A Birnam Birthday

By Richard Mineards   |   November 8, 2022
Birthday boy Ray Winn at the event (photo by Alma Rose Middleton)

Social gridlock reigned at the Birnam Wood Club when real estate investor and inventor Ray Winn, 88, hosted a birthday bash for his partner of 34 years Peter Kavoian, who was celebrating the 16th anniversary of his half century, and Peter’s mother Anna who is 92.

The tony twosome, who split their time between their antiques-filled home in Birnam Wood and Las Vegas, invited more than 50 guests to share the moment on a perfect summer night. Writer Erin Graffy and husband Jim Garcia performed a witty duet to the birthday boys. 

Among the glitterati were Morrie and Irma Jurkowitz, Robert and Robin Fell, author Fannie Flagg, Condor Express supremo Hiroko Benko, Anne Towbes, David Selberg, Wayne and Sharol Siemens, Robert and Marlene Veloz, former district attorney Joyce Dudley, and interior designer John Saladino, whose former Montecito estate, Villa Di Lemma, was bought by TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Remembering Ridley-Tree

Montecito uber philanthropist Leslie Ridley-Tree, who died at the age of 97 last month, was remembered at a packed funeral service at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, which she had attended for decades, that was also live streamed.

Leslie, whose bountiful parties I attended for more than a decade at her homes on Hot Springs Road and, latterly, Birnam Wood, supported myriad local organizations over the years, including the Music Academy, the Dream Foundation, Santa Barbara City College, the Santa Barbara Symphony, Westmont College, Santa Barbara Zoo, and Sansum Clinic.

Book Still Being Written

Buckingham Palace is no doubt battening down the hatches in anticipation of Prince Harry’s 416-page autobiography Spare, which is now officially hitting bookshelves on January 10 in 16 languages from New York publishing giant Penguin-Random House, part of a $20 million three-book deal.

The Duke of Sussex has also announced he is donating $1 million to Sentebale, a charity that helps children affected with HIV/AIDS founded in the southern African nation of Lesotho by Harry and Prince Seeiso, the king’s brother, and a further $340,000 to the U.K. charity WellChild, of which he has been a patron for 15 years.

The book promises to be “full of insight, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom” about the eternal power of love over grief. An “intimate and heartfelt memoir” promising the youngest son of King Charles III will “offer an honest and captivating personal portrait.”

Harry has been making last minute editorial changes to the ghost-written book, presumably reflecting the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in September, and fears the final draft might not go down too well after the long-reigning monarch’s move to more heavenly pastures.

Already major British booksellers, like W.H. Smith and Waterstones, have started marketing the tell-all tome at half price, more than two months before its publication.

It is to be hoped that Harry does not shoot himself in the foot with Spare. King Charles and his older brother, the Prince of Wales, only have so much patience after the incendiary interview he and wife Meghan Markle did with Montecito TV titan Oprah Winfrey last year…

A Kicking Quartet

The ever-popular Juilliard String Quartet kicked off CAMA’s latest Masterseries at the Lobero, its fourth recital in our Eden by the Beach since 2006.

The Fab Four, founded in 1946 and described by the Boston Globe as “the most important American quartet in history,” lived up to their deserved reputation of drawing on the classics while championing new works with Beethoven’s “Quartet No. 16 in F Major” and Dvořák’s “Quartet No. 14 in A-flat major,” sandwiching Jamaican Eleanor Alberga’s 1994 work “Quartet No. 2.”

A heady mix…

Lords Question Working Status of Dukes

Prince Harry and his uncle Prince Andrew may lose their right to perform official duties for King Charles III after peers in the House of Lords asked if they should resign as Counselors of State who can act as stand-ins for the monarch as they are no longer working royals.

It is the first time the status of the dukes of York and Sussex as counselors has been raised in the U.K.’s Parliament.

Buckingham Palace has come under pressure to relieve the pair of their roles since Harry moved to California and Andrew was embroiled in a sexual harassment lawsuit in the U.S., which he disputed but later settled.

Charles reportedly wants the law amended so his counsellors are all working royals, but it would require a change in legislation to the 1937 Regency Act.

A Challenging Year

Montecito actor Michael J. Fox has been reflecting on a painful past year which saw him suffer myriad broken bones and the loss of his mother, amid his 30-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

The Back to the Future actor says his condition “got worse” and he became uncharacteristically “short with people” after he broke his cheek, hand, shoulder, and arm bones, and his mother Phyllis died aged 92.

“I’m 61 years old and I’m feeling it a little bit worse,” he told People. “I was never a cranky guy… I try to nip it in the bud.”

Fox was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, in 1991. He went public with the diagnosis in 1998 and continued his acting career.

A Blooming Birthday Wish

Orlando Bloom, British actor fiancé of Santa Barbara warbler Katy Perry for the past three years, has wished the former Dos Pueblos high student a happy 38th birthday.

“Each time we take a trip around the sun and get to celebrate you, I’m reminded that we’re on this trip together,” the 45-year-old Lord of the Rings actor – who boasts 9.5 million Instagram-Facebook followers – wrote. “And whatever the weather, we’re always shining!”

A Spectacle to See

Meadow Walker, 24, the only daughter of the late Santa Barbara actor Paul Walker, is making a spectacle of herself!

She is a model in a new Tiffany & Co. eyewear campaign showcasing $439 ‘Tiffany T’ sunglasses from the New York jewelry company founded in 1837. Meadow also wears a $412 pair of ‘Tiffany HardWear’ shades. 

Aside from modeling, she keeps busy as President of the Paul Walker Foundation.

Todd A. Amspoker Joins CAMA Board

Todd A. Amspoker has joined the board of directors of the Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara, which is celebrating its 104th concert season.

He is a partner at the local law firm of Price, Postel & Parma LLP, which involves public agency and real estate matters, focusing on eminent domain and real estate litigation, natural resources litigation and water rights issues, and land use matters.

Amspoker has represented major public agencies throughout California. He has also conducted a substantial number of jury trials in his legal career.

He has been a pianist since childhood, focusing on the classical repertoire. He is also an avid tennis player.


Meghan Markle shopping at Wendy Foster in the Upper Village… Controversial rapper Kanye West noshing at the FisHouse… Behati Prinsloo, Namibian supermodel wife of Maroon Five rocker Adam Levine, picking up a smoothie at Pierre Lafond.

Pip! Pip! Be safe, wear a mask when necessary, and get vaccinated.


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