Archive » December 7, 2006
Coming & Going
By Thedim Fiste
Barbara Beck was an active and attractive single mom in the late 1970s; she lived in Palm Springs, and to this day, continues to carry evidence of those halcyon years in her wallet. Alongside pictures of her wedding day and her daughters are those of Barbara with visiting celebrities. Her pictures include one of her dancing on stage with Tom Jones, another of her sitting on Engelbert Humperdinck’s lap, and at the very front, her cozying up to singer-bandleader Chet DeMilo, taken at Kobe Steak House in Palm Springs, when Kobe’s was the place for the song and dance crowd. Barbara has treasured and kept that particular photo in her wallet since it was taken in 1979.
Ms Beck, it turns out, is mother of Montecito-based model-actress Lisa Scibird, who serendipitously discovered that the long-lost Chet DeMilo was alive and well… and living in Montecito.
“I was doing a photo shoot for Santa Barbara Magazine with Peter Clark,” Lisa explains during a conversation at a local coffee house, “and the first time I met him I thought, ‘Boy, my mom would love this guy.’ I always thought if my mom comes out I’d have to introduce her to Peter,” she says. “Nine years went by, though, and we never hooked up; it just never happened, so when he handed me his CD, ‘Full Circle,’ I just freaked out.”
On the front of the CD are four photos of Peter in different stages of his life.
“I looked at it,” she says, “and it said ‘Chet DeMilo’ and I said, ‘I know you. I knew you seemed so familiar to me.’ I said to Peter: ‘1979, Kobe Steak House, Palm Springs.’ He looked at me like I was crazy. ‘How would you even know that?’ he asked.”
Lisa told Peter that her mom lived in Palm Springs at the time and whenever Lisa and her sister Deborah came to visit (from Los Angeles), her mother would drag them to Kobe Steak House to see this band.
“I’ll never forget it,” Lisa continues. “Every time we walked into Kobe Steak House, the sign would say ‘Now Appearing, Chet DeMilo.’ I said to Peter, ‘My mom was in love with you, and we went there all the time to listen to you play.”
“‘our mom? Who’s your mom?” Peter asked.
She told him her mother was Barbara Beck, but Peter didn’t remember her name. Lisa called her mother immediately after the incident and said, “Mom. Do you remember Chet DeMilo?
“‘Do I know Chet DeMilo? I have his picture in my wallet!’ she said.”
“I know him,” Lisa said, “He’s been a friend of mine for nine years. But I know him as Peter Clark!”
The Coast Village Reunion
So, when her mother came to Montecito to visit recently, Lisa arranged for the two to meet at a coffee house on Coast Village Road. As they sit next to each other for the first time in nearly thirty years, Lisa asks her mother why she kept a picture of herself with Chet DeMilo all that time.
“I want to know the scoop,” Lisa says, “Was he your boyfriend?” Her mom looks at Peter and then back to Lisa and says, “No. He wouldn’t give me the time of day. I was in love with him and he wouldn’t give me a tumble. I’d go every night and sit there and listen to him sing and play and he was wonderful but he never asked me to go out.”
“I was a busy guy,” Peter shrugs, smiling. “I don’t know why I never asked her out,” he says, adding, “but when I saw the picture of us, I wondered ‘How did that one get away?’”
“Then why,” Lisa persists, addressing her mom once again, “have you carried that photo of you with him for almost thirty years?”
Barbara confesses: “Because I look so good in the picture. I love the way I look!”
“OK, that’s my mom,” Lisa laughs.
Peter, only slightly deflated, laughs along.
How Peter Clark Became Chet DeMilo
In 1955, when he first entered the music business (Peter came from England, via Australia), he wanted a more colorful name, so changed it from Peter Clark to Chet Clark. He was a big fan of trumpeter Chet Baker, and “had never heard the name ‘Chet’ before, but liked it.”
Later, an American artist called ‘Chet Clark’ appeared on an American television show, so, in January 1963, when Peter arrived in the states, he decided he’d better change his name again.
“Everybody thought I looked Italian,” Peter explains, “so I took out the phone book in San Francisco and started looking for Italian names. I saw a Demilio and I thought of Venus De Milo and it sounded musical, so I became ‘Chet DeMilo.’ In 1986, he reverted to Peter Clark.
Peter met his wife, Dallas, at a jam session in 1983 and has been married ever since; they now live in Montecito.
Barbara has never remarried and lives in the Hamptons.
Lisa and her husband, Richard, have lived in Montecito since 1994; they have four children.
Holiday Party Juggling
It was Saturday, December 2, time for Santa Barbara Historical Society’s 63rd Annual Holiday Party and some 150 museum supporters gathered under an enormous white tent in the outdoor courtyard to enjoy a buffet dinner and entertainment after wending their way through the latest themed display inside called, “Best Friend: The Story of ‘Teddy Bear’.”
Centered in the middle of the first display room on the right is a large Christmas Tree decorated with hundreds of Beanie Baby bears, whose heads popped out of stockings hung with care. The surrounding exhibit features stuffed Teddy bears dressed as historical characters as varied as King Henry VIII, Viking Warriors, and Little Red Riding Hood. There are bear cartoons, bear paintings (one ‘bears’ the signature of Albert Krebs, but there is “no relationship,” says Montecito resident George Krebs), bear drawings, and bear puppets. There is also a Victorian Dollhouse filled with family-oriented bears cooking, talking, and playing, and a Crystal Palace replica featuring a happy group of bears sitting in front of a ‘roaring’ fire; above the mantle hangs the precious Mona Lisa… as a bear (bear with me, folks).
The birth of the Teddy Bear goes back to President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who, in 1902, was taken bear hunting by some local wags in Mississippi. When no bear showed up to be shot, enterprising members of the expedition captured a black bear, tied it to a tree, and offered to allow Mr. Roosevelt to shoot it. He declined, and the story spread of how the president had spared the life of the defenseless bear. The following year, 1903, the Ideal Toy Company released a furry stuffed “Teddy” bear for sale. It was an immediate hit and before long, millions of Teddy bears were being sold around the country. According to this exhibit’s organizers, nearly 90% of all Americans living today owned a Teddy bear at one time in their lives. So, if you are a kid, no matter how old you are, you will enjoy this exhibit!
During and after dinner (buttressed by an excellent Qupé Syrah and other liquid nourishment), entertainment included the Merrie Wreath Consort and Noble Patrons, who marched through the throng in full vintage regalia, and the Memorial Handbell Choir of Carpinteria Community Church; additional music was supplied by the Maurice Faulkner Brass Quintet (from UCSB); afterwards, juggler-actor-comic Ivan Pecel entertained adults and wowed children with his bawdy physical humor, derring-do, and athletic prowess, along with of course, his juggling expertise. He threw out bowling balls and knives with equal abandon, spit ping-pong balls in and out of his mouth, and even “juggled” a member of the audience – four-year-old Tommy Brittingham – along with other equally difficult objects and implements.
Call this Holiday Party a roaring success as Father Christmas and his helpers handed out Beanie Baby bears by the sackful – at least one per adult and probably two or three per child (and there were lots of kids in attendance), donated, of course, by Ty Warner; there was no auction, silent or otherwise, and no effort to raise any additional funds for anything!
And a very Merry Christmas to you (full coverage of the event, with lots of pix, coming next issue)!
Tuesday Afternoon at the Wednesday Morning Club
It was Inauguration Day for the Santa Barbara Wednesday Morning Club, the first chapter in the nation of David Horowitz’s Los Angeles-based Freedom Center Wednesday Morning Club, and over 150 listeners crowded into La Marina Room at Four Seasons Biltmore on Tuesday, November 28, at 4 in the afternoon to listen to the club’s first guest. Organizers of this new conservative club try for Wednesday mornings, but its once-a-month speakers and locations are determined by availability. The speaker was to have been Robert Spencer, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” and The New York Times bestseller “The Truth About Muhammad,” both published by Regnery, but Mr. Spencer, unfortunately, suffered a mild heart “event” the weekend before and was replaced by radio talk show host Dennis Prager. His show is broadcast live every morning from 9 am to 12 pm and emanates from KRLA (870 AM) in Los Angeles.
Prager, who spoke for nearly 45 minutes, was a worthy replacement.
“I am a Jew,” he said, in illustrating the difference between religion and ideology, “and am employed by Evangelical Protestants – people who are sadly convinced I am going to hell. Not only do they pay my bill,” he continued mirthfully, “but they make it possible for me to speak on national radio. So, while our ideologies differ, we share virtually every single value.”
He observed that many religions had rifts, noting both the Catholic-Christian divide and theological disagreement among various forms of Judaism. He explained that was why he could not assess religions, but could only assess practitioners of those religions.
“It is a cliché,” he opined, “to say that the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people. On the assumption that is true,” he concluded, “it is irrelevant.” Prager said, for example, that he didn’t know what the majority of Germans believed, but it was meaningless once the Nazis took over, “It didn’t matter,” he proffered, “that the majority of Germans were Beethoven-loving opera-going art connoisseurs who wouldn’t put anybody in the gas chambers.”
Prager charged that, “The ‘nice’ majority we are told exists in the Middle East do nothing, say nothing, and are utterly impotent. And,” he continued, “on the rare occasions that they speak, they are isolated.” He then related an event concerning a religious Muslim in Tulsa, Oklahoma who dared speak out against the recent spate of Islamic insanity and was kicked out of his mosque for doing so.
Prager said “the mainstream media” had ignored the story, and opined that “Talk radio doesn’t offer just different opinion; talk radio offers different news,” and cited the example of the Tulsa incident that went unreported most everywhere, while the six imams kicked off a plane made news stations across the U.S.
“When we ask, ‘Where are the demonstrations among Muslims against terror?’ it’s a fair question,” he said, “because they certainly know how to demonstrate. When we ask ‘Where are the demonstrators?’ they answer, ‘Umm, it’s not that we’re not loud in our condemnation; it’s that you are deaf; you don’t hear our condemnations.’”
Prager then asked a follow-up rhetorical question: “How come, if Israeli occupation is the cause of suicide bombers, there are no Christian suicide bombers?” Is that a fair question? he asked the crowd. “There are plenty of Christian Palestinians,” he continued, “but not one of the Palestinians that have blown themselves up to take the lives of innocent Jews was a Christian; they were all Muslim.”
Prager wondered aloud why Evangelical Christians would want to save Israel (he said that they were among Israel’s staunchest supporters) and suggested the answer might lie in the Bible: “In Genesis,” he said, “God says to Abraham about the Jews, ‘I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you.’ And, overall,” Prager observed, “Those that have blessed the Jews, have been blessed; those that have cursed the Jew have been cursed. The country that has most blessed the Jew in history,” he continued, “has been the United States of America, and it’s hard to argue that we have not been blessed. And those that most curse the Jew today are the Arab countries, and it is the most benighted part of the planet.”
Prager offered some hope: “That will all change,” he said, “the day the Arab world says, ‘We can certainly live with the Jews.’”
Prager finished his talk by comparing the Jews with canaries in a mine. “When the canary dies, the miners know there are noxious fumes in the mine. [Today] non-Jews have two choices: they can die or fight the noxious fumes. And, it’s divided. The United States, largely alone, has decided to fight the noxious fumes and not wait until the canaries are dead.”
“There is in every generation,” he concluded, “another challenge to goodness on this planet, and this is ours.”
Prager’s talk was rewarded with an immediate and extended standing applause.
Among those in the audience were David Horowitz (who earlier had introduced the speaker) and radio talk show host Tammy Bruce; KABC is her West Coast flagship station (Saturdays from 4 pm to 7 pm) and if you’ve never heard the self-described “openly gay, pro-choice, gun-owning, pro-death-penalty, voted-for-President Reagan progressive feminist,” you really should try to pick her up. This former head of the L.A. Chapter of the National Organization of Women (1989-1996) is wildly outspoken and certainly picks up our Saturday afternoons.
Another attendee was filmmaker Cyrus Nowrasteh, who wrote and produced “The Path To 9/11.” During a short interview, Cyrus revealed that after the airing of his six-hour docu-drama, director Oliver Stone called. “He said it was one of the best things he’s seen in the past ten years, and now I’m writing his next movie,” Cyrus reported.” Stone’s next film is called “Jaw Breaker” and it deals with the war in Afghanistan. When asked why he hadn’t tried to make a commercially released version of “The Path To 9/11,” Cyrus replied that, “On television, we had twenty-eight million viewers; I don’t think we’d have done that in theatres.”
Santa Barbara Chapter founder and President Mary Belle Snow explained that the Wednesday Morning Club has existed in Los Angeles for the past five years, all run and organized by David Horowitz. “This was our first event,” she said, adding that she was “happy to say it was a huge success.”
Upcoming speakers include Tammy Bruce, Bill Gertz (“The China Threat”), John Stossel (ABC’s “20/20), Melanie Phillips (“Londonistan”), Victor Davis Hanson (“Mexifornia”), and Mel Morgan (“Morning in America”) among others. Robert Spencer has been rescheduled for (Tuesday) January 23.
The Wednesday Morning Club is open to new members. Fees are $450 a year, which entitles one to twelve “teas,” discounts on books, and invitations to additional special events, like the upcoming “Santa Barbara Restoration Weekend” scheduled for Four Seasons Biltmore on March 30, 31 and April 1. Mary Belle can be contacted at 805-969-0148 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additions & Revisions
Last issue, we featured Corinna Gordon and her jewelry. In that column, we inadvertently stated that Corinna both decorated and renovated a stone carriage house on Ashley Road. We received a short note from Lynne Alexander, who informed us that it was she and her then-husband Nigel Copley who renovated the house. Corinna did indeed decorate the home beautifully, but it should be recorded accurately that Mr. Copley and Ms Alexander were the couple that brought the stone cottage back to life in the first place!
All comments are subject to review after submission. Please allow a slight delay before comments appear online!