Barry Siegel’s Life

Last issue, we reported the death of Barry Siegel, a community activist and retired engineer, who died peacefully on Thursday, September 20, 2007, but had little time to prepare more remarks. Here, therefore, is Barry’s official obituary:

Barry was 74 years old. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and attended local public schools and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in aeronautical engineering. After working several years at Douglas Santa Monica on ballistic missile defense, he had a 30-year career at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, where he worked on a number of military satellite programs, urban transportation, and solar energy projects. He retired in 1993 as the systems director for the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation system.

While living in Los Angeles, he was a loan executive to the Greater Los Angeles Urban Coalition for several years, where he worked on improving transportation services in Los Angeles. He was a member of the Mayor’s advisory committee on rapid transit, and President of Crenshaw Neighbors, a Baldwin Hills racial integration group. After moving to Montecito in 1993 he continued his community activities. He was vice-chairman of the 101 Task Force that recommended the Milpas to Cabrillo, Evans to Sheffield and Casitas Pass and Linden Interchange Route 101 improvement projects that were adopted by SBCAG. Barry was a member and Chairman of the City of Santa Barbara’s Transportation and Circulation Committee, and was a Board member of the Montecito Association and chairman of its Land Use Committee.

He loved walking, jogging, swimming in the ocean, eating at local restaurants, playing senior softball, and participating in the literature classes taught by Joan Fallert and Mark Ferrar.

He is survived by his beloved wife Martha, mother, Minnie, sister Ina Strauss of New York, sons David Siegel (wife, Patricia) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tom Siegel of Santa Barbara, and grandchildren Jacob and Hannah.

Services were held Monday, September 24 at Trinity Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Barry’s memory to the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST), PO Box 2495, Santa Barbara, California 93120, or to a charity of your choice.

Rudy At The Biltmore

The candidate was stuck in Malibu, reportedly by “weather conditions,” although most of the nearly 200 attendees that had gathered at the Biltmore on Thursday September 27, to support the presidential bid of Rudy Giuliani wondered what kind of weather that could have been. They agreed it must have been some very thick fog, or as the tourist bureaus prefer to call it, marine layer.

Rudy showed up nearly an hour late, but the time was filled by serving lunch early, a short talk by Andy Granatelli, and a longer talk by conservative instigator David Horowitz, who promoted his upcoming “Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week” set to take place later this month (October 22 to 26) at over 100 college campuses across the United States. The poster promoting Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week is a photo of a young woman being prepared to be stoned to death by burying the lower half of her body, taken from a scene in a Dutch film. “This is what goes on in Islamic countries,” Horowitz explained (although, in fairness, only two such stonings have officially occurred in the last four years, according to press reports). One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest applause lines came when he suggested picketing the women’s studies program at UCSB, “where,” he said, “you can learn about the oppression of women in Montecito, but you will not learn about the oppression of women in Teheran.”

“We are the defenders of gays, Jews, Christians, all infidels. They have wiped out the Christian communities of the Middle East,” Horowitz continued, claiming the Christian populations of Bethlehem and Nazareth “are vanishing,” because of Islamist pressure and oppression. “I haven’t heard a lot of our leaders putting this up front,” Horowitz said and concluded that, “This is the reason I love Rudy Giuliani. He says it exactly the way it is. We need to restore in America the courage, the principles, the spine, that we once had, that even the Democratic Party once had.”

Mary Belle Snow then introduced Dennis Miller by saying ever so briefly, “I’d like to introduce Dennis Miller.”

“Thank you, Mary Belle,” Miller quipped as he took the microphone, “for whipping them into a frenzy.” (Ed. note: if you haven’t listened to “The Dennis Miller Show” on 990AM radio from 6 am to 9 am and again from 6 pm to 9 pm, Monday through Friday, you should. It’s not always on politics but it’s always on target. Miller has a raconteur’s joie de vivre and a superb radio voice, except when he’s feeling low and his words sag along with his spirits, but that is increasingly rare as he hones his broadcast chops. We urge you to listen up! - JB)

Miller said that, like Rudy, he too was “running a little late this morning.” He had been at a local organizing committee, “trying to get a proposition underway on the next ballot to lower greenhouse gases by doing away with greenhouses…(beat), which I’ve traced as the source.”

Miller, noting that O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Phil Spector had all received “zero days in jail,” while Paris Hilton spent 23 days behind bars, suggested the sentence imbalance was a sign of national insanity. “We need a return to sanity in this country,” he opined, “and that’s why I’m here… The mayor has the goods,” he declared.

Miller said he’d heard U.S. Senator from Delaware and presidential candidate Joe Biden question the sincerity of Rudy Giuliani during a recent Democrat talkfest. “One loves the delicious irony,” Miller quipped, “that Joe Biden, the man with the worst plug job on the planet Earth, questioning the sincerity of a man who chose to go bald with dignity.” The line drew a big laugh from the follicly impaired Giuliani, sitting at the front table just feet from the dais.

“They can question anything they want,” Miller continued, “but they can’t question [Rudy’s] competency. I watched him be as competent and confident as he could be on the ground in the wake of 9/11, and I am reminded that he attended over eight hundred memorial services for the victims of 9/11, whereas Hillary Clinton – the ‘empathetic’ one until [Bill] O’Reilly outed her – had not attended one. I think we should all be reminded that the Clintons feel your pain because it is caused by them.”

It being late and time being short, Miller immediately introduced the former NYC mayor, who jumped up from his table, took the mic and thanked Dennis, Mary Belle, David Horowitz, and “my vice-presidential candidate, Andy Granatelli.”

Giuliani proved both a confident and flexible campaigner: he delivered a completely different speech than the one he had given earlier this year to a group of supporters at Lee and Lori Mikle’s house in Montecito.

Some of Giuliani’s positions:

“It’s very clear to me that Iran should not become a nuclear power.”

“I would not take a military option off the table with Iran.”

“Democrats are afraid to talk about Islamic terrorism; it will be difficult to lead this nation against it if they are afraid to talk about it.”

“Islamic terrorism is encouraged by weakness, as is any enemy.”

“It’s my view that the better way to keep this country safe is to be on offense.”

“Our growth economy is under assault by Democrats.”

“[Democrats] want to grow the federal government; grow federal regulations, increase federal taxes and then impose tariffs on things coming into the United States.”

“Emphasize the private sector and de-emphasize the federal government – as much as you can.”

“[Democrats] believe if they take your money, they will use it in a more sensible way than you will use it. They trust government more [than people].”

“I would [attempt to] make the Bush tax cuts permanent, add additional tax cuts, lower the corporate tax rate – it’s the second highest in the world – and do away with the inheritance tax.”

“Forty-two percent of federal civilian employees are going to retire in the next eight years. I would commit to re-hiring only half of them and zeroing out the other positions and saying that would be our opportunity to take advantage of technology.”

Giuliani credited French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his book, “Testimony” (published a year before he became president) for inspiring Giuliani’s government-employee attrition plan. “Sarkozy wants to do a free-market reform: lower taxes, re-hire only about half the retiring civilian government work force, move away from socialized medicine, and do away with the thirty-five-hour work week.”

On immigration, Giuliani said, “We should end illegal immigration. It’s about time. We have to stop people coming into this country without being identified and suggested it “would be no harder to do than reducing the murder rate in New York… I don’t understand why the fence hasn’t been built.”

He said they’d been able to reduce welfare rolls in New York, “by instituting a finger-identification system,” and that the same could be done at the border. “You need sensible technology, a larger border patrol, and a tamper-proof ID card. If we could stop it where it is, then we could figure out a way to rationally deal with it.”

Giuliani concluded by saying he believes he is the Republicans’ most viable general election candidate. “There’s no question,” he contended, “that I would give us the best chance to regain the House and the Senate,” and added that he knew he could beat [Hillary] in New York “because I’m the real Yankee fan” (he did admit, however, that he’s behind there currently by “four or five percent” in the polls).

Anyone interested in supporting his candidacy is invited to go to www.joinrudy2008.com to learn about joining “Team Giuliani.”

Circa Opens on Coast Village

Inviting Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and other 18th- and early 19th-century-attired guests to her new store at 1155 Coast Village Road called “Circa,” seemed a safe bet for co-owner Ellie O’Connell, as many of the items for sale inside are “circa” those very same centuries. The aesthetic array of sofas, leather chairs, humidors, lighting fixtures, coffee tables, and smaller items, make for a 21st century nostalgic nod to that distant era.

Dallas-born and Malibu-bred Ellie O’Connell relocated from Malibu with her mother (and Circa business partner), Anne O’Connell, thirteen years ago, having followed Ellie’s sister, Heather Holyfield, who moved here first. Ellie’s 12-year-old daughter Grace was born in Santa Barbara and attends Marymount School.

“For twelve years,” Ellie says, she would drive by Letter Perfect at 1155 Coast Village Road and say “that would be a great place for a store,” but she didn’t really know what she wanted to do. “I just fell into the antiquing thing,” she admits. “I just loved it,” she says, so she began taking design classes, art classes, and then, she signed up and attended Mary Weider’s ‘History of Furniture’ class. “That’s when I really got into furniture,” she says.

Time went by, she continued to look for a store location, went to the Paris [France] flea market with her mother and bought a container full of furniture and antiques, with no store to put it in. “The day we got home, we saw that [the Letter Perfect location] was for rent. So, we knew it was the right time,” Ellie says.

Her taste runs from baroque to industrial, and her inventory includes everything from Portuguese chandeliers to Moroccan candles. “It’s just what we like,” she adds.

Circa opened officially on Monday, October 1, but a pre-opening party on Friday September 28celebrated the shop’s emergence. Catered by Philippe Sautot of Events by Philippe, the open house featuring servers dressed as either Napoleon or Marie Antoinette and offered baby lamb chops, French onion soup served in small white ceramic ramekins, other delicate hors d’oeuvres, and Champagne and wine poured into glass – not plastic - glasses. The Ladurée macaroons – crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle – came from Paris, naturally. A portion of the proceeds of anything that was sold during the party was donated to the Santa Barbara Autism Society.

The lower floor of Circa’s two-story building features a faux fireplace, black lacquered walls, a black-and-white-diamond-patterned floor, and crystal chandeliers; the contrasting colors are chartreuse green, black, and lavender, giving the impression of a Parisian boutique.

Upstairs offers a more Mediterranean – Italian, Spanish – feel, where “mostly new things” are available, including a line of guest towels, cashmere throws, and “tons of new lines coming in, nothing you’re going to find in any other store. It’s all detailed and it’s beautiful. Candles from Morocco, Crystal from Paris…”

Ellie is also enthusiastic about her new store’s gift wrapping.

“Wait until you see it,” she says. “You may buy something just to get it wrapped. It’s going to be like a little jewel. Even if you buy a little twenty-five-dollar candle, it’s going to look like a five-thousand-dollar candle from the way we wrap it.”

With the Christmas shopping season just around the corner, that’s a good thing to remember.

Stairway To Heaven

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is open to a limited number of foreigners, and only since 1999, so this year’s Summit For Danny climb and hike fundraiser for the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center will surely be a trip to remember for the 30 intrepid souls who’ve signed on. Everyone pays his own way, so 100% of any donation – based upon mileage covered and/or elevations reached – goes directly to the center. Every climber is required to raise a minimum of $1500, although most have raised much more than that. Last year’s trip raised some $220,000; this year’s goal is $350,000, and since Summit for Danny has a 50% matching grant, every $100 raised will be matched by an additional $50.

The Youth & Family Treatment Center was created by Montecito jeweler Bob Bryant, who lost his son Danny to substance abuse in 1995. “We’ve created a program to try to eliminate that from happening to any other family,” Bob says during a short conversation outside Pierre LaFond in the upper village, where we were joined by Patty Bryant, Suze Gray Williams, and Kate Schwass. So far, Bob says, the center has treated over 1,300 kids in Santa Barbara.

This year’s hikers will fly to Paro, Bhutan, and from there be split into a group of 17 to do “Sacred Summits,” camping out almost every night and doing strenuous hikes every day, and a group of 13 who will participate in a slightly less strenuous climb called “Hikers’ Paradise,” more of a cultural experience than a camping experience; they’ll stay in hotels most nights. The trip is scheduled for October 8 through October 20. A unique aspect of this particular trip will be that participants will interact with a drug treatment center in Bhutan and share information.

There are no ATMs, no cell phones, and hardly any traffic signals in Bhutan (the group will “probably” acquire a couple of satellite phones for emergency use), and the country’s traditional diet may be difficult for many: breakfast, for example, is “chilies and cheese,” but, Suze says, “they apparently have a toned-down version for tourists.”

Nevertheless, they are bringing their own snacks like granola bars and other easy-to-carry food items. Dealing with a medical emergency shouldn’t be too difficult: Dr. Richard Kahmann, and Dr. Myron Shapero will be among the climbers, as will Tokie Shynk (who has recently completed a wilderness medical training course), and nurse Marie Ann Strait.

Prayer flags

“When people donate,” Kate says, “they are encouraged to provide us with names of loved ones they would like us to honor; people they know who are struggling with this disease. The climbers will put those names on ‘prayer flags’ that will be hung in Bhutan. Tradition has it,” she continues, “that whenever the wind blows and the prayer flags move, their prayers are being sent to God.”

Kate explains that the highest the group will go is about 13,000 feet, although optional day trips will allow them to go higher, but the summits are considered sacred and no one is allowed above the 17,500-foot level.

When asked why she was going on the climb, Suze reveals that her family has been affected by alcoholism. When one person is addicted to alcohol or drugs, it affects the whole family, their friends, and the community,” she says. “I also have the utmost admiration for Bob for taking something so tragic and making something so positive out of it,” she continues, adding, “I love hiking and I always wanted to go to the Himalayas, but I think I would go anywhere and just follow these two [Patty and Bob] to support their cause.”

For Patty, “It touches home because of the direct loss of Danny, but what I really find rewarding,” she says, “is that the climbs have given the community a voice to talk about a problem that most people would try to shut away.”

The next Summit for Danny is scheduled for January 2009; they’ll be going to Patagonia, to be arranged by Sobek Travel.

Summit for Danny & Kids

On Saturday, October 27, a week after they return from Bhutan, participants will relive their experience during a Summit for Danny day at Skofield Park that will take hikers along Rattlesnake Canyon Trail and which promises to be “a celebration for the whole family,” says Kate Schwass, Director of Media and Special Events for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Adults who would like to attend the Skofield Park event will be required to raise a minimum of $100; those aged 12 to 18 will need to raise a minimum of $50; kids under 12 will be free.

Anyone wishing to support the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center can send a check (made out to “Summit For Danny, Bhutan”) to P.O. Box 28, Santa Barbara, CA 93102, charge a donation via the website: summitfordanny.org, or call Kate Schwass at the center (805-963-1433, ext. 110).

Off To New York

Montecito’s favorite young (okay, he’s not so young) thespian David Brainard, has signed on for a two-week limited run of Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” at the fifty-seat Impact Theater in Brooklyn during the first two weeks in November. “I play Matt Burke, who steals Chris Christopherson’s daughter – Anna Christie – away from him,” David tells us during a short conversation. Ted Mornel, a longtime New York director, is directing, and the role of Chris Christopherson will be performed by William York Hyde, a Santa Barbara actor.

“I’m leaving on Monday (October 1) for JFK,” says the peripatetic Montecito-bred actor/writer, who currently serves as managing director of the Victoria Street Theatre.

“William and I worked on a couple of things here,” David explains, “and he kept disappearing to go back to New York for work and I was jealous,” he says. “I put a bug in his ear and said, ‘Listen, when you go back there, let me know; I’d like to read for something.’ And, so I auditioned over the phone, sent a VHS tape, and they hired me.”

Next up? “Don’t know what’s going on in town,” he answers, but does admit to “looking forward to surf season.”

Supervisor Jackson?

The free-market private-property advocates had come to Montecito from Santa Ynez Valley and other points north to lend their support to Rudy Giuliani, but since the former mayor was over an hour late, the delay allowed many of them to buzz about another subject close to their hearts: who the most likely – or most electable – candidate for Third District Supervisor would be now that Brooks Firestone had announced he would not seek re-election. The consensus: CJ Jackson, the newly nominated Planning Commissioner. Many believe he would make an excellent candidate, although not one that would sit well with the Chumash community. Jackson has headed up Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens, a coalition of distinguished citizens mostly opposed to the tribe’s expansion plans. The Chumash, on the other hand, have plenty of money to throw to whatever opponent to Jackson that may appear.

Most Santa Barbara County Republicans fear the election of a pro-regulation Democrat to fill Firestone’s position would shift the balance of the Board of Supervisors back to South County politicos. Those fears would likely override any consternation many might have regarding the choice of such a vocal and consistent Chumash critic like Jackson.

T.C. & the Book & Author Festival Prize

In 2002, the very first winner of the Ross MacDonald Literary Award, presented by the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival was Ray Bradbury, then Dean Koontz, Sue Grafton, Mark Salzman, and Robert Crais. “I’m thrilled we can give it to Tom (T.C.) Boyle, today,” says Fred Klein before presenting the prestigious crystal award to Montecito’s celebrated author.

Tom Nolan, described by Klein as “probably the number one guru for the works of Ross MacDonald (Ken Millar),” then sat down on stage for an extended conversation with T.C. Boyle, at the almost-full 300-seat Victoria Street Theatre as part of the opening salvo for this year’s Book & Author Festival. Tom Nolan wrote both “Ross MacDonald, A Biography” and “The Archer Files” (Lew Archer is Ross MacDonald’s private eye protagonist).

“Everything I do, whether it’s a short story or a novel,” Boyle confesses, “just begins. I don’t have any outlines; I have no idea what it will be. It’s an exploration; it’s a search. I’m finding something.”

Boyle revealed too that enthusiasm for a particular project often peaks at the beginning and stalls somewhere in the middle, when his unconscious has failed to keep up with his conscious self. He calls such impasses, “depressing and difficult,” in explaining why he enjoyed his one-day-a-week gig teaching Creative Writing at USC. It is a welcome break in his writing schedule, he admits, and as such allows him “to do something different.”

Boyle admitted to “thinking of joining the CHP” when he retires from his USC position, because those once-a-week trips to L.A. on Highway 101 had instilled in him a desire to “take those people – I’m sorry, but it’s mainly women – on the cell phone, in the Mercedes, in the fast lane. I don’t want to give them a ticket. I want to pull the car over, shoot them, and set it on fire.”

Boyle read the complete short story, “Modern Love,” which detailed the brief but passionate love affair between a man and the woman he met who so feared the exchange of bodily fluids that before settling upon a bout of intercourse, required him to don a full-body condom; before advancing to actual skin-to-skin contact, she insisted upon a further battery of tests, both written and physical.

The episode, written more than twenty years ago, illustrates why Mr. Boyle is considered one of America’s best short-story writers, why his material will live long after he expires, and why he is most deserving of the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival Ross MacDonald Literary Award, given to California-based writers of distinction.

The CASA Golf Tourney

Just a short note to announce the winners of CASA 12th Annual Golf Tournament that took place Monday September 17 featuring 124 of Santa Barbara’s best-looking if not most proficient golfers. It was a “scramble” affair, with each golfer hitting from the same chosen location on every swing. Pre-tournament activities included a putting contest, chipping contest, and a “marshmallow drive” (which MJ’s former publisher, J. Buckley almost won; his second-place drive was just inches away from the ultimate winner’s). A BBQ lunch was served before tee-off and a dinner and awards announcement followed the end of play.

All three winning teams scored 12 under par, and all received etched wine bottles with the CASA 12th Annual Golf Tournament logo, donated by Diana Starr Langley.

The Montecito Journal team of Wendy and Dr. David Laub, Tom Snow, and J. Buckley scored a cumulative 9 under, just three strokes off the winning pace.

Sponsors of the event included: Santa Barbara News-Press, Paseo Nuevo, Debbie Adams Photography, Condor Express, Cox Business Services, MarBorg Industries, Bank of Santa Barbara, Midstate Bank & Trust, Prudential Realty (Randy Glick), Deckers Outdoor, Genworth Financial, Golf Tec, BFI, & Hole in One sponsor – Jim Crook, Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep