OPERA TO THE RESCUE
‘Nightingale & The Tower’ Ojai Original
TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS Greg Penny & the Future of Sound OQ / SPRING 2019
Major Dron’s Dream Endures
PA T T Y WA LT C H E R
25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE MATCHING PEOPLE AND PROPERTY IN THE OJAI VALLEY
DEL ORO LUXURY This recently remodeled and upgraded 3,000+ sq ft Spanish style home sits on one acre in the desirable Del Oro community close to downtown. It includes a chef’s kitchen, an impressive master suite, Brazilian hardwood ﬂoors, a large porch-style balcony with sweeping mountain views, a family orchard and drought tolerant landscaping. 520D el Oro D rO ja i .co m
REGINALD JOHNSON MASTERPIECE Designed in 1914 by Reginald Johnson, this impeccable historic home on a 25 acre ranch will take you back to a time and place of peace and serenity. It is fully upgraded while maintaining the integrity of a 1914 home. Includes a 2 bedroom gatehouse, a 2,500 square foot redwood barn, a separate studio, a pool, and a pickle ball court. 1 5 6 3 G r i d l e yR d O j a i . co m
O ffe red at $6,885,000
O ffered at $1, 895, 00 0
I will help you discover the home that brings peace to your mind and heart
(805) 340-3774 pattywaltcher.com
RE/MAX Gold Coast Realtors
located in downtown ojai, thiS impeccable home haS a SpaciouS, open floor plan with vaulted ceilingS, fireplace, lovely lightfilled gourmet kitchen and a Stunning maSter Suite.
located in the quaint oakS weSt neighborhood on a tree lined Street, you will enjoy thiS large family home.
wonderful horSe property located on the ojai valley horSe/bike trail.
charming, charming, charming ...thiS 1923 craftSman Style home iS tucked away on a quiet cul-de-Sac in the heart of downtown ojai.
Sitting perfectly on nearly 1.5 acreS, thiS eaSt end ojai home offerS a SpaciouS, open floor plan with vaulted ceilingS, large rock fireplaceS, two maSter SuiteS and gueSt quarterS.
Sitting perfectly on over an acre, thiS home haS all the ruStic modern toucheS that you are looking for.
Thereâ€™s no place like home ... Let me find yours.
Sitting perfectly on over an acre, thiS home haS all the ruStic modern toucheS that you are looking for. thiS light filled home haS an open and SpaciouS floor plan with vaulted ceilingS, poliShed concrete floorS, french doorS leading out to a private, magical backyard.
Donna Sallen 805-798-0516 www.donnasallen.com
Can You Imagine... A Small Town Store Surviving 105 Years!
RAINS EST. 1914
A Unique Specialty Department Store
L.A. Times Says “Don't Miss It”
L ov i n g l y h a n d c ra f te d i n O j a i , C A Jes MaHarry Store ~ 316 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai California 93023
218 E. Ojai Avenue
www.jesmaharry.com ~ 877.728.5537 ~ jesmaharryjewelry
Photo by: Rylann Smith
www.RainsOfOjai.com OQ / SPRING 2019
FINE JEWELRY 453 East Ojai Avenue • (805) 646-1997 • Hrs: 11am - 6pm Thurs - Sat • susancummings.com
R E A L E S TAT E TEAM
...for boutique sty le service
Stylish and spacious mid-town Ventura cottage
Arbolada home~2 houses and charm galore!
Gorgeous view lot with privacy and mature trees
Small & sweet 1 bedroom condo with yard
Rachelle Giuliani, Serena Handley & Tonya Peralta ILiveinOjai.com | (805) 794-7458 | Team@PeraltaTeam.com
OMF Artistic Director’s Swan Song
Dwayne Bower Keeps Ojai’s
History Rolling Into the Future
Story/Photos by Logan Hall p.68 TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
Greg Penny and the Future of Sound
Major Dron’s Dream Home Endures Through Three Major Fires
OPERA TO THE RESCUE Groundbreaking Artists Combine for ‘Nightingale and the Tower’
Ranch House Venue for Expressive Art of the Dance
HOW OJAI GOT ITS WINDOWS BACK
Ojai Artist’s Work Makes
OJAI’S FOR THE BIRDS
FIRST TANGO IN OJAI
Hot Spots for Birders Abound
SAGE ADVICE ON FOOD
CARRIZO PLAIN UPDATE
New Restaurant Brings Together
Ojai’s Backyard Battlefield
p.146 KRISHNAMURTI ON THE COVER: World-Renowned Cartoonist Draws Ojai’s Quirky Essence See more of Sergio Aragonés on page 37
FOUNDATION TURNS 50 Spiritual Leader’s Legacy Lives On SPRING 2019
All Around Ojai Craig Walker
OPERA TO THE RESCUE
‘Nightingale & The Tower’ Ojai Original
OQ / SPRING 2019
TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS Greg Penny & the Future of Sound OQ / SPRING 2019
Major Dron’s Dream Endures
OQ / SPRING 2019
Comfortable single-level Spanish style 3,234 sq.ft. home sits on nearly 1 acre on Del Oro Drive and is privately set back from the street, surrounded by mature trees. It’s hard to beat this coveted location! $1,195,000
Build your own dream home and enjoy quiet country living, just a few minutes from downtown Ojai. This Remarkably private almost half acre lot, this 1,825 sq. ft. home offers 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and 2 fireplaces beautiful, flat parcel on North Fork Springs Road is surrounded and has been expanded and beautifully updated. by trees and gorgeous mountain views! $260,000 $789,000
With a perfect blend of relaxed refinement, this sophisticated Mediterranean single-story enjoys one of Saddle Mountain’s most aesthetic settings offering serene privacy and spectacular views. Over 2 acres & direct bridle trail access. 1,595,000
Build your dream home on this flag lot that’s over 1/3rd-acre and is flat and fully fenced. Sale can come with complete, custom, zoning-compliant plans for a 2,400 sq.ft. Main House, 850 sp.ft. Guest House and 800 sq.ft. Garage. and gorgeous mountain views! $309,000
Enjoy mesmerizing Pink Moment sunsets & valley wide views from this uber charming 1930s Classic Farm Style home on secluded .83 acre in one of Ojai’s most desired locations. $1,795,000
G A B R I E L A C E S E ÑA
CAL BRE# 01983530 Realtor | Luxury Specialist Berkshire Hathaway
OQ | DEPARTMENTS
Unwavering commitment to my clients’ satisfaction. Driven by passion for the work I do 805.236.3814 | email@example.com Gabrielacesena.bhhscalifornia.com
Music Round-Up Betty Nguyen
Off the Shelf Amy Scher’s Necessary Journey Kit Stolz
Highly upgraded Mediterranean ''Los Arboles'' townhome in the heart of Ojai. Architect Marc Whitman meticulously crafted this 3-bd 3-bt home with visionary expertise & attention to detail. Luxurious, with natural light spaces throughout. Pride in ownership is exquisitely showcased in this European inspired warm, cozy, inviting, soothing HOME. $829,000
Food & Drink Eating for Swimsuit Season Ilona Saari p.120
Retreat into this newly updated downtown, 2 homes plus an art studio, Ojai sanctuary. A refuge of natural light, lush flower gardens, romantic patios, and peaceful views of green meadows and abundant trees. $1,349,000
Healing Arts Sane Center for Insane Times Peggy LaCerra p.130
Outside In The Wilds of Portrero John Trail By Bennett Barthelemy
3 Br 2 Bt | 2311 Sqf | 1 acre | Call for pricing
Extraordinary downtown living! This stylish, luxurious Tuscany townhome located conveniently in the highly sought-after Los Arboles enclave offers an exceptional lifestyle within moments of Ojai’s best dining, hip coffee shops. $820,000
Nocturnal Submissions Adventures in Babbitry, Thievery Sami Zahringer
OJAI LIFE: p.26 Editor’s Note p.28 Contributors p.33 Ojai Notes p.72 Artists & Galleries p.88 Ojai’s Wine Trail Map p.90 Ojai’s Gems p.116 Beyond the Arcade Map p.122 Healers of Ojai p.128 Ask Dr. Beth p.141 Top Ojai Hikes p.156 Calendar of Events
For Beauty Home Nature •
Arts Investment Community Lifestyle Everyone •
Beautiful single level Ranch style home in historic Arbolada. Full of charm, quality with extensive remodel & upgrades. Private & gated matured .9 acres with salt water pool and separate 500 sq. ft. studio. Come live the Ojai life today! 802ELTORO.COM
Well-maintained single-level original home on beautiful 1-acre VIEW lot. Great interior living space, 3-car garage with workshop, tons of potential! 74 Feliz Drive — $749,000
DON & CHEREE EDWARDS
Your own private oasis awaits in this newly finished 3+2 with high-end designer finishes throughout on .45 acre with sparkling pool, mountain views and horses OK! 25 La Cumbra Street — $839,000
CALL US TODAY!
Ojai’s Top Real Estate Team living and working in Ojai Valley for 30 years! Platinum Club, Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement RE/MAX GOLD COAST REALTORS 21 W. Baldwin Rd. Ojai, CA 805.340.3192 www.LivinginOjai.com 805.340.7575 DRE # 01053877 DRE # 01823802 2001 & 2017 Ojai Valley Realtors of the Year!
EXCLUSIVE DIGITAL LAYOUT SYSTEM See the actual layout of the stonework before we make a single cut!
OJAI QUARTERLY Living the Ojai Life
SPRING 2019 Editor & Publisher Bret Bradigan
Director of Publications Ross Falvo Contributing Editors Mark Lewis Jerry Camarillo Dunn Jr. Jesse Phelps Creative Director Julia Weissman
Columnists Bennett Barthelemy Dr. Beth Prinz Ilona Saari Kit Stolz Sami Zahringer
Circulation Target Media Partners
CONTACT US: Editorial & Advertising, 805.798.0177 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com The contents of the Ojai Quarterly may not be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written consent of the publisher.
SUBSCRIPTIONS: To subscribe to the OQ, visit ojaiquarterly.com or write to 1129 Maricopa Highway, B186 Ojai, CA 93023. Subscriptions are $24.95 per year.
23 years of business
(805) 648-4098 www.PacificStoneworks.net 31 Peking Street, Ventura, CA
#OJAIQUARTERLY Steph Torres enjoys a birthday soak at Ecotopia Hot Springs in Matilija Canyon. IG: thestephtorres
You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please recycle this magazine when you are finished. ÂŠ 2019 Bradigan Group LLC. All rights reserved.
Taking Care Of Our Community
Dedicated to comfort and healing
Neighbors caring for neighbors
Care in the
Ojai Valley • Standby 24-hour Emergency Department
Friendly, smiling faces
• Outpatient laboratory services • Outpatient imaging & x-ray • Rehabilitation services including physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapies • Family care and specialty health centers • Outpatient services
Skilled and compassionate physicians
Now and in the future
• Skilled nursing facility
cmhshealth.org/ovch A not-for-profit organization.
Maria DePaola Sheryl Whipple Robert Perron Paul Johnsen Realtor Partner Realtor Associate Realtor Associate Realtor Associate
©2019 Ojai Valley Inn
Cheryl & Ray Deckert Broker Associates
A culinary inspired event center
1003 N. Drown Avenue, Ojai - $849,000 Located in downtown’s highly sought-after Ojai Village, this 4 bedroom property boasts original, refinished hardwood floors, newer quartz counter tops and cabinets in the kitchen, spacious rooms, and partial mountain views. Behind the main home you will find a remodeled 300 sq. ft. structure (approximate) suitable for a studio, guest quarters or whatever your needs may be. All this on just under 1/2 acre!
402 N. Arnaz Street, Ojai - SOLD for $537,500 Tucked away just one-half mile from Meiners Oaks Village you’ll find this 3 bedroom/1.75 bathroom Americana home. Inside you’ll find a comfortable living area with an updated kitchen behind it. The kitchen boasts updated cabinets with wood and glass doors, tile flooring, and all the creature comfort appliances you would expect. Don’t miss this one!
5 Valley Road, Oak View - $599,000 - SALE PENDING This 1,737 sq. ft., 3 bed/2.5 bath home will WOW the most discriminating buyers with its charm and fine detail! Upon entering you’ll notice high beamed ceilings, a warm, inviting fireplace and rich, tasteful flooring. Entertainment or family time is easy with the open floor plan design throughout the first floor, which continues to flow into the kitchen, featuring gleaming updated counter tops. The downstairs is rounded out with a full laundry room and half bath. Upstairs you’ll find two large bedrooms with a shared, remodeled bathroom and an oversized master bedroom with an en-suite remodeled bathroom and mountain views. Room for RV parking, too! www.BestBuysInOjai.com ~ Phone: 805.272.5221 ~ Email: Team@DeckertDePaola.com
DRE #01761150, 00780642, 01877842, 01962884, 02019595, 02018091, 01859199
Ojai Valley Inn is proud to announce the grand opening of THE FARMHOUSE at Ojai, a one-of-a-kind epicurean and event destination. Inspired by Ojai’s farming heritage, the Farmhouse was designed to connect you to the local land and world-class food culture. The exhibition kitchen is home to everything from wine seminars and tastings, cocktail mixology, cooking classes and demonstrations, to intimate dinners with renowned chefs. Visit thefarmhouseojai.com to view our calendar of exclusive events and reserve online.
· COOKI NG CLASSES · MI XOLOGY · WI NE TASTI NG · WELLNESS EVENTS · ARTI SANS I N RESI D EN C E + AN D MU C H MO R E
855.780.0388 | T H E FA R M H O U S E O J A I . C O M
O Q | E D ITOR’ S N OT E
DESIGN OF THE TIMES “Luck is the residue of design.” — BRANCH RICKEY
One of the great geniuses of baseball, Branch Rickey developed the minor league system, brought in baseball helmets, batting cages and was an early innovator of statistical analysis — but he will be best remembered as the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 by calling up to the big leagues the former UCLA running back and track star Jackie Robinson. His quote carries an unquestioned moral authority. Design is crucial. It’s been seven years since our first redesign at the Ojai Quarterly, led by Thomson Dawson, of the White Hot Center, who was willing to put his prodigious talents to work at a small-town discount. It was a thorough and thoughtful design but magazines are a consumer product like any other, and require fresh packaging every so often to keep interest and relevance high. Enter Jules Weissman, our creative director, and a rising force with the Ojai Studio Artists, who did a wizardly job of redesigning the OQ with guidance from Jerry Dunn, a true maestro of the magazine world. And it’s not finished. We will gradually introduce new elements, new features and conversations into the mix, both in print and on social media. Ojai is a place worth celebrating, which is pretty much why the OQ exists in the first place. If you had told my 12-year-old “mad about Mad Magazine” self that one day the great cartoonist Sergio Aragonés would draw a cover for the Ojai Quarterly, I’d be astounded. I still am. The cover is a puzzle — including pixie tangerines, balloons and birds — for which the answers won’t come until the Summer issue. We want to keep you coming back. The cover will become an instant collector’s item. Celebration has certainly been in order for the Temple of the Oaks, as stained glass windows by Ojai glass-art legend Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend have returned home from New York. Robin Gerber’s story and Fred Rothenberg’s photos vividly illustrate this example of “beshert,” in which what seemed serendipitous was actually inevitable. Craig Walker’s lyrical reflections on Krishnamurti and what the philosopher has meant to Ojai is the perfect way to celebrate the Krishnamurti Foundation’s 50th anniversary coming up this May. As we celebrate this green, wet Spring, let’s also reflect on Ojai’s resilience after surviving the Thomas Fire. Mark Lewis’ story on Major Dron, a familiar figure around Ojai for many decades, whose dream home, Dronhame, built of stone and sweat, has survived three massive wildfires and is testimony to Ojai’s enduring spirit. And another survivor is Dwayne Bower, whose classic cars so artfully captured by Logan Hall, evoke, in a material sense, Ojai’s colorful past. Our backcountry is also back after that terrible fire. Take a walk with Bennett Barthelemy and Rita Rose into the wilds of Portrero John Trail where waterfalls flow with seasonal vigor and wildlife can be spotted around every corner. Chuck Graham does double duty with a piece on the Carrizo Plain, under threat of being opened to oil and grazing; get in a visit to this stunning jewel just over an hour away while you can. He also takes us on a tour of Ojai’s birding hotspots, where life lists and rare birds converge. That’s not to mention the playfulness of our two prose stylists, Ilona Saari and Sami Zahringer. There’s much to celebrate in these pages, so let the fun begin. ≈OQ≈
960 E Ojai Ave Suite 106/107, Ojai, CA 93023 805-646-6673
RESIDENTIAL- HOSPITALITY - CONTRACT 26
OQ / SPRING 2019
OQ / SPRING 2019
OQ | C O NT R I BU TO R S BENNETT BARTHELEMY
is a freelance adventure photographer and writer who was born and raised in Ojai. Check him out at bennettbarthelemy. blogspot.com.
is the author of four books and a playwright. Check her out at robingerber.com
was born in Hawaii bur raised in Ojai. He was most recently chief photographer for the Ojai Valley News and Visitors Guide.
SAMI ZAHRINGER is
LINDA HARMON is
DR. BETH PRINZ
BETTY NGUYEN is
BRANDI CROCKETT is an
received the 2011 Gold Award for best travel column from the Society of American Travel Writers. His latest book is “My Favorite Place on Earth.”
a freelance writer and artist. You can email her at lhart412@ roadrunner.com, or visit her website at highergroundart.com.
is a writer and editor based in Ojai. He can be contacted at mark email@example.com.
has done significant pro bono work for many local nonprofit groups, as well as photo exhibitions at the Art Center. His Ojai storefront photos are currently on the Ojai Library Bookstore walls
has lived and worked as a doctor in New York, London and locally. If she were president, she’d make fruits and vegetables free for everyone, and end chronic disease. Until then, she hopes to persuade with words. askdrbeth@ojaiquarterly. com
renewing my vows to myself, my craft and heart. Here I lie, staring at clouds. Meditation as medium. Follow @boingboomchak Studio visits Welcome. https://bettynguyen. carbonmade.com
an Ojai writer and award-winning breeder of domestic American long-haired children. She has more force meat recipes than you
grew up in Ojai and has written extensively for and about the town. He enjoys freelance projects and throwing things. Jesse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ojai pixie tangerine peelin’ native and an editorial and destination wedding photographer. Check out her work at fancyfreephotography.com
OJAI HUB Your Central Source for Events, News & Living the Ojai life.
KIT STOLZ is an award-winning journalist who has written for newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and online sites. He lives in Upper Ojai and blogs at achangeinthewind.com.
ILONA SAARI is
a writer who’s worked in TV/film, rock’n’roll and political press, and as an op-ed columnist, mystery novelist and consultant for HGTV. She blogs for food: mydinnerswithrichard. blogspot.com.
JULES WEISSMAN is a
member of Ojai Studio Artists and runs local marketing agency Lunch Box; lunchboxcreative.com. Follow her on Instagram @ wooltowool.
began drawing for Mad Magazine in 1963 and he has drawn tens of thousands of cartoons since. He is regarded as among the world’s most distinctive and prolific cartoonists.
518 E. Haley Santa Barbara tel : 805.963.8638
tile | stone | design
1717 Palma Drive Ventura tel : 805.650.1252 buenatile.com
OQ | OJAI N OTES The Thomas Fire inspired Deva Temple and Elizabeth Rose to collaborate on “From the Fire.” For more information, check out their website at FromTheFireBook.com.
NOMAD GALLERY CLOSING, FOUNDATION CONTINUING
Derby & Derby, Inc.
“Big Company Capabilities, Small Company Service”
Investment & Insurance Planning and Services Since 1979 State of California Registered Investment Advisor
39 ARTS & LITERATURE Artists, Galleries, Exhibits & More 75 WINE & DINE Chef Profiles, Ojai Restaurants, Etc
Legacy Planning Life Insurance & Annuities Long-Term Care
91 YESTERDAY & TODAY Beating the Fire, Collecting History 119 HEALTH & FITNESS Healers, Hikers & Ojai-Based Medicine
Donna Lloyd Vice President
Margaret Marapao CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
Cindy Rodarte Administrative Executive
Victoria Derby Breen Owner/President
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Derby & Derby, Inc., State of California Registered Investment Advisor. Derby & Derby, Inc. and Securities America, Inc. are separate entities. OQ / SPRING 2019
BOHEMIAN BOUTIQUE KARIELLA OPENS THIRD LOCATION IN OJAI ARCADE
Popular Ventura boutique, Kariella, launched the opening of its third location along the Ojai Arcade in December. Located at 212 East Ojai Avenue, just a step away from Ojai Ice Cream, this modern bohemian boutique is known for its eclectic blend of apparel, swimwear and accessories, featuring brands like Free People, Z&L Europe, Mavi Jeans, Capri Blue, Montce Swim, and Frankie’s Bikinis, in addition to its own signature label. Providing exceptional quality in a wide array of unparalleled pieces, Kariella boasts an upbeat, yet soothing atmosphere while taking away the competition as the only swimwear store in Ojai. Carrying on her motto of ‘Uniquely Beautiful,’ Ojai native and Kariella owner since 2010, Amara Bessa (pictured above), partners everyday style with a unique, personalized shopping experience that caters to women everywhere who believe that fashion should be both fun and effortless. Open seven days a week: Sunday and Monday from 11 AM to 5 PM; and Tuesday through Saturday from 11 AM to 6 PM; by phone at (805)-798-9331. Heading downtown? Take a stroll along the Arcade. Stop in to Kariella. Receive a warm welcome by an exceptional fashion team. Savor the ambience of boho chic and allow yourself to rediscover your own unique beauty with Kariella.
California insurance licenses #0575624, 0A38521 and 0L48881
Wealth Management Retirement Planning Estate Preservation
603 West Ojai Ave., Suite C PO Box 189, Ojai, CA 93024 email@example.com
After 23 years, Nomad Gallery will be closing in June. But owner Leslie Clark will continue her work with nomadic tribes in Africa through the Nomad Foundation. The “retirement sale” began February 15th and will continue through June. Nomad Gallery is famed both for Clark’s paintings but also its jewelry and art made by nomadic tribesmen. During these past few decades, Clark has worked with the Tuareg and Woodabe tribes of northern Niger to promote their skilled artisans and artists, and bring them health care, education, clean water and economic opportunity. The Foundation runs a medical clinic and trains “matrones” or midwives. These programs created by Ojai’s Dr. Robert Skankey have reduced maternal mortality, among the highest in the world to zero among nomads under their care.
156 CALENDAR What’s Going on this Season
OF SEPARATION BETWEEN
OJAI & ANYONE, ANYWHERE
SOAP OPERA’S TRAGIC LOSS ALSO OJAI’S
Soap operas began in the 1930s on radio as serial stories sponsored by soap manufacturers and evolved into a cultural phenomenom. The shocking loss of a key character on the highest-rated show has left fans mourning. ONE: “Young and the Restless” first aired in 1973 and has been the highest-rated daytime drama for decades. It has won nine Emmys for top show.
TWO: Former Nordhoff student Kristoff St. John played Neil Winters on the “The Young and the Restless” from 1991 until his untimely death Feb. 3, 2019. Nominated 11 times for an Emmy, he has won twice.
OQ | OJA I NOT ES LOCAL DOCTOR’S BREW CREW Working With Friends, Family Idea Behind Dr. Pierson’s New City Brewery BY TED COTTI The doctor is in the haus — the brew haus, that is. When longtime Ojai resident Dr. Ray Pierson isn’t wearing his scrubs as Medical Director of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard or helping patients at his private practice at Ventura Orthopedics — where he specializes in neurological disorders — he runs a brewery. “It’s been really interesting, informative and creatively challenging learning the beer business, but I’m enjoying working with family and friends, and that’s what it was all about from the start,” Pierson explained. Pierson, a Massachusetts native, opened New City Brewery — located in Easthampton, MA, 90-minutes west of Boston, 20 minutes north of Springfield — in 2014 along with a pair of “long-time friends” and new son-in-law Sam Dibble, who at the time was working as the head brewer for another company in Massachusetts. “Sam (married to Ray’s daughter Haley, who gave birth to the couple’s first child, Nolan, in March of 2018) was making unique products and looking to go out on his own so he could be more creative,” Pierson said. “I first suggested the idea in 2012, and we were brewing by 2014 and selling product by ‘15.” New City brews out of a historic, 7,000-square-foot building, formerly a factory, built in the 1800s to manufacture Model-T tires and later elastics. According to Pierson, it had been boarded up for 30 years before they bought it. “It’s a beautiful, old, brick building with high ceilings and all the components (gas piping and large water and waste water piping) we needed,” recalled Pierson. New City’s original beer was a “hard” (alcoholic) ginger beer. “I was doing test batches starting in early 2014,” Dibble recalled. “I went through about 40 different runs before I had my recipe for the Original Ginger Beer.” 34
TH E B REW C RE W A T N E W C I TY B RE W E RY, I N P A RT FOU N DED B Y O JA I ’ S D R. RA Y P I ERSO N
“Sam has a great appreciation of history and talked about how ginger beers (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) outsold ales previous to Prohibition.” According to The Huffington Post, nearly 5,000 craft breweries operated in the US before the 1919 passage of the 18th Amendment. Its repeal saw the advent of the big brew houses — think Budweiser, Miller, Coors. By the industry’s post-Prohibition nadir in 1979, only 44 breweries operated in the US, according to the Beer Institute. Jumpstarted by companies such as Sierra Nevada in California and the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) in Massachusetts, craft beer began to rebound in the ‘80s. By 1993, America boasted 500 breweries, the most since World War II. By 2008 2,500 craft beers were on the market, and today one can find OQ / SPRING 2019
nearly 7,000 — even surpassing that golden, pre-Prohibition period according to Money Magazine. New City – whose co-founders Bob and Punky Soares of Ojai and Torrey and Noelle Evans, who lost their home in Ojai to the Thomas fire and are now renting a home on the beach in Ventura — was riding that wave. But as Brewers Association’s chief economist Bart Watson points out, as with any industry, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain growth. And sure enough, the leveling off is under way as today more breweries are closing than opening. According to Watson, failure rate for breweries is at 24 percent. “It’s a tough business to be in, but so far we’re paying our bills,” said Pierson. While alcoholic ginger beer may have served as its inspiration, it’s the Mule that has allowed
New City Brewery to make its greatest inroads. Inspired by the famed “Moscow Mule” — a cocktail that originally combined non-alcoholic ginger beer, vodka and lime juice — this sparkling beverage combines fresh, ground, yellow ginger, fermented pineapple juice and cane sugar, lime juice and a hint of molasses. It is gluten free with no artificial flavorings or preservatives. At six percent alcohol per 12-oz serving, they market it as “pairing well with seafood and barbeque as well as Asian, Indian and Mexican cuisine.” “Steve Duncan (a cicerone and fellow Ojai resident who occasionally joins Ray on the golf course at Soule Park) actually suggested it,” Pierson recalled. “We loved the historic side of it and thought it would be kind of cool to be revivalists, but we were worried at first because it was going to take a lot of testing to figure out how to recreate the taste of the Moscow Mule without actually adding spirits. “Sam figured out how to extract the ginger flavor,” Pierson continued. “The challenge was the fermentation, which required months of testing 25-gallon batches before finally submitting a recipe.” “We were using the original to make our version of a Mule at the taproom for about a year before doing test batches and filing formulas with the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau),” said Dibble. “Both products took over a year of R&D to develop.” “We had to find a way to stop fermentation at a certain point,” Pierson explained. “Sam suggested we pasteurize to kill off remaining yeast (which would lead to ‘bottle failure’ if it continued to ferment). We taste-tested the pasteurized against the non-pasteurized and found 90 percent liked the pasteurized, which actually shocked us. “For whatever reason,” Pierson added, “the ginger also acts as a stabilizing agent, which means the beer has a six-month, nonrefrigerated, shelf life.” The next hurdle was to have the TTB classify the Mule as a beer (as opposed to hard alcohol), which they did. “It’s technically a beer, but it’s also sort of a ‘craft cocktail,’” said Pierson, who — via word of mouth and social media — hopes to eventually have the Mule available in as many as 700 venues. “It’s definitely an alternative to regular beers because it really doesn’t taste like a beer but like a Moscow Mule,” Pierson pointed out, adding it tends to be especially popular among the 25-45age group. “Probably the reason most of us like it best,”
DR. RA Y PIE RS ON WITH HIS TRIO OF BE E RS IN HA N D
according to one, 21-year-old UC Davis senior, “is because it’s the only ‘hard alcohol’ you can get in a can.” “We were trying to create a refreshing alternative for beer,” said Pierson. “It has fewer calories than your average IPA, and it’s popular in places where people are looking for a rejuvenating drink, such as beaches and golf courses.” New City first distributed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York, but had its sights set on California from the get-go. “If you are going to make it with a new craft beer, you have to be in California,” explained Pierson, pointing out that California accounts for 25 percent of all US craft beer sales. Hurdles remained: first, New City had to wait to garner a distributor’s license to even ship the product and then find merchants to carry the product. Because of the exorbitant cost of shipping cans and bottles, New City hopes to open a second brewery on the West Coast within the next two years, at which point it would be cost effective to distribute the beer in kegs (as they do on the East Coast now) to restaurants. While New City brews a number of seasonal beers — including Fenway Froth (a Session IPA), Microburst (a high malt, high alcohol IPA), Tantrum Pale Ale as well as a rotation of 20 other ales — New City Mule is the only one available in California. For now, it is only available in cans and bottles. “David West, owner of the Westridge Markets in Ojai, bought a large volume to get us going and is has been very successful,” said Pierson. “It sold a whole bunch,” said West, whose OQ / SPRING 2019
Midtown facility hosted weekend tastings in August and October. “Ray told me a while back that he was trying to get permission to distribute it in California, and once he got it, it was a nobrainer. He told me it would be popular, and it is and we’re still selling it.” The Nest in Ojai was the first restaurant west of the Mississippi to offer the Mule. “I just went in there cold call,” recalled Pierson, “and they fell in love with it and bought it to add to their menu right away.” The Ojai Beverage Company and Soule Park Golf Course have also added the Mule to their regular offerings. “People like it,” said Soule Park Golf Course bartender Jenna Ring. “They particularly like that it’s locally owned. But it’s nice for the golf course too that we have something “local” in a can that people can take out on the course.” Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, the company focuses on the taproom, which they have slowly upgraded since first opening on August 1, 2015, adding an outdoor beer garden and featuring private events (including the Dibbles’ own wedding reception) and community events (including musical events, comedy acts and political forums). National Public Radio even broadcast a special from the brewery recently. Ray and his wife Nancy’s daughter, Katrina (who recently graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in psychology), serves as the company’s Social Media Director and Events Planner. “Having the family involved has been so rewarding,” said Pierson, who also has a daughter in Med School and a son attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “The response from the vast majority has been positive, and the community has been nothing but supportive. Sales out here have markedly exceeded our expectations, and now we’re getting to the point like we did back east where we want to start giving back to the community (that supports us).” New City will be donating the Mule to the Kiwanis Club for its Brew Year’s Eve event in Santa Barbara as well as a host of other local fundraisers. “Easily the most satisfying part of the whole venture has been witnessing people incorporate our products into their weekly lives,” said Dibble. “We have many avid Ginger beer lovers of both the Original and the Mule, and sitting at a bar or out grocery shopping, watching people order them confidently and enthusiastically is a recurring source of pride and joy – not just for me, but for my whole team.” To learn more about New City or find where it is sold in any of the 50 states, go to newcitybrewery.com. = OQ = 35
75 years of
Covering COUNT THE OBJECTS ON THE COVER! Win a signed poster from Sergio Aragonés, and a one-year subscription to the Ojai Quarterly.
Blending academic fundamentals with the richness of the visual arts, drama, and music. Preserving the magic of childhood in Ojai’s beautiful East End. Pre-K - 3rd Grade • Toddler Program • Summer Camp 805.646.8184 783 McNell Rd. Ojai, CA 93023 monicaros.org
• Pixie Tangerines (that fell from the truck) • Singing birds • Flags • Balloons
Then send your answers to editor@ ojaiquarterly.com. Winners will be announced in the Summer issue of Ojai Quarterly.
One of the world’s premier cartoonists, Sergio Aragonés has been delighting his devoted fans since even before he joined Mad Magazine in 1962. He has called Ojai home for more than 35 years. “My wife and I would come up to listen to Krishnamurti, and we sent our daughter Christen to Oak Grove School. It was very much the best thing for her. “I never thought I’d like to live in a small town. It was the best decision we ever made,” he says. His latest local artwork covers the Ojai landscape — its people, places and events. With his distinctive pen-andink strokes, he evokes the everyday energy of Ojai life through his detailed sketches of our vibrant village. Aragonés has shared his talents widely with local groups — Ojai Film Festival, Ojai Valley Museum, Rotary Club — especially through his talks at the library for children on how to create stories with images. “Anything I can do I always help,” he said. He also created the classic collectible lunchbox (below) for the Ojai Pixie Tangerine Growers. With this Spring OQ cover, “Hopefully, I thought I could, with one drawing, encompass everything important to the people of Ojai,” he said. (Photo to right by Myrna Cambianica)
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OQ / SPRING 2019
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OQ | ARTS & L I TE R ATU R E
THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS TO BE GRATEFUL for Oak Grove School, but preserving an environment for students to ask the deepest and most formidable questions is at the top of that list; to directly confront fear, loneliness, self awareness, and love; to flower from a deep truth within. Oak Grove’s expansive wooded campus and community of adults (parents, teachers, staff) support a safe space for deep inquiry, affectionate communication, and openness in the face of challenge, all while infusing our days with a sense of ease and joyfulness. Greg Penny in his Ojai studio Photo by Betty Nguyen.
FOUNDED BY J. KRISHNAMURTI
Oak Grove’s 150-acre rustic campus is as unique as its academic program: A college preparatory DAY and BOARDING High School with an intimate, home-style boarding program. A rich academic curriculum, emphasizing depth over breadth, spanning PRESCHOOL through HIGH SCHOOL. Engaging OUTDOOR EDUCATION courses that encompass field trips, camping, and backpacking, culminating in a month-long Senior trip to India.
PRE-K—12, COLLEGE PREP, DAY AND BOARDING
OAK GROVE SCHOOL The Art of Living and Learning
MUSIC ROUND UP
OFF THE SHELF
Music Festival’s Artistic Director’s Swan Songs
Getting Chillz at Rancho Inn
Amy Scher’s Necessary Journey
OPERA TO THE RESCUE
HOW OJAI GOT ITS WINDOWS
TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
Groundbreaking Artists Collaborate on Youth Opera
Stained Glass Art’s Serendipitous Yet Greg Penny’s Latest Inevitable Return Home Experiments in Science of Music OQ / SPRING 2019
After years at the helm of the Ojai Music Festival, Artistic Director Thomas Morris is ready for his next chapter. He says that the festival will be in good hands and that new creative directions are on his personal horizon. Morris ends his stay having fostered a legacy of eclecticism and invention, and he’s grateful for all that he’s learned at the helm of one of the world’s most iconic musical gatherings. On a sunny winter day, he took time to sit down with the Ojai Quarterly to reflect on his time introducing our ears to sounds strange and wonderful. Our conversation has been edited for length. OQ: WHEN DID YOU COME ABOARD and what did that process look like? TOM MORRIS: My first Festival as Artistic Director was 2004. I was approached about three years before that. You know, the way we work, you have to plan three-plus years ahead. From my standpoint, the timing was impeccable because when I got the first call ... I was going to retire from the Cleveland Orchestra. It was 17 years there and I decided at age 60, it was time to move on ... And the other thing two things that were intriguing to me about this — I mean, I ran the Boston Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra for 35 years as the chief executive — but my real interest was in the artistic side. I was involved in all that in the orchestra world, I wasn’t responsible for it. And so, in essence, switching a career from the executive side to the artistic side was intriguing to me. It fit what I love. It actually focused it. Obviously, the reputation of the Festival goes without saying. But the fact that it was small-scale but high-impact also appealed to me.
New Directions OUTGOING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR TOM MORRIS TALKS UP THE OJAI MUSIC FESTIVAL BY JESSE PHELPS
Photo courtesy of the Ojai Music Festival
OQ: Had you been to Ojai previously? TM: I had. I started with the Boston Symphony in May, in the summer of 1969, and lo and behold, who should arrive as the Symphony Conductor but (current San Francisco Symphony Music Director and seven-time Ojai Music Festival Music Director) Michael Tilson Thomas, a young hotshot conductor. And Michael, as I got to know him, was always talking about this Festival, the Ojai Music Festival, which I’d not heard of, and Ojai really gave Michael his break. But I never went to the festival, for various reasons, until 1996. And I fell in love with it. OQ: You feel like there’s a different kind of integrity here, in service to the art?
TM: If you look at my career — where I went from the Boston Symphony, which is a huge conglomerate — Boston Symphony Orchestra Incorporated, which I was the CEO of, ran the Boston Symphony, it ran Tanglewood, it ran the Boston Pops — it’s massive. I went from there to the Cleveland Orchestra, which I think is the best anywhere, but it was a much smaller and more focused organization and it had a far greater belief system around the culture of art. And then to Ojai. So my whole career, I like to think of it as sort of an increasingly deep focus, less about size than meaning. OQ: The impact of what you’re doing hasn’t lessened any. TM: It’s gotten bigger in fact… Everyone thinks growth means bigger stuff. But it can also be smaller stuff or better stuff, or it can be different stuff.
One of the fundamental things I’ve learned in my career is, being crystal clear about who you are and what your value system is and really focusing — laser-like — on the central meaning of what you’re doing magnifies the impact you can have. And, frankly, also it’s been a learning experience for me. OQ: What have you learned? TM: It’s basically about a far broadened set of musical possibilities. And when I came here, I immediately sort of said, well, we’re not going to be orchestral. There are times in Ojai’s history when there was a lot of orchestra. I just didn’t want to do that. First of all, the facility is too small for a big 100-piece orchestra and also there’s a pretty great orchestra just down OQ / SPRING 2019
the road at Disney Hall. The music, to me, has grown from this magical setting and has this incredible audience. It’s a magic alchemy, if you will. So I would describe my 16 years here as sort of the education of Tom Morris and the immersion of Tom Morris in these other worlds of music. Society’s changing, but the world of music is completely changing now. Because genres are disappearing and everything is melded together and in fact a lot of the creative excitement is actually between the genres. OQ: Ojai really does offer this opportunity for that collision. I was fortunate to come and interview (2017 Musical Director) Vijay Iyer, and through that talk was inspired to go to the Sunday show where he was playing with (percussion master) Zakir Hussain and... (Indian Carnatic vocalist) Aruna Sairam... Right! And that was like something transcendent. That’s the only way to describe what I witnessed there. TM: Of course! And you can’t describe what kind of music that was. No. TM: It was a collision of four artists who had not worked together before, who wanted to work together. And we created the opportunity for them to work. And I remember Vijay had said to me, you know, I’ve never worked with Zakir Hussain and I’ve never worked with Aruna Sairam and I want to do that. So we put it together. They all came with ideas and to watch the creation of music in front of your eyes—and the give and take and how it was morphing—you were watching creativity in real time. OQ: High, high, high level creativity. 41
TM: Beyond high level. And to me, to be involved in that kind of artistry, that’s not something you simply can do in a symphony orchestra. So, my learning here has been one of vastly expanded horizons and expanding and changing personal tastes and a whole new world of artistic friends. And what’s interesting, I find, if you look at my work here, it’s very organic and cumulative. OQ: It wasn’t a planned arc. TM: What was really happening was as we started to try different things. It expanded the range of possibilities, which expanded the range of possibilities, and if you look at the sequence of Music Directors, you can see that each one was in such a completely different direction, which is one of the beauties here. OQ: I imagine you wouldn’t be stepping away if you didn’t have full confidence in your successor. TM: I have complete confidence in (incoming Artistic Director) Chad (Smith). I couldn’t have a better successor. In my view, Chad is creative, he’s got a broad range of interests. He’s been in the orchestral world, but all you have to do is look at what he’s been doing (as the COO) at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the range of artistic offerings there, which puts most other orchestral offerings to shame, in my view. OQ: Do you think he’ll be as eclectic? TM: What I hope is that he treats it as a learning laboratory for him, as I was able to do. What I’ve learned is that music exists in space, in a space, and how that space feels is where you pull the energy from. And this is one of the most spectacularly beautiful settings in the world. There’s nothing normal about the concert facilities. I mean, it’s outside, it’s amplified, and it has this audience which just is so into it. Every artist who comes says it’s the greatest audience we’ve ever played for because they trust, they respond, whether they like it or they don’t. In Ojai, it’s about the idea of Ojai. The Festival is about adventure, it’s about challenge, it’s about surprise. OQ: There’s always the possibility of that magic we talked about. TM: Correct. And it’ll always happen somewhere. And think about that from an 42
audience perspective. OQ: Right, just the act of attendance is in some way experimental. But with that experiment comes sort of an infinite range of possibility of experience. TM: I’ve been widely quoted on this. I look at concerts as experiences, as events. It happens at a certain time. And I think we can learn something from sports events. Why do people go to live sports events? OQ: You don’t know what the outcome is going to be. TM: Correct. And every concert that I’m interested in putting on, and everything we do here, the outcome is uncertain. That edge is why people who want to go to art exhibits or shows, that’s what excites them. OQ: So why are you leaving us, and what’s next? TM: I don’t think you should overstay your welcome. A good friend of mine once said, “Never run the risk of being forgotten but not gone.” I seem to have this habit, Boston was 17 years, Cleveland was 17 years, and this is 16. It actually adds up to 50, which I find curious. I’ve changed it a lot here and it’s time for somebody else to take it to the next stage. So that’s the first reason, which is very personal. And the second is, the organization in 2021 and ‘22 is celebrating its 75th anniversary. There was some talk that I would see it through the anniversary, but the 75th anniversary ought to be a time to propel forward. OQ: So what are you going to do? TM: I don’t know yet. When you change what you’re doing, I look at it as two decisions. It’s a decision to leave and it’s a decision to go someplace. And that’s happened consistently in my career ... I’ve found that one you’ve jettisoned what you’re doing, the possibilities explode. And I’ve been very active recently with Interlochen (the famous youth arts education institute in Michigan) as a board member, and I’m very interested in how artists are trained. So my guess is somehow that’ll be a factor in what I’m doing going forward. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that there might be another festival in the offing. I’m a complete failure at retirement. I keep going back to this OQ / SPRING 2019
learning thing. The greatest thing about doing what I do is I get to work with the most creative people. It’s a very sparky, creative existence. And that’s something I just don’t want to leave. I’d rather have an effect through doing than reflecting.
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OQ: You’re all about the experience. TM: This place is just such a freeform laboratory. It’s a humbling experience having the artistic responsibility for a venerable organization. It’s gone from being sort of fundamentally contemporary classical, and almost European music, to much wider, which to me reflects what’s going on in society and in the world today. The range of artists who come is just completely broader and different and the possibilities have expanded, radically. OQ: Thank you for helping to shepherd that. TM: It’s not been a burden. It’s a personal quest for me too. It’s affected me and taught me. You know, one of the great things about not-for-profit organizations like this one is that they give you the opportunity to lead and to create and I’ll forever be grateful to the Ojai Music Festival for the belief and support and enthusiasm. And the complete lack of fear. OQ: We’ll always be grateful to you for being willing to fearlessly undergo that journey in front of us and with us. TM: It’s very personal to me, and I think that’s what it has to be. I will say that I’m the luckiest person. I’ve had the luckiest career of anyone I can imagine. I’m actually paid to do what I love. What’s better than that? And this year’s going to be about as perfect a capstone as I can imagine. There are going to be moments of awe and moments of laughter and moments of fright. And the level of artists coming, you just can’t get better artists than are here this year anywhere. *********** The Ojai Music Festival returns for one last go-round with Thomas Morris as Artistic Director this June 6-9. This year’s Music Director is multifaceted Canadian conductor and soprano, Barbara Hannigan. Tickets and more information about the events can be found at ojaifestival.org. ≈OQ≈
it’s a story about connecting to your own natural rhythms, to a sensual landscape, the interplay of light and shadow on architectural geometry, bare feet on the earth, olive oil from your own harvest, ﬁngers sticky with tangerine juice, clean air, energy from the sun, lying in the shade of an ancient tree, waking to the art of mountains, embraced in the knowing you are safe, you are whole, it’s a story of feeling good about the good life
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W W W . O L D W A L N U T R O A D . C O M
OQ | MU S I C ROU ND - U P LEFT: ROB MAGILL PHOTO BY BETTY NGUYEN.
LOCAL YOKELS BY BETTY NGUYEN
BELOW: THE CHILLZ CAN BE FOUND AT FOLK STEADY MOST FIRST-SUNDAYS AT THE OJAI RANCHO INN.
Photo Courtesy of Radio Skies
THERE ARE BANDS LIKE THE GRATEFUL DEAD whose culture and iconography are woven into the fabric of their own legacy. Radio Skies is part of this tapestry where community is integral to the band’s identity. Their album release party united a hundred kindred spirits to cozy together on picnic blankets to share food and drinks on an intimate farm tucked away in one of Ojai’s magical corridors. Seemingly more at home performing outdoors than in a traditional club venue, the band has a talent for redesigning their environment to fit their inspired approach towards life. Started by close friends, the band’s constellation of influences keeps these spirited creatures free in their song-making process. Daniel Wright’s voice invites you into a familiar and soothing place, protecting you from what can be cold and unknowing, as he rediscovers that there is strength in numbers. Because, lo and behold, the personal expression behind the entire band’s driving force is a sum larger than its parts. Double Life, their first record released on Underground Sun, suffuses a shrouded atmosphere akin to the super blood wolf moonone that is clearing, healing and seeps with haunted ether. The B side tells a story beginning in a “New Age,” and rolls seamlessly upward into chanting the theme of “Radio Skies.” It’s the dawning for a new band to watch as they incubate this next year in search of a reimagining to their intangible spark. Their new release radiates here: www.radioskies.com.
Rob Magill is brethren. A loaf of bread, solid and hearty, humble, yet all one needs to feel full. His “music gives love its physical shape,” as he so eloquently and genuinely states. If you are so lucky, you may discover him hypnotically bowing his electric guitar at Bart’s Books on a Tuesday afternoon or unfurling and swelling like a night bloom on his tenor sax while friends recite poetry and drink tea in a community garden. He’s the sun of truth in a cave of shadows. His label, conceived “to give a voice to people on the outside,” may suck you into a reverse black hole because when you are completely present at his intimate shows, and surrender your ego to a dream-like state, everyone else in that instance appears to be on the outside. Weird Cry Records this year alone will add 17 more titles to its extensive catalog. Its creative output is a collaboration mainly between Rob and other energies that are pure in heart and form. (There will never be another like Marshall Trammell or Chris Corsano). As he invites these humble giants to our tiny corner of the world, to his garage in Ojai, he is archiving and connecting himself to this singular moment in musical history amongst the avant-garde. His album, Owl and the Pussycat out on Sun Ark (2016), was received with critical acclaim and picked up by Drag City. If you feel like exploring something beyond your own senses, seek out Rob Magill and Weird Cry Records. It’s that speck of uncomfortable sand that seeps into that dark place where you may find a shimmery but unbreakable thing. www.weirdcryrecords.com
OQ / SPRING 2019
The Chillz is a band forming like an iron star; unpredictable yet solid and stable, a long-lasting element at the Rancho Inn every first Sunday of the month. Vaughn Montgomery, showman and salt of the earth, manifests dreams of a bucolic Ojai where little nuggets run free, every one knows your name and his outdoor piano is rain-proof. Everyone may think they know this band of merry men, but upon closer listening to their Live at the Underground Exchange recording on band camp, what’s escaped in the ever-expanding universe, under that great big oak tree where they play barefoot in board shorts, are heart-gripping songs like “dear lady.” It makes you feel for a lost love, again found; hopeful but perhaps forever broken? There are many leads or none at all in this band, depending on how you carve it, so thankfully songs like “life’s but a dance” will pick you up right after you feel like you are surrounded by meaningless seduction and infidelity to remind you that everything can be obliterated. That in the words of Jean Baurdillard, “there is no other aphrodisiac like innocence.” But what exactly are “the chills?” Some studies show that people who get the chills from music have more nerve fibers connecting their auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound, to a region involved in processing feelings. These reactions to music or art are known as frissons — an aesthetic chill also sometimes called... a “skin orgasm.” Soren? What do you think? Beyond the realm of science is theory, and this band has plenty to discuss, I’m sure. www.hechillz.bandcamp.com/releases ≈OQ≈
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OQ | OF F T HE S HEL F FROM OJAI TO INDIA: Amy Scher’s Necessary Journey BY KIT STOLZ
AMY SCHER, WHO PUBLISHED “This Is How I Save My Life” last year via Simon & Schuster, grew up in Ventura, went boating with her family on Lake Casitas on weekends as a child, and has always thought of Ojai (and Bart’s Books) as a spiritual home. But her fun times as a young woman, her career, her family, her love for her boyfriend — her life as she knew it — dissolved in pain, self-doubt and bewildered anguish after she contracted a seemingly intractable case of Lyme Disease in her early twenties. She believes she contracted Lyme Disease from a tick who bit her while on a hike not far from Ojai, in the Thomas Aquinas College area, because her symptoms began soon after that hike. Scher is not alone in her illness: according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases of Lyme Disease has quadrupled in recent decades, to over 300,000 a year, making it the most common disease spread by tick bites in the nation, and the sixth most common contagious disease reported by doctors. Although most incidents are concentrated in New England and the East, it’s a disease that has been diagnosed in all 50 states. Most patients with Lyme Disease are treated with antibiotics and recover fully, but a few of those patients go on to develop a shifting array of painful and often confusing symptoms. These include “brain fog, numbness, palpitations, pain, aches, fatigue and dizziness,” known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease, or more commonly as “chronic Lyme.” For seven years years, this was Scher’s life. “My medical diagnoses seem too many to fit in my petite, fivefoot frame,” she writes in her 2018 book. “Inflammation of the heart, autoimmune thyroid disease, brain lesions, chronic fatigue syndrome, encephalopathy, arthritis, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy [nerve pain],” to name just a few. Scher numbers the symptoms in the hundreds.
The pain began while Scher was on vacation in Mexico in 2005, enjoying a hot tub and a Margarita with her boyfriend, Jay. “I was suddenly startled by stabbing pains, from my knees down,” she writes. “‘I can’t move!” she screamed. Although the pain subsided, it repeatedly returned and intensified over the next six months, until one awful night when she found herself begging her boyfriend to cut off her legs — anything to escape the suffering. Despite eventually taking dozens of medications a day, and visiting esteemed specialists around the county, Scher could find no solution, even after finally receiving a definitive diagnosis of Lyme disease from a leading expert. Then, in Maui at a workshop, she ran into Amanda, a paraplegic from Australia, who had been treated with stem cells at a clinic in India. For the first time in years, Amanda said, she could move her toes. “Ah! The doctor who treated me in India knows about Lyme disease,” Amanda told Scher. “You should contact Dr. Shroff. Go get stem cells, maybe?” Scher, in her narration, points out that Amanda said this breezily, as if it was “a casual suggestion for dessert. Go get cheesecake! And maybe get it with strawberries!” To go to India for an innovative medical treatment challenged Scher psychologically, financially, and spiritually. She raised the $30,000 in funds required, and, accompanied by her supportive but nervous parents, she looked forward to the unproven treatment with anxiety and hope. “No matter where one is in the world, no matter what has been or what might come next, as long as we are alive, there will always remain the purest, most simple opportunity,” she writes. “To begin and begin again.” In the decade since her difficult but ultimately successful treatment with embryonic stem cells in India (a procedure not available at the time in the U.S.) Scher has written three books: this memoir, a successful book on “How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can,” and an
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Author Amy Scher
upcoming release on coping with anxiety. The success of her book on healing, and her painful experience with Lyme Disease gave her credibility with fellow sufferers of all sorts. In 2012 she started her own consulting practice. “I work with people on the phone to help them heal,” she says, adding that her approach to the mind/body connection has been helpful to staff at New York Presbyterian Hospital and other institutions. She has been called an “accidental guru” on the Amazon page discussing her book, but she stresses in a phone interview from New York, where she lives now, that she would never compare herself to a seer the likes of Ram Dass, a hero of her youth. “I could never achieve what Ram Dass has done,” she says. “I feel like I was literally so sick I had to figure out how to stay alive. It isn’t really anything special about me. It’s just that through my journey I learned how to stay alive and how to manage that path to healing. I tell people that this is what happened to me, this is what unfolded, and I feel that now my success as a human being comes from being able to help other people.” Scher stresses that her treatment in India, although ultimately a turning point in her path towards health, became her choice only after her countless attempts to get help from conventional Western medicine fell short. “I always say there’s a time and a place for medical practice,” she stresses. “You can’t try to heal yourself if you need medical attention right now. It’s when you have a chronic condition, such as chronic
fatigue, that it’s important to go deeper.” Scher adds that at New York Presbyterian Hospital she teaches a method to help patients release “stuck emotions in the body” called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, a method based on tapping acupressure points on the face and body to release stress and negative emotions. “I essentially believe that storing emotional trauma in your body is damaging, and that the body can only hold so much pain before it affects you physically,” she said. After leaving India, feeling clearer but still fragile, Scher yearns to start over. After years of trying, she moves to break up for good with her boyfriend Jay. He knows what’s coming. For the occasion, she chooses to take him to Ojai. It’s the place where she’s had some of her happiest times, and also the place where she contracted Lyme Disease. “Ojai is such a part of my life and story — both getting sick and finding my wellness — that I love it just the same,” she said. “I am not one bit wary about visiting or traumatized about going.” Jay photographs her playing with their beloved dog Bob. He cheers her on as she runs around, frolicking with the excited dog. She notices Jay behind the camera wiping a tear away. He has accepted, reluctantly, her desire for closure. “I stomp all of those unpleasant memories back into the earth, as hard as I can, and put them to rest,” she writes. She is saying “yes” to her own life for the first time in many years. So she begins her new life, after Lyme, where her old life, before Lyme, ended. ≈OQ≈
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Opera to the
GROUNDBREAKING ARTISTS COMBINE FOR ‘NIGHTINGALE AND THE TOWER’
STORY BY LINDA HARMON PHOTOS BY MARC ALT
IS OUR FASCINATION with technology weakening our sense of empathy and our capability for human expression? Can the arts address and moderate the role technology plays in our society and in the lives of our youth? These questions spurred Rebecca Comerford, Artistic Director of the Ojai Youth Opera (OYO), to co-create the new opera,“Nightingale and the Tower.” “Our mission is to awaken the authentic expression of humanity and keep it alive,” said Comerford, who commissioned groundbreaking classical composer Jason Treuting and Grammy award-winning Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen to co-create the opera, which will premiere in Libbey Bowl May 18 and 19. The opera’s main character is a young boy, Teo, who is being raised by his single mother in a technologically-controlled town on the edge of a forest. One day he finds a damaged nightingale and begins a journey to save her, encountering an “empress in a forbidden, mythical tower.” The operatic drama unfolds: will Teo find a way to heal her and restore balance or will darker forces engulf them? This tale is told from a child’s perspective. Children from Ojai Youth Opera are playing the primary roles with featured guest professionals in the supporting roles. Adult cast members include Contralto Nicole Mitchell, who will be debuting at the Metropolitan Opera this fall; Coloratura Soprano Sequina DuBose; Baritone Andrew Petracca; and OYO founders Comerford and Julija Zonic. “This opera is a story about the delicate balance children must tread between technology and the environment,” said Comerford. “Set in a dystopian world that no longer seeks value in nature or its wild and beautiful imperfection … the hero will be someone who understands the importance of nature.” “This subject matter really resonates with me,” said Treuting. “As a parent, it is exciting and terrifying to watch them learn to make their way through this world. I am conscious
of my job to guide them towards the larger truths when I can, and allow them to learn for themselves when they need. And this question of technology — both the exciting things it uncovers and the scary things it unleashes — seems to be on the forefront of every parent’s mind right now.” The statistics of time spent on media is staggering. A recent study from Common Sense Media has found that on average, teens spend nine hours a day using media and those between the ages of 8 and 12 spend six. “The ideas for this opera have been simmering for a while,” said Jorgensen. “As a parent, navigating the role technology plays in the lives of my children is an ongoing experiment. We have identified that keeping a balance of screen time and physical play is important but simultaneously elusive. How much is too much? How much is not enough? We acknowledge that technology is a part of our experience as human beings and a reductive dogmatic rejection of its role in our lives is not realistic. Screens are one of the ways that we experience and engage with the world beyond our day-to-day community, and it feels somewhat irresponsible to categorically deem it a bad influence. This is not to say that it is not without its own dubious set of trade-offs, there are many … It’s this intersection of screen versus physical that I find perplexing and mysterious, and it’s great material to write an opera about.” Musically speaking, the opera uses the sonic texturing of synthesizers, ambient sounds, children’s chorus, opera soloists, percussion, and chamber orchestra, all performing real-time sound manipulations with acoustic instruments and classical voicings. “Each performance will be from a set score,” said Comerford, “but each will also feature something original. Mikael will be filtering the performance through all his electrical equipment in real time, and that will change it.” In a way, this opera brings improvisation back into post-modern opera. “We have this very neoclassical score with sweeping melodic lyrical lines but, with Jason’s background as a percussionist, it also has polyrhythms and meters you might not always hear in opera,” said Comerford,
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adding that Jorgensen’s contributions, “digitalizing and looping the performances,” mirror the story and build another bridge between technology and nature. “In the beginning of the art form,
WE WANT TO CREATE MATERIAL THAT CAN SHAPE HEARTS AND MINDS TO FURTHER EXAMINE OUR PATH AS HUMANS. with the arias there was a little room for improvisation, but as you moved ahead into the era like Puccini’s, the composer was king. You followed everything,” said Comerford. “In our opera, yes, we have this very solid compositional score but then, what we do with it, taking samples in real time and sending them through multiple computer processing devices, transforms it. That is the exciting, pioneering, otherworldly part of it.” Every performance will be delivered a little differently every night. “Whenever a collaboration like this unfolds, I find it essential to bring strong ideas to the table but to be open to where it takes you,” said Treuting. “The music will take a live score and process it in real time. That will lead places we haven’t thought of yet and I am eager to be surprised!” “I am so grateful to have these brilliant musicians that are complementary to each other,” said Comerford. “Jason with his influence of performance and being a part of a percussion ensemble for many years. The whole world is his playground, in the way of John Cage, but he also has a strong sense of lyricism. And then Mikael is someone who really embraces technology. I’m somewhat
Rebecca Comerford and Mikael Jorgensen at Libbey Bowl
a purist and our collaboration is this sort of unlocking. We had a lot of philosophical discussions. I wanted to tell a cautionary tale about how this technology is shaping us, but Mikael, who embraces it, felt it is also a tool for progress and wanted to ask, ‘What is our responsibility to use it to unlock our full potential?’ So the opera became about empowering for the good and unlocking our full creative potential.” Treuting says he has spent his career “learning about collaboration and pushing myself in different directions … Here I get to collaborate with Rebecca, an old friend that I have known since college, and my partner Beth Meyers, who is collaborating on the score with me, and make new artistic connections with Mikael and all the wonderful folks that the OYO brings together.” According to Comerford, the three wanted to do something together for years. Meyers, another accomplished Princeton artist, will
be doing the arranging and conducting for the score. “We’re still in the pre-production phase so there is still a giant pile of learning to be done before the house lights go down in May,” said Jorgensen. “In the meantime I’m enjoying my ‘new-to-me’ role as production designer. It will enable me to make sure the show looks incredible, and most importantly, sounds amazing.” Comerford’s founding of Ojai Youth Opera has been a long road traveled in a relatively short time. She lived in New York and worked for the Metropolitan Opera Guild before her move to Ojai. “As a Guild we did outreach performances in all five boroughs, performing select scenes and sometimes adapted operas for children,” said Comerford. “We’d have them sing a chorus and it was so interactive, so gratifying. It almost didn’t matter what language we sang in; Italian, French, German, they understood. I would sing ‘Carmen’ and they OQ / SPRING 2019
could tell me the whole plot synopsis and scenario.” Comerford says her two years doing opera outreach summer camps for the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music was her “first experiment” with 7-18 year olds. At the opera workshops she used an adapted Englishversion of Rossini ’s “La Cenerentola,” (“Cinderella”) and introduced guest artists from the Met. “It was just super joyful.” She brought all that joy to Ojai. When she met Smitty West in 2012, she asked if there might be an interest in a youth opera camp here. In response, West introduced her to voice teacher Zonic. “We met and it was the meeting of two like-minded individuals,” said Comerford. ”She grew up singing classical opera and opera was her first love.” Comerford, West, and Zonic began OYO summer camps that June. Those first two successful and well-attended camps led to interest in an ongoing program and they established a nonprofit in 2015. 55
“It became clear to me the long term goal was a resident company,” said Comerford, who saw a demand for more than the summer camps could provide. “A resident company could take this idea of making opera accessible and relevant to children, and relevant to all of us in a new real way.” Ojai Youth Opera now has a 10-member board including Alice Asquith Dedadelsen, who Comerford learned had been an assistant to Placido Domingo and diction coach for the Los Angeles Opera. She is joined by Rhonda Fehr, Tessie Goddard, Dr. Tony Hirsch, Olga Jones, Nusa Maal, Jen Miller and Sharon West. OYO’s 2017 sold-out collaborative production with Opera Santa Barbara of the internationally renowned “Brundibár” met with critical acclaim. The children’s opera, composed in 1938 by Jewish Czech composer Hans Kraśa, told the story during Hitler’s incarceration and extermination of the Jewish people. The opera was followed with an educational outreach tour that addressed themes of bullying and tolerance throughout Ventura, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara county’s unified school districts. The Ojai Youth Opera reached tens of thousands of public school children, ages 5th grade to high school juniors. “As an organization we chose material that has a socially conscious message,” said Comerford. “We want to create material that can shape hearts and minds to further examine our path as humans. These stories need to be told, things we are grappling with daily. And that’s how I feel about ‘Nightingale and the Tower.’” With this new opera Comerford hopes to go a step further with the company, its music, and its outreach. She has planned a series of “popups” including a performance by Ojai-based Andrea Brook and her earth harp, the “Sonic Butterfly,” interactive educational workshops in Libbey Park, and several school science workshops using schematics to map sound waves. “I feel we are so lucky to have all these connections,” said Comerford. “There are even plans to have it filmed by director and filmmaker Andre Hormann.” The opera is scheduled to be broadcast by German public broadcasting, and a short film is in the works. OYO will put Ojai youth on the world stage and be one tool to provoke, educate and steer the arts and humanity in a more human direction. ≈OQ≈
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How Ojai got its
Windows BY ROBIN GERBER
BE SHERT (adj.)
yiddish. fate, destiny.
62 OQ / SPRING 2019 OQ / SPRING 2019 63
The Ojai Jewish Temple in Meiners Oaks. Photo by Fred Rothenberg.
WHAT IF YOU MADE A PIECE OF ART, make that six unique, metaphorical, transcendent pieces of glass art, and you sold them to a place thousands of miles from your home. And then, somehow, those works of art came back to you? They came to your little town, to a location where they fit to perfection. They came to people who loved them in a special way. Some people would call it a miracle. In Yiddish, it would be called ‘beshert,’ or destiny. Our story starts with a love of glass, in the Ojai studio of Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend. It’s a place full of light and glass pieces, tools, pencils, paints and drawings. A working space crowded with years of creativity. Susan holds up a piece of glass for me, its surface shining like her blue eyes. The light pours through the subtle ripples on its surface as she remembers the first time she saw glass cut. “I thought, ‘Whoa, what is this?’ You just take a glass cutter with a tiny little wheel, and scratch it across a piece of glass, and then take it in your fingers and break it. That was like a miracle to me. Breaking glass in a controlled way.” Susan lays a small piece of glass next to me on the worktable where we’re sitting on tall stools. She takes a small tool, with a sharp point and tiny wheel, and slides it down the glass. She doesn’t seem to be pressing hard, but in a second she picks up the glass, and I hear the sharp, clean crack as it breaks along her line. I see what she means by “miracle.” “The glass itself works with light,” Susan says, “and it is pure color. You can put it together and have light come through it. When I first saw the possibilities, it was so amazing. And there were optics because there were so many kinds of glass. There’s opaque, transparent, and hand-blown, which is super beautiful. There’s ‘flash’ glass, where you can sandblast off a layer, and get a clear or white effect.” Susan holds up a piece of blue glass with a kind of round white snowflake design in the 64
middle. It’s both surprising and bold, like the artist. Susan was that smart, troublesome child who parents adore, and who drives them to drink. “I always had a struggle with the rules,” she says, “and with standards that are put on people that didn’t make sense to me. There was a rule-breaking part of me, and that’s not atypical of artists. And struggles at home are not atypical, because you see the world differently and your family doesn’t understand.” Susan built her national reputation on breaking the rules about stained glass. “I used traditional 12th century techniques in a new way,” she explains. “When it comes to leaded glass, I tried to hide the lines, because I felt they needed to be accountable if they stood out.” In the late 1970s, Susan created her “fragmented X” series, a symbolic depiction of crossing out old ways of working with glass. Her distinctive work became part of major collections, including the American Craft Museum. When that museum’s director, Janet Kardon, was asked to recommend a glass artist to the New York Jewish Museum, Susan was at the top of the list. It was early 1992, when Susan got the call from the Jewish Museum in New York City. They were renovating, and a new café was in the works. Being in the basement, it had no windows, but the architects had designed six openings for light boxes, each about four by three feet. Twelve “blessings,” was the theme for the stained glass panels that the Jewish Museum wanted Susan to make for the front of the boxes. Inside the boxes, artificial light would illuminate the glass. Museum staff sent research, text and Old Testament readings to get Susan started on the design process. She hoped to both poetically and metaphorically show the idea of the blessings entrusted to her. Susan developed drawings for the museum’s consideration. She dove deep into research on Jewish tradition, spending time at the Skirball Museum in L.A. She sent designs, and re-did those designs, and re-did
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them again. “I have never done as many proposals for a commission,” Susan laughs. Susan flew to Oakland to pick out hand-blown European sheet glass. “It was expensive, and gorgeous,” she remembers, “but I felt there was a place for manufactured glass, and if I could combine them in a certain way it would create a dialogue between high and low.” Susan chose her former fifteen-year business partner, Rodney Smith, at Renaissance Glass, Co., in Austin, Texas, to fabricate the windows. “I drew the full-sized patterns, and flew to Texas to label each piece of glass, and designate how it would be cut.” A third of the glass was painted with glass-like enamels. It was then fired in a kiln to permanently fuse the paint to the surface. Flashed-glass was sandblasted to create two-tones within one piece. And then came the lead work. Susan explains, “We, at the studio, came up with intricate methods of carving and combining thick and thin lead to create dynamic lines within the overall image.” Finally, in January, 1994, nearly two years after Susan got the commission, the windows were installed in their stained hard-oak boxes in the Jewish Museum’s new Café Weissman. That same year, in Susan’s hometown of Ojai, a small group of Jewish people, including Ellen Sklarz, was forming the first Jewish community. Flash forward to December, 2013. Barbara Hirsch, one of Ojai’s major art patrons, was in New York for her cousin’s funeral. Art was her passion and solace, so to offset her sadness she went to the nearby French Gothic chateau on Fifth Avenue that houses the Jewish Museum. “I’d never been there before,” Barbara recalled. “It was snowy and cold, but I went anyway, and had lunch at the Café Weissman.” As she ate, Barbara remembers being “dazzled” by the unusual, modern stained glass around the room. There, Barbara saw, shimmering with backlight, ancient ceramic vessels in silhouette against a waving “fabric” of warm colored glass squares, suggesting the blessing over bread and wine. Another window
showed a wintry black tree with tiny buds, seen through a honeycomb with seven flames floating in the foreground. It depicted blessings over fruits of the trees and produce of the earth. Barbara got up from her lunch and walked closer, fascinated by the window with bright red poppies, white lilies and an olive branch against a background of richly colored circles. This was the blessing over spices, flowers and herbage. On another window, she saw Jacob’s ladder, a shofar and astrological symbols against a blue sky, meant to call to mind blessings upon receiving good tidings and bad tidings. Barbara started taking pictures to share with others at the temple in Ojai. They were about to start on a building renovation. Perhaps they could think about replacing the jalousie windows of their old building, a former Baptist Church, with something like these glorious panels? Barbara took a picture of the window showing prismatic jewels seeming to tumble from the glass, which suggested the blessings from thunder, earthquake and falling star. And the window with an intricate interplay of light and dark, which included an open book, a globe with a celestial map and a myrtle branch, evoked blessings for Torah wisdom and secular learning. Then Barbara walked close enough to read the plaques. “I was shocked to see that my dear friend and colleague, Susan StinsmuehlenAmend, was the artist,” Barbara said. The two women served together on the Ojai Arts Commission. “I was so surprised and delighted, I immediately sent her a text with my discovery.” And somewhere in the back offices of the Jewish Museum, discussions were underway to renovate the Café Weissman. Eight months later, Susan got an email from the Jewish Museum. She was dismayed to read that they were going to de-install her windows. She had thought that they were part of the permanent collection. But then she read, “Rather than putting them in storage, we would like to explore options for finding them a worthy new home. We would also be very interested in gifting them to another institution.”
OPPOSITE: SUSAN STINSMUEHLENAMEND PHOTO BY CINDY PITOU BURTON. LEFT: THE BLESSING OVER SPICES.
RIGHT: THE BLESSINGS FOR TORAH WISDOM AND SECULAR LEARNING.
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Susan had an idea. She emailed her friend Sklarz, who she knew was a member of the Jewish temple in Ojai. “Ellen, Just got info that my six panels of leaded glass in the Weissman Cafe at the Jewish Museum will be coming out due to a remodel. The works may be up for donation to another institution. Was wondering about the local synagogue?” A few weeks later, Susan and Ellen were meeting at Barbara Hirsch’s house, with Alan Greenberg, who was heading up the Ojai temple renovation. They looked at each other in stunned amazement. They could hardly believe the Temple’s good fortune. Having seen the windows in person, Barbara was beyond thrilled. “I knew that this gift would add a new dimension to our temple,” Barbara said, “and start our effort to develop an art collection of note.” Susan had guided the windows to the temple at just the right moment. The main sanctuary was being “refreshed,” and already had a large stained glass work, called “Torah/ Tree of Life” adorning the ‘bimah’ or stage. On April 15, the windows, carefully crated by the Jewish Museum, were put on a shuttle with a fine arts shipper, set to arrive in Ojai on April 28th. The six boxes were laid flat in the new, unfinished social hall. Alan Greenberg and Peter Thielke, cordless electric drills in hand, began unscrewing the drywall screws from the top panel of one of the plywood crates. Barbara and Ellen, and a few other members of the congregation held their breath as the rigid foam was taken off the first window. Very gingerly, Peter and Alan lifted it out. Alan remembers feeling stunned by the color and intense beauty of the window. He and Peter held it up to the light. Ellen remembers thinking of how far the Temple had come. “I was among a group of temple founders. At our first High Holy Day services we sat on folding chairs, and the prayers were led by a Hebrew Union College rabbinical student with a ponytail and Birkenstocks. Soon after we opened, a swastika was painted on the door. Many people in the community, including pastors from various churches came out for a ceremony to paint over it. So, it was glorious to get those beautiful panels in what had started as such a funky little temple.” But how would the panels be installed? The windows were not the exact size of the openings. The cost to retrofit the windows was daunting. And then the final miracle occurred. Admiring the windows. Photos by Fred Rothenberg
TOP: SUSAN AND HER HUSBAND RICHARD AMEND INSPECT THE NEWLY ARRIVED WINDOWS ALONG WITH PETER THIELKE.
MIDDLE: THE INSTALLATION BEGAN WHEN THE WINDOWS ARRIVED.
BOTTOM: FROM LEFT, RICHARD AMEND, BARBARA HIRSCH, SUSAN AMEND AND PETER THIELKE CHECK THEIR WORK ON THE WINDOWS AT THE TEMPLE IN MEINERS OAKS. Another local artist, and Temple member, made a large anonymous donation so that the windows could be placed where they seemed to have always belonged. It was ‘beshert.’ On October 19, 2016, the Jewish Community of Ojai unveiled its miracle to the City. The sanctuary was full of residents of every faith as the story of the windows was told. But the last chapter had yet to be written. Susan’s stained glass didn’t fill all of the window openings in Ojai’s temple, and the congregation didn’t have the money to commission more. It took two years of trying, but last December the Temple had raised enough money — including a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ventura — to have Susan create two more of her glorious windows. As Barbara Hirsch says, OQ / SPRING 2019
“OJAI IS A PLACE WHERE ART FLOURISHES, AND THE COMMUNITY EMBRACES ART Ojai is also a place of miracles that are sometimes “beshert.” ≈OQ≈ 67
o o o Tomorrow
STORY AND PHOTOS BY BETTY NGUYEN
Ojai’s deceptively quiet valley may attract tourists in search of weekender spirituality, but it’s a creative incubator for those who lay down roots. Greg Penny has lived in Ojai since ‘89 and is currently innovating a new kind of listening experience. His latest project pivots a software technology developed for movie theaters to envelop the listener at home. I visited Penny’s studio in Ojai to hear an experimental mix of a forthcoming Beck album and a reinvention of a “Def Jam Classics” release.
OQ: LET’S START FROM the beginning. You’re a music producer, mixing engineer and singer/songwriter. Who is your all-time music hero and why? GP: George Martin, The Beatles producer. With the magnitude of their success I really tuned into him. I wanted to be like him. Years later, when I worked for Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, I met him at an industry function. I was blown away by his presence and focus. When I started to produce Elton John, we decided to work at AIR Lyndhurst, the studio complex that George owned in Hampstead, London. Spending a long period there, we became close friends alongside his son Giles, whom I continue to work with now. George was not only the greatest record producer, but a lovely and generous human being that welcomed me into his community and supported my efforts like no one ever had before. We called him, “Big George” because he was king. Can you share some innovations that George came up with? A lot of what we take for granted today, when we make records inside of computers, was thought up by George and his main engineer, Geoff Emerick (who sadly passed away last year). George could somehow translate what The Beatles heard in their heads through the analog gear at Abbey Road and produce effects that had never been done before. He did this while keeping the context of their songs. Here’s just one example, in his own words talking about John Lennon’s vocal on Tomorrow Never Knows from Revolver:
Greg Penny in his Ojai Studio.
For Tomorrow Never Knows, John said to me he wanted his voice to sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a hilltop, and I said, ‘It’s a bit expensive, going to Tibet. Can we make do with it here?’ I knew perfectly well that ordinary echo or reverb wouldn’t work, because it would just put a very distant voice on. We needed to have something a bit weird and metallic. A Leslie speaker is a rotating speaker on a Hammond console, and the speed at which it rotates can be varied according to a knob on the control. By putting his voice through that and then recording it again, you got a kind of intermittent vibrato effect, which is what we hear on Tomorrow Never Knows. I don’t think anyone had ever done that before. It was quite a revolutionary track for Revolver. People now have all the tools to build their own studios, distribute and market themselves online. What’s your take on the digital revolution? It’s leveled the playing field. Through technology, artists can take more control of their creations. There is less waste, and alternatives to an archaic financial model. What I don’t like is the wholesale dismissal of the music industry — the notion that major record companies are antiquated, useless entities, populated by greedy morons. As a whole, the music industry, like the print/book industry, is adjusting and moving with the digital revolution. The prevailing propaganda is that, if you have a million friends or likes on social media and spend all your time posting and giving away your music, instead of working on your craft, you will rule the world. The result of this is the complete devaluation of music and a near collapse of the business of recorded music. Most people feel that they shouldn’t have to pay for music anymore. Folks don’t mind paying twenty dollars for avocado toast and a drip coffee that takes three minutes to make, but ask them to pay that same amount for an album that took a year of an artist’s life and they’ll bitch all the way to their next $12 can of citrus-infused IPA. Ouch. But good point! The good news is the music industry is actually populated with some of the brightest, most innovative people in the world. In the last two years, it has adjusted and is
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posting record successes, in part due to streaming. Consumers totally embrace digital distribution. This renewed industry presents a whole new set of opportunities for artists and the companies that support them. I think the lesson learned here, is that music has intangible value and that we should gladly pay for it, like we do everything else. I just read the “Imagine John Lennon Yoko Ono” book and it’s fascinating. There’s this tangibility to seeing experimentation materialize in the recording studio. Tell me a story about recording an artist and why it was so thrilling for you. I got a call from my friend, Ray Mia at UMG. He asked me to fly to Rome and record The Vatican Choir inside The Sistine Chapel. I was like,
DUDE! I CAN’T BE THE RIGHT GUY FOR THIS GIG! I MAKE POP RECORDS! He replied, “You are the right guy, because we want you to record and mix it in (Dolby) Atmos. You understand how to do both." What an honor! Italians seems so reverent about music, so this is a big deal. It was a mind blowing experience! Placing a microphone while standing in The Sistine Chapel; looking at the work of Michelangelo; listening to my footsteps echoing around that beautiful room alone definitely evoked that reverence. The recording and mix sound OQ / SPRING 2019
incredible — exactly as if you’re there. Cecilia Bartoli, the great Italian mezzo-soprano, was the soloist. It was the first time a woman had ever sung in The Sistine Chapel. The people, the members of the choir, are very normal, warm and friendly people, who love to joke and have fun. Mark, one of the British guys in the choir laughingly said to me, “We may not be the best choir in the world, but we’re the Pope’s choir!” It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. Tell me more about Dolby Atmos. Immersive listening experiences have been evolving for decades. From mono to stereo, quad (quadrophonic), 5.1 (home theater systems), etc., and now we can deliver the elusive experience where the machine disappears and the content truly touches the listener. This has been driven by the film industry and only recently used to create music-based products. It involves advanced systems for creation and playback. Dolby Atmos works when speakers are placed not only in front of you, but behind, on the sides and above you. This makes for an incredible listening experience. The consumer experience is also available for home theater systems. I work to improve the creation and delivery of these experiences. It’s way cool! You’re also producing a large-scale immersive installation that involves sound and visuals. Tell me about its creative inception and how did you get major players like Stufish and Treatment involved? As magical and immediate as our portable devices are, we have become accustomed to listening to music and watching films on tiny speakers and screens that only give us a fraction of the intended experience. So, I started thinking about how to counter balance that. Also, when I would play music for people in my studio some would ask, “How can I buy a ticket to this kind of listening experience?” That sounded like a good idea, so I partnered with Stufish who create the live show architecture for the Stones, Lady Gaga and others, to design listening theaters. Treatment, who do the visuals for acts like U2 and Elton John, will create the visual content to accompany the music mixed in Atmos. We will produce a mind-blowing immersive audio/visual experience called boombox. Keep an ear to the ground for the release of boombox in the Fall of 2019. ≈OQ≈ 71
OQ | VI S UA L A RTI STS
40+ LOCAL artists with a unique selection of contemporary fine arts, jewelry and crafts. 238 East Ojai Ave 805-646-5682 Daily 10 am – 6 pm ojaivalleyartists.com
Perhaps it was potter and “the Mama of Dada” Beatrice Wood’s influence, going back nearly 90 years. Maybe it even goes back further, to the Chumash people’s ingenious and astounding artistry with basketry. It’s clear that Ojai has long been a haven for artists. The natural beauty framed so well by the long arc and lush light of an east-west valley lends itself to artistic pursuits, as does the leisurely pace of life, the sturdy social fabric of a vibrant community and the abundant affection and respect for artists and their acts of creation.
Mysterious equations of abstraction, nature, architecture, and illumination rolled into the stillness and clarity of singular, psychological moments. “Thought Form #1: Clearing.” Oil on canvas, 48” x 36.” Contact: email@example.com or visit RichardAmend.net. 323-806-7995
SUSAN STINSMUEHLEN AMEND Paints on
clear glass with kilnfired enamels, mapping unpredictable rhythms of thought. Custom commissions for art & architecture welcome. SusanAmend@pobox. com She is also on Facebook.
CINDY PITOU BURTON
Photojournalist and editorial photographer, specializing in portraits, western landscapes and travel. 805-646-6263 798-1026 cell OjaiStudioArtists.org
STUDIO SAUVAGEAU FIRESTICK GALLERY
Firestick Pottery provides classes, studio/kiln space and a gallery abundant with fine ceramics. Located at 1804 East Ojai Avenue, we are open from 10 am to 6 pm every day but Tuesday. FirestickPottery.com 805-272-8760
Join acclaimed artist’s Bert Collins and Jannene Behl for a “free” Ojai Artist’s Studio Tour on May 11th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. @ 1545 Cuyama, in Ojai. Enjoy beautiful paintings of the Ojai & California landscape.
Original Landscape, Figure & Portrait Paintings in Oil. Ojai Design Center Gallery. 111 W Topa Topa Street. marc@whitman-architect. com Open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Intuitive, visionary artist, inspired by her dreams and meditations. It is “all about the Light.” Her work may be seen at Frameworks of Ojai, 236 West Ojai Ave, where she has her studio. 805-6403601 JoyceHuntingtonArt.com
In his portrait commissions, Eells captures the essence of those he paints. His paintings are about empathy and connections. Bold strokes are tempered with classical drawing principles. Visit Eells.com 805-633-0055
KAREN K. LEWIS
Painter and Printmaker of People, Places and Things. Media: oil on canvas and printers’ ink on paper. firstname.lastname@example.org. 805-646-8877 KarenKLewis.com
LISA SKYHEART MARSHALL
Colorful botanical original paintings with birds and insects, prints and cards. SkyheartArt.com. LisaSkyheartMarshall. etsy.com • shahsi27@ gmail.com 805-256-4209
THE BASIC PREMISE
Featuring local artists, including William Prosser and Ted Campos. American-made gifts and cards, crystals, new and vintage goods. 304 North Montgomery OjaiHouse.com 805-640-1656
Contemporary Art in a Historic House. 310 East Matilija Avenue PorchGalleryOjai.com 805-620-7589 IG: PorchGalleryOjai
Contemporary art gallery with an emphasis on the esoteric and experimental. Vessel, new paintings by James Petrucci on view March 23 - April 27. 918 East Ojai Avenue TheBasicPremiseGallery.com
AUGUST LAUREL GALLERY
Inspired by medieval chain mail — stainless jewelry, scarves, purses, belts and wearable metal clothing. UnzickerDesign.com 805-646-4877
Working in acrylic and mixed media, Mary Neville builds her large scale canvases into rich layers where there’s much more than meets the eye. For more information about the the studio go to: www. marynevilleart.com 805-798-4269
Exquisitely handcrafted bags. 305-G East Ojai Avenue New Location! StudioSauvageau.com 805-798-2221
NUTMEG’S OJAI HOUSE BERT COLLINS & JANNENE BEHL
OQ | ART GAL L E R I ES
HUMAN ARTS GALLERY
Original art with a focus on Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles artists. 307 East Ojai Avenue AugustLaurel.com | 805-646-0967
An arts destination for 43 years! Featuring a colorful, diverse, often whimsical collection of hand-made furniture, art, jewelry, glass, clothing and sculpture. 246 East Ojai Avenue. 805-646-1525 HumanArtsGallery.com
Rich oils and lush pastel paintings from Nationally awarded local artist. 805-895-9642
DAN SCHULTZ FINE ART
Plein air landscapes, figures and portraits in oil by nationally-acclaimed artist Dan Schultz. 106 North Signal Street | 805-317-9634 DanSchultzFineArt.com
OQ | W I NE & DI NE
Photo by Ella Olsson.
SAGE RESTAURANT OPENING
food + DRINK
Bridging the Gap Between Farmers, Diners
Searching for Food that Bathing Suits Us
NEW CITY BREWERY
oq wine map
Brewing Beer All in the Family
Local Wineries, Breweries & Tasting Rooms
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Ask us about our Honey Clu b!
Visit our Honey Tasting Room 206 East Ojai Avenue, in the Arcade, downtown Ojai www.heavenlyhoneycompany.com | 805-633-9103 76
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s age m in dful m eal s & Elix i r s â€˜TO LIVE WELL, EAT WELLâ€™
NEW CITY ORIGINAL GINGER BEER
NEW CITY MULE
Brewed Moscow Mule w/ fresh lime
Made with fresh ginger
Made with fresh ginger
Sparkling, dry & spicy
Only ingredients Available in cans or boles
Now available at select bars, restaurants, grocery stores throughout Ventura County! To find us, visit newcitybrewery.com/visit/find+new+city
OJAI STUDIO ARTISTS 2ND SATURDAYS Free & Self-Guided
BY BRET BRADIGAN David and Mary Trudeau have been working on their latest venture for more than two years â€” navigating a challenging building project through a thicket of permits and reviews, and just when they thought the project was nearing its completion, the tragic Thomas Fire burned through town, creating more delays. But thatâ€™s all in the past now as Sage Mindful Meals officially opened February 6, with its locally sourced, nutritionally conscious, fresh seasonal fare. Besides the inventive cuisine from Chef Michael Chavez-Martinez, Sage caters to dietary restrictions and preferences with creative approaches to gluten-free, lectin-free and whole food plant-based diets. But even non-restricted diners will find something to their taste. The Trudeaus draw on plenty of experience in the food-service business, having operated Rainbow Bridge grocery store with its popular delicatessen. The relationship with Rainbow Bridge also gives them an advantage on ordering provisions not usually available through typical restaurant suppliers. Mary Trudeau said that Sage will focus on breakfast and lunch, with a grab-and-go counter upfront, French press coffee, crepes and hot chocolate, but also with a varied menu with something for everyone. â€œNo one really caters to the people,â€? Mary said. â€œWe are approachable for all walks of life.â€? â€œWe have some to-go, reasonably priced but
not cheap ... we are not going into the restaurant business to make money, but to give something back to the community,â€? she said. The restaurant, occupied for decades by Diaz Family Panaderia, will also occupy the longvacant back of the building, where co-owner David Trudeau and his project manager Lee Webster have been busy building a fine-dining restaurant and lounge to open later this spring, which includes the patio at that opens onto the Arcade Plaza. It will be the first time the patio, in a prime location, has been used in decades. Live music will waft across the Arcade, adding its ambience to an al fresco Ojai experience. Running the front of the restaurant with practiced ease is Barney Price. A chalkboard
behind his counter names the local farms which supply Sage â€” Earthtrine Farms, Rio Gozo, Ojai Vista, Watkins Ranch and Harvest Gathering among them â€”the basic ingredients on which Chef Michael works his magic. Even the dishes are compostable, Trudeau says, "and we have trash pickup specifically for compost." Another feature that distinguishes Sage is the high-end cold-press machine for the fresh, live juices and other elixirs. Besides Rainbow Bridge, the Trudeaus have steadily advanced eastward along Matilija Street, with Dharma & Dog adjacent to Sage. It's a measure of confidence that the Trudeaus have that Sage opened on Feb. 6; they left for a long overdue vacation on Feb. 5. =OQ=
From left: yakitori skewers, French presses, Chef Michael Chavez-Martinez with Mary Trudeau in the center with a delighted diner.
JULES WEISSMAN IG: WooltoWool
will be open 10a-3p along with Bert Collins â€˘ Jannene Behl Sooz Glazebrook â€˘ Andrea Haffner Vera Long â€˘ Martha Moran Mariana Peirano â€˘ Fanny Penny James Petrucci â€˘ Myra Toth
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Ojai Cafe Emporium
Ojaiâ€™s favorite gathering and eating place for over 30 years.
espresso | breakfast | lunch
Voted Best Bakery, Breakfast & Lunch Place
205 N. Signal, Ojai | 805.646.1540
â€˜10 â€˜11 â€˜12 â€˜13 â€˜14 â€˜15 â€˜16
NoSoVita.com Open daily 7am - 5pm
Follow us on Instagram!
OJAIâ€™S LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED MAGAZINES. BY NATIONALLY AWARD-WINNING WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS. DISCOV D DIS DI ISCOV IS CO C OV OVE ER R
On the Firing Line with Travis Escalante
u ary 2 01
MO MON M ON O ONTHL NTHL NTHL TH TH HL HLY LY Lifestyle & Visitor Information
805 646 2723
108 S. Montgomery Street / off Ojai Ave www.ojaicafeemporium.com BREAKFAST Served All Day Every Day LUNCH Served Daily11am-3pm BAKERY & COFFEE BAR Open Daily 6:30am-3pm
Visitor Information â€˘ Hikes â€˘ Events â€˘ Activities â€˘ Lifestyle Tips & Tactics See More At TheOjai.net
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Celebrating 32 Years Breakfast
Open Daily 8 am to 10 pm (Call for summer hours) Home of the $2.50 Mimosas and $4 Bloody Marys and Margaritas. All Day, Everyday.
Sea FreSh SeaFood
Restaurant, Sushi Bar and Fresh Fish Market
• 533 E. Ojai Avenue, Ojai
Pizza,Pasta Wings, Salads Sandwiches We deliver
646-7878 Mon - Thu 13 Happy hour
331 E. Ojai Ave. Downtown Ojai 82
beers on draft
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OQ | FOOD & DR I NK
FOOD THAT SUITS YOU
For cheeseaholics, there’s a cheese and crackers selection of house made cheese of the day with cucumbers and rice crackers. Sandwiches, salads, vegan bowls, shares, adds and sides, smoothies, tonics, beers on tap, coffees and teas, cookies and pastries… there’s something for everyone, even diehard meat and cheese lovers (me).
BY ILONA SAARI
SOON THE DREADED VAMPIRE of bathing suit season will strike and you can only kill it with a steak through the heart. Doesn’t matter that you’ve vowed to exercise more and eat “healthy” when only a cheeseburger or a piece of chocolate can soothe your soul. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. You may not exercise more, but eating “healthy” has become a lot easier. One reason: “healthy” food has grown up to be so soulfully tasty (though not necessarily low calorie), it’s hard to resist. And we have some of the most soulful, “good-foryou” restaurants right here in Ojai. But, as a cheeseburger lover, I didn’t always think so.
homemade, gluten-free sourdough, vegan bread with tomato and olive oil. In the mood for “pancakes?” Try one of Food Harmonics’ dosas. OK, I had to look that one up before I ordered it. Dosas are India’s pancakelike crepes from fermented batter of rice and black gram (chickpea flour). Dee-lish. Need a drink to “go with?” Choose a turmeric latte or chai, or mushroom coffee, or from a variety of healthful hot and cold drinks. And, don’t miss the organic wine. Dessert lovers can choose a sweet potato brownie or white chocolate-raspberry, or raw nut balls. No, not dietetic, but just think how healthy you’re sweet tooth will be! Hip Vegan Café redux! Yes, Ben and Marissa DiChiacchio have reopened Hip Vegan in a great new location behind the Arcade, next door to Ojai’s hip Porch Gallery. After teaching English in Japan for four years, the couple wanted a complete change. They decided to settle in Ojai and open a restaurant incorporating the flavors they loved when living in Japan. As vegetarians, it was an easy decision to make it vegan. Self-taught chefs, the couple experimented in their kitchen and learned not only to infuse their dishes with Asian flavors, but with flavors from other countries and regions as well. Their Vietnamese spring rolls with tofu, fresh herbs, shredded veggies and a citrus soy dip are downright tantalizing. I love their “old-fashioned burger,” a marinated tempeh patty with lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions, 1000 island dressing, melted cheese (from cashews) on a wheat bun.
When Food Harmonics opened in Ojai’s historic Arcade, staking its claim to healthful, healing, probiotic, gluten- and hormone-free, organic food (now that’s a mouthful of food adjectives), it sounded like a food temple altar to taste-challenged tofu and kale. Boy, was I wrong!!! Yes… Food Harmonics makes “healthy” food, but owner, Gabriella Chesneau, and her cooking staff do not skimp on flavor. Yes… Food Harmonics’ dishes are gluten-, GMO-, and hormone-free, but they’re also designed for your taste buds. And, ever mindful of our planet (and Ojai’s drought), the staff watches its water usage, chooses glass over plastic, recycles, and makes compost. As staff member extraordinaire, David Taylor, told me, the restaurant’s staff has been trained to cook its 90 percent plant-based menu. But, there are bison burgers and chicken additions to go with those super food weeds and berries. Two of my favorite menu choices are that bison burger on arugula with sweet potato mash, homemade cayenne aioli and sauerkraut … and smashed avocado toast on 84
As denizens of a farm community, we in Ojai are fortunate to have most restaurants serve local farm-to-restaurant fare including Ojai Harvest. It’s nestled across the street from the Arcade, where owner Spoon Singh has a different take on organic, from his selection of grain bowls, pastas, and salads to Watkins grass-fed burgers. Try his salmon jar (yep, it’s in a jar), served with crackers, caramelized onions, pickles and caper berries. And, don’t forget the legendary Farmer & the Cook in Meiners Oaks.
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Kombucha may sound like a new exercise fad (kombucha-Zumba?), but at Revel, located behind the Arcade, it’s really a drink made with fermented (yes, fermented), lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea. However, Revel’s is not just plain kombucha, but jun kombucha, thought to have originated thousands of years ago. Jun is an effervescent, living health tonic known as the champagne of kombuchas. Revel owners make theirs with the finest raw honey, organic green tea and their exclusive jun culture, which offers a more delicate taste than regular kombucha, but equally as powerful. Owners Adam and Sonia Gallegos originally moved to Ojai to open a craft beer brewery, but after jun became a regular staple at home, Adam began to feel healthier and that sealed the deal. They decided that jun could help more people, especially if they created a fun environment that encourages a gathering of the Ojai community. Because jun (remember, it’s fermented) could also be made as a nonalcoholic beverage, it would also allow people of all ages to enjoy it. Revel is proud to offer a variety of ultra-fresh jun kombuchas, flavored with local, seasonal ingredients that are always fresh on tap just like the brewery they originally planned to open. Try a tasting flight or sip their probiotic coffee brewed cold, or try one of their delicious Acai bowls, well-known for their antioxidant superpowers and great taste. Think smoothie topped with oatmeal, fruit or peanut butter, a healthful twist on a delicious sundae. You’ll feel so energetic, you might decide to burn some calories and jog home. OPPOSITE: Food Harmonics’ dosa and Hip Vegan’s “Old-Fashioned Burger.” THIS PAGE: Ojai Harvest’s burger | Photos by Ilona Saari. Revel’s kombucha taps and Famer & the Cook’s goat cheese tacos photos courtesy of the restaurants.
Farmer (Steve Sprinkel) farms the restaurant’s organic produce and Cook (Olivia Chase) cooks up everything from Mexican dishes to pizzas and a variety of delicious, good-for-you dishes in between.
You still may not want to try on your bathing suit, but you’ll feel so much better ignoring it! ≈OQ≈
OQ / SPRING 2019
Art Gallery Plein Air Oils from the Painting Chef
ESPRESSO • PASTRIES • CHEESE • WINE • SANDWICHES • SALADS • SOUPS
Great Sandwiches & Weekly Specials! Vegetarian, Vegan & Gluten-Free Options! www.MarcheGourmetDeli.com 133 E. Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA
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OQ | OJA I W I N E M A P CASA BARRANCA ORGANIC WINERY & TASTING ROOM Historic Downtown Arcade. Stop by and relax in Casa Barranca’s Craftsman style-designed tasting room. Taste our award-winning wines made with organically grown grapes, also our USDA certified wines containing no added sulfites! Join our Wine Club!. 208 East Ojai Avenue, 805-6401255. OPEN DAILY: Sunday — Thursday 1 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday until 1-7 p.m. CasaBarranca.com or facebook.com/casabarranca.
VENTURA SPIRITS Ventura Spirits is a California Craft Distillery specializing in distilled spirits inspired by the native and cultivated flora of California’s Central Coast. We offer distillery tours and tastings of our award winning spirits in our new onsite tasting room. For more information or to contact us please visit: venturaspirits.com, email to: email@example.com or call us at: (805) 232-4313
TOPA MOUNTAIN WINERY Topa Mountain Winery offers handcrafted wines made from grapes grown on its estate in upper Ojai and sourced from other premium vineyards in the region. Located on two acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, Topa Mountain Winery has been voted Ventura County’s best Tasting Room two years in a row, is family and dog friendly and offers live music every Saturday and Sunday. TopaMountainWinery.com
OJAI OLIVE OIL Ojai’s no. 1 rated visitor experience, our Olive Mill & Tasting Room is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for free tastings and shopping. We also offer free guided tours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit an organic family permaculture farm and learn everything about extra virgin oil. We also have balsamic vinegars, olive trees, skin care products and more. No reservations required, pets welcome. 1811 Ladera Road , Ojaioliveoil.com, 805-646-5964.
OLD CREEK RANCH WINERY Old Creek Ranch Winery is Ventura County’s only rural winery situated on an 850-acre ranch in the Ojai Valley. A tasting room as well as lawns and guest areas with handcrafted chairs and couches, surrounded by lush landscaping, have been designed for relaxing and enjoying fine wines. Pack a picnic, gather up the kids and dog, and head to the Ranch! A selection of 25+ red and white varietals are available for wine tastings and purchase. Check oldcreekranch.com for a schedule of live music and food trucks. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Located at 10024 Old Creek Road, Ventura, CA 93001. 805-649-4132. OldCreekRanch.com
BOCCALI VINEYARDS & WINERY is a family-owned and operated winery located in the scenic Upper Ojai Valley. Father and son winemakers DeWayne and Joe Boccali are the driving forces behind the label. Boccali Vineyards produces 100 percent estate wines; grown, produced and bottled at Boccali Ranch. Visit us in Ojai’s East End on weekends for a tasting at 3277 East Ojai Avenue in Ojai. Visit us on the web at BoccaliVineyards.com.
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MAJESTIC OAK VINEYARD Hidden in the stunning Ojai Valley, the Majestic Oak Vineyard is deeply rooted on land our family has held for decades. As fifth generation Ojai-ans, we had a dream of bringing you the quintessential Ojai experience — something as beautiful and unique as the Valley itself. We believe a great bottle of wine represents the hard work that goes into it. From the land, to our hands, to your table, we are proud to offer you our labor of love. We invite you to be part of our legacy. 321 East Ojai Avenue (downstairs), 805-794-0272, MajesticOakVineyard.com.
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OJAI ALISAL’S handcrafted wines are made only with grapes we grow in Upper Ojai. We grow Syrah, Grenache, Malbec and Viognier in our beautiful vineyards dotted with California walnuts and sycamores (or Alisal in Spanish), bringing the spirit of the Rhone region to California. Please visit our Weekend Tasting Room at Azu Restaurant, 457 East Ojai Ave, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m.. For more information 805-640-7987 or online at OjaiAlisal.com and AzuOjai.com.
OQ | YESTE R DAY & TO DAY
103 JES MAHARRY Artisan and famed Sundance jeweler Jes MaHarry has teamed with her sister Wendy MaHarry to create the perfect space for their magical creations. Walk into the boutique and you will instantly feel surrounded by beauty. 316 East Ojai Avenue 877.728.5537 JesMaharry.com
HUMAN ARTS GALLERY
Ojai’s most interesting and eclectic contemporary jewelry by nationally known artists, plus exciting new ideas for custom designed wedding rings by owner and resident jeweler Hallie Katz. 246 E Ojai Avenue. 805.646.1525 firstname.lastname@example.org HumanArtsGallery.com
ORMACHEA JEWELRY Specializes in hand-made, artisan jewelry creations; offering custom and unconventional engagement ring design in precious metals with unique gemstones. Each piece is slow-crafted in our studio by the sea. 432 E Main Street, Ventura 805.652.0484 Info@ormacheajewelry.com OrmacheaJewelry.com
Photo by Brandi Crockett/Fancy Free Photography
MAJOR DRON’S DREAM
Dwayne Bower’s Ojai History Through Its Cars By Logan Hall
The House That Survived Three Fires By Mark Lewis
TANGO AT THE RANCH HOUSE
OQ BEYOND THE ARCADE MAP
The Language of Dance By Leslie Hidley
Street Map & Landmark Businesses
OQ / SPRING 2019
Collection STORY & PHOTOS BY LOGAN HALL
DWAYNE BOWER HAS A SERIOUS COLLECTION OF OJAI MEMORABILIA, and it’s not just trinkets and photos (he has those, too). He’s got a museum full of Ojai history — literally. Born and raised in Ojai, Bower has been collecting and restoring old vehicles from the area since the 1960s. In a warehouse downtown, the floor is packed wall-to-wall with old cars, trucks and even a horse drawn cart once owned by Zadie Soule, one of Ojai’s most beloved benefactors. Here are just a few of his favorites as described in his words ...
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BILL BAKER’S OJAI BAKERY 1954 CHEVY PANEL DELIVERY: Stock 235 Straight 6-Cylinder Engine Half Ton Hauling Capacity 1st Chevy Truck With One-Piece,Curve Windshield “Bill was originally from France. I don’t remember his birth name but when he got to the U.S. he wanted an American name so he called himself Bill Baker. Everybody knew him. He had a big name around here. He won first place in the ‘39 World’s Fair with a huge cake he made. My family used to haul all his bread and cookies to Oxnard every Sunday where the railway would take it for distribution all over Southern California. As a kid growing up there, I remember going behind the machines to collect all the pieces of bread that fell. When I found this van and heard rumors that it used to be part of Bill Baker’s delivery fleet, I bought it and restored it. Had to weld up a few holes and the bumpers were missing. Bill always painted his vehicles a cream color so I did the body work and painted it. Looks pretty good now.”
1948 CHEVY 2.5 TON LOADMASTER 3600: Chevy 292, 300 HP 6 Cylinder Engine Top Speed - 65 MPH Weight - Approximately 10,000 LBS
“Dad bought it almost new from the Ojai Chevrolet dealer. The owners had bought it somewhere back east and they drove to California with their belongings and traded it in for a Chevy car. We drove it from ‘48 to ‘79 as a business truck. First it was Bud Bower Trucking, then Ojai Van Lines, then Ojai Van Lines Mayflower. Dad bought it for $2,000 with 2,000 miles on it. I could lie down and stretch out in the backseat when I was four or five. I learned how to drive in it. This was the truck we used to haul Bill Baker’s shipments down to the train station in Oxnard. After Dad retired, a huge tree fell on it at our Mariposa ranch. I couldn’t let the truck go like that so I hired a guy to get it and bring it to Ojai. Then I put a new roof on and restored it. I had to keep it. I grew up in that truck.” ≈OQ≈
“I was about 16 when we got the Packard sedan. My grandmother called me one day and said her neighbor in Redondo Beach was selling a ‘29 Packard. We went down there and paid $100 for it then drove it on up to Ojai. My dad, Bud, and my brother, Gene, and I started working on it and got it back into shape, although I didn’t paint it until some years later. It was black before. I would drive it to school when I was at Nordhoff. Drove it a lot around town. I had also previously restored another ‘29 Packard that was my first car. Back in the ‘20s if you had some money, you’d buy a Packard. Here I was years later just a kid in high school with two 1929 Packards! It was always fun driving around in one of those.”
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1929 PACKARD 626 4-DOOR SEDAN: Standard 319 Inline 8 Cylinder Engine 4 Wheel Drum Brakes All Stock
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for Personal Well-being and a Healthy Planet Mattresses, bedding, bath, baby products, yoga clothing, pj’s and robes are nontoxic, organic and made with sustainably grown and manufactured materials.
147 W. El Roblar Dr., Ojai • Tues-Sat 10:30-5 or by appt. 805.640.3699
Stephen Adelman “Your Family Man Realtor”
Spanish Style Home Downtown Ojai
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT DIVISION
805-574-9774 PROPERTY SHOPPE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT DIVISION
FULL SERVICE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT "The Rental Guy" RESIDENTIAL • COMMERCIAL • INDUSTRIAL
www.JoeTheRentalGuy.com JOE DAVIS "The Rental Guy" 727 W OJAI AVE, OJAI CA 93023 • BRE #01999568
• Completely rebuilt from the studs in 2011 • 2,700 sq ft 5 bedrooms and 3 baths including a large master suite • Gourmet kitchen-upgraded appliances-6 burner Viking range • Granite counters and Travertine tile • Easy access with 2 entrance points, each with iron gates • Roses and bougainvillea flowers • Full irrigation system to help nurture your green thumb creations • Captivating back yard with Outdoor BBQ • Warm sunset with views of the Topa Topas • This is the diamond on Shady Lane
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CalBre : 01786486 call or text to (805)-640-5563 email@example.com www.ojailuxuryrealestate.com
OQ / SPRING 2019
Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe International President’s Circle 30 Years Real Estate experience
Broker Associate/Realtor ,GRI, ABR, SFR • DRE#00953244
Residential • Investment • Land
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JOHN ANDERSON DRON WAS BORN in Ayr, Scotland in 1893, but did not remain there for long. In 1897, his father, a mining engineer, took the family to Glasgow to board the liner S.S. Furnessia, bound for New York. By 1900 the Drons had landed in Big Oak Flat in California’s Tuolumne County, near Yosemite Valley National Park. “He grew up in the foothills of the Sierras,” his granddaughter Dorothy Dron-Smith says. “He was an outdoors person.” But a highly educated one, thanks to his mother. “She taught him classical Greek and Latin in the mining camp,” says his grandson Laurence Malone. Dron in later years would regale his children and grandchildren with the story of
Scotland,” Dron-Smith says. In fact he was raised in California, and not just in the Sierras. Dron attended Berkeley High School and took a few classes at the University of California. But his natural classroom was the great outdoors. Literally following in Muir’s footsteps, Dron “was a wilderness guide throughout the Sierras,” Malone says. Dron married Dorothy Cook in January 1921, and they welcomed John A. Dron Jr. to the family that December. A daughter, Dorothy, came along in 1928. Largely selftaught as a civil engineer, Dron was working on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu in 1929 and staying at a camp near Sycamore Canyon when he encountered the Ojai
carvings, copperplate etchings, and ornamental ironwork pieces such as the silhouette of the young boy reading a book that has graced the Ojai Library sign since 1930. But his most ambitious artistic undertaking was Dronhame. Dron had acquired some land off Gridley Road in exchange for work he undertook to perform for the Gridley Mutual Water Co. In 1932, he installed his family (including a third child, infant son Boyd) in a tent on the property and commenced work on a stone house. His architect friend Pierpont is assumed to have contributed to the Craftsman-inspired design, but Dron was the artisan who brought it to life. A rambling, nine-room manse, Dronhame was
his childhood encounter with John Muir, the legendary Scottish-born naturalist who cofounded the Sierra Club. As a boy of 10 or 11, Dron was fishing in the Tuolumne River one day when Muir happened along and admired his catch. “That’s a nice string o’ trout, laddie,” Muir told him – a line Dron would deliver in a deep Scottish accent, a la Muir. Despite having only lived in Scotland for three years, Dron proudly retained his own accent all his life, and would deepen it for effect when quoting the likes of Muir or Robert Burns or Robert Louis Stevenson. “You would think he was raised in
architect Austen Pierpont, who offered him a job. Dron accepted, and moved his family to Ojai. It would be his home for the rest of his life. In Ojai, Dron added surveying to his professional repertoire. He also served the community as ex-officio city engineer, and in 1938 he served as the Works Progress Administration chief for Ventura County. In 1939, he was among the founders of the Art Center. (He surveyed the lot for the building, which Pierpont designed, and he served on the organization’s board for many years.) Dron also cultivated his own artistic side, making his mark with watercolor paintings, wooden
built with native rock supported by redwood beams salvaged from oil derricks and water flumes. The laird’s touch can also be seen in the handmade doors and the ornamental wrought-iron work. “This was years in the building,” says Boyd’s widow, Karin Dron, the
Saving Dronhame BY MARK LEWIS PHOTOS BY BRANDI CROCKETT
Major John Dron was Ojai’s own John Muir: an ahead-of-his-time naturalist, a one-man Scottish Enlightenment in the flesh, and the selfstyled Laird o’ Dronhame, the rustic stone house he built for his family high up on Gridley Road in the National Forest. (“Hame” is Scottish dialect for “home.”) When the great forest fire of 1948 threatened to destroy this house, Dron and his eldest son Jack mobilized a team to fend off the flames. After the Major’s death, his daughter and son-in-law carried on the tradition in 1985 by saving the house from the Wheeler Fire; in December 2017, his daughterin-law Karin and one of his grandsons helped save it from the Thomas Fire. And so Dronhame still stands as an enduring monument to its builder, one of those legendary local characters who helped make Ojai what it is today.
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THE HOUSE THAT DRON BUILT. PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRANDI CROCKETT / FANCY FREE PHOTOGRAPHY 101
current owner and occupant. A year after Dron started work on the house, nature delivered him a warning in the form of the massive Matilija Fire, which erupted in September 1932 and burned 220,000 acres in the National Forest. This inferno was the largest recorded fire in California history to that point, a distinction it would retain for seven decades, until 2003. But it stayed north of Nordhoff Ridge and thus spared Ojai, and the work on Dronhame continued. The family had moved in to the main house by Dec. 7, 1941, but the project was not yet finished, when the news from Pearl Harbor prompted Dron to put down his tools. He already had served in the Army during World War I; now he signed up again, and carved a message into a rock on his property to the effect that work on Dronhame had been suspended “until victory is ours.” With that victory secured in 1945, Dron came home to finish the job. (Having retired from his second tour of duty with the rank of major, he would henceforth be known in Ojai as Major Dron.) He also launched a campaign to rally opposition against the Matilija Dam, which he considered a poorly designed boondoggle that might collapse. He lost that fight, and the dam was built over his objections. (He was proved right about its design when the new reservoir silted up, rendering the dam useless.) But he had more success with his next fight, against the great fire of 1948.
That September, a butane leak at the Wheeler Hot Springs resort touched off a blaze that quickly got out of control, and the flames raced up over the top of Nordhoff Ridge and down toward Dronhame. Dron and his eldest son, Jack, had a crew of friends and well-equipped helpers at the ready. “We watched the fire burning slowly down the mountain, expecting it about midnight,” Dron wrote in an account for The Ojai newspaper. “We planned to backfire, but about 7:15 pm we noticed numerous spot fires below the fire line, indicating a shift of wind. In 15 minutes these had consolidated into a solid front of flame downhill. It was still about a half a mile above us. We were all prepared. The house had been battened down and sheet metal … had been placed over the windows. Every available carpet, pad, and canvas was saturated and laid on the roof. Then about 8 p.m. we noticed a spot fire on the ridge below us, then one to the right and left of us. Then I ordered my daughter Dorothy and my youngest son Boyd to take a station wagon loaded with our possessions and get out in a hurry.” Dron and Jack remained. They were on the roof with garden hoses, wetting down the building, when the fire arrived. “The heat finally became so intolerable we were driven off the roof. … The heat was so intense that we could only face it by wrapping wet towels around our heads and taking turns spraying each other with water to prevent our clothes from catching fire. We saw two foxes
race across our front lawn and several deer. By that time the flanking fire had encircled the house and was closing in below us. Then the main fire struck the backfire. For five minutes we were surrounded on all sides by towering flames and were in a literal vortex.” Dron did not mention it in this account, but he and Jack did not retreat from the house. Instead, per their plan, they dove into the cellar and closed the door behind them, reasoning that the flames would quickly pass by, allowing them to re-emerge to extinguish any spot fires. “Just at the crisis, which came about 8:45, our domestic water gave out, discharging black mud,” he wrote. “In a few minutes a valve in the main line blew up with a loud report, discharging steam. We had provided an auxiliary supply in buckets, tubs and tanks amounting to 150 gallons, and from then on the pumpers directed streams on the house while my son and I put out spot fires and debris with buckets. In 10 minutes the crisis was past and the main front of the fire had advanced downhill hundreds of feet below. Still, a hot wind of 20 or 30 miles per hour was driving a continual cascade of burning embers and sparks against the house. Fortunately the walls were of stone and the windows were protected by the sheet metal coverings. In 20 minutes there was nothing left of the surrounding area but innumerable burning dumps and accumulations of leaves.” HAVING SAVED HIS HOME from the fire, Dron devoted much of his remaining
25 years to saving Ojai from other sorts of threats, especially those posed by the unchecked development that was consuming the rest of Southern California. “We lost a fight here,” he wrote to a friend in 1960. “A city council was elected which favors the subdividers and other exploiters of the Valley, but the fight will go on, for Ojai is too precious a place to be sold down the river to a bunch of greedy, ignorant business men ‘whose only gospel is their maw!’ Like vultures after carrion, these people are drawn by the prospects of development predicated upon the Casitas Dam, and they are feverishly promoting all sorts of enterprises to make a fast buck, regardless of the consequences to the community. “Yesterday, I returned from several days
LEFT: JACK DRON ON GRIDLEY ROAD AFTER THE HISTORIC SNOWFALL IN JANUARY 1949, FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE DEVASTATING WILDFIRE OF 1948.
ABOVE: KARIN DRON SURVEYS HER 18-ACRE DRONHAME DOMAIN.
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trip to those places southeast of L.A., as far as Pomona, and I saw what can happen here – long miles of tawdry, blatant commercialization along the Foothill Road, and I thought Good God! That is what we are facing in Ojai. What kind of people are these, that can take a fair countryside and deface and debase it with every sort of hideously ugly and vulgar structure that perverted imagination can conceive?” Dron was not the only person in Ojai who felt this way, but he was among the more energetic and outspoken – a “howling dervish,” as he described himself in another letter. And, as ex-officio city engineer and an Ojai Civic Association trustee, he was a man of influence in the community. “Like David and Goliath (almost single-
“He was eccentric,” Dron-Smith says. “He was a character.” Dorothy Cook Dron died in 1952, leaving the Major to preside over an empty nest. But Ojai abounded with his children and grandchildren, for whom Dronhame served as a beloved ancestral home where the clan could gather. “We were a pretty close family growing up,” Dron-Smith says. “We all got together at Christmas at Dronhame.” When the Major died in April 1973 at 79, the entire county took notice. In Ventura, the Board of Supervisors adjourned early to honor his memory. In Ojai, friends and family gathered at the Art Center, for which he had laid the cornerstone 34 years earlier, to hear Dr. Butler’s eulogy. In the Ojai Valley News,
handedly) he tackled and bested the giant Edison Co. when it proposed a defacing hightension line with steel towers across the face of our bordering mountains,” Dron’s friend Dr. Charles Butler would recall at his memorial service. “This at a time when Ecology with a capital ‘E’ was almost unheard of.” “He fought for the things that make Ojai what it is,” Karin Dron says. Dron’s interests were not limited to preserving Ojai from over-development. He was a self-educated Renaissance man who made himself an expert in an enormous range of topics, and shared his knowledge freely with whomever he encountered. “He liked to talk,” Malone says. “He was filled with stories.”
the Major’s friend D. Ric Johnson penned an elegy for “one of those who made Ojai, Ojai.” “He was a classic Scot with their passion for learning; an abstract thinker with a pendulum swing from effervescence to melancholy,” Johnson wrote. “When being a dour Scot he ‘sipped his sorrer wi a long spoon,’ as he was wont to say. … The delightful evenings spent in front of the inevitable fireplace, the night raw outside, and John reeling off vastnesses of poetry or reading philosophy, Plutarch, Henry Adams, his own letters to the great personages and their replies. … The valley is less warm and less home now.”
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Condo THE MAJOR’S HEIRS kept Dronhame in the family but rented it out to people like Shahastra and Zubin Levy, who lived there from 1989 to 2010. Shahastra belongs to the Ojai Studio Artists, so Dronhame during this period was a regular stop on the group’s annual studio tour. “We loved it there, the foothills, the beauty, the old stone house that felt like we were part of the landscape,” Shahastra says. “We lived and created there, hiked there, sponsored community gatherings there. Dronhame is a wonderful, historic place that has housed many interesting people. It had two cabins which were always rented to some very unusual people, many of whom needed to heal there, recuperate there, be in nature, etc.” Being in nature is not always a benign experience at Dronhame. In July 1985, the Wheeler Fire came roaring over Nordhoff Ridge, following the path of its 1948 predecessor. At the time, Karin and Boyd were on a camping trip in Northern California. They jumped in the car and drove to Ojai, to find that Boyd’s sister Dorothy Rail and her husband Robert Rail had saved the house and its outbuildings. “We drove all night, got here at daybreak,” Karin says. “It was still smoky and embers flying.” Karin and Boyd had built their own version of Dronhame in Sisar Canyon in Upper Ojai, a stone house where they raised their daughters. But in 2010, after Boyd’s health began to fail, they moved to Dronhame, which is closer to town. He died there in his childhood home in 2014, after which Karin honored his memory by donating an easement to the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to preserve the final section of the Conservancy’s Fuelbreak Road Trail. The Fuelbreak Road, of course, is not just a hiking trail; it’s a line of defense against wildfires. But on the evening of Dec. 6, 2017, it could not stop the Thomas Fire from sweeping down on Dronhame. Now it was Karin Dron’s turn to defend the Major’s manor. She would have no help from firefighters, who considered Dronhame a lost cause. And stone walls would not guarantee its survival, as Karin knew all too well, having just learned that her stone Sisar Canyon house had perished two nights earlier when the Thomas Fire swept through Upper Ojai. Now, Dronhame was all she had left. But who 104
would help her save it? Dorothy Dron Rail had died in 2001, Jack Dron in 2007, and Robert Rail in 2013, so the Major’s children and his son-in-law all were gone. Of his eight grandchildren, only Dorothy Dron-Smith still lived in Ojai, and she and her husband had their own house in Senior Canyon to worry about. But another grandchild, Karin’s nephew
MR. DRON BUILDS HIS DREAM HOME
Laurence Malone, happened to be visiting Dronhame from his home near Santa Fe, N.M. Malone, along with family friends Rick Bisaccia, Mike Gourley and Mike Grigsby, rallied to the cause, and began chopping down the ceanothus bushes and other chaparral near the house. “Six or seven hours of cutting and schlepping,” Malone says. “My hands were bleeding from dragging four or five stalks of ceanothus at a time down to a small clearing on southwest side of the house.” They were familiar with the house’s storied history, and how Major Dron & Co. had saved it from the 1948 conflagration. “I can tell you that the Major’s story was one that we’d read many times and were thinking about it hard, as the 80-foot wall of flame headed for us,” Bisaccia later wrote in a Facebook post. “For sure we saved that house — working for about six hours clearing brush and wetting the bone-dry redwood exterior down. … We left when spot fires OQ / SPRING 2019
started exploding around us – the Sheriff ’s Department had already taken our names in case we perished in the fire.” Malone, a five-time national champion cyclocross bicycle racer, evacuated on his bike down Gridley Road to Grand Avenue, where he looked back “and watched in horror as the fire advanced. I could see the Dronhame light Karin had left on, which soon flickered out.” As Malone looked on, two columns of flame emerged from two arroyos to form a V-shaped inferno some 300 yards above the house: “The V-shaped flame covered the 300 yards in a twinkling, and at that point, I thought the house was lost.” But early the next morning, Karin drove up Gridley and spotted the light, which had flickered back to life — proof that she still had a home, and that the Major’s legacy lived on. “We didn’t do a fraction of what the Major did in ’48 and barely had any water pressure let alone water in tubs — and pretty much all the buildings surrounding the house turned to ash, but next morning, sure enough the old place stood unscathed,” Bisaccia wrote. “The good news was that four sixty-somethings with low water pressure saved that house with the spirit of Major Dron cheering us on.” Saving Dronhame “is kind of a family tradition,” Karin says. “So that tradition lives on.” For how long? Thirty years hence, when another cataclysmic fire roars over the Nordhoff Ridge, will Dronhame still be there, and will there still be Drons in Ojai to save it? Impossible to say. But the Major himself will be there. The family still has the urn containing his ashes, which was long consigned to storage. Plans are afoot to inter it on the Dronhame property the next time the clan gathers. “It’s going to happen,” Malone says. “Maybe this winter.” If the Major’s descendants want to mark the occasion with a few appropriate words, they could borrow this passage from the eulogy Dr. Butler delivered for his friend at the Art Center back in 1973: “In retrospect, then, we find we knew and loved someone quite unique: a professional engineer, an organizer, an artist, a conservationist, an intellectual wonder, a valued citizen who freely served his community; above all, a staunch and loyal friend. Truly, he was a man for all seasons.” ≈OQ≈
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AT THE RANCH HOUSE TELLING STORIES THROUGH DANCE BY LESLIE HIDLEY PHOTOS BY BRANDI CROCKETT
STEPHEN BAUER LOVES TANGO. He is in thrall to Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. He is her happy, willing slave and roams the Valley and beyond luring others into her service. He has been telling me about Tango for three years now. I finally got to see the little Tango community he and partner Deb Edwards and their friends — and some strangers — created a few Sunday nights ago at the monthly milonga at the Ranch House Restaurant in Meiners Oaks, whose address is on Besant Road but is really tucked into a ninety degree corner on Lomita. Being from the generation that gave up partner dancing — the sixties — whose frequent theory was that formlessness is a superior aesthetic value, up to and including ignoring the rhythm of the music — and that the primary reason for dancing was a means of self-expression, tango is a radical denial of everything my lost generation thought we knew about dance. The first couple who danced that evening were not locals but were visiting Santa Barbara from the Bay Area. They found out about the evening from the considerable tango intelligence network
ABOVE AND AT RIGHT: Tango is a real dance for real men and real women, dancing together.
(of which Bauer’s Quantumtango.net is part) and drove over to have dinner and dance. They were an attractive couple, somewhat more casually dressed than many who would appear later in the evening. She was a curvy blonde with curly hair who followed her handsome partner’s every move with grace and elegance — not a single twitch, not a glitch, just strength and intelligence under her partner’s guidance. In three inch heels. The men do all the work, the women can somehow follow and the men make the women look amazing. I had to remind myself that it is unseemly for a little old lady to gaze in fascination at the moving fannies of other women. Tango is everything modern life is not: it is formal, elegant, intelligent, careful, fun, subtle, thoughtful, congenial, refined, spontaneous cooperative, hierarchical, sophisticated and frisky. I tucked myself into one corner of the room, at the end of a five-mile long red tufted banquette that is opposite and perpendicular to two walls that are nearly all glass, overlooking the diners and the gardens beyond. Igor, the bartender/co-manager came over to me and took my drink order. I felt like a grown-up. And a wallflower with a purpose. Anchoring the other corners of the room were a grand piano opposite me, and on my far left by the entrance, an oversize portrait of J. Krishnamurti, a friend of the founders of the 114
restaurant, Alan and Helen Hooker. Across the room, diagonally from me was a sweet little bar, tended by the hospitable Igor, who made me an impeccable Beefeater martini which I sipped (and am still trying to pay for) as I watched the earliest dancers drift in. The room has a wooden floor, which serves as a perfect surface for the dancers, and before the evening was over, it was filled with couples reveling and filled with the joy of this dance. Never once during the entire evening did any couple on the filled and swirling dance floor bump into any other couple. And I never saw anyone step on anyone else’s toe. These people are paying attention while they frolic. And frolic they do. It seemed to me that at some point, every man danced with every woman there. All want to share the festivities with everyone else attending. White-haired gentlemen danced with glamorous young French women, grandmothers in sequins and silver shoes with mysterious young strangers wearing hats, tall, slinky lady school teachers danced with partners a foot and a half shorter. And everybody — absolutely everybody looked fabulous. Even the bearded fellow dressed otherwise unremarkably in sportswear wore salmon-hot pink leather shoes to dance in. And Tango? What about Tango? The dance bears no relation to the over-dramatized cartoon of Rudolph Valentino, rose-in-yourteeth tango in imagination of past times. It is OQ / SPRING 2019
a real dance for real men and real women, with a happy emphasis on their gender differences: the men offer their guidance, the women offer their response to the suggested guidance. It is the subtlest and sexiest and most spontaneous negotiation of how they will move together through the space and other couples on the floor. You don’t dance with the music, or your feelings, you dance with your partner. In Tango, you dance TOGETHER. As formal as it is, it is based on walking together. Tango is a dance of intimacy and attention and mutual regard. It’s great marriage preparation. He: Do you want to try it? She: I don’t know how. He: Take my hand. Give me a hug. Now, we walk. What began as Bauer and Edwards giving tango lessons for a local theater’s charity auction in 2003, has grown to a community of 30 or so in Ojai, with a growing outreach to Ventura, and cohorts and pals in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, LA and points beyond. One Ojai couple was so enraptured, they bought a house in Buenos Aires to dance Argentine tango with the locals. So, if you’re in Ojai, join in revels on the second Sunday of the month, from 7 to 10 at the Ranch House for The Equinox: a Sunday Milonga. And do have one of Igor’s Beefeater martinis. ≈OQ≈
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1. Azu Restaurant & Ojai Valley Brewery 457 E Ojai Avenue 805-640-7987
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Ojai for the birds
Center for Insane Times By Peggy LaCerra
Ojai’s Healing Arts Practitioners
Birding Hotspots Abound By Chuck Graham
Ask Dr. BETH
Of wi-fi & fibonacci
When Hayfever Goes Haywire By Dr. Beth Prinz
Exploring Portrero John Trail By Bennett Barthelemy
Foundation Turns 50 By Craig Walker
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OQ | HEA L I NG A RTS SANE LIVING CENTER Asking sane questions in an insane world BY PEGGY LACERRA
As an evolutionary neuroscientist, I’ve given some thought to our evolved nature and runaway intelligence system processes. I moved to Ojai at the ‘turn of the last century’ to complete a book about how a human mind arises from the neural networks of an intelligence system that updates itself in real time in response to our experiences in an ever-changing environment. So when Christine Golden, a member of the Public Art Committee of the Ojai Arts Commission, connected me with Aubrey, I was pleased to meet a kindred spirit. At our first meeting, Aubrey gave me a tour of the event center in its final stages of renovation. Although technicians were still finetuning the projection and sound systems, and with final acoustical flooring decisions yet to be made, the spacious main auditorium, lobby, and workshop/conference room spaces already felt welcoming and somehow life-friendly. Talking about the renovation with Aubrey and his partner, Joe Neulight, it became clear to me that they’d made an effort to ensure the Sane Living Center lived up to its name, right down to their inclusion of EMF shielding materials in specific walls. Even the shrubbery surrounding the perimeter of the property is life-sustaining Lauris Nobiius, bay leaf, and on the west side of the center they’ve planted pomegranate trees, considered in many cultures to be a symbol of life. All of this reflects the proprietors’ understanding that the foundation of sane living is healthful food. But an even more direct manifestation of this wisdom is that the
www.SaneLiving.com WHAT DOES IT MEAN to “live sanely”? That’s the question that Aubrey Balkind, owner of the Sane Living Center – Ojai’s unique new event venue — wants everyone to ponder. As an impossible-to-ignore prompt, he and artist Ray Cirino have designed an 8 x 20 x 8-foot, 2-ton, stainless steel sculpture in the shape of a question mark, “Evo 3,” that will lie in repose near the Center’s entrance. Such a monumental sculpture would be considered conceptually weighty if it were ensconced at the entrance to any of the great metropolitan museums of the world, so it’s especially compelling to imagine it shimmering in the pink moment light of Ojai’s downtown district, stimulating passersby and visitors to wonder about a place called the ‘Sane Living Center’ and what it might mean to actually live sanely. If the querying shape and physical gravitas of “Evo 3” weren’t provocative enough to make people pause and wonder, hundreds of precision laser cuts in Evo 3’s polished
body will graphically depict the evolutionary history of our species, from the primordial waters in which the earliest forms of life emerged, through the rise of humanity, to the technical singularity of runaway artificial super intelligence. Aubrey doesn’t purport to know the answer to the question he’s posing, but clearly believes that this is a critical point in our evolution, a defining moment that demands that we think about how far we’ve strayed from the natural world, and how close we might be to the precipice of an A.I. singularity. So when the curious come by the center and ask what’s going to be happening here, Aubrey pulls out the maquette of Evo 3 and uses it to explain that the Sane Living Center is designed to be a place where, in an age in which we’re threatened by technological enslavement and isolation, we can come together to learn how to live sanely, in alignment with nature, and in community.
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building also serves to relocate one of Ojai’s most popular and dearly missed restaurants, Hip Vgn (previously Hip Vegan Café). Ben and Marisa DiChiacchio, the chefs and owners of Hip Vgn, (VGN for very good nutrition) had created such a deliciously healthful vegan menu at their previous location on East Ojai Avenue, that people would drive up from LA and down from San Luis Obispo for a meal. Ojaians and visitors alike have been enthusiastically awaiting Hip’s re-opening in this spacious new location for more than a year. Aubrey had been a steady Hip customer and when the land owner of the old location decided to reclaim the space for his own purposes, Aubrey proposed that Hip join the Sane Living Center complex. The Sane Living Center and Hip Vgn are a sensible pairing in light of the primary purpose of the joint enterprise, to develop the center as a world-class educational venue, a place for globally recognized leaders in mindfulness, permaculture, yoga, and other life-promoting fields to conduct their workshops. But first and foremost, the mission is to provide a venue for the best educators in the emerging field of nutritional healing and rejuvenation, based on the premise that nothing is more central to life. Putting the value of high-nutrient/low-toxin living into evolutionary perspective, it’s foundational importance in determining the course of our lives is evident in the behavior of even the oldest, simplest of life forms. Single-cell organisms navigate their watery worlds by sensing the ratio
OQ / SPRING 2019
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of nutrients to toxins in the location in which they find themselves. Then they move in some random direction and check the ratio again to see whether life has gotten better or worse. So long as the food source is good and the environment is clean, bacteria will continue moving in the same direction; when the ratio changes, the bacteria turn around. This evolved impulse to move toward good nutrients and away from toxins is evident in all animalian life forms, including humans – until chemically engineered foods have hijacked our brain receptors, altered our minds, and triggered addictive behavioral patterns. We’re at a point in our evolution where we’re technologically clever/stupid enough to destroy our health — and life on earth. The reason that we have brains and minds and the ability to make behavioral choices — sane or insane — at all results from the adaptive
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pressure on life forms to acquire and conserve the energy derived from food so that it can be used to support life processes. In its essence, our mind serves as an intermediary between our physiology and our behavior, aiding in our ability to navigate our environment to acquire energetic goods. But at the pinnacle of its capacity, it can ponder the origins of life and our current place in time and space; it can enable us to consider existential threats as individuals and as a species; and it can prompt us to stop for a moment and breathe, to assess what we’re doing and why, and to change our life’s course in a heartbeat. Evo 3 was conceived to stimulate inquiry about life’s most vital and temporally critical questions, to beckon the curious to come inside the center, leave their beliefs at the door, gather with others, and experience what it means to live sanely. ≈OQ≈
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OQ / SPRING 2019 ADVERTISEMENT
THE ENDANGERED CALIFORNIA CONDOR SOARED OVERHEAD with the precision of a glider. High above the treetops North America’s largest flying land bird circled several times before redirecting toward the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, a condor sanctuary in the Sespe Wilderness. When it comes to birding the rich array of habitats within the Ojai region, birders have the potential of spotting a bevy of avian species in riverbeds, dense riparian corridors, chaparral-choked mountaintops, sweeping meadows and shimmering, man-made lakes. Due to the close proximity of habitats and birding locales, you can hit several spots in a day, or focus on just one spot and maximize the concentration of birds in that specific area. Either way, those life lists will increase, close encounters with birds will mount and the birding experience will be enhanced throughout the Ojai region. To assist with those experiences a few things are needed. A decent pair of binoculars, a spotting scope and tripod, maybe a camera, a good guide book and a choice of birding apps to identify all those species will help. Local birding excursions are on offer throughout the region, such as The Ojai Naturalist, OjaiNaturalist.com, but don’t shy away from birding solo, hoping for those intimate encounters with the birds in Ojai’s wild places.
OJAI IS FOR
Here’s a look at some of Ojai’s best birding locales. I’m not saying these are the best places, but you certainly won’t go wrong spending some time at these locations. There’s diversity of habitat. All that’s needed is time spent in the field listening for bird calls, observing a palette of fleeting colors, bands on feathers, tufts and eye rings.
In any event, birding Ojai’s diversity of habitats will keep you outside, soaking in nature’s way with birdsong filling the trees and scrubby chaparral, so get out there and enjoy. Build a life list that will grow with each passing migration, Ojai being an ideal migrant trap for birds on the move.
STORY & PHOTOS BY CHUCK GRAHAM
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Pacif ic Slope Flycatcher
OJAI VALLEY MEADOW PRESERVE
LOWER ROSE LAKE
VENTURA RIVER PRESERVE
MATILIJA RIPARIAN AREA
Located just north of Nordoff High School. Spurred by a strong community effort and eventually acquired by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy in 2000, the restored meadows and seasonal pond has seen wildlife and birdlife returning to the rejuvenated habitat. The removal of non-native eucalyptus trees, and other non-native flora plus the removal of fill dirt has been replaced with coyote bush and other native plants to enhance an extraordinary return of native flora and fauna.
Located off Highway 33 in the Sespe Wilderness, this was once a good fly-fishing locale, it also is still an excellent place to go birding in the backcountry with more than 120 species documented in this chaparralchoked environment with year-around watering holes.
Another open space owned and maintained by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. The preserve is accessible from several entry points such as Old Baldwin Trailhead, Riverview Trailhead on Rice Road and just south of El Roblar Drive, and Oso Trailhead, near the communities of Meiners Oaks, Rancho Matilija and Mira Monte.
Located off Highway 33, this is a reliable hot spot for migrating warblers in what is arguably one of the prettiest canyons in the Los Padres National Forest. Look for Orangecrowned, Black-throated gray, Townsend’s, Wilson’s, Yellow, Hermit and other Warblers.
Another man-made lake located off Highway 150, this scenic watering hole boasts well over 200 different species of birds surrounded in chaparral and coast live oaks that encourages a wide diversity of birdlife.
Just off Highway 33, take the exit for Casitas Vista Road. Foster Park offers easy access for birding. Lots of shade beneath the canopy of oak and sycamore trees, so keep an ear out for several species of woodpeckers, especially Acorn Woodpeckers. Consistent sightings of Western Bluebirds, Western Scrub Jays, and Spotted Towhees frequenting the oak trees.
Birdlife is prolific and birding traffic is more frequent than other birding locales. It’s flat, 2 miles of easy trails around the meadow allow birders to easily spot some of the 180-plus species such as Cassin’s Kingbird, Red-shouldered Hawk, Say’s phoebe, Turkey Vulture, House Finch, Western Meadowlark, Canada Goose, Vaux’s Swift, Hooded Oriole and White-breasted Nuthatch.
Species of note include Ring-necked Duck, White-throated Swift, Cliff Swallow, American Goldfinch, Bushtit, Yellowrumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Virginia Rail and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Once slated for a housing development and a golf course, the nearly 1,600-acre preserve possesses dozens of easy-walking trails meandering through and across the Ventura River, and up densely forested side canyons. Keep an eye out for jays, kingbirds, sparrows, warblers, egrets, waterfowl, waders and raptors.
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The creek flows into the surrounding riparian areas eventually draining into the pond above Matilija Dam. The canyon can produce other species such as Ash-throated Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, Hermit Thrush and Eared Grebe. While looking for the 150 plus species of birds documented at Matilija, stay on the roads and designated trails and be respectful of homeowners' property and privacy.
A birding bonus might be birding from a kayak? There is a 35-day quarantine for vessels wanting to put-in on the lake to avoid invasive species entering the water. However, once cleared, grab a dry bag with some binoculars and you’re good to go. The lake is reliable for Western and Clark’s Grebe, Killdeer, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-crowned Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird, Bushtit, Long-billed Dowitcher, Snowy Egret, Hooded Oriole, Caspian Tern, Tricolored Blackbird, Lesser Scaup, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Cliff Swallow.
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While searching for the other 130 plus species keep an eye and ear out for Mourning Dove, Blue-winged Teal, Bushtit, Belted Kingfisher, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch and California Quail. Don’t forget to check the Ventura River just across the road for other riparian species. ≈OQ≈
OQ | A S K D R . BET H
HAYFEVER GONE HAYWIRE
on these pages include the most common hayfever pollens with the cross-reacting plants: As we enter spring allergy season in Ojai, remember different pollens come in different months. Tree pollen is first in late March/early
When a food allergy is not a food allergy. DR. BETH PRINZ AS A PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR, I’m frequently astonished by how much there is to know that I was never taught in medical school! (Or was I just not paying attention that day?) The handy thing about having a medical background is being able to read up on topics or symptoms and having a pretty clear framework in which to place them. Context is key. Some years ago, after my third child was born, I noticed I could no longer eat apples without the inside of my mouth and throat becoming intensely itchy. If I sliced an apple then rubbed my eyes, my eyes would become red and itchy. Then I noticed this happening with other thin-skinned fruits, plums, nectarines, peaches, also carrots and soy milk. One day while eating cherries and chatting with a friend, my throat became itchy and my voice went hoarse, within minutes. My throat felt slightly tight but not restricted and the symptoms passed within an hour. I took an antihistamine. I didn’t worry about it, but noticed I increasingly avoided thin-skinned fruits because of the inconvenience. I also noticed apple pie or cooked fruits were fine. When I finally looked up my symptoms, it was clear I was experiencing Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome). This is surprisingly common, but seldom reported to doctors because the symptoms are mild. Sometimes called “cocktail party” syndrome because people bring it up in casual conversation. It’s estimated that 20 to 70 percent of hayfever sufferers develop OAS. People who are already sensitized to tree or grass pollen become hypersensitized to fruits, vegetables and spices containing similar protein structures. These proteins degrade when exposed to heat or acid, which is why cooking or digesting the plant stops the reaction, and the symptoms are limited to the lips, mouth and palate after eating offending plants in
raw form. In my case, my hayfever had become much worse after moving to the UK, which has abundant birch tree pollen not prevalent in my hometown. Pregnancy tweaked my immune system, and presto! good-bye to enjoying some of my favorite fruits. Fortunately, fewer than 5 percent of people with OAS will experience more generalized or serious symptoms such as GI distress, breathing problems or anaphylaxis. Risk factors for systemic reactions include a history of a systemic reaction to food, a positive skin prick test to a commercial antigen, or a prior reaction to peaches or tree nuts. Nonplant foods, such as cow’s milk, egg, or seafood do not cause OAS. Oral allergy syndrome is distinct from simple food allergies. In food allergies, a reaction happens in response to prior direct sensitization to food proteins rather than an indirect crossreactivity between food proteins and inhalant allergens (tree or grass pollen). True food allergies are more likely to cause systemic (whole body) reactions or anaphylaxis because they tend to occur in response to substances in food that are stable and resist breakdown from heating or digestion. The proteins implicated in OAS have been identified and classified. The graphics
Contact: email@example.com The Food Doctor M.D. – Dr. Beth Prinz is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and passionate about preventing disease through healthy living and a whole-food plant-based dietary approach to health.
Apples Almonds Cherries Hazelnuts Peaches Parsley
Apples Cherries Plums Pears Almonds Hazelnuts Carrots Celery • Parsley • Caraway
Fennel Coriander Anise Seed
Nectarines Soybeans Peanuts
Kiwi Parsnips Peppers
Peanuts Raw White
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF OAS / POLLEN-FOOD ALLERGY SYNDROME: • A prior history of hayfever — birch tree the most prevalent allergy • A cross-reaction between allergens in pollen and fresh fruit and vegetables, not cow’s milk, egg, seafood, or cooked foods
• Symptoms occur within minutes of exposure and last from minutes to hours • Symptoms usually limited to mouth, lips, palate
MUGWORT: RAGWEED: Honey Dew
BIRCH: Peaches Apricots
April. Grass pollen in May and June. Late summer/early fall we see ragweed pollens. Over the counter medications such as anti-histamines and nasal steroid sprays are safe and effective. Finally, a whole-food plant-based diet is a low-inflammation diet. Eating this way year-round will rebalance the immune response to be less hyper-responsive to allergens. ≈OQ≈
Kiwi Banana Zucchini Chamomile Tea Sunflower Seeds
Celery Carrots Parsley Caraway Fennel Coriander Sunflower Peppers Aniseseed • Bell Pepper Black Pepper Mustard Cauliflower Cabbage Broccoli Garlic Onion Peach
• Diagnosis usually based on history alone, but skin prick testing with fresh extracts more sensitive than with commercial extracts • Treatment consists of avoidance of triggering food, not necessary to avoid other fruits in category • Heating food prior to eating may help • Antihistamines taken before eating raw fruits and vegetables can be useful
OQ | OU TS I D E I N
GETTING YOUR WANDER ON IN THE SESPE
WORDS & PHOTOS BY BENNETT BARTHELEMY
WILDERNESS … with all emphasis on that standalone capital ‘W.’ It is a magical reality, concept, vision and priceless engagement. Especially in today’s madness — this firsthand experience and exploration of Wilderness means even more than when the grand idea was first expressed tangibly and geographically and cartographically in 1964. These roadless wonders that require more from us than our usual experiences in instant gratification, when seemingly every minute of our lives has become technocized, EMFacized, steeped deep in political inanity and pop culture, and we are all but lost inside the hum of “progress.” But there is still yet hope. It takes but a few hours to reconnect, reignite, begin to rectify and slow the maelstrom spin into the abyss of the disengaged by getting your wander on. Just make it a habit. You will be glad you did. “Where can I start?” I am glad you asked. You have to be ready and willing to get lost and to be OK with it. A good intro is Potrero John. So point your preferred mode of transport north up Highway 33 and in just 20 minutes of driving from Ojai you will find the Potrero John trailhead. It’s a nondescript pullout on side of the highway, just over a little bridge on a tight turn to this little portal into the wonders of the Los(t) Padres. It’s a delightful out-andback affair that helps effect your needed and recommended occasional disappearance. The first mile is a veritable superhighway for the feet with its ease of following and the gentle slopes along, and up and out and down, the streambed with little scrambling required. But after the flat stretch, where you’ll find very
THIS PAGE: RITA ROSE ADMIRING AN ALLIGATOR LIZARD ALONG THE PORTRERO JOHN TRAIL. OPPOSITE PAGE: PORTERO JOHN WATERFALL.
OQ / SPRING 2019
primitive (pretty much just a barren patch of dirt) trailside camping area, it enters a much tighter ravine, almost a slot canyon, for its remainder. So don’t be fooled by the mellow start. It does require a bit of rough trail and off-trail savvy, as well as some ambulatory expertise over riverbed slick-stone scrambles. The trail is about five miles round trip, much of it at a gentle slope with little elevation gain to the pools and waterfall at trail’s end. On trails like this I consider one mile per hour a fairly accurate pace. And it isn’t a trail that needs to be rushed. I like ‘trails’ like this because they demand that you focus on the immediate environment. Because old floods, fires, random bears in the thick brush and random rattlers across the tread, and a general trend for returning to a state of naturalness due to mild human attendance, Potrero John forces you to be alert. The deeper you go into the Sespe Wilderness, the more this reality takes hold. Part of the fun is taking a “wrong” turn and having to retrace steps to the path that continues up the streambed. It’s also a good reality check that sometimes you have to go south to get north — or simply to say it is not always the obvious path, perhaps it is rightly the path less traveled. I promise you there will be no battle-axe wielding Minotaur asking impossible riddles in this sometimes labyrinthine trail system. Put it in your head that it’s meant to be an exploration, a journey, not really about a destination, although if you reach the falls, it is a nice reward to see them cascading down some 60 feet of steep sandstone. Those with a twitcher's bent won’t be disappointed. Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks,
ruby-throated hummers, chickadees and phoebes… in fact the diverse geography lends itself to all kinds of critter engagement. Wherever water meets dense chaparral is
LISTEN TO THE SYMPHONY OF COLORS. IMAGINE THE SOUNDS THESE COLORS COULD MAKE. a place to find good company. Alligator and fence lizards will be encountered all along the rocks in the sunnier swaths, doing their territory-marking push-ups. Tiny frogs and toads can be found in quieter pools, along with the occasional water snake. Deer are common residents, coming down from the surrounding hills for a drink. On the sandier and muddy patches, smaller critter prints abound. Slow cruising is mandatory. It may not be easy for
most of us these days, but it is so necessary. No wi-fi signals out here. Instead of eyeballto-screen it can be eyeball-to-eyeball with the local denizens. The color of the chaparral often goes unnoticed, especially when it’s blurring by from anxious feet or wheels. Collectively, humans seem so intent on a fixed destination somewhere in the murky future, or by something, somewhere, far away, we cannot enjoy our immediate surroundings. Listen to the symphony of colors. Imagine the sounds these colors could make. Chupa rosa, or hummingbird flower, is so bright red as to almost be audible — perhaps a smashing of cymbals. The burning orange sticky monkeyflower that clings to the steeper slopes is perhaps a flamenco guitar strum. The iridescent blues of the piñon jays and the inky black shine of the raven’s wing might be… well, you get the idea. Just 5 percent of California is chaparral and we are lucky enough to have it in our backyards. Poison oak is a common shrub here as well, but thankfully seems to like to stick to one side of the trail and almost never both at the same time. Your ID skills will be put to the test for sure. Much better to chose a side and brush along the thorny wild rose when given the chance. If only political races were so obvious. It’s the little things that can and perhaps should inspire our attention, like the patterned scales of a lounging lizard catching the afternoon sun – a bit of Fibonacci infinity and sublimity in skins and the spiral of seedpods. Dive in, get lost for a while … ≈OQ≈
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• West Coast conducting debut of Hannigan in works by Stravinsky, Debussy, and Haydn
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• Free community concerts in Libbey Park Gazebo
Private Guided Trail Rides in the Ventura River Valley and the Los Padres Forest. 3 miles from downtown Ojai
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• The US debut of LUDWIG, the Grammy-winning Amsterdam music collective
www.slcc.info State permit # M10-18-0000182-temp
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more pronghorn-friendly in recent years.” Pronghorn don’t jump over fencing, instead opting to duck underneath it. Barbed wire fencing has always been an issue for pronghorn, but as time has gone on more barbed fencing has been replaced with loose, straight wire, making it easy for pronghorn to slip underneath. “We support continued removal and upgrading of fencing to make things pronghorn-friendly,” he said. “Also, shrub reestablishment will help improve success in fawn rearing.” The Carrizo Plain Conservancy has made a point of purchasing lands with high vegetation quality. In many cases the properties purchased don’t need anything other than fence removal. “Removing fencing is the least expensive project to restore habitat,” said Steph Wald, board secretary for the CPC. “Water features for wildlife requires more effort. We want to develop wildlife corridors between Bittercreek National Wildlife Refuge through the California Valley.” ≈OQ≈
DRIVING SLOWLY ALONG Soda Lake Road in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, I noticed a flash of a fourlegged critter 50 yards away to the west. An endangered San Joaquin kit fox had just dived into its grassland den. However, its mate froze, choosing to lay flat, even its ears flattened out like Yoda. I stopped my truck, gathered my camera and 300mm lens and proceeded to belly crawl 40 yards toward the motionless kit fox. The kit fox never wavered as I approached and almost appeared to nap on the wide-open Carrizo Plain, one of the last bastions for this high desert canid. Kit foxes and other wildlife in the Carrizo Plain are getting a boost thanks to the tireless efforts put forth by the Carrizo Plain Conservancy (CPC). Since 2013, the Conservancy has focused on additional lands surrounding the current National Monument by acquiring those properties to enhance the current state of flora and fauna in the 142
southern San Joaquin Valley. The monument itself possesses more endangered species than anywhere else in California, such as California jewel flower, blunt-nosed leopard lizards, antelope ground squirrels, giant kangaroo rats and more. The Carrizo Plain Conservancy recently purchased or acquired 8,000 acres in and around the monument. Totaling $800,000 in grant funds, all donations have come from the California Valley north of the Carrizo Plain in eastern San Luis Obispo County. Other lands acquired are located north of Highway 58, and the rest are inholdings already near the monument. “We would like to see as many inholdings in the monument placed into public ownership as possible,” said Neil Havlik, president of the CPC. “There will be limits on what can be done in the California Valley and other private lands outside the monument due to mostly fiscal restraints.” Surprisingly the additional lands north of OQ / SPRING 2019
BY CHUCK GRAHAM
ABOVE: A KIT FOX TAKES A QUIET MOMENT; BELOW PRONGHORN ANTELOPE, THE FASTEST LAND MAMMALS IN NORTH AMERICA, PEER OVER THE WILDFLOWERS.
Highway 58 are already in decent shape with regards to native flora. “California Department of Fish and Wildlife feels that the lands north of the monument are already excellent habitat,” continued Havlik. “They see timed livestock grazing as the primary means of grassland management.” Arguably the most threatened animal on the Carrizo Plain is North America’s fastest land mammal, the pronghorn antelope. Many of its corridors cut off due to fencing, these grazers are having a tough go expanding their range across the monument. Now with more land added on either side of Highway 58, improvements can be made to improve pronghorn habitat and expansion. “Fencing on both sides of Highway 58 has been problematic for pronghorn, but the relatively low level of vehicle traffic there means the roadway itself has not been a major source of kill,” said Havlik. “Much of the fencing along Highway 58 has been made
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IN THE OJAI VALLEY
KRISHNAMURTI AT HOME: PHOTO CREDIT: RALPH T. GARDNER / KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION OF AMERICA
BY CRAIG WALKER
50 with celebration this may
Three decades after he died at his Ojai home, Jiddu Krishnamurti remains among the world’s most influential thinkers. This is mainly due to the enduring power of his teachings — but also, in part, to the ongoing efforts of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA), an Ojai institution which this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding by the man for whom it is named. 146
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orange groves that would become his home for the remainder of his life. KRISHNAMURTI WAS A RESIDENT of the Ojai Valley for most It was also during this first visit to Ojai that Krishnamurti realized that of his adult life. Though he travelled extensively and maintained schools religious organizations like Theosophy are a distraction and their beliefs and centers around the world, Krishnamurti always returned to Ojai a barrier separating perception and truth. Seven years later, in 1929, where he lived in the same small cottage for nearly 64 years. “If I had Krishnamurti publically renounced his affiliation with Theosophy and nowhere to go in the world,” he famously said, “I would come to Ojai. began speaking directly from his own insights and observations about I would sit under an orange tree; it would shade me from the sun, and life. I could live on the fruit.” Indeed, when Krishnamurti fell ill in 1985 In 1923, Pine Cottage and a larger house on the property he named while speaking in India, he flew back to his Ojai home where he died on Arya Vihara (“Noble Monastery” in Sanskrit) were purchased on behalf February 17, 1986. of Krishnamurti and Nityananda by “The Brothers Association.” The As a young man, Krishnamurti hiked all over the valley’s surrounding association was a trust set up by Besant to bypass California laws barring mountains, played golf and tennis, and picked oranges alongside Asians from owning property. The two houses were originally built as the Mexican laborers; when older, he enjoyed long walks, gardening, a home and school for Elizabeth Smith in the early 1900s. When Miss and visiting with friends. Ojai was much more than a retreat for Smith married Edward Thacher in 1915, she sold the property to Mary Krishnamurti; it was also an important center for his teachings. He gave Gray who ran a school nearby called The School of the Open Gate. annual talks to thousands at the Oak Grove in Meiners Oaks, founded After The Brothers Association purchased the property, Krishnamurti two schools in the valley, and held private meetings at his home with lived in Pine Cottage and housed his guests at Arya Vihara. Today, Arya anyone who sought him out. Krishnamurti welcomed all who came, Vihara continues to serve as a retreat for visitors while an expanded Pine from famous scientists, authors, and world leaders to everyday Ojai Cottage houses the Krishnamurti library, bookstore, and educational residents, students, and even children. center. Who was Krishnamurti? From his earliest days Was he a philosopher, in Ojai, Krishnamurti a spiritual teacher, a attracted people from psychologist, a guru? He all over the world. They was really none of these came to attend his things, though the word talks in the Oak Grove “philosopher” meaning and to meet with him “a lover of truth” comes privately at his East End closest to describing him. home. Among them He was someone who, were Aldous Huxley, because of his own freedom Dr. David Bohm, from conditioning, was Dr. Jonas Salk, Igor able to see clearly into Stravinsky, Christopher the human condition. In Isherwood, and Anne his talks, discussions, and Morrow Lindbergh. writings, he articulated Hollywood stars such his observations in a way as Charlie Chaplin, that helped others to see Elsa Lanchester, Greta as well. Because he saw Garbo, and Charles that everyone shares in the Laughton also came same human condition, he KRISHNAMURTI DELIVERING AN EVENING BONFIRE TALK ABOVE THE to the valley to meet was compassionate with a OAK GROVE IN MEINERS OAKS, 1928. PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG WALKER with him. Many who deep affection for others. came settled in Ojai, contributing to the intellectual, artistic, social, and He never presented himself as an authority. Self-understanding, he spiritual life of the valley. These included ceramicist Beatrice Wood, taught, comes only when one questions everything, especially the teachings educator Monica Ros, restauranteurs Alan and Helen Hooker, architects of another; a truth not seen directly for oneself is false. Krishnamurti J.R. Davidson and John Roine, musician Maynard Ferguson, and the likened his teachings to a signpost that points the way toward truth Krotona Theosophical Colony that moved to Ojai from Hollywood in but is not truth itself. Each of us must make the journey for ourselves. 1924. Although Krishnamurti rarely participated in civic affairs, his Krishnamurti was born in Madanapalle, India, on May 12, 1895. presence in Ojai had a major impact on the community. Theosophists Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater discovered young In late 1926, Annie Besant came to Ojai to visit Krishnamurti Krishnamurti playing on the beach near Madras (now Chennai) when and plan a center for his future teachings. Using funds donated by he was 14. So taken were they with his innate wisdom and lack of ego Krishnamurti’s supporters, Besant purchased 500 acres in the Upper that Annie Besant adopted Krishnamurti and his younger brother, Ojai and 200 acres in Meiners Oaks. Her plans fell through when Nityananda, and educated them in England. Though Indian born, Krishnamurti renounced his affiliation with Theosophy in 1929. The Krishnamurti lost his ability to speak his native language. While still a Upper Ojai property eventually became Besant Hill School, the Beatrice teenager, he began writing books and giving talks in English using the Wood Center for the Arts, and The Ojai Foundation. The Meiners Oaks Theosophical paradigms he learned from Besant and other Theosophists. property became Krishnamurti’s Oak Grove School, The Ojai Retreat, It was while returning from a speaking tour of Australia in 1922 that and much of the open space that lies between Meiners Oaks, Mira Krishnamurti and Nityananda stopped in Ojai to rest. Krishnamurti fell Monte, and Ojai. in love with the Ojai Valley and “Pine Cottage,” the little house in the
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In 1928 and 1929, before Krishnamurti ended his affiliation with Theosophy, he held two Star Camps on his Meiners Oaks property, each drawing nearly 1,500 participants from around the world. He spoke in the Oak Grove during the day and held bonfire talks on the hilltop at night. Tents dotted the field next to the Oak Grove; the site included three bathhouses, a cafeteria, and an administration building. These buildings would later form the nucleus of Happy Valley School, which Krishnamurti founded in 1946 with Aldous Huxley, Guido Ferrando, and Rosalind Rajagopal. After his break from Theosophy in 1929, Krishnamurti continued to hold talks in the Oak Grove until his death in 1986.
In the early 1960s, Krishnamurti parted ways with his longtime publisher and business manager, D. Rajagopal, and Rajagopal’s estranged wife (and Krishnamurti’s onetime lover), Rosalind Rajagopal, who ran Happy Valley School. A legal dispute ensued over property, copyrights, and other financial matters, which led Krishnamurti to create a new organization in 1969 called the Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA). Its first headquarters was located in a small house on South Signal Street. Similar foundations were established in Europe, Asia, and South America. These organizations were intended only to “preserve, protect, and disseminate Krishnamurti’s teachings.” He asked that they do nothing to interpret or explain the teachings, though he encouraged them to host gatherings where interested people could explore the teachings together. One of the KFA’s first projects was to record all of Krishnamurti’s talks and publish the thousands of transcripts from his lifetime of teaching. In 2007 the KFA began making all of these recordings and transcripts freely available online at jkrishnamurti.org. Today 148
the KFA, now located in offices next to Krishnamurti’s former home on McAndrew Road, manages Krishnamurti’s Ojai properties, publishes his books and videos, operates the Pepper Tree Retreat and Krishnamurti Education Center, and oversees Oak Grove School. They also manage Krisnamurti’s extensive archive, which is used by the KFA to produce new books and by scholars to explore the life and work of this remarkable man. In 1978, Krishnamurti’s close friend and assistant, Mary Zimbalist, built an addition onto Pine Cottage that served as Mary’s home and a meeting space for small-group discussions. The addition was designed by the post-modern architect Charles Moore and his assistant, Barton Phelps. When asked by Moore what he wanted the architecture to
ABOVE: KRISHNAMURTI’S STAR CAMP, OJAI VALLEY, 1928. CREDIT: CRAIG WALKER. BELOW: KRISHNAMURTI AND AMERICAN PHYSICIST DR. DAVID BOHM. CREDIT: MARK EDWARDS / KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION OF AMERICA (KFA).
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KRISHNAMURTI AMONG THE ORANGE TREES AT HIS HOME IN OJAI’S EAST END. CREDIT: ASIF CHANDMAL / KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION OF AMERICA (KFA).
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Freedom from the Known
KFA EXPLORATIONS CONFERENCE | APRIL 26-28, OJAI
ANNUAL MAY GATHERING | MAY 4-5, OJAI
This conference features perspectives from Science, Humanities, and Krishnamurti on the theme of Freedom From the Known. There will be presentations by speakers, Q&A sessions, and panel discussions.
Come listen to speakers, participate in dialogues, attend workshops, or simply enjoy the beauty of the Oak Grove School campus. This year we’ll celebrate the KFA’s 50th Anniversary. This is a free event.
KFA 50th Anniversary
PINE COTTAGE, KRISHNAMURTI’S FORMER HOME IN OJAI, NOW THE KRISHNAMURTI LIBRARY. CREDIT — KFA/CORY GARDNER.
convey, Krishnamurti replied, “Austerity born out of harmony.” After Mary Zimbalist died in 2008, the Pine Cottage addition was turned into a library and meeting hall. The original cottage where Krishnamurti lived became a cluster of meditation and meeting rooms. Today, Krishnamurti’s former home is open to the public every Wednesday through Sunday. And, the Pepper Tree Retreat, located at Arya Vihara, is available to anyone wanting to experience the beauty and serenity that Krishnamurti enjoyed there during his life in Ojai. The KFA’s 50th Anniversary celebration includes a number of local events, including a weekend of speakers and exhibits in early May at Oak Grove School. All events are free and open to anyone curious about this remarkable man and his timeless insights into reality and the human experience. For more information, visit the KFA’s website at KFA.org. ≈OQ≈
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For over 60 wineries & 250 wines, more than 35 craft breweries, Lakefront VIP Lounge with Hors dâ€™oeuvres, a selection of local restaurants, fine artisan vendors, silent auction, fine crystal souvenir wine glass, free boat rides and all-day entertainment!
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we can help!
• Full Service Publishing House • Award-winning writers & editors • We can help you with everything from first draft to first sale
(writing coaches • editors • designers • publishing) email@example.com • 805-798-0177 • ojaihub.com
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OQ | E VE NTS CA L EN DAR
A P R I L - M AY
OQ | ONGOING CERTIFIED FARMERS MARKET Every Sunday Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact: 698-5555 Location: Matilija Street city parking lot behind the Arcade. Open air market featuring locally grown produce, as well as plants, musicians and handmade items.
3.02 LEARN: JAMES JOYCE READINGS 10:30 am to 3 PM | SAT @ agorafoundation.org
LEARN: AGORA'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY 10 AM | SAT "Spirit of Russia" www.agorafoundation.org
C.R.E.W. 14TH ANNUAL BARBECUE | SAT @ RANCHO MATILIJA www.thecrew.org
LEARN: NIETZCHE - BEYOND GOOD & EVIL 10 AM | SAT @
OJAI CHAMBER GARDEN TOUR 9 AM | SAT www.ojaichamber.org
HISTORICAL WALKING TOURS OF OJAI Every Saturday, October through June Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Location: Departs from the Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W Ojai Avenue. Contact: 640-1390 ojaivalleymuseum.org
5.5-8 3.03 MUSIC: Reverend Tall Trees Blues Opera 2 PM. | SUN @ UNDERGROUND EXCHANGE ojaiartsexchangecom
3.07 LEARN: Foundations of Our Republic 12 NOON | THURSDAY @ www.agorafoundation.org
3.15 MUSIC: MILTON KELLEY BAND 9 PM | FRI @DEER LODGE w w w.d e e r l o d g e o j a i .c o m
3.30 LEARN: OJAI CHAUTAUQUA — THE FIRE NEXT TIME 3 PM | SUN @ Matilija Auditorium agorafoundation.org
4.12 MUSIC: LOLA HAAG JAZZ QUARTET | FRI @ UNDERGROUND EXCHANGE ojaiartsexchangecom
MUSIC: PARASHKEVOVKISLENKO 2 PM | SUN
MUSIC: THE TEMPTATIONS 5:30 | FRI
@ OJAI ART CENTER w w w . o j a i a r t c e n t e r. o r g
@ LIBBEY BOWL www.libbeybowl.org/event
4.5 - 4.28 STAGE: MOLIERE'S 'THE MISER' 7:30 PM, 2 PM SUN | FRI-SUN @ART CENTER THEATER www.ojaiartcenter.org
4.24-28 'THE OJAI' TENNIS TOURNAMENT: TIMES VARIES | WED-SUN @ LIBBEY PARK, ETC. www.theojai.net,
4.26-28 KFA EXPLORATIONS: TIMES VARY | FRI-SUN @ KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION w w w. k fa .o r g /s c i e n ce
MUSIC: SHANNON MCNALLY 7 PM | SUN
OJAI PLAYWRIGHTS CONFERENCE GALA 4
@ UNDERGROUND EXCHANGE
PM | SAT @ MATILIJA AUDITORIUM AND ASPEN GROVE RANCH www.ojaiplays.org
50th ANNIVERSARY: KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION | FRI-SUN firstname.lastname@example.org
5.26-27 ART EVENT: ART IN THE PARK 10 AM-5 PM | SAT-SUN @ LIBBEY PARK www.ojaiartcenter.org
6.9 WINE FESTIVAL: 12-4 PM | SUN @ LAKE CASITAS ojaiwinefestival.com
FULL MOON MEDITATIONS Dates: To be announced. Check website. Location: Meditation Mount, 10340 Reeves Road Contact: 646-5508 ext.103, meditationmount.org Open meditation at the Full Moon. FOR MORE LOCAL EVENTS:
OJAI HUB Your Central Source for Events, News & Living the Ojai life. WWW.OJAIHUB.COM
‘EATING OJAI’ FOOD TOUR Date: Call to schedule Time: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Location: Varies Contact: 295-8687 venturafoodtours.com OJAI SEEKER’S BIKE TOUR Date: By reservation, 48 hrs in advance Time: Varies | Location: Varies Contact: 272-8102 or email email@example.com Ojai bike tour features agricultural, artistic, culinary, cultural, and historical landmarks in Ojai. Riders are guided to eight stops where they answer questions about each place. OSA SECOND SATURDAYS Free, Self-Guided Studio Tours Every Second Saturday 10-3 For maps & directions: www.ojaistudioartists.org
It’s Lola’s Birthday Bash! FRIDAY APRIL 12 th
Explore Ojai Valley’s History, Art and Culture 130 West Ojai Avenue (805) 640-1390 www.OjaiValleyMuseum.org
“Sweet & Sassy Cocktail Jazz” Ojai Underground Exchange | 7:30 PM 1016 W. Ojai Avenue Call: 805-340-7893
The Lola Haag Jazz Quartet Jimmy Calire – Keyboards Granville “Danny” Young – Bass David Hunt – Drums
(Their Jan Show Sold Out!)
We’llOjai,get you there! Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte From and to: For Just $1.50!
ADA and Medicare Card Holders .75¢, Seniors 65 and up .75¢, Children under 45” tall FREE
The Ojai Trolley Service
Photo: Michael Ojai Trolley Route Legend
Transfer Locations/ Punto de transbordar Transfer to and from Gold Coast Transit at this location
Trolley A Services
Whispering Oaks & East End
The Ojai Trolley Service, established in 1989, is owned and operated by the City of Ojai. The Trolley provides daily fixed-route transportation to approximately 9,000 riders per month throughout Ojai, Meiners Oaks, and Mira Monte. The Trolley is a well-known feature in the Ojai Valley, and in addition to the daily fixed-route services, participates in many local community events, fund raising activities, community service, and educational functions.
Trolley B Services
408 South Signal Street, Ojai, CA 93024 • Phone: (805) 272-3383 • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.ojaitrolley.com trolley Stops/ Paradas
Ojai Valley Inn
(805)272-3883 email@example.com WWW.OJAITROLLEY.COM
El servicio de Ojai Trolley opera diariamente, excluyendo los siguientes días feriados: Día de Año Nuevo, Día de Conmemoración de los Caídos, Día de Independencia, Día del Trabajador, Día de Acción de Gracias, y Navidad.
www.Ojaitrolley.com Effective 1/1/18
The Ojai Trolley is a Service of the City of Ojai & the County of Ventura
Timed Trolley Stops/ Paradas Mayores
OQ / SPRING 2019
READY, SET, POUR!
2019 Tea Tent Tradition Begins Warm-Up For Tournament The Tea Tent is warming up its silver urns, practicing its passing of cookies and looking forward to another year of pouring tea at the 119th annual Ojai Tennis Tournament, held from April 24th -28th. The Ojai Tennis Tournament, or "The Ojai" as it’s affectionately known, has a rich history which began more than a century ago in 1896 by William Thacher. The traditions of the Tea Tent commenced not long after in 1904. Tea was the favorite beverage of Thacher, a former Yale undergraduate tennis team player and founder of the tournament. He was well known for his fondness of “tennis, talk or tea” with his students on the Thacher campus. First served from the porch of the old clubhouse at Libbey Park and later from a tent donated by Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, tea remains a winning tradition today at "The Ojai." Each year local residents welcome those who come to play in the tournament. This year, 1,400 players are expected to hit the courts. The hospitality of hundreds of residents who welcome
TEA TENT HOSTESSES JOSEPHINE FALVO AND LAUREN VANKEULEN
players into their homes and on their courts, combined with the cooperation and efforts of many volunteers who give freely of their time and experience, are the keys to the successful tournament. The Tea Tent committee proudly boasts over 120 volunteers this year so there will be no shortage of hospitality. This year’s chair Lauren Van Keulen will be assisted by co-chair Ellen OQ / SPRING 2019
Perrett Rueth, daughter of long-time Tea Tent Director Vivian Perrett. This year the Day Hostesses are Cassandra VanKeulen, Liz Forbess, Sharon Morgan and Carly Lucking Ford. To add to the beautiful ambience of damask, silver, and china in the park, exquisite floral arrangements will be provided on each of the days by members of the Ojai Valley Garden Club. The hostesses will also have the assistance of wonderful student volunteers from several of the local high schools, including Thacher, Ojai Valley School and Nordhoff. One of the most special volunteers at the Tea Tent is our very own Mona Woolwine, a thirdgeneration Tea Tent kitchen manager, who will be heading up the makeshift galley and serving up more than 1,800 cups of tea and over 10,000 cookies. At "The Ojai," the Tea Tent is a muchanticipated tradition. So come join the many who visit "The Ojai." Enjoy the championship tennis, the camaraderie, the afternoon pouring of tea and cookies served elegantly in the glorious setting. 159
OQ | NO CT U RN A L S U BM I SS I ONS
BABBITRY: A kind of life-hobbling conventionality, a deathly inertia whereby one does not step outside the bounds of one’s steady, comfortable existence. It diminishes life to a goose-step right along to the beat BY SAMI ZAHRINGER and baton of one’s social circle and it condemns us to banality, a steady cycle of mundane pleasures and frustrations, middlebrow aspirations, and a fear of breaching social etiquette, of sticking one’s head above the parapet. Babbit is the frog in the saucepan of water who does not perceive he is being cooked until it is too late.
WHY HAD PAMELA CRANE shoplifted the Swedish-made, ergonomically designed whisk from Rains? Karen Babbit, her therapist, leaned forward questioningly, blinking large, damp, 37-yearold brown eyes (hers) that in her 3 years as a practicing court-appointed therapist had already seen too much court-ordered misery. Of the many she’d tried, this was the career that had stuck the longest but not because she’d wanted it to. Karen reflected on this gloomily only just this morning during a brief moment of splendid skating beauty when she slipped on her 5-year-old son’s Tonka police car. Moments afterwards, as she lay stunned on the floor with her rescue puppy licking her elbow, she had decided that today was the day she was going to create a highly charged atmosphere of the sort she was trained to tamp down, employ inflammatory rhetoric, and hand Donna, her boss, her own knickerdefying ass! She rose, a new fire in her belly. Nothing could stop her! Except, of course, herself. Karen had started college studying Archeology but also at that time began dating Qarl, a man of fascinating exterior but a sort of Atacama Desert-like inner-life. Qarl didn’t believe in the construct of time, which messed with her study of Archeology quite a bit. Qarl was for a new peaceful non-voting anti-hegemonic neo-didactic paradigm facilitated via the medium of anarchosyndicalist redistributionism. In short, he exhibited all the characteristics of a douche 160
but was beautiful with pectorals that offered themselves up to her like brioche buns in a bakery window, and his New Age eyes glowed like freshly hammered gold, pinning Karen to the ground wherever she stood, making her believe everything he said. Qarl didn’t believe in monogamy but did believe in telling her in detail what she was getting wrong about feminism. She had stuck it out, but in fairness, she was a different person back then. One who still had hope, and like everybody else she just wanted to be loved for who she wasn’t. Finally, one unhappy year later and several assumptions by Qarl’s many lovers — who didn’t always know about Qarl’s views on monogamy — that she was his live-in sister, Karen left the relationship, taking with her only a preternatural ability to sense any juice bar within a five-mile radius. She moved on to Politics, then Criminal Justice, Physiotherapy, Child Development and finally, in desperation, had become a realtor. One day she found herself at a party with 14 other male realtors, one of whom, wanted to whisk her away to a 4B2B with expansion potential that he had the keys to, to talk about Comparative Market Analysis without any clothes on. The sheer golfing power in the room was suddenly so stifling she had run from the building and that life, and she holed up in her parent’s basement for 3 months. “That’s OK, lots of people take a little time to settle, we don’t mind, honey, we just OQ / SPRING 2019
want you to be happy!” her mother had lied. Finally, with a baby now growing in her belly, the product of a brief reunion with Qarl, now a wildly successful Light Worker/Healer/ Realtor in Solvang, she had gotten her considerable shit together, finished college and become a therapist. Karen couldn’t know this but her student loan was the largest in Southern California, except for Thomas Newcastle’s. In one of these strange coincidences that only happen in strangulated short fiction, she had met Thomas Newcastle only that morning as she sat in on a therapy session with him and her boss, Donna. Thomas had been convicted of getting high, then breaking into a house and putting up Christmas decorations. He was careless and irresponsible and ineffably endearing to all he met, including the judge who had gotten a bit carried away in his remarks. With a soft chuckle bespeaking many valuable lessons in the ways of the world, (He knew his chuckle bespoke this. He knew because he’d practiced it many times in the mirror), the judge opined, “You know Thomas, you remind me a lot of myself when I was a young man, only I took the conventional route of not breaking and entering with intent to festoon. You, my boy, are like a violin in the marching band of life. What you need to remember … what we ALL need to remember” — sweeping hand towards the moist-eyed jury also struggling to compose themselves in the face of Thomas’s guileless charm — “is that we must all be
ourselves! Go, young man! You go be YOU!” He decided against a custodial sentence and ordered therapy instead. “I am alive to novelty!” Thomas, wide-eyed and joyfully earnest, explained at the session, while doing a headstand by the door. “No, Thomas, you just got high and tried to drink the lava lamp” said Donna, Karen’s boss, with the kind of voice that paralyzes spiders. “I don’t give an acrobatic damn what the judge said. You are everything that is wrong with this country.” Donna. A woman for whom carefree youth was a bitter mystery; a woman who would be perfectly at home in a sentence with the word “cauldron” in it. A woman who, if she didn’t like your work, would punch you in the throat and drop a live scorpion down your blouse. Therapy with Donna was like being slapped, if the slap lasted 60 state-funded minutes. As Thomas wobbled upside down, sneaking looks at a small book entitled “What’s Wrong With Your Snake?," and Donna lectured on, Karen looked at the tiny broken veins around Donna’s nose. She briefly day-dreamed about frisbying the round, mirrored picture frame — surrounding an image of Donna swimming with sharks in Fiji — on the desk, at Donna’s neck. Her carotid artery would probably flap around her head like an unsecured fire-hose, thought Karen, dreamily. She came to, suddenly, with a vague feeling of shame for thinking these things, but nothing too burdensome. Shortly afterwards, her sister, Hayley, had called to tell her about all the men that had disappointed her that week, and shortly after that, in the corridor, she had passed an old woman being led away by two burly nurses. The woman had seized her with fingers like twisted carrots and hissed, “Delusion is the bedrock of all happiness, little girl. Remember that. It could save your worthless life one day.” She looked deep into Karen’s eyes for a split second, before being dragged away, and for an even more split second, Karen thought she recognized something… The only solution to all this, of course, was a mug of gin and an egg sandwich, but neither were readily available, and in any case, Diet and Responsibilities blah blah blah. It was lunchtime anyway so she took herself off to Whole Foods for something green in a cup and a hemp-burger on twig
bread. Somewhere around the individually plastic-wrapped oranges she had stopped and burst out crying with the sudden, gutting realization she was trapped in a middle-class prison of her own making. This wasn’t the first time this had happened to her in Whole Foods. Defeated, and twitching slightly, she sloped miserably back to work. Her favourite therapee was coming in though. Maybe the afternoon would be better. Who was this woman, Pamela, before her? She had a sort of well-nourished, slightly medieval look to her,
LIKE SHE’D JUST COME FROM SELLING PIES AT A HANGING. Clearly she was a stranger to orthodontistry but what an unexpectedly pretty lip color she wore! What made her, Karen, colossal fuck-up, think she could offer any insight to this human being’s 56 years of pain and disappointment? In the case notes it said that Pamela had been arrested in the shoe department, but rather than appearing regretful or ashamed she had exhibited a kind of “quiet elation” and gladly offered up the ergonomic whisk. The Rains clerk was not unkind and had seen that Pamela perhaps might not be herself ? But rules were rules and she had to call the police. This was Pamela’s 4th visit and Karen was growing fond of her. In the course of their sessions Karen had learnt that her son had started saying things like “Come at me, bro” and had apparently “just dropped a scathing diss track” about how he sometimes gets sad. Pamela has no idea what Andrew is talking about. Her daughter meanwhile now wears pants with things like JUICY and BELIEVE THE HYPE, BEYATCHES! written across her ass. Pamela’s husband, Kevin, was into vinylsiding and competitive dog-grooming. A steady stream of sad-eyed dogs would pass OQ / SPRING 2019
through the house into the garage, emerging hours later, striped or be-maned or with its snout hair fashioned into a horn, as part of Kevin’s prize-winning “Creatures of the Serengeti” series. He had come in yesterday looking for his green fur spray and Pamela had realized with horror that she had used it to decorate the cupcakes for book club that night. Pamela had felt bad — very bad — bad about it all, but had still served the cupcakes. A light frost had fallen that morning. “I’m going into town to panic buy huskies!” Pamela’s husband had cheerfully called. My God, why did he have to be so cheerful all the time? She longed for him to stop talking for just two goddamned minutes together. She wanted to talk about global warming and the science of emotions and the things she heard on the radio during the long lonely drives from town to the farm; Somehow though she couldn’t quite break through the relentless vinyl-siding/should I attempt Minnie Mouse with a border collie? conversations. Karen and Pamela talked about all sorts of things long into the afternoon, way more than the hour allotted, but the next client wasn’t due until 4, and she was an uncompromising leader in the Health and Wellness industry with Anger Issues of whom Karen was slightly scared. Talking to Donna soothed her somehow, took her out of herself, and the time flew by. As she left, Pamela slipped her a Lancome lipstick in “Scarlet Hooligan” that she had stolen from Macy’s just before coming in. That night, Karen made herself a hot dog and cauliflower for dinner because it made about as much sense as anything else in a senseless world. After a little TV, she looked at herself in the bathroom mirror for a long time. She cleansed and moisturized dutifully, applied a bold red lip and took herself to bed. She turned the light out and then, before turning her phone alerts off for the night, she erased her last search terms (How to make a really good, forensically untraceable poison) and wrote a text that said “We’re on. 10 a.m., Victoria’s Secret.” She looked at it for a moment, bathed in the white light off the screen, and pressed Send. Karen smiled a scarlet hooligan smile in the dark and closed her eyes. Tomorrow, Pamela would teach her how to shoplift… ≈OQ≈ 161
Dennis Guernsey 805-798-1998
Broker/Owner, State Licensed Appraiser, General Contractor
Coldwell Banker ProPerty ShoPPe Ojai homes, Ojai ranches, Ojai commercial real estate. Experienced and knowledgeable Realtors serving the Ojai Valley for over 30 years.
Ready to Build
East End Ojai Craftsman | $1,925,000 | www.1615McNellRoad.com
PENDING One of the last buildable lots in Rancho Matilija — Buyer to verify. Completely flat, interior location, mountain views, adjacent to walking and riding trails and includes one Casitas water and sewer hook up $599,500
3.3 Acres - 4 bed/3 bath in downtown Ojai $1,279,000 www.1368Farnham.com
OJAI CONTEMPORARY VIEW HOME Charming 2-bedroom, 2.75-bath 2 story contemporary view home on 1/2-acre in prime Ojai location. Step down living room with stone fireplace, den or office, formal dining area and breakfast area. Master bedroom with step-up tub, huge walk-in closet with skylights. Incredible views, extensive decking overlooking pool/spa and pool house with 3/4 bath and shade area. Lush landscaping, 2-car garage, RV parking, completely fenced and much more . $1,395,000
EAST END ACRE Rare find in East side of Ojai — Flat 1-acre lot just minutes from town. Utilities at street — buyer to verify. Buyer advised to check with City or County about possible development. Perfect for mini estate, horses, planting etc. Great mountain views. Reduced $50k! $399,500
Downtown Ojai | Private | 1.5 Acres $1,349,500 | 811canada.com
Don’t Miss This
Downtown contemporary w/mid-century flair $1,075,000 | www.507Aliso.com
Downtown 2.5 Acre - Persimmon Hills Great Views - $579,500
By far the best land buy in Ojai. Incredible flat 20-acre parcel in heart of Upper Ojai. Located in rear of 11999 Ojai-Santa Paula Road and part of the renowned Hall Ranch. Water available. Great mountain views — all usable — Perfect for planting, horses or private estate. Buyer to verify utilities. $849,500
Ojai Creekside Condo 1,900+ Sq Ft 4 Bed | 2 Bath | $595,000
Bryant Circle Industrial 2490+ SF includes solar! | $995,000
Dennis Guernsey, Cell: 805-798-1998 • Office: 805 646-7288
Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe Ojai 727 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023 • dennisguernsey.com • www.ojaicoldwell.com
727 W. Ojai Ave. - Ojai - CA 93023 - Larry - 805.640.5734 - Erik - 805.830.3254 wilde-wilde.com - firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com
20 Acres | Equestrian Ranch $3,385,000
2065 Los Encinos | Ojai Mid-Century Home with Pool 2065LosEncinos.com
11+ Acres - Two Parcels | Mid-Century Estate Incredible Views!
Thacher Road | 31 Acres | 9 Homes 1st Time to Market | $9,000,000
Charming Meiners Oaks home 135lomita.com | $445,000
It Doesnâ€™t Get Any Better! | 6300 SF | Guest House | Recreation Room
Downtown Ojai | 3 Unit Commercial Property | 411WOjai.com
Saddle Mountain | Two Private Acres Impeccable | $1,575,000
727 W. Ojai Ave. - Ojai - CA 93023 - Larry - 805.640.5734 - Erik - 805.830.3254 wilde-wilde.com - firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com Larry Wilde DRE:#15216270 - Erik Wile DRT:#01461074
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