Poor Old Charlie

By Montecito Journal   |   November 29, 2018

For some reason the memory of silent-film star Charlie Chaplin is exploited with the fantastical myth that he “built” the Montecito Inn.

Totally untrue.

In David Myrick’s definitive history (“Santa Barbara & Montecito,” Volumes I and II), he explains the origin of the Montecito Inn in some detail. “Don B. Sebastian and William S. Seamans,” he writes, “Montecito residents, were dealing in real estate loans and insurance when they conceived of the Montecito Inn. For this purpose they formed the Montecito Company to build a hotel at the Olive Mill Road crossing of the Coast Highway, to be leased to an operator.”

Ground was broken in August,1927, and the hotel took in its first guests in February 1928. Not long after, the Inn suffered financially from the Great Depression and several changes in management struggled to make a go of it. Around 1938, the Inn was renamed the Montecito Hotel. The title “Montecito Inn” was restored by Avery Brundage when he bought it in 1957. In 1943, the 54-year-old Charlie Chaplin and the 18-year-old Oona O’Neill, daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, eloped and headed up to Santa Barbara. A marriage license was issued at the Courthouse and the couple were married by a judge at his home on Maple Avenue in Carpinteria (now “Roxanne’s, A Wish and a Dream,” a quilting and knitting store).

There is no indication Charlie Chaplin was ever even a guest at the Montecito Inn, although Charlie and Oona spent their honeymoon in a house on Summit Road in Montecito. I wonder what Oona and Charlie’s six children would have thought about the bogus claim that their father built a hotel in Santa Barbara County? Some accounts actually suggest actor Fatty Arbuckle was Charlie’s partner. Wow, how do these silly stories get started? Montecito has an exceptionally interesting history, so there is no need to fashion any facts out of whole cloth.

My family moved to Montecito in 1898. I grew up next to the Miramar Hotel on property my great-grandparents bought from the hotel in 1907. My interest in history started early because of stories my grandparents and my mother told about “the old days.” My friend, Bunny, and I rode our horses to Mt. Carmel School and to church on Sunday. The church pastor, Father Ozias Cook, built a corral for us to use. In the 1980s I had a column, “Equestrian,” in the Santa Barbara News-Press. I have written about Montecito history in my now-discontinued column, “Montecito Scrapbook,” in the Montecito Journal, and have written history columns for Montecito magazine as well. I recently contributed to David Myrick’s History Never Ends, Volume III in his trilogy of historical books about Montecito and Santa Barbara.  

Judy Pearce

(Editor’s note: Thank you, Ms Pearce. I’ve been out of the country for the past three months and consequently failed to catch or edit that misinformation. Mr. Chaplin and his young bride did indeed spend their scandalous “honeymoon” in the handsome 100-year-old house just across from mine on Middle Road (at Summit). It seems likely that film actor Ronald Colman – one of United Artists’ biggest stars – may have been the instigation for the Charlie Chaplin connection, in that Colman built a house adjacent to the San Ysidro Ranch on East Mountain Drive, spent a lot of time in Montecito, and in fact died here in 1958. Charlie Chaplin, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith, and others, founded United Artists; Fairbanks and Chaplin were the best of friends and may well have hung out together at the Montecito Inn, which featured one of Montecito’s favorite watering holes at the time. It’s likely Colman joined them often, too.) – J.B.)

Randall Road Revisited

I read that the County is seeking $25 million to purchase eight properties on Randall Road for a debris basin. I scratched my head. Kelly Mahan’s “Village Beat” column in last week’s issue seems to confirm those numbers… but I must be misunderstanding.

Eight vacant lots that should never have been built on in the first place… and should never be built on again. $3-million+ average per creek-bed lot! I am pretty confident they weren’t worth that much when considered viable building lots. If this is in fact the proposed plan, the eight Randall Road property owners must have all fingers and toes crossed and the politicians involved in this proposal need a talking to.

What am I missing?

Please don’t use my name

(Editor’s note: Montecito could certainly use another debris basin and what was once Randall Road seems an appropriate location. We also support the idea of making people whole or at least mostly whole after the January disaster. We suspect, though, that $25-million figure has probably been inflated by those representing property owners and will likely be scaled back before an agreement is reached. – J.B.)

Cosmic Carbonation

Re: Ray Winn‘s letter in last week’s issue (“Weather or Not,” MJ # 24/47).

Yes, 21st Century climatology remains a crapshoot, not an exact science. And carbon dioxide is not only essential for the greening of plant life, CO2 is also essential for the reddening of human life.

Oxygen is a two-edged sword. Without carbon dioxide, oxygen would obliterate all life on Earth. A peewee percentage of living creatures can actually live without oxygen, but no creature can live without carbon dioxide.

Excess oxygen blitzes the brain. Be aware of that if any of your relatives or friends are hooked to an oxygen tank. Pure oxygen zaps brain cells.

According to “Imaging Study Reveals How Pure Oxygen Harms The Brain” (Science News, May 24, 2007), “‘Several brain areas responded to 100 percent oxygen by kicking the hypothalamus into overdrive,’ explained [Ronald] Harper [professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA]. ‘The hypothalamus overreacted by dumping a massive flood of hormones and neurotransmitters into the bloodstream. These chemicals interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen — the opposite effect you want when you’re trying to resuscitate someone.’”

Holding One’s Breath

Scientists are reinventing the wheel. The Buteyko Breathing Technique has been around since the 1950s. Nasal breathing and breath-holding (CO2 retention) provide numerous health benefits. Konstantin Buteyko (1923-2003) noticed the benefits of restricted breathing in the late 1940s, and his techniques were eventually widely used in Russia under the name of Voluntary Elimination of Deep Breathing (VEDB), and virtually ignored as woo-woo pseudo-science in the U.S. under the name of the Buteyko Method.

But, guess what? Dr. Buteyko was also reinventing the wheel. The health benefits of restricted breathing were widely known by the American Indians. (I refuse to use the lame term, “Native American.” If “American Indian” is good enough for the American Indian Movement (AIM), it works for me too.) American artist, author, and traveler George Catlin (1796-1872) wrote extensively about it. His book, Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life, was published in 1891.

Ray Peat (Aging Eyes, Infant Eyes, and Excitable Tissues, 2006) wrote, “Although Yandell Henderson had already, in 1928, explained the need for carbon dioxide to be used with oxygen for resuscitating infants or adults, medical researchers and hospital workers could never accept the idea, probably because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. Animal experiments show that supplemental oxygen, without carbon dioxide, causes vasoconstriction, reducing the tissues’ supply of glucose as well as oxygen. In combination with too much light, especially blue light, it damages the retina. At hyperbaric pressure, oxygen causes seizures, as well as damage to the lungs and other tissues.”

Welcome, Global Warmer

Many “carbon dioxide Armageddon” studies (including those at Harvard and NASA) are aimed at viewing carbon dioxide a metabolic waste and poison — as well as an IQ exterminator — but the exact opposite is truer. Breathing 5% CO2 increases blood flow to the brain by 60%, and breathing 7% increases blood flow to the brain by 100%. Carbon dioxide not only provides the sparkle in your soda pop; it gives rise to the luminescence in your brain cells too. Permissive hypercapnia is a ventilation strategy that substitutes for “get-smart pills” and, incidentally, for … Viagra and Cialis.

Long story short, if there were such a terrestrial event as “global warming,” I would welcome it with open arms and a discriminating respiratory system. According to my mentor, Adano Ley (Swami Nitty-Gritty), “Oxygen is consciousness. Hydrogen is craving for geometry. Nitrogen holds the geometry together. Carbon dioxide creates the Diamond Body.”

My favorite method of carbon dioxide retention (aside from sleeping under the covers and breathing into a paper bag) is extended pandiculation — yawning and stretching beyond the six seconds allocated to it by most people.

Atom Bergstrom

(Editor’s note: Just a word of advice from Montecito Journal’s editorial board: Don’t hold your breath waiting for any significant acknowledgement of carbon dioxide’s upside from the “Armageddon is Here! Now! We’re all gonna die!” crowd. – J.B.)

Bright Blue California

In response to Bob Hazard‘s guest editorial (“California Blues,” # 24/47) I would like to give you the facts about our California Golden State.

California’s economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the word’s fifth largest, according the new federal data. California’s gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion, the data said.

This isn’t just about a mythical scorecard showing the huge scope of the state’s economy. The business climate have stunned by doubters. Has created job opportunities, boosted salaries, overheated real estate markets and lifted numerous Californians out of poverty.

To find out what economic sectors influence California’s economy in high gear, I filled my trusty spreadsheet with some detailed GDP stats from the past five years. I learned the state’s overall economy grew by $429 billion – after inflation – to $2.75 trillion. That’s an average 3.5 percent annual expansion pace since ’12 vs. negligible 0.1 percent-a-year increase during the recession-scarred 2007-2012 period.

So, here are five California business output trends you should know, based on slices of the state’s economy and after-inflation growth. (That’s “chained” or “real” GDP for economics students!)

1) Private industries powered the turnaround by upping their contribution to California output by $404 billion in the past five years – that’s growth at a 3.7 percent annual rate – to a $2.42 trillion, or 88 percent of the state economy. The output of various government enterprises jumped by $24 billion since 2012 – or 1.5 percent annual growth – to $329 billion, or 12 percent of California GPD.

2) California’s largest sectors were in growth mode. Its biggest trade is the real estate business – that’s selling, renting and managing property assets – with $467 billion of output in 2017. That’s up 3.4 percent annually since ’12. Next comes manufacturing at $300 billion in ’17, up at a 4.1 percent yearly rate. Information – such as the geeks who run Google and Facebook – was a $240 billion industry, growing at a 9.2 percent yearly speed since ’12. The white-collar office crowd – aka “professional, scientific, and technical services” – created $227 billion in value last year, after rising 2.7 percent a year since ’12. And health care and social assistance was good for $172 billion and averaged 3.7 percent gains the past five years.

3) Which niches gave the largest boost in dollars? Tops were the information trades, which boosted output by an inflation-adjusted $85 billion. Second was the real estate trade, up $72 billion since 2012. Next was California’s factories. Yes, manufacturing added $54 billion. Then come healthcare-social assistance and the professional-scientific-technical services – each adding $28 billion.

4) Which industries grew at the highest average annualized rate since 2012? No.1, again, was information at a searing 9.2 percent yearly pace – basically, triple the state’s overall expansion pace. No. 2 was the boss word – “management of companies and enterprises” – up 6.4 percent a year. Next come the farms – “agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting” – jumping 5.8 percent per year. That delayed-but-need building boom added up to construction growing 5.2 percent annually. And the revival of our tourism culture boosted “accommodation and food services” output by 4.8 percent a year.

5) It’s not just GDP: Other California business metrics displayed equal improvements during the past five years. Bosses statewide added jobs at a 2.6 annual pace so the jobless count was halved by 997,000. Per-capita incomes rose at a 3.8 percent annual pace. Home prices soared 9.5 percent per year. Meanwhile, the state’s population grew at a 0.8 annual pace since 2012. And the so-called “supplemental” poverty rate – math that includes regional variances in the cost of living – shows 997,000 fewer Californians living below the poverty line in 2014-2016 versus what was reported for the 2010-2012 at the Great Recession’s end.

I feel these categories of economy are the most important in determining the success of a government. I don’t know about the rest of you but I would certainly much rather live in California blue America.

Leoncio Martins

(Editor’s note: We have no idea if your figures are real, but we’ll accept that they are and that’s all to the good. By importing poverty from Mexico and Central America, California has held down business labor costs, producing terrific year-over-year profit gains for business. That’s good too, though not so good for middle-class workers already here. Via its “Affordable Housing” programs, California has made those of us who own homes even richer. Kudos. We can only observe that China’s economy has done even better during that same time period, leaving us to ask: And? – J.B.)

Thinking Smaller

Many years ago, when I was living in Moscow in the Soviet Union, we had a very charismatic mayor who made history with a few unforgettable statements. Like most of the Russian bureaucrats, he was totally corrupt and infamous for blatant graft. Moscow municipal services had never been properly prepared for winter, yet harsh Russian winters stubbornly kept coming right when they were supposed to. And during one of those winters the Mayor came up with his famous statement: “Oh, is it winter again? A snow storm? Well, we didn’t expect that coming.” I kid you not: the Mayor of Moscow said that publicly during a fierce snowstorm in the middle of the typical icy-cold Russian winter.

Hearing that from the Mayor was hilarious and sad at the same time. He “did not expect” snow every winter so the people of Moscow suffered with the total collapse of all city infrastructure in the capital of Russia for many years of his rule. At the same time his wife was running a construction business that somehow “won” all the bids for major municipal construction projects, while he was busy pushing weird and unnecessary laws like the one that supported “houses for bees” (he thought bees must have homes, a sentiment that was very touching, particularly when millions of people in Moscow lived in shabby communal apartments). He would hire his wife’s company to rebuild some old buildings in Moscow, but if the engineers told him those buildings did not require immediate work, strangely those buildings would catch on fire and consequently be assigned to his wife’s company for suddenly newly needed reconstruction. Of course not only his wife’s but multiple companies owned by his close friends also received municipal contracts.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

As we know, here in California our government constantly comes up with “very important” initiatives like giving money to people living here illegally to fight deportations, or banning plastic straws. How many more years of these publicity stunts and new-voter creation tricks will it take for the people to realize how much damage is being done to our state long-term by the Democratic Party?

Anyway, it’s November again and even though the memories of the Thomas fire are still alive and disturbing, we’ve just had new fires that started almost on the dot a year after the Thomas fire that scorched 280K+ acres. The new fires hit the state with several deadly strikes at the same time. Of course, just as the Moscow mayor was constantly “surprised” by the Russian winter, it appears that nobody in California government had expected these fires. And, if they did expect them, why did nearly one hundred people die (hundreds are still missing in one of the most “progressive” and innovative states of America)?

It is sad but fair to say that wherever you look, be it the fecal-infested streets of San Diego or San Francisco, transient-occupied beaches of Santa Barbara, burned out Malibu, torched wineries of Napa or the living hell of Paradise, California Dreamin’ is all but dead. Nobody is jealous of Californians anymore; nobody wants to be where disasters that we’ve hired our government to protect us from happen regularly. Who would want to live their dream in our state these days? And worst of all nobody seems to be accountable because our politicians like to talk, promise, do nothing, and then blame the drought, the winds, the Russians, President Trump, or whoever or whatever, rather than themselves.

Let’s just remind ourselves that it’s the Democrats who have been tasked by the people of California to serve the interests of the people of this state. The government is unwilling to take any responsibility, timely allocate the appropriate funding and move forward with it to work on clearing the mistakes from the recent past, creating a fire-free future for California by cutting down dead trees, hiring more people to attack the fires in the most overpopulated areas right when they start, provide better communications between the first-responders and less bureaucracy among multiple safety-related departments, buy more new, efficient fire-fighting equipment, etc.

I will never forget the conversation I had with first-responders during the Montecito debris flow in January. I had fire, sheriff, paramedics, and CHP standing in front of me and telling me that in order to communicate in real time during the disaster they used… a tray on a mailroom cart in their office. Their walkie-talkies were turned “On,” and placed next to each other – tuned to the frequency of each department – so that they could hear live chatter and figure out what was going on.

I was sure the many Hollywood celebrities would wake up and see the reality after the recent fire burned down more than half of Malibu, but no… They ran to Twitter to blame president Trump and global warming. So, if not fire burning down their homes, what can force these people to understand that there is nobody there who is doing the job of protecting them?

This year they were seeking an additional $1 billion for fire protection in California. But I bet just like a little baby who promised to behave well if you bought her an expensive toy, Californians will be back to blaming everyone but themselves in a year, asking for more money and saying sorry for the new losses.

Nobody will be safe in California until the state government starts thinking about its own people first, making them safe and secure and fireproof before spending time, effort, and our money on global pollution problems, social justice for foreigners living here illegally, and other nonsense.

California must start thinking small and direct every effort it can afford to rebuild its infrastructure that will help its people live the safe and happy lives, that was one day a dream of the whole world: the California Dream!

Lidia Zinchenko 

State of Injustice

Hate crime laws are an example of politically motivated injustice. Rather than crime victims being treated equally, a wholly subjective system of law and justice has been created to cater to select groups within society. Leave it to judges and/or juries to consider extenuating circumstances in meting out punishment rather than create an unjust body of law solely for political gain. Affirmative action falls into the same unjust category: pandering, unfair to excluded classes, less qualified professionals, and demeaning to those who may benefit. 

In regard to such laws, F. Bastiat wrote (circa 1850) in “The Law”: “While society is struggling toward liberty, these famous men who put themselves at its head are filled with the spirit of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They think only of subjecting mankind to the philanthropic tyranny of their own social inventions. Like Rousseau, they desire to force mankind docilely to bear this yoke of the public welfare that they have dreamed up in their own imaginations.

“Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization: justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?

“The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable.”

Steve King

Village for the Homeless

Thank you Mayor Murillo for your agreement to organize a hearing possibly on November 29, for the greater community to comment on the approved  40-unit Homeless Village for Carrillo and Hwy 101 after City Council approved it (5-2). Your prompt response to my testimony and written inquiry is appreciated. Reps Jason Dominquez and Randy Rowse are to be applauded for their comments and “No” votes. 

A village of tiny houses at the entrance to our City for 40 lucky “hard-core homeless” is not how to best meet anyone’s needs, particularly Santa Barbara’s or Montecito’s. 

This planned Homeless Village will attract hundreds, if not thousands more. Announcements are being circulated as I text: “Come one, come all.”    

The “homeless” know their rights.  What are the rights of taxpaying residents? 

The chosen City Parking Lot location at Carrillo and 101 is an easy walk from both the bus and train stations. What’s next? The City property on Old Coast Highway along 101 to Hot Springs Road?  

Did it occur to highly paid staff to take even an hour to research, or contact our homeless service provider PATH?  Or to call our former Mayor Helene Schneider, who is now an employed Homeless Czar? 

There’s a reason why other beach communities – Redondo, Manhattan, Hermosa – don’t have a problem: they coordinate regionally to problem solve. Furthermore, PATH, which is under contract to Santa Barbara, also serves the aforementioned beach communities without a problem. If staff did even an hour’s inquiry, creation of a Homeless Village on Carrillo at 101 would not have been on the radar. Rather, staff would be focused on getting the County to do its job. 

Build on County property near County Admin a supervised Community Health Facility (CHF) plus more assisted-living non-religious beds to save our community from the recent 9th Circuit court decision. Dick Berti and other private citizens offered $100,000 each to get such a project built. Council ignored their generous offers. 

Council again demonstrated its collective ignorance of the evolution of mental health law and homelessness on Tuesday. The Lanterman-Petris- Short Act (LPS) passed in 1967 (Governor Ronald Reagan), went into full effect in 1972, with the Wisconsin civil rights decision thereafter, changing commitment laws, rights to refuse treatment (1987), and to be housed in the least restrictive environment. Over 40 years ago, Governor Jerry Brown was in his first term. All but five state hospitals were closed. Nearby Camarillo State Hospital closed in 1997. 

The legislated plan was for every County to build Community Health Facilities (CHFs) for the mentally ill, something less restrictive than a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF or ICF). As you know, Mayor, I commuted weekly to Sacramento, to work in health care, housing, and public policy. I witnessed it, and for decades our County’s failure to respond along with most every other of California’s 58 counties.  

Then the tsunami hit of homeless, the old-old, the released “unrestricted” mentally ill, and higher housing costs. The County is now attempting to unload its responsibilities via a meager $4-million 30-month temporary grant by dumping an urgent political hot potato onto the City.

The City’s survival depends in large part on “solving” the homeless crisis originally created in part from closure of Camarillo State Hospital and legislative mandate.  

Don’t let the County off the hook. Hold the County accountable to construct a CHF, plus more supervised tiny room beds up on County property with easy access to County Health Clinics, Social Services, and Veteran’s services. Allow homeless 24-hour access to a tiny 10’x 7’ room. Tell Sacramento only County residents will be served with proof of 2-3 years residency as evidenced by auto registration address, school records, utility bills, tax returns, pay or SS Disability stubs or whatever is deemed reliable proof they belong here. Take our right to only care for our own all the way to the Supreme Court, if we must.

Local needs exceed our ability if we don’t get creative. Our medically helpless, our most vulnerable need a safe bed. Our working poor living in their cars need a safe place to park or a bed with hygiene facilities. Our old, frail population who have outlived their resources need a tiny safe room with hygiene facilities costing under their monthly Social Security check. We are compassionate extending a helping hand to those in serious need.

The County’s psychiatrists and “pros” know who is who: who needs long-term protective shelter, as compared to who can be functional, if taking their meds and provided a supervised safe space with a bed and hygiene facilities at a low monthly cost. Elected City and County have even been provided numbers of how many in each category of homelessness. Gypsies, vagrants and others choosing a homeless lifestyle must be differentiated as Council and BOS have been told by their experts. They comprise over 50% without a right to camp on public streets if a bed is available anywhere.  

A regional discussion could possibly lead to allocation of “remote, isolated land for their encampment” as free people. Otherwise commercial business areas will be abandoned by the paying public, as evidenced locally. Your informed leadership is critical. Property and State Taxpayers are watching how government is wrongly spending money beyond general mismanagement. Lastly, I’d like to know, whatever happened to Work Inc. on Gutierrez Street to help place those wanting daily work or training? We need a number to call to schedule pickup day laborers. 

Mayor Murillo you are indeed accessible, welcoming, and responsive. It’s results we seek.

Denice Spangler Adams

The Greatest Gift

It isn’t what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are close together calendar wise. Both are occasions for us to appreciate our good fortune to be American citizens. We live in a land of freedom and opportunity. We can worship and speak freely. We can choose our government and expect it to govern in accordance with our wishes. Justice is a right for all, as is privacy. But as you read this, do you feel somewhat cynical? Are you saying to yourself – it isn’t quite like that anymore? What has changed?

This beautiful season is not the occasion to particularize about what has deteriorated in America over the last thirty years. It is the opportunity for us to remind ourselves that if we perceive that America is not morally what it was in the not too distant past…we probably have ourselves to blame.

If we centralize our efforts on the values that made America great; fundamental things like encouraging our children to read, to enjoy the arts, to be clean, to dress with some dignity, to be kind to others, to compete fairly, to be polite, to respect all property and the personal values of those we may not fully understand. If we can learn to rekindle the love and affection of matrimonial normalcy with a genuine regard for moderation and decency in all things pertaining to life, we will quickly rectify the social problems that beset us today.

The true spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas lies not in what we are about to receive, but in what we are willing to give to our families, our friends, our neighbors, our countrymen, and the world. Love thy neighbor as thyself; and above all…love thy child enough to teach right from wrong. The world will be a better place, and we will all have much more to be thankful for, and our rejoicing will be heartfelt.

Harry Wilmott


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