BANKRUPT LAWYERS? The “tip” hit my email: The Santa Barbara County Bar Association was going broke. Lawyers facing bankruptcy?

There it was, on the cover of the Bar Association’s magazine, Santa Barbara Lawyer: “Is Bankruptcy Imminent for the County Bar?” The story inside told the astonishing news: Membership has declined so far in recent years that “only a drastic turnaround in the next 60 days in the association’s affairs will stave off this action,” warned President William Clinkenbeard.

On the Beat

I was on the verge of mounting a fundraising campaign, asking my readers to come to the rescue of the red-ink Bar Association, or perhaps appeal to Barry Cappello to bail out the barristers, when my BS detector kicked in. Some might suspect that “Clinkenbeard” was an obvious nom de plume, but I knew there’s actually a lawyer by that name. I smelled something fishy, though. After all, the Santa Barbara Lawyer issue came out around April 1. Could this be a spoof to test whether local lawyers actually have a sense of humor, which has been furiously debated around the Courthouse for years?

Just as I suspected, SBL editor Rick Lee confirmed the “bankruptcy” story was a put-on. “At the SBL, a tradition has developed over the years to spoof our readers in the April edition in celebration of April Fools’ Day,” Lee confessed with no need of a Miranda warning. One year, “the publication announced that Michael Jackson had enrolled at the Santa Barbara School of Law.”

Lee thanked me for my offer of help for the financially ailing attorney group. “You will be at the top of the list of contacts if the association’s survival is ever truly in question,” he said.

(Note to Barry Cappello: Never mind.)

BUCKET BRIGADE: As Santa Barbara worried that the Zaca Fire might turn south, jump the Santa Ynez Mountains, and roar down into the South Coast, one trained county crew had no all-terrain truck to take them to the fire line, some public-spirited folks learned. So Betty Stephens and Sandi Nicholson formed the Santa Barbara Volunteer Bucket Brigade to raise more than $300,000 to buy a truck. On May 6, they’ll hand over the keys to a Type III Brush Truck, an all-purpose workhorse pumper that can be refilled by helicopter.

“This good ol’ truck may actually save a home or two-and it might also be a defining symbol of the spirit of Santa Barbara,” the women said.

LOWE BLOW: Santa Barbara actor Rob Lowe went on former Montecitan Arianna Huffington’s blog to lambast a former nanny for allegedly demanding $1.5 million-or else. Lowe has sued three former employees, including a nanny he said threatened to sue Lowe and his wife for sexual harassment and “accuse us both of a vicious laundry list of false terribles” unless the couple paid up.

STEVE MARTIN’S PLAY: Steve strolled into New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s painting of a Paris bar, Au Lapin Agile. Picasso’s 1905 painting of the hangout for artists, musicians, and the like might have been done to pay off a bar bill. The owner sold it in 1912 for $20 and the Met bought it at auction in 1989 for $41 million. Martin’s resulting play-zany, witty, improbable-is naturally called Picasso at the Lapin Agile and it is being performed in style through April 27 by Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre. In it, Picasso and Albert Einstein meet by chance in 1904, before they hit the fame jackpot. They and a bunch of other characters laugh, drink, flirt, and ponder the wonders of creativity, sex, and plain old life. It made for a night of laughs, brilliant repartee, and dreams. Watch for a surprise guest to emerge near the end, someone from the future arriving in the past.

ONE WOMAN: Theater is magic, and it only takes one person to be the magician. In The Syringa Tree, now playing at Ensemble Theatre, Shannon Koob is such a woman. She’s alone on the stage, but peoples it with 24 characters, all vivid, all speaking from events based on South Africa’s apartheid era. The 90-plus minutes flew by. There’s joy, heartbreak, and triumph.

TOWN & GOWN: All kinds of interesting stuff is happening at UCSB, lots of it not in the classrooms. The Nazis will always be with us, it seems, as we struggle to understand that evil regime. Tonight, Thursday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m., Campbell Hall will screen Conspiracy, a docudrama about a January 20, 1942, meeting to plan Hitler’s “final solution,” which sealed the fate of Europe’s Jews. Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth star. On Friday, beauty takes over Campbell Hall when violinist Midori (does she have another name? Yes; it’s GotÅ) performs at 8 p.m. And on April 16, lovable Arlo Guthrie takes the Campbell Hall stage, and who’ll bet that he won’t sing “Alice’s Restaurant”?


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