May 10, 2007 - The Jaguar Ed
Once upon a time, Garden Street was not a spot where you could get off THE 101. Back in those days there were traffic lights on THE 101 that brought everything to a grinding halt each afternoon. When they turned out the lights in 1992, they replaced them with a new intersection at Garden. With multiple exit choices, double turn lanes, and stylish construction, it was the cat's meow of intersections.
These days, cars approaching the intersection in the afternoon pile up on Garden waiting for the light on Gutierrez to change. And when drivers stuck in traffic look to their left, they see a giant wild cat painted on the side of a building in the back of a vacant lot, overgrown with weeds and other dead things. The cat, a bigger than life Jaguar, climbs up of the trunk of a fallen tree, staring with one eye onto the wasteland of stop-and-go traffic below.
We showed a picture of that cat for yesterday's WWII.
To find out more about the cat, the dedicated staff of edhat.com went to the Garden & Gutierrez intersection to ask the people there some questions. We quickly discovered that the wall was not part of the vacant lot, but instead part of East/West Motors on Gutierrez. Roy Miller, owner of the garage, was very happy to tell us the tale of the big cat on the wall. After correcting our feline identification (we said Leopard), he told us that the wall used to be a top target for taggers.
So, when a new-in-town artist named Jeffrey Skyles asked if he could paint a mural of a jaguar there, Miller was elated. First of all, it was a solution to the graffiti problem. Second of all, he loves Jaguars - in fact that's what his garage works on (Jaguars and Land Cruisers).
Well, as it turned out, the artist and Miller were not clear with each other on what kind of Jaguar would be painted. Miller was thinking XK120. The artist was thinking big pointy teeth.
But after the artist let the cat out of the bag, everyone liked the work and it stayed. Skyles it seems has some whiskers in the art world. For one thing, he created some WPA-style murals of larger-than-life ballplayers that are on display at the San Francisco Giants Baseball Park - that's where Barry Bonds, still the best player in baseball (without steroids for sure this year), is zeroing in on Hank Aaron's record.
Back at East/West Motors, Roy Miller is enjoying his 22nd year there, fixing cars on Gutierrez. We had a long chat with him about Santa Barbara. He seemed to know everything about the town ... well except that he didn't know about Edhat.
The Jaguar on Garden Street was a wake up call for Edhat subscribers. After an April slump (March Edness hangover?), the emails were coming in all day. We received 85 correct answers! The Edhat Dog decided that picking a t-shirt winner would be impossible (and bad for her diet), so instead she let the In House Statistician (IHS) use one of his advanced random probability simulation models to pick the winner. And the winner is ... Art1939.