What a great summer this has been. Thanks to UCSB Arts and Lectures, the town has been treated to a free Summer Cinema Series on nights at the Santa Barbara Courthouse's Sunken Gardens. This season, it's been classic horror films and from all reports coming in, they've been a blast to attend.
This Friday is showing the Forbidden Planet, and there's an extra treat coming with it: a 22 foot tall robot. Save some blanket space for this guy, please.
It was originally built in 2008, for a Halloween party at Reds down in the Funkzone. It's come out of storage, upgraded here and there, and will be found at the Courthouse come Friday, with bells on. Okay, maybe not bells, but some bloopy lights and maybe some smoke spewing out of its ears. I visited the build site last night where its creators Jonathan Smith and Dominique Reboul were doing a test run of its smoke and lights.
Remember, these movie nights are FREE! Grab your friends, some blankets and chairs, some sips and nibbles, and enjoy a wonderful evening downtown.
The problem: a 13 hour work day. Perhaps this could be fun if it was interesting, or new. But it's not. It's a desk job. It's sitting at a desk and looking at stuff, and clicking things and mousing over and cutting and pasting over and over and over and over again. Eyes start watering up and stinging. A song has been playing on repeat and it's hardly even noticed. The office cleaner trundles in and nods knowingly and is nice enough to leave the lights on when he leaves. Perhaps this could be fun because there are a couple others still here, scattered about, going crazy in their own way. And, you know, it was a little fun comparing notes on relative craziness, but that doesn't diminish the volume of work to be done.
The solution: just do it, already. And then go home and pitch fruit off the side of the canyon. Yes, it's dark outside, but it can still be made into a fun and tension releasing challenge. The trick is doing an underhand arc, so it first clears the large staghorn fern hanging low from the oak tree, then swings upwards to pass over the succulents that line the edge of the canyon. Listen for swish through the air, and the tumbling down the hill. That is the sound of success.
I don't care for the phrase "hands down," but in this case, the summer solstice festival is, hands down, my favorite weekend of the year in Santa Barbara.
Everyone is good natured and pleasant, except maybe the bitter pills that laid out their lawn chairs the night before and get all pissed off when people with children need to pass through their staked claim to reach the sidewalk.
It's an occasion to dress up, get a little wacky, dance your head off at the Park afterwards, and then wander off to the plethora of private solstice parties afterwards.
But gosh darn it, don't you just hate it when you've queued your camera up to get a photo of Pali-X's latest mad infatable and one of those jellyfish umbrellas walks in your way?
So I'm running errands in Goleta, like finally getting some shoes repaired, when I decide to stick my head into Los Tarascos in Calle Real, in that shopping center that has Zodo's. I'd heard they had good tortas, and I'm only there to pick up a menu.
But the friendly guy behind the counter points out it's Tuesday and that means it's Taco Tuesday, when their small tacos are just $1 each. Normally they are $1.25, which is a pretty nice price too.
So what the heck, I order three of them, including one that's not listed on the menu - birria, carnitas, lengua.
The place is way cuter than I was expecting for a Goleta strip mall. And the tacos came out quickly, with chile salsa and a tomatillo salsa with a little kick. Plus a little bag of tortilla chips. All for about $3.25. Cuz it's Taco Tuesday, you know.
They're delicious! Normally the birria is super drippy and sloppy, but this was tender meat and just enough sauce to hold it all together without making a mess. The lengua was shredded, which I much prefer to being chopped. Carnitas was good too.
This is the same people that run Las Tarascos down on Haley, but that shop is more a panaderia. Here is where you come for some savory eats, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I'm liking this guy more and more. First, he proposes putting a community ping pong table in downtown for everyone to play on. Now, he's got an exhibit of quirky and fun tic tac toe panels up at the Project Fine Art Zone, with many local artists contributing their interpretation of this simple childhood game.
What next, something amazing with spacehoppers??
Tags: hugh margerum, tic tac toe, the project fine art zone, first thursdays, The Project
Lest we forget, on May 5th in 2009 the Jesusita Fire started (photo above). I took in a few evacuees initially, but after a few days we all had to flee. I pulled out of my driveway as the firetrucks rolled in to make a stand. Five days after the fire started I could return home to survey the damage (photo below). Much to everyone's surprise and happiness, the friendly jay who'd eat out of my hand survived, and the firefighters I worked with over the following days were thrilled to feed him.
Three years later it's hard to tell that much of the area burned, aside from a few stubborn charred stumps. It's a testament to our native plants' adaptation to fire, many were resprouting in the following rainy season.
The fauna that appeared shortly after was also a clear consequence of the Jesusita Fire. Foxes that would normally never venture this close to my door, in daylight, were now lingering in my blackened backyard, gnawing at hard unripe avocados. The post-fire pioneers, the rodents that lacked predators higher up the food chain, multiplied and descended on our shelter and water with a vengance, causing several thousand dollars worth of damage to my car.
Santa Barbara took such a beating that fire season, with both the Tea Fire and Jesusita, there didn't seem much left to burn after them. This is the price we occasionally pay to live in paradise.
Tags: cinco de mayo, jesusita fire, San Marcos foothills
Earth Day is this weekend and the festivities will be centered at Alameda Park.
One very cool item that will be available is the Heartbeat Amplifier. It was developed several years ago as an art project by Hitch McDermid and Alan Macy, two people I'm proud to have as friends. It's been to numerous festivals, including Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle, and I've had the good fortune of playing around with the Heartbeat Amplifier at private events as well.
So what is it? In less technical terms, the Heartbeat Amplifier measures your heartbeat, which is then translated into other sensory forms, like sound, sight, and touch.
The participant (will it be you?) sits in a comfortable chair and rests hands on two metal plates. The metal plates sense your heartbeat, which projects into a blinking light overhead, a thumping sound from speakers, and the chair will pulse, the effects become more pronounced as the Amplifier reads you better. Take a deep breath and feel the beats slow down. Put your arms around a friend, each of you touching one of the metal plates and your heartbeats will eventually start synchronizing.
Pictured above is the HBA prototype barebones, without the fancy soft chair, embedded speakers and ethereal lighting.
The HBA puts you in touch with your body, and you are also letting others around you connect with you. It can be a meditative experience, if you're not too distracted by goings-on nearby. Below is a photo of the HBA's installation at 2011's Lightning in a Bottle music and art festival, with three heartbeat stations.
The Heartbeat Amplifier will be at this weekend's Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park, on the western block of the Park, in the section called the Open Play Space, just south of the gazebo. Who knows what the setup will be? I hear this version will be totally solar powered.
Earth Day is this coming weekend, on Sunday the 22nd of April to be precise, and events are already underway to celebrate it. Everyone knows about Earth Day, it’s celebrated in over 175 countries. But not everyone remembers its origins, it’s just always been there, right?
What many Santa Barbarans might not know is that our little town conceived Earth Day. Really? Our town known more for idyllic year-round sunshine, bad soap operas, celebrities and the quiet rich living behind high stucco walls, this inspired Earth Day? Fact! You can thank the oil spill of 1969, which catalyzed the modern environmentalist movement, including Earth Day. At that time it was the worst in America’s history (Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez have since taken the #1 and #2 spots, moving the SB spill to #3) and still remains the worst to have occurred in California. Approximately 100,000 barrels of oil spilled out from Union Oil’s Platform A, spreading along the Southern California coast out to the Channel Islands. I grew up in Santa Barbara and a typical day at the beach in the 70s ended with my parents cleaning my feet with paint thinner to remove the blotches of tar sticking underneath. Maybe you remember this, too.
Shortly after the oil spill, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin visited Santa Barbara. Being an environmental and conservation activist, he witnessed the local devastation and Washington’s meager attempts to address it and was outraged. It was he who proposed the first Earth day, as a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university in the United States, on 22 April, 1970. He paired up with Republican Rep Paul McCloskey and they created the non-profit, Environmental Teach-In, to generate interest and participation in the event. That first year, 20 million Americans participated and it’s been growing ever since with half a billion people around the world now estimated as participating.
Recognition of Earth Day succeeds because of its grassroots level of organization. It self-organizes, or to use the new keywords: it’s gone viral. So many people have concerns on some level about our environment, it could be damage on a large immediate devastating level like an oil spill, or something more localized like raw sewage, pesticides in riverbeds or on our food, plastic grocery bags choking fauna or collecting in landfills. Or something that’s been simmering and growing for years, like climate change. You jaded folk may roll your eyes at how many corporate personhoods are jumping on the bandwagon of greenwashing their business, but it does build awareness and awareness is the first step towards taking action.
Remember: think globally, act locally. This weekend Santa Barbara officially celebrates Earth Day at Alameda Park. Come on out to learn about green initiatives local companies are taking, visit the booths of eco-driven non-profits and companies that creates products and services that are environmentally friendly, see some bands, eat some yummy food. And walk or ride your bike to the event. Be social. Santa Barbara’s not letting us down, she’s got some great weather in store for us this weekend, let’s not let her down either.
The Project is hereby titled The Most Social Space of First Thursday. I walked in once, and walked by it twice. Always full of people, lively music, friendly chatter, pretty pictures. It always feels welcoming.
People spill out into the street, it's just so full inside. If you've not yet been, GO, and hopefully you'll be smiling too.