Word From The Coast

Old New York, the great melting pot of segregated neighborhoods, the sooty beacon of restricted liberties, is more rife with contradiction than long shorts, dry-cleaning fluids, or the United Nations, which don’t seem very united at all. Very little about New York City is new, but for the stadiums under construction for the Yankees and Mets of professional baseball. Yet, the New York Giants and Jets of professional football don’t even play in New York; they share The Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey.

I flew in to JFK last month, favoring it over the older La Guardia Airport on the other side of town. But both airports are located in the borough of Queens. The subway, my preferred means of transportation here, doesn’t service La Guardia, no doubt in deference to the taxicab lobby.

So I took the elevated subway into Brooklyn, where I’m staying while performing in a couple of Off-Off Broadway plays. Via double negative, shouldn’t that be ‘On’ Broadway? No matter, only 7 of the 37 Broadway theaters are actually on Broadway. Nor is The New York Times in Times Square, but a block and a half west on 40th Street. Rupert Murdoch recently moved The Wall Street Journal uptown from Wall Street to Times Square, in keeping with the contradictory norm. And The Village Voice offices don’t seem to be located in Greenwich Village, or even the East Village, but right smack in between in The Bowery.

Coney Island, where you can get a warm hot dog, is actually a peninsula. The Governor lives 200 miles up the Hudson from Governor’s Island, although former governor Elliot Spitzer reportedly enjoyed his morning tart midtown at the Mayfair.

Madison Square Garden is 10 blocks from Madison Square, and George M. Cohan’s ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ sings longingly about Herald Square, which is actually a triangle. The Port Authority terminal is 4 blocks from the water and nowhere near any port that I can see.

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, isn’t nearly the narrowest span between these two boroughs. The mile-long bridge measures 3 ½ inches on my subway map, while the narrowest span between these two sub-municipalities looks more like 2 inches. This presumably means that somebody paid for 75% more bridge than was necessary. Who negotiated this contract, Tony Soprano?

This brings me to the fallacy of the four seasons. From my experience, there are two seasons in New York City: too damn hot, and too damn cold. Granted, they’re buffered on each end by about two weeks of clement weather, but God forbid you should try and place these elusive springs and falls on the calendar. And they don’t necessarily run 14 days in succession, but can be sprinkled about the junctions of winter and summer in 3-or 4-day increments. Spring and fall fashions tend not to change much, probably because the clothes never wear out in their brief periods of utility..

Being a surfer in New York City, I too embrace contradiction. The South swells of California’s long summer produce left-breaking waves marching up the West Coast. Myself a regular-foot, I call this the ‘goofy-foot’s revenge,’ but you’ll have to have your surfer friends explain.

So I was excited to return to the beaches of Far Rockaway with my surfboard, via aboveground subway, with Hurricane Bertha pulsing South swells from 180 degrees on the compass. I had visions of wintertime Rincon-like rights with 70-degree water. And of course, true to Wonderland form, I found nothing but lefts.

It now makes perfect sense to me that ‘The Big Apple’ is nicknamed for a fruit from Washington State.

David Brainard


(Ed. note: David, along with Santa Barbara resident William York Hyde, is starring in “Anna Christie,” at the Bullet Space at 292 East Third Street (between Avenue C and D; tickets are $18 – airfare is extra – through SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or smarttix.com)

Servicing America

I became confused when I heard the following terms that reference the word "service": Internal Revenue "Service," U.S. Postal "Service," Telephone "Service" T.V. "Service," Civil "Service," City & County Public "Service," Customer "Service," and "Service" Stations. This is not what I thought "service" meant.

But recently, I overheard two farmers talking, and one of them said he had hired a bull to "service" a few cows.

Bam! It all came into perspective. I now understand what all those "service" agencies are doing to us.

I take great joy in broadening your horizons, once again.

I just hope you are as enlightened as I am.

John Bull

Santa Barbara

An open letter to John Price

I'm a neighbor living on Olive Mill Road just up from your Coast Village gas station. I received your brochure where you state the merits of your proposed development. I think you should be corrected on a number of issues. Jeff Farrell is not against your project, only its size and your antics to get it approved. He has been involved in the community for may years and does represent many of us. He is not against development. He sold me and supported my conversion of an eight-unit complex in Montecito. I feel your attack on his character is a direct insight to your deceptive tactics.

The manner in which you conduct business at the station is deplorable. It is run without pride. You have attempted to make it look as shabby as possible to gain support for your project. You recently painted the signs a garish red. Were they approved by the city and permitted? Are the temporary structures that you use for car detailing and storage legal? Past owners were required to remove them.

We are asked to look at the rendering on the last page of your brochure as you say it depicts the true scale of the proposed building. You say the story pole photo is taken at a very odd angle and is misleading. A photo is worth a thousand words and is a reflection of reality. A rendering is not a reflection but is only conceptual at best.

Your threat to run an all-night truck stop as an alternative to your building project is nothing short of a bully tactic. No truck driver is going to try and maneuver that small station and pay the prices you have to charge in Montecito. That station has never done well after 10 pm, and you know it.

Your conduct is not exemplary.

You might take the time to study how Michael Towbes presents his projects and how he maintains them after they are completed.

Charles Crail


Dear Observant Genius

I've been keeping an eye on the panhandling which occurs at CVR and Hot Springs Rds., Big Brother's cracked down significantly on 'the guilty parties,' and the begging level there is almost nil...thus I think a retraction of your unimpressive comments and a rethinking of Ms. Estes' park idea (“Letters to the Editor” MJ # 14/28) are due. And by the way, have you ever thought you could end up homeless and have to cadge for survival? These people might not be pretty to look at, but most of these folks are such due to some type of illness, which could happen to anybody. As far as that goes, most families survive from paycheck to paycheck, which puts the general population at risk for being destitute!

Ben Burned


(Publisher's Note: Believe it or not but Santa Barbara has countless facilities for people in need of help. Unfortunately, most of these beggars choose to remain on the street because accepting help often requires their sobriety. ~TLB)