Faces in the Crowd: Michael Christie

Faces In the Crowd: Michael Christie, photo by Gary Moss. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

Faces In the Crowd: Michael Christie, photo by Gary Moss. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

THE NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR OF NEW WEST SYMPHONY BRINGS HIS GRAMMY AWARD–WINNING TALENT TO THE VENTURA COUNTY ENSEMBLE’S 25TH SEASON.

After winning the 2019 Best Opera Recording Grammy Award for The (R)evolution of Steve JobsNew West Symphony’s (newwestsymphony.org) new music director Michael Christie is bringing his own kind of (r)evolution to the West Coast.

“We threw a lot at the audience,” Christie says of his first concerts in his new role with the Thousand Oaks–based symphony this past October. “Our concert format is slightly tweaked,” he says, “and we had our new venue [Rancho Campana Performing Arts Center in Camarillo], so people had a fair amount to take in.”

Patrons were treated to a Gershwin concerto, Corigliano’s “Salute” with kazoos, and a “Scheherazade” performance that Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed praised as, “supplying far and away the most spectacular playing from what should no longer be considered a regional symphony.”

“The biggest difference,” says Christie, “is that we are using intermission as an opportunity for people to experience some new things if they choose.” This includes a question-and-answer session with the guest artist and an entr’acte. Up next is the global celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday on January 25 and 26, featuring the Eroica Trio, whom Christie calls, “three very vibrant, genius women who are just amazing [with] the energy that they bring.”

Christie has led top orchestras all over the world and served as music director for Minnesota Opera, The Phoenix Symphony, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic (now defunct). He now lives part-time in Ventura County, while his wife, Alexis, who is a physician, and their two children are in Minneapolis.

Much of the life of a musician-conductor is spent on the road, says Christie, a trumpeter, who first conducted when his middle school band director let him give it a try back in Buffalo, New York. “I was never sure how one became a conductor,” he says. “I just knew I wanted to know more about it. People were very generous with their time and always willing to answer questions.”

In February he’ll pay it forward with a one-month teaching and conducting stint at Indiana University. Christie is eager to communicate with students about the duties of an American music director, which he says, “are very specific to our particular situation of creating artistic vision and raising lots of money. It’s very particular to our country. I feel a great sense of responsibility for helping to convey that information, having lived it for the last 25 years. It’s fun to be asked to help the next generation start to figure that out.

“We [music directors] are the face of the organization in many ways,” Christie says. “We should be viewed by our audience as open, friendly, fun, and adventurous but also sensible, engaging, and concerned for our community, what it’s going through, and what it’s aspiring to be. And none of those words really say Mozart or Gershwin,” he says, laughing. “It’s all kind of wrapped together.”

Leslie Dinaberg

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GLAM FOR THE HOLIDAYS (OR ANY DAY)

Showbiz ties run in the family of The Starlet Studio owner Ashley Ann Harris, granddaughter of 1940s–era dancer and background actor Marilyn L. Rieses. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

Showbiz ties run in the family of The Starlet Studio owner Ashley Ann Harris, granddaughter of 1940s–era dancer and background actor Marilyn L. Riess. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

The golden age of Hollywood glamour is alive and well at celebrity-makeup artist Ashley Ann Harris’ new The Starlet Studio (thestarletstudio.com) in Westlake Village. Taking inspiration from her grandmother Marilyn L. Riess—a dancer and background actor who appeared in films starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra—Harris says, “The studio was designed to emulate a starlet’s dressing room, but with a modern twist. It is a lush, old Hollywood atmosphere, where you can escape from the everyday and feel like a star with your own personal makeup artist in your private dressing room.”

Harris, who has worked with Brooke Shields, Anna Kendrick, and Hilary Duff, among others, says, “Just like your favorite celebrity getting ready for a red carpet event, you can now enjoy personalized makeup services.” Book early to glam up for the season’s holiday celebrations.

Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, December 2019 805 Living Pulse Dec 2019.

805 Living cover Dec. 2019

A Sculptor’s Tribute

Photo by Gary Moss, 805 Living Magazine.

Before creating his full-size sculptures in tribute to the victims of last year’s mass
shooting at Thousand Oaks’ Borderline Bar & Grill, Ali Alinejad perfected his
designs with these miniature prototypes. Photo by Gary Moss, 805 Living Magazine.

The grieving process continues for the 12 people who lost their lives in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks on November 7, 2018.

“There was so much emotion and so much grief in this community after this happened, people didn’t have a place to go,” says Thousand Oaks–based sculptor Ali Alinejad. “Creating that place is what inspired me,” he says of the ceramic memorials he sculpted to honor each of the victims.

With the support of the community, Alinejad built an 8- to 12-foot totem for each victim, stacking the letters of their first names, which he sculpted from clay, and inscribing special memories on the back. The colorful, joyful sculptures are currently displayed throughout Alinejad’s neighborhood, which is also home to his business, Clay Studio + Gallery (claystudioandgallery.com). He hopes to find a permanent home for the sculptures and to create a memorial with benches that can be used as a site for contemplation.

For more information, visit the project’s GoFundMe page: gofundme.com/f/sculpure-memorial-for-the-12-victims-at-borderline.      —Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, November 2019.

805 Living Magazine, November 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, November 2019 805 Living Magazine November 2019.

Roses in November

805 Living Roses in November

Macchiato Roses photo by Debbie Kline, Florabundance. Courtesy 805 Living Magazine.

During the fall, roses in warm earthy colors are in high demand. Among the newest additions to this palette are Macchiato roses. The color of blushing cheeks, these beauties are available locally at Florabundance (florabundance.com), a wholesale flower supplier in Carpinteria.

“Growers in the flower world are working on new varieties all the time,” says Florabundance buyer Debbie Kline, who suggests a few options to consider in an arrangement of Macchiato roses for the Thanksgiving table. “I personally like to see the brown tones mixed with burgundies and even blushes or peach; natural elements with texture always bring interest, too, like bronze Amaranthus, burgundy Scabiosa, and chocolate lace flowers.

“The process for creating new, natural varieties is actually quite fascinating,” Kline says, “and anticipating future trends is tricky. [Growers] also work on producing new colors and varieties that are stronger and more productive to grow.” —Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, November 2019.

805 Living Magazine, November 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, November 2019 805 Living Magazine November 2019.

PIECE OFFERING

Piecework story, 805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

The humble jigsaw puzzle has been given a modern makeover thanks to Piecework (pieceworkpuzzles.com) co-founders Rachel Hochhauser and Jena Wolfe. Hochhauser, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara, discovered her love of the meditative qualities of puzzles when she was rained in during a visit to Yosemite. Soon the pair, who are partners at Major, a creative agency specializing in brand strategy and design, began working on puzzles as a way to unplug and unwind, but they were dissatisfied with the selection available.

“We decided to start Piecework because we wanted to bring thoughtful curation and design to an activity we really loved doing and to show people how much pleasure can be found in a puzzle,” says Hochhauser.  —Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, October 2019 805 Living Pulse Oct 2019

LEVI GILBERT | Art Meets Action

Levi Gilbert interview from 805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Falling down stairs, crashing motorcycles, and taking death-defying leaps off the sides of cliffs are all in a day’s work for Levi Gilbert, a 2017 Santa Barbara High School graduate who got his first Hollywood stunt job as soon as he turned 18 and was legally allowed to perform. This might seem like a crazy career choice to some, but stunt performing is in Gilbert’s blood. His grandfather Mickey Gilbert’s career dates back to the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and his father, Lance Gilbert, was Mel Gibson’s personal stuntman.

“I got started doing stunt work with the guidance of my dad,” says the 20-year-old Gilbert, who has already appeared in TV series such as 9-1-1, 13 Reasons Why, Ballers, Daybreak, Silicon Valley, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as the upcoming Ford v Ferrari film, which is generating Oscar buzz. “He has always helped me by giving me every opportunity to learn something new and expand my skill sets.

“Directors know exactly what they want from the stunt performers, but it’s up to you to make it happen safely,” says the youngest of the Gilbert family stunt artists. “The most dangerous stunts I have done so far in my career would probably be stair falls.” He starred as a young naval lieutenant who fell to a dramatic death in an NCIS: New Orleans episode this year.

“Difficulty and danger often go hand in hand,” he says. “But for me the hardest stunt isn’t a stunt at all—it’s acting—which is something I am working on and trying to understand the art of.”

Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, October 2019. 805 Living Oct 2019 The 805’s Got Talent

Growth Experience

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

Urban agriculture is having a field day at Funk Zone Farm (Instagram: @funkzonefarm) in Santa Barbara, which opens its farm stand on the first and third Saturdays of each month in the Funk Zone.

“The response has been nothing short of heartwarming,” says Carter Hallman, who runs the farm with Sami Weiss. The couple share a background deeply rooted in food and wine and a “passion for quality grown food and how food affects our environment, health, and culture,” says Hallman.

Created on unused land surrounding the Funk Zone’s Green House Studios artists’ workspace, the farm—which produces a wide variety of veggies, fruits, and flowers—comprises 30 raised beds and a small greenhouse and involves 50 tons of soil and 30 tons of compost.

“We are hoping to influence and educate more people on what local really means on the Central Coast, how good farming affects flavors and nutrients in crops, and how good farming greatly affects our environment,” says Hallman.

“The biggest response is how joyful people look when they leave the farm. They share how we’ve inspired them to start their own backyard gardens [and] how they come back week after week to watch the crops grow, creating a connection and a newfound appreciation for what they’re eating.”  —Leslie Dinaberg

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Celebrating Mediterranean Foodways

As featured in 805 Living Magazine, September 2019.

As featured in 805 Living Magazine, September 2019.

Bring a taste of the Mediterranean home with Ojai Valley private chef Robin Goldstein’s new cookbook, Crafting a Meal Mediterranean Style (M27, September 2019; privatechefrobin.com).

“Crafting a meal means more than just recreating recipes,” Goldstein explains. “For me, kitchens are magical places. I love entertaining, and it’s a great way to get everyone together for a relaxing evening in the comfort of your own home. Simplified home cook–friendly recipes can be adapted to your tastes and what’s in season.” Her latest collection includes recipes for busy family weeknights as well as weekend entertaining with shared platters and tapas—foods, Goldstein says, “your guests will truly enjoy.”

For this edition, Goldstein handpicked her favorite dishes from the coasts of Spain, the Provence region of France, Italy, the Greek Islands, the Middle East, and Morocco. “Each culinary influence adds another dimension to the whole,” she says. She shares this recipe from its pages.

Green Shakshuka, from Robin Goldstein, Crafting a Meal Mediterranean Style (M27 Editions, 2019).

Green Shakshuka, from Robin Goldstein,
Crafting a Meal Mediterranean Style (M27 Editions, 2019).

GREEN SHAKSHUKA

Traditionally eggs poached in a spicy chili tomato sauce, this savory green shakshuka is a slightly different take on the classic Middle Eastern dish. In Israel it’s breakfast food, a one-skillet recipe of baked eggs to start the day with, a perfect way to celebrate garden greens. Serve it with a pile of pita or challah on the side.

Serves 4

1 bunch of leeks, sliced thin (about 2 cups) and washed well

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, sliced

6 cups washed and chopped mixed kale, Swiss chard, and spinach

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

Pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon sea salt

Ground black pepper

8 eggs

1/2 cup crumbled feta

2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend

Shake water off the leeks and sauce in an ovenproof frying pan with olive oil until leeks are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in the chopped greens and cook until leaves are wilted, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fresh chopped herbs, red chile flakes, nutmeg, salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

Preheat oven to 400. In the same pan, create eight nests of greens, break an egg into each well, and top with crumbled feta. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until eggs are done to your liking. Scatter with za’atar spices and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted with permission from Robin Goldstein, Crafting a Meal Mediterranean Style (M27 Editions, 2019).  —Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019

805 sept 2019 cover

Eggs Over Easy

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

“It’s Easter every day around here,” says Hayden Clark, founder of Cluck Farms (cluckfarms.com), the Ventura County–based home to 2,000 very happy chickens, who spend their days running around outside, bathing in the dirt (they like that), and feeding on grass, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

The 23-year-old entrepreneur started his fresh-egg delivery business last spring and personally brings the naturally pastel-colored beauties to individuals and businesses from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

“Local word of mouth has been great,” says Clark. “I really try to over-provide service and sometimes even give my customers extra eggs to share—and suggest they go meet their neighbors.” —Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019 

805 sept 2019 cover

Mind, Body, Soul

Mind, Body and Soul, published in 805 Living, July/August 2019.

Click here to read these stories as they appeared in 805 Living magazine, July/August 2019. 805 Living MBS Jul-Aug 2019