffic Jam
I don’t know where the population cut-off was—I’m guessing about 300,000 population and over.

The criteria were rather strange. The ‘list-makers’ used insurance and gas costs, safety, commute time and traffic delays. I don’t understand how any of those have anything to do with each other. Each city is chosen based on total points scored in the combined categories.

So, Bakersfield was named the 7th best “driving” city in America…one ahead of our dreaded rival to the north (Fresno).

But when one looks into the individual scores, Bakersfield in the NUMBER ONE major city with the least traffic delays in America.  Mom was right….wide streets. Fresno was number two in delays and it, too, has huge streets throughout the city. Traffic can move.

Every time I return to my birth city in Indiana, a small place of less than 70,000, I have to check my road rage.
Angry Driver

I can get from east to west or north to south in Bakersfield in less than 25 minutes. It takes at least that long in my Indiana town that is 5x smaller.

Bless those Wide Streets.

The Top Ten list: Albuquerque – Tucson – El Paso – Phoenix – Colorado Springs – Wichita – Bakersfield – Fresno – San Antonio – Oklahoma City.

The difference in the annual delay times of driving is the main thing I’m interested in. Here are the differences from #1 to #10

#1 Bakersfield has 12 hours of driving delays annually

#10 San Antonio has 38 hours of delays annually

LOVE THOSE WIDE STREETS!

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Strange Goings On

I’ve been a Yahoo user since they first started yodeling. It’s my home page and I like their sports, weather and finance news. I don’t use their search engine. I’m a Googler. And I have a “Chrome” page full of apps.

A few months back, I received an email from Yahoo (in my Gmail box) and asked if I would be interested in taking part in a series of studies and questionnaires regarding my computer use. I replied, Heck Yes, and I instantly became a designated “Yahoo Yodeler.”

Seriously that’s what we are called. We Yodelers helped in picking out the newest “yahoo” logo.
yahoo logo

We also tested new formatting of their video app and many other things. Currently I am also a beta-tester for Yahoo of some new Android apps, but that’s another story.

Being called a “yodeler” is pretty kooky. I realized I hadn’t heard that stupid Yahoo commercial on radio for a long time…you know, the one where it ends with the guy yodeling…Yaaaaaaahooooo.

In checking out what happened to the real yodeling, I found another crazy story. It seems the original yodeler is named Wylie Gustafson. He was paid a flat rate of $590 to record his “yaaahoooo.”

Wylie must have went crazy hearing that commercial every time he turned around so he sued Yahoo a dozen years ago for more money.

I just read he settled for an undisclosed amount. I feel better now, but still, I’m an unpaid yodeler. Anybody else out there a yodeler?

ONE MORE THING

I wanted to share a musical treat (Just 2 minutes….you can spare that). My Hoosier buddy sent it to me. I have started saving my empty beer bottles, but I’m not sure I can get the rest of our band to join me.

Check out the Bottle Brothers…fantastic stuff! (It’s OK…it’s church music)

http://youtu.be/NkbZlautuUc

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In Memory of Dancing and Dynamite

Pete Douglas died. What a great guy…a true gentleman. I can’t fathom walking into the Beach House and not see him sitting at his desk. Appropriately that is where he died last week.
Pete Douglas
I lived in Half Moon Bay in the late ‘90s. In the summer of 2000 I was long-distance dating my wife to be, Amy. I told her about this club I belonged to, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. I think the only thing about that weird name she liked was Bach. And the fact that it was 108 degrees in Bakersfield and barely 60 degrees in Half Moon Bay. She drove the four plus hours for a Sunday afternoon date.

The ocean was roaring and splashing up on the walkway, just a few yards away.  We walked out on the patio, with our wine, quietly watching the incoming tide, listening to the seagulls squawking at the skate-boarders, bicyclists, and dog-walkers along the narrow coastal trail. Amy met Pete Douglas, sitting at his desk and we chatted about the long drive she made for our date. The venue is intimate, about 150 seats, no seat further than 35 feet from the stage.The acoustics are as perfect as any musician could dream of.
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society 2Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society
We then took our seats and listened to the incredible St. Lawrence String Quartet. (Yes, I scored some major points with my pretty little fiddle player.)

We have returned as often as possible over these past 13 years for great intimate jazz and classical concerts.

It won’t be the same without Pete.

In the ‘60s, Pete bought an old beat-up beer joint on the beach and moved in. He loved jazz, chamber music and partying. (Now you see why I loved the guy). In 1963 he was having a big party and his stereo was blasting the Brandenburg Concertos. One of his friends stated that the Bach was in 4/4, why not dance?  A few couples started swing-dancing. A few crazier friends had brought some dynamite to liven up the party and proceeded to light it and toss it out in the ocean. One other person yelled…”Hey, we’re the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.”

In 1964, Pete Douglas remodeled the old place, and started a non-profit private club to bring live music, jazz and chamber music, to appreciative audiences. And it’s been happening ever since. Ticket prices were usually $35(for club members) and Pete always insisted the bands play two complete sets…not a one hour plus show. He knew small audiences would talk among themselves and relax along the ocean front. They did. We did. Every great musician in the area wanted to experience playing there and most did.

Dizzy Gillespie to Stan Getz spread the word about this perfect small venue with warm appreciative audiences and most musicians considered it a privilege to book this gig.
Pete never tried to sell booze or food. He had a catering company that prepared a buffet and sold wine and beer. For Pete, it was just the music he cared about.

One other great feature was the downstairs club, The Ebb Tide Room. It was free and open seven days a week to members to bring in friends and family (limit of four) anytime to enjoy the ambiance. You could bring food and drink and have the ocean beachfront club to enjoy.
Dougla Beach House

We will return again this year, but something very important will be missing. Hopefully the great music will continue. Rest in Peace, my man, Pete Douglas.

Some of the best comments about the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society were made from the musicians who played there.

*Pete’s place is hands down the best music venue anywhere in the world! – Bob Sheppard (sax), 8-9-09

  • I can’t imagine a more ideal environment for making beautiful music – great food, awesome ocean, and warm-hearted and attentive listeners. Thanks. – Bayla Keyes, classical violin (Triple Helix), 4-5-09
  • You play better here because of the history. This place is a legendary club – the level that you aspire to get to – the dream! I mean, all my heroes played here. – Rachel Z, 3-18-07
  • This is the best jazz place in California – confirmed every time I come here. – Bryan Gould (Swing Fever), 3-9-08
  • Best place I played in the United States. – Phil Markowitz (piano), 11-2-08
  • My favorite place in the world to play jazz (#2 is Ronnie Scott’s in London). Great audience, great food, great vibe. – Victor Jones (drums), 2-15-09
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Get It Right YouTube

Sorry about showing a non-video song of Willie Dixon. I had meant to showcase the incredible talents of AC Myles, who is playing with the Fat Daddy Blues Band tomorrow night. I checked and re-checked the YouTube link and I did it right.  I’ll give YouTube one more try.  See you tomorrow night.

 

http://youtu.be/sAmaK5Slc5A?list=FLq2LDx4SWVMIMcyomN5q-_Q

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Drop-Box Blues Band

Hey everybody, come on out to the Marketplace—right here in Bakersfield—tomorrow night—-7—9 pm and enjoy some blues. Swinging Blues, Country Blues, Rocking Blues, Jazzy Blues and good old Blues Blues.

The Fat Daddy Blues Band has been Bakersfield’s own home-town blues band (you know—the “other” Bakersfield Sound) for about 16 years. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with these guys for over 11 years.
FAT DADDY BLUES BAND
BUT…sometimes stuff happens. Like tomorrow night….our wonderful musical director, guitar player, and singer-songwriter, Laurence, is off in Denver, Colorado doing his company’s business.  So now what do we do?

I’m very lucky to know so many great musicians in this part of the country. One of the best singers and greatest guitar player I’ve ever heard in my life is driving down from Fresno—on a rare night off—to sit in with us and entertain you. His name is AC Myles and I hope you take this opportunity to check him out.

Now when someone is “sitting-in” with a strange band that has their own tunes, arrangements and way of doing things, it can present a problem.  Likewise for us, we have this world traveler who has played with the best of the best and he has his own tunes, arrangements and way of doing things.

No way we could get together over the last few weeks…I was on the East Coast for 18 days, our drummer was in the state of Washington for a few weeks…rehearsal was out of the question.

Good Old Drop Box.  Yep, A.C. put his tunes in a drop box and we put our tunes in the same drop box and we each had our own private rehearsal via our computers/tablets or smart phones.

And tomorrow we get to find out if we did our jobs.  I can’t wait.

By the way, if you want to check out the great AC Myles….click and watch and listen.

See you tomorrow night

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Matching Day Month Year Numbers

There’s a better than average chance the information you are about to receive from these special dates in history will be of no value to you.

3-3-33
On this date in history, Mt. Rushmore was dedicated. The big event in NYC was the premier of “King Kong.” This is the day before FDR is inaugurated and the banks in Washington State are closed (because of huge run on them. The day after FDR’s inauguration he declared a 10-day national bank holiday as the depression worsened.

4-4-44
British troops capture Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
The big movie of the day was “Cover Girl” with Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The number one song on the radio was “Besame Mucho” by Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

5-5-55
Number one song on Billboard was “Sincerely” by the McGuire Sisters. (They are something like my 4th cousins twice removed)
Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, was rocking out on TV.
Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron were starring in Daddy Long Legs at the Cinema.

Cover of "Daddy Long Legs"

Cover of Daddy Long Legs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6-6-66
NFL and AFL merge.
Percy Sledge was #1 on the charts with “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
I adopted a dog and named him “Beast.” He only bit Christians.

7-7-77
TWO SEVENS CLASH
The day Kingston Jamaica came to a halt. Schools and businesses closed.
Marcus Garvey was Jamaica’s first political hero. His life story is a wild one and worth a read. For my purpose I wanted to point out that he made a prediction that on July 7, 1977 (7-7-77)  when two sevens clash it would cause great chaos.

In one of the finest marketing schemes in history, one year earlier, singer Joseph Hill, released the debut album of reggae-band “Culture.” It was titled “Two Sevens Clash.” The album was marketed by Joseph Hill saying he also had a vision of that fateful day and he also said there would be chaos and past injustices would be avenged. What was chaotic was the huge sales of the album. It made “Culture” a favorite for many years in Jamaica and around the world.

8-8-88
Nothing really strange happened except it did hit 88 degrees in NYC on 8/8/88.  It was also the day the Russian troops pulled out of Afghanistan.
The long-suffering fans of the Chicago Cubs looked forward to this historic date as the Cubs were set to play their first ever night game at Wrigley Field. It was rained out in the 4th inning.
What ever happened to the Cubs?

9-9-99

Some predicted computers would go wacko, but that didn’t happen.  The band, “Daft Punk” stated that they were working on their sampler album when at exactly at 9:09am on 9/9/99, their sampler blew up. When they regained consciousness they had become robots.
In other music news, the number one song on the charts was “Baby One More Time” and was performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC (say it isn’t so) by Britney Spears. Here is a picture of her performing on that night.  Brittany Spears Sept 9 1999
What ever happened to Britney Spears?

10-10-10

A federal judge ruled “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was unconstitutional.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates called kooky pastor Terry Jones and asked him NOT to have his 15 minutes of fame extended by burning the Koran. He didn’t. What ever happened to Terry Jones?
In media news, Univision announced they had pulled in the highest television ratings of viewers aged 18 to 49. Previously they had won the ratings for the entire month of July. A Republican congressman said he didn’t know there were that many non-English speaking citizens.
What ever happened to the Republican Party?
Republcan elephant

11-11-11
Huge wedding day in Vegas.
One hundred years ago (11/11/1911) a tornado struck Janesville, Wisconsin killing 20 people. This year many people are scared of another horrible happening. Luckily only a few bad decisions to marry in Vegas happened.
Exactly nine months ago was Valentine’s Day, 2011….hmmmm.
This day was also honored as “Nigel Tufnel” day. Think about it, Spinal Tap Fans.
J.Edgar (Leonardo) opened at the Cinema and Kelly Clarkson went to #1 with “Mr. Know It-All.”

12-12-12
Finally, the last time we mess with the day, month and year’s silly matching numbers. The last matching numbers of this century.
The first ever Tweet by a Pope.
I fell asleep and missed the 12th minute and the 12th second of the 12th day, 12th months of the 12th year of this century.
“Diamonds” by Rihanna was #1. “Skyfall” the latest James Bond Thriller was tops at the box office.
Most of the news was about the Mayan Calendar just a week or so away from ending. The world was probably coming to an end.
I fell asleep and missed it.

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5 Things I Gladly Left Behind on the East Coast

After 17 days vacationing from New York City to Virginia Beach to Charleston to Orlando to Savannah to Fayettville to Washington D.C. to Lewisburgh, PA to NYC and home, I left behind family that I love and miss ever day. That’s a given.
However there are FIVE things I left behind gladly.

1)      Humidity…….eeewwwwwwhhhhhh
sweaty man

When one vacations in the summer, one can expect to encounter that awful stuff. I hate it. Yes, I’m a weenie. A bonAfide  100% California weenie. I hate humidity. We had it in huge heavy sweaty bundles. Luckily not in New York (they have it plenty right now).  But we had it strong in Charleston, stronger in Orlando, strong in Savannah….then, thank you, it stopped for a wonderful three days in Washington D.C. and beautiful non-humid days in Central PA (they both have plenty of it right now.)
The Meaning of No Humidity
After arriving at 6am (9am our brain time) in Bakersfield, sleeping six hours, unpacking, dealing with vacation hang-over, it was time to run some errands…in and out of the car errands. Mid-afternoon errands. The temperature was 103 degrees (wife’s car said 111 degrees…whatever). The point is I ran these five errands-drugstore, bank, grocery, etc. and walked across hot baking parking lots, in and out of stores…a 90  minutes-errand run and never…not once….did I sweat a single drop. Hell yes it was hot—like an oven…didn’t care…didn’t sweat. That’s what we weenies require.

2)      Southern-Fried Hospitality
Waitresses, clerks, tour-guides, bartenders, strangers, kids, drivers, and merchants were more than just “Y’all come backers.” They were interesting people who took time to chat, were as interested in us as we them, and spread charm on our hot humid days.

3)      Numerous State and City Magnets
Souvenir magnets
It’s probably a good thing. Any more magnets stuck to our fridge would probably pull it over on its face. Our Avis Chevy Cruz over-heated in Charleston—mechanic said,” Thermostat, y’all.”  I said “Nothing could run in this humidity.” He smiled and said. “This mere 90% humidity you’re feeling is nuttin’. It’s normal between Late March and Late October. Y’all atta feel it when it’s 125% humidity. It’s like peeing y’all pants without peeing.”
I went to Avis and traded cars. The Cruz had a nice covered dashborad stash-tray. Someone has my wife’s magnets. Please enjoy them. (125% humidity?)

4)      One Ford Focus
So happy to be out of that damn car. I hated it. I don’t care how many Chevys are being recalled. The Cruz was a fun car to drive with a comfortable nicely designed interior. The Ford Focus is a joke. The worst engineered car I’ve ever driven. The driver’s seat is about 3 inches centered to the right of the steering wheel…weird. The double door post makes it impossible to see driver’s-side-blind-spot. Driver’s right elbow is in the middle of whatever you would like in the coffee holder. One clever thing I hated is the key. When I approached 80mph, a ringy dingy tone sounded and a sign appeared on the instrument panel. The sign said: “Approaching top speed limit of 80mph per ‘My Key’ settings. The car would not go over 80mph even if you stomped the gas pedal. So it took me all of the first day, while driving, to figure out how to re-program the damn thing. I did. Yes, I go over the speed limit (If there is a convoy). The plastic black panel holding all electronic buttons (Radio, heat/air, electronic controls, etc) is cheap looking and cheap acting. OK, Ford, I’ve finished my rant. I’m sure your wonderful F150 is a great vehicle.

5)   SHEKELS
Shekels

More than a few shekels were left on the east coast, but I don’t want any of them back. It was a fair exchange of free marketing. Shekels for great food, great fun, great lodging, and great adventures. Worth every penny.
However, my vacationing partner/best friend/perfect lover and wife——priceless!

 

 

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