Thursday, November 5, 2015

Local theater artist David Zent suffering from throat cancer, I take some heat on my defense of fossil fuels and a shoutout to a city employee from a local business owner

* ... DAVID ZENT: I was shocked to learn that David Zent, one of our community's great creative talents in local theater, was suffering from throat cancer. Zent shared his condition in a very public way, posting a lengthy update on Facebook that triggered hundreds of prayers and positive comments. Said Zent: "I have stage four throat cancer,
involving the tonsil and tongue area, a condition which began nearly two years ago. It reached this rather dire stage because, although I applied five times for Medi-Cal insurance, I was essentially stonewalled until September of this year.... Now my life is about to change in a most radical way... I want to thank all the people out there it has been my privilege to work in theatre and music with, to know socially, to have been close friends with, to have loved. In fact, I have loved you all in my own way. Even adversaries have given me many welcome life lessons, and made me a better person." Friends have stepped up to help Zent deal with his medical expenses. To participate, go to

* … ENERGY: There are a handful of issues that seem to get folks' blood boiling (climate change, abortion, immigration among others) and I expose myself to criticism each time I weigh in on one or the other. So it wasn't surprising to get an email from Margie Bell, a retired high school journalism teacher, who rose to defend the folks from San Francisco and Los Angeles who have pledged to show up at a Nov. 9 hearing to protest streamlining local energy regulations. "Your sneering attitude towards people who may come to Bakersfield to protest the oil production fast tracking proposal is unbecoming to you as a journalist and human being. It is apparent (to anyone who knows about valley air quality issues and unacceptable oil industry practices) that you don't understand all the issues. You pander far too often to the oil industry. I'll leave it at that." Thank you Margie, I appreciate that feedback and here is my take, not necessarily directed at you: I don't awake each morning lamenting the fact that fossil fuels have helped create the world's most prosperous society, and my dreams are not focused on demonizing those who work in the sector or profit from it. Proper oversight and regulation? You bet. Hold Big Oil accountable to protect the environment and safeguard our ground water supplies? Of course. But I accept fossil fuels as part of our future until that time - and it is a long way off - when alternative energy is affordable and scalable. Devoting your life to opposing every new pipeline or power plant simply because you don't like the idea of fossil fuels (and in the absence of clear alternatives) seems foolhardy and unproductive.

 * ... NAMES: Did you know that Noah and Emma are the most popular names for boys and girls born in 2014? It wasn't long ago that those names were out of style, but they are now among a long list of "old" names making a comeback. Other classic names making a comeback include Ruby, Rose, Oscar, Josephine, Joel, Hazel, Silas, Max, Stella, Evelyn and Levi.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason."

 * ... FOODIE: If you haven't tried Quig's BBQ and Catering, head over to the Garces Circle to enjoy some of the best ribs and pulled pork in town. At lunch, the aroma emanating from the brightly colored Quig's trailer makes the circle the best smelling block in town.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Linda Sheffield, owner of the Five and Dime Antique Mall on 19th Street, gave a shoutout to one of our city employees. "I am writing in praise of Bakersfield City Street Cleaning Supervisor, Damon Chow.  I called his office concerned about excessive litter around my business, Five and Dime Antique Mall, on the corner of 19th and K streets.  Within three days, Damon came to our store to personally check this out.He determined that at the time of our scheduled sweeping a nearby bar was open and using the K Street side for parking. This situation was preventing the street from being cleaned.  Also, some trees at the front of the building prevented the sweeper from getting close.  He not only got the city to come and trim the trees, but he changed the sweep schedule to come after the bar closed! This has resulted in regularly cleaned streets on both sides.  Problem completely solved in a matter of a few weeks! What a difference in the appearance of a busy downtown corner!"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Anti fossil fuel activists to descend on Bakersfield to "save" us from oil production, Conan O'Brien takes a swipe at Bako and celebrating bacon and popcorn pork

 * ... ENERGY: It was mildly amusing to read that busloads of anti-fossil fuel activists will be descending on Bakersfield soon in order to "save" us from oil production. And exactly who are these people who think we need to be "saved" anyway? And if they are using fossil fuels to get here via trains, planes and automobiles, what kind of mixed message does that send? As the Kern Citizens for Energy noted: "We strongly object to the organizations'
constant supposition that our strong community - including our Latino and other minority populations - is somehow a 'victim' of our century-old petroleum industry." And speaking of fossil fuels, I hope you didn't miss the special section in Sunday's Californian on the recent West Kern Petroleum Summit. The essay and speech by Alex Epstein in defense of fossil fuels is a must read for anyone who lives in the oil patch.

* ... BIKE PATH: John Strand of Lake Isabella wrote to comment on the idea of building a bike path up Round Mountain Road and naming it after the late ski shop owner Doug Bentz and Bakersfield College professor Norm Hoffman. "The bike path sparked my interest, not because I ride, but because Doug and I went through school together and were pretty good friends. I also knew his sister Mary Jo (now known as Marijo), his brother Tommy, and his parents Bill and Virginia. We all lived in Taft at the time. Here's my profound thought:  If this path comes to fruition, it will need a name, right? How about the" Bentz-Hoffman Parkway or the Bentz-Hoffman bike path? A fitting tribute to two stellar guys."

 * ... CONAN: Johnny Carson made a pretty good living making fun of Bakersfield, and now comes comedian Conan O'Brien following in his path. This weekend he tweeted this: "Massachusetts was named the most liberal state. Researchers almost picked California but they stopped for gas in Bakersfield."

 * ... PORK: Last week researchers told us that processed meats like bacon are bad for us. I chose to ignore that admonition and celebrated this weekend with an order of the tasty "popcorn pork" from Muertos downtown.

* ... BEST COLLEGE TOWN: No surprise here but San Luis Obispo made the Forbes list of the top ten college towns in America. The home of Cal Poly ranked seventh on the list. The top three: Chapel Hill (University of North Carolina), State College (Penn State) and Oxford (Miami University).

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I just don’t understand why Flo from Progressive needs to have an apron on to sell car insurance."

* ... FUND RAISER: Lynn Finch dropped me a note to remind us that the annual Light the Night Walk to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will be held at Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This is a fun event that has been expanded to include a kid zone carnival area, information booths, refreshments, the walk with lighted lanterns, and a fireworks display following the walk. All proceeds go to help with research, patient services, help with medical co-pays and other expenses.