Here we go again. A few of my personal choices.
Best Customer Service Moment
Jessica at United States Postal Service Downtown Ventura office
Though we never met face to face I wanted you to know, hyperbole aside, that you single-handedly restored my faith in humanity. Of all possible places to receive THE BEST customer service of the past decade, the post office would not have been in my top 100. Yet it happened. You were friendly, understanding and helpful. You took down my phone number and called me back (!). Best of all, you happily helped me solve my problem. I never got around to writing a thank you note, and for that I apologize.
Best Event I Didn’t Attend
A Flavor Trip Around The World
My colleague Michael Sullivan logged more than a few hours coordinating and facilitating this event to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society a cause very close to her heart, or more accurately, her blood. The premise: Various ethnic restaurants from around the county set up table tents with samples of their specialties. There was also multicultural live music. I had every intention of attending but due to an evil heat wave, I was forced to stay in my cave with a spray bottle of chilled water. I do hope she reprises the event next year, and the sun behaves itself.
Best Progressive Idea That Didn’t Catch On
Josh Addison, founder of Bell Arts Factory, is one of those rare pioneering people who is not driven by self-interest; which makes it extra unfortunate when one of his projects doesn’t quite take off. Case in point: Connect Ventura, a co-working space he established in West Ventura. Co-working isn’t an entirely new idea but it might be a bit outside the cubicle for Ventuckians to embrace. As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, the workers find themselves bereft of company. Being alone, while appealing to a degree, is not natural for humans and therefore not healthy. A co-working space provides a comfortable, quiet place to work in the company of others. Connect Ventura had everything the mobile businessperson could want: fast Internet, private space, conference rooms, common areas for networking, a kitchen and complimentary coffee. It’s possible that the fee for using the space was a bit high for many people, it certainly was for me, but its success could have ushered in a new era for Ventura. Rumor has it that Addison will give it another try, this time using the Bell Arts Space. Fingers crossed.
Best Overhyped Job Creator
The Collection at Riverpark
Oxnard finally has the shopping center it deserves. For all the hype, the public art, the fancy stores, the plush movie theater, the restaurants and the Whole Foods Market everyone is so ga ga for, it’s really just another uninspired generic way for hard working people to support the status quo at the expense of small business, the environment and originality. Meh.
The Springs Fire
Brush fires in spring or Camarillo Springs are not the norm, but neither is fog in August. Weather patterns are changing (with or without your permission) and the Springs Fire had all the drama of a typical Southern California disaster with a price tag to match: $7.6 million. I remember this day well because I was trying to stay cool during a totally uncharacteristic May heat wave as I prepared for the VCReporter Local Music Issue Party that night. I watched the fire’s progression live on television. As a 50-year resident of So Cal and witness to countless large brush fires, this was the fastest moving fire I’d ever seen. I mean, it made it all the way to the ocean in one day! It was also a huge victory for firefighters who managed to put it out with no loss of life or property and only a few minor injuries. There’s a reason everyone loves these guys.
Best Event Fail
The Parking Lot Summer Concert Series
After jumping through endless hoops to get City Council approval for a potentially lucrative (for himself and the city) summer concert series in the unused parking lot behind City Hall, exasperated fat cat Mark Hartley was forced to fold the whole idea. Poli Street residents were relieved; yuppies and hipster music fans, not so much.
Best Place to View Tweekers and Hot Construction Workers
Red Barn Liquor
Since moving to the Ventura Avenue area earlier this year I have spent a substantial amount of accumulated time at Red Barn Liquor. Whether I’m waiting in the car while my son fills our water bottles or running in for a quick candy fix, I have come to rely on three things there: the Russian owner calling me and every customer, male or female, “baby”; haggard old tweeker chicks on bicycles making deals out front; and hot, sweaty construction/oil field workers cruising in after work for a 12 pack and a taco. The people watching (read: eavesdropping) opportunities are phenomenal and one day I will park myself there to write a book. Bonus: across the street are a laundromat, party supply and Santeria shop.