<b>NEVER INDICTED:</b>  While other cities can boast of electing criminals to public office, we have to make do with nice civic leaders, like Mayor Helene Schneider.

Paul Wellman (file)

NEVER INDICTED: While other cities can boast of electing criminals to public office, we have to make do with nice civic leaders, like Mayor Helene Schneider.

Are We Too ‘Normal’?

Nice. But Not Colorful

Thursday, June 27, 2013
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NICE, BUT NOT COLORFUL: Santa Barbara is a lot of things, but it ain’t zany. We used to have real characters I could write about, like the Minister of Marijuana, and the Professor, who walked around toting a bag of books and ranting.

We’re Nice, but we’re not Colorful. We don’t have anyone like Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s under court order to stop discriminating against Latinos with his Nazi-like sweeps. Joe’s been under fire for years but keeps getting reelected. They love the guy. Arizona is colorful in a Wild West, shoot-first, racist kind of way.

Barney Brantingham

All Arizona needs to make headlines is one someone like Joe. Everyone else ​— ​except maybe one of their crazy governors, who have a habit of being indicted, or a legislature trying to take over the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ​— ​can be normal and the state can still bask in the 115-degree heat of old-fashioned white-man Americanism.

All we have in California to match that is Old Baldy, formerly dubbed Governor Moonbeam, now doing his best to dig the state out of financial crisis and doing a very boring job of it. He does follow former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, son of a Nazi storm trooper, who was clueless about running a state but very apt at smoking cigars and impregnating both his housekeeper and wife at about the same time.

But Santa Barbara’s City Council is a group of very Nice, well-meaning people who do not happen to be corrupt, at least as far as I know. Other cities, like Chicago, of course, can boast criminals as civic leaders. Not us. Mayor Helene Schneider has never been indicted. In fact, to my knowledge, no past mayor has ever been indicted or accused of stealing from the Orphans Fund, laundering drug money, or human trafficking.

We are boring, and, by golly, we like it that way. None of your avant-garde environmentalism for us. No one is going to write an exposé about Santa Barbara narcotrafficantes or satanic cults, or even a comic novel. Dave Barry would starve.

Living in the lunatic asylum called Miami, Barry has no shortage of material. He has just published a book called, appropriately, Insane City. Read it, and Carl Hiaasen’s novels, and you have to believe that Florida is wall-to-wall with rednecks, far-right politicians, greedheads, angry Cuban exiles, and Republicans. All these writers have to do is read the headlines and look out the window.

We in Santa Barbara don’t have that luxury. You have to look pretty hard to find eccentrics lurking around City Hall. Climate-change deniers, yes.

So we have to go looking for out-of-town stuff like Insane City, which involves strippers, medical marijuana, a Burmese python named Blossom, a shrewish bride, an orangutan that steals the wedding ring, and other silliness. Hiaasen specializes in dark social satire, Florida corruption, and all-around weirdness.

I am not making this up: Dave Barry will be coming to the Granada on January 22, 2014, brought by UCSB’s Arts & Lectures. He’ll be flogging the new book but for sure will not be picking up any local color. Though years ago, someone asked Barry why then-president Reagan wore brown suits. “Someone told him to,” Barry cracked.

Arts & Lectures chose the beautifully rebuilt El Encanto Hotel to announce its new lineup the other day. Along with Barry, there’ll be cellist Yo-Yo Ma, returning to the Granada on March 13, 2014. Alan Alda will be at the Granada with his book Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself on October 1. In 2014, the Venice Baroque Orchestra is due February 6, the Vienna Philharmonic on March 5, and Garrison Keillor on April 2.

Lots of writers coming, I’m glad to say. Tony Kushner, who wrote the script for the film Lincoln, will speak at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on October 4. Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, on which Lincoln was partly based, will be at Campbell Hall on November 4. (Would have been fun to have had them on stage together, eh?)

Fiddler: Who would write stories about a milkman? Sholem Aleichem, known as “the Jewish Mark Twain,” did. He died at 57 in 1916, decades before his stories about Tevye, the milkman in an Eastern European village, became the beloved musical Fiddler on the Roof. I was moved while watching Tevye, well-played by Erik Stein, trying to keep his balance, like that fiddler on the roof, and to hold on, above all, to the sacred “traditions.” The PCPA production runs at the Solvang Festival Theater through July 6.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

no, you're not too normal here in Santa Barbara, you're smug, arrogant, and condescending.

zebu111 (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 6:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Agreed. And waaayyyyy far left of the national center-right norm.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 8:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

you have a point, JL, but taking a more NATO perspective the whole country is pretty far "center-right" like you (ever claiming he's center-left HAHA!)..thus, SB is about center or perhaps a bit center-left. All relative, of course.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 10:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan, I agree with you.

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 10:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Living in Santa Barbara can be like a civil war at DisneyLand. Hey Zebu, same sex MARRIAGE.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 10:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Anyone else miss the Chinese Jesus that used to roam lower State? That guy was cool.

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 2:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

NUM1 - yes, totally! I remember once, in high school, we saw him "save" an injured pigeon in the Sunken Gardens. He held it for a little while and then, I kid you not, it flew out his hands!

sacjon (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 3:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

He's actually Japanese, used to go by "Blessed." He's still around, maybe on a seasonal sort of basis, but saw him as recently as a few weeks ago near downtown Ralphs. Have heard lots of stories about him, his supposed "secret wealth," business dealings etc., but have no idea if any of it is true.

zappa (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 6:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan, I have no idea what you just said. What does NATO have to do with US political positioning?

As for center left, well, how' bout you define the traits and I'll tell you if I match up. Put a little thought into your posts, for once.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 6:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually, I'd like to see a little zany. So much smug, condescending arrogance here. Lighten up!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 7:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Indy should have a mixer for it's bloggers. That would be fun.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 7:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

With Kettman in charge of the bar.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 7:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What a sad column. If you truly believe that Santa Barbara is normal, you are not working hard at all. But the Independent has grown tired and appears to be lazy in its reporting.

4cutiesintow (anonymous profile)
June 27, 2013 at 10:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think what Brantingham is noting is the increased cultural commodification thus homogenization of the area . Note current letter to editor from newbie complaining SB doesn't look California enough.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 12:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Santa Barbara = LA-lite ;)

zebu111 (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 7:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Barney should have gone to the Summer Solstice celebration.

byronsnake (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

gee JL, rblacumbre could figure it out, try a little harder. You're sinking back into nasty Locke, remember, you were gonna try to reform.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

zany cant afford sb

redbunz (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 1:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually "zany" is too cool for SB.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 2:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Agree with Ken. Plenty of participants, no Disney dollars. Waking up To, ( is not a healthy morning mantra.
Zany told me he loves SB, but Walt put the kybosh on his admission pass. "Your name on a hat is not currency, my good friend."

sbsavage (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 9:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Santa Barbara city government isn't Nice or normal. We don't hear or read about corruption, other than in comments by the public and occasional articles by investigative reporters, because it's 1) ignored by local reporters, 2) censored by local media, 3) the status quo in city government, rather than isolated newsworthy incidents, and 4) because city and county government have substituted retaliation against whistle-blowers for oversight.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
July 17, 2013 at 3:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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