These guys are always out here on the Elings South 'Bunny Hill' - just above Hendry's beach. One of these days I'll work up the courage (and money) to do a few lessons. I think I gravitate more towards hang gliding rather than paragliding. Either way. Non-motorized flight is definitely on my bucket list. :)
I'll try and upload a few more pictures later today.
Tags: elings, bunny hill, hendry's beach, santa barbara, public Park
You've probably already heard the news that Michael Jackson is dead. I heard about 40 minutes ago while driving home. It's absolutely everywhere: radio, TV -my old band-mates are still texting me. Twitter is even occasionally over capacity (maybe partly due to this?).
Since there will be plenty of information about his death in the coming hours and days, I figured I'd just share a few YouTube videos (below) and a few of my own memories and feelings.
Like I said above, I was driving home and was just accelerating through the intersection of Ortega and Chapala when I heard the urgent sounding but still newsy, matter-of-fact announcement that he had been pronounced dead by officials in LA.
My reaction wasn't exactly dramatic, but my foot did momentarily leave the gas pedal. The hair on the back of my neck also stood up accompanied by a quick rush of adrenaline. Then, without my consent, my eyes filled up with tears.
I was never the drooling or crying type of Michael Jackson fan (maybe just because I never got to go to one of his concerts), but I was pretty obsessed with him. His songs were a huge part of my childhood soundtrack.
As a kid, 'BAD' was the first cassette tape that I CAMPAIGNED for (relentlessly). I had heard the radio cuts on Y-97 and had expected (imagined) him to look something like Michael J. Fox from Teen Wolf or Kenny Loggins (my parents wouldn't let us watch MTV then). Needless to say, I was psyched when my mom finally caved and bought the new album for me. She handed me a cassette featuring what looked to me like a hip-cocked, leather clad, make-up wearing... uh..woman?
I wasn't sure if there had been a terrible misprint, where Paula Abdul's picture had somehow been slipped-in with his name. Or if maybe someone named Michelle Jackson had just cut an album coincidentally entitled 'BAD'. Believing my mother had purchased the wrong album, I less-than-politely asked, "Mom, don't you know Michael Jackson is a BOY?!". Feeling bad for scolding her, I told her 'it was ok' that she was confused, and that it was an 'understandable mix-up', because he DID have a high voice. But I made it clear that we had to go back and get the right album from the store asap. At that point I'm pretty sure I got a short lesson in rock/pop fashion and other strange rock-star behavior. Still, I didn't totally buy her explanation until I took the plastic wrapping off and gave it a play. After that, the cassette didn't come out of my tape deck for 2 years.
I distinctly remember dancing alone in my bedroom amongst scattered legos that could no longer compete with my inability to hold still to "Smooth Criminal". Every track on that album was way too compelling not to dance to - except for 'Man in the Mirror' to which I lip-synched, rewound, lip-synched and rewound - until I had to put the fragile tape back in the bewildered cassette with a pencil. Fortunately I had a bunch of backup copies should this very scenario present itself.
I followed Michael's next few albums with enthusiasm (and dug deep into his older stuff) until he released 'Dangerous'. After that, I didn't know what to think. All of the molestation allegations and trials set in, and lots of people seemed to feel overly vindicated for all those years of thinking 'something must be off with any guy who dresses and moves like that'. During the Nirvana era, it wasn't even smart to mention that you were a MJ fan (and you couldn't get away with saying you only liked his 'older stuff' - that didn't work until the 2000's).
From that point until now, public condemnation of Jackson has always annoyed me. I have been pretty content 'not to know' what his true relationship was with the children he was accused of abusing. Far be it from me to know what went on.
More than anything, I think my mother was right when she said that he might just be a 'little lost soul'. That's why the Jackson 5 videos below are particularly hard to watch - he was so solid, and confident looking that it's hard to imagine exactly what changed.
Of Michael Jackson the man, I will say this: Through his charity work (hell, even just his federal taxes or the sheer funky pleasure that people get from dancing their socks off all around the world) he has left a massively positive footprint on the world - despite people's obsession with his less desirable or understood traits.
And even though in some ways I feel like he has been gone for a while - that he may have been a little too medicated or depressed to be himself - it isn't for us to say who 'he' should be (or should have been). Today I miss him in all his inconsistencies. And will put a candle in my window tonight.
I will also play (at full volume) my vinyl copy of Thriller. And yes, I'll probably dance alone in my apartment despite my best efforts to be somber.
Here's a really interesting (and wonderful) set of interviews:
And here are a few videos.
This is great:
Tags: santa barbara, michael jackson, death, dead, rip, santa ynez, memories of michael jackson, white boy, bad, dangerous, Y-97, Los Angeles
I am embarrassed to admit that after nearly 29 years living in Santa Barbara and eating many a greasy, satisfying Rusty's pizza at the Carrillo tudor, I never realized that the old building had wonderful and spacious upstairs rooms. Maybe I was too busy gazing longingly at the racing arcade console in the corner.
Following the lead of other young faces, I discovered the stairs and found the few-but-lively SB Young Democrats (and an almost equal number of Santa Barbara City Council and Mayoral candidates) all scooting around with pizza getting ready for the SBYD's Meet-The-Candidates & Dems Jeopardy gathering.
The purpose of the meeting was to give the local Democrat candidates a chance to introduce themselves, and hopefully earn SBYD's eventual endorsement.
The format was simple. Each candidate was given a few minutes alone with the YD's to introduce themselves, pitch, and answer some brief questions. Any other candidates vying for the same position were asked to wait their turn outside the door.
Being new, and feeling like I should have eaten more brain food, I did my best to hang towards the back, chew on my personal size pizza, listen and snap pictures.
Candidates in attendance were Helene Schnieder, Grant House, Iya Falcone, David Pritchett, Dianne Channing & Olivia Uribe. Das Williams was there in his capacity as a young democrat, and subtly psyching himself up to playing Alex Trebek in the impending game of Dem Jeopardy that was to follow the Q&A session (this is where I considered finding some opportunity to channel some salty Sean Connery, just for fun, but I resisted the urge).
Since the local interwebs are (mostly) full of chatter about the candidates positions, backgrounds, etc.. I thought I might just share a few pictures, and list some of my impressions of each candidate. And since I am pretty well within the SBYD demographic, I have made up some ratings for each candidates web-savviness based on whatever I could (easily) find.
Here we go:
Strong, smart, sharp, sober, passionate, and controlled. She had a sort-of 'strict teacher' vibe (maybe she's the kind you eventually come to hug at the end of the year?). More than any of the other candidates, she seems like a traditional politician (possibly of the HRC school).
Misc quote: When asked why she'd be a good candidate for the SBYD's: "Because I was young once!!" (she then went on to give a more diplomatic answer citing her experience with her 28 year old daughter, etc.).
Web Presence: 2/10 stars - ie. next to nil. She has a (seemingly obligatory) Facebook presence that gets updated with photos all entitled 'Iya Falcone for Mayor'. Her web-presence is worryingly MIA.
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
She seems to have added a website (or it's at least findable now). I'd say this is a big improvement from before, with a nice design, letter to supporters and donate link. But Iya, get some info on specifics up there! I'm upgrading my score to a 4/10, so there is definitely more work to do. Give me a reason to come back to your site!
Intelligent, genuine, articulate, knowledgeable, affable, and seems younger in person than she seems on TV or in Print.
Web Presence: 7.5/10 stars Website? Check (though woefully unfinished, poorly designed and low-fi - except for the rss feeds). Facebook? Check. Twittering? Check (and with sparse but very decent community-minded tweets).
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
No significant improvement on the Helene Schnieder website front. It's still as ghetto as can be. She's still twittering occasionally, but meaningfully (though she should have a link from Twitter profile page to campaign website!). No movement on the rating scale on this one. :(
Clearly very bright, experienced, charming, knowledgeable, genuine and articulate. She spoke to the group comfortably, and didn't shy away from being direct.
Web Presence: 7.5/10 stars Very good. Her twitter skills are formidable (she's RTing and @ing like a pro) and uses it like a normal (community aware) person. She's also on Facebook, and has a decent website (that even has a Google translation widget).
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
Nothing new to report
Direct, serious, and clearly very involved in the community, David didn't come off as polished as some of the other candidates but that gives him a certain Michael Moore bad-ass feel. Seemed a bit nervous tonight.
Web Presence: 8/10 stars Great. David is also keeping up. His tweets are useful and often amusing, his Facebook page is there (albeit a little impersonal), and most impressively, he co-produces 'Off-Leash Public Affairs' which is a community access show he does with Cathy Murillo. The segments are posted to their blog and updated regularly. His website is here.
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
Nothing new to report. Not twittering much. Not much that's new on the website.
At 24, Olivia is the youngest candidate running for City Council. She also seemed a little nervous during her moment on the hot-seat. During the Q&A session she was asked a few questions that felt like they might push her into 'everywhere-like-such-as' territory, but she recovered gracefully (though her answers were a bit vague). But she did better than I would have at 24.
Web Presence: 8/10 For a young person, so-so. She's clearly a net-near-native, but her tweets don't really indicate a particularly strong sense of community (though that's not a requirement, she uses it like a normal college student, which may or may not be a good sign). Her website is 'under construction' (I guess it is early-ish in the season). Naturally, she's on LinkedIn, Facebook etc. etc.
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
Great improvement on the website. It's now filled with videos, a bio, and appropriate links and what-not. Upgrading score to 8.5/10. Nice job team Uribe! This campaign, along with all the others could still really make some serious online improvements (See Grant House's update for more info).
Mr. House, the only City Council member who is running as an incumbent also seemed very straight forward, compassionate, intelligent, and concise. He gracefully illustrated his background, ideas and addressed questions directly with more specificity than most of the other candidates. He also seems to have his eye on a larger local picture, emphasizing the necessity of a big voter turn-out, and long term planning.
Web Presence: 8/10 Grant has the best (most information rich) traditional campaign website out of the bunch (though it still feels a little too old-school campaigny - doesn't quite fit his personality). Grant is also predictably on Twitter, Facebook etc. and does a decent job of keeping up. ** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
I just looked at Mr. House's webpage again. It's full of wonderful material that is woefully lacking in the other candidates websites. It actually HAS information on his positions. This not only indicates courage (we all know why politicians choose at times to be vague), but honesty and humility. I'm upgrading House to a 9.5/10.
Who cares? The Significance of Technology in the Local Political Process
So while writing these mini-critiques, I noticed I was having a little debate in my head. One voice said "who cares if Iya Falcone's web presence sucks? It doesn't effect her ability to be a great public servant". But the other voice (the one that won the debate) said in response, "Yes, but we're at the SB Young Democrats meeting for God's sake! A public servant who is uninterested or ignoring the channels through which information now flows, and people engage each other, would be woefully out of touch with the young (and increasingly older) demographic in the community."
As a young person (any person?), I want information on all my candidates to be easy to find online, and presented in a way that is easy to understand. What I don't want is to be digging through a stack of old newspaper articles, flyers and other dead trees to see where a candidate stands on issues.
The web has presented our generation with an unprecedented opportunity to enhance local democracy. We should have politicians who understand this potential and can use it to improve government and civic life.
I'm sure that I am not alone in being impressed by the Democratic field. I have a hunch that I am also not alone in wanting to raise the digital bar for local politicians. This doesn't mean they have to keep a Tumblr blog, or set up a Flickr account. It just means that the presentation that they make to the increasingly online community must be clear, honest, and most importantly - flow in both directions.
For candidates (present and future) wishing to improve their campaign web presence (I will be revisiting this list later in the season), here is a great list of tips for building a better political campaign website:
I will be reviewing the other more conservative candidates in a similar fashion soon.
in the interest of full disclosure.. I am a web-designer by day, so I am probably a little more aware of design flaws etc. than I might have been otherwise.
Tags: santa barbara mayoral race, santa barbara city council race, iya falcone for mayor, helene schnieder for mayor, grant house, olivia uribe, dianne channing, david pritchett, rustys pizza, tudor santa barbara, video games, internet democracy, mayoral race photos, santa barbara city council and mayoral candidates positions, discussion