Sunday, November 7, 2021

Santa Barbara NEWS-PRESS: THE INVESTIGATOR: FROM HUNGRY TO WELL-FED


 




https://newspress.com/from-hungry-to-well-fed/



California is the hostess with the mostess for homeless folks. Five of its cities are in the top 10 hit parade of largest homeless populations.

 Los Angeles ranks # 2 in the whole USA.

 

San Jose is #4. San Diego is #5. San Francisco is #6. And Oakland #7.


Congratulations are due Governor Gavin Newsom; maybe Joe Biden will award him a pen to sign his next hotel giveaway. Or Nancy Pelosi could dig into her $20K deep freeze and gift him with a gourmet popsicle. (We would suggest its use, given the above statistics, but this is a family newspaper.)


Is it any surprise to anyone that all 10 cities (the others are New York City, Phoenix, Boston and Washington DC) are in blue states? Of course not. But why so many homeless in California?

 

One could credit (or blame, depending on your level of impatience or compassion) the temperate climate—and that would certainly be a factor. Warmer weather, obviously, lessens the hardship of finding shelter and staving off the cold. Another key factor (generally, but especially in California) is the high cost of homes.  


But to a greater degree it is the hospitality shown to the homeless by the state’s Democratic Party machine—an open invitation, along with sanctuary cities, to the welfare state, just like Joe Biden’s open-door policy to wannabe refugees from Mexico, Central America and Haiti (and maybe the odd ISIS terrorist) who illegally enter and remain in the United States.  “We get you a hotel room, which you may trash, the taxpayer foots the bill (as always)—and we get your vote, which we use to better centralize our authority and gain more control over your lives and liberties!”


Another reason is a double-standard deployed by city supervisors that generously favors street folk: if you are homeless and expose yourself to urinate or defecate on a public sidewalk in front of women and children the cops are supposed to turn a blind eye, but if you are not homeless and do the same you can be arrested and registered as a sex offender.


It is one thing to be compassionate; it is quite another a) to make the hard-working taxpayer support this while the government prints money out of thin air thus giving rise to massive inflation and b) to put the quality of life of everyone else in jeopardy while those whose policies are responsible for this (Governor Newsom, Speaker Pelosi, various mayors) reside in gated communities or behind high walls, insulated from the squalor and aggression.


Another factor is the 1960s de-institutionalizing of the mentally ill due to lack of funds and the civil liberties movement campaign to set them loose. As a result, psychiatric hospitalizations dropped by 75 %. Understand, this wasn’t because there is any less insanity. If anything, mental illness is on the rise, thanks largely to anti-social media, if kept partly under wraps by the advent of SSRI medications such as Prozac and Zoloft—and those willing to remain on their meds (many don’t).


But there’s another issue: History has shown that homelessness—a term first used after the Civil War—directly relates to jobs i.e. industrialization and manufacturing.  Once upon a time this country manufactured everything from automobiles to clothing to pharmaceuticals to radios and television sets. However, over the last 30 years the trend has been to subcontract almost all manufacturing to China, which utilizes their most plentiful commodity, people (read: slave labor) to produce almost everything we consume. 


The Chinese state and elite have grown richer and we have gotten poorer. In fact, we’re in a negative position—a deficit.  Which is just a fancy economist’s way of saying broke. But not just broke.  We’re in massive debt.  A debt that has literally gone through a ceiling that Washington keeps babbling about. (Meantime, China invests its new found wealth in building a new stable of nuclear weapons.)


In 2010, President Barrack Obama designed a federal strategic plan to end homelessness, But, like closing down Guantanamo, it was just another of his failed policies. The federal plan did, however, strategically end homelessness for the Obama family after they vacated the White House: They now own large, ultra-pricey homes in Chicago ($4.75 million), in Washington DC ($8.1 million) and on Martha’s Vineyard ($11.75 million). Compare to Harry Truman driving home to his modest house in Independence, Missouri. 


 

            FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT

 


The answer to homelessness is the saddest part of this story: historically, it is a wartime economy that saves the day, creating new jobs, shaking the emotionally fragile back to their senses and putting everyone back to work—mining metals, manufacturing, distribution, etc.


And it’s coming. 


Just read between the lines of mass media, on both sides of the great divide: We are slowly but most assuredly being revved up for the coming war against China. That’s why you’re now reading a slew of articles about how China imprisons and tortures its Islamic minority—the Uighurs, in China’s Xinjiang province—and utilizes its healthy political prisoners for organ harvesting.    


Realize please, the Chinese have been practicing these despicable acts for decades. But only now—post-Covid lockdowns and Chinese aggression against its neighbors (especially Taiwan)—are we inundated with such news as the anti-China “group fantasy” fertilizes—call it a collective subconscious or, if you’re motivated, look up Lloyd deMause and his brainchild Psychohistory, a confluence of sociology and psychology that attempts to answer the “why” of history. 


When it comes time to go to war, those in charge will want everyone of conscription age sufficiently motivated to swarm the enlistment centers, just like after 9/11 and… uh, what…?  our incursions into… Afghanistan? 


Yeah, right. 


Lesson: Don’t buy yet another false bill of goods that leaves you or those you love dead or limbless while politicians and captains of commerce command the action from a safe distance far away and make themselves and their arms-dealer buddies ridiculously rich—then bail and run when it better suits their own political interests and agendas. 


Please ask your children to listen to Jon Prine’s song Hello in There:

            

            We lost Davey in the Korean War.

            Still don’t know what for.

            Don’t matter anymore.

            

Or, as Steve Taylor writes in his new book, Extraordinary Awakenings, “War is the result of an intensified sense of ego, which causes the lack of empathy for others and a need for group identity. At the same time, it is the result of an elite group of psychopaths who hold power over the majority of people, forcing them to further their demented aims and using propaganda to help distort public opinion in their favor.”


Affixed to the wall of Ms. Tranoy’s Humanities course at the American School in London in 1972 was this sign: “Civilization took a step backward the day leaders stopped leading their troops into battle.”


Message:  Don’t sign up for a war unless those declaring it lead the battle charge in front of you.

 


            But I’m getting carried away with myself so…


 

…With Thanksgiving looming and the feasting of food on everyone’s mind, let’s lighten up and shift 180-degrees from the homeless and hungry to the amply-sheltered and well-fed as we cruise down Coast Village Road in Montecito seeking contentment and sometimes finding calamity along a thoroughfare more popular than ever due to the sorrowful state of State Street…

 

            Bree’osh: Best baguette anywhere, hands down. Best croissants too. As authentically French as its owners—and worth every calorie.


            Ca’Dario: Little wonder this cozy Italian ristorante, presided over by Chef Dario (who owns two other restaurants, one downtown SB, the other Goleta) has become so popular so fast. The setting is sublime, food superb, service amazing. You request a share plate, a substitution, something prepared differently than how it appears on the menu?  Done, done and done, no grimaces, all smiles, no extra charge. Happy, happy—led by Fernando, Marco, Dubra and Alex. This is the way the service industry used to be—and should be always. Scrumptious salads, preeminent pasta, spicy seafood—and the best pizza in town. Hands down, the finest dining experience in Montecito.


            Caffe Luxxe: Nonpariel caffeine concoctions in Montecito (especially when Trevor is barista-ing) that may be savored among the colorful plants and flowers and gourds outside Vons on crisp autumn morns.


            Coast & Olive: After a mishap or two, the Copus family, owners of the Montecito Inn, got it right with what was once—for many years—a true locals’ watering hole and dining room.

Under the vigilant eye of manager Don, a corps of hostesses, servers and bartenders (seek out Anthony or Dylan) ensure a joyous experience full of creative cocktails and culinary delights. Kushi oysters on the half-shell dressed in blood orange mignonette. Amazing. An Heirloom Caprese Salad with heirloom tomatoes, burrata mozzarella, pine nuts, basil and balsamic that melts in your mouth. Idaho trout with mashed potato and French beans (hold the salt). Almost as good as Steamers in McCall, Idaho—and that’s a major compliment. Finish with their Cookie Skillet (warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream), you’re in heaven the rest of the evening. And all at an extremely reasonable price-point—which was the old café’s claim to fame.


            China Pavilion: Almost forgot this one. Then almost left it out anyway. Ha! (Sorry, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in cities where they have real Chinese restaurants.)


            The Honor Bar: Best burgers, finest fries—and the merriest margarita on this stretch. In keeping with the Hillstone Group’s high standards, big on quality-control and consistency at an affordable price-point. 


            Jeannines: Coffee too strong for my taste; their food, sometimes decent, sometimes less so.


            Los Arroyos: With Cava dearly departed, this cantina is the only Mexican on the stretch. Keep it simple, stick to basics—guacamole and chips, enchiladas, rice and beans, salsa—and you can’t go wrong; order too fancy and it may awaken you in the dead of night. 


            Lucky’s: Its owners took the Rolling Stones’ song Paint It Black too literally and, post-mudslide, painted the whole bar black rendering it so funereal you sit over a cocktail wondering when the casket will arrive. Bar flies at 5, see-and-be-seen crowd after 7. So long as the potato skins are delivered extra hot and extra crispy with extra cheese and extra bacon, hard to go wrong, especially when followed by their signature abalone (one of two foods containing iodine, a natural guardian against Covid—the other is seaweed) and their iconic Salty Turtle Sundae. And, if you’re flush with cash, and it’s Monday, the world’s most expensive (and quite superb) chicken pot pie.


            Mesa Burger: We miss Tutti’s. We even, to a lesser degree, miss Coffee Bean. And this joint, even though it exists, is also a miss.


            Oliver’s: Best bartender in Montecito Billy Valdez shops at farmers market for his trimmings, mixes and potions. A glass of freshly-opened champagne (Veuve de Clicquot) for $20. Even better, a cocktail called The Razor’s Edge (Aperol, gin, angostura bitters & orange bitters, honey and syrup, lemon juice, served with a slice of orange and lemon twist over one lump of ice). Pure enlightenment. A pleasant mostly open-air setting and the only restaurant in town serving vegan fare—and their kitchen does it so well they’re capable of converting carnivores. Add this: the best bar—bar none—for watching the MLB World Series or any other major sports event.


            Renaud’s:  Really? Renaud is reputed to be a baker—and was the first to bring real Parisian buttery croissants to SB when he opened his first coffee shop and bakery at Loreto Plaza on upper State Street. So why would they serve a chicken and bacon sandwich on a stale (supposedly “soft” but actually “hard”) bun? Sadly, the rot does not end there as the sandwich interior matches the bun—a match made in hell, as if heated in a microwave (probably was). Whomever is working in their kitchen should be signed up for a series of cookery lessons; and the front-end staff enrolled into etiquette school. 

            “This bun is stale—it’s hard, not soft.”

            “That’s because it’s toasted.”

            “No, it isn’t toasted. Inedible, yes. Toasted, no.”

            No apology. Someone brings out an alternative bun wrapped in cellophane. It is not stale. And not exactly fresh, but better—and I’m on my own to re-sandwich the contents myself, the recreation of a sub-par, disintegrating sandwich, which remains mostly discarded on the plate. Hence, a good place to go if you want to lose weight.


            Sakana: Don’t bother, go to Arigata downtown, risk the homeless instead of Japanese roulette (as in, the possibility of food poisoning from raw fish). 


            Tre Lune: The server recommended a bottle of quite superb yet moderately-priced Italian red wine. And that’s good because there was plenty of time to drink it. Because 75 minutes elapsed between ordering meals and receiving them. They say the best things in life are worth waiting for. Not in this instance. My grandson’s meatballs were better suited for the golf course. And their “Grigliata Mista de Pesce” (a mixed grill of lobster tail, shrimps, scallops, calamari and swordfish) was the kind of dish that as a kid turned you off seafood till mid-age. It did not seem fresh. And the leftovers (plenty) were politely refused by my Chihuahua next morning. On a positive note, the crusty thin breadsticks saved the night. Again, good for a weight loss program.