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Bill Macfadyen: A Great White Shark Sighting Never Fails to Scare Up Readers

Best of Noozhawk 08.17.12 also talks to TEDx, stirs up a homeless debate, flattens a car dealership and then dines out at Arnoldi's Café

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Great White Shark Sighting Reported Off Leadbetter Point

Just in time for Shark Week, a surfer spotted a great white shark patrolling off Leadbetter Point below Santa Barbara’s Shoreline Park on Aug. 14. Rather than dip her toe in the water, Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson dove right in, quickly posting a story that brought a deluge of fin fans to Noozhawk.

The City of Santa Barbara posted warnings but there have been no further official sightings. Unofficially, however, a friend of mine was paddleboarding in the Santa Barbara Harbor the next day and decided to work his way down Leadbetter Beach. He’s pretty sure he saw the tell-tale dorsal fin cruising about 100 yards away, again near Leadbetter Point.

Susan Casey
Susan Casey

If you’re into sharks, I have to recommend Susan Casey’s book, The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks. It’s a lightning-fast read about great whites and the research being done on them at the remote and menacing Farallon Islands west of San Francisco.

Clearly undaunted by mysteries of the deep, Casey also wrote The Wave: In the Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean about rogue waves. It’s a good book, too, but The Devil’s Teeth will get you hooked on sharks in a way that not even Jaws could.

2. TEDxAmerican Riviera 2012 Readies an Unthinkable Lineup of Speakers

Noozhawk is privileged to be the media sponsor for the 2012 TEDxAmericanRiviera on Nov. 11 at Bacara Resort & Spa. “The Unthinkable” is the theme of this year’s confab, which already has as an uncommonly dynamic lineup of speakers.

So far, the list includes near-death experience facilitator Lewis Brown Griggs; actress, author and S Factor workout founder Sheila Kelley; software developer Sam Krishna; Emotional Freedom author and professor Judith Orloff M.D.; author and human potential lecturer Pam Oslie; musician Chris Pierce; and Lissa Rankin M.D., founder of the health and wellness community.

In addition to Noozhawk, sponsors include and Sientra as premier sponsors and Citrix and QAD as gold sponsors.

Click here for more information on

3. Randy Alcorn: Santa Barbara’s Homeless Industry Perpetuating the Problem

On Aug. 13, Noozhawk columnist Randy Alcorn scratched the itch that can fuel a heated debate for weeks in Santa Barbara. Surveying the street scene that often appears overrun with vagrants, he suggested that the community’s institutionalized programs ministering to the homeless actually may be perpetuating the conditions that make Santa Barbara the magnet that other California cities are not.

Alcorn asked whether the combination of a temperate climate, the “squishy liberality” that tolerates a large homeless presence and our generous homeless support structure may have backfired. Then he sprang the word “tatterdemalions” on us, so we all had to rush to our dictionaries.

Santa Barbara should take reasonable steps to take care of its own, Alcorn said, but it ought to use the ordinance process to begin discouraging the influx that has taxed public coffers and patience. He pointed out that the City of Arcata, on California’s North Coast, has passed several such ordinances and has hired special police officers dedicated to enforcing them. Arcata, he said, is gradually reclaiming its community from the homeless.

The City of Santa Monica is doing something similar. In fact, way back in March 2011 there was talk of implementing a few of the Santa Monica reforms here in Santa Barbara. Apparently, it was just talk.

Many of the comments on Alcorn’s column were supportive of his opinion.

“The piece regarding the homeless will no doubt call down the rain from some,” wrote azuresees. “But you know what? At least you tabled the thought for discussion. I’ve always thought that if you build it, they will come. The empaths that have occupied City Hall all have the best intentions, but look where we are now as a city.”

someguyinsb agreed.

“There is a big difference between bums and homeless… we have bum problem here folks. Not a homeless problem,” he wrote.

But not everyone accepted the premise.

“Speaking as a volunteer at a local homeless shelter, I often ask visitors and residents of the shelter where they are from,” write mitzie. “The vast majority are from Santa Barbara, Goleta, or other places in Santa Barbara County. I have never known of a person who said she/he came to Santa Barbara for the homeless services. ... I sincerely believe that there are broad misconceptions about the homeless community in Santa Barbara. Take the time to find out if your judgments are valid, and you might just be surprised.”

4. Crews Demolish Building of Former Chrysler Dealership on Hollister Avenue

The old Chrysler dealership at 6290 Hollister Ave. across from the Santa Barbara Airport was razed last week. The buildings had stood empty for two years since owner Jim Crook shut down the business in 2010.

There currently are no plans for the site, which Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper noted is on airport property. Airport director Karen Ramsdell said the buildings were in uninhabitable condition and posed a health and safety risk, in addition to their location within the Federal Aviation Administration’s runway protection zone.

5. David Petry: Arnoldi’s Café a Santa Barbara Tradition Carved in Stone

My friend, David Petry, has written before about some of the lesser-known aspects of Santa Barbara’s colorful history — including one or two of our quirkier periods, such as a flirtation with local currency. He was back this week with a visit to Arnoldi’s Café, the throwback restaurant that opened in 1937 but has such a comfortable ambience and historical appeal that it might as well have been 1837.

Three years after launching, Joe Arnoldi and his wife, Ilda, moved their already flourishing restaurant a half-block to its present location at 600 Olive St. Arnoldi was one of Santa Barbara’s famed Italian stonemasons and the new building was emblematic of his craft, featuring the carved sandstone blocks that are as much a part of the community’s identity as palm trees and sunshine. Arnoldi’s prospered and provided locals with home-style Italian food for 30 years.

In the late 1960s, the Arnoldis retired and sold the place to longtime customers Helen and Jim Romp, who maintained the reputation and regular clientele for another 30 years before selling it to two former employees. The restaurant hit a dry spell, especially as the neighborhood industrialized and the downtown revitalization of State Street began to attract diners looking for convenience and night life.

Then, in 2002, a group of Arnoldi’s loyalists calling itself The Preservationists stepped up to purchase the restaurant. Led by Dede and Jim Nonn and Kitty and David Peri, the investors renovated the building and restored as much of the original features and menu as they could — all with the help of various Arnoldi family members. Since its reopening nearly a decade ago, the magic clearly has been back.

“We all eat here,” Jim Nonn said. “People like to see the owners eating at their own restaurant. We have our birthdays here, our retirement parties. We’re here at Christmas.”

If you haven’t been there for lunch or dinner lately, you should go this weekend. There are also three thriving bocce leagues out back that are not to be missed.

Click here for more information on Arnoldi’s Café, or call 805.962.5394 for reservations.

                                                                  •        •        •

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