Goaded by my friend, diehard San Francisco giants fan Jerry Roberts, I had planned to continue my rant about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ impersonation of Frankrupt McCourt this week. I had even road-tested a draft just to get his dark heart all aflutter.

But later that day, Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ president and condescending executive officer, went off on his own arrogant rant about the ignorance and gullibility of the fans who’ve been waiting 31 years for a world championship — and listening to his B.S. for six of them. I remembered that if the ownership doesn’t care about titles — and it doesn’t — neither should I.

Ah, the thrill of the grass, right?

Noozhawk’s owners — Tom Bolton, Kim Clark and myself — do care about our fans, and we strive every day to improve our team and product. In fact, we have an upcoming audience survey we’ll be asking you to take. Look for it to post on our site on Feb. 6 and watch for it in your email.

In the meantime, there were 125,347 of you reading Noozhawk this past week, according to our Google Analytics, and these were your Top 5 stories — along with my take on them. I promise my Dodgers whining is behind me.

For now.

1. Bill Macfadyen: Tributes Pour In for Chris Brown as Clues Sought in Ex-Pro Surfer’s Death

Chris Brown

Former professional surfer Chris Brown’s memorial service is scheduled for Feb. 16 at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara. (Shaun Tomson photo via Twitter)

I’m sorry to report there is no new news in the Jan. 19 death of former pro surfer Chris Brown. The body of the 48-year-old commercial sea urchin diver was found on the beach below Santa Barbara’s Douglas Family Preserve, about 600 yards east of Arroyo Burro Beach County Park.

Autopsy and toxicology results are still pending, and the Santa Barbara police investigation is ongoing.

Brown, who was a standout professional surfer in the 1980s and ’90s, will be honored with a memorial service at 10 a.m. Feb. 16 at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Suite 21. Britt Merrick, founder of Reality Church Santa Barbara, will offer a “message of hope” and Brown’s dad, Dave, will deliver the eulogy.

A paddle-out will follow the service, starting from the end of the Santa Barbara harbor sandspit.

Brown is survived by his daughter, Chloë, and his former wife, Jenny Culver.

A GoFundMe page has been established to assist the family. Click here to make an online donation.

2. Santa Barbara Target Store Set to Open in April


Looking for work? (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Locals who have been eagerly waiting for Target to open in Santa Barbara can put a bullseye on April 7, when a grand opening is scheduled for the new store on the corner of State Street and La Cumbre Road.

In preparation, the Minneapolis-based company will be holding a job fair for prospective employees on Feb. 4 and 5.

“At Target, we are committed to building the best team in retail, including the 80 new team members we’ll bring on at the Santa Barbara Galleria store,” said Allison Lopez, Target store team leader.

“We look forward to opening our first store in the community and providing guests with an easy and inspiring shopping experience.”

Target announced plans last year to open a “small-format store” in the former Galleria building at 3891 State St., near La Cumbre Plaza. According to the company, the 32,000-square-foot store will sell beauty items, baby and children’s products, men’s and women’s apparel, portable technology gear, and food and beverage items. It also will contain a “grab-and-go” Starbucks.

Later this year, Target will be opening a full-sized store at the former home of Kmart, at 6865 Hollister Ave. in Goleta.

Target’s job fair is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 4 and 5 at the Best Western Pepper Tree Inn, 3850 State St. Click here to apply in advance, but walk-ins are welcome.

3. 2 Killed, 1 Critically Hurt in 2-Vehicle Crash on Highway 101 at Gaviota


Ready for takeoff. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

The weather appears to have been a factor in a terrible collision on the Nojoqui Grade north of the Gaviota tunnel on Jan. 31. Two people were killed in the crash, which critically injured a third. A dog also perished in the wreck.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the crash occurred around 12:20 p.m. when the driver of a southbound Honda Element lost control of the vehicle near the bottom of the grade. The compact SUV crossed over into the northbound lanes and immediately was T-boned by a Jeep Cherokee.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason told our Tom Bolton that the Honda apparently had hydroplaned on water on the roadway. A fierce — and prolonged — thunderstorm had rumbled through the area earlier in the day.

The CHP said the Honda driver, 48-year-old Aura Orfelinda Guerrero of Porterville, who was alone in the vehicle; the Jeep’s passenger, 75-year-old Richard Jon Larson of Buellton; and a small dog riding in the Jeep were pronounced dead at the scene.

A 65-year-old Buellton woman driving the Jeep suffered major injuries, and was airlifted by Calstar helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. There was no word on her medical condition.

The Jeep driver’s identity was not disclosed.

The cause and circumstances of the crash are under CHP investigation.

4. Man Arrested After Discovery of Clandestine Drug Lab at Goleta Hotel

Hotel drug lab investigation

Don’t you know this Yelp review will be a doozy. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

A Goleta hotel maintenance man is facing felony charges after co-workers discovered some extracurricular activity in the boiler room: A clandestine drug lab that authorities say was used to manufacture a powerful hallucinogenic known as “DMT.”

Aaron Gorzeman

He sure looks like an industrious young man. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)

According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, employees at the Courtyard by Marriott, 401 Storke Road, called 9-1-1 after coming across suspicious chemicals in the secluded service room around 9 a.m. Jan. 29.

She said sheriff’s narcotics detectives responded and found the makings of dimethyltryptamine, a Schedule 1 drug that can send users into a state of unconsciousness or even a coma and result in vomiting or choking to death. Nice.

Investigators — including a HazMat team and a special Los Angeles interagency police unit — swarmed the hotel in an hours-long exercise to safely dismantle the home chemistry kit.

“It was determined there was no immediate threat to the surrounding community and evacuations were not necessary,” Hoover told our Tom Bolton.

“As a precautionary measure, hotel guests in the immediate area were located to a different area of the building.”

The suspect, she said, turned out to be a hotel maintenance employee who — conveniently — was already in custody at the County Jail.

Hoover identified the alleged perpetrator as 37-year-old Aaron Gorzeman of Oxnard. She said he had been observed in the hotel parking lot as recently as Jan. 26, but had been arrested on outstanding warrants after investigators found him in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Search warrants were obtained for the hotel and Gorzeman’s vehicle, and Hoover said more evidence of drug manufacturing turned up. A third search warrant was served at his Oxnard residence, she added.

Gorzeman was re-booked for additional charges of drug manufacturing, Hoover said. As of Jan. 31, he remained jailed in lieu of $125,000 bail.

5. BizHawk: Sears Store in Santa Barbara Down to Its Final 4 Days


Gone wishin’. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The juxtaposition is not lost on me. The second item in this week’s Best of Bill column heralds the arrival of Target, the ascendant, nimble retail darling of this century, while this one is another nail in the coffin of Sears, the foundering department store behemoth of the last century.

When our Josh Molina stopped by La Cumbre Plaza last week, the Sears store was hours away from closing its doors for good, its racks and shelves about as empty as the company’s future.

Sears Holdings, the parent company of both Sears and Kmart, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall.

It’s the end of an era, but thanks for the memories, Sears.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 2 Injured in Hit-Run Rollover Crash on Hollister Avenue Near Goleta.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

This is really long, but it’s a fascinating tale and well worth your time: Meth, Murder and Pirates — The Coder Who Became a Crime Boss.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

It was #throwback time in my Instagram feed this past week — to one year ago when I accompanied my priest and our bishop on a mission in Montecito.

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Watch It

When you forget you’re a seal and think you’re an elephant. HT to my colleague, Janene Scully.

YouTube video

(CBS47 KSEE24 video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk and Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.