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Santa Barbara’s Best of Readers’ Poll 2007

We love your barnacled beaches, especially the ones where we can walk our dogs (Hendry’s). And while we are by the seaside, we love to dive (Anacapa Dive Shop), and surf (Rincon), and wear hot swimwear (Bikini Factory), too.

We marvel at your mountains, purple and otherwise, and, as we stare up at their grandeur, we dream of camping (S.B. Outfitters) and buying cars (Milpas Motors) or renting them (Enterprise) to motor into the valley to visit wineries (Sunstone). If you had winter here, we would ski (Mountain Air Sports), too.

Playing the Race Card

These are not just economic achievement gaps,” said California’s schools czar Jack O’Connell last August. “These are racial achievement gaps.” With this controversial statement, the California Superintendent of Schools presented public school students’ standardized test results. As usual, there were distinct differences between the scores earned by various ethnic groups, with Asians scoring very high, whites trailing them, and Hispanics and blacks bringing up the rear. Does that mean race plays a role in school success? A former teacher ponders what really makes kids achieve.

Locals Only Music Issue

Who said there’s no homegrown music scene in Santa Barbara? We here at The Independent have always believed our town’s music-making tradition was alive and well, so we decided to put our opinions to the test and publish this inaugural live music issue. When we asked Santa Barbara musicians to tell us about their bands, we figured 30 submissions would be a success. We were clueless. More than 100 bands and singer/songwriters responded. Now, we are presenting the fruits of our findings to you in our first-ever Locals Only music issue, a comprehensive list of the musicians who submitted the required materials.

2007 Fall Arts Preview

While we all appreciate the comforts of home-like picking up a good book, brewing a cup of tea, and putting a stack of lacquered 78s on the old Victrola-that’s really not what the Big Producer upstairs intended for us here in Santa Barbara, especially when there’s such great stuff going on outside our living rooms. When it comes to arts and entertainment, the back-to-school and pre-holiday season of autumn tends to reign supreme. And there’s never been an autumn quite like the present one in Santa Barbara, which promises to be the biggest, baddest, most all-out entertaining arts season ever.

Father Kelly’s Curse

At first, Andrew Ruiz was relieved. But his relief quickly gave way to frustration, followed by anger. Ruiz was initially happy not to take the witness stand, not to answer difficult questions about a painful past. And content not to endure the agonies of a protracted trial with no certain outcome. A rawboned man with sad, piercing eyes, elaborately tattooed arms, and a direct, deliberate manner, Ruiz is one of 508 men and women who recently settled claims of sexual abuse with the Los Angles Archdiocese, which presides over Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles county Catholic churches.

Introducing Jan Timbrook’s Chumash Ethnobotany

Call it the Santa Barbara naturalist’s creation story: In the beginning, everything is a bush. On the first day, we discover some bushes are different than others. On the second day, we learn which is really a bush, which is a flower, and which is a tree. On the third day, we can name a plant or two or five or dozens. On the fourth day, we start to understand the role of each plant in the ecosystem. On the fifth day, we realize these bushes may also be useful to humans, specifically those who lived here centuries before us. On the sixth day, we come to cherish, respect, and protect the plants that surround us. And on the seventh day, we finally get our bible.

Talented Chefs Keep Santa Barbara Kitchens Creative

With a new cooking reality show popping up virtually every week on television, a Whole Foods coming soon to upper State Street, and interest in cooking and greenmarkets at an all-time high, we decided to take a look inside the workings of two of the most happening restaurants in town-Downey’s, a Santa Barbara institution, and the Hungry Cat, a new restaurant started by a celebrity-chef couple from Los Angeles and run by some young potential rising stars in the Santa Barbara culinary firmament. George Yatchisin sat down with John and Liz Downey to discuss their legendary restaurant’s 25th anniversary, while Charles Donelan chased the crew from the Hungry Cat through the Farmers Market and then ate the consequences.

Six Weeks and Burning

With favorable weather patterns and the tireless work of firefighters on the front lines to thank, Santa Barbara residents living in the ashy shadow of the Zaca Fire were breathing a little easier this week. Seemingly sparing closer-to-home locales like Paradise Road and East Camino Cielo, the still-raging inferno had, as of press time, turned its radically destructive front lines toward the north and east, continuing its flaming mastication of the Dick Smith Wilderness and the forest land around Santa Barbara Canyon.

Army Specialist Jaime Rodriguez Jr., 1987-2007

When the Kalitta Charters airplane carrying the body of U.S. Army Specialist Jaime Rodriguez Jr. landed at Santa Barbara Airport just before 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, the jet also brought home what the South Coast had avoided for more than four years-a young soldier killed in Iraq. The 19-year-old Rodriguez died July 26 when an Improvised Explosive Device detonated near his vehicle in Saqlawiyah, a city just northwest of Fallujah in Anbar province. Sgt. William R. Howdeshell, 37, of Norfolk, Virginia, and Spc. Charles E. Bilbrey Jr., 21, of Oswego, New York, from his unit also died from the blast.


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