Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Home for the Homeless: Hotel de Riviera

Soon after I moved here I noticed a rustic-looking hotel on Carrillo that I thought might be a good spot for out-of-town visitors... until I start paying closer attention to the client base. At any point in the day, you see people in various states of dishevelment lingering on the lawn in front of the hotel, garbed in the finest the nearby Goodwill has to offer. "What is this, some kind of whorehouse?" I wondered.

As it turns out, the Hotel de Riviera is a space for adults in recovery, a "Dual Diagnosis Structural Clean & Sober Living Environment" with 30 single-occupant rooms. Pretty sweet deal for those down on their luck, right? There are six other projects like the Hotel de Riviera in Santa Barbara County, which are collectively "State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Rental Housing Complexes."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Illustrious Past

What's that? A castle? In Santa Barbara!? Sadly this castle houses naught but a CVS and a franchised dance school. The only knights hanging around are the illustrious purchasers of 3AM donuts and beggars of cigarettes/change. The full title is "The Pythian Castle Lodge Hall" and it's a registered historic structure. The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization that used to have lots of castles/temples/lodges nationwide. The ultimate Pythian Castle is in Missouri, and puts Santa Barbara's to shame. Fun fact: Sun Ra was a Pythian Knight!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Everyone's Plants

Do you like succulents? If you happen to kill off everything potted, but still really like plants, then this is the greenery for you. Succulents thrive in Santa Barbara, but I don't see very many lawns that feature them. Usually they are on the sidewalks or along the hiking trails. If you see a fairly small one, I encourage you to dig it out and replant it at home. I'm really tempted to do so with the ones pictured.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

52 Messages

Every Tuesday I have to walk up and down Carrillo Hill in the evening. The reason for this is not important. What matters is that going once a week to a place you can't help but notice trivial/odd things about it. For example, over the course of three Tuesdays I watched a skunk decompose and get picked apart, eventually leaving a tuft of tail that is still stuck to the sidewalk. Along my route there are also a few 2-liter soda bottles crammed under bush filled with what must be urine; they have remained in the same position for at least a month.

The best thing along this walk, however, are the playing cards that I always find either scattered on the ground or stapled/paper-clipped/taped to trees or sign posts. The cards are all sharpied with an obscure phrase. I like to think of the person who does this as "The Masked Messenger." The one pictured above proclaims "scary good."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Citizen journalism"

Now you can also follow Santa Barbara Unseen on, a site where a bunch of Santa Barbara people have their own blogs. They write about all sorts of things, usually with considerable eccentricity. We'll try to live up to that, but we're still getting it caught up with the version you see here. When we do, however... the only possible advice is, prepare.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Then who is responsible?

You see these abandoned shopping carts all over Santa Barbara. I have it on good authority that this tree is nowhere near a market. Trader Joe's? Twenty-minute walk east. Ralph's? Ten-minute walk west. The cart didn't roll here by itself. It's not one of those homeless chariots, laden to the point of metal fatigue with plastic bags barely encasing lord knows what. I don't even know who I'd approach to get pointed in the direction of where I might possibly find something like answers. Not to get all Resnais on you, but:

"I am not responsible," says the street crackpot.

"I am not responsible," says the bored adolescent joyrider.

"I am not responsible," says the confused, foreign grandma.

Then who is responsible?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I've noticed that abandoned/left behind/unloved buildings in the downtown area have a habit of sitting around and decaying; the cheap cork board tacked to the windows getting progressively water-streaked and rotted. The above home has been left in this state since I moved downtown two years ago, the only difference being that the menacing "CONDEMNED" sign disappeared at some point.