Going Up?


rom what I heard, a collective whew! replaced the joyous pop of champagne corks around the county—around the country—this New Year’s Eve, a sense of relief rather than celebration. It’s been a rough year. A lost decade say some stock market commentators, who point to withered portfolios and frightening statistics to drive the point home. (If on January 1, 2000 you’d invested $100K in a fund representing 500 of the largest U.S. companies, you’d have ended up by mid-December of 2009 with $69,114, taking inflation into account.)

I don’t know much about economics, but when the house two doors down from ours went into foreclosure—followed by the house another two doors down, and then the house another two doors down—even I started to pay attention. Now that I do, I can say with authority that the authorities on the subject don’t have clear answers. They are, however, quite convincing, even if their expert theories smash dramatically into each other. Makes for good TV, I suppose. Radio too.

So what’s next? Or is this it? Are the recent hard times actually just “soft times going,” as Groucho Marx put it? At least there are some upsides to this economic sinkhole: our nice new neighbors got great deals on their homes—and we had our property tax lowered following a reassessment.

The vast majority of us in Ventura County aren’t standing in soup lines. We’re not trudging through the dustbowl of the Midwest looking for migrant labor work. It could be worse. I’m confident it will be much better soon. So rather than dwell on the past, we opted to focus on The Future as a theme for this January issue.

The house featured in our Nesting section (p. 14) was initially described to me as “Ranch Style meets The Jetsons.” As a subject for this particular issue, it hit the editorial bull’s-eye. The property embraces Upper Ojai’s bucolic character while employing space-age technology—the owners can actually control the home via computer from anywhere in the world. Or they can sit back and let an automated system, “the brains,” coordinate everything to maximize energy efficiency.

The profile of Jessica Bodner (p. 32) was another story that fit snugly in this issue. She’s been on our radar for a long time, but singling out one artist in a county full of artists is no easy task. Don’t get me wrong: we could do it every month. It would make life easy for us in the editorial department—go through the phonebook and pick a local artist, a restaurant, a business to profile. Trust me, you’d be bored stiff after a couple issues.

When I contacted Jessica she was at her Ventura studio working on a 13-foot “Nebula” chandelier. Something for the Space Center in Houston, a cloud-like form with a sprinkling of lights representing stars and planets. Talk about a theme-relevant photo opp. She was also prepping for a trip to New York where she’d receive an award at the Guggenheim. A local artist with a futuristic approach going big beyond the county lines. Perfect. Like the home in our Nesting feature, we didn’t have to think twice about moving ahead with an article.

I wish it were always so easy. But things rarely are. Of course there are a million clichés that tell us to hang tight when facing adversity, that smooth seas don’t make skilled mariners and whatnot. “A pessimist,” said Winston Churchill, “sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

So you can open your eyes now. It’s 2010. Which means that ’09 is officially dead and ’08 is that much farther gone.

Going up?


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