Santa Barbara 2020: What a Year in Pictures!

The Camera Captures the Times We Lived

Santa Barbara 2020: What a Year in Pictures!

The Camera Captures the Times We Lived

Photos by Daniel Dreifuss | December 31, 2020

Gelson’s employees wipe down carts for people 65 years old and older early in the morning. Gelson’s is one of many grocery stores that have opened early for seniors. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

What can anyone really hope to say about 2020?

Maybe nothing.

Or not much. This, after all, is our annual Year in Pictures issue. Perhaps the less said, the better.

We could designate 2020 the Year of the Bat and leave it at that. Bats, it turns out, are the only mammals capable of flight. To get airborne — and stay that way — bat bodies must withstand sudden internal caloric explosions. Imagine being able to burn 16 times more energy than normal. That’s what bats do. By accomplishing this without blowing up also accounts for why they are uniquely capable of absorbing — and transmitting — the deadliest viruses on the planet without being killed in the process.

This qualifies as one of the mysterious miracles of modern evolution. It also is responsible for the deadly global pandemic that now has us cowering in our makeshift bunkers waiting for it to be over. That so many Homo sapiens — allegedly the most intelligent animal on the planet — choose not to accept this reality qualifies as another one of the great mysteries of modern evolution.

The good news, of course, is that things could be much worse. We do have vaccines, after all. And in less than a month, Donald Trump will no longer occupy the White House, no matter how much kicking and screaming we’re forced to endure in the meantime. Trump governed exactly as he campaigned — by prolonged temper tantrum. Should we expect anything more from his defeat? A dignified exit?

As we batten down the hatches in hopes of weathering the coming storms, all I can say is thank God for the small absurdities surrounding us.

Why did the City of Santa Barbara, for example, provoke an international incident by dissing the City of Dingle, unceremoniously stripping that picturesque Irish seaport town of its sister city status? Since that transpired, Fungie, the only dolphin swimming in Dingle Bay, has mysteriously disappeared. Was it really worth it?

And how is it that the equally picturesque town of Solvang has been seized by two years of nonstop civil strife, culminating in the recall of a city councilmember who was such a caustic and contemptuous character that 92 percent of the townspeople voted to give him the heave-ho?

The good news is that the Santa Barbara City Council decided to convert State Street, from Haley to Sola, into a pedestrian boulevard — still open to bicycles, electric bikes, skateboards, electric skateboards, and of course dogs, and all the businesses along the way.

This, of course, has been talked about since the 1980s. But desperate times call for obvious remedies. Surprisingly, we chose not to ignore something merely because it was, well, so obvious.

Government agencies and the people who would lead them tend to be long on fallibility, making them easy sport, especially for reporters like me. Every now and then, however, thanks must be given.

As our community struggled to navigate through the deadly minefield of COVID-19, County Supervisor Gregg Hart, this year’s titular head of the board, began convening regular press events where our medical professionals could answer questions and  transparently explain to the public what was happening. As of last counting, Hart convened 75 such events. December 22 would be his last.

The plot, of course, keeps shifting, as do the rules. Remember the early days when we were still arguing whether it was necessary to ban cruise ships from the Santa Barbara harbor? How sweetly naïve. We had no clue.

Hart, being the good son that he is, encouraged us all to be sure to call our mothers. Maybe that’s the real message of 2020. Call your mothers.


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