How pumped am I for episode 17 of Real Gauchos tonight at 7pm on KCSB 91.9FM?
My guest is Margaret Connell – the first Mayor of Goleta – who, at age 81, is currently serving her last year on the Goleta City Council. Through the magic of pre-recording, Connell will be sharing her fascinating oral history with the KCSB 91.9FM and kcsb.org audiences while – at the same time – celebrating the City of Goleta's 10th birthday at a special edition City Council meeting tonight.
I got this image off Google to illustrate that, although you've never heard of him, Bill Mahoney (right) is so highly regarded in the sports world that dudes get their picture taken with him and post it on their blogs.
Mahoney has seen more Gaucho games than anybody in history. He also worked for the Angels, where he once attributed an innocuously made-up quote to catcher Ernie Whitt for which the latter later chewed him out, and the Lakers, where he came to believe that A.C. Green was not, in fact, a virgin. Mahoney even worked with Jim Rome before it was cool.
I worked for Bill for nine years straight, from eighth grade through my fourth year of college, and subsequently off and on after my return from Europe. Much of my inside knowledge of UCSB Athletics is a result of this relationship. Working for Bill, I learned from others that Barry Zito had been body slammed on DP in the fall of 1997, and the true story of how Zito left UCSB. Bill told me how Eric McArthur really got the nickname Freeze, and what then UCSB assistant and now UCLA head coach Ben Howland's explanation to the UCSB softball coach was for why her team wasn't winning as much as she would have liked.
For a truly epic hour of Gaucho history, listen to my interview with Mahoney this Sunday at 1pm on KCSB 91.9FM or online. Shortly after the broadcast, you can listen to or download the interview - and all past episodes - on Real Gauchos and iTunes.
Tags: freeze, bill mahoney, winchell mahoney, ucsb gauchos, ben howland, jim rome, eric mcarthur, barry zito, dp, del playa drive, ernie whitt
I hereby admit to having neglected to mention the second and third definitions included hereinbelow when I wrote that Gaucho story. The official RAE Spanish dictionary says gaucho also means 'distinguished invidivuals' (2) and 'badass' (3).
But on my new radio show Real Gauchos, which started today, I only interview distinguished badasses, so it pretty much evens out!
My first guest was Gaucho Joe O'Brien, who used to psych people up at UCSB basketball games in jeans and a Batman t-shirt back when we could beat the best team in the country and such things were still possible.
Real Gauchos is available everywhere at all times, but first on Sundays 1-2pm on KCSB 91.9fm in Santa Barbara and online.
Jim Rome spoke at Campbell Hall Saturday night in an Arts & Lectures event that was also part of the UCSB All Gaucho Reunion. If you were there, congratulations on witnessing a great moment in Gaucho history. If you missed it or you're just not clear on who Jim Rome is or what his deal is, well, that's what Rivas Cultural Services is for.
Rome was a typical privileged white kid who graduated from UCSB in 1986, back when Halloween still meant riot police and anybody with a pulse was admitted. He lived in the notorious Francisco Torres dorm as a freshman, and his first act as a Gaucho was to sign up to work massive amounts of hours free for 91.9 KCSB Sports. He began his monologue by saying, "I have not been here since Soc 152A," the Human Sexuality class that fills UCSB's largest classroom every quarter.
He got three D's and an F his first quarter, which he explained as a product of his living arrangements in FT, where it was not unheard of to find tapped kegs in elevators.
"We had kegs, we had quarters, we had chron, we had sex, we had fights. And we had it every weekend. Nevermind 'How'd I stay in school?' How'd I stay alive that first year?! I was the Jamarcus Russell of FT."
After being passed up after graduation for a KTYD job he thought he'd earned that went to a "functional illiterate", he moved home to L.A., where he failed at three more jobs, including the family business. In desperation, he called The Palm himself, John Palminteri, for whom he had once interned writing news copy free at 4:20am and who was also in attendance Saturday. The Palm got him a 30-day gig reading traffic reports for $5/hour.
There was no traffic in Santa Barbara back then, but the station manager wanted traffic reports, so Rome took to making up crashes and reporting that they were "in the clearing stages". He was invited to stay on past 30 days, and was eventually enlisted to host a pre-hipster, pre-Groupon coupon program called Radio Mall, where callers could buy scrip for local goods and services at discounted prices.
Then the San Diego radio station 690 AM went to an all-sports format, only the second really national radio station to do so. A real sports nut, Rome was smart enough to know that he'd never be a professional athlete and that working in sports at all was statistically very unlikely. He did the math and determined that would have to bring something different to sports radio in order to make it.
"Content is king," he advised students in the audience. "How are you different? Why you?"
Even in his early days on 690, Rome instructed his callers to, "Have a take and don't suck." His distinctive style of passionately and fearlessly backing the sports figures he felt deserved to be supported and calling out those he felt deserved to be railed on won him national attention, and his show soon became nationally syndicated. He now does a four-hour radio show and a one-hour ESPN television show daily, where he trumpets the UCSB Gaucho cause at every reasonable opportunity.
On the way to national prominence, Rome was famous tackled by NFL quarter Jim Everett during an interview. Rome assured the crowd that the event was not staged, and revealed that he and Everett have still never talked about it. He did, however, apologize for having provoked the incident, even though everyone involved had acknowledged that the provocation was a condition of Everett's participation on the show.
"I'm sorry I did it. Not, 'I'm sorry if I offended anybody' - I'm sorry I did it. I'm sorry I said it. I'm sorry it happened."
More recently, Rome was in a high-profile beef with "that bitch Katie Couric".
He's not all mean, though. He's also a Gaucho legend who remembers how he got to the top and realizes that there are UCSB students today who want to be like him. He quoted the great Walter Capps telling him, "You shape public opinion," but he also repeatedly cited a professor nobody in the room had heard of, who said, "A new bike won't change your life. Relationships matter."
In response to a question submitted by a UCSB student athlete, he ranked giving the eulogy at Pat Tillman's funeral second behind being invited to speak to a room full of Gauchos in Campbell Hall.
I have no use for five hours of sports talk daily, but for an hour last Saturday night, Jim Rome turned in an epic Gaucho performance.
Tags: jim rome, ucsb gauchos, campbell hall, a new bike won't change your life, relationships matter, all gaucho reunion, francisco torres, ft, that bitch katie couric, sbsports, UCSB Arts & Lectures
Here's the Pardall Tunnel the week of National Coming Out Day. Nice, supportive, but where's the pizzazz? If Rivas Cultural Services had been asked to advise on this graffito, we would have recommended writing an ironic "No Homo" - in quotes with no exclamation point - in honor of Bryan Safi's No Homo segment on That's Gay.
Incidentally, Santa Barbara Man About Goleta's LGBQT ally father once signed a letter of support for the community that somebody mixed up, resulting in the Daily Nexus printing a giant ad saying he and 50 other people were officially coming out. I still view the people who were flustered by this as having outed themselves as homophobes.
Tags: go homo!, no homo, ironic no homo, bryan safi, that's gay, pardall tunnel, national coming out day, daily nexus, isla vista
There were 40,000 people in IV this weekend, yet only 200 citations, 41
of which did not even lead to arrest. The wet weather certainly had
something to do with the mellower nature of the weekend, but 200 seems
like an awfully low number of law breakers given a crowd of 40,000
crammed in a space that is woefully overcrowded at 10,000. Jam-packed,
frustrating weather, all that booze and nowhere to run around drunk?
I was initially surprised that the high number of arrests I'd predicted
hadn't materialized. Upon further reflection, however, Rivas Cultural
Services believes this is just another example of what the Santa Barbara
Man About Goleta observed at the Radiohead show: that Americans spend
their lives trying not to get sued. At Radiohead, no one danced, and no
one violated anyone else's 3.5 inches of buffer air. People had paid
hundreds for those tickets, and they weren't about to waste them by
getting dragged out by security for spilling beer on someone's $400
shoes. The pit at the Radiohead show had the feel of several hundred
fans of staying out of court having a great time, and my guess is that
Isla Vista this Halloween had the feel of tens of thousands wondering
where the wild things were.
Rivas Cultural Services remembers the Mad Max state of things in Isla
Vista during the Halloweens of the 1980s, and is astonished that so many
people still bother to drive here for a party that has fizzled from riot
to junior high school dance. Maybe its harmlessness these days is
exactly what makes it so appealing to a generation that was born soft.
Driving away from the mass gathering Friday afternoon, I saw more than
one group of young people lurking around the Super 8, looking for some
clue that something interesting would happen to them that night. Who
comes to IV to party and stays at the downtown Goleta Jiffy Lube?! Soft
kids who drive BMWs leased by their parents and are afraid of being sued
by other rich kids if they should happen to accidentally pass out and
pee on someone else's couch, that's who! Next year, let's hope they save
the earth the gasoline, stay in Orange County and watch Saw VIII.