The X Factor

Photo by Jake Cryan


e’re pretty excited about the house on our cover. Mostly because it’s as eco-friendly as a house gets. Partly because it contains a tantalizing X factor—which we’ve blood-sworn to keep under wraps.

So we won’t discuss it further. Except to point out that in the language of lifestyle magazines, both are sheer poetry: the Unspeakable X Factor and the house itself, a titanium-clad LEED Platinum-certified showpiece in western Ventura County called 3 Palms (page 20).

Thankfully, the house angle is strong enough to ease the pain of keeping mum. And we did manage to infuse some flesh and blood (although not the owners’) into the article, interviewing a couple key players rather than regurgitating specs and architectural jargon.

Some years back, I received a searing email from a reader who didn’t approve of our cover story spotlighting Larry Hagman’s solar-powered house in Ojai. Never mind that Hagman was one of Ventura County’s most compelling characters. Or that he’d managed to strip his electric bill down to almost nothing ($13 for the entire year 2006). She was miffed because he was rich.

When the smoke of her resentment cleared, we bandied sentiments and opinions, essentially agreeing to disagree. Nothing wrong with that. One of my points was that such a house, while financially out of reach for most of our readers, illustrates potential; it shows what can be done.

In the case of 3 Palms that was precisely the owners’ intent: to create a “model of green living.” Every stage of construction was documented. Marketers were hired. And in the coming months and years, the Unspeakable X Factor’s star power will help spread the gospel of domestic sustainability.

Can I afford to build something like this? Pffft! I pump a fist when the county reassesses our rustic abode and slashes a few bucks from the property tax. My car is old enough to drive. And vote. But just as cell phones were once the provenance of a deep-pocketed few, cutting edge green technologies of today will inevitably become commonplace in the future—assuming we get there.

I’m not advocating trickle-down green, or suggesting that wealthy people set the bar for societal benevolence. To be sure, I’ve learned more about altruism and clean living from the poor than the rich. When a person with fame and financial means uses those resources in a positive way, however, I find it commendable. Certainly worthy of editorial coverage. Nuf said.

If you’ve read these notes of mine over the years, you’ll know I’m wide open to comments and input. If you have a story idea you can objectively envision on the pages of Ventana, drop me an email.

A local artist did and has gotten good ink for a few of her friends, like Christian McCord, who’s pad on Poli (page 39) is compelling not just for its fairytale charm but because she styled it herself, transforming a drug den into a warm, family-friendly cottage.

Another tip led us to the home of Tom Archbald and Manuel Marquez (page 15), where landscaper Richard Sanders created something of a suburban oasis on an average residential lot.

That property abuts the Pacific View Mall rather than the Pacific Ocean. The Sears parking lot, to be precise. It’s no contemporary masterwork, just a thoughtfully designed local dwelling with an immaculate garden.

You’re not likely to see this one in other magazines. It’s not 3 Palms. But still, we like it. It shows what can be done with a little money and a whole lot of savvy.


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