Of Rats and Tycoons

Fed Up: “There’s a group of neighbors on the Eastside who live near the Salvation Army Thrift Store and are fed up with the illegal dumping that occurs after hours and during the weekends on the sidewalk of the thrift store,” says Rachel M. Arriaga.

On the Beat

“Despite the fence and the sign, people continue to dump their unwanted items on the street sidewalk-everything from mattresses and furniture to stuffed animals and clothing. Eventually, homeless and other people make their way to the site, rummage through the discards, and often leave unwanted items in the middle of the street, or farther up the sidewalk. It is the kind of thing that accumulates; once one person dumps there, others follow. Then the entire surrounding business and residential area looks trashy.”

“We have been in contact with the Salvation Army and the mayor, but no serious measures have been made.”

Well, Rachel, if people are going to ignore signs and common sense, I think the next step for the good of the community is for the Salvation Army-which is a church organization-to hire security there. The thrift store manager, Angeles Lopez, says they’re working hard to alleviate the problem. They’re working with the city to post illegal dumping signs, warnings of fines, citing ordinance sections-as required-and posting a map showing the route to the dump. She said she also plans to meet with the neighbors. My suggestion of hiring a security guard is being considered, she said.

Oh, Rats!: “Tonight (last week) my husband and I were at the Riviera Theater watching “Avenue Montaigne” when a large rat ran across the aisle two rows in front of us,” reports Claudia Chotzen. “I screamed. We ran out of the movie. The employees at the concession stand did not seem a bit surprised to hear it. The manager said they had exterminators there three times this week, and they have set traps.”

“Neither of us wanted to go back in to finish the movie, even though we were enjoying it. We were freaked out about having a rat run over our feet or biting someone. We wondered if we should go back in and make an announcement to the others in the theatre to warn them.”

The manager issued us passes for another movie, but big deal: Neither one of us wants to return to the Riviera Theatre. The popcorn, sticky soda, and candy must be a big attraction for them; how freaky to think they might be crawling around as we sit there in the dark!”

I talked to a Metropolitan Theaters official in LA, who promised to immediately alert a local pest control company to do a thorough rat-proofing of the theater. This, he said, is what Metro does whenever a problem is reported, along with regular extermination work.

One night owl tells me that it’s not uncommon to spot “a parade of mice” along State Street downtown around 2 a.m. I wonder if that has anything to do with the bars closing?

Mr. Crossword Puzzle: To many, Will Shortz is the king of crossword puzzles. Not only is he the Crossword Editor of The New York Times, but he has also been the editor of Games Magazine for 15 years, founder and Director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and puzzle master for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday.” Shortz is also the subject of the acclaimed 2006 documentary film, “Wordplay.” Puzzle mavens will be happy to learn that he’ll appear at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on May 6 at 4 p.m. He’ll be stimulating audience members with brainteasers, word games, and there’ll be audience participation. For more information, call (805) 893-3535.

Wine & Pupus: So what’s doing at the Kona Village Resort on the Big Island now that Ty Warner has sold an interest in the iconic beach getaway? (Ty’s still an investor.) Kona plans a major restoration and is putting on a weeklong bash featuring wine tasting, cookery demos, a cowboy dinner honoring the island’s paniolo heritage, outrigger racing and, of course, pupus. (That’s Hawaiian for hors d’oeuvres.) The weeklong bash at the 125-bungalow beach resort starts May 21. Details are available by phone at 1-800-367-5290.

(Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 805-965-5205. He is a staff writer for the Santa Barbara Independent, with a print column in the Thursday print edition and online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays.)


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