Today marks the beginning of a brand new category on 'Almost Native Son': Local Fails. This may or may not include gripes and observations about local architecture, signs, ARB decisions and whatever else is bugging me (yes, it's one of those days). Think 'Mr. Pottymouth', but not just focused on restaurant bathrooms + and slightly better grammar.
First up:Stupidly designed gas station shelters. Can someone please explain this to me?
This photo (click to enlarge), taken on La Cumbre (opposite Sears) during last weekend's rain storm, is a perfect example of design fail. Usually, when I see a roof-like structure, I assume it's meant to keep what's under it from the elements. Most of the gas station shelters around Santa Barbara look just like the one pictured, and are oddly ill-equipped to provide..umm.. shelter. Even if the rain is coming down on a windless day, you still get rained on while filling up your tank.
Yes, I know it's not the end of the world - especially in Santa Barbara where rain isn't really the norm.. but still. If you're going to spend thousands of dollars on a gas station shelter - why not build one that actually makes the getting gas process slightly less aggrivating than it already is?
So, I am curious. Are these things poorly designed because:
a) gas station architects the bottom-of-the-barrel grads from architecture schools?
b) there is some sort of backwards city/ARB constraint that awkwardly limits how big these things can be?
c) someone just thinks it's funny.
Tags: santa barbara, fail, design, abr, gas station shelter, stupidity, Architecture
A good friend just sent me this TED Talk by Dave Meslin, who concisely and passionately describes how our political system seems to intentionally discourage engagement/participation - by making information unnecessarily complex. Not to mention poorly-designed.
This is one of the best TED talks I have seen in a while. And it's short too. Watch it.
Santa Barbara could use a heaping dose of this kind of thinking. Both in local government and in the non-profit world.
City2 was, by the way, designed to help the community in this department.
Tags: santa barbara, transparency, open government, city council, dave meslin, ted talk, civic engagement, best articles for new government models
Normally I like a little wet dark drippy fog. My productivity level goes way up. I took a certain amount of pride in liking less than pristine weather. I even claimed not to miss the sunny hot summer days (of which we only had , oh, seven). NOW, I am faced with the reality that it has been one of the coolest and strangest Santa Barbara summers in memory. I'm not saying I want that heat-wave back, but I am saying that I wouldn't mind some dynamic thundershowers and warm humid afternoons. Then again, someone smack me, for I am another spoilt Santa Barbaran griping about the weather.
On Tuesday night I went to the newly re-opened drive-in with some friends to see 'The Other Guys' (the new Will Ferrel/Marky Mark flick). Our friends in their car, my girlfriend and I in mine. While sitting there, over-dosing on Good 'n Pletny's, green tea, and Junior Mints (don't ask why), I realized that - aside from my self-inflicted sugar nausea - drive-in's are awesome.
First Reason: Almost complete control. You get to manipulate your own environment much more than you would in a regular theater. We determined our volume, temperature, food, company and distance from the screen. I am not sure if I've ever sounded this American, but it was pretty swell.
Second Reason: People are fun. When we pulled in the first movie, The Last Exorcism was still wrapping-up. After parking and turning off our lights, we noticed several dark shadows get out of a car and creep up on another vehicle nearby. We then heard a 'RAAARH!!' followed by a shriek and a 'I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU BRIAN! GODDAMNIT JACOB!!". As the shadows retreated giddily back to their Civic, everyone applauded.
Third Reason: Making out. Yes. That's right. I made out with my girlfriend during a chase scene. Shoot me. Oh wait, you can't. I'm in my car. With my girlfriend. Making out.
Fourth Reason: It's cheap. We paid $4.75 each (tuesday special). Most nights adults are $6.75.
Fifth Reason: Making Out. Still worthy of a being the fifth reason. Don't argue with me.
Fast forward to Thursday. I was at my desk, procrastinating and thinking about something I had heard, about the drive-in only staying open for this summer as 'an experiment' to see if it was viable venture here in Santa Barbara.
I figured I'd call the parent company that owns West-Wind.
I had a nice conversation with Tony Maniscalco (VP of Marketing) at Syufy Enterprises (the San Rafael Company that owns the place) this afternoon about the future of my new favorite spot.
Before answering, he gave me a quick rundown on the history of the drive-in. Here is my version:
1966: Theatre opens, my parents are teenagers, showing some knee was scandalous. People made-out in their cars and watched movies like the Endless Summer.
1967-1991: Lots of happy drive-in customers. Psycho, Easy Rider, Blade Runner, Lobster Man from Mars, Buckaroo Bonzai and the 8th Dimension.
1991: Metropolitan Theaters, who ran the place for Syufy decided it was no longer worth their while (lot's of cool stuff died in the early nineties) and the place went dark but continued to be used as a venue for the local Swap Meet.
1992-2009: Lot's of locals like me were deprived of their all-american coming-of-age snogg at a drive-in movie.
2010: SMHS (go Royals!) senior Niqui O'Ne
ill pitched a screening of Ferris Bueller's Day Off as a benefit for Haiti Earthquake relief. Syufi agreed, and after a bit of fixing and fiddling with the projector room and equipment, and a new coat of paint on the screen (thanks to Niqui and friends), the drive-in was once again operational.
After an overwhelmingly positive response from the community (and raising almost 4k for Haitian earthquake victims), she started the "Re-Open the Santa Barbara Drive-In" Facebook group, which after swiftly swelling to thousands of members, prompted Syufy Enterprises to re-visit the logic that persuaded them to let it close in 1991.
Santa Barbara Drive-In re-opened in the late spring/early summer of 2010 and has been showing first-run movies all season.
Tony also did his best to answer my question about whether or not the drive-in would remain open after this summer. He said that based on the positive response from the community, the theater will 'absolutely' be open next summer. As for the fall and winter, he said that they're "playing it by ear". " We're going to see how it goes" Suggesting hopefully that that though attitudes towards movies have changed since the 60's..people in other parts of the state attend drive-in's in the 'weather'. "We aren't yet sure if folks in Santa Barbara would go see a movie in the fog or the rain-" I interrupted him to say that I could think of a reason ( if you aren't clear on why, see #'s 3 and 5 above). He laughed, "I'm not going to comment on that."
Also: You may want to check out Santa Barbara Drive-In's (free/open to the public) Customer Appreciation Night on September 30th, which sounds pretty awesome. I'll update this post with the exact time later today :)
Tags: santa barbara, drive-in, snogging, making-out, lobster man from mars, syufy enterprises, santa barbara drive-in, goleta, kellogg street, old-school santa barbara, Niqui O'Neill, san marcos high school, smhs
This picture is from the back of the room (at CAF) during the 'Amazing Animated Jukebox Vol 2' show (consisting of animated videos compiled by Ted Mills for 2010's first Forum Lounge). The show consisted of a series of hand-picked music videos with exceptional/artful and progressive animation.
This reminded me of how easy I have it as a mostlystill visual artist. Animators work their asses off.
For example, Birdy Nam Nam's video directed/created (?) by Willy Sweeny (see first video below) was a very interesting and artful combination of elements I can't even begin to describe here ('cause I'd say something unintelligible like retro-HeMan-Atari lasers meets acid-trip-orbiting-sugarcube-shooting-katchina-hero narrative).
I think I was more-or-less smitten by everything except for the very last video of the evening (not to be confused with the last video on this page), which felt a little too similar to a lot of post-modern animation that I've seen (think hairy, slimy, extra-appendage-laiden, crooked toothed cartoon characters). I can't remember the name of the artist or director at the moment, but I was slightly sad to see it end on that note. I'm being nit-picky though. It was an impressive and fun show.
I've embedded a few of the highlights below (though there were a few more that I'll have to look up because I stupidly didn't take notes).
Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Ending
"Myriad Harbor" by the New Pornographers
"E-Pro" by Beck
"Happy Up Here" by Ryoskopp
"Evil Bee" by Menomena
My apologies for not including more of the director/animator credits.. If I can, I'll ask Mr. Mills for the playlist.
Here are some more pics:
Tags: contemporary art, santa barbara, CAF, contemporary arts forum, animated jukebox, ted mills, videos, animation
Not only is this line long.. It's also slow. Of course the chile con queso can't be argued with.. but a 45 minute wait? I think I'll reserve that for the holiday season when friends come back to town and need a hit of #17. Otherwise, you can find me at Lily's eating less-dry tacos for half the price, and none of the tourists.
Tags: lilys tacos santa barbara, santa barbara best mexican food, la super rica, milpas, chile con queso, sbopinion, sblifestyle
Though I had a somewhat Lutheran upbringing, and had many a happy holiday season - I am not particularly crazy about Christmas. When I (stupidly) utter this sentiment to family and friends, I get an embarrassing, and near-total verbal ass-kicking. "HOW can you NOT like CHRISTMAS?!".. Then begins a defensive and strangely predictable conversation about those normal things that people like me gripe about this time of year; commercialism, the partial (or total) absence of the original concept of christmas, augmented traditions divorced from their humane origins, holiday stress and expectations - and just not liking red and green together. Actually, I don't even particularly like egg nog, or cinnamon - or most Christmas music (Mommy Got Runover By a Reindeer, Jingle Bells et. al.). Bleh.
All that said, I don't hate Christmas. I love spending time with family. But do my best to manage my expectations, and to keep calm in the lead up to the big day.
So last night, it was shocking to me to find tears in my eyes when I went to listen to my (wonderful and talented) cousin, who sings with the SMHS A Cappella Choir for their 'Annual Winter Concert'.
Something about the harmonizing and collective optimism of young voices all listening carefully to each other, simultaneously and willfully performing something truly well-crafted makes me happy and hopeful (and apparently sappy again about the Holidays). I could go on about how it reminded me about what's best about humanity, but you know that better than I do.
I was in such a good space after the concert that even egg nog sounded good. So I had some. And I still hate it.
But you should still listen to this recording. If it does nothing for you, you might want to check your name tag, because you might in fact, be the devil.
The recording, made last night (with my phone) is of 'We Three Kings' sung by the A Cappella and Madrigal singers combined. It was composed by John Hopkins and arranged by Jack Eskew and Bruce Healey. It's not the best quality, but it gets the job done.
Tags: christmas in santa barbara, santa barbara, opinion, sbopinion, madrigals, choir, a cappella, smhs, san marcos high school, chorus, royal knights
At almost any hour Don Pacos is serving delicious and physically manageable tacos (this is not your 'too-big-to-handle' Super Cucas fauxcos). Tonight, (friday) Don was parked on the corner of Micheltorena & San Andreas.
Tags: late night eats, cheap eats, don pacos, carne asada, taco truck, tacos, santa barbara, fauxcos
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
This thing has always tripped me out. From what I am told, it is also
(apparently) the reason I got a fix-it ticket for having a clear (non-
tinted) cover on my license plate. Apparently, it's the law even if
the plate is totally readable (CVC 5201 (f) ). I should clarify, I
got the ticket before this little gremlin was put into use - because
the SBPD anticipated that they wouldn't be able to read or scan my
plate properly with the new gizmo. I just get a sinking feeling
every time Wall-E here rolls past. Aren't those two back cameras
looking at each other lovingly? Like they might have children?
Tags: meter maid, santa barbara, interceptor iii, camera cops, presidio, panino
It was a bizarre night of music at the Stateside for 'By Lottery'. We didn't stay too long, and missed the opening act (Red Switch) but did long enough to see Big Jugs play, complete with hillbilly and cowboy outfits, twangy and tinny ironic country hooks, and a washboard player with a fake (rabbi?) beard. Almost more noticeable were their (extremely) drunken, faux-square-dancing fans - all of them donning 'Big Jugs' logo on their white wife-beaters. Still, despite the somewhat played-out ironic country genre, it was fun show.
Next up was Die Don Romero, which was a bit of a late 90's punk-metal throwback (sans ska). Nothing special to report, but the young band seemed to have musical talent to make up for what are glaring stylistic shortcomings (though there were some good moments), and vocal limitations. The bearded drummer seemed to be especially talented, and was the highlight of the act.
Having other fires to tend to, we split before hearing Belita Pura (who we heard from a reliable source was a pretty decent act). We'd have stayed a bit longer if our ears hadn't been bleeding from the Romero boys. Next time.