Highbrow to Get-Down, BOSB’06

People and Places Most Definitely Popular and Pleasing


Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

2559 Puesta del Sol Rd., 682-4711

It’s the museum’s 90th birthday come
January, and, as far as anyone can remember, the first year it has
won this category. This is the museum with the rattlesnake box, the
planetarium, and the Ray Strong mural dioramas. It has Chumash art
and even a gallery of newer work that celebrates the natural world.
Director Karl Hutterer believes the award is most gratifying
because it proves the museum serves a wide spectrum of the people
who are part of Santa Barbara’s natural history. And if you haven’t
been there yet, you have a great pleasure to look forward to.

Finalist Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Place to Shoot Pool; Juke Box

Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

18 E. Ortega St., 568-0702

It’s safe to say that Dargan’s opening in 1997 helped spawn the
movement away from conventional bars and clubs and back toward
neighborhood haunts — public houses, like in Ireland and other Old
World spots. Though Elsie’s, The Press Room, The James Joyce, and
The Mercury Lounge in Goleta are not specifically connected, they
are all providing a homier libation destination including couches,
though the ashtrays are outside. The juke music at Dargan’s may
lean toward Celtic champions like Van Morrison and the Pogues, but
it feels like what we’d put on when friends are over. And Dargan’s
pool room is just big and friendly and reasonably priced. It’s not
like your game room at home; really, it’s a lot nicer.

Finalists Place to Shoot Pool: Q’s Sushi A Go
Go; Juke Box: The Press Room

Place to Hear Latin Music

Ruby’s Café Santa Barbara

734 State St., 962-9688

Within the world of Latin music there are innumerable subsets.
Bred from rather varied homelands, from Caribbean ports like Cuba
and Cancun, to Central American sites like Guatemala and San
Salvador, to our more familiar neighbor to the south — the
massively diverse country of Mexico — Ruby’s honors these
distinctions by providing often live music to induce paroxysms of
salsa, merengue, bandas, and we’re sure musical styles evolving and
arriving as you read this. Popular, friendly, and lively nearly all
the time, Ruby’s rocks para toda la gente.

Finalist El Paseo Restaurant

S.B. TV News Personality

John Palminteri

In the dictionary, “ubiquitous” has a picture of Mr. Palminteri
next to it, who appears in news stories and entertainment features,
on the radio, at charitable events, and, as you probably know, on
T-shirts sported at indie rock concerts in Los Angeles, where
Palminteri’s fan club is only slightly tongue-in-cheek. But the man
himself has a sense of humor, including the self-deprecating mode,
better than any television figure we know — most of whom tend to be
a little, oh, I don’t know, maybe a touch narcissistic.
Palminteri’s many forays into public causes, however, burnish his
famousness with a glow of community involvement.

Finalist Debbie Davison

S.B. Celebrity

Oprah Winfrey

Just 40 years ago, certain homeowner deeds near Birnam Wood
Country Club stipulated that owners could not sell to blacks. If
you had suggested then that an African-American woman would own the
most beautiful of estates bordering San Ysidro Road and Creek,
people there might’ve laughed. But not only does Oprah Winfrey have
an enormous estate here, she comes out and visits us sometimes too:
You can spot her in Montecito restaurants and down at the Milpas
Trader Joe’s. She has funded S.B. charities, made official
appearances, and, in the larger world, encouraged people to read
Faulkner and Austen. This is the kind of celebrity we like, both
her and the enormous-but-not-yet-completed progress she represents,
and we hope she’s happy here. Long may she stay.

Finalist John Cleese

Children’s Theater Group

Stage Left Productions

Shana Lynch-Arthurs and Steven Lovelace have been resolutely
making theater — big productions — with our kids practically behind
our backs at the Goleta Valley Junior High auditorium. Last year it
was Peter Pan. “It was a dynamite show,” said Lovelace, and lots of
reviewers agreed. And this year? “Oh, there’s so much to plan; we
haven’t even figured out what we’re going to do this school year.”
But the shows can’t be too covertly conducted, because the readers
knew enough to vote. Lovelace and Lynch-Arthurs and all the kids
are thrilled.

Finalist Box Tales Theatre Company

S.B. Radio Personality

Matt McAllister

It’s been a big year for KTYD’s The Early Show. First, there was
a big Roger Durling-penned profile of Matt in this paper followed
by a flurry of pro/con letters. Then there was The Incident, with
McAllister talking to his listeners about the radio honchos warning
him to play more music. McAllister told us he was then suspended,
not for refusing to play more music but for talking about it to his
audience. Rumors say the offers came in from other stations
immediately, and the big bosses relented. McAllister said it was
old-fashioned compromise. “We talked and now we agree,” he said.
Happy to be back? “Of course, and I’m grateful to everyone who
voted, too.”

Finalist Spencer

Sports Bar

Madison’s Sports Grill

525 State St., 882-1182

Alcohol and feats of human endurance just seem to go
together — ask anyone. Going out with friends to a public
imbibatorium equipped with giant screens and throngs willing to
scream to the agonies and ecstasies is a feat of human endurance,
too. Madison’s has it down, screams and groans included, presiding
over downtown for more than a decade and offering specials and
happy hours. As if a playoff game and cold suds weren’t happiness

Finalist Santa Barbara Brewing Co. and

College Night


416 State St., 963-9680

It’s huge inside with tropical exotica, many square feet of bar
surface, pumping music, and a staff committed to friendliness as a
life avocation. College night, usually Thursday in this town,
tempts the kids from Westmont (well, not many), City College (it’s
their turf), Brooks (crazy party people), Antioch (just kidding),
and UCSB (the Mongol Horde, arriving responsibly on Bill’s Bus) to
take part in socialization rituals and the great drink specials
extended to them with deep respect. There’s even a big fish tank,
if you get bored.

Finalist Wildcat Lounge

Charity Event

Black & Blue Ball

It happens every July — S.B. partygoers don black ties and blue
jeans and dance themselves silly for the Muscular Dystrophy
Association. Maybe it sounds like a thin concept, but last year
alone it raised more than $150,000 for the battle against the
insidious disease. Last year the Santa Ynez Chumash board was a
signature sponsor and Eddie Money played for the happy donors.
“We’re truly thrilled to win this,” said Lisa Sierra, regional
coordinator for the MDA society. “And we thank you all so

Finalist Taste of the Town

S.B. Newspaper Columnist

Barney Brantingham

For years now this has been a close contest between Nick Welsh
and Barney Brantingham. Now that Barney’s our writer (maybe you’ve
heard: There’s been a little kerfuffle at the News-Press,
where B.B. wrote for more than 40 years), we’re even happier to
award the palme d’Independent to him. For his part, he’s what you
might call jocosely modest. “I really think this award belongs to
Nick Welsh,” he said. “But what can I say? I want to thank my
family members for stuffing the ballot box.”

Finalist Nick Welsh

S.B. Radio Station



This is the one the kids love, and it’s not even the newcomer
anymore with almost two decades under its belt, dedicated to
pumping out “modern rock.” Modestly housed over a thrift store on
Carrillo Street and fiercely nondependent on big-chain radio, KJEE
is part of the soundscape of the village that raises our rockin’

Finalist KTYD 99.9 FM

Nightclub; Place to Hear Jazz

SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

1221 State St., 962-7776

What’s most exciting about SOhO’s emergence as the club in a
city that used to crawl with them is its insistence on not sticking
to a formula. SOhO’s people have been bringing in huge stars from
the vaunted past like Donovan, giving time to homegrown artists
like the high school and college jazz bands, but also taking
enormous risks on indie rock with bands like TV on the Radio when
few others in town have the guts to think young and old at the same
time. Besides, it has great food, fine drinks, beaming barkeeps,
and a convenient, comfortable location. No wonder the place pleases
our readers.

Finalists Nightclub: Wildcat Lounge; Place to
Hear Jazz: The James Joyce

Dance Troupe

State Street Ballet

322 State St., 965-6066

Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson’s company was heavily on tour
when we called: Valhalla, Boston, Albany, and St. Augustine were
part of the itinerary. But foreign entanglements aside, this award
derives from what the people of Santa Barbara think, and the only
professional corps in town consistently wins this award in a place
that, thanks to SummerDance and Arts & Lectures, sees a lot of
great Terpsichore. For more than a decade now, Carmen, the Art Deco
Nutcracker, and the Van Gogh piece — well, they keep raising the

Finalist Fusion Dance Company

Theater Group

Ensemble Theatre Company

914 Santa Barbara St., 962‑8606

There have been big changes at the Ensemble annually for the
last four years. And now, there is a new executive artistic
director named Jonathan Fox, who hails from the Two River Theatre
in New Jersey. Fox is proud to have his new company win awards, but
is also proud to be part of a town that has lots of theater. “When
there are a lot of theaters it just ups the attendance overall. I
don’t think it’s like competition. In theater, the more the
merrier,” he said. Fox had no control over last year, but it
pleased him: “It just confirms what I thought when I first heard
about Ensemble.”

Finalist Santa Barbara City College Theatre

Classical Ensemble

The Santa Barbara Symphony

1900 State St., Ste. G, 898‑9626

“Our mission is to be here for the whole community,” said S.B.
Symphony Executive Director John Robinson, “so it means a lot to
receive this award from Santa Barbarans.” Robinson’s looking
forward to even more popularity for his big band this year, too. A
pops series, a special commission of The Island of the Blue
Dolphins, and a guitar festival round off what Robinson believes
will be even more pleasure for the music lovers who love the S.B.

Finalist Music Academy of the West

Art Gallery (Not Museum)

Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery

7 E. Anapamu St., 730-1460; 1266 Coast Village Rd., Montecito,

“How cool is that,” exclaimed the illustrious and widely popular
Frank Goss, who took a little art bookstore and built it into a
thriving gallery empire — one here and one on the end of Coast
Village Road. “I think my secret is that I only work with artists I
want to work with, artists like Hank Pitcher and Nicole Strasburg.
I’m not democratic in that sense. My biggest hope and fear is that
the next Georgia O’Keefe is going to be out in my parking lot one
day gathering up stuff to show me. I only hope I have my stuff
together enough that day to recognize her.”

Finalist Contemporary Arts Forum

Santa Barbara Author

Sue Grafton

With only eight alphabet letters to go, Kinsey Millhone, the
doyenne of female sleuths, stays A-plus in our readers’ minds.
Voted almost every year as the best author in town, writer Sue
Grafton, who splits her time between here and Kentucky, spells
major sales even without any backup from Hollywood. (A former
script-doctor, she won’t let the movies make Kinsey a celluloid
star.) Is it her integrity, her light-hearted approach to
hardboiled fiction, or just the gobs of local color that endears
her to our readers? T is for Totally, dudes; it’s likely all of the

Finalist T.C. Boyle

Place to Hear Rock Music

Santa Barbara Bowl

1122 N. Milpas St., 962-7411

Most people who grew up here during the last four decades have
an indelible rock ’n’ roll memory imprinted at the Bowl. The canyon
has a sea view by day and nights full of stars: maybe for you it
was Bob Marley in the 1970s, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, or
The Clash. Moving forward it was 10,000 Maniacs, k.d. lang, Beastie
Boys, Porno for Pyros, Blur, Los Lobos, and our own Big Bad Voodoo
Daddy. But chief among these nights and afternoons of bliss we
remember stars who shook the horizons: Ray Charles, lots of
Santana, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, REM, Bob Dylan, Ringo and
His Friends, and Radiohead. There’s no reason to believe it can’t
keep getting better and our readers smarter each time they vote for
the Bowl.

Finalist SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

Ethnic Festival

Greek Festival

Oak Park’s season of multicultural merriment offers Jewish,
Asian, French, and, of course, the perennial winner — Greek it is.
Apart from the delicious food, it’s hard to say what it is that
compels the readers to pick the Hellenic hoedown as the finest, but
maybe it’s the man with the table in his mouth. Or maybe it’s that
wine that tastes like pine resin or, and this is another guess, the
fact that this ancient culture invented democracy. So if it’s not
the ouzo or the baklava or the hasapikos, maybe it’s just our way
of paying back the folks who gave us consensus government and a lot
of fun philosophy to horse around with for all these years.

Finalist Old Spanish Days Fiesta

S.B. Club DJ

Matt Moore

A good deejay, like a good editor, should be at least a little
invisible. We want to hear the music and not concentrate on the
technopopsynthesizophile working in that little booth with all the
turntables and dials. But Matt Moore has managed to disappear on us
a little too completely. Phone calls to phonebook listings,
messages left, private investigations, and extended dance-crazy
research yielded us no Matt to hang this prize upon. So if you’re
reading this DJ Moore, just know the town loves your groove even
though we’re not quite sure where to find it right now.

Finalist Gavin Roy


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