This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on July 5, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at

ON The (Big) Screen

Zach Galifianakis in The Beanie Bubble | Credit: Apple TV +

It wasn’t on my radar at all until I saw the trailer before Asteroid City at Metropolitan’s Hitchcock Cinema, but Santa Barbara’s eccentric Beanie Baby billionaire is getting the big screen treatment in a new film The Beanie Bubble, an Apple original starring Zach Galifianakis as Ty Warner, with Elizabeth Banks, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Sarah Snook (ah Shiv, we miss you!) as the significant women in his life. The film comes out in theaters July 21 and hits Apple TV a week later. I thought the trailer was pretty funny. You can check it out here

he Beanie Bubble poster | Credit: Apple TV+

Speaking of the big screen, Barbie (directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling), which opens July 21,  tops the list of the many movies I’m looking forward to this summer. I’ve had a special relationship with Barbie ever since my Grandpa Jules, who was in the toy business, got a hold of one of the original prototype Barbie sets (with 20 dolls, including ONE that could be worth more than $27,000 if it was in good condition today) and gave it to 4-year-old me to play with. 

Barbie opens July 21 | Credit: Warner Brothers

And by play with, I mean I shaved their heads, decapitated them, painted them with nail polish and ink, removed their limbs and put them into compromising positions with Ken, G.I. Joe, Raggedy Ann, and Andy. I wrote all about the whole fiscally irresponsible saga back in 2009, which you can read here. And you can check out the Barbie trailer here

ON The Page

Guests at the Music Academy critics lunch included, clockwise from top left: Charles Donelan (UCSB Arts & Lectures), Dan Kepl (VOICE, performing arts review), Tom Jacobs (San Francisco Classical Voice), Leslie Dinaberg (Santa Barbara Independent), Alex Ross (The New Yorker), and Richard Mineards (Montecito Journal). | Credit: Emma Matthews

I was one of five lucky journalists invited to attend an intimate lunch with The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross about the state of music writing today, and it was a fascinating discussion. Ross has been working with the Music Academy this summer as Mosher Guest Artist, a residency that includes working with the Fellows (an elite group of young musicians representing the top music conservatories from across the globe) on program notes, as well as leading an excellent Critics Roundtable last week that included two other huge names in the world of music writing: Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) and Carolina Miranda (Los Angeles Times).

It was a far-reaching conversation, but I was particularly struck by something Ross said about the cultural importance of serious experimental music: “None of this [beloved classical] music would exist today if people in the past had the same disdain for the new that some people have now.” 
Though we mourned the somewhat precarious state of journalism in general, and the arts in particular, I also agree with Kosman’s statement at the roundtable that it’s wonderful to have a job where you “go, react, put your feelings into some sort of prose — it feels like an absolutely blessed way to spend your time.”

ON The Architecture Front

Lobero Theatre at Twilight | Photo: Patrick Price

Our gorgeous Lobero Theatre made Architectural Digest’s list as one of the “11 Most Beautiful Theaters in the World “ this week. Keeping company with iconic buildings like the Sydney Opera House, Teatro di San Carlo, Opéra Garnier, and Walt Disney Concert Hall is a huge honor and also par for the course for the venerable theater, which has been celebrating its 150th anniversary by hosting an incredible line-up of superstar artists, including Jack Johnson, Graham Nash, Patti Smith, Suzanne Vega, Charles Lloyd, Los Lobos, and the just announced David Crosby Tribute on August 20. That show will gather together the band and setlist Crosby assembled for a Lobero anniversary show that never happened in February 2023. Playing under the name Stand and Be Counted, the group includes Shawn Colvin, Colin Hay, Richard Page, Steve Postell, James Raymond, Stevie Distanislao, Dean Parks, Chris Stills, Andrew Ford, Lara Johnston, and Ken Stacey. Tickets just went on sale

ON The Walls

Facing Ourselves Presents Barbara Parmet on July 29 | Credit: Courtesy

Talented photographer Barbara Parmet is up next in the Facing Ourselves Presents series at Patricia Clarke’s studio in Carpinteria. On July 29, from 2-5 p.m., Parmet will discuss “The Roots and Branches Project,” which tells the stories of our wise elders and youth and the visions they hold for the future. This is a multi-media exhibition displaying large-scale oak branch fractals on the walls, accompanied by an audio video presentation with words and pictures telling Santa Barbara’s communal stories. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot at this free event, which does have limited seating. 

Patricia Clarke and Brett Leigh Dicks at last month’s Facing Ourselves artist talk | Credit: Patricia Clarke

I attended last month’s artist talk at the studio with Brett Leigh Dicks, and even though I’ve known him for years as a colleague and a friend, I still learned so much about his work and worldview. I highly recommend this artist talk series, especially for those who crave deeper conversations about our shared world. 

ON The Fashion Front

Fashion forward event – High Tea at Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant on July 22 | Credit: Courtesy

The Couture Pattern Museum, which did such a fabulous job on their Couture Culture exhibit, kicks off their upcoming First Thursday Fashion & Culture Exhibition with a High Tea on the charming patio of Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant on July 22 at 2 p.m. The gathering is a tribute to the timeless influence of Charles James (whose muse was famously Augustine Hearst, wife of William Randolph Hearst Jr.) and a prelude to the forthcoming exhibition. Tickets can be purchased here.

ON The (Small) Screen

Unstable stars Rob Lowe and John Owen Lowe as father and son. | Credit: Netflix

While I did see him jogging through the Miramar property the other day, Santa Barbara–based actor Rob Lowe is busier than ever on TV, with not one, but two hit series: Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star  and Netflix’s Unstable in which he co-stars with son John Owen Lowe, who grew up in town. Who knows what the writers’ strike and possible actors’ strike will do to the TV schedule, but for right now he’s as hard working as ever!

ON The Calendar

Music at the Ranch concert series every Tuesday through August 22 at Rancho La Patera & Stow House | Photo: Courtesy

The free Tuesday Music at the Ranch concert series is back at Rancho La Patera & Stow House. Up next is Out of the Blue (classic rock) on July 18, with my favorite Mony’s food truck; followed by Mexcal Martini on July 25; Americana Cats on August 1, King Bee on August 8, Moneluv on August 15, and Down Mountain Lights on August 22. Concerts are from 5:30-7:30 p.m., no dogs please, with food and nonalcoholic beverages available for purchase. 

For a complete calendar of events this week and beyond, visit


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