Sunday, January 20, 2019

Anne Frank's step sister to speak at the Fox Theater downtown, Michelle Chantry is leaving The Bakersfield Californian, and cities with homeless populations are flirting with health epidemics

Monday, January 21, 2019

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... EVA SCHLOSS: Put March 12 on your calender when Eva Schloss, the step sister of Anne
Frank, comes to Bakersfield to speak at the Fox Theater. Schloss lives in London and is being brought here by the Chabad Jewish Community Center. Chabad has asked me to conduct the interview and I am honored to do so. Schloss and her family were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, where her parents died.

 * ... HOMELESSNESS: It goes without saying that homelessness is a problem across the country, not just here in Bakersfield. And how various municipalities are dealing with it is eye opening to say the least. In Denver, the city council voted unanimously to decriminalize the offense of people committing certain low-level crimes like lying in a public right-of-way, urinating in public and panhandling. While I understand you can't fill the jails with people who happen to be homeless and defecate in public, we are flirting with a real health crisis here in our cities if we don't get a handle on it. Stay tuned.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I'm just saying before you choose a name for your baby you should google 'popular stripper names' first."

 * ... BRC PRO: Congratulations to Mark Fredriksz, the club pro at the Bakersfield Racquet Club, for his amazing transformation after losing almost 40 pounds. Fredriksz never seemed to be overweight, but his doctor told him he needed to embrace healthier eating or he was at risk of becoming diabetic. So he cleaned up his act and now eats vegetarian a few times a week, just enough to keep him honest. He has dropped 38 pounds and the last time I saw him, he was heading to the Hens Roost vegan restaurant for lunch.

 * ... CHANTRY OUT: Michelle Chantry, chief executive officer of The Bakersfield Californian for the past two years, is leaving the newspaper for another job. The paper has yet to officially announce her departure but employees were told of it last Friday. No word yet on where Chantry is going or who will replace her.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this very cool old picture compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Another successful Warren Cup at Bakersfield High School, the Hispanic Chamber honors local business people and Centric Health donates to help teachers affected by California fires

Friday, January 18, 2019

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... WARREN CUP: Congratulations to Nick Oosthuizen, a Bakersfield High senior who just became a citizen five months ago but still managed to win the Warren Cup competition based on a
deep knowledge of U.S. history. Nick outlasted 31 other BHS students to win the competition before a packed house of students and parents at the Harvey Auditorium on a rainy Wednesday evening. The event is the brainchild of BHS history teacher Jeremy Adams, who stages a history and constitutional knowledge quiz worthy of the Oscars. Among those personalities who submitted video taped questions for the contestants: President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, entrepreneur Elon Musk and Fox news host Dana Perino, The event is named in honor of Earl Warren, the Bakersfield native who rose to become a justice on the Supreme Court. (photos courtesy of Mayor Karen Goh).

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Funny how women claim to care about the environment and water conservation but when I offer to share a shower with them, they refuse."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Betty White is still working at age 97 and I had to have a lie down after putting my socks on this morning."

 * ... CENTRIC HEALTH: Here is a shout to Centric Health of Bakersfield that donated $5,000 to help teachers in Butte County affected by November's Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise. Said Dr. Brij Bhambi, Centric's chairman:  “Education is foundational – it makes us. And teachers are the reasons we succeed in our lives. The fire destroyed or damaged all nine schools in the Paradise Unified School District.

 * ... CHAMBER HONORS: More kudos to some local folks who will be honored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Raji Brar will be honored as Business Woman of the Year, Cornelio "Corny" Rodriguez won Business Man of the Year, Michael Bowers was honored with the Community Service Award, Chevron was Corporation of the Year, Varner Bros. was Large Business of the year, Centro 18 Latin Steakhouse was Small Business of the Year and the Bakersfield Police Activities League was Non-Profit of the Year.

 * ... COUNTRYSIDE CORPORATION: And speaking of Raji Brar, she appeared on my radio show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) and explained the origins of Countryside Corporation, which now employs more than 400 people and includes a number of Countryside markets, Taco Bells, Subway shops and a construction business. Raji said her father immigrated from India and even though he was an electrical engineer, started off in the fields picking crops in Fresno County. He later moved the family to Bakersfield, worked for the Post Office, earned a real estate license and bought his first small convenience store in Oildale. And that, as they say, is where this remarkable story begins.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this cool photo courtesy of the Facebook page "Kern County History Fans."

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Bluegrass comes to town, the scourge of homelessness presents health problems, BHS rated one of the top football high schools in America and a vegan eatery proves to be a big hit

Monday, January 14, 2019

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... FOODIE SHORTS: The Hens Roost, a relatively new vegan restaurant downtown near the
Post Office, is enjoying a business boom that seems to know no end. I dropped by the Roost on Saturday, eager to sit down to the Impossible burger after a long workout, and the place was wall to wall with customers. The whole plant based diet is not for everyone, but it is good to see there is enough of a base in town to support this kind of healthier eating. Meanwhile, we have also learned that Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers will open on February 12 over off Downing Avenue.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Do what you love” is shitty career advice because mostly what I love is spending time alone and eating breakfast food."

 * ... THE GREAT 48: If you happened to stop by the Marriott downtown this weekend, chances are you happened into some bluegrass. For the third consecutive year, the California Bluegrass Association brought its annual convention, called The Great 48 to signify 48 hours of picking and grinning, to the Marriott. (The event has been in Bakersfield for at least a decade but at other venues) Why Bakersfield? Organizers said we are ideally situated to attract bluegrass enthusiasts from both Northern and Southern California. The lobby was full of musicians jamming, and the ninth floor of the hotel was a virtual sea of fiddles, banjos, guitars, stand up basses and dobros.

 * ... BHS DRILLERS: The website StadiumTalk released its list of the top 20 high schools in America that produce the most professional football players. And yes, Bakersfield High made the list, ranking as the 14th best high school in the country. Said StadiumTalk:  "California is well represented on this list with 13 schools, but Bakersfield High is the only one of those that is not in Greater Los Angeles. That has not hurt the school’s success on the field as it has more wins than any other high school football team in the state. The crown jewel of its football program was Frank Gifford, who later won an NFL MVP and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Just as Gifford eventually made his way into cinema, so would his alma mater. The feud between Bakersfield High and rival Taft High served as the backdrop for the 1986 comedy 'The Best of Times' starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell."

 * ... CAFE MED: Cafe Med, one of our town's longest running successful restaurants, has opened a second located at Rio Bravo Country Club. It's a unique marriage: Rio Bravo is trying to rebrand itself and gets Meir Brown and his culinary expertise to help jump start the kitchen, and Brown gets a new outlet for his Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is open to the public.

 * ... HOMELESS: If you don't think our homeless problem is a public health issue, think again. Or just look at this picture of feces and urine found at the Assistance League offices on Q Street downtown. The problem is getting worse, friends.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers the haunted house on Dracena Street? Photo courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Memes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi flood the internet

 No matter what your politics, you have to admit some of these memes of Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are hilarious.

Another California cop is shot and killed, Amy Travis takes over as head of CASA and Brian Dignan resigns as athletic director at Garces Memorial High School

Friday, January 11, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... OPEN SEASON ON COPS: Another cop has been shot and killed, this time a 22-year-old
rookie in Davis who seems to have been killed execution style. Authorities said Natalie Corona was investigating a traffic accident when someone calmly walked up to her and shot her. The suspect, who later shot and killed himself, lived just a few blocks from the accident scene.

 * ... CASA: Amy Travis has been appointed the new executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocartes (CASA), replacing longtime director Colleen McGauley who recently retired. Travis worked under McGauley for years before leaving to work at OneLegacy, but was lured back after McGauley decided to retire.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My dogs don’t understand why I have to leave the house everyday, and quite frankly, neither do I."

 * ... BRIAN DIGNAN: Brian Dignan has resigned as athletic director of Garces Memorial High School, but will stay on as head men's basketball coach. In a Facebook post, Dignan said he wanted to spend more time with his family and noted that Gino Lacava would replace him as AD. Dignan previously spent a decade as an assistant basketball coach at CSUB and he also coached at Bakersfield Christian High School. Meanwhile Dignan's wife, former TV weather person Melissa Dignan, has also taken on a new job with Environmental Safety Solutions. Congrats to them both.

 * ... HEATHER LAGANELLI: One of the pioneers of the locally sourced farm to table movement, Heather Laganelli, has purchased the building that houses her downtown restaurant, Locale Farm to Table. Laganelli tries to use food and meat products produced no father than 100 miles from Bakersfield, and her creative culinary touch has created a strong and loyal following. Her restaurant is located across from the downtown Post Office in the old Vincent's Cyclery Building. She also purchased an adjacent building that once housed a silversmith and a cobbler, and she plans to convert that into a "to go" restaurant sometime later this year. (Pictured is one of Heather's desert creations)

 * ... CRUELTY: By now we have all heard about the woman who was shamed for riding a 
Bird scooter and dragging along a dog. The story recently appeared in London and the post has gone viral on social media. If you missed it, here is the original post: "While riding bikes downtown on A and 20th street, we watched this awesome human being riding one of the Bird Scooter’s at about 15 MPH dragging this poor dog behind her by a leash. The dog was on its side and we watched it being drug at least 100 yards and there’s no telling how long she had been dragging it for before we saw her. You can see that its paws are all completely bloody. I was unable to get a good picture of the poor dogs side. Sat on the phone with BPD while following her all the way back to an apartment on 24th St. She had the nerve to tell us that “shit happens, just like with kids”! Ummm yeah I don’t drag my kids down the street by a leash. If only she would have been a guy! She told me that she was going to call the cops on me for harassment and threatened me but she sure didn’t open the door and have something to say when the police went knocking on the door. I hope to see you again girly! Feel free to share this post. " Since then police have interviewed the woman and said the dog has been treated and will fully recover. Stay tuned to see if charges are filed.

 * ... MEMORIES: I found this on the Kern County History Fans Facebook page, with this caption: "The first constructed building on the now BHS (Kern County High School) campus was in 1885 and it was called the Commercial Building. The building stood where current Elm Grove is with several of the original 1895 driveway palm trees still standing."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Disneyland raises prices yet again, a moving tribute for cancer victim Christopher Kreiser and putting the spotlight on organic foot pioneer Heather Laganelli at Locale Farm to Table

Monday, January 7, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

If you are a fan of Disneyland, get ready for another round of price hikes. That's right, Disney has announced price increases o up to 25 percent for daily tckets, annual passes
and parking. Said the Los Angeles Times: "The increases, which took effect Sunday, come less than a year after the resort adopted price hikes of up to 18 percent. Under the latest increases, the cheapest daily ticket will be more than $100. Daily parking prices are rising to $25 from $20 — a 25 percent increase." The resort expects visitor demand to skyrocket when it opens its new area, called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, this summer. The 14-acre expansion will feature two attractions, including a ride that lets visitors pilot the Millennium Falcon, the spaceship flown by Han Solo in the “Star Wars” movies.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If anybody tells you you’re putting too much Parmesan on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don’t need that negativity in your life."

 * ... RIP CHRISTOPHER: It was a wonderful tribute and service this weekend for Christopher Kreiser, the 39-year-old local businessman who lost his battle with cancer, leaving behind a wife, three young children and a legion of friends and family. His father, Rick Kreiser, spoke on behalf of his family before a standing room only Catholic mass at St. Francis and then the crowd headed over to the Crystal Palace to be serenaded by the great Jim Shaw and one of Rick's longtime friends, guitar virtuoso Carl Verheyen. Christopher died of lymphoma while undergoing experimental treatment at UCLA Medical Center. He is survived by his wife, Katie and three children: Carson, Kyle and Kensie.

* ... FARM TO TABLE: A plant based diet is not right for everyone, but there is no denying that the movement is here to stay and steadily gaining adherents. Look no further than the expanding organic and vegan sections at Vons, Albertson's and Smart and Final. Not long ago vegan and soy-based "meat" products could only be found at Lassen's and perhaps Sprout's, but today they are near ubiquitous. There are also a growing number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, including Hen's Roost downtown and Guapo's Tacos off White Lane where they offer a scrumptious like of vegan tacos. One of the local pioneers of this movement in Heather Laganelli, owner of Locale Farm to Table across from the downtown Post Office. Formerly known as Union Deli, Laganelli has run the restaurant since 2015 by focusing on healthy, locally sourced food and vegan options. On Monday she will be on The Richard Beene show at 2:30 p.m. (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) to talk about the growing popularity of healthy eating. Tune in to hear her story.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of our Fox Theater, compliments from the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Amazing.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And then there is this, from the Kern County History Fans Facebook page. It had this caption: "3 unidentified men in a 1912 photo that states 'Booze Joint' (left side) and a fraternal flag that is F. O. E. (Fraternal Order of Eagles)."

Thursday, January 3, 2019

County CAO Ryan Alsop says declaring impasse still an option in negotiations with the firefighter's union, anti-gay graffiti appears on a local business and a Saturday funeral service planned for Christopher Kreiser

Friday, January 4, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... COUNTY FIREMEN: Kern County chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop has once again signaled the county may have to declare impasse with the firefighter's union over the long stalled negotiations on a new contract. Speaking with me on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM, Alsop said

declaring impasse (and in effect forcing a new contract on the union) is a last resort, but one that would be used if the parties cannot agree. The issue: the county is currently paying well over the minimum for overtime, and with the fire budget well in the red, the union needs to agree to new terms. Stay tuned.

 * ... STUPIDITY: Most of us don't need to be reminded about the stupidity that lives amongst us (72 DUI arrests over the holiday period in town, random people shooting their guns off on New Year's Eve) but check out this vandalism at the In Your Wildest Dreams antique and consignment store on 19th Street. Just heartbreaking.

 * ...CHRIS KREISER: A funeral service will be held this Saturday for Christopher Kreiser, the 39-yeaer-old son of Rick Kreiser who died of lymphoma on Dec. 17. The service and mass will begin at 10:45 a.m. at St. Francis, followed by a reception at the Crystal Palace. I spoke to Rick about the death of his son, and you can hear the interview by going to and clicking on the link. (Facebook photo of Christopher with two of his children)

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I got kicked off Wheel of Fortune for solving every puzzle with  'I want you inside me, Pat.'"

 * ... KERO TV: Adam Forrest Chase, general manager of KERO TV, is leaving the station to assume the GM role at a pair of Scripps' owned stations covering Waco/Temple/Kileen and KRHD covering Bryan College Station.

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this old photo circa 1970 from the Kern County History Fans Facebook page?

Monday, December 31, 2018

Looking to a New Year and the nagging problem of homelessness, the magic of the camellias that remind me of Nancy Wickersham Hall and Brian Smith eyes running for sheriff

Monday, December 31, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... NEW YEAR: If I had one wish for our community for the new year, it would be to get a handle
on our homeless problem. Hard to do? Certainly, given the toxic mixture of drugs, hopelessness, lack of education and addiction that contribute to the problem. But the hard truth is this: failing to address homelessness will have a lasting negative impact on our community. It will devalue our neighborhoods and put a permanent blight on the reputation of this community we call home. It will demand money, focus and more resources than we want to spend, but I can think of no other single issue that trumps homelessness as our first cause of concern.

 * ... RIP NANCY: The camellias in my back yard are blooming once again, so vibrant in their shades of pink, white and red. And I can't look at those flowers without thinking of Nancy Wickersham Hall, who died over the holidays after a long and distinguished career and life. She was born a Wickersham and later married jeweler Don Hall in 1951. My connection with Nancy was late in coming: when I moved into a 1934 California bungalow downtown in 2014, Don Hall reached out to tell me that his beloved Nancy grew up in my house, and the camellias that now frame my lot were planted by her late father. So here is to the late Nancy Hall, her husband Don, their son Jon and all the memories she left.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Yesterday I tried on something from five years ago and it still fits. So proud of myself? It was a scarf, but let's stay positive here."

 * ...  BRIAN SMITH: I ran into retired California Highway patrolman Brian Smith at a holiday party a few days ago and learned he is ready and eager to run for Kern County Sheriff. Smith told me he is running but there is one caveat: he won't run if Sheriff Donny Youngblood decides to seek another term. "I told Donny that," he said. "I won't run if he does."

 * ... SPEED OF LIGHT: If you don't think technology has changed our world, consider all the things that did not exist 15 years ago, among them: iPhone, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, iPad, Netflix streaming, Google Maps, Snapchat, Spotify, Android, Uber, Lyft, Alexa, Airbnb, App Store Google Chrome, WhatsApp, Fitbit, Waze, Slack, Square, Dropbox, Pinterest, Venmo, Bitcoin, Hulu and Kindle.

 * ... FACE OF EVIL: Take a look at a real face of evil, this man who is accused of shooting and killing a northern California policemen during a traffic stop. The illegal immigrant was identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, arrested by Kern County deputies in Lamont. Authorities believe he was headed to Mexico to escape arrest.

* ... MEMORIES: A picture of Chester and 19th Street back in 1910.