* ... LaLANNE: Did you know the late great fitness guru Jack LaLanne had a strong local connection? That's what I learned from a local couple, Herb and Rita Loken, who said they visited Jack's widow, Elaine, recently in Morro Bay. She said her husband and Jack met in the 1940s in Minneapolis and their friendship was renewed in the 1950s when Herb joined the staff at Bakersfield College. "As you may know, Jack LaLanne spent his early years in Lamont as a puny little kid but went on to be the forerunner of physical fitness. They opened their home to us on many occasions and their visits to Bakersfield always included dinner at the Woolgrowers," Rita said.
* ... OVERHEARD: One of my favorite local businesses, the UPS Store in the old Mervyn's plaza, is being forced to move because the building is being torn down. What will be built in its space? One friend was hoping for a Cabela's, and another for a Bass Pro Shop. Sorry, but one commercial real estate insider says a new Walmart will be built there.
* ... BC JAZZ: Here's a cause I could get behind. Some folks up at Bakersfield College have formed an organization devoted to the arts and culture. It's called "Friends of BC Jazz" and was the brainchild of two professors, Kris Tiner and Dr. Randal Beeman. The idea: raise an endowment of $50,000 to purchase equipment and to offer scholarships and travel for students. "We are more than pleased to announce that Columbine Vineyards in Delano has stepped up to the plate first with a $10,000 gift for the purchase of new equipment, which we hope to have on campus in time for our November concert," Beeman said. Anyone wishing to contribute a tax deductible gift can send a check to Friends of BC Jazz, in care of the Bakersfield College Foundation, 1801 Panorama Drive, Bakersfield 93305.
* ... IRISH: Carolyn Bergman wrote to remind me of yet another Bakersfield youngster who is off to school at the University of Notre Dame. She is Nicole Madrilejo, a 2010 graduate of Garces Memorial High School who is now a junior in South Bend. She is an Irish cheerleader and is the latest in her family to attend the school. Her father, Dr. Nelson Madrilejo, graduated from Notre Dame while her mother, Nicole Madrilejo, is a nurse at San Joaquin Community Hospital.
* ... FOOD SHOW: If you are a foodie, or even an aspiring cook, make sure you get your tickets to Savor Bakersfield, our town's most impressive cooking show set for Nov. 13 at Rabobank Theatre. It is a production of Dash (Parade) magazine and will feature English chef Jon Aston. Tickets are just $20 and available at ticketmaster.com or calling (800) 745-3000. The event will feature boutique shopping from over 40 local vendors, food sampling from 10 local restaurants (Noodle Bar, Padre, Johnny Rockets, Red Pepper, etc...) plus beer and wine sampling.