Ready for the Weekend?: Who says there’s nothing to do in Santa Barbara on weekends? The Indy’s pages are jammed with activities to brighten and enrich your life, from A to Z, running the gamut from altogether amusing to zealously zesty. Here are my suggestions for the weekend. [Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of Barney’s new Friday afternoon On the Beat, where he’ll detail what’s going down in town every weekend.] It’s not necessarily a “best of,” just this week’s batch of stuff to get you off the couch and out in the wonderful world of Santa Barbara and environs.
The Play’s the Thing: We’re blessed with so much good local theater. On the boards at the Ensemble Theater is one of Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter’s best-known plays, Betrayal (pictured). It’s the story of an adulterous affair, but told backwards. The post-breakup first, then ending with the start of it all. It’s ending its run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. Info at 962-8606.
The Santa Barbara City College Theatre Group opens its season this weekend with playwright Larry Shue’s The Foreigner. Director Rick Mokler calls it “an evening of pure fun.” A shy guy jilted by his wife pretends to be a foreigner with no knowledge of English, leading to “a hilarious series of twists and turns.” Call the box office at 965-5935 for reservations. I’ve never seen a poorly done play there.
Eating Out: When I was a kid on Chicago’s South Side, my parents never took us out to dinner. I didn’t complain because Mom was such a great cook. But I’ve learned how to put on the feedbag in Santa Barbara. Eating out must be the town’s favorite pastime. The list of good restaurants is long and ever-changing, but here are a couple of affordable spots, not high-priced dining, but fun.
The Chase Bar and Grill, 1012 State St., is lit up with white lights like Christmas. It’s a kick just to look at the place from the sidewalk. You’re liable to see half the people you know, so don’t try to sneak in with someone you shouldn’t be with. This is one friendly place, starting with Todd the bartender. Sit at the bar alone and you’re no longer a stranger. The food runs to Italian. Sue enjoyed her calamari and fettuccine Alfredo so much she took half of it home to eat the next day.
I guess I’m in an Italian mood today because I want to mention a little place on Upper State next to the San Roque post office at 3343 State St. Via Maestra is small but as real as something you’d find in a Tuscan town. But with faster service. A good place to find wine and cheese from the Old Country. Popular at lunch. There’s a good selection of panini sandwiches and the bruschetta is enough to fill your stomach.
All That Jazz: Tenor sax man Sonny Rollins is one of the great names of jazz and he’ll be bringing his hard-swinging style to UCSB’s Campbell Hall Sunday at 7 p.m. The Village Voice calls him “the last jazz immortal.”
Dick Smith’s Legacy: If you care about Santa Barbara County’s wilderness areas and their future, the life and legacy of journalist-photographer-conservationist Dick Smith (pictured, feeding horses) will be the subject of a forum Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Fleischmann Auditorium.
Dick, with whom I was proud to work with, hike beside, and learn from, fought hard for passage of the federal Wilderness Act of 1964 and for the San Rafael Range to be included. When he died at 56 in 1977, admirers lobbied to have an area of 65,000 acres adjoining the San Rafael Wilderness to be named the Dick Smith Wilderness in his honor.
I’ll be moderating the forum, joined by artist Bud Bottoms, author Ray Ford, and hiker Jim Mills. Tickets, which will include a wine reception afterward and a free copy of the Dick Smith monograph prepared by the Wildling Art Museum (which is sponsoring the forum), are $15. ($10 for members of either museum.) For reservations, call 682-4711, Ext. 110.
Take a Hike: Okay, for the first weekend, I’ll take it easy on you. What could be easier than a stroll from the harbor to Stearns Wharf? Have a seafood snack on the pier and watch the action, from people drowning bait from the end of a pole action to pelicans snoozing to watching the boats going by. Take a look at the city from out there, as it rises gracefully up from the beach to the mountains beyond. We work in this gorgeous ocean front town but how often do we get to the waterfront and just take it all in? Do yourself a favor.
Moving Pictures: The only movie I’ve seen of the current showings is the delightful Little Miss Sunshine, with the cute Olive as one unforgettable child. Sue is telling everyone how much she chuckled over Keeping Mum, up at the Riviera, always a good bet even if you have no idea what’s playing there. Then there’s Clint Eastwood’s World War II saga, Flags of Our Fathers, which portrays heroism on sands of Iwo Jima. (He also made a brother to it, Letters from Iwo Jima, showing the battle from the Japanese point of view.) A far different saga is being screened at the Fiesta Five: Marie Antoinette, the French queen who lost her head.