All Saints’ Cinco De Mayo

One of the most popular Montecito events, at least for the past 10 years or so, has been The All Saints By The Sea Parish School annual fundraiser. In years past, themes have included “Viva Las Vegas,” featuring a gold-laméed Elvis-suited Rob Lowe, and before that, Jeff Barry and the Motorcycle Mamas. Other themes have included “We Love U.S.A.,” “That’s Hollywood,” and “Diamonds Are Forever”; last year’s was a Gilligan’s Island inspired “Paradise Found,” while this year’s theme is “Cinco De Mayo – A Taste of Santa Barbara.” The $150-per-person event is scheduled for Friday May 5th in the Rotunda at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort.

Parents and teachers are encouraged to dress in Fiesta fashion (although little encouragement is generally needed), as they’ll enjoy margaritas, roving Mariachis, tequila tasting, and other South-of-the-Border diversions. During the dinner hour, attendees will feast while sipping some of Santa Barbara County best wines and enjoying the music of Tina Schlieske. Co-chairs Gary Schlegel and Carrie Haffner have garnered the services of popular KTYD morning host Matt McCallister as emcee. Auction items include stays at various vacation homes in exotic locales, personal chefs and stylists, and an elegant set of sapphire earrings crafted by Silverhorn.

If you have recently moved to the area, or have a toddler or two and are considering a pre-school, this would be a good way of determining if the All Saints mix is right for your child. And, if not, heck, there are worse ways of spending a Friday night than partying with a sombrero-wearing, tequila-tasting, cha-cha-challenged group of fun-loving gringos. Sounds like a great time to us. For more information, please call Gary at 565-3234 or Carrie at 969-6442.

Westmont’s Honored Student Athletes

One of the recipients of Westmont’s Twelfth Annual Golden Eagle Scholar Athlete Awards opined that she learned something important during her time as a college basketball player: “You can’t cram for sports,” she said, adding that it was a valuable lesson, since “one cannot cram for life either.” It was also a point well taken by attendees during the dinner ceremony held in the Ronald Reagan Room at Fess Parker’s Doubletree on Thursday April 6th.

Outgoing Westmont President Stan Gaede, there with his wife, Judy, was attending what was to be his last such dinner, as Stan is heading back to Gordon College just north of Boston, Massachusetts, to take up a new position. He’d spent nearly twenty years there before coming to California to head up Westmont ten years ago. The evening was underwritten by Pacific Beverage Company and Pete and Gerd Jordano.

The criteria for the award were stiff: one athlete is chosen from each sport, and each needed a minimum 3.2 scholastic average to be honored. In a couple of instances, two athletes from the same sport had the exact same grade-point average, so both were honored. Recipients were chosen by the Athletic Department after consultation with other faculty. “We don’t have anybody from one sport,” Pete Jordano revealed, because no student in that sport had the requisite 3.2 grade-point average.

After the coaches and the winning students spoke to parents, professors, student athletes, and Westmont supporters, Gerd Jordano offered a few words of her own. “Just to hear all the student/scholar athletes speaking,” she said, “and to hear the special relationship [between coach and athlete] that bond those two people to one another fills our hearts.” She admitted it was difficult “to come up with the right words on a spontaneous basis, but it’s overwhelming and it’s joyous. The definition of happiness,” she continued, “is how much gratitude we have in our lives, and there is clearly a lot of gratitude in this audience, and a lot of gratitude from Pete and I for all of you.”

Pete Jordano added that, “A lot of you have heard before that I was a wannabe athlete and never was, but being associated with Westmont coaches and athletes makes me a very happy person. Thank you for letting us be a part of this.”

Stan Gaede spoke briefly, and then answered warmly that “Yes, we shall return,” when Dave Wolf, Athletic Director and Men’s Soccer Head Coach, suggested that Stan and his wife might be invited to the event the next and subsequent years, though he joked that if he did, he hoped they might move the event to a different month, like January.

“Westmont is a classical liberal arts college,” Stan intoned. “We’re an institution that wants to bring together the head, the heart, and hands. That’s what we’re about; it’s not just about what hands and feet can do on a court; it’s about learning; it’s about knowledge; it’s about wisdom as its applied to life; it’s about heart rooted in faith, developing the courage and will to play the game on court and the game of life,” he said. Then, looking out over the audience towards the honorees scattered among the tables, he added, “You’re a great model to us.”

Got The Journaling Jones

Author Jennifer New says she rounded up the journals of people like David Byrne (lead singer of the Talking Heads), UCSB Art Professor Emeritus Gary Brown, cartoonist Lynda Barry, artist John Copeland, and others, for her latest book “Drawings From Life, The Journal As Art,” by casting a wide net. “Some of it was [discovered and collected] through friends of friends of friends,” Jennifer tells me during a short conversation on the UCSB campus, “just sending out emails. Some of it was after finding a publisher [Princeton Architectural Press] and doing the exact same thing with their base [of authors]. Others – like David Byrne and Linda Barry – I went after specifically. I was a fan of their work and assumed they kept a journal of some kind and contacted them directly. Some, I saw magazine articles about,” Jennifer continues, “and a photograph of someone standing there in their studio with an open journal in the background and I would call them.”

“Journaling” has become a hot new discipline and its high priestess is probably Ms New, whose book, “Dan Eldon: The Art of Life,” chronicled the talented young Eldon’s brief existence utilizing material from his extensive journals. He and two other journalists were killed by a mob in Somalia after a U.N. air strike went awry and hit a building with tribal elders in it rather than the warlords the pilots were seeking. The angry crowd sought revenge and turned on the 22-year-old Reuters photographer and his two companions. Orlando Bloom is reportedly set to portray Dan Eldon in an upcoming film.

Eldon’s elaborate, whimsical, and insightful journals have been preserved by his family and now constitute the main exhibits in an intriguing new show at the gallery in the University Art Museum on campus that will run through May 14 from 12 pm to 5 pm every day but Monday. The best day to visit would be on a Friday when free docent tours are conducted at noon. Parking can be difficult, so it would be a good idea to log on to www.uam.ucsb.edu for parking and other information. Or, you can call the museum at 805-893-7564. Ms New’s book and others are available at the museum bookstore, including some signed copies. Be forewarned: one can easily spend hours soaking up the intricate details of Mr. Eldon’s bulky journals. Parent note: A Family Activity Day is planned for Saturday May 6 at the Museum and will include a Collage & Journal Making hands-on demonstration.

High Schoolers On The Town

Anyone that attended the exuberant “Music of the Night” earlier this year at Santa Barbara High School, will be pleased to know that SBHS performers – sophomores, juniors, and seniors – are putting the final touches on this year’s school musical, “On The Town,” and that many who appeared in “Music of the Night” are also in this production.

For those unfamiliar with the show, “On The Town” brought together the talents of some of Broadway’s most talented artists ever. The score was written by young Leonard Bernstein, choreographed by a young (the show opened in 1944) Jerome Robbins, with book and lyrics by another young couple: Betty Comden and Adolph Green. All four of the creators went on to brilliant and legendary Broadway careers. Most of the music in the movie version of the play, which starred Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, was not Bernstein’s, having been replaced by the film’s producer, Louis B. Mayer, so the music in the stage version retains the fresh energy of the show’s co-creators.

The show opens Friday May 5th. Tickets begin at $7, but for more information, please call 805-966-9101, ext. 220.

The 2006 Fire Ball

Last year’s first ever Fire Ball, held in a tent outside the home of Betty Stephens, featured the Red Hot Mamas, a troupe of ballet dancers from State Street Ballet who sang “It’s Too Darned Hot” wearing fishnet stockings, red boas wrapped around their necks, and black Spandex leotards held up with spaghetti straps. As smoke machines simulated a fire emergency and the house lights dimmed, firefighters descended upon the stage to “rescue” the young ladies by throwing them over their backs and off the stage. A reported $209,000 was raised for the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance.

This year’s event, the 2nd Annual Fire Ball, will reprise some of the magic of that first event. There will be another troupe of young women and they may even be called “The Red Hot Mamas,” we are told, but they won’t be State Street Ballet dancers. Choreographer Autumn Eckman, however, may be called in to reprise some of that originality and excitement. Layla Khashoggi, who cajoled and convinced bidders to plunk down big bucks for last year’s auction items will again be out there with her hand-held microphone and eyelash-batting charm. The dinner will be catered by Fresco and music by “Miss Behavin’”.

The goal is to raise money to purchase satellite telephones, protective medical jackets, gas detectors, “hot sticks,” and infrared imaging devices for city and county firefighters. The date set is May 20th, but price and other details are yet to be wrapped up. If you get an invitation in the mail, however, be sure to respond quickly, lest you be burned and miss out on what promises to be one of the year’s best events (as Ms Stephens’s do’s always are).

Jane Fonda’s Life So Far

(The following conversation between actress-author Jane Fonda and MJ columnist Steven Libowitz, took place via telephone on Easter Sunday, April 16. She was in her hotel room in New York City; Steve was at the MJ offices.)

However you feel about her, it’s hard to imagine someone who has had a more far-reaching impact on American culture than Jane Fonda. The daughter of beloved Hollywood hero Henry Fonda, Jane progressed from sex kitten (“Barbarella”) to two-time Academy Award winner as an actress, and later co-produced several other top-notch films. As an “activist,” her trip to Hanoi in 1967 became a defining moment in the Vietnam War, one that still resonates across America. In 1982, her “Jane Fonda Workout” aerobics video became an enormous bestseller, in the process revolutionizing both the home video and health club industries. And her marriages – to director Roger Vadim, politician Tom Hayden, and media mogul Ted Turner – created a stir all on their own.

Last year, Fonda – who owned the Laurel Springs Ranch off Painted Cave Road until the late 1990s – added a new chapter to her resume: memoirist. A bestseller since its publication last April “My Life So Far” is refreshingly candid, covering all aspects of her career, and everything personal in intimate detail, from her unhappy ménages-a-trois with Vadim, to her admitted shortcomings as a parent. On tour promoting the just-released paperback version of her book, Fonda appears May 1 at UCSB, where she’ll answer audience questions after a short introductory talk.

Q. Can I start with a local topic – what do you remember best from your time here at the ranch off Painted Cave?

A. I loved that place. I dream about Laurel Springs at least once or twice a week. But I was moving to George (to be with Ted Turner) and it wasn’t possible to run a children’s camp long distance. I still miss it, and so do my children. I do look forward to spending an extra day in Santa Barbara, visiting with friends when I’m there.

Why did you decide to write your memoirs, and has anything changed in the year since it came out?

When I turned fifty-nine, I realized that a year later I would be entering my third act, and I decided that it warranted some serious thinking about what my life had been like and what I wanted for the rest of it. So, I spent a year researching myself. I made a short, twenty-five-minute video about my life to show at my sixtieth birthday, and in the process, I realized very clearly what the themes were, and saw it very clearly in three acts. Two years later, when I was single, I decided that if I could be really honest and write a book about my life, that it could be helpful for other people, a road map. I’m sitting here looking at a two-foot-high stack of letters on a table that I brought for “Good Morning America” tomorrow. They’ve shown me that I was right about what it would mean to people

Was setting the record straight a big factor, too?

No, I knew on that although on one level I’m very different from other people in the sense that I’ve been very privileged and famous, underneath that is a story that is – I can’t say universal, but it touches other people’s lives. My journey and issues of parenting, self-esteem, and relationships have resonated with readers. As far as setting the record straight, there’s been seven biographies written about me, so it was nice to tell the story the way it really was (laughs).

It’s brutally honest. Did you feel like you were invading your own privacy in a way?

No, because I’ve been under a microscope my whole life.

What has writing done for you that you don’t get from acting?

Writing about a life like mine – one that has been so controversial and so public and that everybody else has taken a piece of – is maybe the most important thing I’ve done in my life. Movies are just movies, but this is real. It’s a far more important legacy that I can leave than any movie.

You’ve acknowledged regretting the shot in the anti-aircraft tank, of course, and other mistakes. But I still can’t imagine what it’s like to be thought of as a traitor for thirty years. Even now, some people haven’t forgiven you, as evidenced by the Georgia Legislature voting just last month against honoring you for your years of charitable work there. How does that feel?

It’s just very sad. What doesn’t get reported, though, is how many letters I got from members of the legislature, including Republicans, who say they are ashamed of [the vote].

You wrote the book for women, but you’ve said more than one-third of the response has been from men. What do you think is happening?

Aside from the veterans, some have thanked me for helping them understand their wives. But the big thing is the issue of the “disease to please.” It hadn’t occurred to me how many men suffer from it too, have been damaged from the notion that they’re not strong enough, or macho enough, or competitive enough.

Which is interesting, because you’ve been married to three very powerful men. What do you think drew you, what was the common factor?

(Laughs). On the good side, I’ve always been attracted to men who could take me into new territory, who I could learn from. Each of my three husbands took me further down the path of a journey I was already on. On the bad side, I thought they were all so different, and different from my father, but only later did I realize the one thing they had in common is that they weren’t capable of an intimate relationship. (Laughs).

What do you think they learned from you?

Bringing families together. I’m a nester; I created homes for the three of them.

You’ve won two Oscars. What does having those statues up there on your shelf mean to you?

I won – therefore I exist. (Laughs). It’s a validation. It makes me feel good because I’ve done a lot of movies that weren’t good and was bad in other movies, so it’s nice to know that I was good enough to win the highest honor in my profession. In some ways, though, I’m prouder of “On Golden Pond.” Can you imagine the mitzvah of producing the movie that finally won my dad his Oscar before he died? What a blessing that was!

Why did you stop acting? And why did you come back for “Monster-in-Law” in 2005, fifteen years later?

I was a shriveled up person inside. I wasn’t creative. It was pure agony to try to act, because actors’ bodies are their instruments, and mine was shut down. But a couple of years ago as I was finishing the book, I realized that wasn’t the case and I realized I might enjoy it again…That role was so fun. I took it because I knew I could kick ass. I enjoyed it! So did the audiences: I’m the only person who’s had a number-one book and a number-one movie at the same time.

What was it like to be back in front of the cameras again?

It felt great. It’s like sex. It comes right back

I was stunned at how good you look, at what, 67 when you made it. What’s your secret? Is it still the “Jane Fonda Workout”?

Well, I had a really good cinematographer. I do work out, but not for the last year since I had a hip replacement.

As you reflect on your life, what are you most proud of and what do you most regret?

It’s a trite answer, but the truth is, it’s the children. It doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved if your children are screwed up, it’s all a hoot in Hell. You’re sick in the pit of your stomach. My kids are great and that’s wonderful. Regret? Sitting on that damn anti-aircraft tank!