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Ojai: Talk of the Town

Ojai: Talk of the Town

By Bret Bradigan

A look at the community of Ojai - an astonishingly beautiful village of 7,500 people perched on the eastern edge of the Pacific Rim. From the people who bring you Ojai Quarterly, Ojai Monthly and Ojai Hub.
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'Desert Tracks' With Leslie Clark

Ojai: Talk of the Town Jul 13, 2022

AARP's Ojai Origins with Craig Walker

AARP's Ojai Origins with Craig Walker

The American Association of Retired Persons is the largest nonprofit group in the world with 38 million members. And it all began right here in Ojai in 1957 over dinner for six people at the Ojai Valley Inn. One of the persons was Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a formidably tall redhead who changed the way the nation thought about aging.

Craig Walker joins the podcast to talk about his recently published book, "The Dignity They Deserve" which he co-authored with Mark Lewis. As the title explains, Dr. Andrus, perhaps the first female high school principal in California, grew up in Chicago during the height of the Progressive Era, where she volunteered at Jane Addams' Hull House, before embarking on a career in education. She retired to Ojai and bought the Grey Gables and converted it into a residential facility for retired teachers. Her mission was to show that retired people had much to contribute to their world and communities.

The lore is that she found a retired teacher living in abject poverty in a chicken coop. In her anger, she got organized. The AARP was founded to provide health insurance to retired teachers through the American Retired Teachers Association, which Dr. Andrus also established. It proved so wildly successful that the insurance broker, Leonard Davis, who helped set up the underwriting, soon became one of the 400 richest men in America. Dr. Andrus never personally profited off her organization.

We talked about the Dr. Andrus' background, and her illustrious career at Lincoln High School, where she revolutionized the way high school was taught. Walker, a retired teacher himself, also talked about his father, the famous architect Rodney Walker, builder of several of the Case Study homes that helped house millions of people.

We did not talk about Sumerian cuneiform, great Moghul empire warriors or the sketch comedy of Tim Robinson.

Jun 07, 202301:12:28
Following the Money with Dr. Nomi Prins

Following the Money with Dr. Nomi Prins

Dr. Nomi Prins, the author, former Goldman Sachs executive and Ojai resident joins the podcast to talk about her work explaining the world of high finance and how bankers continue to rig the system for their benefit. Her latest work, "Permanent Distortion," came out last year and dives deep into the trillions of dollars of fiat currency pumped into the global financial system during the pandemic, and how it is being use to further divide Wall Street from Main Street, and how little of the money the governments printed was actually put to productive use.

"Quantitative Easing" is the term of art used to describe the emergency response during the 2008 banking crisis which has since became an addiction for the Federal Reserve. Most of the trillions of dollars since the pandemic continues to sit on banks' asset sheets without being loaned out, as was the intent.

Dr. Prins' is famous for her deep research, lively writing, and ability to break down complex and abstract topics into easily understood concepts.

We also talk about her other books, including "All the Presidents' Bankers" and how a very small group of elite financiers and politicians, who came from the same families and attended the same schools, have been pulling the strings for the world since JP Morgan organized a 1907 meeting at his resort in Jekyll Island, Georgia that led to the founding of the Federal Reserve system in 1913. We also talked about the 2008 financial crash and how much of it was blamed on reckless homeowners rather than the vast amounts of money leveraged by bankers for stock buybacks and other contrivances to boost their own wealth at the cost of productive use of capital for infrastructure and employment projects.

Dr. Prins and I did not talk about Japanese ceramic glazes, left-handed cricketers or Aston Villa's greatest moments. Check out her works - "Collusion," "All the Presidents's Bankers," "Black Tuesday," "It Takes a Pillage," "Jacked," and "Other People's Money."

May 25, 202350:06
Chumash & Ojai with Julie Tumamait

Chumash & Ojai with Julie Tumamait

In a reprise of Episode 64, we bring back Chumash elder and lifelong Ojai native Julie Tumamait-Stenslie to talk about her diverse tribe, their tragic history and hopeful future. Julie grew up in Ojai with an idyllic childhood as the youngest of seven children, playing in the Ventura river bottom. Her father, Vincent, was a revered Chumash elder and keeper of the traditional folkways. Julie apprenticed herself to him, learning the old songs, stories and folkways of this ancient and fascinating people.

She now has taken his place, performing ceremonies along from Malibu to San Luis Obispo, teaching children the songs and stories by which Chumash peoples passed on information through the generations and making sure that her people are represented. Besides archeological surveys on construction projects to make sure that cultural treasures are not destroyed, she founded the Barbareño/Ventureño band of Mission Indians, on which she serves as tribal chair. 

She paints a vivid picture of pre-contact life in the Ojai Valley, where the bands of Chumash traveled from village site to village site to take advantage of the changing seasons for food crops like acorns, piñon nuts and the bounty of the nearby sea. Before the Spanish arrived, the state's native population was estimated at 310,000, which dwindled to a few tens of thousands by the 1870s after the massive disruption of the gold rush - with pestilence and genocide nearly wiping out a diverse and fascinating peoples.

Julie's keen insight and humor give her a peerless view of the area's history and the near-extinction which happened twice - when the Spanish friars arrived in the 1770s and again when the American flag first flew over California in 1846. We talk a lot about Benjamin Hadley's book, "American Genocide" about the nearly successful effort to wipe out California thriving native people between 1846 and 1873 (the Modoc War). We also talk about Ojai and how it's changed over the years, and how she and others are striving to find a balance through a more integrated approach to the environment and respect of Ojai's first residents. Julie also tells us about her husband Bruce, who runs the county's Economic Development Collaborative and it's shepherding of the county's pandemic-stricken businesses.

We did not talk about Chief Cornplanter's legacy, the first or third Punic Wars or the Dutch tulip craze of the early 1600s.

May 20, 202301:08:05
Living in Balance with Ashwin Manthripragada & Alexx Pryjma

Living in Balance with Ashwin Manthripragada & Alexx Pryjma

Quail Springs farm is a 450-acre permaculture project in the Lockwood Valley north of Ojai, where they farm, herd, build and teach in as sustainable manner as possible. Ashwin and Alexx, the co-directors, join the podcast to talk about sustainability, the growth of their on-line courses, and the successes of their buildings in withstanding severe heat and receiving top certifications.

The ranch was a bleak and barren over-grazed rangeland when it was founded in 2004 and now the namesake springs flow again and the gardens produce abundant food without irrigation. The techniques developed for building and farming have been taught to thousands of people and Quail Springs has partnered with Patagonia and other businesses and nonprofit organizations.

We talked about WWOOFs (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), cob buildings standing strong against raging infernos, the camaraderie of communal life, the resonance of Quail Springs in the tech-stressed digital age and much more. We also talked about Ashwin and Alexx's journey to Quail Springs, German high literature, film recommendations and important books. We did not talk about Spey casting for Atlantic salmon, life cycle of locusts or gang tattoos.

Learn more about Ojai's northern neighbor at

May 12, 202301:21:40
When Ojai and Wildlife Meet with Beth Pratt

When Ojai and Wildlife Meet with Beth Pratt

Beth Pratt, head of the National Wildlife Federation for California, attracted national attention recently when the beloved mountain lion, P-22, died in Los Angeles and she arranged for an inspiring funeral ceremony. P-22 became a media sensation when he crossed the 101 and 405 freeways more than 10 years ago to carve out a territory for himself in Griffith Park. She came to Ojai recently to give a lecture about co-existing with wildlife, after several mountain lions encounters and a lion being euthanized, and her friendship with Ojai resident Molly Jordan Koch.

Her conservation work has been featured by the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC World Service, CBS This Morning, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and NPR. She is the author of the novel The Idea of Forever and the official Junior Ranger Handbook for Yosemite, and her new book, When Mountain Lions are Neighbors: People and Wildlife Working It Out In California, was published by Heyday Books in 2016. She has given a TEDx talk about coexisting with wildlife called, “How a Lonely Cougar in Los Angeles Inspired the World,” and is featured in the new documentary, “The Cat that Changed America.”

We talked about her experiences growing up in Massachusetts that set her on present path, wildlife reintroductions in the West, the wandering wolf who made it from Oregon down the coast to Ventura County, and her major project of having a wildlife corridor built over US 101 in Liberty Canyon. We did not talk about barramundi recipes, ancient mariners or comedic stylings of Abbot & Costello.

You can learn more about Beth Pratt and her important work at her website,, or through the National Wildlife Federation,

May 05, 202301:00:14
Ingrid Boulting's Journey to Ojai

Ingrid Boulting's Journey to Ojai

Ingrid Boulting was raised primarily by her grandparents in South Africa as her parents went to pursue careers in England and France. Her mother was a model and actress, and her father was a writer and director. She herself moved to London when she was 7, and she herself went to "a show-biz school" before being selected for the Royal Ballet School. It was a rough adjustment, as Afrikaans was her first language. She landed her first of many magazine covers ("Queen Magazine") when she was 12 years and the rest is history.

Through it all, her first love was and remains painting. She has (had) an exhibit at the Ojai Art Center through the end of April, and has focused mostly on still life. Another lifelong love has been yoga, she is the owner of Sacred Space studio, where she integrates her spirituality and love of nature into her practice.

Ingrid was a favorite muse of French photographer Sarah Moon and was known for her delicate features and ethereal air. Ford Models founder Eileen Ford herself recruited Ingrid, though she resisted modeling as a full-time career, giving priority to acting on the stage and screen, as well as painting. She flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, co-starring with Robert DeNiro in Elia Kazan-directed "The Last Tycoon," and was the "Biba Girl" with the English cosmetics company.

She has family all over the world, but has lived in Ojai since the mid-1980s, introduced by Guy and Leone Webster. "It either won't let you leave, or it kicks you out," she said. Ingrid's various moves between theater, film and modeling continued, but Ojai has always been home base. Among her many careers, Ingrid also learned from White Lotus owner Frank White, the renowned yoga teacher, who started when he was 68 and trained several generations of teachers. He mentored Ingrid into teaching yoga, which she continues at Sacred Space Studio. We also talked about our shared love of Ojai, its distinct aroma, its resemblance to the south of France, her pets, the perils of poor city planning and the constant threats Ojai faces.

We did not talk about IRS forms, baseball's new rules or allergy season.

You can check out more about Ingrid and her art at her website, Her yoga class schedule is posted at (the only studio in Ojai with Earth Mats.)

Apr 28, 202301:08:37
Kimberly Cluff, Indian Child Welfare & The Supreme Court

Kimberly Cluff, Indian Child Welfare & The Supreme Court

Kimberly Cluff, as the legal director of the California Tribal Families Coalition, sat in as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Brackeen v. Haaland case last November. The case is about an adoption and directly threatens the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which sought to put an end to centuries of Native American children being taken from their families and put up for adoption by white families.

More than that, Brackeen proponents are trying to undermine hard-earned sovereignty by tribes, arguing that their status is unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." If successful, the dismantling of ICWA would also threaten the tribes' ability to protect their land and resources from outside forces. The case is expected to be decided any day now.

Before ICWA it was common practice to remove native children from their parents, in fact, as many as 25-30 percent were put up for adoption. As Cluff discusses, it was merely one part of centuries-long abuses against America's first residents. In California, some of the needs are even more grave, with poverty and health issues outpacing any other group.

Cluff is the daughter of Ojai icons Don and Sheila Cluff, attended Cal Berkeley and Hastings Law before becoming involved with native American issues. We also talked about the Vatican on March 30th renouncing its "Doctrine of Discovery" by which it sought to "Christianize the world," which has been in effect since 1455 and was used in legal arguments in the U.S. as recently as 2005. We also talked about growing up in Ojai and being eager to escape, then having your own children and being just as eager to return. We did not talk about ChatGPT4, Louis C.K. standup routines or the Romans' Lost Legion.

Apr 20, 202301:10:41
Ojai Philanthropy with Catherine Meek & Polly Nelson

Ojai Philanthropy with Catherine Meek & Polly Nelson

The Ojai Women's Fund was started seven years ago by Karen Evenden, Peggy Russell and Kyle Crowner with $50,000 to donate and a big vision for reshaping and democratizing philanthropy in Ojai. It is patterned after a fund Karen was familiar with in Seattle. The idea is that it is affordable to anyone with a desire to make Ojai a better place to live. So far, they've disbursed more than $600,000.

With now more than 4,000 members, it has become an inspiring success, having granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to many dozens of worthy nonprofit groups in Ojai. It has spawned many affiliated groups of givers, such as the Real Housewives of Ojai, The Valley Girls and Women of a Certain Page. Polly Nelson and Catherine Meek join the podcast to talk about the fund and its goals. They are requesting proposals from local groups at this time. Those proposals are brought before the members for a vote on which to fund. As chairs of the grants committee, it will be Catherine and Polly's job to work with the grantors and put those plans into action.

Polly moved to Ojai five years ago full-time after commuting back and forth from the Los Angeles area to care for an ailing parent, and she sees the Women's Fund as a way to put her years of experience as a retail executive and trainer to work. Catherine Meek was herself a recipient of a grant for her "School on Wheels" which brings mobile classroom education to the streets for homeless and sex-trafficked women in Ventura County.

We talked about Ojai's shifting charitable needs, education, homelessness, affordable housing, growth, urban sprawl and how a little bit of involvement at the right time can pay huge dividends. We did not talk about Atlantic salmon fishing in the Kola Peninsula, new rule changes in baseball or the cloning of polo horses.

Check out the Ojai Women's Fund at or email for more information or to apply for a grant.

Apr 14, 202345:49
Tennis Everyone With Brian Teacher & Steve Pratt

Tennis Everyone With Brian Teacher & Steve Pratt

The country's oldest amateur tennis tournament, The Ojai Tennis Tournament, affectionately known as "The Ojai" returns April 26-30 with 1,400 players and 500 volunteers. Steve Pratt and Brian Teacher join us to talk about the tournament's astonishing history and importance to the world of tennis. Teacher, multiple Ojai champion, winner of the Pac-8 single and doubles title in 1974 and a member of the UCLA squad that won the NCAA title in 1974 and 1975, was recently entered on the Wall of Fame in Libbey Park. Pratt, communications director of the tournament, was on hand to talk about Teacher's incredible career as well as The Ojai's return to full vigor after three years of pandemic-related interruptions and curtailments. There was also pickleball talk.

Teacher, once ranked no. 7 in the world, went pro after UCLA and won the Australian Open in 1980. Along the way, he beat legends like fellow UCLA Bruins Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors. He now runs his eponymous Tennis Academy in South Pasadena. He has also developed an application called Full Court Teaching App that keeps comprehensive records of a player's games and form and allows coaches from all over the world to analyze and advise. It also makes it easier to hire coaches and get real-time help from anywhere with an internet connection.

We talked about the changes in the game since Teacher's pro days, the physical demands of the sport and of all high-level athletics, the rigors of the road and where tennis goes next. The behind-the-scenes glimpses into the massive logistical challenge of The Ojai was also discussed. We did not talk about Robert Peary's North Pole expedition, why hot water freezes faster than cold, or the development of the Wankel engine.

Apr 06, 202359:26
Richard Hajas on Water, Fire & the Future

Richard Hajas on Water, Fire & the Future

Richard Hajas, chairman of the Casitas Municipal Water District, and a lifelong water industry veteran, has been through many drought-flood cycles in his life. Born in Ventura, he's lived in Ojai for 40 years, and is a former operations manager of two major water districts: Casitas Municipal Water District and Camrosa Water District in eastern Camarillo. He's built important projects, including the innovative Camrosa Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Conejo Creek Project, the largest water recycling project in the county. He's managed every aspect of watershed planning for both residential, prime farm land and rare wetlands.
In 2007 he helped organize Ojai Flow, which brought to the ballot an initiative to wrest the sale of publicly traded Golden State Mutual Water Company to Casitas, a public entity answerable to voters. He's earned a B.A. and Master's in public administration from CSU-Northridge.
He joins the podcast with good news and not-so-good news for listeners; the well-above average rains may bring Lake Casitas storage to nearly 75 percent capacity from below 30 percent after five long years of drought. Casitas has enough supply for many years with proper management and the looming threat of moving to onerous Stage IV drought restrictions was avoided. Richard leads a lively session with the history of water projects in America, the future of the state, and the trends and changes in Ojai's water use from farming to residential, and what that might mean for wildland fires and the next drought.
We also talk about climate change, steelhead trout and eventually hooking up Ojai's closed system to the state water projects through either Santa Barbara or Ventura. We did not talk about Bill Mazeroski's heroic deeds for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 World Series, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland or Khazak eagle hunters.
Mar 31, 202301:17:28
Bernie Larsen on Music, Arts & Ojai

Bernie Larsen on Music, Arts & Ojai

Bernie Larsen, owner, producer and engineer and session musician for Spinout Records and the impresario behind the Underground Exchange, joins the podcast to catch up on what he's been up to since the pandemic hit Ojai like Keith Moon on a drum kit. Larsen's shift to a virtual space for performers created a community around the weekly webcasts with audiences thirsty for live music. He's fully open at his new location at 616 Pearl Street where the venue has become integral to Ojai's music scene, hosting some of the best musicians in the region.

We talked about his life in music, beginning at age 10 under the influence of his music-loving mother and forming his first band, playing surf music, and through to his years touring and in the studio with Melissa Etheridge and David Lindley, the slide-guitar virtuoso. And how he came under Ojai's spell during a brief visit years, sitting in Libbey Park and absorbing the sights and sounds. We also talked about the Ojai Sessions, his project to bring together and produce a record with the many talented local musicians and singer-songwriters.

Bernie talked about the challenges and benefits of a life in the arts, and how he's always focused on bringing artists together to express themselves with authenticity and loving support. For example, he cobbled together an arts community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a performing space and an annual festival. While the pay ain't always great, the joys and rewards compensate. We did not talk about John McPhee's book on shad migrations, John Dee's alchemical experiments or raccoon dogs.

Check out The Underground Exchange for information on coming shows and events.

Mar 24, 202301:10:38
Ara Guzelimian on the Ojai Music Festival, Rhiannon Giddens and More

Ara Guzelimian on the Ojai Music Festival, Rhiannon Giddens and More

The Ojai Music Festival's Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian was well situated to lead the festival through the tumult of the past three years. He's certainly looking forward to the June 8-11 festival this year and a return to something more closely resembling normal and worrying more about the music and less about the logistics of managing this premier festival of modern contemporary music through a global pandemic.

He will be helped this year by returning guest Rhiannon Giddens (ep. 70), as Music Director. Giddens, a generational talent whose broad interests are well-suited to Ojai's spirit of musical adventure and exploration, was so charmed by Ojai in 2020 (the festival was held in September that covid-19 year) that she was eager to return. Ara didn't have to ask her twice to partner with him on programming. Among the audience offerings this year will be a chamber and voice ensemble performing Giddens' "Omar's Journey," from her opera about the Islamic scholar who was sold into bondage in the 19th century and continued his scholarly pursuits despite the horrors of slavery.

Of course, there will also be the wide range of pieces performed which characterize the festival, from Bach to John Adams to ancient Chinese music to folk ballads to rapper DJ Flying Lotus.

Guzelimian was formerly the artistic director in the 1990s, and recently retired as Dean of The Julliard School, perhaps the most prestigious music school in the country. He has conducted the popular "chalk talks" before the performances for decades. We talked about his journey to Ojai, his brilliant career and Ojai's mystical nature. We also talked about John Luther Adams, Harry Partsch and why Ojai remains so important to global culture. We did not talk about FDR's campaign against Alf Landon, Neopolitan pizza culture or sportfishing for Nile perch on Lake Tanganyika.

Check out this year's schedule at ...

Mar 17, 202359:04
Laurel Braitman's "What Looks Like Bravery"

Laurel Braitman's "What Looks Like Bravery"

Laurel Braitman grew up in nearby Santa Paula and attended Thacher School before embarking on a circuitous and peripatetic career that led her to the faculty at Stanford School of Medicine where she is the Director of Writing and Storytelling. She just published her memoir, "What Looks Like Bravery," about her family and journey through grief, loss, growth and love. She previously wrote the New York Times best-seller "Animal Madness."

Braitman's father, a prominent cardiac surgeon in Ventura County, was diagnosed with cancer when Laurel was three, and he endured brutal treatments one after another with the purpose of teaching her and her brother everything they needed to know about life. When he died, Braitman blamed herself for not being able to heal him herself, and lived in denial for years, leading to one misadventure after another, especially in the partner department. 

"Bravery" takes us along on her road to redemption, with stops along the Umpqua River in Oregon, the Aleutian Islands, Lake Como in Italy, the high desert of New Mexico and the Bay Area. With lots of familiar Ojai references. She faced one tragic loss after another, trying to find meaning amid the devastation. 

The book will inevitably be compared to Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" and Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," but it holds a more poignant and hopeful tone and ends with a twist that sums up the hard-earned wisdom found along the way.

We talked about Ojai in the good old days, steelhead fishing, growing up country and how death haunts us all. We did not talk about Jimmy Piersall's battle with depression, the collected sketches of Monty Python's Flying Circus or Darwin's finch collection at the British Museum & Library.

Look for her book tour - she will be giving a reading on Saturday, March 18th at the Deer Lodge from 3 to 6 p.m.

Mar 03, 202301:03:35
The Politics of Water with Assemblymember Bennett

The Politics of Water with Assemblymember Bennett

As the Assemblymember from the newly redrawn 38th State Assembly District, Steve Bennett works hard on local issues in Sacramento — including preserving farms and open lands, water issues, campaign finance reform, managing the economic shifts to a greener economy.

He knows the district from the inside out, having served five terms as Ventura County Supervisor, and before that on the Ventura City Council. He began his career as an activist in the 1980s and 1990s, organizing grassroots efforts to preserve open space and for environmental causes, including the Save Our Agricultural Resources, which has protected the county's farmland against encroachment from neighboring Los Angeles County. At first, he would help recruit candidates to represent his group's positions, then realized it would be more efficient to do it himself. And so began his political career.

Born in Indiana, Bennett graduated from Brown University, then became a high school history teacher, including at Nordhoff High School here in Ojai. He's been serving in Sacramento since 2020, on the Budget, Elections, and Water, Parks & Wildlife, in addition to subcommittee work on climate crisis, fisheries and aquaculture.

We talked about pressing issues in governance, declining trust in institutions, political heros, what it takes to wrangle votes, a day in the life of a state assemblymember, the future of California and the nation, and much else. We did not talk about RuPaul's Drag Race, Canadian monster lore or the War of the Triple Alliance in South America.

Feb 18, 202353:38
Behind the Stage With Stu Crowner

Behind the Stage With Stu Crowner

Stu Crowner's fascination with show business began with seeing a wooden rendering of a cameraman sitting backstage during the opening credits of Kraft Mystery Theater. He's since worked with all major commercial networks, PBS and cable channels. He's still at it, producing four shows this coming season for Ojai Performing Arts Theater. 

His career has given him the chance to work closely with icons of show business like Mike Douglas and Audrey Hepburn, for which he won an Emmy for "Gardens of the World." Among the shows he's produced are "The People's Choice Awards," "Entertainment Tonight," "Jenny Jones," "The Mike Douglas Shows" as well as Larry King specials.

When he retired to Ojai 18 years ago, he was shanghaied back into the work by local impresaria Joan Kemper for OPAT, including "Yes, Virginia," "I Do! I Do!" and "Black Comedy" as well as Shakespeare for the Michael Addison-staged (episode 6 of OTTT) "Twelfth Night" and "MacBeth." Among many more.

Crowner has worked around the world, including Ukraine in 2017, helping them produce talk shows.

We talked about Ojai's arts scene (his wife Kyle and daughter are artists), history, nostalgia cycles, the Golden Age of Television among other topics. We did not talk about Edward Norton's acting choices, Asian birds of prey or Nigerian jollof recipes.

OPAT's Season: 

"Lordy Mercy” a hilarious onstage autobiography by Richard Camp.

“The Fantastiks”, the classic intimate musical which ran for 42 years in New York - for 7,162 performances.

A very relevant “The Minutes," Tracy Letts’ dramedy about a small town’s city council.

Feb 10, 202301:07:11
The Forest Service Life with Al West

The Forest Service Life with Al West

Al West retired as the Deputy Director of the U.S. Forest Service, the second highest post in this vital government agency, overseeing millions of acres and billions of dollars in Washington, D.C. He retired to Ojai, where his career had taken him earlier as District Ranger of the Los Padres National Forest and then Los Padres Forest Supervisor.

His peripatetic career in forestry began humbly enough as a laboratory scientist before he was posted to Donner Summit, in a year when more than 900 inches of snow fell. His study of watershed and wildfire behavior still informs state and federal agencies to this day. His expertise and insight has taken him all over the world, managing wildfire and drought crisis, including catastrophic fires in Yellowstone and Australia.

Al and his wife Joyce are better known locally for their decades of active, caring and conscientious community service. Both have been named Living Treasures of Ojai. He was born in London, grew up in York, moved to Toronto, where he met Joyce at a square dance with the memorable pickup line, delivered in his York accent: "I guess you're stook with me."

We talked about snowfall, fire patterns, coaching soccer, the Rotary Club and many of the things that make Ojai special. We did not talk about the Roman's Lost Legion, Nate Bargatze's new standup special or barramundi fishing on the Murray River.

Feb 01, 202301:28:52
Jimmy Breslin's Big Apple with Kevin Breslin

Jimmy Breslin's Big Apple with Kevin Breslin

It's a long ways from the Big Apple to the Little Orange, but the issues and the personalities that shape them are remarkably similar. One key advantage New York had that Ojai didn't was an epic chronicler and columnist with the street smarts and monumental charisma of Jimmy Breslin. He was the perfect fit for his beat — with its charlatans, wiseguys, politicians and police — and the connections that brought them all together to create the vivid world of New York City from the early 1960s onward.
Breslin's son Kevin joins the podcast to talk about his singular father, his connections to Ojai and his own brilliant career.
The winner of every distinction and honor the world of journalism has to offer, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1986, Breslin got his start as a humble beat reporter for the New York Herald who was thrust into the melee surrounding the assassination of JFK. Without having the sources, campaign and government insiders or connections, Breslin found a way into the story that made his mark: Interviewing Clifton Pollard, an unassuming man with the painful task of burying the president. Breslin's gravedigger story announced the arrival of a singular talent who, as much or more than anyone else, created New York City's image as a blue-collar, take-no-bullshit town with a cast of colorful characters including the famous and infamous, the charming rogues and hard-working Everymen for whom he wrote his three-times-a-week column for decades.
Breslin has himself made news, as when Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz wrote him letters about his coverage, and when he was savagely beaten by organized crime figures at a restaurant owned by Henry Hill of "Wiseguys" fame.
Breslin was also a celebrity — besides his column (which included plenty of investigative and breaking news reporting — he also wrote popular novels, was a regular on the talk-show circuit, had his own talk show, ran for public office and starred in TV commercials. Along with his compatriot and competitor Pete Hamill, his beat was the sprawling, noisy and good-hearted metropolis.
Kevin Breslin has had his own brilliant career as an actor and filmmaker. His documentary "Living for 32" about the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings was shortlisted for an Academy Award, and he has also written feature films, including "Blowtorch."
We did not talk about Scottish folk dirges, the invention of cellophane or lunar tides.
Jan 19, 202301:51:56
A Life of Travel With Jerry Dunn

A Life of Travel With Jerry Dunn

Jerry Dunn has a dream job - maybe THE dream job - traveling and writing about it. He worked with the National Geographic Society for 35 years and has written hundreds of articles for magazines and newspapers, large and small, from the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune to our own Ojai Quarterly. Jerry is also the author of eleven books, including "Tricks of the Trade,” “My Favorite Place on Earth,” and travel guidebooks for Nat Geo and the Smithsonian.

He joins the podcast to talk about his peripatetic career as a journalist and author — living in India, where he acted as an extra in Bollywood movies, interviewing Muhammad Ali, Jane Goodall, George Lucas, Brian Wilson, and many other accomplished people. (He also learned the secrets of a carnival age-and-weight guesser and how to train champion jumping frogs.)

Jerry grew up in Los Angeles, then attended Stanford and a year of law school before deciding that following his father into a legal career was not the best bet. He bought a round-the-globe airline ticket and set forth on a year-long trip to experience the world and share those experiences with readers. He's also an accomplished magician and mentalist and has lived in Ojai since 1987.

We talked about the craft and art of writing, the importance of making genuine contact with other cultures, and about his incredible family — wife Merry, and sons Locke and Graham. We did not talk about the Seven Years' War, the electoral college or coral bleaching.

Jan 11, 202301:07:07
Mesa Farm's Dan Parziale on Housing & Homelessness

Mesa Farm's Dan Parziale on Housing & Homelessness

Dan Parziale and co-founder Kyle Thompson came together early in the pandemic around the idea that young adults aging out of the foster care system are basically thrown out on their own with few resources or information. No wonder so many end up homeless, perpetuating the cycles of poverty and trauma.

Dan, a veteran nonprofit leader, and Kyle, a veteran entrepreneur (co-founder Topa Topa Brewing Co.) bring their special skills and talents to this transitional housing enterprise. They purchased a 10-acre regenerative farm on the East End, brought in tiny homes, and are ready for their first clients. The idea is to take a holistic approach to the differing needs of each of the youth they host, help them build strong relationships with each and within the community, and to use the hard work of regenerative farming as therapy, binding them closer with nature and teaching them useful life skills.

The youth come from referrals from social service agencies around Ventura County, and is open to those in need between the ages of 18 and 24. Each client will have their own room, and an individualized plan that includes work training, wellness, therapy and education.

The needs are stark. Between 2020 and 2022 homelessness in Ventura County rose more than 25 percent, many of those kids from the foster care system who are ill prepared for the outside world. We also talked about social service agencies, Dan's experiences growing up in Ojai, his education and raising his own children. We did not talk about the pitchers using spitballs, lost technologies in shipbuilding or the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

For more information check out

Dec 29, 202201:03:34
Artificial Intelligence and Meditating with Nicholas Gray

Artificial Intelligence and Meditating with Nicholas Gray

Nicholas Gray joins the podcast to talk about the Ojai-based startup he's been building the past two years with Vu Dang, that uses their own AI-aided app, FlowAI, to help people maintain the perfect flow state in their meditation. FlowAI uses the cameras on your phone or desktop to watch you as you meditate, monitoring vital signs such as breathing rate, heart rate, facial muscles and more to give you your SaneScore that you can track over months and years to improve the quality of your meditation.

Users can also earn tokens through time and meditation quality, which can be redeemed on the platform for extra classes and merchandise. Sanehood's AI is also free, and hopes to remain so. They hope to earn money through donations, grants, upgraded services and products.

The project began when Vu Dang, who knew Gray from the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, asked for his help developing the app. Vu Dang is a software engineer who received his master's degree just three years out of high school, and has extensive experience with data analytics. Vu Dang has been meditating since age 9 and also leads vipanassa meditations. Gray works for a defense contractor as an electrical engineer, and is also a committed meditator.

The two began working after hours to develop the app, and are just about ready to launch. Their ambitious goal is to sign up one billion people for this meditation tool, and their urgency is driven by the amount of depression and mental health issues that exploded during and after the pandemic. They also expect people to build supportive communities about meditation through the app.

Gray talked about how uncannily accurate the AI has been against baseline scores and control groups, and how it is constantly learning and improving as it learns more about the user, and more about the entire community of users.

We did not talk about Uighur detention camps, ancient Arabian irrigation technologies or howler monkeys.

Dec 24, 202258:31
Pandemic Frontlines with Hospital's Haady Lashkari

Pandemic Frontlines with Hospital's Haady Lashkari

Few if any Ojai residents were thrust further into maelstrom of the Covid-19 breakout than Haady Lashkari, Ojai Valley Community Hospital's chief administrator. Lashkari is responsible for the hospital's 300 employees and, by proxy, for the health care for the entire Ojai Valley. Those earliest days in the late winter and early spring of 2020 were met with a determined response: Assessing capacity, briefing key staff repeatedly, supply chain issues, mobilizing ventilators, sending covid cases to Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, the lack of available testing, finding masks, and the stresses of being a front-line responder to this once-in-a-century epidemic. To name a few.
Daily updates meant that some information would change from morning to night. "You make the best decisions you can with the best information you have in that moment. As you get more information, you adjust," he said. CMH was handling as many as 100 cases a day during the pandemic, allowing Ojai's local hospital to handle its critical care patients and maintain some semblance of normality for the crew. There were changes, for example "proning." It would take six or seven people to "prone" a patient - as medical professionals learned that patients got better oxygen saturation lying on their stomachs.
As if that wasn't enough, Lashkari was heading up the hospital's major expansion, making the move into the new facility in June 2020 into the new critical care facility — bringing the total to 100 beds in Ojai, including 25 in the acute care facility. All that while staff, exposed to the virus, were getting sick in waves.
A key part of his job was maintaining staff morale through the dreadful and endless days. "I serve patients by serving my staff," he said.
We also talked about Lashkari's experiences working in his family's restaurant, finding his career through a chance encounter with a hospital administrator who recognized his abundant capacity and professionalism. So Haady gave up his plans for commercial real estate and began his journey into the health care system. We also talked about his young family, his lovely wife, two sons and daughter, their love of Ojai and the challenges of homeschooling. We did not talk about wabi sabi, mirror neurons or Deadwood.
Dec 17, 202201:14:27
Magic Hour with Zhena Muzyka

Magic Hour with Zhena Muzyka

Zhena Muzyka is an acclaimed author "Life by the Cup," a social entrepreneur, teacher, executive coach, public speaker, and former publisher of Enliven Books, a new Mind-Body-Spirit imprint from Atria/Simon and Schuster. Most recently, she is the creator & chief formulator of Magic Hour Tea & Transformation (, based here in Ojai. Magic Hour was founded in Ojai, where, Zhena describes, "the sunset and sunrise create an electric pink Magic Hour, where the light illuminates the landscape and reminds us that through nature everything is possible." Zhena began hosting tea events on the back porch at Nutmeg's Ojai House more than 25 years ago. She founded Zhena's Gypsy Teas, which she sold after it became a national sensation. Her latest venture brings all of her expertise together as an entrepreneur, author, speaker and transformational leader.  When she started her business, she was a single mother with $6 to her name and grew it into a multimillion-dollar company revolving around the idea of "fair trade," sourcing her teas from small, committed tea growers in Sri Lanka. Life by the Cup chronicled her experiences and is in development for a TV series by Mark Wahlberg’s production company, creators of HBO shows Boardwalk Empire, Entourage, Ballers, and In Treatment.  Besides the fascinating role of tea in purposeful living, we talk about living in Ojai, the changes we've seen in our decades here, the challenges of self-employment, her innovative and healthful herbal tea blends, and how life gets better when we slow down and share our time with our friends and family. We did not talk about the second Opium War, Australian rabbit-proof fences or the electoral college. You can learn more at ...
Dec 02, 202201:13:18
Talking Ukraine with Keith Nightingale, Analyst and Author

Talking Ukraine with Keith Nightingale, Analyst and Author

Colonel (Ret.) Keith Nightingale has been helping ferry supplies to Ukraine through Poland, including boxes of Ojai citrus, which is much welcomed on the front lines in the eastern portion of the country. Nightingale brings us through the current state of the conflict, the fierce resistance being mounted by Ukraine, the structural advantages with their armed forces that help neutralize Russia's massive numerical advantage and possibly outcomes for this conflict.

Nightingale said that Ukraine was able to tilt the playing field thanks to NATO's support with long-range artillery, including the HIMARS, with which the Ukraine can target, with great precision, Russia's supply depots, leaving them unable to field an effective force. He described the Ukrainians as fighting with three components; the front-line, battle hardened troops which are devastating Russia, the "couch potato brigade" which is operating drones with deadly effect, as well as hacking Russian systems, and the third component - the volunteers, who at the war's outbreak, would head down to the police station to pick up an AK-47. Thanks to their local knowledge and support, they have been proven to be decisive in urban combat.

We discuss Putin's dwindling options, China's next moves, the top-down command structure and lack of non-commissioned officers that slow down battlefield decisions and leave Russian forces vulnerable to a fleet, flexible fighting force. 

Nightingale grew up in Ojai during a different age, and we also spend time talking about the changes, good and bad, and his journey into a career in the military during the early days of Vietnam. We also talk about bears and their cunning when it comes to garbage cans, Anselmo "Chummo" Quijada, Ojai's one-man gang task force who kept many local boys on the straight and narrow, and much else. We did not talk about ash baseball bats, Viktor Frankl or hang gliding.

Nov 25, 202201:36:29
The FuryUs Project with Susan Kelejian & Jolene Rae Harrington

The FuryUs Project with Susan Kelejian & Jolene Rae Harrington

The Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization ended 50 years of the Roe v. Wade era, in which abortion was settled law. In doing so, the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of outrage, anger and despair, and blunted what the expected "red wave" in the midterm elections. Susan Kelejian, director of the Ojai Valley Artists Theater Ensemble (OVATE), went to her board with a plan to create an applied theater project, which took as its inspiration Greek mythology, particularly Aeschylus' "Orestes" and its themes of matricide of Clytemnestra, and his  judgment for his crime by the Furies. 

The project, which fits into the experiential or devised theater model, will involve several dozen women in a multi-media production, focusing around themes of misogyny and betrayal. While the schedule has not yet been set, Kelejian and Harrington expect to begin public performances in March. The cast of several dozen, predominately female, many between ages 18 and 25. 

The two have been working together for years and were astounded by how much they had in common in their "parallel lives." They have a goal of exporting the FuryUs model to other local theaters to build their own adaptations. 

We also talked about Antonin Artaud and the Living Theater, the history of oppression, how Kelejian's day job as a therapist, and Harrington's interest in ancient Greece, fits into the project, audience attention spans, global warming, and healing through the arts.

For more information, check out the profile in the Winter issue of Ojai Quarterly.

The OVATE website is The original casting call read, "Are you angry, frustrated, tapped out, or numb about what’s going on in the world? Are you feeling like you want to scream, cry, rage, and wail against the thousands of years of gender-specific oppression and need an outlet that is creative and mindful Are you FURIOUS? We are ...

Nov 21, 202201:00:43
Storytellers Festival with Michael Katz & Kara Lakes

Storytellers Festival with Michael Katz & Kara Lakes

October 27-30 is the annual Ojai Storytellers Festival, one of the premier events on the storytelling circuit. This year they've added what Kara called "a mini-Shakespeare Festival" with Deb Newbold's acclaimed "King Lear, Retold," the music group Merry Wives of Windsor, the Sheriffs of Schroedingham and the return of Ojai's own Madrigali Singers. Sheila Arnold will be the master of ceremonies, and Kevin Kling, Izzy Tooinsky, Josh Goforth, Mara Menzies and Adam Booth.

Katz, who has been a storyteller for decades, talks about the ancient art and craft, the camaraderie on the circuit and how important stories are as the connective tissue of our culture. We also talked about the National Storytellers Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee which both Michael and Kara said was/is a life-changing event, the process of creating stories, the back-and-forth with the audience, different approaches to reaching the audience and the importance of connection.

We did not talk about the lattice theory of quarks, the bronzes of Benin or the great lost libraries of Alexandria and Constantinopole.

Oct 25, 202255:24
Wild Horse Rescue With Ojai's American Legend Mustang

Wild Horse Rescue With Ojai's American Legend Mustang

Shane and Aaron Harris, along with trainer Bruce Siben, operate the American Legend Mustang, a nonprofit group based at the 22-acre River Rock Ranch. The crew picks up mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management at their corral in Ridgecrest, bring them back to Ojai, and train them to the saddle. In the four years they've been operating, they've adopted out about two dozen horses.

The BLM rounds up the wild horses from their range in the West, typically Utah and Nevada's Great Basin, often at the behest of local ranchers who find their cattle competing for forage in the rough and wild country. Shane said "I went to pick up one horse and ended up with three," falling in love with the creatures. Aaron said the horses, despite the trauma of being herded into catchment corrals with helicopters, can be gentled into being petted in one day. With Bruce's natural horse training, horses can be ridden within one to two months months under ideal conditions. Many of the adopters keep their mustangs corralled at the ranch.

ALM has several internship and volunteer programs ready to resume after the two-year pandemic hiatus, and are making major renovations at the ranch for public events and new facilities. The nonprofit will be featured in the coming issue of Ojai Quarterly.

We also talk about the fascinating history of mustangs, many descended from escapees from conquistadors, and how quickly Native American tribes in the West adapted to a nomadic horse culture, becoming expert riders within just a few generations. The ALM's plans for expanded programs and adoptions also came in for discussion. Shane Harris' prior career as a CHP officer and hairdresser, Aaron's web savvy and Bruce's horse trainer role models were part of the wide-ranging discussion as well.

We did not talk about Comanche chief Quanah Parker, Viking burial sites or Irish stew recipes.

Oct 13, 202201:05:42
Rain Perry's new show, "This is Water: Where Do We Go From Here?"

Rain Perry's new show, "This is Water: Where Do We Go From Here?"

Ojai's own Rain Perry, singer-songwriter known for her lyrical prowess and crystal-clear voice, has been working on a one-woman show, which opens Thursday, October 13 and runs through October 22nd (Thursday, Friday and Saturday both weekends) at Kim Maxwell Studio,  226 West Ojai Avenue, #102. All shows are at 8 p.m.

The show is named after David Foster Wallace's viral commencement address, "This Is Water," which emphasizes the true purpose of education and empathy. Perry was wrestling with questions of race and identity during the pandemic and George Floyd protests and found it the perfect metaphor. The show includes eight songs from her 9-song album "A White Album" which was just released and available on Itunes and Spotify or through her website. It debuted on the Folk Music Chart at no. 11 and has received rave reviews, including Glide Magazine's "it distill(s) complicated issues fraught with politics and passion through a prism of compassion and understanding."

Bill Bentley of Americana Highways magazine wrote, "There are times on "A White Album" where the whole thing feels like it is making the world tilt in a new direction. These are songs which are perfectly capable of giving life a whole new meaning. People like Rain Perry don’t come around that often. They just don’t."

Perry said one message is for white people to acknowledge their privilege and to question each other, or, as she said, "Calling people in," rather than calling them out. She also used the folk expression, "Collect your cousins," for a reckoning on race and culture.

This play is being directed by Kim Maxwell, who also directed Rain's much-acclaimed 2008 show, "Cinderblock Bookshelves," with accompaniment from Austin, Texas-based Mark Hallman. Perry said that a grant from the Ojai Arts Commission helped produce the play as well.  It "was a sequel of sorts to 'Cinderblock Bookshelves'," she said. “I want to look back at my same childhood, but this time through the lens of race.”

Hallman, owner of the iconic Congress House studio, has produced music by Carole King, Tom Russell (who recorded one of Rain's songs) and Eliza Gylkison and Ani Di Franco. He was the subject of a well-received 2016 documentary film, "The Shopkeeper," that Perry wrote and directed about the post-Napster travails of the music business, through Hallman's and other musicians' struggles to stay afloat in the streaming era.

Perry talked about growing up in Ojai, her eccentric family, early mentors and raising her children, as well as sharing insights into the creative side of her life, the success of selling a song, "Beautiful Tree," that became the theme of a popular CW Network show, "Life Unexpected," and her song "Yosemite" has been recorded by Tom Russell and Nanci Griffith.

We did not talk about Lake Casitas storage capacity, how grasshoppers turn into locusts or how Auguste Escoffier's military service informed his "brigade de cuisine" system.

For more information:

Rain Perry's "White Album" which includes all nine songs on her show.

David Foster Wallace's 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College:

Oct 04, 202201:05:23
Franz Lidz on Ojai, Restaurants & Archaeology

Franz Lidz on Ojai, Restaurants & Archaeology

Franz Lidz is one of very few return guests on the Ojai podcast. If you check out his earlier appearance (Episode 24, Aug. 27th, 2020) you can see why we were eager to have him back.

His recent feature in the Los Angeles Times about Ojai's new restaurant scene was widely read and discussed, but that was only the tip of the spear for our wide-ranging discussion. Lidz' career has included decades at Sports Illustrated, and now he is a frequent contributor to Smithsonian Magazine, with insightful, witty and irreverent features that bring to life often dusty and overlooked fields like archaeology and science. He is also an author, his popular book "Unstrung Heroes" about his eccentric uncles was made into the 1991 film of the same name. Besides journalism, Lidz also spent time as an executive with the Detroit Pistons.

We talk about how his circuitous career led him to Ojai, what he thinks about the local restaurant scene and food culture in general, why journalism is more important than ever, and what a vibrant, inclusive Ojai would look like (rent control, anyone?).

We did not talk about Viking burial customs, the use of slippery elm powder in baseball or the great labor strikes of the 1930s.

Sep 30, 202201:11:30
Ojai Hardball with Jonathan Fraser Light

Ojai Hardball with Jonathan Fraser Light

Jonathan Fraser Light is a renowned trial attorney in Ventura County, who has spent decades writing the acclaimed 1,112 page "Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball," a compendium this incredible lens through which to view American history. For example, the Civil Right Era properly began when Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey offered a contract to a standout UCLA football running back and returning World War II veteran named Jackie Robinson.

Rising to popularity during the Civil War, Light makes an air-tight case that baseball has etched itself on to the national psyche like nothing else. He sorts through thousands of entries about baseball's iconic status through advertising, agents, illegal substances, alcohol, superstitions, youngest and oldest players and brief bios of players, team owners, inventors, odd coincidences and fascinating facts about the American past-time.

Ojai's baseball connections include prominent resident Fred Snodgrass, who after a distinguished career in baseball for the New York Giants and as a local bankers, was remembered most for a key dropped ball in the 1912 World Series. We also talked about Light's journey into the dark recesses of baseball arcana with his discovery of Lou Gehrig's will.

Gaylord Perry's home run, Tom Seaver's arrogance, Tony Gwynn's weight issues, Ted Williams' splendid splintering, Moneyball and the best and worst baseball movies of all time also come in for this rollicking conversation. Also, Pete Rose's wife saying, "I wish I was second base, I'd see my husband more." Light also makes the case that the Angels' Shohei Ohtani might be the greatest baseball player of all time.

We did not talk about the failed invasion of Canada during the War of 1812, the Chicago fire of 1877 or Ojai's Great Whipped Cream Shortage of 2022.

Sep 24, 202201:10:34
Studio Artists' New Crew with Christopher Noxon

Studio Artists' New Crew with Christopher Noxon

A long-time visitor, author and illustrator Christopher Noxon moved to Ojai full-time three years and got busy right away with volunteering and sharing his talents. He joined the Ojai Studio Artist as one of the 17 new artists this year. The Tour is free this year and takes place October 8-10. We discuss the great expansion of the tour from 50 to 67 artists, how the group has made a major resurgence in recent years and why it is so important to the community.

The author of four books and many feature articles for the New York Times, The New Yorker magazine and Los Angeles Times, he worked in journalism for many years, and was also "domestic first responder," raising his two sons, when his ex-wife's career as a writer, show creator and showrunner, "Weeds" and "Orange is the New Black," took off. As a long-form feature journalist he has broken important stories, such as being the first to report on Mel Gibson's ties to an ultraconservative Catholic sect. 

Noxon's book, "Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook," caused  controversy recently, having been banned by conservative school board members in Virginia Beach.

We talk about Ojai's changing cultural landscape since the pandemic and the surge of youthful energy, the importance of art to Ojai's identity, and much more. We also talk candidly and with great sincerity about loss, grief and finding your way forward. We did not talk about gesso recipes, the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows or David Milch's posthumous memoir.

For more check out Christopher's content-rich website, or the Ojai Studio Artists' at

You can also find him on Instagram @ noxonpics

Sep 16, 202201:12:02
The Expandards of Ojai with Isaac Koren & Mikael Jorgensen

The Expandards of Ojai with Isaac Koren & Mikael Jorgensen

Isaac Koren and Mikael Jorgensen met through the routines of being dads with young children at school. Knowing that they were each talented musicians, it made sense they'd collaborate and see what comes of it. Mikael approached Isaac with this idea; "What if we took jazz standards and slowed them down? Way down?" After some modifying and improvising, they formed The Expandards and have played several live shows to great appreciation from their audiences. 

Listeners who stay tuned to the end will find a special surprise. As they both say, they are "trying to find that place where they become transmitters for some bigger energy and this song  does it for us."

Koren, the singer, with his brother Thorald, formed The Kin in 2001 and have played before millions of people, opening for Coldplay and Pink. Mikael joined Wilco just after their massive success with "Yankee, Hotel Foxtrot" and has been their keyboardist ever since. The duo were featured by Abigail Napp in the Fall issue of Ojai Quarterly.

We talked about the importance of supportive and available venues to the artistic ecology of a community (shoutout to Bernie and Cassidy Larsen of Underground Exchange), the usefulness of occasional mistakes to enhance the experience of live music, of finding that creative zone where time stands still, of bringing in the audience to write a song on the spot and much, much more in this fascinating talk with two creative standouts. Isaac and Thorald also work with organizations and individuals "to help nurture and foster their own voice to the forefront of their lives." Check them out at

We also talked about why Wilco has been such a protean project, with the current record, "Cruel County" a throwback to their alt-country roots, with another album in the pipeline that leans psychedelic. The duo also shares their plans for an October 21st show in Ojai - check for details, and the joy that goes back and forth from the performers to an audience. We did not talk about Nazi Germany's use of amphetamines, the best rigs for ice fishing or the lost technologies of Japanese sword makers of the 2nd century B.C.

Sep 08, 202201:17:40
Maggie Seven Wellman: Falling Into the Silence

Maggie Seven Wellman: Falling Into the Silence

Maggie Wellman has been collecting short stories for several years now, and has just published her second collection, "Falling Into the Silence." The fictional stories are often told from the perspective a young girl just learning the shape of the world, an observer who says little and misses nothing. As actor Bruce Davison wrote, "These short stories are compelling little gems that sparkle like the pastiche of a master water colorist."

Wellman has lived in Ojai for three decades, growing up in Los Angeles as the seventh child (hence her middle name) of legendary director William A. Wellman (winner of the very first Oscar in 1927) and Dorothy Coonan, a former dancer, his fourth wife. She talks about her writing process, the insights she seeks to convey through the written word, enduring through the pandemic in Ojai,  her pet pig, dogs and children. She also talks about growing up in Hollywood as the youngest in a large, well-connected family, of her own turn in show business and leaving that world behind.

We did not talk about the Battle of Midway, Mexican jumping beans or ranked choice voting.

Sep 01, 202254:30
Ron Phillips & The Hands of Juan Peron

Ron Phillips & The Hands of Juan Peron

Ojai author Ron Phillips starts his new book with a macabre true incident; Argentinian dictator Juan Peron's gravesite was disinterred and his hands were severed and stolen by unknown burglars in 1987, 13 years after his death. Why? It remains a mystery.

Phillips joins the podcast to talk about "The Hands of Juan Peron" and the journey to getting his suspense-filled novel out into the world. It was during a visit to Buenos Aires that the idea was hatched, and it took decades to get it told. It is Phillip's second novel, his first, "Donnyboy," about German POWs in South Dakota, was released in 2011.

Phillips' distinguished pedigree includes winning every major advertising award, including Gold and Silver Lions at Cannes, having helmed international advertising agencies, N.W. Ayer and Campbell-Ewald for clients such as AT&T and United Airlines. He has also written for print media in Reader's Digest, TV Guide and the Detroit Free Press, and directing a feature film and several award-winning children's films. He is also involved in many local causes, including the Ojai Music Festival and Ojai Film Society.

He attributes his success in commercials to storytelling, and he applies that talent to this story, which posits a terrifying, yet plausible, story about an investigative reporter with a dark legacy and a tenacious thirst for the truth that takes him into page-turning drama and astonishing twists and turns.

We also talk about growing up in small towns, fathers and sons, travel and men's fashion. We did not talk about Baz Luhrman's "Elvis," the Hulu series, "The Bear," or the Chinese treasure fleet.

Aug 25, 202201:16:31
'Yesterday' and Tomorrow With the Ojai Film Society

'Yesterday' and Tomorrow With the Ojai Film Society

The Ojai Film Society is back! The nonprofit group was once an integral landmark in Ojai's cultural landscape, with their Sunday screenings packing the Ojai Playhouse Theater with 200+ filmgoers, seeking that communal experience through the flickering celluloid. In June 2014 that all changed when a water main burst in front of the theater and it has been closed ever since. (Here's hoping for an opening early next year).

Some new blood with new energy has come onboard (we what we did there) and has been hosting free outdoor screenings at Libbey Bowl. The first film was "Dirty Dancing." On August 12th it was Questlove's Oscar-winning documentary "Summer of Soul." Then on  Friday, August 26th, it will be Danny Boyle's sweet yet provocative "Yesterday." Imagine if the Beatles had never existed, except in your memories. For a struggling singer-songwriter, Himesh Patel's Jack Malik, the sudden switch into an alternative reality brings with it fame and dread. This film, expertly directed, is a tribute to the incandescent glory of the Beatles, and how important they have been to our shared experience. 

The new OFS executive director Kathleen Schafer and board member and documentarian Nick Weissman (a returning guest, Ep 97) joins the podcast to talk about their Summer Series (next up: "ET" on Sept. 9th), the communal experience of films, future plans for the organization and Ojai getting back to a better than normal.

We talked about favorite films, running nonprofits in Ojai, the changing demographics of Ojai and how important it is to show up. We did not talk about the Lumîere brothers, Greek hoplite strategies or the origins of Szechuan cuisine.

Check out for the latest event information. And please check out Joni Mitchell's recent version of "Both Sides" with Brandi Carlile on youtube.

Aug 19, 202201:09:45
Watergate Attorney's Take on Jan. 6 Hearings

Watergate Attorney's Take on Jan. 6 Hearings

Ojai resident Douglas Parker, a writer and attorney, was deep in the thick of it when Watergate reached its apogee in 1972-1973 as Nixon's White House counsel, working for the formidable Leonard Garment. Parker, Garment and Nixon all worked for the same Wall Street firm in the 1960s, and came onboard to helped Nixon navigate the subsequent scandal after members of Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President (the aptly named C.R.E.E.P.) broke into the headquarters of the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.

Parker draws many parallels, but just as many differences in this tumultuous time as the hearings recess until September. Trump's brazenness stands in contrast to Nixon's paranoid guile. But both men believed themselves above the law. Parker writes about these issues and many more at -- his blog about how Trump has caused him to lose faith with the Republican Party to which he was devoted for much of his life.

Parker's career has taken many twists and turns. Besides his brilliant career on Wall Street, he also wrote an authorized biography of legendary humorist Ogden Nash. We talk about his upbringing, his being one of a very select group of Chicago Cubs fans who attended World Series games in 1945 and 2016, and his representing the Toronto Blue Jays as they tried to secure their contract with a promising young third-baseman named Danny Ainge against the rapacious Boston Celtics.

We did not talk about za-zen, Australian rabbit-proof fences or the seminal Alan Flusser book, "Style & The Man."

Aug 13, 202201:08:37
How Danny McGaw Sings Those Songs

How Danny McGaw Sings Those Songs

In the eight years since Danny McGaw moved to Ojai, he's developed a devoted following, especially among fellow local musicians. Born in Manchester, he was only member of his working-class family to have musical ambitions. He also had athletic ambitions; he was a talented footballer selected for the professional track. But at age 18, he came to the proverbial crossroads after an injury, and made the fateful choice to pursue his singer-songwriter ambitions.
He's on road for the resumption of a pandemic-interrupted tour of Three Dog Night, hitmakers of such familiar songs as "Joy to the World," "Old-Fashioned Love Song" and "If I Ever Get to Spain," which brings him back to Ojai for a show at Libbey Bowl on August 19th. McGaw was selected for the prestigious slot through the admiration of Three Dog Night's founder Danny Hutton. His Ojai-based son Tim V. Hutton heard Danny playing his regular Sunday night slot at The Vine and asked to join Danny and his band, and so the connection was made. When Tim joined his father on tour, Danny was invited to open.
We talk about Danny's introduction to songwriting at age 10, and his prolific process and discipline, which begins at 5 a.m. and has led to him writing thousands of songs. His latest album, "Set Me Free," dropped earlier this year. His work is available on his website, Danny also talks about his years perfecting his craft as a busker in Los Angeles, as a regular performer in Kansas City and making the most of the opportunities to get up in front of an audience.
We did not talk about Jacquard looms, the fiction of Chinua Achebe or guitar picks.
Aug 05, 202259:56
Chip Fraser's Search For Emerald City

Chip Fraser's Search For Emerald City

Chip Fraser is a local author, screenwriter, producer and teacher, who just came out with his second book, "Looking for Emerald City." Full of insightful observations, commentary and advice, the book covers a wide spectrum of issues with chapters titled "Let the World Go By and Take the Next Bus," and "" He joins the podcast to talk about this book, his recently released film "Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate's Cove," starring Denise Richards and Ojai's own Malcolm McDowell," and much more.

We talked about his teaching pedagogy for high school students, called "It's Your Life," meant to teach basic life skills and expectations, like managing a bank account, putting together a persuasive resumé and being a decent person. While much curriculum prepares students for the college path, Fraser is instead looking out for those who chose otherwise. He was also a union representative for Ventura County teachers and is still actively involved. The discussion veered off into pop culture references such as "Better Call Saul," "Pulp Fiction," "Godfather." 

Growing up in Virginia Beach, Fraser was consumed with football as a standout defensive end, before going to Dominion College. Fraser's twin careers included teaching and film-making, having made a film about wrestling starring wrestlers. Fraser has also had a burst of creativity during the pandemic, writing this current book and the soon-to-be-published "It's My Life."

We did not talk about cobalt mining, immanetizing the eschaton or jai alai scandals in the 1960s.

For further information, check out Chip's website: and "Looking for Emerald City" on Amazon:

Jul 28, 202201:06:16
Happier Ojai Days with Anson Williams

Happier Ojai Days with Anson Williams

Anson Williams grew up in a modest home in Burbank which his WWII-veteran father bought with a VA loan. His idyllic childhood unfolded against the sunshine and particular American optimism of the 1950s and 1960s. So when he and his friend Ron Howard were cast in "Happy Days," Garry Marshall's nostalgic look back at the 1950s, he fit neatly within the 1970s zeitgeist. The show, which ran from 1974 to 1984, made Williams' Potsie Weber, along with Howard's Richie Cunningham, Don Most's Ralph Malph and Henry Winkler's Fonzie, among the best-known characters of the era, viewed each week by nearly 70 million people.

Williams soaked up lessons on set from Marshall and Howard and has now amassed 43 credits to date as a director, in addition to his 100+ acting credits. He now lives in Ojai, a place he's been visiting for decades and regards as a haven and sanctuary from the manic pace of the outside world. He's announced his bid for Mayor and is committed to bringing a collaborative, cooperative style to Ojai's pressing issues such as affordable housing, fire and drought threats and a spirit of civic goodwill and trust.

We also talked about glider piloting, fishing with Henry Winkler, setting up innovative school programs, Annie Besant and much more. We did not talk about the Shoeless Joe Jackson and Black Sox scandal of 1919, the Haber-Bosch method nor lost metallurgic technologies of the Bronze Age.

Jul 22, 202201:21:13
'Desert Tracks' With Leslie Clark

'Desert Tracks' With Leslie Clark

Artist Leslie Clark’s deep knowledge and love for the people of Niger is reflected in her recently closed Ojai-based Nomad Gallery, selling their sophisticated and elegant jewelry and craftwares. But that is only a small part of her mission, she uses her contacts and connections among the Woodaybe and Tuareg to establish medical training, clinics and entrepreneurial programs for these proud and ancient people.
In her memoir, "Desert Tracks," Clark describes her times among these people, whose lifeways have hardly changed in thousands of years, their fierce independence and artistic talents, their livestock-centric lifestyles following the rains from pastures to pastures in ancient rhythms. She also describes their struggles against governments seeking to restrain their nomadic lifestyles, their particular customs and traditions and the threats facing them from global warming and modernity. We also meet a cast of colorful characters, including Emmy-nominated Taureg guitarists, rebel leaders and polygamist herders.
Clark also talks about her family's five generations in Ojai, starting from an Irish immigrant in the 1850s, through her grandfather, a legendary cowboy and Sheriff of Ventura County and how much the cowboy and nomadic cultures overlap in their appeal. We did not talk about the Sahara's once-flourishing wetlands, pig eradication on the Channel Islands or Boris Johnson's fall from grace.
Jul 13, 202201:22:16
Drums Along The Ojai with Simon Phillips

Drums Along The Ojai with Simon Phillips

Simon Phillips is one of the music world's top rhythm makers, having played drums 20 years with Toto, and also toured with The Who and Carlos Santana, and recorded with artists as varied as Jeff Becker, Brian Eno and Frank Zappa. He now leads the trio Protocol, which was nominated for a Grammy for its Protocol IV album and has just released its prestigious pandemic project, Protocol V. He also plays drums for Hiromi, the jazz sensation known for her electric performances and innovative compositions.

Simon was born into the business. His father, Sid, was a Dixieland band leader and Simon began to fill in for the band when he was 12. He's kept busy ever since. It wasn't long after that the boy wonder found a job on London's West End with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar." More than just a masterful, talented and learned drummer, he is also an experienced engineer, having worked on countless albums, including Toto's, where he filled in after the tragic death of founding member Jeff Porcaro, his own works with his own studio.

He moved to Ojai just in time to lose his lifetime collection of recording gear in the Thomas Fire, and with Sysyphus-ian zeal, rebuilt bigger and better. We talk about life on the road, the rise of supergroups, the history of jazz and what's next for this legendary drummer. We did not talk about the Ainu bear fetishes, the dwindling runs of cherry salmon or the success of China's "Belt and Road" infrastructure projects.

Jul 07, 202201:27:31
Spaceships & Creatures with Jeff Mann

Spaceships & Creatures with Jeff Mann

Jeff Mann grew up in the Los Angeles area during the heyday of car culture and Saturday night cruising. His mechanical talents came in handy as he found himself deeply immersed in the nautical world, rebuilding a 90-foot freighter into a craft capable of circumnavigating the globe. A job offer with a fledgling company called Industrial Light & Magic, started by director George Lucas, fresh off his "Stars Wars" success, led him into another career as a visual effects supervisor for some of the most important films of the recent era, "Minority Report," "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," "Starship Troopers" among them.

He eventually left Lucas' branched out into his own company, pairing his artistry with his love of gadgetry and mechanics. Meanwhile, he kept pursuing his art - pencil and pen-and-ink drawings of fantastical creatures. 

We dive deep into Mann's career, but we also talk about his love of Ojai. "About 10 years ago after 25 years at LucasFilms' Industrial Light & Magic creating spaceships and creatures, working on visual effects for dozens of films and helping to run that Studio I decided to step away from that work," he said. "In my opinion I had seen the best of it. It was time to pursue my own artwork."

"Lis and I had been coming to Ojai together as she had grown up in Ojai and had family here. We decided Ojai was a unique small town with a creative streak and history that suited us well. A good place to begin the next phase of our journey. We bought an old house in the East End and spent the next year making it livable.

"We rebuilt that place and created a couple of art studios on the property. In the process we learned some new things, made some art, got to know the town and found our community," he said.

Mann also talked about his friendship with Guy Webster, the incredible auction prices for Star Wars X-fighters and much more. We did not talk about George Perry's 90-year-old record for largemouth bass, the Boston Celtics or the lost wax method.

Jun 29, 202201:11:06
"Despite the Buzz" with Author Tamara Miller Davis

"Despite the Buzz" with Author Tamara Miller Davis

Tamara Miller Davis is a long-time Ojai Valley resident and teacher, who published a gripping novel last year about the uses and abuses of social media, told through the lens of a Reflective Writing Class with a group of bright, engaged and very online high school juniors. The teacher, Gabriela Oliver, takes us through her first year at a new school, getting to know the kids through their essays and encouraging them to step back from their devices and think about the larger purposes of their lives. Described as a "cautionary tale about tech's toll" the book also takes us inside the demands placed on teachers' times, the frailty of struggling families, and an immersion in online culture. There is also a spicy romance with a fellow teacher, and a past trauma and loss that Gabby Oliver deals with daily. The shocking twist toward the end of the book brings all the lessons and dangers home in a vivid, compelling way.

Besides the book, Davis also talks about being a firefighter's wife during the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslides, raising young children on the cusp of their teen years, and the work that awaits a published writer after their book comes out. 

"Despite the Buzz" uses a lot of research about online use and its effects on society. Here's a few links to provide background information and further resources.

Wait Until 8th:


Center for Humane Technology:

Common Sense Media:

Firefighting - Mental Health Resources:

Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness:

Fully Involved Life:

Jun 23, 202248:43
"137 Shots" with Mike Milano

"137 Shots" with Mike Milano

In 2012, a car heading past the county courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio backfired in front a police car. The police, thinking it was gunfire, engaged in a high-speed pursuit with as many as 60 vehicles. Twenty-three miles and 23 minutes later, the police unleashed a barrage of 137 shots, killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The police stood trial, 

Ojai documentary filmmaker Mike Milano, who along with his wife Noemie, produced the seminal Thomas Fire document, HBO's "Burning Ojai," has spent 10 years putting this project together. It was just released and available for streaming on Netflix. The ensuing trial gripped the city and nation, leading to widespread calls for police reform. In the aftermath of George Floyd's killing, the issue remains as timely as ever. Five officers were fired, included Mike Brelo, who jumped up on the car's hood and fired 40-plus rounds at close range. All were eventually reinstated. The trial and uproar were in high heat when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot in a local park. 

Mere days after Milano and his wife and child moved to Ojai in late 2017, and while he was deep into the edits on this film, a glow on the horizon presaged what was at the time the largest wildlife in California. It is now 9th. "Burning Ojai" was one of HBO's most popular films when it came out in 2021. Milano, a journalism major from UC Berkeley, was featured in the current issue of Ojai Quarterly magazine. We talk about how his local connections gave him unprecedented access into the justice system and police force, as well as the families of the victims. The film dives deep into the complexities of the justice system, policing and communities, and has spurred calls for reforms.

We did not talk about the designated hitter rule, Fauvrism or Bonnie Lu's Rueben sandwich.

Jun 03, 202256:48
Chloé Zhao's 'Nomadland' & Ojai

Chloé Zhao's 'Nomadland' & Ojai

Chloé Zhao's career has rocketed in recent years with the success of "Nomadland," as she's become only the second woman to win an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director, and the first woman of color to do so. Fresh off the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Eternals" she joins the podcast to talk about the role of her adopted hometown in shaping her success, as well as a few teasers about her coming projects.

We learn that Frances McDormand lived in "Vanguard," the famous white van in the film, in Zhao's Ojai driveway, and was costumed by Ojai thrift stores. It helped her transform into the character of Fern, the widowed woman who lives on the periphery of the American Dream in the aftermath of the Great Recession, traveling from one low-wage job to another. It earned McDormand her third Oscar.

Zhao grew up in China as a devotee of manga - the action-oriented graphic novels - that prepared her for the MCU role, but it was her love of western landscapes, so vividly on display in her first three films, "Songs from my Brother," "The Rider" and "Nomadland," that has characterized her work. We talk about coming projects, her artistic process and influences, and how she moved to Ojai just days before the Thomas Fire devastated the town. In fact, it was Ojai's resilience and strength in aftermath that confirmed for her choice to move here. Our wide-ranging talk included Bass Reeves, Dracula and Mongolia. We did not talk about Lincoln logs, Ukrainian air defense systems or taimen fishing.

May 25, 202250:60
Beckett McDowell Takes Show on the Road

Beckett McDowell Takes Show on the Road

Ojai singer-songwriter Beckett McDowell is a hometown prodigy on the cusp of his career. He has been opening for Dave Mason, of Traffic fame, as his first two singles, "Weirdo," and "Pale Blue Eyes" rack up views and downloads by the thousands. 

Though only 18, McDowell has put in the hours, playing 300 shows at The Vine on Mondays, for the "Young Ones" open mic night, as well as coming out on stage to sing with Eric Burdon of the Animals. He also sang "Jailhouse Rock" at age 5 in front of a thousand fans at Libbey Bowl. His homegrown talents have been helped by Mason and Burdon, as well as Pierre Bouvier of Simple Plan fame, who wrote "Weirdo" with Simple Plan bandmates. The video of his original song, "Pale Blue Eyes," features his famous father Malcolm, in "Pale Blue Eyes," a tearjerker of a song with Malcolm overflowing with emotion up as Beckett sings poignant lyrics. Something told me it was over / when you didn't even call me / Now I'm out and alone forever / And I'm tired. 

McDowell comes on the Ojai podcast, Talk of the Town, to talk about his new eight-song EP, hanging with his famous father, Malcolm, and growing up in Ojai. Once described as Ed Sheeran's "handsomer little brother," Beckett has been on the road for a slate of shows in May and June. We also talked about Bob Dylan, rare guitars, Ojai pizza and his having not ever seen "A Clockwork Orange." 

We did not talk about dolphin mimicry, NLP or Rumi's poetry. You can check out Beckett on Youtube, where he has a series of performances filmed at Norman's Rare Guitars in Los Angeles, and his Instagram @beckettrex.

May 18, 202201:05:34
Ojai Rising With Kate Pepper's Mother Starter

Ojai Rising With Kate Pepper's Mother Starter

Should Ojai be unfortunate to suffer through another evacuation, baker Kate Pepper, partner at The Dutchess, knows her priorities. After her pets and loved ones, next on her list of must-rescue items is her crock of mother starter yeast. With it, she has carved out a brilliant career for herself. The only thing that rises faster than her sourdough starter is her Instagram likes @katesbread where she entertains and informs more than 40,000 fans.

She developed her devoted followers through her Sunday bake sales, which brought lines around the block to her Meiners Oaks home for her delicious array of fresh-baked goods. Now she's been running with Kelsey Brito the bakery at The Dutchess, the newest outpost in the Rustic Canyon family's eight restaurants. We talk about Los Angeles food culture, the fusion of Burmese street food orchestrated by chef Saw Naing and how Ojai is now squarely on the map when it comes to food enthusiasts.

We talk about what it means to cook for people, growing up in Ojai and raising your children here. We did not talk about the NFL overtime rule changes, Ukrainian bridge-bombers or the Song Dynasty.

May 12, 202201:14:51
AMOC Runs the Ojai Music Festival

AMOC Runs the Ojai Music Festival

The American Modern Opera Company is a multi-disciplinary collective of some of America's keenest talents in the fields of music, dance, theater, writing, producing and composing. They are also the first interdisciplinary group to lead the Ojai Music Festival as Music Director. They are led by artistic directors Matthew Aucoin and Zack Winokur. Winokur and Davone Tines, baritone-bass singer, join the podcast to talk about their ambitious plans for this year's festival.

Some members of the collective are already familiar with Ojai, such as violinist Miranda Cuckson, soprano Julia Bullock, who, with Tines, will stage a full production of Olivier Messaien's song cycle "Harawi." AMOC will also introduce new artists to the Festival, including Julius Eastman, whose gifts for composing, vocals, piano and dance had often been neglected. Eastman was proudly gay at a time in the conservative classical world culture, and his gifts we talk about at length. The festival is also producing works by another neglected artist, Connie Converse, who is  credited for pioneering the singer-songwriter tradition. 

We talk about how and why truly outstanding artists are often neglected and forgotten in their own time, and the festival's role in bringing them back into the spotlight. Another line of conversation is AMOC's similarities in spirit to Black Mountain College, which included Ojai-favorite composer John Cage, modern dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. 

AMOC has just won a $750,000 grant from the Andrew K. Mellon Foundation, and we talk about what they plan to do with the money, as well as what an affirming moment is was for the collective, founded in 2017.

May 05, 202248:46
Going PureWild with Cindy Convery

Going PureWild with Cindy Convery

Cindy Convery's road to wellness led her to collagen — a protein responsible for healthy joints and skin elasticity. It’s in your bones, muscles, and blood, comprising three quarters of your skin and a third of the protein in your body. As you age, your existing collagen breaks down, and it gets harder for your body to produce more. One way is to reduce aging and support our joints is to use supplements.

But it's not that simple. As Cindy describes,  a major issue is that you don't know where the collagen comes from, or how pure it is. The search for pure, planet-friendly ingredients led her to a Nova Scotia company which used sustainable harvests of wild marine collagen from North Atlantic cod. After much experimenting for taste and efficacy in her home kitchen, she created PureWild.

Her proprietary blend that allows "the wild marine collagen to essentially disappear into the pure juices and herbs in each bottle of PureWild Co." And it's not as if she doesn't have the training to create a delicious drink;  Cindy attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. We talk about the road to success; paved with false starts and anxiety, but also the incredible support of fellow Ojai residents like the Trudeaus of Rainbow Bridge, Bill Moses of KeVita and Flying Embers as well as her Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, of which she is an enrolled member. 

Cindy also talks about her wide-ranging careers in the entertainment industry, working with George Lucas at Industrial Light & Magic, where she became acquainted with another Ojai resident, the artist Jeff Mann, and her move to Ojai to get out of the rat race and put down roots and give back to the community.

We did not talk about trebuchets, MK Ultra or Vaclav Smil's "Energy & Civilization."

Apr 28, 202201:07:02
Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary Goes Solo

Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary Goes Solo

Noel Paul Stookey, the Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary, not only rode the folk wave of the early 1960s with such indelible songs like "Puff the Magic Dragon," "If I Had a Hammer" and helping popularize a young Minnesotan bard who went by the stage name of Bob Dylan, but helped created it. He shares the iconic trio's origin story as well as his own, and the many memories of a life, well lived, in music. Peter, Paul & Mary's long, legendary career was cut short with Mary Travers' tragic death in 2009, but their place in the cultural zeitgeist is eternal. Noel, a part-time Ojai resident, joins us to talk about his new album, "Fazz: Now & Then" and to reflect on the experience of collaborating with fellow musicians during the pandemic to create this nuanced, wide-ranging collection of 20 original songs with talented musicians such as Kent Palmer, Paul Winter, Paul Sullivan, David LaPlante and Edward Mottau. Fazz, as Noel explains, was christened by Paul Desmond of the Dave Brubeck Quartet to explain Peter, Paul & Mary's distinct fusion of jazz and folk. Noel picks up the resident Ojai podcast guitar (be still, my heart) to explain the shadings of alternate chord structures that inform much of the color of the album, as illustrated by the A Major, and the A Major 7th, its "smoky, mysterious cousin." Noel talks about writing "The Wedding Song: There is Love" - for Peter Yarrow's wedding, and his reluctance to perform it again until urged by Peter, and how it has made many, if not most, of the lists of most beautiful songs of all time, right up there with fellow Ojai resident Amanda McBroom's "The Rose." He also discusses his Christian faith and the epiphany he had at age 30 after a decade of fame, and the toll it took on his well-being. There’s relevant folk music news: Noel’s good friend John McCutcheon just released “Ukraine Now.” We did not talk about whirling dervishes, James Beard or "The Slap Heard 'Round the World."
Apr 14, 202201:10:45
Ojai's Fisherman with Eric Hodge

Ojai's Fisherman with Eric Hodge

If you one of the lucky people, you get a weekly text from Eric Hodge with a list of his freshest sea-to-table catch. Hodge is known by Southern California's finest chefs for his meticulous and precise expertise in the Japanese technique of Ikejime, which quickly and humanely kills the fish, but also enhances its flavor and freshness and shelf life. It took him more than a year to perfect this process.

We talk with Eric about the great abundance of life in and around the Channel Islands, and how fragile and vulnerable that ecosystem is as the planet heats up. Eric talks us through his life path and passions, and how proud he is that his daughters are now crewing on his boat. We talk about the Thursday Farmers Market, where he is one of the mainstays, and where he constantly seeks customer insights and feedback. He is also known for bringing local chefs out on the boat to see firsthand how he catches and processes the fish. Eric's story of growing up locally and being drawn to the ocean through surfing, and how he navigates the fluctuations of currents, fishing seasons and regulations, and how he made a success as a hook-and-line fisherman is fascinating.

We did not talk about the Tasman Sea, making baseball bats from ash or London's theater scene. 

Apr 10, 202202:15:57
One Hundred Episodes of Ojai Talk of the Town

One Hundred Episodes of Ojai Talk of the Town

To mark the occasion, I (Bret Bradigan) talk about the podcast, why I started it and why I continue it. At first, the idea back in April 2020 was to create a cultural artifact to mark the moment of Ojai's experience with the podcast during the early days of the pandemic. The first guests - Mayor Johnny Johnston and OUSD Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Morse - gave us key insights into this epochal moment. I urge you to go back and listen to those early episodes and be transported back to that time.

Then I realized it made a great "content funnel" for our Ojai magazines, the Quarterly & Monthly. And also, it's a great excuse to reach out to people to have meaningful conversations. The atmosphere is meant to convey a couple of people getting to know each other, an overheard conversation. With some high-profile guests coming on, it's a testament to our wonderfulness that so many incredibly interesting people call Ojai home. Not all the guests are famous but all the conversations are interesting. Stay tuned, plenty to come.

I did not talk about the designated hitter rule, Beryl Markham or my overuse of the word "amazing." I do not recommend using that as a drinking game. It would lead to death by alcohol poisoning.

Mar 31, 202251:55
J.B. White: Writing for Fun & Profit

J.B. White: Writing for Fun & Profit

J.B. White may best be known to Ojai residents as the leader of the Ojai's house band, The Household Gods, but he's a successful screenwriter with a long list of credits, including the Hallmark Film, "Get Me To The Wedding On Time," which will be released later this summer. As a multi-genre writer, he's also adapted a Peter Benchley book, "The Beast," and written the horror film, "House of Frankenstein."

Among his recent credits for Hallmark Channel are "A Christmas Miracle For Daisy," "The Christmas Ornament," and "The National Tree." He didn't start out to be a screenwriter, dropping out of Stanford (where he was friends with theater major Sigourney Weaver) to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. We go deep into the sausage-making of the movie business, where J.B. jokes that if you "strip away the tinsel, you'll find more tinsel." He's having a second wind with Hallmark Channel as it moves away from its strict diet of romantic comedies. J.B.'s mother-daughter story, "The Goodbye Quilt," for example, which he first pitched eight years ago, has been purchased by them. "Big Sky River," a modern romance novel set in Montana, which he also wrote eight years and which the channel tossed him off the project, is also now back in development.

After working on the East Coast in the legal trade, he decided to make the leap into screenwriting by writing piles of spec scripts, before a serendipitous turn landed him an agent. He moved to the West Coast in 1993 and soon after moved to Ojai to raise his children with his artist-wife Elizabeth. After writing a script that Andy Griffith liked, he turned that into a flourishing career as a go-to writer with NBC. 

We also talked about the music business, "The Matrix," "The Walking Dead," and Ojai's post-pandemic hangover. We did not talk about Babe Ruth's final game, Stanley Kubrick's innovations in camera lens or birthplace of the Indo-European languages.

Mar 24, 202201:00:21
Athletes in Recovery with Tere Karabatos

Athletes in Recovery with Tere Karabatos

AIR Pizza recently opened in Mira Monte with a big splash and is making a mark on Ojai with its traditional "pizza by the slice" vibe. For all the fun and excitement of opening a popular new restaurant, AIR's owner Tere Karabatos has larger purposes in mind, of which the pizzeria is only part. AIR stands for Athletes in Recovery, and Karabatos, in recovery himself, is the founder and executive director. He is using the business to build a sense of community and ladder to success for others like himself.
Karabatos, a standout athlete in his youth in baseball and soccer, was also part of the flourishing skateboarding and surf culture in southern California, working with skater legend Tony "Mad Dog" Alva, one of the original "Lords of Dogtown." Now 16 years sober, he vividly describes his battles with drug and alcohol addiction, his road to recovery, and desire to bring others into sobriety and to their full possibility.
He considers Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson "as important as the Wright Brothers" with his discoveries and understandings about the psyche, and development of the 12 Step Program. We also talk about the pandemic's effect on Ojai and his sober living facility in Los Angeles, his wife and kids, running a restaurant, and growing up as friends/rivals with baseball All-Star Shea Hillebrand. We did not talk about the Black Plague, 5G or Ukraine.
Mar 16, 202256:25
Surfing Cuba With Nicholas Weissman

Surfing Cuba With Nicholas Weissman

Nicholas Weissman, executive producer of "Havana Libre," joins the podcast to talk about this documentary which follows the trials and travails of a dedicated group of Cuban surfers who try to get their sport officially recognized by their government. Surfing in Cuba exists in this liminal space, neither legal nor quite illegal, haunted by the legacy of "balseros," tens of thousands of whom traversed the 90-mile channel between Cuba and Florida on makeshift rafts.

Francisco ("Frank") and Yaya are the two stars of the documentary, and their charisma carries through the film, as they deal with bureaucrats, regulations and risking everything to compete and participate in surfing events in different countries. When surfing was recognized as an Olympic sport for the Tokyo Games, they see their chance to bring their beloved sport into their homeland, but at great risk to themselves and their families.

The project began with an article in the New York Times about an intrepid group of surfboard shapers making do with ingenuity and craft, including tearing open refrigerator doors to get at the buoyant styrofoam. Corey McLean and Seth Brown, two surfers from Maine, recognized kindred spirits and sought to bring their story to the world.

The film has been accepted into the Santa Barbara Film Festival and will be hitting the festival circuit after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Weissman is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Ojai. He has worked for the New Yorker magazine, the New York Times, PBS, HBO and National Geographic. He won his Emmy for "A Boy Helps a Town Heal," a film he made for Sports Illustration. His most recent feature, "For Ahkeem," about the juvenile justice system in St. Louis, also won much acclaim. His first independent film, "The Minutemen" about border vigilantes, won the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival.

We did not talk about Duke Kahanamoku, taimen fishing in the headwaters of the Amur River or the Y2K panic.

Mar 01, 202256:03
Tomatomania! With Scott Daigre

Tomatomania! With Scott Daigre

Tomatomania! is back and Scott Daigre joins us to discuss this fascinating fruit and its many uses and importance in the culinary world. After a pandemic hiatus, Daigre is producing 13 events this year, which are more than just a chance to find rare breeds and learn growing techniques and advice, they take on a festival-like atmosphere.

Daigre's interest in gardening began when he was very little on his grandfather's farm in southern Louisiana, and continued even through his corporate career in marketing, until he followed his passion to a job as a nurseryman, then taking over the helm of Tomatomania! nearly 15 years ago. He is a regular on Evan Kleiman's popular KCRW radio show, "Good Food," and the author of  "Tomatomania!," a lavishly illustrated book full of his insights and advice on this versatile fruit.

We also talk about how he came to find and love Ojai, our climate and its impact on growing tomatoes, as well as the history of tomatoes from the Incans and Aztecs to the present day. He talks about preserving tomatoes, both by canning but also freezing and the uses of tomato water. We did not talk about Baffin Island, the lost wax method of jewelry making or Summit restaurants burgers.

Feb 23, 202201:04:08
The Supreme Court with Judith Hale Norris

The Supreme Court with Judith Hale Norris

As former chief staff counsel for both the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the First District, just two stops on her distinguished legal career, Judith Hale Norris has gotten know many of the current Supreme Court Justices very well. With Justice Stephen Breyer about to retire, it seemed a great time to reach out to her to get her informed take on this, and many other legal questions confronting our country.

More than that, though both Norris and her husband Bill have woven themselves into the fabric of Ojai life, volunteering and donating to many local causes. Judith is just finishing her term as head of the Ojai Women's Fund, and has held leadership positions with the Ojai Education Foundation, the Ojai Music Festival, as well as co-chair of the Council of Distinguished Advisers, Straus Institute of Resolution and Pepperdine Caruso School of Law.

Judith grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, and those values of civic engagement, service and community have served her, and Ojai, very well. Her husband Bill is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, who retired as a Captain and was the fourth branch of service's chief justice. 

We talked about the Robert Bork's confirmation hearing that went awry and how he was unfairly labeled for his role in Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre, the loss of civility in our political processes, the wonders of Ojai life and much much more. We did not talk about the Mongol Horde's archery skills, Roman metallurgy or the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Feb 11, 202201:02:43
Ojai Plant Medicine with Lanny Kaufer

Ojai Plant Medicine with Lanny Kaufer

Lanny Kaufer's new book, "Medicinal Herbs of California" was just published by Falcon Guides and he joined the podcast to talk about this thorough look at the 70 plants in this field guide to common plants and their medicinal uses. Kaufer took over the popular Ojai Herb Walks back in 1976 and has been roaming the backcountry, introducing people to the wonders of the botanical world ever since.

This handy field guide includes not just information about the herbs themselves, but where to find them, their medicinal uses, how to harvest them sustainably, and various recipes and potions. Kaufer used five criteria in the book: is the plant common enough to sustain small-scale harvesting; is most of the plant's range within the state; is it already covered in many other books; is there evidence of Native American use; and is there sufficient scientific validation of those uses.

We talked about the how the perverse incentives of pharmaceutical companies because they can't patent an entire plant, the gradual switch from the 1820s to 1910's Flexner Report which systemized medical training and left medicinal herbs to native healers and folklore, and the gradual restoration of their proper place in the treatment of ailments. For example, Covid-19 researchers have discovered that yerba santa, a common California herb, can help block spike proteins from our respiratory systems. Yerba Santa has long been a mainstay of the indigenous medicine chest.

We also talked about Lanny's own introduction to plant medicine through a native American healer in the Jemez Pueblo in the 1960s, and some of his other mentors, including Juanita Centeno, Amanda McQuade Crawford and ethnobotanist Michael Moore. We did not talk about the science fiction novels of Octavia Butler, 1960s muscle cars or the freestylings of Gil Scott Heron.

Feb 04, 202259:29
First Amendment & Ojai with Kevin Davis

First Amendment & Ojai with Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis, co-author of "Community Powered Journalism," has studied deeply the ways in which newspapers and local media can stay relevant, profitable and enable communities to make informed decisions about their future. He's also studied the ways in which many newspapers have lost their way. He explains how, in a perverse twist, the largest and most profitable companies in the world - Google and Facebook - do no original reporting themselves, and yet are getting richer and richer off the few reliable and trustworthy news sources that remain.

This has resulted in historic low levels of trust and a breakdown in civility and productive dialogue. The solutions are complex but begin with listening.

The process is to drop the pretense of ivory-tower arrogance and actually engage with the public where they are at, determine their needs and provide the information that is meaningful and useful. We talk about the great heroes of journalism's modern era, such as Nobel Prize winners Maria Ressa and Dmitri Muratov, who sounded the clarion call for social media companies to acknowledge the harm they've done to our communities and culture and to hold accountable the demagogues and bad actors who are profiting from that division. We also talked about his project to start the First Amendment Foundation of Ventura County, and how he thinks it can help underserved communities within the county and provide resources for local journalists.

We also talked about John Milton, Oliver Cromwell and Walter Winchell. We did not talk about Catherine the Great, coin-operated newsracks or Ariana Grande.

Jan 28, 202201:13:03
The Wild Life with Rick Ridgeway

The Wild Life with Rick Ridgeway

Explorer, conservationist, mountaineer and author Rick Ridgeway has lived a life that is best summed up in the subhead of his seventh book, "Life Lived Wild:" Adventures at the Edge of the Map." Each chapter of this book covers a different adventure, all of them told in Rick's compelling style.
These adventures included climbing uncharted peaks in the Himalayas, searching the rivers of eastern Siberia for tigers, crossing the remote fastnesses of the Chang Tang Plateau in Tibet in search of the calving grounds of the enigmatic and endangered chiru - an antelope-like goat prized for its fur and now protected, and returning to the site of a tragic avalanche to bring closure and comfort to a grieving daughter. He also talks about his efforts helping two CEOs tackle the formidable Seven Summits, climbing the highest peaks on all seven continents. Rick served the expedition leader for perhaps the most grueling climb - summitting Antarctica's Mount Vinson. Rick also talks about the death of his close friend Doug Tompkins, founder of North Face and a visionary conservationist, on a kayak trip which nearly claimed Rick's life as well.
Part of a legendary group of adventurers, "the Do Boys," which includes Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Tompkins, Ridgeway's love of the outdoors and testing himself in the most extreme situations came to him at an early age and has never let up.
Besides his incredible life of extreme adventure, we talk about his beautiful Ojai home which he shared with his recently deceased wife Jennifer, which was built by famed black architect Paul Revere Williams. We also talk about Ojai's backcountry, what he would say were he to run into Elon Musk, and how man is not the only species with an exploratory urge.
A long-time Ojai resident, he serves on the board of the Ojai Turtle Conservancy as well as the Tompkins Conservancy, carrying on the work of Tompkins with Doug's widow Kris. We did not talk about Boethius' imprisonment, worm holes or Japanese wood block prints.
Jan 19, 202201:40:37
Creating A Farmers Market with Julie Gerard

Creating A Farmers Market with Julie Gerard

Julie Gerard's interest in a healthy, plant-based lifestyle began with her surviving a cancer scare, which she attributed to her food choices. So along with a dedicated cohort of like-minded people including Heath Perry, Steve Sprinkel, Michelle Lopez-Dohrn and Grace Malloy, she's been trying for years to open Ojai's second farmers market. After a few abortive attempts she found success this past spring with Thursday's Certified Farmers Market in Chaparral High School's courtyard. The festive field of 60 vendors selling of farm-fresh produce, local products and hugely popular sandwiches and wood-fired pizza has quickly proven to be an established part of Ojai's cultural scene, despite the pandemic and other obstacles. More than just a place to buy healthy, fresh foods and products, it has become a community gathering place, where people come together to play, participate and learn about important issues. 

Gerard, a local attorney, credited the Ojai Unified School District's superintendent Dr. Tiffany Morse and her staff, along with Jim Bailey of Rock Tree Sky School with positive attitude and perseverance with their success of getting the effort off the ground and its momentum. A long-time visitor to Ojai, Gerard knew early that she was going to move to Ojai to raise her children. After making her own dream come true, she is now dedicated to creating a sustainable "foodshed" in Ojai and for our future generations. If you have visited the market, you know it's bursting with the sights of sounds of children laughing and playing and learning.

We did not talk about FDR's Supreme Court-packing scheme, Victorian amateur scientists or Roman siege weapons.

Jan 12, 202201:00:45
Roaming the Carrizo Plain with Chuck Graham

Roaming the Carrizo Plain with Chuck Graham

An hour north of Ojai takes you into a different world, the largest remaining grassland in California, a quarter-million acres of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It is often called "the American Serengeti" and is the remnant of the great San Joaquin Valley grasslands that once covered most of the middle of the state. Our guest has spent 15 years studying, learning, observing and taking photographs in this stunning setting. He published his beautiful collection of essays and photographs called aptly enough "Carrizo Plain." It's available around town at Poppies Art & Gift, Meg's Ojai House, Bart's Book and online. The introduction to the book is written by Neil Havlak, president of the Carrizo Plain Conservancy and contains many photos of the Tule elk, pronghorn antelope and varied raptors, including golden eagles.  Carrizo Plain is also home to the periodic eruption of wildflowers - when conditions are perfect, it is among the most magnificent on the planet. The previous "bloom boom" was in 2019, another prior to that in 2017. "It was as if someone arrived on the Carrizo Plain armed with a massive paintbrush and splashed multi-colored hues across the open book-shaped mountains and arid grasslands," he writes. Chuck has fashioned a career for himself as an outdoorsman - lifeguarding for Santa Barbara County in the summers, guiding kayakers around the Channel Islands and as a freelance writer and photographer. His work often appears in the Ojai Quarterly. We did not talk about the impact of polio on FDR’s politics, Super Bowl III or ironwood carvings.
Jan 06, 202201:00:00
Smile Mountain with Joel Fox & Jennifer Day

Smile Mountain with Joel Fox & Jennifer Day

Joel Fox and Jennifer Day of Smile Mountain are busy creating content for many artistic projects all at a time. Their latest project is the most far-out of them all — a nine-minute promotional film for the James Webb Space Telescope, which launched December 24th into an orbit one million away from earth, where the $10 billion project will listen and watch into the deepest recesses of space and time. Joel grew up in Ojai, which he remembered as an idyllic place, far from the complaint refrains of too boring and nothing to do. It was here that he learned to exercise his imagination. After graduating from CalArts, he met Jennifer in Santa Monica and they've been living and working together ever since. Jennifer attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana where she fell in with the theater kids, which included Nick Offerman ("Parks & Rec") and Betsy Brandt ("Breaking Bad"). She knew she had an eye for design when working at a haunted house as a youth and through her college years as a set designer and prop master for the theater.  An early web developer, Joel was also a film editor and creative director for kid's cult classic "Yo Gabba Gabba," and he and Jennifer have worked with clients as diverse as Chipotle, Vans, Aquabats, Sonos & Disney. One of their big current clients is Giphy. They specialize in dream sequences and instititial videos for commercials and TV shows from their home studio in Ojai. They also host an annual craft party that is among the hottest tickets in Ojai's busy social calendar. As Joel says, "I like interesting, beautiful things in the world. That's my service." You can check out their work at ...
Dec 29, 202158:02
Cooking & Writing With Abigail Napp

Cooking & Writing With Abigail Napp

Abigail Napp grew up in the food business as her mother was a leading caterer in the Pacific Northwest, and she never strayed too far from the culinary world. After college she began a career of traveling and writing about food, including at Condé Nast's La Cucina Italia. Her circuitous path led to Ojai, where she's been experimenting with various local products, including an Ojai adaption of a Northern Italian-French traditional liqueur made with walnuts and neutral grain spirits.

Abigail's varied interests in the culinary arts led to a wide discussion about eating and writing about eating, and how shortest path to understanding a culture is through its food. We talked about MFK Fisher and Julia Child, and wondered how they would have adapted to the quarantine.

Her pandemic-era journalism drew a focus on those various innovations and substitutions chefs and kitchen artists have been making during this strange time (including pizza pullers) and her interviews with leading figures such as Meryl Streep ("Julia & Julia,") Stanley Tucci ("Big Night") and Rhiannon Giddens and her Italian partner, Francesco Turrissi's grandmother's favorites. We also talked about Abigail's plans to write about the Biden family as the first red-sauce family to inhabit the White House.

We did not talk about ancient Roman recipes, Australian meat pies or New England clam bakes.

Check out Abigail's stories at

Dec 23, 202101:12:28
Topa Topa Brews With Jack Dyer

Topa Topa Brews With Jack Dyer

Jack Dyer was present for the craft beer boom in the San Diego area in the 1990s and it left him with an unquenchable thirst to join the ranks of the top brewers. He now has five taprooms and hundreds of outlets and thousands of devoted customers of his distinct IPAs and lagers. He is also a big believer in building community and puts  skin in the game with the 1 Percent For the Planet, supporting the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy among other programs and projects.

Dyer, inspired by Yvon Chouinard's approach to business as chronicled in "Let My People Surf," ended up opening his first taproom next to Patagonia's headquarters in Ventura. He has since opened a bustling space in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone and the crown jewel of his empire, Topa Topa's Taproom in downtown Ojai at the intersection of South Montgomery and Ojai Avenue, which faces the eponymous Chief Peak as well as the Topa Topa bluff's Pink Moment. 

We structure the conversation as an orientation talk for a new staffer, and it works. Lots of great information and inspiration.

We talked about the history of beer, its centrality to civilization, role models, shared acquaintances and why the idea of Ojai is important to everyone who cares about their community and planet. We did not talk about the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt, Roman coins or orangutans.

Dec 15, 202153:36
Surviving the "Sh**house" with Lauren Duke

Surviving the "Sh**house" with Lauren Duke

Lauren Duke's just-published memoir, "Shithouse," is a rueful yet antic recounting of her traumatic childhood, with a junkie prisoner father and a volatile mother and an alcoholic stepfather. It ends with her building both successful businesses and a loving family, seeking and occasionally finding peace through yoga, writing and therapy.

Duke's distinctive voice shines through the messy dysfunction, as she learns that good people can do bad things, and vice versa. And how to take control of your narrative and rebuild your memories from a place of healing and understanding. The book, laced with humor and insight, includes episodes such as when Lauren played hookie to help her stepfather boost liquor bottles before crashing his car. Or her abortive attempts to live with Mormon youth until her drunk, rehab-escaping father shows up literally on her doorstep. 

We talked about this harrowing yet educational journey through trauma to resilience, and similar memoirs like Augusten Burroughs' "Running with Scissors," and Tara Westover's "Educated." We did not talk about Josh Allen's athleticism, Will Rogers and Wiley Post's plane crash or the Q-Anon conspiracy.

The book, published by The Unapologetic Voice House, (who also published Lila Francesce's book about her sister, "The Situation: A Radical Journey Thru Sisterhood," is available on Amazon or through the publisher at She will also be hosting events here in Ojai and in Encinitas, where she runs a community center dedicated to yoga. You can find Lauren on IG @dollieduke83

Dec 01, 202101:10:25
Scott Johnson on Art, Architecture & Ojai

Scott Johnson on Art, Architecture & Ojai

Scott Johnson, founding partner of Johnson-Fain in Los Angeles, has lived with feet in both the world of art and of architecture. During the pandemic, holed up in his Ojai home, he wrote "Uncommon Ground: Notes on the Visual Arts + Architecture." Johnson is both a builder and visual artist and seeks common understandings between the two disciplines.

He and wife Dr. Meg Bates, a prominent ob-gyn doctor, built their Ojai home as a retreat from the city's hurly-burly and found themselves spending a lot of time during the lockdown with friends and family. Scott took the opportunity to write the book, and build the Art Barn. His projecets will be featured in the Winter issue of Ojai Quarterly, coming out Thanksgiving. 

We talk about Fox Plaza, the towering structure in downtown LA that Johnson built in the 1980s, that was practically a character in itself for the blockbuster "Diehard" movie. We also talk about Le Corbusier, city planning, Ojai neighbors and the Ojai Music Festival.

We did not talk about scream therapy, Sandy Koufax or the voyages of Thor Heyerdahl.

Nov 17, 202101:06:45
Ojai Film Festival & The Art of Cinema

Ojai Film Festival & The Art of Cinema

It's been 22 years since the Ojai Film Festival's launch and since then they've screened more than 1,000 films and hosted hundreds of filmmakers, directors, writers, cinematographers and more. This year, the festival has added the competition category "Outstanding YouTube Filmmaker," and will also host a screening with Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao of her 2017 film, "The Rider."

Festival co-founder and artistic director Steve Grumette, OFF president Jon Lambert and board member and veteran film crewman Sven Shelgren joins Bret Bradigan for a spirited discussion of the festival, its past and future, the world of cinema and we share a few of our favorite films.

The Festival takes place Nov. 4-9 with live streaming of all films available Nov. 9 to Nov. 14.

We did not talk about Albert Spalding, Critical Race Theory or Alec Baldwin (at least not on the recording).

Check out the festival's lineup and more at

Nov 01, 202101:15:58
Karen Banfield's 12 Good Men

Karen Banfield's 12 Good Men

Karen Banfield started out making a calendar for Naked Gardening Day but the response among her prospective models was, well, discouraging. She was undaunted, and started right in with her 12 Good Men project, identifying a year's worth of local men who exhibit traits of compassion, selflessness and service. The calendar is meant to identity and honor these men who live up to the highest ideals of a respectable, responsive and healing masculinity, and will hopefully serve as role models for Ojai's young men.

Her journey to Ojai took many detours. About 12 years ago, she began a long road trip throughout California's small towns, looking for the perfect place to begin life anew. When she stumbled across Ojai, she knew this was the place. Banfield, an intuitive healer and performer, spent 32 years in the theater world, working with an alternative theater project in Portland, Oregon. She started out in the music world, though, as an opera-trained singer, who found the rigor and formality of her training too stultifying and restrictive. But she still possesses a pure, clear voice, which she graciously shares with listeners.

The calendars are available at the Ojai Valley Museum, Poppies Art & Gift and also via email at

We did not talk about Build Back Better,  Korean naval battles agains Japan in the late 16th century, or trout fishing on Alberta's Bow River.

Oct 28, 202159:38
OK Boomers with Topa Talk's Steph & Cody
Oct 21, 202101:06:02
Ojai Storytelling Festival with Debra Ehrhardt & Friends

Ojai Storytelling Festival with Debra Ehrhardt & Friends

For 22 years the Ojai Storytelling Festival (October 28-31 this year) has been bringing in the country's best practitioners of this ancient art form. We are joined by OSF founder Brian Bemel, next year's director Kara Lakes and Jamaican storytelling phenomenon Debra Ehrhardt for a lively romp through the festival's past and future.

Debra will be the featured performer at the adult-rated Naughty Tales on the night of Saturday, Oct. 31st. She joins the all-star lineup including Kim Weitkamp, Bill Harley, Donald Davis, Bil Lepp and many more for four days of hilarity, humanity and creative expression.

Tickets are available at and you can check out Debra's one-woman show, Jamaica Farewell, soon to be a major motion picture, at

Oct 18, 202155:57
Attica Prison Riots 50 Years On With Ojai's Lenny Klaif

Attica Prison Riots 50 Years On With Ojai's Lenny Klaif

In September 1971, Lenny Klaif was a third-year law student at the University of Iowa, when he took up the cause of prisoner rights in the tragic aftermath of the Attica Prison Riots. Klaif had graduated from the University of Buffalo, mere miles from the prison. Four days into the riots, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller sent in the state troopers, and in a hail of bullets, killed 43 people, including 10 prison guards. 

It took 30 years before the lawsuits and legal actions were concluded, and Klaif was in the middle of it, getting to know such seminal characters like Frank "Big Black" Smith, who was appointed security chief by his fellow prisoners, Howard Kunstler, the tenacious civil rights lawyer, and Liz Fink, the indefatigable attorney for the Attica Brothers. Klaif, hired by the ACLU, is proud to note that "I was the lowest paid lawyer in my graduating class."

The riots sparked a flash point in American history, between civil rights activists and the "law and order" forces that twice elected Richard Nixon. In Klaif's experience, the legal defense proved an organizing purpose for the prisoners, most of whom never returned to a life of crime. Klaif discusses the heady historical moment with a panoply of colorful characters and his role in it. We did not discuss the Armenian genocide, Venus flytraps or Albert Spalding's baseball innovations.

Declaration to the People of America, Read by Elliott James "L.D." Barkley, September 9, 1971: We are men! We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace, that means each and every one of us here, have set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed. We will not compromise on any terms except those terms that are agreeable to us. We've called upon all the conscientious citizens of America to assist us in putting an end to this situation that threatens the lives of not only us, but of each and every one of you, as well.

Oct 13, 202159:46
Ojai Living Treasures Danny Everett & Tiarzha Taylor

Ojai Living Treasures Danny Everett & Tiarzha Taylor

Danny and Tiarzha were recently named Living Treasures by a joint committee of the Rotary Club of Ojai and the Ojai Rotary-West. After this episode, you'll understand why.

They met at UCLA where Danny was a standout sprinter and Tiarzha a student leader and athlete herself. It was an interesting journey for both of them to get to that place — Danny grew up in central Texas before moving to south central Los Angeles, while Tiarzha hails from Anchorage, Alaska. Danny participated in two Olympics and won several medals in the 400 meter race, including a gold medal as part of a relay. Tiarzha went on to a distinguished career in education. They have raised three children in Ojai with those values of community service, social justice and involvement that they themselves were taught by their parents. 

Tiarzha is past president of the Ojai Education Foundation and a key member of the Ojai Women's Fund. Danny is a well-regarded chef, owner of Soul Feté - which fuses his extensive travels with the love of cooking he learned from his soul-food-cooking mother. Danny also coaches track and field.

We go deep into sensitive issues around race, justice, history and the wounds that Americans continue to inflict on each other during this strange time in which we live. Ojai, for all its inclusiveness and natural beauty, is not immune to these challenges, despite our self-regard as a progressive, tolerant community. Danny and Tiarzha also have a few laughs about Ojai's quirkiness, fishing and lots of food talk. 

Producer of this episode is Dylan Petrucci of Old School Beats. If you enjoy this podcast, we ask you to leave a review on iTunes. If you don't, don't.

Oct 05, 202101:34:03
A Walk from Mexico to Canada with Kit Stolz

A Walk from Mexico to Canada with Kit Stolz

Writer Kit Stolz set out on the 2,560-mile Pacific Crest Trail seven years ago; through a changing world he kept to a promise to walk at least 500 miles per year. He completed it this summer, touching the fence that separates the U.S. from its northern neighbor in Washington State's foggy pine forests.

We talk about this epic journey, the lessons learned along the way, and the enduring friendships formed in the crucible of personal challenge and hardship. We also talk about Ojai's increasing aridification, the new wave of migrants to our "smiling vale" and the high-quality education and conservation that defines our community. Plus lots of other things.

Kit and I did not talk about the William Barents' explorations, intermittent fasting or the rise of Generation Z. You can check out more of Kit's writings at

Sep 30, 202101:05:26
Ojai Studio Art Touring with Pam Grau

Ojai Studio Art Touring with Pam Grau

In the early 1980s, three women — Bert Collins, Gayel Childress & Marta Nelson — founded the Ojai Studio Artists as a way for artists to connect, mentor and learn from each other. They also started hosting open studios on the second week in October, a tradition which flourished up until the global pandemic. It has helped establish more firmly Ojai's identity as an arts destination.

This year, the tour returns Oct. 8-10 and features 63 artists. In a departure from the past, the tour this year is free.

We talk with OSA president Pam Grau, who has revitalized the organization in recent years with Second Saturday mini-tours throughout the year, in which OSA members have the chance to tour each other's studios and create connections and unexpected inspiration. The fellowship that has resulted has become important to the members and the community, especially during such an isolating time as we've endured this past 19 months.

Since 1993, proceeds from the OSA Tour have gone to support scholarships for students looking to pursue a career in art.

Sep 23, 202155:49
Ojai Brewcraft with Jeremy Haffner

Ojai Brewcraft with Jeremy Haffner

With Ojai Valley Brewery about to open its taproom and beer garden on Bryant Street this October, the time was right to catch up with Jeremy Haffner. He's been perfecting his hopless, local botanical beers for years, and selling them at the family restaurant Azu, which he operated with his wife Liz and mother-in-law Laurel Moore until the beloved institution was sold this month. 

Haffner has been using Ojai-specific herbs like sages, mugwort, yerba santa and sumac to give it the characteristic bitterness and flavor notes that beer enthusiasts crave. He also uses local water and runs his facility on 100 percent renewable energy, making only small batches to keep to an Ojai ethos of a sustainable, environmentally conscious, artisanal economy.

We also talked about his travels as the frontman for Oedipus, a hard-rock band with a devoted following in Europe as well as America, Ojai's future, growing up in Los Angeles, our musical interests, drugs and creativity, witches and a design college for the old school district headquarters. We did not talk about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sir John Franklin's Arctic expeditions or non-fungible tokens.

Sep 16, 202101:19:49
Farming & Cooking in Ojai with Steve Sprinkel

Farming & Cooking in Ojai with Steve Sprinkel

It's been more than 20 years since Steve Sprinkel and wife Olivia Chase opened The Farmer & The Cook in Meiners Oak. The restaurant/grocery/music venue and gathering place has created a vibrant community around it. The fresh, organic produce that Steve grows on his nearby farm forms the basis for the delicious good that Olivia and her crew cooks.

Steve grew up in the Pasadena area in a construction-business family, but found himself drawn to farming while staying on an innovative commune near Santa Cruz in his college years. His deep love of soil and the things you can grow it from it began to sprout and flourish there. Some years later, after supplying Whole Foods with fresh produce in Austin, Texas, he returned to Ventura County. He then re-connected with Olivia when she owned an innovative bakery in Ventura, and their partnership took root.

We talked about the many challenges of farming in Ojai, the climate crisis as seen through the extended drought, the strong-arm tactics of Big Ag, the experimentation and data-gathering which all farmers are engaged in, Ojai's eccentric characters (present company excluded) and whether our society can rise to this existential challenge. We shared a few stories about the legendary Jonathan Gold and the meaning of food culture to Los Angeles' identity.

We did not talk about 19th century baseball players, Yukio Mishima or taimen fishing in Mongolia.

Sep 08, 202101:25:52
California Recall Electioneering with Josh Gohlke

California Recall Electioneering with Josh Gohlke

We are joined for a special episode of Ojai: Talk of the Town with Josh Gohlke, the former deputy opinion page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Gohlke has been writing about and covering Gov. Gavin Newson since his 2018 election. He shares his opinion about the recall process, the opera bouffe of the 46 mostly eccentric candidates, the perils of campaigning with bears, and the terrible urgency of this election. Not only can a sitting governor be replaced with someone who is the choice of fewer than 15 percent of the electorate, but control of the U.S. Senate may well be at stake. (Dianne Feinstein, please don't Ruth Bader Ginsburg us. And while we're at it, Justice Stephen Breyer, don't you either).

Josh and I catch up about our years in Kernville, California, his strange, nigh mystical relationship with former Department of Water Resources chief Frank Gehrke and why journalism still matters. We also talk about the French Laundry's consciousness-altering menu, the forces behind the recall, the dual nihilism on display in the state and country and the deadline for getting ballots into the mail.

We did not talk about Newsom's relationship with either his famous harp-maestro cousin Joanne or his ordeal at the hands of Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Aug 30, 202101:04:00
James Becket's Pursuit of Truth, Justice & The Ojai Way

James Becket's Pursuit of Truth, Justice & The Ojai Way

Author, filmmaker and eco-warrior Jim Becket has completed his latest project," "Seeds of Vandana Shiva," about the fascinating Dr. Shiva, who grew up in the Himalayan hinterlands and is now using restorative and innovative agriculture as a way to feed the planet's hungry billions, while being a constant target of Big Ag for her fight against GMOs and their post-colonial power grabs in developing countries.

It is merely the latest for this prolific creator, who, well into his 70s, climbed 19,341-foot-tall Mount Kilimanjaro with the sons of Julius Nyere and Idi Amin for "Sons of Africa," which he co-produced with another Ojai man, Jim Whitney. The film put together the son of the man who invaded Kenya to oust the tyrant Amin, with the son of the tyrant himself, for an introspective, enthralling look at the burdens of history as well as the promises of peace and reconciliation.

Becket attended the prestigious Williams College before earning his law degree at Harvard. In his storied career, he put that human rights law degree to work with the United Nation's Commissioner on Refugees, helping hundreds of thousands of people dislocated from wars in Southeast Asia and Africa.

He has written several books, including "Barbarism in Greece," which got him declared "persona non grata" by the ruling junta, as well as "Inca Gold" and "Murder on the Tour de France." He has written and directed seven feature films, in addition to his many documentaries focusing on social justice and environmental issues.

Aug 26, 202101:07:00
Rhiannon Giddens & The Ojai Music Festival

Rhiannon Giddens & The Ojai Music Festival

Rhiannon Giddens, virtuoso banjo player, singer-songwriter, Grammy winner, MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient and keeper of the flame of African-American roots music, will be among the featured performers at this year's Ojai Music Festival, coming Sept. 16-19, under the musical direction of John Adams.

We talked with Giddens from her home in Dublin, where she and her partner, Francesco Turrissi, now live. It will be her first trip to Ojai, though she's inadvertently hit  on an Ojai theme with her popular "Aria Code" podcast, in which she contrasts an aria from Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" with Vivian Liberto Cash's imagined lament at the absence of her husband, Johnny Cash, while she holds down the fort in Casitas Springs. Giddens will perform a mix of her own music, as well as modernist masterpieces by Adams and Mozart.

Giddens, who will be featured on the cover of the Fall 2021 issue of Ojai Quarterly, first came to prominence with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, reviving the once-ubiquitous and now nearly forgotten Black string band, as well as for her acting chops on "Nashville." She holds an important place in the folk music scene as a chronicler and interpreter of the vital tradition of roots music. For more information, check out the 2021 Ojai Music Festival program or read the fascinating article by John Jeremiah Sullivan in the May 13, 2019 issue of the New Yorker.

Aug 11, 202143:17
Surviving AIDS with Ventura Councilperson Doug Halter

Surviving AIDS with Ventura Councilperson Doug Halter

Doug Halter lost his partner to AIDS during the worst days of the epidemic, so he dedicated himself to civic activism as a way to repay the debt and keep himself sane. Finding his purpose in life not only helped Halter survive what was once a sure death sentence, but gave him the motivation and direction to thrive. The fruit of this labor is his recent book, "Give Me Time," a memoir chronicling his darkest days during the early days of AIDS and his lifelong love of the area.

The book takes us through Doug's growing up in a large, bustling family, his early love of gardening he shared with his grandfather, early talents for city planning, successful careers in IT sales and his move to Ventura 34 years ago.

The book is also funny, perceptive and inspiring.

Elected last year to the Ventura City Council, Doug is the owner of a bustling landscape company with 50 employees, and was married to Doug Encinas by Ojai's own Judge Fred Bysshe. Doug has been among the leaders of downtown Ventura's restoration, a past president of the Ventura downtown Rotary, one of the founders of the Ventura Botanical Gardens and a caring steward of his hometown. He's also a regular with an Ojai poker group which is more charm and chat than cards.

You can learn more about Doug (and maybe purchase a copy of "Give Me Time" at