Lost at UCSB: Now look, after all these years, I should know my way around UCSB. Three of my kids graduated there and I’ve covered riots, lectures, all kinds of events. But with the Shanghai-like wave of construction, it’s changed. So when Sue and I drove out the other night to see the play Idiot’s Delight, we were stumped about how to find Hatlan Theater. And there wasn’t a soul at the entrance kiosk to ask. We drove around and around, quizzing people we met, all of whom said they were either just visiting or had no idea where Hatlan was. We finally spotted the police station, where a kindly officer patiently explained how to negotiate the maze of roads, lanes and lots to find the theater. (We missed the first few minutes, but the rest of the play was well worth the frustration of getting there.) I admit, I should have plotted my course before setting out. But I’ve heard from others who became engulfed in the same sort of campus mystery. Couldn’t UCSB afford to station someone at the kiosk at night, if only on evenings with special events happening?

Born Yesterday: We had no trouble a few nights later finding Santa Barbara City College’s Garvin Theater, where Born Yesterday was on the boards. The City College Theatre Group’s resurrection of the Garson Kanin play made me forget all about the 1950’s movie starring the great Judy Holiday. Taking the memorable role of delightfully dippy Billie Dawn was blond Winslow Corbett, a corker tossing out a crack-up New Joizy accent. Under the bookish influence of reporter Paul Verrall (Sean O’Shea) she smartens up to challenge her junk yard millionaire Eddie Brock, played with perfect gusto and decibels by the powerful stage presence of Don Margolin. The romantic comedy is played out with political corruption in Washington D.C. as a backdrop, one bringing to mind today’s seamy goings-on there.

Don’t Believe It: Internet false rumor of the week (one of many): According to Snopes.com, which tracks down tales that run rampant through cyberspace, there is no truth to stories that Starbucks and Oscar Meyer refuse to provide free items to GIs in Iraq because the companies supposedly don’t support the war. Both companies deny this. Snopes was able to track down the Starbucks rumor, which came from a serviceman who heard the rumor from a guy who heard it from a guy —- and so on. Finally convinced that he was wrong, he’s tried to counteract the story but it lives on to this day, running rampant through the Internet.

28 Years Later: In 1980, the Community Arts Music Association was caught short. A St. Louis orchestra had canceled out at the last minute. But to the rescue came Dr. Robert Failing. In Mexico City, he arranged for the State Symphony of Mexico to fly to Santa Barbara for the concert. Tuesday, March 11, 2008, the same orchestra, with the same musical director, Enrique Batiz, and the same soloist, guitarist Alfonso Moreno, arrived at the Arlington. It was a memorable night, the hall filled with the sonorous Latin sounds of Joaquin Rodrigo, Silvestre Revueltas, Joaquin Turina, Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla. On May 3, CAMA will present its first concert in the new Granada Theater, when the L.A. Philharmonic comes to town.

Eatery News: Amid countless chain coffee shops opening all over downtown Santa Barbara, the Saigon Vietnamese restaurant is about to open at 1230 State St. Look for more restaurants to start clustering around the newly re-opened Granada Theater.

Serious Question: “This is a serious question,” writes a reader. “When is the anti-McCaw group going to create a really fun/punchy/unique/pointed bumper sticker? Where are those creative, fun, Santa Barbarian juices?”

More on the Downeys: After I wrote about the late News-Press reporter, author, and venerated writing teacher Bill Downey, I mentioned three of his children. Now son Mike Downey reminds me that Bill had six children. The other three, Mike said, include his twin sister Michelle, who lives in Carpinteria and is a financial planner, ordained minister and classically trained singer. “My brother Bill Jr. has a successful medical practice in Las Vegas and my youngest sister Leslie and her husband are raising three teenage children in Lompoc.”

War Protest: This war was wrong from the beginning, say organizers of the Saturday, March 15 protest marking the fifth year of the Iraq war. There’ll be a rally at Vera Cruz Park at 11:30 a.m., then a noon march to the Courthouse Sunken Gardens, followed by formation of a giant human peace sign, and workshops. There’ll be a candlelight vigil at Arlington West memorial by Stearns Wharf Saturday night through Sunday afternoon.

Going Green: Volunteers led by Owen Dell, one of Santa Barbara’s Garden Wise Guys on TV, will head for the Douglas Family Preserve at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, to plant 250 coastal sage species and other native plants. The 9-till-noon planting is sponsored by City Parks and Recreation Department folks. Meet at the Medcliff Drive entrance and wear sturdy shoes.

Green Parade: Ventura has lots of things its snooty neighbor doesn’t have and one of them is a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. And it’s had one for 20 years. It steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at the San Buenaventura Mission and makes its way up Main Street. Afterwards, there’ll be a party on the California Street promenade, with games, jugglers, face painting, and food.

Poster Competition: Old Spanish Days is throwing a Fiesta poster contest for this year’s July 30-Aug. 3 celebration. Twenty pieces of finalist art will be chosen in judging May 4, and El Presidente Tim Taylor will make his choice.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or (805) 965-5205. He writes online columns Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column for Thursdays.


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