Mystery Man: So who’s the mystery polo-playing part-time Santa Barbaran who spent a small fortune to renovate a Boeing 727-100 into a super-duper flying luxury condo?
The February Architectural Digest features a story about an un-named man who has houses in Santa Barbara, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, Malibu, Aspen, Saint-Tropez and the French Alps. “He spends roughly (make that smoothly) three months a year traveling on his plane,” with his wife and sometimes with their six-year-old son, AD said.
He’s also an internationally rated polo player, according to AD, edited by former Santa Barbaran Paige Rense. “I keep two strings of ponies in California and I’ve got one string in France and I play polo in Argentina but I don’t have my own string there,” the owner said. An authentic Lalique sturgeon sculpture adorns the caviar and champagne bar. The two-year renovation – the plane started life as a Pan Am clipper, then became the toy of a Fortune 100 CEO – included souping up the three engines so it could fly “higher, faster and longer.”
Hello, Canary: Over cocktails at the Andalucia hotel last night, it was officially announced – you read it here a few weeks ago – that the Andalucia, at Carrillo and Chapala, will become the Canary Hotel on Monday. Same owners. (May sound odd, but the management thinks the name has a ring of fun to it. Lightness and brightness. All rooms redone. And the lobby and restaurant-bar have been given a major re-do in warm tones and a comfy, inviting look and a new name: Coast. The restaurant will open later in the month. The hotel has struggled since opening in 2005, but the Canary looks like it has a fine-feathered nest.
Rose Pruning Time: Volunteers ready to clip and prune will be heading for the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden on Saturday. Start at 9 a.m. No experience necessary. Wear work clothes and gloves and bring clippers.
Cleese Separating: Actor-comedian John Cleese and his wife, Alyce Faye Eichelberger Cleese, are separating after 19 years of marriage, according to British news sources.
NP Raising Rates: The Santa Barbara News-Press is doubling its classified ad rates paid by nonprofits from $1.52 per line to $3.42 per line, according to sources. Effective at the start of January, UCSB is looking at alternatives and Cottage Hospital has already been cutting back on its help-wanted ads in the NP.
Giraffe Dies: Sad to say, but the Santa Barbara Zoo’s beloved crooked-necked giraffe is dead at age 21. It’s odd, but I traveled to Botswana, Africa, recently to see giraffes (and other animals) when we had four of them 10 minutes away from my house. But there’s nothing like viewing wild creatures in their native habitat. How many times over the years have I overheard children visiting the zoo ask their parents, “What’s wrong with that giraffe? Does it hurt?” Well, the twisted neck didn’t seem to bother Gemina and apparently had nothing to do with her death. She just got old. Gemina stopped eating after keepers noticed a decline in her appetite. She was “humanely euthanized” Wednesday, the Zoo announced. “Her demise is consistent with the challenges of old age,” and not believed to be related to her neck condition, said Alan Varsik, director of animal programs and conservation. Gemina celebrated her 21st birthday recently with a serenade by Zoo Campers, a “giraffe-sized” birthday card and a special treat of acacia, her favorite food. A humorous, zoo-produced video about her was created at that time and can be seen on the Zoo web page. There are still three giraffes at the zoo. They are among Africa’s strangest creatures, stalking around with a certain deliberate, noble grace. They eat where others can’t. And as anyone who’s fed them knows, they have a slobbery tongue.
Ahoy, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan: The giant aircraft carrier arrives in Santa Barbara today and crew members will be spreading out to enjoy one of the Navy’s favorite ports. One place to spot them will be on Saturday at softball and baseball games at Pershing Park, involving teams from the Santa Barbara firefighters, police, Coast Guard and Ventura Naval Base. If you see a sailor, offer to buy him or her a meal. I know from experience on the Ronald Reagan and other carriers that a relaxed meal of non-Navy chow is a welcome treat.