Underwater Delivery

After Stephen Kurtzer decided he would not actively seek a board position on the Santa Barbara School District, he left for a dive trip to Roatan in the Honduras Bay Islands, Honduras.

While exploring the wheelhouse of a wreck known as “Mr. Bud” in about 60 feet of water, he and his travel companion, Christina, were thrilled to encounter an underwater newspaper vendor who, coincidentally, had already received the latest issue of Montecito Journal’s special (and rare) waterproof edition.

“It cost thirty bucks a copy,” reports Stephen via e-mail, tongue firmly in snorkel, “but I bought two anyway; I hate to share,” he confesses.

Stephen, who reports that “the weather is great, water is eighty-six degrees, and visibility is good beneath the surface,” stayed at Coco View Resort on Roatan.

A Miramar Rumor Un-squelched

This is third-hand hearsay, so a guarantee of its veracity is questionable, but here it is anyway: The wife of a well-known Montecito architect swore to her friend – a Montecito real estate agent – that not only has the Miramar been for sale, but that it has been sold. Representatives of the Warner group say there is no truth in the report. However, another local real estate bigwig we spoke with affirmed that while he wasn’t sure about a sale, there is definitely some activity – “something going on” with the venerable resort.

Although this is being denied, our source reports that Warner has determined the location will not support a five-star high-end hotel; that the Miramar is strictly a three-star family-resort type location, and that is not what he (Warner) does. Another worry is that if the Miramar is turned into a high-end resort it might actually dilute the attraction of the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and San Ysidro Ranch, which Warner owns. So, they are seeking a buyer that will operate the hotel as a family resort. The price being batted around? Fifty million dollars.

The More Things Change…

Speaking of the Biltmore: Opinions are decidedly mixed concerning the recent re-do, especially the Patio Restaurant and the bar. “He's turned what was a grand, rich, sophisticated, warm room for entertaining (the lounge) into a dark, cold, bar,” complains one wag in a confidential e-mail. “It doesn’t fit,” she continues, “with the world-class atmosphere of a sophisticated, sunlit, oceanfront resort in an outdoor town like Santa Barbara.”

After hearing this complaint, we checked it out and discovered that, while the imposing bar has perhaps removed some of the intimacy of the old space, it is now both busy and pleasant. Lucky’s, on Coast Village Road, closes early even on weekends – via an agreement with Montecito Inn management – and so, after 11 pm on a weekend evening, many convivial residents bring the party down to the ocean and converge on the Biltmore, something they often did before renovations began. The Biltmore has, in fact, become a boisterous and friendly late-night Montecito spot once again, despite lingering criticism over its new look.

Montecito Impressions

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to paint but dread leaving Montecito to do so, here is good news: Rebecca Brand will be teaching an adult oil painting class here on Wednesday evenings beginning September 20.

“We will study French Impressionism techniques,” she tells us, adding that “beginners and intermediates are welcomed and everyone will finish the class with a painting.” She says they’ll be painting to ‘70s music and laughter (though not derision) will be allowed. “Believe it or not,” Rebecca promises, “the paintings always turn out great, so be brave!”

In addition to Ms Brand’s painting class, scrapbooking – turning family photos into attractive albums – will be taught by Laura Manriquez on Tuesday evenings, and sewing classes for beginners and intermediates are planned for Thursdays, also headed up by Ms Manriquez.

You are invited to call Kathy Kelley at 969-3249 (kkelley@montecitoou.org) for more info.

California Country

I first heard Ron Gaiser at Barnaby and Mary Conrad’s Writers’ Conference bash at Rincon, where he entertained (accompanied by a harmonica-playing Dean Mars) the crowd with some of his original songs, “California Country” among them. Gaiser’s electric presence was noted by this correspondent in coverage of the Conrads’ affair. Upon hearing he had been written up in Montecito Journal, Ron courteously sent a letter and a CD of “California Country,” which I play regularly at high-decibel levels with my windows rolled down.

Ron reports that he and his band, Durango, perform “at various venues in and around Santa Barbara and Ventura” and that his website (www.thedurangoband.com) will be up and running soon. His biggest current project is an attempt to produce “Fun With Dick & Jane” on Broadway, but he also hopes to publish a novel, “The War Angels,” later this winter.

If you try his website and nothing happens, call Ron Gaiser’s office at 985-3936 and ask for a copy of “California Country”; there will be a charge, but if you like upbeat country music, you’ll absolutely love this song, and since it is not in release that I’m aware of, you’ll be in possession of a unique piece of music.