Triple-Header: Santa Barbara is showing off its best and its worst this week. On Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m., the new, renovated, rebuilt, re-everythinged Granada Theatre will reopen with a gala featuring the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet, Santa Barbara Choral Society, flamenco dancing, and more. On Friday night, March 7, the Citizen McCaw documentary, about the ugly News-Press meltdown, will be screened at the Arlington. Citizen McCaw is sold out, but on Friday the producers will announce additional screenings “in the near future.” There may be some rush tickets available at the door if there are empty seats that ticket buyers do not fill. On Saturday night, March 8, Opera Santa Barbara will stage the twin-bill Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (“Passion, Italian Style!”) at the good old Lobero. (For other current OSB events see

On the Beat

The Granada bash will kick off at 5:30 p.m., when Broadway music will be played by a pianist on a moving elevator lift outside the theater. There’ll be a procession of vintage cars harkening back to the Granada’s Golden Days of the 1920s, and flapper dancers from the State Street Ballet will mingle with the crowd. At 6:30, the doors will open, corks will pop, and champagne will flow. On Sunday, March 9, there’ll be a free public open house at the Granada, noon to 6 p.m.

Mayor Replies: I asked Mayor Marty Blum about the News-Press lawsuit claiming that a city committee violated the Brown open meeting law when it discussed the proposed De la Guerra Plaza redo. Her reply, via her home computer: “My only comment is that our boards, commissions, and City Council operate within the law. This lawsuit is more about bullying the city government into keeping the NP parking spaces than it is about the Brown Act.

“I would like nothing more than to meet with Ms. McCaw to discuss De la Guerra Plaza. If she can’t make it, how about her attorney Barry Cappello? I have asked Travis Armstrong to appear on my radio show and would like to hear his ideas about the Plaza.

“The Marty Blum Show is on 990 AM KTMS at noon on Saturdays. The irony of being on Thomas Storke’s News-Press station has not escaped me. I began the show in May 2007 so I could get the city news out to the public. I look back over the week at the City Council meeting, look forward to the upcoming week, and fill in with what is going on in the various departments. I haven’t run out of material yet. I also take cold calls.”

A little background: When I arrived at the News-Press in 1960, part of the second floor newsroom was devoted to the radio station: KTMS standing for Thomas More Storke. Then the station was sold-a mistake in my opinion-and went through various incarnations. When the current News-Press opinion editor refused to allow the mayor on the NP-operated 1290 AM KZSB, she found another mike.

Chef Impossible: Dinner: Impossible celebrity chef Robert Irvine was a hit when he cooked for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival bash at the Arlington last year. But now Irvine is admitting that he cooked his resume, fudging that’s gotten him banished from the Food Network kitchen. Turns out that he didn’t cook for Britain’s royal family or various U.S. presidents, as he claimed. Nonetheless, Dinner: Impossible shows already in the can will be aired.

Afro Days: After I wrote about the late Bill Downey, author and former News-Press reporter, I heard from his son, Mike. “I clearly remember the climate of the 1960s when Dad worked at the News-Press. I first visited Dad at work around 1968 when I was an undergraduate student at Cal State Los Angeles. I walked into the newsroom wearing an expansive Afro hairstyle and all eyes turned to stare at me. Dad promptly seized the moment by introducing me as H. Rap Brown.” (According to Wikipedia, as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Justice Minister of the Black Panther Party, Brown is perhaps most famous for his proclamation during that period that “violence is as American as cherry pie,” as well as for stating, “If America don’t come around, we’re gonna’ burn it down.”) I don’t recall the H. Rap Brown incident, but it sounds like Bill, all right.

Mike is teaching in the Santa Barbara City College theater arts department. He said his brother Wayne just finished a doctorate degree in education through Fielding Institute and is teaching in the Santa Rosa Community College district and sister Dawn “is quite a fine developing writer.” His children are a tribute to my old friend Bill.


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