There’s Bad News… And Good News
By James Buckley   |   June 14, 2018

First, the bad news: “There’s plenty of material up here waiting to come down,” says Kevin Taylor, division chief of Operations at Montecito Fire Department. He says this as he, I, and Montecito Fire chief Chip Hickman examine the Montecito back country and the dry steep mountains directly above in a four-person, single-rotor helicopter flown […]

Family Resemblance
By James Buckley   |   June 7, 2018

They looked like ordinary babies when they were born and it wasn’t clear which part of the family either of them took after, but, year after year, both seven-year-old Deacon T and five-year-old Kessler Buckley developed substantial genetic traits, making it quite clear these young men are related to their grandfather, MJ founder James Buckley.

Remembering Mollie
By James Buckley   |   June 7, 2018

Okay, okay. Yes, most other media have already reported that Mollie Ahlstrand of Trattoria Mollie on Coast Village Road was planning to open a location on State Street next to the Granada, a space previously occupied by the once popular Tupelo Junction. Can I just tell you that I knew about this a couple months […]

Memorial Day
By James Buckley   |   June 7, 2018

More than a thousand participants gathered at the Santa Barbara Cemetery to honor military veterans on Memorial Day. The idea behind this yearly event sponsored by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation is to celebrate the everyday heroes who’ve given their all and to keep the fallen in our minds. Bill Boetticher and the Sheriff’s Bagpipes […]

Celebrating Lad
By James Buckley   |   June 7, 2018

Noted Santa Barbara entrepreneur Lad Handelman was recipient of the Second Annual Distinguished Patriot Award. COLAB founder Andy Caldwell spoke early, and called Lad “the personification of the American Dream,” noting that Lad had “started from nothing in some of the roughest circumstances (born in the Bronx) to literally conquer the world. It’s a phenomenal […]

How We’re Voting: The California Primary
By James Buckley   |   May 31, 2018

In case you missed last week’s Coming & Going, in which we made our upcoming primary election endorsements, preferences, and suggestions, what follows is an edited version of same, with the addition of races and positions not previously covered: Governor of California: John Cox Lieutenant Governor: Cole Harris Secretary of State: Raul Rodriguez, Jr. Controller: […]

The California Primary
By James Buckley   |   May 24, 2018

Tuesday, June 5 (polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm) is that time again, folks, when you’ll be asked for “permission” to spend yet even more money that California doesn’t have to fulfill a wish list of spending by our profligate legislators. But hey, what the heck, it’s not only not their money, […]

“A Minor Disturbance”
By James Buckley   |   May 24, 2018

Harrison Maxwell Gilman, son of Montecito’s Richard Gilman, was born and raised in Santa Barbara, and is a 2018 New York University graduate with a BFA in film (with a minor in art history and a minor in the Business of Entertainment). His focus, though, is not on film but in art. “I have sold my […]

Don’t Miss Les Miz
By James Buckley   |   May 17, 2018

Okay, let’s just come right out and say that Janet Adderley, she of the Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theatre (SBYET), is the best. Oh, sure, we’ve got Otto Layman at Santa Barbara High School squeezing and cajoling high-school kids to perform professional-style musical extravaganzas on the high school stage. Otto is as good as it […]

Bonnie Bonsai
By James Buckley   |   May 17, 2018

Famed western Bonsai master Ernie Witham sent us the following: The Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara will hold its annual show, sale, and demonstrations Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, in the Fellowship Hall at Trinity Lutheran Church, 909 La Cumbre Road at the corner of Foothill Road. Admission is free and open to all who […]

New Family Member
By James Buckley   |   May 17, 2018

For those keeping track, little Otilia Marie Harbin came into this world at approximately 11:30 am on Cinco de Mayo (May 5), weighing in at 7 lbs., 5 oz., and measuring all of 20”. Otilia is the daughter of Lily (Buckley) Harbin and Jeremy Harbin, who live in Silver Lake in the Los Angeles area. […]

The Final Chapter of World War II
By James Buckley   |   May 3, 2018

Seventy-seven years ago, after a Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the United States declared war on Japan. That war resulted in the death of millions of humans and was the only conflict in history in which weapons ranging from swords to Atomic bombs were used. The U.S. prevailed, and the two countries signed […]

Montecito Mud
By James Buckley   |   April 19, 2018

When he awoke the morning of January 9, wine maker (2018 “Vintner of the Year”) and longtime Montecito resident Fred Brander found himself sharing space with nearly 900 tons of mud, rocks, and boulders that hadn’t been on his property the night before. His home is north of East Mountain Drive and none of the […]

Expected Soon
By James Buckley   |   April 19, 2018

Family update: Lily Buckley Harbin and her husband, Jeremy Harbin, expect to welcome into their home their first child – a little girl – on or around the 10th of May. Traveling from all over the United States and even London, England, to help Lily celebrate the upcoming blessed event, nearly two-dozen of her friends […]

Table Art
By James Buckley   |   April 19, 2018

The idea is unique, at least in Santa Barbara, and we’ve not heard of such an event having been done elsewhere: Put 12 designers together, have each choose a piece of art from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s permanent collection, and then create a dining design to enhance the artist’s choice. All in the […]

Montecito Motor Classic
By James Buckley   |   April 12, 2018

It’s not scheduled until Sunday, September 23, but planning is fully underway for this year’s Montecito Motor Classic. The Montecito Inn, a landmark on Coast Village Road, celebrates its 90th birthday this year, as does the Model A Ford, and the September event will reflect that dual celebration of the two American classics. MCC founder […]

James Paul Brown Turns 80
By James Buckley   |   April 5, 2018

Lots of people only know the name James Paul Brown for his unique paintings that appear on bottles of Sunstone wines. But that isn’t even half the story, as a short conversation with the now octogenarian Mr. Brown reveals. During our short talk at Sunstone Winery headquarters in Santa Ynez, James Paul tells me he […]

Montecito’s Recovery Store
By James Buckley   |   March 22, 2018

There are four women responsible for the attractive, busy, and critical resource center known as the Recovery Free Store, dedicated to victims and first responders of the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris slide. They are Berna Keiler, Cathy Link, Heather Sage, and Susan St. John. The store, currently parked directly across from Vons in the […]

Whatever Happened to ISIS?
By James Buckley   |   March 22, 2018

Well, new U.S. Secretary of Defense former U.S. Marine general Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis for one, who, along with the new president, adjusted the rules of engagement in the Syria-Libya corridor to allow for more on-the-ground control of U.S. forces. Presto, ISIS was on the run.  Lucky for us, commander Richard J. Witt is someone […]

A New Montecito
By James Buckley   |   March 8, 2018

It looks like our “New Normal” is to be the evacuation of upwards of 30,000 residents who live below the Thomas Fire boundary from Carpinteria to Goleta, where the now bare soil has been completely upended and exposed to drying winds and constant desiccating sunshine. Every time a hint of precipitation shows up on a […]

Channeling In
By James Buckley   |   February 8, 2018

In its heyday, Santa Barbara’s Channel City Club hosted some of the biggest names in the country. Senator Fred Thompson, for example, then considering a run for president of the United States, addressed a crowd of some 400 or so at the old Miramar. The event was memorable in that “Mr. Santa Barbara,” the late […]

The Genesis Open
By James Buckley   |   February 8, 2018

Could not pass up the opportunity to play a round at the fabled Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, so accepted an invitation from the folks presenting the Genesis Open, which runs February 15 to 18, to cover world number 1 golfer Dustin Johnson (D.J.) at a press conference there a couple weeks before he […]

Fire and Flood in Montecito
By James Buckley   |   January 11, 2018

It was a double whammy. First the fire, and then came the flood. And, in this case, it wasn’t so much a “flood” as a debris-laden runoff from the denuded hills above Montecito. The flow of boulders, mud, and timber that came crashing down, crafted a direct route from the burn area to the ocean, […]

The Fire That Stole Christmas
By James Buckley   |   December 21, 2017

We only had a little over an hour with Montecito Fire chief Chip Hickman, as he had to escort some of the people who’d lost their homes back to their property, but we made the most of our time. No Montecito firefighters were lost or even hurt throughout the ordeal. There was one death, that […]

Fire in Montecito
By James Buckley   |   December 14, 2017

A virtual army of nearly 6,500 firefighters, along with 30-plus helicopters, various other aircraft, fire trucks, bulldozers, and more are, as we write this, working in the back country, mostly out of sight, securing fire lines and control points by a combination of controlled backfires, soaking unburned vegetation, creating breaks where no dry foliage is […]

The 10th Anniversary Revels
By James Buckley   |   December 7, 2017

Santa Barbara Revels founder and fifth-generation Californian Susan Keller moved to Canada with her new husband after graduating from Stanford but returned to California, sans husband, some years later. She is not only a lifelong stage and TV performer but has also earned a law degree from UCLA.  She moved to Montecito in 1994 with […]

Community Stars
By James Buckley   |   November 23, 2017

Both Erin Graffy de Garcia and her husband, James Paul (Jim) Garcia, will be honored by Catholic Charities at the upcoming 26th Annual Mistletoe Ball at Coral Casino on Friday evening, December 1. The meal will no doubt be excellent, as the food from Four Seasons Biltmore always is, but the real attraction will be […]

A Local Food Fest
By James Buckley   |   November 23, 2017

It’s not just Whole Foods or Lazy Acres that tries to accommodate local food purveyors, though their reputations for doing so deserve notice. Ever since Roxy and Michael Lawler purchased Montecito Village Grocery, their aim has also been to include as many local food producers’ items on their shelves. And, at this point, there are […]

The Pizza Lady
By James Buckley   |   November 23, 2017

While at Montecito Village Grocery, I spotted Emily Mullisen surrounded by boxes of Table 5 frozen pizza and offering tastes of her company’s product. Table 5’s pizza dough is made with a mix of cornmeal and wheat, giving its crust a heft not often found in pizza. Table 5’s top seller is the mushroom-and-basil combo […]

Meet the Artist
By James Buckley   |   November 16, 2017

It’s not easy being a working artist, but as long as one doesn’t expect to make a living at it – sort of like writing these days – one can find release and satisfaction in creating. One such creator is Swedish-born Birgitta Baker, whose impressive paintings were on full display at the Santa Barbara Club […]

Mt. Carmel Contest Winners
By James Buckley   |   November 16, 2017

Our Lady of Mount Carmel School art specialist Jennifer Buur tells us that the Montecito Beautification Day poster winners – seventh-graders Camryn Siegel and Riley Green, along with fifth-grader Lauren Doyle, Mt. Carmel School students all – finished in a three-way tie for first place. Additionally, seventh-graders Sophia Fernandes and Grace Trautwein won a separate […]

Lunch at Mollie’s
By James Buckley   |   November 16, 2017

If you are a regular reader of Montecito Journal, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that Trattoria Mollie is just about my favorite restaurant. And, there are at least three solid reasons for such devotion: 1) Mollie’s lasagna, featuring her hand-made pasta and a delicate cream-based tomato sauce reigns supreme; 2) Spaghetti with […]

Olivia Lives on
By James Buckley   |   November 16, 2017

The following came in special to the Journal (we were not there): Easter Moorman reports that Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and Amy Sky shared an intimate evening of music from their CD, Liv On, as a fundraiser for the Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care recently. The event was hosted at the home of Thomas […]

The Re-Invention of Silverhorn
By James Buckley   |   November 16, 2017

Readers – customers and window shoppers alike – will be sad to learn that Mike and Carole Ridding‘s iconic one-of-a-kind jewelry emporium at 1155 Coast Village Road is closing. Their lease isn’t up until mid-February but, beginning Thursday, November 16, at 10 am, there will be what the Riddings are calling a “multimillion-dollar Going Out […]

It’s All in the Game
By James Buckley   |   November 16, 2017

The Sixth Annual Ace Angeloff Alumni Scholarship Fund Golf Classic, held once more at La Cumbre Country Club golf course on November 6, featured a hole-in-one contest that promised a new BMW to a lucky golfer (no one won that particular prize), but there were “closest to the pin” contests on all the par threes […]