A Nightmare and a Dream: The Five Points roundabout is getting weirder and weirder – and more risky – by the day. Drivers are bullying their way through with no regard for the safety of others. Like me.
I write this after having survived almost being bashed by two cars roaring through the intersection instead of carefully maneuvering through, giving the right of way to those approaching from the left.
How to recover from such near-death experiences? One way is to take a spin out to the bucolic peace and quiet of Goleta’s Lake Los Carneros Park. There’s a pathway around the pond and benches along the way; bikes, but no dad-blasted cars. Relax, be happy.
A Major Miss: The Sunday L.A. Times Travel section published two full pages of, Sweet, Affordable Dreams (read: Santa Barbara inns and small hotels), giving the pros and cons of each. Most are “affordable” by 2008 standards, but a couple were in the $350 range. And since you’re in that pricey range, why not take a look at the best: At the Simpson House Inn, a lovely Victorian and the only AAA Five Diamond inn in North America, you can slumber in the Mary Simpson Room for $235 and awake to a fine (vegetarian) breakfast. Other rooms and cottages come at a higher tariff, of course. I was glad to see the Times give a good report to the well-run Hotel Santa Barbara, right downtown and $189 for a double on weekends. Ask for odd-numbered rooms, which are on the quieter side away from the State Street hubbub.
Openings, Closings: With 2008 comes the usual New Year’s musical chairs among Santa Barbara restaurants. Fresco at the Beach will close at the Santa Barbara Inn on January 31, but Fresco at Five Points is still alive and kicking – and drawing a faithful crowd. The Brouillard family will continue its catering business, however. Also, the Santa Barbara Inn is scheduling a major renovation. Jamba Juice has closed at State and De la Guerra streets, but frankly, I always preferred Blenders in the Grass, which is located just down the street. The new Coast Restaurant, inside the Hotel Canary (formerly the Andalucia) at Carrillo and Chapala streets, was designed byBacken/Gillam Architects, the same designers of Coast Santa Monica and Catch Restaurant in Hotel Casa del Mar. Santa Barbara’s Coast is the beautiful redesigned restaurant-bar formerly known as 31 West. And shades of the 1970s, by way of a chain called The Melting Pot, featuring fondue, plans to open at 608 Anacapa St.
Mystery Man: The anonymous part-time Santa Barbaran featured in that Architectural Digest article I mentioned Friday hasn’t revealed himself, but knowledgeable folks are guessing that it’s polo player Tom Barrack.
Night of Relief: Direct Relief International will be throwing an opening night benefit when the Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicks off on January 24. The humanitarian medical aid organization will be serving Argentinean tapas and martinis from 6-7:30 p.m. at Cafe Buenos Aires, across from the Arlington. That’s where the festival-opening film, Definitely, Maybe opens that night. The bash figures to be a hot ticket at $175, which also gets you a seat at the film. Info is available by calling DRI at 964-4767, ext. 126, Lori Willis.
Boys and Girls: There’ll be an open house and ribbon cutting Wednesday at the renovated Westside Boys & Girls Club, 602 W. Anapamu St., at 11:30 a.m. The club serves 750 youngsters up to age 18. Many thanks to major donors, including, Mericos Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Hutton Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Weingart Foundation, City of Santa Barbara, Williams-Corbett Foundation, and Bull Foundation.
Shattered Dreams: Social worker Ken Williams, Santa Barbara’s saint of the streets, who works with the homeless, has published a second novel. Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets, follows social worker Kyle Walker, a Vietnam vet like Williams, as he deals with the tragedies and dangers that engulf the people he works to help.
Barney Brantingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.