We’re Longfellows: Santa Barbara is the longest continuously occupied site of human habitation in the Western hemisphere, claims City Councilmember Brian Barnwell. At his reelection campaign party Monday night at Eos Lounge, Barnwell said that while others who crossed the Bering Straits moved from place to place, the Chumash arrived here about 15,000 years ago and put down roots. And the spot of the first Chumash village is Burton Mound, near West Beach, Barnwell said. It is now the site of a large apartment complex.

On the Beat

Sound to Be Delivered: The Santa Barbara Daily Sound is looking at offering home delivery, owner Jeramy Gordon told me at the Barnwell bash. Maybe in six months, he said. The paper will still be free and available on newsstands but delivered to those in certain ZIP codes for a price not yet determined, Gordon said.

Switching Off on Oct. 20: Betsy Cramer and others are passing around leaflets urging folks to turn off all “non-essential” lights from 8-9 p.m. on Saturday, October 20, as a conservation consciousness-raising event. (Football on TV, of course, is essential.)

Do Yourself a Favor: Even if you’ve never seen a play and never intend to, make an exception and go see The Clean House at Santa Barbara’s Ensemble Theatre. You’ll laugh at the zany beginning but you’ll probably leave with a lump in your throat, as I did. And you’ll surely learn more about what it is to be a human being than you expected when you walked in. Five people-some with reason not to like one another very much-from different backgrounds learn to become the best people they can be, through a surprising combination of compassion and, well, love. Saturday’s opening night was sold out, and every performance from now until October 31 should be. Praise goes not only to the actors-Colette Kilroy, Paula Christensen, Laurie O’Brien, Rudolph Willrich, and Franca Barchiesi-but to director Jenny Sullivan, all involved in the production, and of course the playwright, Sarah Ruhl.

Not So Delicate: Edward Albee’s Pulitzer-winning play A Delicate Balance thrusts us into the middle of a family that’s trying to keep its emotional balance, only to be confronted by the arrival of very frightened close friends. Exactly what scared Edna and Harry from their own home to seek refuge with friends Tobias and Agnes is never spelled out or-for that matter-important to the play.

In the capable hands of Rubicon Theatre artistic director and co-founder James O’Neill, Delicate Balance makes brilliant theater. We the audience feel like intruders in a battle of wills within a family, as they try to cope with one another and good old Edna and Harry. Bonnie Franklin, as Agnes’s alcoholic sister, brings refreshing humor and sanity to the gathering. Granville Van Dusen, playing Agnes’s ineffectual husband, goes from avoiding all conflict to a stunning performance, one of the great acting jobs you’re likely to see. He is a man caught in a struggle between what he thinks is the “right” thing-to allow Edna and Harry to stay-and what he really feels. A Delicate Balance, at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre, runs through October 14.

Nuns Can Stay: Due to a change of mind by leaders of the Sisters of Bethany Catholic order, three Santa Barbara nuns can remain and work here but must vacate their half-century-old convent. That’s because the L.A. Archdiocese plans to sell it to help pay settlements to victims of priest abuse. Meanwhile, a group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests held a press conference in Los Angeles, calling for the resignation of Bishop Thomas Curry of Santa Barbara. They say he actively covered up for a priest accused of sexually molesting several children dating to the 1980s. Curry did not return my call.

John Steinbeck’s Film: Writer/painter/raconteur Barnaby Conrad is also a filmmaker, it turns out. “Years ago, I made a film with John Steinbeck from his short story ‘Flight,’ in Monterey,” Conrad told me. “I wrote and produced it. It was the U.S. entry at the Edinburgh Film Festival that year. Steinbeck himself appears at the beginning of the film talking about how he came to write it-his only appearance ever on film. Dean Mars of Montecito has edited it down to 30 minutes, and it will be shown for the very first time on TV every Saturday evening this month at 6:30 p.m. on local Channel 17.”

“Flight,” published in 1938 in The Long Valley collection of stories set in Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley, is the story of a boy from an isolated farm who yearns to be a man. On his first trip alone to town, he kills a drunken man in an argument and flees to the mountains.


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