Donald & Eldra Avery
gets a makeover
Meet Kevin Rucks
skateboarding, lessons learned & zombies
slo life magazine | 1
2 | slo life magazine
slo life magazine | 3
| publisher’s message
My seven-year-old daughter loves looking at old family photos.
As we were flipping through a dust-covered album the other day,
I came across a shot I had not seen in years, and it stopped me in
my tracks. It was a picture of my grandpa working on one of his
tractors in his shop, bundled up in a jacket and hat in the middle of
the scorching hot summer just outside of Visalia in the San Joaquin
Valley. At the time the photo was taken, he was in the final throes
of his battle with terminal cancer.
Glenn L. Pratt
(1920 - 1994)
Nothing could keep Grandpa out of his shop. From the time he
dropped out of the sixth grade until the moment he drew his final
breath, he was a cotton farmer. Like most people of his generation,
he believed in the importance of a handshake. He believed in his
neighbors. He believed in hard work. And he understood that the
key to running a good business was to continually innovate. That’s
a word he would have never used himself, but, looking back on it,
that’s exactly what he did. He almost never bought new machinery;
instead he opted to keep his old, fully-paid-for equipment going.
When something could not be revived for another season, he
often improvised and fabricated whatever he needed himself. A
combination of notes, numbers, and diagrams scratched out on
a yellow legal notepad by his massive, grease-stained right hand
soon enough became a reality out in the shop.
When I was a kid, about the same age my daughter is now, I remember listening in on discussions between Grandpa and his brother Louie. They would
debate about the best way to build this or fix that. They would talk for hours about finding a better ball bearing for the harvester. Honestly, I didn’t care
what they talked about, and I certainly didn’t understand much of it. I just wanted to be around it. I wanted to soak it in. These were big, important
men talking about big and important things. It was cool, and I wanted to be like them.
As I reflect on that photo today, it brings about a flood of emotion. I think about my wife and my kids, who never had the chance to meet Grandpa;
I think about my many cousins back in the Valley and elsewhere who today apply the lessons learned out at the shop when we were younger; and, I
think about how I can see a little bit of Grandpa in the local small business owners I am so privileged to work with here each and every day.
As publisher of this magazine, I wear many hats. But, one of my most favorite things I do is visit with our advertisers. Sometimes I feel like a seven-year-old
kid again as I learn about their plans for their businesses and what they are doing to innovate. Those conversations leave me with a strong faith that our
small business community will continue to lead the way, probably not with some big, complicated high-tech invention, but in small, incremental steps, on a
daily basis, with the same grit, dedication and ingenuity that Grandpa displayed in his shop as he built his business, one ball bearing at a time.
Live the SLO Life!
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SloliFeMagaZine.CoM • (805) 553-8820 • (805) 456-1677
Submit your story ideas, events, recipes
and announcements by visiting us online at
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If you would like to advertise, please contact Tom
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San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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4 | slo life magazine
Meet Your Neighbor:
778 Osos Street, Suite C
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
The Way We Live:
34 The Avery Home
Q & A :
Dave Romero’s life and career
going SLO on Turri Road
How I Found My Way Here :
it took getting lost to find home
The Way It Was :
the Kalmans fight for a cure
No Place Like Home :
discover the monarch grove
Finds Under Fifty :
it’s time to go shopping
To Your Health :
stand up for yourself
Real Estate :
local experts share their insight
Local Food by Local People :
a hearty, healthy meal
The Arts :
Community Calendar :
the best SLO has to offer
I grew up in San Luis Obispo before leaving
to attend college and pursue my career as an
attorney. After a decade of practicing litigation
and estate planning, I was ready to return to
the place I love, start a practice I believe in and
make a difference in the local legal community
by offering a competent and caring approach to
the practice of law.
Central Coast Estate Planning and Fiduciary
Services is the culmination of my personal
and professional dreams. What makes my firm
different is that I haven’t forgotten the human
element in the practice of law. I focus on each
family or individual and their unique needs and
keep my firm small and specialized so that you
are always my top priority.
Whether you need an estate plan written or
updated, require representation in probate,
trust or tax litigation or are interested in hiring
a trustworthy and knowledgeable personal
fiduciary, I can offer the guidance, experienced
legal representation and personal touch that is
so often lacking from the practice of law today.
It’s a tough world out there and trust, probate
and tax law can be a minefield, but I am here to
help you and your loved ones.
Jed D. Hazeltine
Attorney At Law
slo life magazine | 5
| Q & A
Mayor Dave Romero
Since he came to town in 1956, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has had such a large
impact on San Luis Obispo. And, on nearly every major city issue since then, you can find his fingerprints.
He retires in January and leaves some very big shoes to fill. The Mayor takes our questions…
What did you want to be when
you grew up?
You know, from the time I was
about ten, I wanted to be a civil
engineer. Actually, I wanted to
be a logging engineer at first, but
I couldn’t get into the program
at the university back in 1946,
so I went to my own state
university, the University of New
Mexico, and enrolled in their
civil engineering program which
was a better choice for me. So, I
chose something as a child and
got to spend my entire working
life doing something I wanted and
How did you get the nickname
“Dave the Pave”?
It was given to me by a critic
who had the perception that I
approved every development
proposal that came through.
I used the name in a different
context because “Dave the
Pave” was the one who made
sure that our streets were paved
and that our sidewalks were
well-maintained. The nickname
became a positive thing for me.
What do we have to do to keep
San Luis Obispo at the top of all
those “Best Places” lists?
I think what we have been doing
for the past 15 years or so has
been positive, and has brought
us to that point. We need to
continue to do what we’ve been
doing. The critical problem for us
has been the high cost of housing.
Hopefully we’ll be able to provide
more of it to bring the prices
down. To do that we also need to
make more jobs available.
What do you think people
misunderstand about you?
The main criticism people have
made of me over the years was
that I was strongly pro-growth, but
really I have been strongly pro-city.
That is, I have always done what I
thought was best for the welfare of
the city. There has to be a certain
amount of growth or you stagnate.
What single piece of advice
would you pass on to the new
I would advise the new mayor to
really work to see that we have a
harmonious, operating, teamfunctioning
city council because
the way the council relates with
itself during the meeting is the
perception the public has of
how well we operate and is the
perception of the city.
What will you miss most and
least about being mayor?
Having spent fifty years in the
city – friends. I won’t miss long
meetings, particularly those
with extensive testimony.
Do you have any regrets?
No - I have no regrets. I think that
a lot of the life choices that I’ve
made, especially in coming here
to San Luis Obispo so many years
ago have worked out really well. I
have no regrets at all in my
life. I’m very happy with the way it
has all turned out. I am one of the
most fortunate men and have had
a truly blessed life.
What does the future hold for
I’m still going to keep a finger
in the city’s operations, not
as a voting member but as an
ambassador, so I’ll still be a part
of my beloved city. Hopefully, my
wife and I will have a long travel
vacation, which we never did in
my time as mayor because I didn’t
want to be away that long. We
have lots of grandchildren and
now great grandchildren coming
on, so we’ll have lots of family
activities as well.
What’s the one thing you would
whisper in the ear of someone
just starting their career?
Marry a patient woman… that
really affects your life a lot.
Where would you take Mrs.
Romero for a special night out?
My wife and I for many, many
years have celebrated our
anniversary at the Madonna Inn.
I always ordered the same thing,
a “junior top,” which is a small,
local top sirloin steak with a baked
potato and salad and all the rest
of the stuff that goes with it. It
was a special thing that Alex had
there and it wasn’t on the menu,
but people knew about it.
When you look back on your long
career what do you think about?
I think about how far the city
has come. When I first came
here, in 1956, the city was sort
of like any old town USA. The
infrastructure really needed
improvement. We didn’t have
any trees in downtown. We had
signs overhanging the streets.
Lot of things were run down
in the community. We needed
road improvements. The traffic
situation was poor – it still is in
a lot of ways. I really think about
how things were, and I think
it needed someone who could
dedicate a lifetime for a single
How do you want to be
I’d like to be remembered as
being mayor at a time when the
city reached a pinnacle of respect,
and we were recognized for the
efforts that we have had – and
it isn’t all my efforts. It started
many, many years before me
with thoughtful city councils who
did a lot of master planning and
started things. I would hope to
be remembered as Mayor of San
Luis Obispo during the very best
Please finish this sentence for
us: “The real truth about Dave
… he has an undying love for San
6 | slo life magazine
Hear for the Holidays
Jingling all the way.
It’s hard to imagine
missing all the
sounds of this
of the year.
Give a special
gift to a loved
one, and let them
hear for the holidays.
And every other day, too.
Call us today for your consultation
Helping You Hear The Things You Love
slo life magazine | 7
Named for the Turri Family’s ranch nearby, this little-known shortcut that connects San Luis Obispo to Morro
Bay was captured beautifully by Anthony Halderman six years ago. Halderman, who likes to shoot the local
landscape immediately following a hard rain with the sun at his back, took this photograph while standing on
the roof of his car just after a February storm had swept through from the Pacific. SLO LIFE
8 | slo life magazine
slo life magazine | 9
Do you have an amazing photo? Go to slolifemagazine.com to share it.
| How I found my way Here
road to mayan ruins Leads to SLo
It took getting lost in the jungle to help Heidi Rank find her way home.
of gas in the middle of the jungle
when they happened upon a
small, unassuming sign off of the
road that read “Cerveza Fria” [cold
beer]. Overjoyed at the thought
of getting directions, the roadweary
travelers stumbled into the
establishment. Recalls Heidi, “As
the woman behind the bar was
pouring beer for the guys, I locked
eyes with her and had the most
powerful ‘déjà vu’ I can remember.
She was beautiful, stunning, and
spoke perfect English.”
“In 1989 I was a single mother
of five-year-old twins working in
Chicago as an architect. I was at
a point where I needed to take
a break and clear my head, and
it was the middle of winter, so
I arranged a week-long trip to
Cancun with a friend, who had to
back out at the last minute. I was
disappointed, but also determined
to continue, so I decided to go by
It was while boarding a bus to visit
some Mayan ruins that the solo
traveler, Heidi Rank, happened
upon two other Americans
who were being hassled by
an exasperated, Spanish-onlyspeaking
bus driver. Seeing that
the pair had very limited Spanish
speaking ability, Heidi jumped
in to translate. The problem was
quickly resolved – turned out it
had something to do with the fare
– and a full bus, along with the
Lost: (left to right) unidentified Belizean guide, John Pratt, and Heidi Rank consult their maps.
Photo by Dana Holt.
three American tourists was soon
chugging, bouncing, and lurching
down the road toward Tulum, Mexico.
An easy conversation flowed
between the three Americans as
they settled into their seats for the
long drive, and it was discovered
that the two men were from San
Luis Obispo. John Pratt, a local
attorney, was taking a longplanned
trip with good friend,
Dana Holt, a local photographer
whose family had been in San
Luis Obispo for many generations.
Remembers Heidi, “They were
going to rent a truck and drive into
Belize in search of some pretty
remote Mayan ruins. During our
bus ride, they invited me to come
along. I pondered it for a minute,
decided it was an opportunity of a
lifetime, and accepted.”
On the first night of their journey,
John called his wife, Gayle
Peron, who is now a County
Commissioner, to tell her that they
had picked up an American girl
who spoke Spanish. John recalls
the conversation, “‘Hi honey…
you’ll never guess what happened
today.... We met this really nice
girl from Chicago who speaks
Spanish… We invited her to come
to Belize with us… We all have
to squeeze into this tiny room…
You can’t imagine the sleeping
arrangements’ …and then I hear
a ‘click’ and the line goes dead.
There was a storm going, and the
power went out. So, this is the
only thing my poor wife hears from
me while I’m out in the jungle for
the week with my buddy, Dana,
and our new friend, Heidi!”
The trio’s first attempt at finding
the ancient Mayan City of Altun
Ha was a disaster, and, after a
full day of driving, they found
themselves lost and nearly out
How did you find your way here? Go to slolifemagazine.com and tell us your story.
When she introduced herself
as Alexandra, Heidi reflexively
blurted, “Class of 1975, Guilford
High School.” The two women
were amazed by the odds of
growing up together in Rockford,
Illinois, a town of around 100,000,
only to be reunited nearly fifteen
years later in the middle of a
remote rain forest. According to
Heidi, “Rockford, Illinois wasn’t
famous for much, but it was
known as ‘Trampoline Town U.S.A.’
Alexandra and I had taken ‘tramp
lessons’ together, as we called it.
She was really good and went on
to become the World Trampoline
After years on tour with various
trampoline and tumbling groups,
Alexandra was now working as
the manager of the resort that
her father had acquired as an
investment property. She invited
the trio to stay the week there
as her guest, which they readily
accepted. The remainder of
their trip “flew by” as Alexandra
directed them to some of “the
best ruins in Belize.”
Now, forever bonded by the
whimsical twists and turns in their
quest for ancient Mayan ruins, the
trio kept in touch, and, looking for
a better place to raise her kids,
Heidi picked up and moved to
San Luis Obispo later that same
year with her two young children,
where she has been ever since.
10 | slo life magazine
Over 15 different
styles of Patagonia
down jackets for
men and women.
for a good time
Our Publisher, Tom Franciskovich, has a long track
record of helping companies just like yours achieve
their marketing objectives. Call him, he’ll let you
know how we can help you. Plus, he’s a lot of fun.
slo life magazine | 11
| the way it was
Images captured in the 1970’s finally have their stories revealed. BY BARBARA STICKEL, PHOTOS BY THOM HALLS
While we enjoy the bounty of fresh local fish, we often
forget what it takes to bring the catch of the day to our
plates. A compelling new exhibit at the History Center
of San Luis Obispo called “The Catch: Stories of Local
Fishermen” gives the visitor a glimpse into the life of
our fishermen during the 1970s. Photojournalist Thom
Halls, then Cal Poly art student, captured our local fishing
industry during his senior project in the mid-1970s. Who
could have known that over thirty years later, these photos
would provide the perfect platform for guest curator,
Cal Poly graduate student, and local fisherman, Barbara
Stickel, to share this fascinating story.
Through her connections to the fishing community and
tireless hours of interviews armed with these photos,
Stickel has been able to identify many of the people
in Halls’ photos and gather their narratives. The result
is an exhibit that honors local fishermen in a personal
way. Stickel sheds light on who these people are, what is
sacrificed for another day at sea and how many of them
have lost their lives in pursuit of their passion.
above enGine rooM When Travis Evans’ family sent him to CalPoly in the 1930s, he
was expected to return home afterward. That never happened, and the man the fleet calls
“The Preacher,” still fishes out of Port San Luis daily, weather permitting.
12 | slo life magazine
left workinG the nets (left to right) Bruce Brebes (1942-1983) and George Graafft are
shown working a lampara, fishing for bait on the fishing vessel Mello Boy. Today, the Mello
Boy is still providing live bait for recreational fishermen at Port San Luis.
Below is an exerpt of Barbara Stickel’s writing featured in the exhibit:
Most commercial fishermen will tell you: “It’s not just what I do, it’s who
I am.” For many, there is no retirement, not because of a lack of planning,
but by choice. Fishing is not simply a job; it is an entire sense of being.
It’s almost as if their bodies demand the constant exposure to salt and
continual hard work.
And, despite the effort, there is no predicting the catch, there is no
controlling the sea; ensuring that everything is in good working order
is all fishermen and their families can do. For commercial fishermen,
maintaining equipment and protecting the hull from the elements can be a
matter of life and death, and their survival depends on remaining vigilant
until the boat has safely returned to port.
Despite the near constant attention to regular maintenance while aboard,
the real action for commercial fishermen comes in spurts. Many uneventful
hours may pass motoring from fishing spot to fishing spot; much time is
spent waiting while the gear is in the water. During the catch, the work is
hard, fast, furious. The haul must be handled quickly and carefully with
any unwanted species rapidly returned to the sea. Day and night blend
together. On foggy days, the horizon melds into the sea. Salt air and
moisture permeate everything.
At sea, the world on the shore ceases to exist. Routines are interrupted,
plans are put aside, and expectations constantly change. It’s not
uncommon for a commercial fisherman to be uncertain about what month
it is, let alone the day of the week or date. Yet they are drawn to the
mystery, the appeal of knowing that something new and unexpected might
happen or might come over the rail of the boat at any given moment.
above Morro Bay Fuel Docks Shortly after this photograph was taken, a consortium of
fishermen purchased and rehabilitated the docks shown. For the next twenty years, the docks
provided fuel and berthing for the commercial fleet.
Albacore fishermen, much like the fish,
prefer to roam the open oceans.
slo life magazine | 13
The Kalmans v. neuroblastoma
The power of love may be what it takes to find a cure.
Calli Kalman and Frank Kalman
founders of Kids’ Cancer Research Foundation
14 | slo life magazine
There is a sadness that permeates Frank Kalman. It is not obvious when you first meet him, but if
you know his story, you will understand why he struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Nine years ago when his daughter, Calli, was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with a very rare cancer
called neuroblastoma. This type of cancer afflicts approximately 700 American children each year.
“The euphemism that parents whose children were diagnosed with this disease use is to say that
‘Jenny earned her angel wings today’ when they share the news that their child passed,” Frank
explains as his eyes well up with tears and his voice cracks with emotion. He collects himself with a
long, deep breath and continues. “There was this one Friday about six months ago when we learned
that three kids had earned their wings, and that’s when I said ‘I’ve got to do something.’”
By this time, Frank had “pressed every button and pulled every lever” to get the best care possible
for Calli and had become uniquely qualified to help other families going through the same thing.
“I have developed this huge amount of knowledge about the disease and the treatments and the
whole process, and I want to put it to good use. There are just so many people we can help.” With
that resolve, the Kids’ Cancer Research Foundation was recently formed [more information about
the organization can be found on the web at www.endkidscancer.org].
The list of people involved with the foundation is impressive and reads like a “Who’s Who List”
of cancer researchers, but, mostly, it serves as a testament to Kalman’s dogged persistence and
hard-earned credibility. Kalman recalls his chance meeting with one key board member, Christopher
Kennedy Lawford. “We were walking through a shop in Santa Monica, wasting time between chemo
appointments for Calli, who was so sick and completely bald, when I recognize Chris. So, I go up to
him and make a comment about a movie he was in. He was so gracious, and he and his wife spent a
half an hour or so talking with Calli.”
A friendship blossomed, and Lawford continued to follow up with Calli to inquire about her
treatments and played a vital role in clearing up a “major problem” while she was at the Sloan-
Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. According to Kalman, “I was just at my lowest point and
the treatment wasn’t going well at all, and we were caught up in some red tape. Anyway, right
about then Chris called to ask how we were doing and I told him ‘not well’ and he said, ‘Look, I will
call my mom [JFK’s sister, Patricia], she used to work there. And, if that doesn’t help, I’ll call Uncle
Teddy [the late Senator Ted Kennedy]. Don’t worry - we’ll get it figured out.’ It was like this guy just
walked in out of the blue and said, ‘I have an atomic bomb, where do you want me to deliver it?’”
Despite the big names that Kalman has lined up, he cites the support that his daughter has
received from the people of San Luis Obispo as being the most important to them. “Our friends and
neighbors held a fundraising event a while back at the Fremont Theater where they screened Calli’s
favorite movie, “Remember the Titans.” I remember there was this unassuming looking college kid
who walked up and wrote a check and walked right back out. We saw that type of thing over and
over again. I mean, over a thousand people turned out to support my daughter. I’ll never forget
Today, as Kalman launches his new foundation, Calli’s cancer has returned. She continues her
chemotherapy treatments while also attending Cal Poly as a 21-year-old junior. One gets the sense,
however, that we have not heard the last from this inspirational father-daughter team. Says Kalman,
“We’re looking at this foundation like Edison and his light bulb. It would be bold of me to say that
we’re going to find a cure for this cancer, but the more research we can fund, the closer we get to
getting it done.” SLO LIFE
Do you have an inspirational story to share? Go to slolifemagazine.com and tell us about it.
slo life magazine | 15
| Meet your neighbor
Meet Kevin rucks
In this installment of our “Meet Your Neighbor” series, SLO LIFE Magazine sat down to talk with Kevin
Rucks. He is formally a professional skateboarder, who lives in San Luis Obispo with his wife, Jennifer, and
their two kids, Drake and Milla. In addition to co-owning and operating Salisbury Vineyards with Jennifer
and her parents, John and Maridel Salisbury, Kevin is a freelance artist who owns a small skateboard
hardware company, Cannibolts, and is actively learning the art of BMX with his son. Here is his story…
Who were your role models as a kid?
My heroes growing up were Spider-Man, The Six Million Dollar Man, and
Evel Knievel. My biggest influence was Evel Knievel because he always
said things like “guys will cheat in car racing and use nitrous oxide, and
their car will run really fast for a couple of laps then blow up. If you take
drugs in life you’ll run really fast for a while, then you’ll fall apart too.” In
other words, you can’t cheat the system - there’s no easy way to do it.
He had integrity. He’d say that he wanted to live his life “jumping through
the air with sunshine on his face.” I remember the first time I saw him say
that; it just grabbed me, and I said that’s what I want. I didn’t care about
being rich or having a mansion or a yacht, I wanted to be like Evel Knievel,
jumping through the air with sunshine on my face because he’s living
free and being his own guy and being dangerous. That was cool. That’s
not something you could buy or go to college for. You had to earn it. You
either did or you didn’t.
Why Spider-Man and the Six Million Dollar Man?
I liked The Six Million Dollar Man because he was always trying to do
the right thing and be honest, and he didn’t like guns. Spiderman was
the same way but he used sarcasm to put down the bad guys by making
these great little wisecracks. When someone would pick on me at school,
I would try to do the same thing. I figured out that if I could embarrass
somebody for trying to bully me or my friends, then they usually left us
alone, and sometimes they’d start buying my artwork.
Let’s start from the beginning, Kevin. give us some background.
My dad was an electrical engineer from Arkansas who worked in the
aerospace industry. We bounced around a little bit growing up. We
lived next to Cape Canaveral when I was little, so I got to see spaceship
launches. Just before I started elementary school, he was transferred
to Orange County, where I grew up. My mom was a stay-at-home mom,
and I have two older sisters. I started skateboarding when I was about 9
or 10 years old. I found out I was pretty good at it and decided to enter
some competitions. I was 14 when I got my first sponsor, Santa Cruz
What did your parents have to say about that?
At the time, they really didn’t understand what it was all about. I
remember once in high school they sat me down to ask if I was doing
drugs. I was the lead singer in a punk band and had this huge Mohawk
and was really into animal rights and being a vegetarian; I even started a
magazine called “Why?” which was all about why we shouldn’t be eating
animals. They said, “There are all these random people coming to the
house all the time, and you always have cash.” I took them through my
bedroom and showed them all my drawers and my closet, which were
full of tons of free stuff from my sponsors, companies like Santa Cruz,
VANS, Airwalk Shoes, Converse, and Independent. I would sell everything
that I didn’t use. That’s where the cash was coming from. They were pretty
16 | slo life magazine
By the third or fourth grade, kids were buying my artwork… they’d say,
“Can you draw me a zombie? I’ll give you a quarter, or you can have my
chocolate milk at lunch,” or they’d trade me for something. I never went
to school for art, but I ended up doing a lot of skateboard graphics and
concert posters for people. Half the time I’d get ripped off and never get
paid, but I didn’t care because I loved doing the work.
How did you get into art in the first place?
My grandmother was an artist back in Arkansas. She painted fine china.
So when I would go back there to visit, she would teach me all of these
really cool techniques using oil paints. I’ll never forget when she taught
me how to paint a dragon. She put this blue paint down then used a Q-tip
to roll out the scales of the dragon. I was blown away. Then she showed
me how to make the teeth by using a toothpick to carve it out. I can still
recall the smells of oil paint and those old arts and crafts shops she would
take me to.
it sounds like you had fun at grandma’s house.
On those same visits, I would go to this little comic book shop - the same
one my dad went to as a kid. My dad would tell me, “Kevin, you can go
in there, but you have to buy something. You can’t just go in to look at
everything and leave.” He was very adamant about supporting the store.
So, I would walk two miles from my grandmother’s house down to the
little town center of El Dorado, Arkansas. I’d spend all day in this comic
book shop just soaking it all in. The little old lady there was so nice. She’d
let me sit in the middle of the floor with a huge stack of comic books, just
flipping through them all day long.
continued on page 18
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slo life magazine | 17
| Meet your neighbor
Why didn’t you choose a career in art?
Actually, my friend had an embroidery company down the street from
where I grew up. He started asking me to draw things for his customers. For
example, he’d get some job with the fire department and he’d say “Kevin,
I need for you to draw a Dalmatian with a crooked fireman’s helmet that
looks like an old-time Chicago-style gangster.” Then the next day it would
be something else. He would call me and say, “I’m meeting with my client
in ten minutes - I need you to come over and talk to this guy.” That led to a
job with a t-shirt company, where I did a lot of silk-screening.
Why didn’t you stick with it?
Well, one day this lady came up to me and told me that she was putting
on these skateboard shows and paid $100 per event. She had this
traveling ramp and would go to motorcycle events and promotions at
K-Mart parking lots, and sporting event halftime shows, all sorts of stuff.
So, I said, “Ok, when’s the first event?” thinking it would be some deal
a few months down the road and she said, “I’ve got shows Wednesday,
Thursday, and Friday...”
What did you do?
So, I went in the next day and quit the art job. I remember there was this
old hippy guy that worked there and never said anything to me, but
he just laid into me when I quit. It was an important lesson that I didn’t
fully grasp until later, but I learned about the impact that we each make,
whether we like the job or not. We all hold value, but I didn’t realize it at
the time. I was 18, and I just thought I was sketching out these stupid
t-shirts. But, after I was gone for a while, I started thinking about it and
started wondering, “Wow, who’s going to do that work now that I’m
not there?” I really should’ve given them at least a two-week notice or
figured out how to do some work from the road or something.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, Kevin. i’m sure they got it worked out…
So, when did Jennifer enter the picture?
I was filming a commercial for Mello Yello soda in Hollywood. This guy,
H.B. Barnum [a songwriter and record producer], who I had not heard
of at the time, had emptied his pool so that we could skate in it for the
commercial. It was a great place on Mulholland Drive with a view of
downtown Los Angeles. Jennifer had just recently graduated from Cal
Poly and was working as an assistant for her brother who is a professional
photographer, and she was renting a room in the house next door.
Anyway, my friend had parked his truck in front of her driveway, and Jen
came over to ask him to move it so she could pull her car out.
this sounds like a true hollywood love story!
H.B. grabbed her by the hand and walked her over to make the
introduction. Let me say, a girlfriend was the last thing in the world I
wanted. I was working hard and really focusing on my career. But, as
Jen likes to say when she tells this story, she walked next door to “find
a skateboard on its side, an empty pool, and her husband’s eyes.” We
just clicked right away. Later that day, after we finished filming the
commercial, Jen’s landlord was feeling pretty flush because he had
received some money for the use of his driveway, so he bought beer for
everyone, and the two of us sat on the back of my truck and just talked
about things all night like we had known each other forever.
How does Jennifer feel about your skating these days?
She loves it, and I think she wishes I would do more of it, but I‘m pretty
busy these days. I can still compete in the Masters Events, which are 40
and over. I’ll be 43 this year. They have this thing called the Old School
Skate Jam where they invite all the old pros to get back together. I went
to Tony Hawk’s facility in January to skate the Boom Boom Huck Jam
Ramp. It was nice to skate with Tony again, and I was able to thank him
for supporting the SLO skate park [The Tony Hawk Foundation recently
provided a $25,000 grant to help with the development of the skate park
in San Luis Obispo]. He said that they are really careful about who they
donate to, but that “they were really impressed with SLO.”
how do you keep in shape for skateboarding?
I have a ramp in front of my house now where I mainly do BMX tricks with
my son and some of the other neighborhood kids. It’s a lot easier to fly
through the air on a bicycle instead of a skateboard, especially now that I’m
older. Right now, I’m trying to learn how to do bar spins; that’s where you
spin the handle bars completely around while the bike is airborne.
Don’t you ever worry about falling?
That’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about skateboarding
- the humility of it all. You’re always falling down. I mean, there is a lot
of failure involved in the sport. I would say that 90% of skateboarding is
making mistakes. You are constantly falling. And when you fall, it hurts.
You are hitting concrete. The other day I was riding my skateboard with
some neighborhood kids, and I tried a new trick and fell. They were
really concerned and came running over to me and said, “Oh my gosh,
Mr. Rucks, are you okay?” And, I said “Yeah, I’m fine. Why?” And, they
said, “We’ve never seen an old man fall like that before.” So I got up and
brushed myself off and said, “I fall all the time. That’s how you improve.”
“Kevin Rucks - A strict vegetarian with a burning passion for the
toughest, most enjoyable sport in the world, Kevin plans to skate,
draw and make the earth a better place to live.”
thrasher Magazine, november, 1990
Seeing all of these kids running around the neighborhood must bring
It really does. I remember my dad coming home from work – I do the
same thing now. He would love it when he would come home and see all
these kids in the front yard, but then he would get a little annoyed with
all the soda cans all over the front lawn and the candy wrappers all over
the place. And you’ve got all these random kids in the house. There’s
never a dull moment when you have a ramp in your front yard.
What does the future hold?
These are tough times for everybody, but I’m hoping that with this
18 | slo life magazine
economy and with the way that things are going right now, there’s a lot
of potential. I think there’s a big light at the end of the tunnel, a new idea
or a new way of doing things that will just be better for everyone. The
world is a much smaller place now. I mean, I look at the things my kids
know. They’re so much smarter than I ever was. We used to have to go to
the library or ask our parents. Now they just “Google it.” When I would
ask my dad some crazy question growing up, a lot of times I would stump
him, but now when my kids ask me something, I say, “Well, let’s go look.”
Kevin, you have such an interesting story - thanks so much for sharing it.
Not a problem. It was great talking with you. SLO LIFE
Know someone we should meet? go to slolifemagazine.com to introduce us.
slo life magazine | 19
AN ONLINE DIRECTORY...
A Network of Trusted Professionals
Caring & Reliable Services
| No Place like home
Pismo monarch Grove
By Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News
Please visit our website to
Empower Seniors to Live Independently
Our Network Includes
• Home Care/Senior Placement
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This really is one of those “right in our own
backyard” wonders. Every winter, a small
eucalyptus grove off Highway One in Pismo Beach
becomes a magnificent haven for some of the
most beautiful butterflies anywhere. “A lot of the
time you’ll look up into the trees and you really
can’t see them. They look like leaves,” says Docent
Terri Jackson. “And then you’ll look through the
telescopes and say ‘Oh my goodness! I’ve never
seen anything like it.’”
It’s no secret that the Central Coast is a hot
spot for tourists, especially during the summer
months. But, there is a group that chooses
winter to make its trek here. What is a bit
shocking is how many of them there are. The
migration of the Monarch Butterfly is another
reason there’s no place like home.
230,000 Monarchs hanging in the grove through
winter. Over the last five years, there has been an
average of approximately 25,000 each winter.
While Monarchs typically only live a few weeks,
the variety that camps out here tends to live
six-to-nine months due to their unique fat-storing
system. But, if you do the math that means that
the Monarchs here this season, even the ones
leaving as late as March, will never return.
Wine Tasting, Fine Art Gallery, Gifts
Vineyard Trolley Tours, Special Events
If you’ve heard of it, but have never stopped to
check it out, you should. Jordan Elkins works for
state parks and says the Pismo Grove plays host to
the largest congregation of Monarch Butterflies in
the United States.
From the end of October, until late February
or mid-March, you’ll find tens of thousands of
them hanging out here for protection from the
winter elements elsewhere. “So they come down,
they hang out in the trees, they go into a semihibernation,”
says Elkins. “They’ll sleep during the
night, and hang out during the day to get warm.”
Their numbers vary year-to-year, but there are
always enough to leave you in awe. Elkins says
1991 was a particularly big year, as there were
So, consider making a stop in the coming weeks
to say, “Hello.” Your kids will feel like they have
walked into a fairy tale. If you time it right, you
will likely find this place to be pretty magical. Even
docents like Jackson, who see the grove daily, year
after year, will tell you that they are still in awe
of the beauty of this little corner of the Central
Coast. “Sometimes when the sun hits a cluster, all
the butterflies will start flying at once, and it’s like
an explosion of gold. I’m still impressed by it.”
Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News anchor and
reporter, hosts the “No Place Like Home” series
every Thursday evening at 6pm.
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20 | slo life magazine
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slo life magazine | 21
There’s never been a better time
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| finds under fifty
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We also service and repair all mopeds
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“On the Road slo to life Avila magazine Beach” | 23
To Your HealTH
Stuck at your desk?
Sit down - we’ve got some bad news for you.
Actually, you should probably stand up.
Some researchers in Sweden caused quite a stir
earlier this year when their paper was published
in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In
essence, they said that, even if you exercise 30 to
60 minutes per day but spend much of the rest
of the day sitting, you may be at increased risk of
metabolic syndrome (diseases like diabetes) and
While their conclusions are drawn from a small
but consistent pool of data, there appears to be
significant support for their findings here in the
States. James Levine, MD, an obesity specialist at
the Mayo Clinic said to Science Magazine back in
2005, “What fascinates me is that humans evolved
over 1.5 million years entirely on the ability to
walk and move. And literally 150 years ago, 90%
of human endeavor was still agricultural. In a tiny
speck of time we’ve become chair-sentenced.”
Dr. Levine has since become somewhat of a guru
for the “treadmill desk” and made the first live
demonstration on “Good Morning America” in
2007 [we link to the video on our website, which is
worth the five minutes it takes to watch it].
And we didn’t have to travel far from San Luis
Obispo to find someone that agreed with him.
“Short of sitting on a spike, you can’t do much
worse than a standard office chair,” says Galen
Cranz, a professor at the University of California
at Berkeley. She goes on to give a useful visual
comparing the spine to an “S” shape when standing
and a “C” shape when sitting, and explains how the
“S” is much stronger than the “C” and so on. She
asserts that “the spine was not meant to stay for
-The New York Times, February 23, 2010
long periods in a seated position.”
On the surface, these arguments seem to make a
lot of sense, but you have to dig deeper to really
understand how it all works. For that we picked up
on the research of Marc Hamilton, a microbiologist
at the University of Missouri, who concurs with the
Swedes when he says “sitting too much is not the
same as exercising too little. They do completely
different things to the body.” Hamilton, like many
of the researchers we found who study the effects
of sitting, does not own an office chair. He claims
that “when you sit, the muscles are relaxed and
enzyme activity, which breaks down fats, drops
by 90% to 95%, leaving fat to camp out in the
bloodstream. Within a couple hours of sitting,
healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%.”
Although the ideal situation would be to just not
sit as much, for many of us - particularly during
the work day at the office - that may not be a
realistic possibility. A decent alternative appears
to be what researchers call “perching” which
means half-standing, half-sitting on a barstool at a
height that keeps the weight on the legs and leaves
the S-shaped curve intact. In a traditional office
environment where you are sitting at a computer,
this means that you would have to elevate your
While we find this subject matter quite compelling,
frankly we are getting a little “freaked out” by
the length of time we are sitting at our desks
researching it. There is a lot of great information
that we link to on our website, but, for now, we’re
going for a walk! SLO LIFE
It doesn’t matter if you go running
every morning, or you’re a regular at
the gym. If you spend most of the rest
of the day sitting — in your car, your
office chair, on your sofa at home — you
are putting yourself at increased risk
of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a
variety of cancers and an early death.
In other words, irrespective of whether
you exercise vigorously, sitting for long
periods is bad for you.
Have a health question? Go to slolifemagazine.com and share your curiosity with us.
24 | slo life magazine
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slo life magazine | 25
FULL SPEED AHEAD
an unidentified customer
takes a test drive
26 | slo life magazine
Even in the best of times, running a small business is a risky proposition.
Success often follows failure, and many seasoned entrepreneurs – at
least the honest ones - will admit that sometimes it takes a lucky break.
In short, starting and operating a small business is not for the faint of
heart. There are no guarantees. No safety net. Guts, determination, and
good old fashioned hard work win the day, except when they don’t.
SLO Moped, based in San Luis Obispo, is a great example of one such
small business. The tiny company is just one of the thousands here on
the Central Coast that drive our local economy and bring vitality to our
community. SLO Moped’s story, similar to so many other small companies
like them, is tenuous and uncertain.
Launched 18 months ago by husband-and-wife team, Jim and Megan
Mackintosh, the road so far has been a bumpy one. The couple - neither
of whom had any small business experience – with a burning desire to
create a better life for themselves and their young daughters, jumped
in with both feet. Following their shared passion for all things moped,
they boldly cashed in their retirement savings for a shot at the American
Dream. The problem is that the money is running out.
Captivated by their story, we here at SLO LIFE Magazine decided to reach
out to the experts. Like a modern day barn raising, we recruited key
members of the local small business community to pitch in and help SLO
Moped turn the metaphorical corner.
NUTS AND BOLTS
Rain was threatening when the team from Collaboration rolled into
SLO Moped’s parking lot on a Thursday afternoon. Michael Gunther,
the company president, greeted the Mackintoshes warmly and, after a
few minutes of small talk, began peppering the couple with questions
about the business. A tour of the shop was followed by a long, honest
conversation about SLO Moped, its challenges and its opportunities.
“There are a couple of things I see here,” began Gunther. “And, please
keep in mind, we usually spend weeks with a client before we get
to this point, but there are some things you are going to have to do
The short list began with developing “a true break-even budget,” which
according to Gunther meant that the Mackintoshes had to find out how
much revenue they needed to generate in a given month to pay all of
their bills, including paying themselves a salary. Gunther explained that
achieving sales beyond this number would be the point at which the
business would become profitable. “You have to understand that finances
are the foundation of business,” counseled Gunther, “and by identifying a
goal, you can start to take steps to achieve it.”
“Second and equally important,” instructed Gunther, “we have to get
you set up with some sort of formal accounting system.” He went on to
explain that it did not have to be complicated and recommended a basic
version offered by Quickbooks. In its first year-and-half of business, SLO
Moped had been simply keeping receipts from all expenses in a box,
which they tallied up at the end of the month and discounted it from
their sales figure to find out if they had turned a profit or lost money.
Gunther reasoned that their accounting system will actually help them
make better decisions because they will have facts to work with, and
will no longer have to make “gut decisions” when it came to operating
the business. “Just like knowing your break-even point, having a solid
accounting system will help you understand what you need to do next, it
will no longer be a mystery and you will start to get the answers you need
so that you don’t have to wing it,” he said.
The Mackintoshes had a lot on their minds when they sat down in the
conference room at San Luis Obispo-based Verdin Marketing Ink. Its
founder, Mary Verdin, leads the company, which specializes in marketing
and public relations for local businesses. The meeting got underway with
slo life magazine | 27
| SMALL BUSinESS MAkEOvEr
the Mackintoshes providing an overview of SLO Moped, including its
perceived strengths and weaknesses, and drilled down to specifics with
“I have a couple of observations,” offered Verdin. “I can see that there
is no marketing plan in place currently, and things seem to be done by
the ‘seat of the pants’ to this point.” She explained the importance of
establishing a program that targets their likely customer. “You have to
get clear on who your customer is so that you can communicate your
message with this type of person.” Verdin went on to suggest methods
for gaining this understanding. “Also, your brand messaging is a bit
disjointed. This has to be applied consistently at all times, but, again, the
brand should be dictated by your target market.”
Verdin cautioned the Mackintoshes that there was a lot of work to
be done at this point and that the temptation of many small business
owners is to jump to the tactics of marketing and skip the grunt work,
like doing market research. She offered a metaphor: “Think of it as if
you are going to paint your house, it’s all the prep work that makes for a
great result, right?” The Mackintoshes nodded in agreement, suddenly
realizing the magnitude of the work ahead of them.
“The website looks really outdated, it doesn’t look professional, and
it makes you look like you’re not a legitimate company,” plainly stated
Forrest Hatfield, founder and director of web systems, at ITech Solutions,
an internet development company in San Luis Obispo. “Your website
doesn’t necessarily have a direct correlation of how legitimate your
company is, but in the eyes of the user it does. You want to make sure
they have a professional experience. For example, when you advertise
somewhere, they [the prospective customers] are probably going to
check out your web page to get more information before they come into
your shop. You want to make sure your site is representing you well and
that you are using it to gain credibility.”
The Mackintoshes readily agreed with Hatfield’s assessment, but
appeared to consider the implications for the first time. Despite their
sudden anxiousness to change the website, Hatfield cautioned the couple
to have a well-conceived web strategy before moving forward. He went
on to ask probing questions, such as: “Will you be selling parts through
the website to people out of the area? If so, you will probably want to
create a separate brand name because a lot of those customers may not
Think of it as if you
are going to paint
your house, it’s all
the prep work
that makes for a
great result, right?
- Mary Verdin
above WEB STrATEGY (left to right)
Mike Wiemholt, Forrest Hatfield and
Megan Mackintosh review plans for the
right nUTS AnD BOLTS (left to right)
Megan and Jim Mackintosh, and
Michael Gunther talk business.
opposite page MArkETinG 101
(left to right) Megan Mackintosh,
Mary Verdin, Maryn Anderson, and Jim
Mackintosh review brand development.
28 | slo life magazine
understand that ‘SLO’ stands for San Luis Obispo and not ‘slow.’ Selling
parts for slow mopeds probably won’t be a good idea.”Hatfield and his
team then showed the Mackintoshes how they could begin to analyze
data coming from their website, including a breakdown of visitors, where
they are physically located (by city), how they get to the site (i.e., search
engines or by typing in their web address directly), how much time
they spend on the site, and a variety of other metrics. Additionally, they
made suggestions for a website overhaul and stressed the importance of
continually updating the information presented so that it always appears
fresh and new, as most of the information on the SLO Moped website
was a year or more old.
continued on page 30
EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW
ABOUT YOUR OFFICE COPIER
MAKING YOUR BUSINESS
Efficient Effective Empowered
712 Feiro Lane, Suite 33
SLO, CA 93401
slo life magazine | 29
| SMALL BUSinESS MAkEOvEr
Hearing that the Mackintoshes weren’t thrilled with their company’s
logo, we contacted them to see if they would like to be the subject of
a “logo makeover” where we would invite local graphic designers to
participate in the project which we would then publish. They loved
the idea and jumped on it.
Somewhere during the process Megan was summoned to Hawaii
where her mother was in the hospital with a serious illness. Megan
diligently spent every day of that week next to her mother’s side.
HiDDEn vALUE Megan and Jim Mackintosh
What begins as a story about saving SLO Moped ends as an object lesson
demonstrating the strength of our local small business community - the
kindness and generosity demonstrated by Collaboration, Verdin Marketing
Ink, and ITech Solutions is truly moving. The companies gave freely of their
time and resources [see “Meet the Panel” on page 32 for details] with no
expectation of anything in return [except a potentially interesting article,
which we hope proves true!]. The truth is, the only ones who can makeover
SLO Moped are Jim and Megan Mackintosh. Now it’s up to them.
Megan’s mother did pull through and the Mackintoshes brought her
home to live with them and their daughters. Although they saw a
spectacular turnaround with her health, the business continued its
slide downward and Megan’s weeklong leave and the additional,
unexpected expense of relocating her mother was nearly too much
for the little company to withstand.
It was clear at that point that SLO Moped’s challenges were much
larger than a substandard logo. And, it is within that context that we
called Megan to ask her if she would like to participate in a “small
business makeover” instead. Before she answered, we warned her
that the experience was not without risk, and may be painful, and
that she would have to expose all of their problems for the whole
world to see. We candidly explained that she may be unhappy with
how she was portrayed by us. To that she answered, “Bring it on.”
30 | slo life magazine
slo life magazine | 31
Looking for a place to
meet with your client?
San Luis Business Center
| Small BuSineSS makeover
meet the Panel
Combining to donate a package of goods and services with an estimated
value of $20,000, these local companies are giving SLO Moped every
chance for success.
The highly regarded web development
company, ITech Solutions wasted no
time in building SLO Moped a brand new
website, complete with its own content
management system (CMS) so that the
Mackintoshes can manage it themselves.
Additionally, the company has offered to
host the website and provide consulting
to get it off to a smooth start. Forrest
Hatfield and his development team, in
fact, were so diligent and so efficient that
they often found themselves waiting for
content from the Mackintoshes. The new
website – a dramatic improvement - can
now be seen at www.slomopedonline.
com and we post a before and after version
on our site at www.slolifemagazine.com.
As a small business consultant who holds
a masters degree in psychology, Michael is
uniquely qualified to coach small business
owners. He understands the ups and downs of
the entrepreneur on so many different levels,
perhaps better than anyone locally. His company,
Collaboration, has offered SLO Moped a series
of one-on-one coaching and training. The
Mackintoshes have taken the first step already
with Eric Hubbs, business development manager
at Collaboration, who has outlined a way
forward with the Project Plan. This document,
according to Hubbs, will serve as the framework
for improving SLO Moped’s operation. It details a
list of action items, which are designed to create
accountability for improvement.
Mary Verdin was involved in the SLO Moped project from the very
beginning, initially as an unofficial advisor offering guidance on the
logo redesign concept. As someone who has deftly managed a worklife
balance for both herself and her employees, Mary is ideally suited
to work with the Mackintoshes. Her company, Verdin Marketing Ink,
has agreed to provide SLO Moped with help in developing a marketing
plan, an ad template design, and a public relations package. Work is
already underway and Mary has prepared and presented a Marketing
Plan Worksheet, which is a six-page proposal outlining her findings
along with recommendations for going forward.
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32 | slo life magazine
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“Of all the decisions we’ve made for our new business, locating in
the San Luis Business Center has been one of our best. The
office was ready for work on the first day, which allowed us
to focus on growing our business. ”
-Janice Petko, Jeff Buckingham, Cheryl Lovell
of Blue Rooster Telecom
slo life magazine | 33
| The Way We Live
The avery home
34 | slo life magazine
“We have a car, but don’t drive it much,” began our conversation
with Donald and Eldra Avery, owners of a thoughtfully remodeled
1939-vintage home on Fixlini Street. When the couple decided to
move from Los Osos to San Luis Obispo in 1998, their first priority
was proximity to work. “My commute from our kitchen counter to my
classroom chalkboard is exactly one half of a mile, which I walk back
and forth each day,” explains Eldra, an English teacher at SLO High
School. Donald, an architect, works from an office constructed within
The couple “camped out” in the home for seven years before doing
any significant remodeling, but the list of problems grew longer and
more difficult to ignore over time. “We started with one room and
our contractor, Mark Alfirevic, would ask, ‘Should we go ahead and
remove the plaster from this other room, too?’ and the project just kept
growing over time, so much so that we had to move into a motor home
at one point. We traveled around to different RV parks in Morro Bay for
a year,” says Donald.
The remodel became so consuming, in fact, that only three things
remain from the original structure: the hardwood floors; the coved
ceiling in the living room; and an interior window upstairs. Despite the
massive overhaul, the couple wanted to maintain the character of the
home they had grown to love. According to Donald, “We wanted it to
be the house that it was, but put back together in the way it should
be, to make it what it should have been.” With a few small exceptions
- most notably the much-used breakfast nook - the footprint of the
building, the floor plan, and the window and door openings remain the
Attention to detail throughout the remodel is obvious, but really stands
out in the ornate stonework completed by local artisan, Jim Shimmer.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the back patio where the
couple is fond of hosting parties that invariably gather around the
brick oven there. The two other areas where considerable expense
was encountered were in converting the space above the garage into a
separate, legal apartment, which, according to the couple, cost a “small
fortune” in city permits and fees. Additionally, the initial cost to install
solar panels and a solar thermal water heating system was significant,
but “well worth it now” as the couple pays an average of just $45 per
month for electricity and $23 per month for gas, which includes utilities
for the rental property.
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Our afternoon visit with the Averys concluded with a stop in Eldra’s
“Mary Poppins” hobby room upstairs, a small space where the ceiling
matches the pitch of the roof. Two built-in twin beds are situated
across the room from one another - complete with matching clocks and
reading lamps - for visiting grandchildren. Asked if the remodel was
worth the years of effort and the thousands of dollars of expense, Eldra,
who was busy clearing the latest sewing project off the table to make
room for us, left little doubt where she stood on the subject: “I think
it’s important to invest in something that nurtures your creativity, your
soul, your spirit.”
above BeFORe & aFTeR clearly the change is dramatic, but the
character of the original structure has been preserved. The garage,
which includes an upstairs apartment, is detached and sits at the back
of the property.
bottom left NaTURe’S BOUNTy many of the vegetables and herbs in the
garden end up in dishes cooked with the outdoor brick oven. The couple
is currently building a chicken coop with their next door neighbor.
bottom right PaRTy TiMe most gatherings end up right here on the
patio. Small overhead lights add to the ambiance, as does the fragrance
of the wide assortment of vines and potted plants lining the ornate
continued on page 36
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slo life magazine | 35
| The Way We Live
a whimsical, fairy-tale-like space fosters Eldra’s
creativity and houses her visiting grandchildren who
love the built-in beds in grandma’s hobby room.
sensible use of the existing space yielded much-needed room for closets. The
multi-tone color scheme continues throughout the entire house and complements
the exterior paint choices. Their daughter’s oil paintings, pictured here above the
bed, are framed throughout the home.
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36 | slo life magazine
filled with books, photos, and paintings, the
living room maintains its original coved ceiling.
With the exception of the flat screen TV, it would
be difficult to tell that it was not still 1939.
Donald spent weeks trying to convince his wife they should install a
second sink and additional stovetop in the island, she initially felt it was
excessive but finally relented, now it’s her favorite spot in the kitchen.
slo life magazine | 37
| real estate
A powerful tool if you know how to use it.
Despite the recent correction in the housing market, it’s no secret that real estate remains the greatest source of wealth creation nationwide. SLO LIFE
Magazine set out to ask local real estate professionals: “Why is that?”
And, while the answers were varied, every single person we talked to touched on the power of leverage.
Leverage, as it pertains to real estate, means “borrowing money” and derives from the word “lever,” which, of course, can be used to create a
tremendous amount of force. Here is how it works:
Let’s say you buy a $400,000 home with a 20% down payment ($80,000) and the bank loans you the remaining 80% ($320,000). The word “leverage”
is appropriate because, like the strength you gain by using a lever, you have gained more purchasing power by borrowing money. You essentially buy a
$400,000 asset for just $80,000. Of course, now you have to repay the bank, but here is where the power of leverage kicks in.
Let’s assume that real estate continues on the same trajectory it has been on for the past 100 years and it gains in value of 2% over the rate of inflation
(this is the average of all the bubbles and recessions during that time frame). So, just by living in your home and not including any improvements you
may make, your investment creates $8,000 ($400,000 x 2%) of wealth in the first year alone. When measured against the original down payment, that is
a 10% return on your cash investment ($8,000 / $80,000 = 10%) which is pretty hard to find these days.
Now, imagine that you live in this home for 20 years, through the magic of interest compounding at an annual rate of 2% that same $8,000 will turn into
$194,379. After 30 years, the gain would be $324,545 plus, by then, you would have probably paid off the original principle balance.
All of this is made possible by leverage, which is the borrowing of money to make the purchase possible. Of course, we all got carried away with the use
of excessive leverage during the bubble, but now may be a great time to revisit the concept. You can continue to track what the market here in San Luis
Obispo is doing by watching the numbers below, but your best bet is to find a house that you will be happy to live in, make a significant down payment
(20%), be happy, live the “SLO Life,” and let power of leverage and compounding interest do their thing. SLO LIFE
the numbers at a glance
Comparing the last four months to the same period last year (07/01/09 - 10/31/09 vs. 07/01/10 - 10/31/10)
$100,000 - $500,000
2009 2010 +/-
$500,001 - $1,000,000
2009 2010 +/-
$1,000,001 - $2,500,000
2009 2010 +/-
1. Total Homes Sold
30 31 3.33%
51 45 - 11.76%
2 4 100%
2. Average Asking Price
$447,565 $430,861 - 3.73%
$684,163 $687,993 0.56%
$2,322,500 $1,876,750 - 19.19%
3. Average Selling Price
$431,982 $416,984 - 3.47%
$658,063 $659,909 0.82%
$2,087,500 $1,643,750 - 21.26%
4. Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
96.52% 96.78% 0.26%
96.19% 95.92% 0.27%
89.88% 87.58% - 2.30%
5. Average # of Days on the Market
73 69 - 5.48%
83 111 33.73%
393 247 - 37.15%
SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of Realtors
38 | slo life magazine
Our approach to real estate is about
much more than property… it’s about people.
The Payne Team
Iconic 1930’s Mission Style Home. Featuring 3 bedrooms and 2 baths,
this home is the epitome of historic San Luis Obispo. Featuring
hardwood floors throughout, remodeled bathroom and a fireplace
in the living room. Located on a large parcel, close to downtown,
shopping, schools and all the core of what San Luis Obispo has to offer.
Visit www.1253Peach.com. Reduced to $659,000 by Gavin Payne.
64 Acre Estate. Just a few minutes from Downtown SLO! Beautifully
remodeled in 2009, this home offers a wonderful warmth inside with
modern appliances and wood flooring throughout. Expansive outdoor
decking wraps around the home to take in the vistas over the 4.5 acre
vineyard and spring fed creek. New barn built in 2008 has 2 bathrooms,
compressed air, dust collection system, floor drains, horse facilities and
much more; ideal for winery or shop use. Extensive well system for irrigation.
www.7480TassajaraCreek.com. Offered at $969,000 by Gavin Payne.
SLO Garden Home. Let the fabulous garden spaces on this property
sweep you away. Three bedrooms, two full baths, swimming pool,
wood and tile flooring and a spectacular atrium that brings in an
abundance of natural light. A very unique home not usually found in
SLO. View this listing at www.1700jalisco.com. Offered at $699,000
by Gavin Payne.
Fantastic Home on Cul-de-Sac. This remodeled 3,200 sq. ft. residence
has 4 bedrooms, each with their own bath, making this a wonderful family
home. The private walkway to the front door has a calming water feature
and gardens. Cherry hardwood floors and a grand fireplace in the living
room, a separate formal dining room and wonderful family room. Offered
at $719,000 by Gavin Payne. www.1736LeeAnnCt.com
Stunning Views from Mediterranean Estate. Built in 2007, this
4 bedroom, 4 bath plus office, craft room and separate media room
totals 4300+ sq. ft. Fabulous modern kitchen featuring granite counters,
butlers pantry and entertaining bar. Open floor plan featuring Travertine
floors, Cherry hardwood and multiple fireplaces. Offered at $1,699,000
by Gavin Payne.
Avila Beach. Spacious 2700 sq. ft. luxury penthouse with three
comfortable suites complete with private bathrooms. Private
entrance directly off Front Street, meticulously furnished, amazing
white water ocean and beach views. Large patio is complete with
built-in BBQ and refrigerator, patio furniture and ceiling mounted gas
heaters. Includes private off-street parking and 2 car garage. Offered
at $2,969,000 by Gavin Payne.
962 Mill Street
San Luis Obispo, California 93401
slo life magazine | 39
40 | slo life magazine
| REaL ESTaTE
ask The Experts
Where do you see SLO real estate heading over the next year?
The Mortgage House
Oh, that crystal ball that we all wish we had!
Based on what I am seeing in our mortgage
applications and closings, which have been at
record levels the last few months, I feel that
local real estate values will continue to stabilize
and increase moderately in the next year. I
expect the incredibly low interest rates to
continue, possibly through next year. Much of
our inventory in the area has been diminished
by short sales (sales where lenders have agreed
to let the borrowers sell and settle for less than
owed) and foreclosures. The median price has
increased slightly, yet affordability countywide
is at an extremely good level. Values have come
down to where many people can now afford to
buy, especially with the allowable maximum
loan limits for conventional and FHA, and the
low down payments still available through
FHA. This has the effect of increasing demand,
which, in turn, reduces supply and pushes
San Luis Obispo
& Feng Shui
I am often optimistic regarding the state of San Luis
Obispo’s real estate market and today more so than
ever. Perhaps not in the way most would expect,
however. My prediction for the next 12 months is
“more of the same!” Sellers will have to continue
to adjust their perception of value downward a
little further and buyers can expect to purchase
more home for their money, but may continue to
struggle with finding the perfect home with our
small amount of available inventory. Opportunity
exists for those looking to sell what was perhaps
a starter home and upgrade to a larger home
and for those going in the opposite direction
and downsizing their home needs. Basically, you
should look to sell lower, buy lower and do so with
historically low interest rates. We have experienced
an increase in first time homebuyers stepping into
our market too, something I expect to continue
over the next 12 months. Initially spurred on by
Federal and State tax credits these buyers continue
to pursue home ownership through the increasing
availability of low down payment loan programs.
Most people watching or in the market today may
think about optimism in our market in terms of the
return of increasing values. I think we have every
reason to be optimistic about a little stability and a
little more of the same. This is ultimately the path
to the return of increasing values and a healthy real
estate market for our city.
The Real Estate Group of San Luis Obispo
Have a real estate question? Go to slolifemagazine.com to get an answer.
slo life magazine | 41
Shopping for the person
who has EVERYTHING?
Well they AIN’T
‘til they’ve got Sh*ts
n’ Grins Products in
Spice Rubs, Salsas, BBQ Sauce,
Dipping Sauce & T-Shirts
“The Best Damn Sh*t
We’ve Ever Had!”
| LocaL food By LocaL PeoPLe
Healthy comfort food
Warm your winter with a hearty, healthy meal. By NANCy FOx
I moved to SLO twelve years ago with my husband and two sons. As a native to Los Angeles, I started
a gift-basket company when I graduated from college called Mrs. Beasley’s. It really took off with the
Hollywood crowd who loved the tasty mini-muffins. I will admit that it was quite fun to get calls from
celebrities who would confess they were hooked on these indulgent little treats. The company grew
and grew, and we ended up shipping our gift baskets all over the country.
After I sold Mrs. Beasley’s, I became very interested in healthy cooking and baking for my family. My
husband’s family has a terrible history of heart disease. His father was one of four brothers who all died
before the age of forty! I really like him and want him to stick around, so it motivated me to get into
the kitchen. I spent four years developing a wonderful collection of reduced calorie and fat food and
desserts that even my young sons enjoyed. Out of this, a restaurant called Nancy’s Healthy
42 | slo life magazine
Barbecue Turkey Meatloaf
Serves 4; Prep Time 10 mins; Bake Time 1 hour
In 2007, meatloaf was voted the 7th favorite meal
in America. I’ve made a few flavorful and healthy
twists. Using barbecue sauce instead of ketchup is
a small change that makes a big difference. By free
forming your meat instead of using a loaf pan, you
won’t trap the fat into the meal. And substituting
lean ground turkey for ground beef will save you
over 250 calories and 38 grams of fat per serving.
1 package ground turkey (1-1 ¼ pounds)
½ cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup + ½ cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with foil.
3. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, bread
crumbs, onions, ½ cup barbecue sauce,
Worcestershire sauce, egg whites, salt and
pepper and mix well.
4. Place meatloaf mixture in the center of the
baking pan and shape into a 12 x 4 inch loaf.
5. Spread the remaining ½ cup barbecue sauce
evenly over the top of the loaf.
6. Bake 1 hour. Let stand 5 mins before slicing.
Skinny Mash Potatoes
Serves 4; Prep Time 10 mins; Cook Time 25 mins
With gobs of butter and cream, it’s no wonder
mashed potatoes are such a popular comfort
food. By using reduced-fat milk to replace the
cream and a reduced-fat spread with half the
calories and fat of butter, you save over 60 calories
and 7 grams of fat per serving.
1 ½ lbs. red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into even
sized large chunks
2 tablespoons reduced-fat butter or spread
¾ to 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large saucepan cover potatoes with
cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover
and simmer until fork tender (approx 15-20 mins).
2. Drain potatoes.
3. Add the reduced-fat butter, milk, chives, salt
and pepper to the hot potatoes.
4. Turn the flame to medium and mash potatoes
until blended and all the ingredients are
Broccolini with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 6; Prep Time 8 mins; Cook Time 10 mins
A hybrid vegetable between broccoli and Chinese
kale, broccolini is a vitamin and fiber packed
vegetable you’re sure to love.
Kitchen was born. The menu featured healthy versions of old-fashioned comfort foods that tasted every
bit as good as the original dishes. It was such a thrill to learn that Oprah was a fan of our cookies, and
she invited us to join her “Favorite Gifts” show where they were featured.
The decision to sell the restaurant and move to SLO was the best one of our lives. My husband likes to
say that when we left L.A, we “got out of dodge.” But, the truth is, we couldn’t imagine a better place
to raise our boys. Now, after 25 years in the kitchen, I have developed some excellent recipes which you
and your family can find on my website at www.skinnykitchen.com. One of my family’s favorites, which
I would like to share with you, is my Barbecue Turkey Meatloaf dinner. It’s a hearty, but healthy dish,
perfect for this time of year. Enjoy!
• Fresh Picked & Locally Grown
Pesticide Free Produce
• Direct Delivery to Your Home
• Weekly or Every Other Week
4 bunches (1½ pounds) broccolini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon sugar
½ fresh lemon
½ teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1. In a large pot bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
2. Cut the bottom third of the broccolini stems, discard.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together, the olive oil,
vinegar, mustard, garlic, and sugar. Set aside.
4. Bring water to a boil, drop in broccolini. Return
to a boil, cover and cook over medium heat for
about 2 minutes until tender. Drain well and place
in a serving dish.
5. Drizzle dressing over the broccolini. Toss to
coat. Squeeze lemon juice over the broccolini and
sprinkle with salt and pepper.
cherry Pie Topped cheesecake
Serves 12; Prep Time 15 mins; Bake Time 35 mins
Beautiful chunks of ruby-colored cherries top this
divine vanilla cheesecake. One slice has only 270
calories and 9 grams of fat.
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons reduced-fat butter, melted
2 (8oz) packages reduced-fat cream cheese
2 egg whites
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (21oz) can cherry pie filling
1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350
degrees. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.
Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.
3. To make filling: Beat the cream cheese until
fluffy and smooth. Slowly mix in the egg whites,
egg, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the sour
cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Pour the
mixture over the crust and spread evenly.
4. Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until the center is
set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 6
hours before serving.
5. To add topping: After the cheesecake has been
refrigerated, remove from spring form pan and
place on a serving plate. Top with with cherry pie
filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Have a recipe to share?
Go to slolifemagazine.com to tell us about it.
• No Contract Required
Eat Healthy, Eat Local
• San Luis Obispo • Avila •
• Los Osos • Five Cities •
• Nipomo •
slo life magazine | 43
| The ArTs
Cuesta Master Chorale
The best of SLO combine their passion with their talent to create a showstopping experience. By DAnIELLE DuTrO
masterwork mas•ter•work n. synonymous with masterpiece; an outstanding
work of art or craft; the greatest work of an artist or composer
While many Central Coast residents are taking in a football game on
Monday night, over a hundred locals meet to rehearse masterworks
of some of the world’s most renowned composers. The Cuesta Master
Chorale (or CMC) began in 1983, but for the past twenty-five years its
members have been under the direction of Dr. Tom Davies. The group
has performed works such as Johannes Brahms’ A German Requiem and
Bach’s B-minor Mass.
The CMC embodies a true sense of community. It is a place where all
walks of life and all ages come together to share their passion for music.
The diverse choir has a membership that ranges in age from high school
students to its most senior members who have been with the choir since
its inception. The impressive group boasts well-respected community
members; some of whom serve as directors for other choirs. Whether
mothers singing with their daughters or husbands harmonizing with their
wives, CMC is truly a family.
Member Vicki Ewart, a soprano and advisory board chair, has been a
member since 1984. With over twenty-five years of singing experience in
the choir, she has had the opportunity to sing some of the most impressive
works that Cuesta Master Chorale has performed. Passing on the family
tradition, some of her fondest memories include the performances where
she stood shoulder-to-shoulder alongside her daughter, Erin.
This tight-knit company of singers is distinctive not only in its makeup
but also in its depth. “Master Chorale is unique in that we are one of
the few community groups that regularly performs masterworks,” says
Ewart. Because performing masterworks requires both an artistic choir
and a talented orchestra, coordinating, organizing and recruiting the two
memberships can be difficult if not impossible for most groups. But the
partnership with the Master Choral Orchestra has made it all achievable
since CMC’s beginning.
Anyone who has sat in the audience at a CMC concert can report that
it is often a profound experience. It can also be unforgettable to those
who perform the pieces. Ewart recalls fondly the first time the Chorale
sang Handel’s Messiah in its entirety. “The soloists were fantastic, the
choir was fantastic, the whole night was just magical… Those are magic
memories in my mind.”
Despite the complexity of work that the group performs, its members are
not without a good sense of humor. One unforgettably funny moment for
Ewart was when, “We were at the Nazarine Church in Arroyo Grande - I
don’t even remember what piece it was - but Tom [Davies] got so excited
that he threw his baton into the audience. At our next rehearsal Tom was
presented with a glove that had a baton velcroed to it.” SLO LIFE
Tom Davies, conductor CMC
(sans velcro glove)
44 | slo life magazine
slo life magazine | 45
| Community Calendar
Presenting the best
entertainment at the
Performing Arts Center!
WE ARE THE MUSTANGS
Season, Group, and Single Game Tickets
on sale at the box office by calling
1–866–GO STANGS or online at GoPoly.com
Like us on
Follow us at
December 1 - 8
Event Hannukah Candle Lighting
Location Mission Plaza
Description On the first night
of Hannukah, the Jewish
Community Center will be
hosting a Hannukah Party along
with a candle lighting.
Event General Stanley McChrystal
Location Cohan Center
Description McChrystal, a
four-star general, will speak on
America’s global role and its
security issues in a lecture titled
“The State of International Affairs
and the Security Challenges
Event Holiday Parade
Location Higuera Street, SLO
Association Presents its 35th
Annual Holiday Parade
Event A Modern Gospel Christmas
Location Cohan Center
Description The House of Prayer
Church Choir celebrates their
13th anniversary with a unique
presentation of holiday and
Event Fall Jazz Concert
Location Spanos Theater
Contact www. music.calpoly.edu
Event This concert will have an
eclectic mix of jazz standards and
modern compositions, and will
performed by the University Jazz
Bands No. 1 and No. 2 and the
Cal Poly Jazz Combos.
Event Opening of “The Catch”
Location History Center of SLO
Description A new exhibit
featuring a series of photographs
of the San Luis Obispo County
fishing community taken in the
mid-1970s by Thom Halls.
Event A Christmas Celebration
Location Cohan Center
Contact www. music.calpoly.edu
Description This festive annual
concert by the Cal Poly Choirs
will put you in the mood for
holidays. Performers include
PolyPhonics, The University
Singers, Early Music Ensemble,
and Cal Poly Brass Ensemble.
December 4 - 5
Event A Christmas Carol
Location Spanos Theatre
Description Gilbert Reed’s
masterful telling of the Dickens
classic in this lively ballet will
delight the entire family. Set
to Sir Thomas Beecham’s
orchestrations of music by G. F.
Handel, “A Christmas Carol” tells
the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s
journey from heartless miser to
Event Art in the Vineyard
Location Tolosa Winery
Description Featuring 30 artists
including paintings, sculptures,
textiles, pottery, jewlery,
glass art, home decor, hand
made soaps, and much more!
Appetizers, wine tastings, and
live music will also be included in
this free event.
Event Joy to the World
Location Cohan Center
Description San Luis Vocal Arts
Ensemble presents Joy to the
World, a holiday concert with an
international flair. Come along on
a spirited sleigh ride across the
globe as we sing of peace, love
and goodwill to the people of our
Event CASA’s Voices for Children
Location Maddona Inn
Description Casa’s Voices for
Children fundraising luncheon will
feature lively entertainment, a
children’s musical performanced,
a silent auction and live auction.
Event Jon Anderson
Location Spanos Theatre
Description Jon Anderson shines
as an accomplished solo artist
and composer. His solo acoustic
Spanos Theatre show will
include many classic songs from
throughout the YES songbook, as
well as his own eclectic work.
Time 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Location Dallidet Adobe & Gardens
Description Christmas caroling
competition with musicians from
around the county. Beer, wine
and beverage sales benefit the
Event Clara’s Tea Party
Location Cohan Center
Description An exclusive tea party
with the Sugar Plum Fairy and
her friends, photo opportunities,
and a special treat!
December 11, 12
Event The Nutcracker
Location Cohan Center
Description The Civic Ballet
presents The Nutcracker. Audiences
of all ages will marvel at the magic
and wonder of this production that
has delighted the Central Coast for
more than 30 years.
Event Holiday Concert
Location Clark Center
Contact www. slosymphony.com
Description San Luis Obispo
Youth Symphony Presents their
annual Holiday Concert.
Event The Blind Boys of Alabama
Location Cohan Center
Description Go Tell It on the
Mountain is a special holiday
engagement, celebrating the
spirit of Christmas with all the
energy and soul of old-time
gospel, complete with sweet
harmonies and exuberant
46 | slo life magazine
Event CMC Holiday Special
Location Cohan Center
DescriptionThe Cuesta Master
Chorale and Orchestra will
perform its annual holiday
concert with a selection of
spiritual music from Baroque,
Romantic, and 20th Century
Event Forbes Pipe Organ Holiday
Location Cohan Center
Description The fourth annual
Forbes Pipe Organ Holiday
Concert & Sing-Along.
Event SLO Symphony New Years Eve
Time 6:00pm & 7:30pm
Location Cohan Center
Description Soprano Maria Jette
will join Michael Nowak and the
orchestras for a winter “pops”
concert filled with Broadway
show tunes, movie music
and delightfully familiar old
Event Liszt Commemorative
Location Spanos Theater
Description Music Department
chair and pianist W. Terrence
Spiller will give a benefit recital
of works by Johannes Brahms,
Paul Hindemith, and Franz Liszt.
Event Guitar Masters
Location Performing Arts Center
Description Featuring the
amazing artistry of three of the
world’s foremost guitarists:
Andy McKee, Eric Johnson, and
Event Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood
Location Cohan Center
Description The stars of TV’s
“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
team up for an evening of
Event Forbes Pipe Organ Recital
Location Cohan Center
Description Dr. James Welch
returns to SLO with an
Event Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Location Cohan Center
Description South Africa’s
premier male a cappella group.
Event J.S. Bach in the Mission
Location Mission San Luis Obispo
Description The Early Music
Ensemble will be assisted by
David Arrivée and other Cal Poly
Event Jungle Jack Hanna
Location Cohan Center
Description Jack Hanna’s live
show features many of his
favorite animal friends, as well
as fascinating and humorous
stories and footage from his
adventures around the world.
Event Spring Awakening
Location Cohan Center
Description Winner of eight Tony
Awards, this landmark musical
with its brilliant score explores
the coming-of-age journey from
adolescence to adulthood with
poignancy and passion.
Event A Night at the Mission
Location Mission San Luis Obispo
Description An evening of
beautiful music performed by
our chamber ensembles in the
Old Mission Church.
Event SLO Symphony Classics III
Location Cohan Center
Description Violinist Shunske
Event Vienna Boys Choir
Location Cohan Center
Description The Choir’s angelic
a cappella vocals are comprised
of talented singers between the
ages of 10 and 14.
Event Swan Lake
Location Cohan Center
Description Russian National
Ballet Theatre presents
a full-scale production of
Tchaikovsky’s perennial classic,
Event Lilly Tomlin
Location Cohan Center
Description One of America’s
February 24, 25, 26
Location Performing Arts Center
Description Cal Poly presents
“Falsettos,” a play by William
Finn and James Lapine.
Event Musical Travelogue
Location Cohan Center
Description A musical travelogue
through Europe over the centuries.
Event A World of Music
Location Cohan Center
Description Over 150 musicians
present music from around our
world with a special emphasis
on the beauty and excitement of
songs from the Middle East.
Event Monty Python’s Spamalot
Location Cohan Center
Description Based on theclassic
film, “Monty Python and The
Holy Grail” , Tony Award-winning
Monty Python’s Spamalot tells
the tale of King Arthur and his
Knights as they embark on their
quest for the elusive Holy Grail.
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