Music and sports of the Old World: Sixth Annual Asian American Film Series returns to Alhecama Theatre

Florante Aguilar documents the traditional Filipino art form in "Harana." photo
Florante Aguilar documents the traditional Filipino art form in “Harana.” photo

Although now known as the Presidio Neighborhood, the area between Anacapa and Santa Barbara streets along Canon Perdido used to be both a Chinatown and a Japanese town back in the pre-war era, with Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens (now known as The Pickle Room) being the last remnant of that era. And for six years the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation has honored that heritage in several ways, their current one hosting the Asian American Film Series, three films over three Fridays, starting tonight.

Put together by a committee headed by Teresa Chin, the festival shares recent documentaries that illuminate the Asian-American experience, this year focusing on Filipino-, Chinese-, and Japanese-Americans.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Mesa Cafe’s Caipirinha

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

By the time you read this, the finalists for the World Cup will be lined up, with only one last game to play in sunny Brazil. It was by chance, though, that we walked into the Mesa Cafe for lunch when the USA-Belgium game was going down and we realized that this restaurant bar is football — I mean, soccer! — mad. The servers and hosts were wearing USA jerseys in support (and before they got knocked out, Mexico jerseys too) to amp up the crowd that had come to watch and cheer. USA got eliminated, but the excitement is going to continue Saturday, and we are here to let you know that in honor of the World Cup’s hosts, the Mesa Cafe is offering caipirinhas for $6 each during the game and $3.75 16-ounce Bud Light in a special bottle.

We’ve talked about caipirinhas before, but here’s a refreshing refresher, courtesy of bar manager Caroline Saenz: lime juice, simple syrup and Sagatiba cachaça, aka Brazilian rum. Essentially, it’s like a margarita from the Southern Hemisphere, but without the burn of tequila; it’s smooth and sweet and the perfect way to indulge in this weekend’s game, no matter who you end up rooting for.

1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces cachaça (preferably Sagatiba)

Either muddle 2 lime wedges or use fresh lime juice. Combine juice, simple syrup and cachaça over ice, shake and pour into lowball glass. Garnish with lime and paper umbrella.

1972 Cliff Drive
966-5303 or

Goin’ Gallic: French Festival returns to Oak Park with more vendors, entertainment

Beth Harding fills in for Mona Lisa while Mark Woempner takes her photo at the 2012 French Festival.
Beth Harding fills in for Mona Lisa while Mark Woempner takes her photo at the 2012 French Festival.

Ooh-la-la! The French Festival returns to Oak Park next Saturday and Sunday for its 26th year of celebrating Bastille Day and French culture and influence all over the world, from Vietnam to New Orleans.

Visitors will be able to check out the can-can, listen to chanson, eat baguettes and wear berets freely. Basically, if it’s French in any way, you’ll find it at the park.

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Pride marches on: Pacific Pride’s festival at the Beach returns for an eighth year

The band Technical Difficulties plays at the 2012 Pacific Pride Festival at Leadbetter Beach.
The band Technical Difficulties plays at the 2012 Pacific Pride Festival at Leadbetter Beach.

The LGBT community has a lot to celebrate this year as Pride at the Beach approaches Saturday.

During 2014, Oregon and Pennsylvania became the 18th and 19th states to legalize same-sex marriage, and as recently as this month Kentucky’s ban on the same was declared unconstitutional by a federal district court.

“After the DOMA decision last year, there was so much joy at the Festival,” says David Selberg, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based organization that provides services for the LGBT community.

In other years the LGBT community partied in defiance but this time there’s cause to have fun, and Mr. Selberg is looking forward to the Saturday beach party that attracts somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 attendees.

More than 40 vendor booths are planned along with food trucks and a dance tent sponsored by Wildcat Lounge. Live performers and speakers will take the stage.

The event has been held at Leadbetter Beach since 2006, when Mr. Selberg returned to Pacific Pride Foundation and was asked by many to fill the gap left with the closing of Santa Barbara’s last gay club.

Although Santa Barbara had its first Pride event in 1990 at Oak Park, the 2006 beach festival started something new.

“A lot of the community just wanted to have a sense of itself, as we achieved so much in our civil rights,” Mr. Selberg said. “It’s all so nice to come together, not just the LGBT community but our straight allies, and just celebrate.”

The highlights of the festival are the performers.

Cazwell is still a rarity in the hip-hop world: an out singer from New York — “If Biggie Smalls ate Donna Summer for breakfast,” as his PR agency bills him.

His hilarious song “I Saw Beyonce at Burger King” popped up on social network feeds in 2008 and since then he’s been a fixture of New York club life.

“He’s a big act at Pride shows across the country and we were lucky to get him a gig here,” Mr. Selberg said.

Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race reality show will want to come see Morgan McMichaels, one of the big stars of the second season, who will be performing. Rock music comes from Lunden Reign, an up-and-coming Los Angeles band, and local artists Kat Devlin, SB Drag Divas and Technical Difficulties, among others.

And then there’s the third annual “Put Your Paws Up” dog show, where entrants are invited to dress up their pooch in rainbow gear and show off their canine skills. The “Pet with the Most Pride” gets to take home a prize.

Rep. Lois Capps and Assemblyman Das Williams will speak, as will Mayor Helene Schneider.

For those who can’t wait for Saturday, plenty of events lead up to the event.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Pacific Pride hosts a soiree at the Canary Hotel rooftop, free to enter and mingle. At 8 p.m. Thursday, the Wildcat will throw a Pride Girl Party, featuring Lesbo Bingo in the first two hours, and then the Drag Kings will perform.

On Friday, a photographic exhibit, “The Self Evident Truth Project,” features the work of photographer IO Tillet Wright, who documents people across America who don’t identify as 100 percent straight. Admission to the show at Santa Barbara Art Foundry is $15.

After Saturday’s festival, the party continues at Tonic Nightclub downtown, with encore performances of the festival’s drag shows, along with music all night, starting at 8 p.m. for $15 to $20.

On Sunday, Jill’s Place on Santa Barbara Street is hosting Pride Brunch, with a portion of proceeds going to Pacific Pride.

For many in the LGBT community, the Pacific Pride Festival can be important on a personal level, Mr. Selberg said.

“They can be young or they can be 80, but I’ve heard people say the first time they ever came out was at a Pride festival. And it’s always heartening to me, that coming to a Pride fest is a big deal. It’s still relevant and that visibility is a big thing.”

The Pacific Pride Festival runs from noon to 7 p.m., Saturday at Leadbetter Beach. Admission is free.

For more information go to or call 963-3636.

Silver Screen, Summer Nights: UCSB Arts & Lecture’s free screening series highlights Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd

"Girl Shy"
“Girl Shy”

In January, UCSB Arts&Lectures screened Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” at the Granada with pianist Michael Mortilla accompanying. “It was a non-stop laugh-fest the entire time,” A&L’s Roman Baratiak says. “All ages were there and it was super inspiring … People gasped.” Mr. Baratiak is referring to the infamous 20-minute sequence where Lloyd scales the outside of a building and at one point winds up hanging from a clock.

Mr. Baratiak took that inspiration and has made classic silent comedy the theme for this year’s Summer Film Series, which screens both at Campbell Hall and at the Courthouse’s Sunken Gardens. Last year’s Hitchcock series got the biggest crowds in the Summer Series and it was time to make things a bit more fun. So for the fifth annual event, A&L will be screening two films each, from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, with extra shorts thrown in for good measure.

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Pretty Poison: SBCC opens season with ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

From left, Leslie Ann Story, Christopher Lee Shortand Linda MacNeal in The Theatre Group at SBCC's production of "Arsenic and Old Lace"
From left, Leslie Ann Story, Christopher Lee Shortand Linda MacNeal in The Theatre
Group at SBCC’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace”

When writer Joseph Kesselring first imagined the story of “Arsenic and Old Lace” he saw it more as a Gothic tale, based on a notorious case of the time where the owner of a boarding house poisoned guests to get their pensions. But, rumor has it, Broadway producers Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse convinced Kesselring to make it a comedy and so he did. The play is now a classic, community theaters everywhere still putting on productions, including SBCC’s Theater Group, who premiere the comedy this coming Wednesday.

In the play, the Brewster family is largely composed of homicidal maniacs except for the youngest, drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Jay Carlander), who comes home to marry the girl he loves, fend off police, and wonder how he’s related to everybody else. The heads of the house are two spinster aunts who murder lonely old men with elderberry wine laced with arsenic, helped by Mortimer’s brother (Christopher Lee Short) who is under the delusion he is Theodore Roosevelt and helps dig the graves for their victims. There’s a murderous older brother, too (John Bridle) who is living with a botched plastic surgery job to hide from the police.

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Flamenco Fire: Savannah Fuentes bring La Luna Nueva to Center Stage

Flamenco dancer Savannah Fuentes
Flamenco dancer Savannah Fuentes

This is a tale of two cities, Seattle and Vancouver. In the latter there is a bustling flamenco community, with funding, three schools, and small clubs having shows every week.

The former … not so much. There are no clubs. The main international stars don’t get booked. And this is the city where Savannah Fuentes has hung her shingle to bring flamenco — the dancing, the guitar, the singing — to the populace. After all, she was born in Seattle to a Puerto Rican dad and an Irish mom, and she’s gonna turn the culture around, she swears.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Blind Tiger’s Buddha’s Hound

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Ladies and gentlemen: The Savoy has left the building … and the Blind Tiger has moved in. The three-story space where Savoy used to exist is now Blind Tiger. That oval bar has gone and a more sensible long bar now runs along the right side. JT Thomas made us drinks, overseen by Leon Murray, the events director (and, full disclosure, an old friend), and things have changed to a more local, creative vibe.

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