Sunday, May 31, 2009
Short takes around town: new park, same old homeless; Beautiful Bakersfield goes boring
Coming off another wonderful weekend here in Bako, lots of things happening, hot but not (yet) unbearable. Let's get to it:
* ... NEW PARK, SAME HOMELESS: The newly renovated Central Park officially opened this weekend with high expectations. The city spent hundreds of thousands sprucing up this "needle park," long a magnet for the homeless, the drug addicted and generally the worst of our community. The Bakersfield Museum of Art is next door and has been awaiting the renovation with crossed fingers.... meaning: will the homeless and drug addicts simply return after all the ribbon cuttings are done? Even I wondered privately if this wouldn't turn out to be what an old boss once called a bad story pitched with a different angle: "You can give a bum a shave and a haircut," he said, "but he's still a bum." So I had to smile when I saw a Facebook posting by none other than John Harte, a former Californian photographer known for his strong opinions as well as his talented eye for a good photograph. He posted the following status message followed by the picture he took:
"Here you go. 24 hours post grand opening of the new "family oriented" Central Park and here's our first transient settling in. The public needs to trust their media for balanced coverage. Local media which glowingly promoted the park without balancing it with the long history of transients, alcohol and drug use and crime at the park has violated that trust." Touche, John!
* ... BEAUTIFUL BUT BORING: Turned on the television Saturday night to find the "Beautiful Bakersfield" awards banquet being shown live. The awards were started by the Chamber of Commerce some years ago to honor folks who make our community proud, but since then they've grown into an endless and seemingly pointless series of awards for some of the most obscure categories imaginable. With all respect to some very deserving nominees and winners, watching the KGET-TV production was painful beyond words. Even KGET's Jim Scott and Robin Mangarin, old pros who do this for a living, could not breathe life into this DOA format. As they say down South: "this dog don't hunt." I just hope KGET is getting some credit to comply with FCC regulations that require the station to televise local content. Folks at the Chamber would do well to revisit the entire thing and reduce the number of awards and stop pretending it's the Oscars.
* ... CINDY'S FAREWELL: Californian columnist Herb Benham devoted his Sunday column to a fitting farewell to Cindy Pollard, a longtime Bakersfield resident and USC grad who is moving to Sacramento to take a job with PG and E. Cindy was always deeply involved in the community and will be missed.