On the Beat 4-12-2007

Sex, Lies, and Videotape: It was Valentine’s Day, maybe a half-dozen years ago or so. A young Montecitan, full of romantic fervor, proposed to his wife that they go out for dinner and dancing, according to the story relayed to me by a friend.

“Oh, no,” she replied sleepily. “Why don’t we just spend a nice evening at home by the fire and sip champagne?” And so they did. Then, impulsively, she said, “Let’s watch a movie. Oh, look, there’s a tape already in the VCR. Let’s watch it.” And before he could stop her, she’d turned it on. Before his horrified eyes, and then hers, there spooled out a frenetic scene of a man and woman making passionate love. “Hey, that looks like our bed!” the wife screamed. “And that’s you and your masseuse.” And so it was. And so it was many moons before the husband could return to the marital bed.

On the Beat

Art Swap for Jail? County Supervisor Joni Gray, who represents Orcutt and the Lompoc Valley, suggested that the county help pay for a new North County jail by selling the county-owned Santa Barbara Museum of Art to the city of Santa Barbara. Trouble is, back in the 1930s, the county paid Uncle Sam only $50,000 for the former post office, according to the late historian Walker A. Tompkins. Selling it to the city for the same price might be fair but wouldn’t do much for a proposed $153-million jail. And would the city want to go in the hole for x millions-its market value-so the county could reap a huge windfall profit off a museum?

More NP Complaints: Just why the feds needed to ponder so long isn’t clear, but the National Labor Relations Board has filed two more unfair labor practice complaints against the News-Press. Crashing and disrupting a union meeting and illegal surveillance of union rallies seemed a slam dunk. This, according to Independent senior editor Matt Kettmann, makes a total of 19 unfair labor practice complaints, with two more in the wings. Possible hearings end of May.

Back to the Future: How wonderful, the power to see what is yet to be. But how about trying to rewrite the dark chapters you read in the book of the future? A wise idea or one that could backfire? All this is explored in the Ensemble Theatre Company’s intriguing play The Violet Hour, by Richard Greenberg.

Baseball in the Air: Big changes are cooking at Pershing Park-if the city, Old Spanish Days, and Santa Barbara Carriage Museum folks can agree on a deal. For one thing, an anonymous donor would kick in “seven figures” to build a “Cadillac” softball diamond open to the public but handy for the City College softball team, according to City Councilmember Brian Barnwell.

The Carriage Museum would move to a city-owned two-acre site off Calle Cesar Ch¡vez, near Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. The city, using redevelopment funds, would build a new Carriage Museum on its parcel between the railroad tracks and the construction material batch plant. That would mean the annual Fiesta parade and its hundreds of horses would form up there instead of at Pershing Park. Not only will the Carriage Museum get new facilities, but its proximity to the DoubleTree is likely to give it wider exposure, Barnwell said.

One offshoot is that moving the existing Carriage Museum and its outside storage clears the way for creating an improved pedestrian access for Westside residents to get to Pershing Park and the waterfront. A major benefactor of this would be the City College women’s softball team. By building an NCAA-standard softball field and stands, the women could hold tournaments and earn support money, Barnwell said. There is also some sentiment, he said, to locate the upgraded softball diamond at Dwight Murphy Field instead.

To do all this, Old Spanish Days would have to sign over a portion of the ball field it now owns. Removing the Carriage Museum would permit moving the present parking area back and allow the softball diamond to expand.

The deal is by no means done. Mayor Marty Blum and Councilmember Grant House, present at a Fiesta event last week at the museum, told me they like the idea; Fiesta and museum officials are studying the plan. One question: Is there enough room on the parcel for everything that has to go there? “Fiesta has to be convinced,” Barnwell said.

The plans also call for converting the existing baseball field (on the far side of the park near Cabrillo Boulevard)-used by the City College men’s team-into a full-fledged baseball park. The extra space being created would allow an outfield fence to be built and also permit the Santa Barbara Foresters semi-pro team to move there from UCSB and major league farm teams to visit, Barnwell said.

And yet another part of the plan is to build a sports center for teams from area high schools and colleges, including a hall of fame for Santa Barbara sports heroes.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 965-5205. He also writes online columns at independent.com on Tuesdays and Fridays


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