Author spotlight: Jeff Wing

Jeff is a journalist, raconteur, autodidact, and polysyllable enthusiast. He has been writing about Montecito and environs since before some people were born. Jeff can be reached at

Grass is Greener (Than Previously Reported) on Both Sides
By Jeff Wing   |   May 21, 2024

In 1936 they released the notorious Reefer Madness, a social horror movie lightly dressed up as a PSA. Reefer Madness lives up to its nominal hypothesis, portraying the effects of cannabis in a terrifying Jekyll-and-Hyde framework that sees gee-whiz youngsters turned into shifty-eyed, maniacally giggling creeps after a single puff. Marijuana was the sinister trojan […]

HTSI – Not Your Grandfather’s Superconductor
By Jeff Wing   |   May 14, 2024

Nature is many-splendored. Imagine a rotund little bird with blue, unkempt feathers, dots for eyes, and a charming little beak. The bird is grasping a branch near the top of a tall, breeze-tossed tree, and periodically emits a lilting series of notes that seize the human heart. Now imagine a throbbing flume of plasma as […]

Moron in a Glass House
By Jeff Wing   |   May 7, 2024

I’d fallen hard for a lovely Dutch visitor to Santa Barbara and made the impulsive decision to drop everything and follow her home. Her name was Judith and “Home” was a lovely town on the Dutch Channel Coast, a place called Monster (etymological provenance: the 11th century monastery that was the town’sseedling) in a province […]

Adrienne Smith’s Daylight Rave
By Jeff Wing   |   April 25, 2024

SUNSENDER. There, I said it. Remember the word. It is the fruit of one woman’s search for everyday magic.  Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily. Life is But a Dream. Adrienne Smith and three other women climbed into a fiberglass rowboat under the Golden Gate Bridge, shoved off, and rowed to Honolulu; a largish city in the […]

Senior Scams and the Jackasses Who Perpetrate Them
By Jeff Wing   |   April 23, 2024

Yes – as advertised, this week’s essay is about senior scams and the jackasses who perpetrate them. It’s an info-rich message from an avenging angel in the DA’s office. Her name is Vicki Johnson. For a dozen years, Ms. Johnson – semi-retired Deputy District Attorney – has held her own full retirement in abeyance so […]

District216: The Jacob Tell Overture
By Jeff Wing   |   April 16, 2024

As acid tests go, this could be a paradigm-changer. Jacob Tell wasn’t always a psychonaut plumbing the Mariana Trench of perception. “Remember Reagan’s Just Say No campaign? I was a D.A.R.E. kid. I had the shirt and the pencil and the lunchbox and all the things that they gave us in grade school.” That was […]

“An Artist from Day One” Diana Postel’s First Thursday
By Jeff Wing   |   April 9, 2024

Deepest childhood is sometimes recalled as a shadowy dreamscape daubed with startling bursts of color. From that protean sub-basement “mother” ascends the stairs into the light, smiling that smile, and so forth. It’s complicated, as they say. We think of Mom and language fails, obliging us to fall back on gauzy flowers and little heart-shaped […]

More to the “Y” than Meets the Eye — George Leis, Suzanne McCormick, the YMCA, and the Pope
By Jeff Wing   |   April 2, 2024

George Leis is Montecito Bank & Trust’s President & Chief Operating Officer, a familiar presence in the Village – and a famously nice guy. Once described in these pages as “…so upbeat, ordinary bankers shrink from his presence like goblins nearing sunlight,” Leis is a dedicated and indefatigable volunteer for the community he loves. In […]

End of An Age
By Jeff Wing   |   March 26, 2024

It’s far-flung 2024 – a sci-fi date Stanley Kubrick couldn’t be bothered to foresee. Paul McCartney, who once upon a time jumped for joy in slow motion alongside his teen bandmates, now dresses in layers and is photographed somberly walking around with a grizzled gray jaw – the proper end of an era whose curtain […]

Let’s Hear it for Tom Snow
By Jeff Wing   |   March 19, 2024

Third-grader Tom Snow came home from school one day with the devastating news that most parents regard as the sum of their deepest fears. “I told my mom that I wanted to play the trumpet.” When the poor woman had regained her composure, she gently but firmly took Tom by the shoulders and aimed him […]

Alice Tran: Tough as Nails
By Jeff Wing   |   March 12, 2024

In the war’s aftermath there were hundreds of thousands of scores to settle, and the new government wasted no time getting down to business. Former army officers, religious leaders, those who had worked for or with Americans or the old government; they were all asked to register with the new authorities, who would call them […]

Cecily Barth Firestein at the Funk Zone’s Art & Soul
By Jeff Wing   |   March 5, 2024

A New Yorker, iconoclast, and pioneering expressionist painter and printmaker, Cecily Barth Firestein’s “career” as an artist paralleled – and was subordinate to – what she would surely have described as her first calling of wife and mother. Therein lies a story. Firestein’s large format wonders will be on display in the Funk Zone’s communal […]

Richie Slater Crosses the Interior
By Jeff Wing   |   February 27, 2024

Richard Slater – Englishman, explorer, cultural spelunker, and during a particularly trying economic downturn in his native Liverpool, a bin-man – gathered his strength. New York City had been kind to him but was draining him of precious lucre. He’d spent his time well – hung out with a couple of Dutch tourists (scions of […]

The Gentleman from Liverpool Will be your Server This Evening
By Jeff Wing   |   February 20, 2024

LONDON (1982) – Richard Slater, anecdotist, adventurer, and future server at San Ysidro Ranch’s legendary Stonehouse Restaurant, hoisted his backpack in a gesture of fortitude. A wall of glass gave onto the gigantic, riveted machine that would presently loft him out of Heathrow Airport and deposit him at JFK in New York City. Slater stared […]

The Words Get Stuck in my Throat
By Jeff Wing   |   February 13, 2024

Montecito is a movie town in many respects, and that is a marvelous thing. Yes, I’m a cinephile! My creative hero has long been the director/auteur – an art rebel with the heart, spine and creative ballast to swim upstream in pursuit of a singularly iconoclastic vision. David Lean, Truffaut, Campion, Bogdanovich, Welles, Ephron, Gerwig, […]

Stratus Produces Water from Nothing. Questions?
By Jeff Wing   |   February 6, 2024

James Margolles is a tall guy. When he stands next to his company’s groundbreaking “water cooler” and companionably places his hand atop it, there is a sudden but fleeting C3PO/R2-D2 vibe. But Margolles is not a droid (to say the least); he is an entrepreneur. Like many a brilliant and initially understated startup in the […]

Larry Nobles has Found his Family. We Should all be so Lucky.
By Jeff Wing   |   January 30, 2024

Happiest Man Alive is a tough claim to quantify – but when they decide to hand out an honorary statuette for the title, Larry Nobles will be a red-carpet nominee. “The way the stars aligned to make all this happen is just unbelievable,” he exults. Nobles and I are sitting at the gorgeous off-hours bar […]

Montecito’s Dirt Bike Days
By Jeff Wing   |   January 23, 2024

Montecito! (excuse me) While our fairly liquid little village has never been known as the “Home of the Mink Stole,” neither has it ever sported the tagline “Central Coast Epicenter of Tweens Helling around on BMX Bikes.” That branding would likely have been discouraged by the Montecito Association. The descriptor, though, would not have been […]

Location Location Location
By Jeff Wing   |   January 16, 2024

Montecito’s proximity to Los Angeles has long made our village the jewel in the crown for location scouts seeking blue-chip environs for unforgettable Hollywood classics. And then there is the great Olivia de Havilland’s silver screen zenith and its intersection with Montecito. “They shot Gone with the Wind in Montecito?!” No, you lovable fool. I’m […]

Ivan Rasmussen and Dr. King: A Fork in the Freedom Road
By Jeff Wing   |   January 16, 2024

Sometimes you idly head downtown to hear a public speaker and end up in Tanzania. It happened to Ivan Rasmussen. “I went to my apartment,” Rasmussen recalls of the fever that gripped him following the event. “I took out my pen and writing pad and got started. By midnight I’d essentially organized a civil rights […]

Santa’s Sleigh on E. 54th: Teran Davis’ Mold-Breaking Holiday Mission
By Jeff Wing   |   December 26, 2023

Teran Davis is one of those people. While the rest of us are gauzily imagining the summit over sips of cabernet, Davis is kneeling in a blizzard and hammering in her tent stakes at base camp. With a grin. “I just believe in saying ‘Yes’ in life,” she delicately explains. “A few years ago, I […]

A LOCAL Journey: The Path from Tech Entrepreneur to Restaurateur
By Jeff Wing   |   December 26, 2023

“I cooked my way through college. I was the cook in our fraternity for a while because our actual cook quit, along with a couple other guys. So I made meals for 50 guys, six days a week. That teaches you how to cook pretty fast.” Not to worry; “Frat House Epicure” does not define […]

Deck the Hills with Vows of Dali Another Not-at-all-Surreal Gift-Giving Compass
By Jeff Wing   |   December 19, 2023

Here at the MJ we’ve taken great pains (not literally – this is a self-congratulating figure of speech) to throw light on your seasonal gift-giving panic; to add a spark to this season of beneficence. Gifting anything to a loved one – be it an original Van Gogh or a silken beach stone made lovely […]

Intro to Overture: UCSB’s Future Film Legends Seek Resources and Dangle Carrots
By Jeff Wing   |   December 19, 2023

I spoke with Writer/Director Iris Ortega Quevedo and Producer Isabella Leonard about their UCSB Film Studies project; a short, wordless feature called Overture that is already creating buzz. “Student film” suggests the fledgling efforts of young academic cinephiles feeling their way forward. On the other hand we have George Lucas’ THX 1138 [Star Wars], Greta […]

A Holiday State of Affairs
By Jeff Wing   |   December 12, 2023

Changes to Santa Barbara’s State Street – recently reborn as a cozy, sun-soaked pedestrian promenade – have transformed the palm-lined commercial-and-arts district into an almost park-like destination for calming and convivial holiday shopping, the salt-scented, sparkling beach mere blocks away. Seriously. How do we love State Street over the holidays? Let us count the ways… […]

Businesses Bring the Holiday Spirit to Town
By Jeff Wing   |   December 12, 2023

Summerland – an impossibly picturesque village arrayed along .7 miles of oceanfront hillside – will be rolling out its holiday finery for the aptly-named Winter in Summerlandthis coming Saturday, December 9, from 11 am – 4 pm. In the event, 38 of the town’s businesses will be opening their doors to offer holiday spirit to […]

Winter Shopping in the Land of Summer
By Jeff Wing   |   December 5, 2023

It’s that time of year again. We have communally checked the Large Flightless Bird box and stumbled right over the line into “The Holidays.” Yes, your bone-dry and otherworldly delightfully moist and aromatic Thanksgiving turkey was an absolute hit. Your Aunt Marge’s startling “Pea Mush” was likewise well-received, producing the usual bug-eyed attempts to swallow […]

Poster Artist Rick Sharp: Ambassador of ‘70s-era Santa Barbara
By Jeff Wing   |   November 21, 2023

There are people who so inhabit and illuminate their respective epochs, their lives can seem almost foreordained. Add to that list a starry-eyed surfer from Houston named Rick Sharp, whose canon of poster art so deeply captures the ‘70s ambiance it can truly be said to have helped define it. Sharp will be discussing and […]

Mr. Green Goes to Sacramento
By Jeff Wing   |   October 24, 2023

Local Nonprofit Lion Moves to the Heart of Service Geoff Green smiles a lot in conversation, and he’s smiling now. This is not the tactical smile produced through gnashed teeth (you know the one), but a genuine show of pleasure in the moment. This can be disorienting to the part-time social cynic. Or so I’ve […]

The Long, Unlikely Journey to Ablitt’s
By Jeff Wing   |   October 17, 2023

Just when we’re lulled into thinking Life© is all about appliance sales, iceberg lettuce, and printer paper, something will remind us that it’s really about heraldry. Each and every thing we lay our fool eyes on is part of a story – a pageant, really – that reaches into the past like the tail of […]

Day Schildkret’s Morning Altars: Nature’s Ephemera as Transitory Healing Art
By Jeff Wing   |   October 10, 2023

When Day Schildkret found himself stunned by a sudden flurry of emotional body blows, he was inconsolable, taking long walks through Wildcat Canyon with his faithful pup – head down and heartsick. Note: “head down” can bring you face to face with unsought, healing wonder. Day will be leading a workshop on nature, art, and […]

Bonfire of the Inanities
By Jeff Wing   |   October 3, 2023

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed to Repeat It.” This quaint bromide is periodically hauled out to remonstrate against ideas that seem determined to repeat some wanton mistake from the past. Book banning fits that description like a glove. There is in this country a newish state law on the books – HB […]

John Holman and ‘A Horse in My Suitcase’
By Jeff Wing   |   September 12, 2023

John Holman – U.K. expat, adventurer, programmer, grandson, and nephew of a storied horse-trader and Royal jockey, respectively – has written an affecting and often hilarious memoir of his youth in a tiny, post-war West Sussex village. His bittersweet memoir of village life in rural England is called A Horse in My Suitcase, and will […]

Lotusland’s Sustainability Symposium Part 2 Dishes the Dirt
By Jeff Wing   |   September 5, 2023

“I was already way into entomology as a child. I was collecting the most dangerous insects; the giant tarantula – they’re the most painful bite known to man – the black Tarantula Wasp with the orange wings, the most painful sting you can receive. I’d pin out 10 of these giant wasps at age nine, […]

Montecito Fire Chief David Neels is Taking the Fight to the Fire
By Jeff Wing   |   August 15, 2023

Montecito Fire Department’s (MFD) Station 91 is an understated, red-tiled building in the foothills above Montecito – at a glance more “stately hacienda” than Command Center; though the hacienda’s 30’ aerial somewhat gives the game away. Fire Chief David Neels likewise cuts an approachable figure. Soft-spoken and earnest but given to sudden grins, he is […]

Podium Power: JoAnn Falletta Conducts Electricity at the Granada
By Jeff Wing   |   August 1, 2023

You’re at the symphony, so your socks match for once. You’ve made several such concessions to high art and anxiously await the concert. Finally, the enormous, pleated curtain slowly rises with the seriousness and gravity of stone, the audience bursts into applause, and here we have a hundred-plus musicians in their finery, staring out at […]

A Night in the Chamber
By Jeff Wing   |   July 25, 2023

Coleman, Prokofiev, and Mendelssohn Tear the Roof Off “The Music Academy.” This definite article and two modest nouns scarcely hint at what’s crouching in the woods near Butterfly Beach. My ex-girlfriend (or “wife” in the common parlance) and I attended the third Chamber Night event at the Music Academy’s Lehmann Hall on an otherwise mellow […]

This Legendary Songwriter Has Your Heart in a Sling. Whether or Not You Recognize the Name.
By Jeff Wing   |   July 11, 2023

Jimmy Webb was a 14-year-old working the family farm when he heard a Glen Campbell song on the radio. It brought him to his knees. “I was driving a tractor in the middle of a wheat field in the Oklahoma Panhandle – which is a pretty remote area – listening to my transistor radio. They […]

Summerland Farm Faces its Moment of Reckoning
By Jeff Wing   |   July 4, 2023

A farm is a lovely thing – a pastoral slice of heaven that restores the soul, reconnects the bewildered human to unbridled nature, and just incidentally pushes food out of the dirt. It is the darndest thing. “You see a lot of lettuce. We’ve got broccoli, cauliflower, kale…” Our gesturing tour guide today is the […]

An Odyssey of Spirit and Character(s) Amy Cooper Brings Her Vision to the Indescribable Summerland Experience
By Jeff Wing   |   June 27, 2023

Handily sandwiched between this world and the next, we have the picturesque village of Summerland, California. This quaint California idyll derives its name from ‘The Summerland’ – a term Theosophists apply to the heavenly sphere that surrounds our yearning planet Earth. Summerland was indeed founded by Spiritualist H.L. Williams in 1883 as a colony for […]