Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kit fox terrorize Seven Oaks golfers!

Spotted this sign in the mixed grill of Seven Oaks Country Club, evidence enough that the wily and endangered kit fox is more than a match for our local golfers. Seems the fox (and there are lots of them not only on the golf course but at Cal State Bakersfield as well) have figured out where golfers keep their snacks and are stealthily snatching them out of the carts or bags while the golfers are on the fairway. Just goes to show the recession isn't the only thing to beware of these days.

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Fridays: Can something this good really be happening in Bakersfield?

Let's face it: culture and the arts just aren't terms one associates with Bakersfield. Obesity, bad air and poor zoning yes, but the arts have long struggled to find a following. But there is the seed of an (albeit small) arts district growing downtown that flourishes the first Friday of every month. It's one of the rare events in town where you actually see college educated kids having fun and networking without fear of being caught in a drunken melee at one of our local bars. Thanks to folks like Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries (pictured here), a six or eight square block area of downtown comes alive on First Fridays. There are now at least a half dozen art galleries downtown and solid family-owned restaurants like Mama Roomba's and Uricchios and the old standby watering hole Guthrie's Alley Cat will be packed wall to wall. Martin's Metro Galleries over on 19th Street features an array of California artists like Keith Wicks, Mary-Austin Klein and Laddie John Dill.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wyman to reporters: stop writing for yourselves and write stories your readers may actually read

Happened upon a terrific blog on the media written by Bill Wyman, a former writer for NPR and There's no shortage of opinions from folks who have an idea of how newspapers and journalism should change, but few back up their theories with real business models. Wyman minces no words in attacking the rock hard resistance to change in most newsrooms today. I like the simplicity of Wyman's argument:

"The more I think about it, the biggest problem the press has is that the evaporation of advertising has meant that the news it publishes has to stand on its own two feet.

"Sure, back in the day there was some foreign news, some local reporting, some great reporters and editors sprinkled across the country. But let’s face it, most newspapers sucked in all sorts of ways, and one of the main ways was opting toward blandness and timidity wherever possible, as as not to offend the older folks subscribing to the papers...

"The truth was, it didn’t matter what they published. People just subscribed to newspapers! For the ads, because they always had, some even for the news.

"Now, things are different. Online, you have to publish stuff people want to read, or fashion it to seem that way. That’s the transition that’s killing newspapers; it’s something most reporters, editors and publishers never had to do."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A picture that tells a thousand words .... sort of

The folks over at BakersfieldLife magazine do their best to reflect our community in a positive light, and part of that is featuring folks who make a difference. Each month the editors interview prominent women in a feature called the "Red Couch," shot at The Californian's downtown photography studios. For the March edition, they showcased women doing their best to control the pet explosion in town. So why not feature them with a cute puppy ready for adoption? That was all fine and well until one of the dogs, sitting on the lap of SPCA director Sandy Dralle, decided to hurl its breakfast. Photographer Felix Adamo captured the moment and also ALPHA Canine Sanctuary Marilyn Stewart's surprise. Also pictured (from left) are Denise Haynes, Kern Animal Shelter chief, and Sue Bennett, Kern Humane Society Spay-Neuter Director. Click on the photo to get a larger and more graphic image.

Wendy watch: a birthday at Cedars Sinai

Been trying to hook up with Wendy Wayne to check on her status but she's been busy shuttling back and forth to Cedars Sinai for more chemo treatments. But she's a great email correspondent and reports that husband Gene Tackett gave her a special anniversary surprise after they returned from "three glorious days in Austin" visiting son Larkin.

"Gene picked me up and surprised me and took me to Laguna for our anniversary. Since last year and again this year, I'll be spending our anniversary in Cedars, it was a wonderful gesture. It's amazing how the ocean brings me joy."

It's Wendy's birthday today and she'll spend it at Cedars in her battle against non-Hodgkins lymphoma. But you won't hear a complaint from the community activist, former First Five Commission and all around good egg. She's expected to be back in town early next week. Happy birthday, Wendy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kerry Ryan's version of "PS Your Cat is Dead"

In 1970 James Kirkwood wrote a wonderful play called "PS Your Cat is Dead" about a hapless actor named Jimmy Zoole who is first jilted by his lover on New Year's Eve, then learns his beloved cat is dead and finally comes home to find his house burglarized. Like Zoole, local businessman and bike shop owner Kerry Ryan (pictured) is both a sympathetic character and a good soul. Kerry's energy, enthusiasm and generosity are boundless but even good guys have their Zoole-like moments. Last week Kerry, owner of Action Sports over off Calloway Drive, left town for a few days to attend a vendor show in Las Vegas and returned to find his nearly new southwest Bakersfield home a disaster. Seems there was a short in an electrical outlet that melted the plastic and triggered a smoldering fire in his master bedroom. Smoke filled the room (luckily the doors were closed), the AC kicked on and soot filled his 5,000 square foot home. Kerry came home to a beautiful home literally coated in soot. Then, a few nights later, a second fire similar in nature hits his garage where a car, jet ski, golf clubs and his bike are stored. He estimates the damages in the hundreds of thousands yet you can't get Kerry to feel sorry for himself. It's not in his DNA.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Celebrating when Bakersfield kids succeed

Is there anything better than reading a story about local kids succeeding? Particularly in a community that has one of the lowest college graduation rates (11 percent compared to a statewide average of 28 percent)in the state. So here's to two kids who have made our community (and their parents) proud. Elizabeth Key (right picture holding shotgun) is a senior at Ridgeview High School and just landed a full ride to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri to shoot skeet. If you're not into skeet shooting (and most of us aren't) it's worth noting that Lindenwood is ranked No. 1 among colleges with skeet programs. Proud papa Keith Key noted that the scholarship is part academic based. Over at Stockdale High, Julie Hutton has decided to take her considerable tennis talents to Cal State Bakersfield. She was all but signed to a small school in Idaho when she changed her mind and decided to stay in town. Both these girls are outstanding scholar-athletes and they'll do our community proud.

Southwest Baseball's Aera Park to open in April

Here's some welcome good news: that long-planned mega baseball park in the Southwest is set to open in April. If you recall this is "Aera Park," so named because of Aera Energy's generous donation of $250,000 to help the Southwest Baseball organization realize its dream. (the donation actually came from Kern Community Foundation via funds donated by Aera) Our town is sorely in need of improved facilities for our kids (soccer and baseball most prominently) so this will be a huge boost. There will be eleven baseball diamonds located behind Riverwalk off Jewetta and Stockdale Highway. Rob Noriega, a local attorney and VP of Southwest Baseball, filled me in over lunch and said Aera Park will be city owned but that his organization will run it on contract for 15 years. Southwest Baseball, which serves about 1,500 kids, will get priority and other groups can use the facilities by scheduling through Noriega's group. Three folks have been working diligently to make this happen: Rob, Aera communications chief Susan Hersberger and Duane Keathley, president of the baseball group.