ON Culture | Opera in the Park, Drag Bingo, Fun at the Movies, and an Ode to MCASB

Bring You Culture from the Emmys to Book Sales to Local Opera

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on September 9, 2022. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.

ON the (Small) Screen

Amanda Seyfried’s performance as Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout gets my vote for Best Actress, but you’ll have to watch the Emmy Awards on September 12 to see who actually wins. | Credit: Hulu

I can still remember being stuck at home with mono when I was in elementary school, and all day — every single day on all FOUR of our channels — the Watergate Hearings were the only thing to watch on TV. There’s so much great stuff to stream these days that it’s easy to take it for granted. To help you sift through this embarrassment of riches, we’ve compiled our first-ever collection of Emmy preview/reviews for some of the big shows that will be honored at the 74th Emmy Awards on Monday, September 12.

ON the (Big) Screen

Tony Edwards in a 1986 Top Gun Paramount publicity shot. | Credit: Courtesy

Our recent heat wave was part of what inspired a movie mania of a weekend for me to bask in the air conditioning and catch up on some of the big films I somehow missed through our busy summer of travel, work, friends, weddings, parties, family, and COVID. We finally saw Bullet Train (Brad Pitt is hilarious), Elvis (a highly entertaining look at the King), Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (I loved this film from beginning to end) and Top Gun: Maverick, which I thoroughly enjoyed. As many of you know, Tom Cruise’s co-star in the original was Tony Edwards (“Goose”), a fellow San Marcos alum, whose deceased character plays a pivotal role in the plot of the sequel. It was fun to see so many nostalgic references to the original movie, but it stood up on its own as an entertaining reminder of why we go to the movies in the first place — and why watching them in the (non-heat-wave) comfort of our living rooms is no match for the total immersion of being in a real theater with great sound and a real audience.

If you haven’t had a chance to patronize our local theaters recently, please do it now — and do it often. The recent closure of the West Wind Drive-In movie theater is yet another stark reminder of what can happen to local businesses when we don’t support them.

ON the Walls

I got a surprise tour from Artist Kevin A. Short himself at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum last week. | Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Santa Barbara Maritime Museum lately, September 17 is Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day, which means you can register online here for free tickets to see all the great attractions and exhibits, including Love Letters to the Sea, an arts-enriched, creative letter-writing project, and the work of renowned surf artist Kevin A. Short, who grew up in Santa Barbara. Check out my story here.

Santa Barbara spends so much time and energy clinging to its ancient history, but the loss of more recent history concerns me even more. Case in point, the closure of the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) last month. One of my most memorable “work field trips” when I was editor of S.B. Seasons Magazine was going with former curator/executive director Miki Garcia, artist Kimberly Hahn, and art director Tracy Smith on Los Angeles studio visits to some of the artists featured in the “Home Show Revisited” in 2011. A complicated and ambitious project where Contemporary Arts Forum (or CAF as it was then known) commissioned artists of many different disciplines to create new works in private homes around the city, and then invited the public to drop in for a peek at them, this was the third iteration of the “Home Show,” which had previously been held in 1988 and 1996. It was such an innovative and exciting way to view and think about art. I was hooked.

The museum continued to blow my mind over the years, in ways both large and small. It’s a heartbreaking loss to the arts community. Joe Woodard has an even longer history with this storied institution, reviewing more shows over years than anyone in town. Here’s the link to his “Requiem to MCASB” which appeared in this week’s Independent.

One of my many CAF stories over the years. | Credit: Courtesy

ON the Page

Books are good for you. Stock up at the Planned Parenthood sale starting September 15. |
Credit: Courtesy

Feeling guilty about the number of unread books on your bedside table? “The value of an unread book is its power to get you to read it.” According to a wonderful article on Big Think, unread books can enrich your life in many ways, including reminding us of what we don’t know. So feel free to pick up even more new books at the Planned Parenthood Annual Book Sale, which runs September 15-25 at Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Writers: Get ready, get set … mark your calendars for the 10th Annual 805 Writers Conference, which returns to Ventura November 5-6. For more information on the conference, which also includes a book expo, visit 805writersconference.com.

ON the Stage

Opera Santa Barbara’s Opera in the Park is September 10 at Elings Park. | Credit: Courtesy

September often feels like Santa Barbara’s “secret summer” with some of our best weather — it’s the time when the tourist crowds thin out and the locals come out to play. Opera Santa Barbara’s Opera in the Park, at Elings Park on September 10, is a great way to enjoy a casual, beautiful hour of outdoor operatic bliss. Featuring four emerging artists who are alumni/members of Opera Santa Barbara’s young artist program — the Chrisman Studio Artist Program, named in recognition of the support of Sarah and Roger Chrisman — enjoy selections from the performers’ favorite operatic arias and duets, musical theater selections, and more.

For my fellow musical theater fans, single tickets are now on sale here for four of the upcoming Broadway in Santa Barbara shows at the Granada: Cats, October 17-18, 2022; A Magical Cirque Christmas, November 28, 2022 (series add-on); R.E.S.P.E.C.T., January 3-4, 2023; and Anastasia, April 25-26, 2023. Mysteriously, single tickets for The Book of Mormon, May 20-21, 2023, are not yet available. My friend Ramey is watching this very closely and will inform us all when they are on sale.

ON the Catwalk 

Ali Golden designs. | Credit: Leela Cyd

Leela Cyd’s fabulous shots of Ojai/Oakland designer Ali Golden’s fall collection dresses are so stunning, I was shocked when she said she used Kodak underwater disposable cameras to such great effect. Just goes to show you what an artistic eye behind the lens can accomplish, no matter what the lens is! See more of Leela’s lovely work here, and more of Ali’s ethereal designs here

ON the Calendar 

Vivian takes Pearl Social by storm once again with Drag Bingo night on September 18. |
Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

I had no idea what to expect from Drag Bingo night at Pearl Social, but we had a total blast. It was so much fun watching Vivian Storm work the crowd into a frenzy with her fabulous dance moves, sassy banter, and uplifting enthusiasm … not to mention great prizes! Pearl Social — already one of the coolest bars in town — definitely ups the ante when Vivian rolls the bingo balls. She’ll be back on September 18, and so will we!  Here’s the link for tickets.

For a complete calendar of events this week and beyond, visit independent.com/events.

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