COLUMN: Molded by the city around me

Martin Chang, Opinions Editor

There’s a unique beauty to this town, and it has shaped the person that I am.

In between the dusty air, the cracked streets of downtown, the brown vista of oil derricks looking over Panorama Drive, the orange and purple sky distorted by pollution, a mood emerges.

A mood that is not necessarily happy or picturesque, but it’s a landscape that creates a lyrical, bittersweet feeling that I know other people feel.

This feeling is developed from the contrasts in this town, the fake facade of suburbia and housing developments set against cramped trailer parks, the way this town can seem like a bustling city in one place, then seem like an empty, open world the next.

Mike Ness, the singer and songwriter for Social Distortion does not live here, but he only had to be here for a moment for him to feel something from this town. In the Social Distortion song “Bakersfield,” a story of lost love is told. I wasn’t surprised that he would use our town to tell that story.

It’s because feelings like that are just more potent here, that feeling of being “So close, yet so far away”, as it says in the song,  just seems to be in the air here. It’s a feeling that I find comforting as I live my life here.

It is a feeling that has shaped me. The songs I write, the way I see the world, my favorite bands, a lot of it comes from the strangely poetic backdrop of Bakersfield. I don’t even know what I would be expressing if it weren’t for this town.

This feeling that I’m speaking of awakens a fiery creative spirit in the artists and creative people here. I see it in my fellow journalists here at The Rip. I see it in Gita Lloyd’s brush strokes. I hear it in the local bands that play to anyone who will listen.

This town makes us want to say something. It makes us want to tell the stories that live and breathe here. We know that this town has a story to tell that is unique and special.

In turn, for those that want to listen, we learn from those stories that it is okay to be different. This unique landscape can teach us that this world is more than black and white, the shades of brown and orange teach us that. The rocks of Kern Canyon teach us that. It teaches us that beauty can be more than a beach. That’s what this town has taught me, and while I don’t love this town, I will always remember its strange beauty. And wherever I go in life, when I need that creative spark, that creative kick in the pants, I somehow know that my mind will float to Bakersfield, California, the town that shaped me into who I am.