I’ve been trying to think of something to write about since I got back from the memorial day break, and I think my brain is still on vacation. Well, that and the fact that I just spent 4 days in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is a hop south from Fresno, and a skip up from Los Angeles. In my opinion, it’s one of the oddest cities in all of California, and you’d never know it by just looking at it or visiting, but if you’ve grown up there and re-visit every few months, you realize why you left it in the first place.Henry Rollins once visited Bakersfield in 1984, during his stint fronting Black Flag. In his book “Get in the Van,” he had a few choice words to say about Bakersfield.Rollins basically goes onto say that if he was a good man, he would donate all of his meager earnings to the total firestorm and destruction of Bakersfield. He also goes onto say that Bakersfield is full of rednecks in Oingo Boingo T-shirts driving their ford broncos, while blaring Billy Idol.
And, well, he’s completely right. What’s pretty funny, is that the rednecks and jocks driving around in Bronco trucks hasn’t changed – just the music aspect. Instead of Billy Idol blaring out their speakers, it’s Hip-Hop, Rap-Rock and whatever other mainstream band is the hype. And let me tell you, they all drive very, very badly. I thought it was bad in northern California, but nope, something about Bakersfield drivers, where they are oblivious to everything and need to get to the local Walmart in under 30 seconds or less. From what I understand, Bakersfield is becoming the new home for many people that commute to Los Angeles for work.
Bakersfield is pretty much all service jobs, and schooling for L.A. white-collars on the evenings and weekends. So you can imagine the driving and the mentality of the place nowadays. It’s sad really, I was hoping with the growth of the city, that maybe more creative jobs would rise up and maybe gasp more technical jobs. But no, it’s all services for commuting workers. Let’s recap some Bakersfield high-points (taken from wikipedia):
- The Punk Rock band NOFX mentions burning down Bakersfield in their song “Leaving Jesusland” and also in their song “Instant Crassic”
- The Grammy winning metal band, Korn is from Bakersfield.
- The Rolling Stones sing of Bakersfield in “Far Away Eyes.”
- John Hiatt mentions the town in “Tennessee Plates.”
- The punk artist Henry Rollins mentions Bakersfield in “The Virtues of Black Sabbath” and “Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag”.
- Martina McBride’s song “Cry on the Shoulder of the Road” opens with the line “I’m rolling out of Bakersfield.”
- Buck Owens’ famous “Streets of Bakersfield”, later performed with Dwight Yoakam, is about Bakersfield.
- Johnny Cash mentions Bakersfield in his song “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
- The 1973 book The Onion Field, by Joseph Wambaugh, is a true story about a pair of Los Angeles Police Department officers abducted and killed in farmland near Bakersfield. The Onion Field was made into a movie in 1979.
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a book about the Joad family who migrated to California in search of work during the Dust Bowl. They settle in the “Hoovervilles” in the vicinity of Bakersfield, near Arvin. In fact, over half the book is set in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
- Country music legend Buck Owens lived in Bakersfield until his death, and his Crystal Palace nightclub is located on Buck Owens Blvd.
- The Fox Network broadcast “Bakersfield P.D.” (1993), a sitcom about police officers in Bakersfield (one an African-American transplant from Los Angeles, the other a local white officer) which was critically acclaimed but only lasted 17 episodes.
- The movie The Running Man opens with the Bakersfield Food Riots, where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is framed as “The Butcher of Bakersfield.”
- One film shot in Bakersfield is The Cell. This blockbuster is about a serial killer that videotapes his victims before drowning them. The equipment used in the victims’ demise has a plate stamped “Made in Bakersfield”.
- Other films shot in and around Bakersfield include:
- “The X-Files” (1998)
- “K-PAX” (2001)
- “North by Northwest” (1959)
- “Thelma & Louise” (1991)
- “Wag the Dog” (1997)
- “The Break Up” (1998)
- “Prime Target” (1989)
- “Psycho” (1960).
- In the movie Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, the porta-potty outhouse that washes up on the island has “Bakersfield” written on its wall.
- In the movie Where the Heart Is, the characters in the beginning are en route to Bakersfield before stopping at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma.
- The 1993 film [[Fearless (film}|Fearless]] opens with the aftermath of an airline crash in a corn field outside of Bakersfield and features the now defunct Golden Empire Ambulance service.
- Any reference to Bakersfield by the writer Stephen King usually does not end up in a positive light.
- Bakersfield now has the worst air quality in North America (April, 2006).
- In the “CRPG Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game”, the ruins of Bakersfield are called Necropolis and are inhabited with ghouls, human beings mutated horribly by radiation.
- Twin racist sisters from Bakersfield, Lynx and Lamb Gaede, make up the recording duo Prussian Blue.
- In the Dreamcast and PS2 game “Headhunter”, the city makes an appearance (figuratively speaking) as the fictional city of “Quakersfield.”
- In The Simpsons’s episode Take My Wife, Sleaze the fictional biker group, Hell’s Satans, are from Bakersfield.
- The TV series Clueless featured a storyline with two episodes in Season 3 (“Bakersfield Blues” and “Back From Bakersfield”) where the main character, Cher, and her father move to Bakersfield, which is portrayed as a backward town of farmers and cowboys.
Ah yes, the highlites of Bakersfield.I still have a lot of family and friends there, and I love them all to death. If I could fund a move for all of them to any city of their choosing I would.This post was in jest. Though I really don’t dig on Bakersfield all that much, it still has some good qualities. Just, there isn’t any coming to mind at the moment.