The Twin Worlds of Wonder at Captain Nemo/Cheap Thrills

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With only days away from Free Comic Book Day on May 5, co-owner Raymond Hanson of Captain Nemo Comics and Games is ready. He’s familiar with the beehive of activity the annual event generates. This year might see a spike.

Mr. Hanson’s love of comic books goes back to his childhood days when he would rent out comic books for a nickel every page — and he would spend the dimes he earned to buy comic books for himself. Now, he meticulously combs through seemingly countless aisles of comic books, making sure that the latest issue of each comic he supplies is front and center. When you browse through the comics, you have to smile. Several preceding issues of each comic book are conveniently placed behind the latest. Some are already packaged in clean comic bags and backing boards. This is the essence of Captain Nemo. There’s always more — and the more you find, the more rewarding the shopping experience.

Free Comic Day is on May 5

Standing between hundreds of comic books in one aisle and new/used DVDs in the other, a young man in his mid-20s slowly wandered down the wide aisles of Marvel and DC Comics. He carried at least a dozen comic books. After staring at a row of action figures above the comics, he set the books down briefly to read the latest issue of Avengers v. X-Men, a limited series comic book crossover that was released this month. The timing of the crossover series’ release was right on the beat of the street. The Avengers movie is due out May 4 — and on May 5 at 10 a.m., Captain Nemo will be celebrating Free Comic Book Day, an event celebrated by thousands of comic book stores worldwide.

“Over the years, Free Comic Book Day has been our way to show appreciation to our loyal customers and help new customers find interest in the wonderful art of comics. To coincide with Avengers: The Movie, we are giving away not one or two, but five FREE comics to all customers who visit our store,” says Mr. Hanson.

The upcoming event will mark their eleventh Free Comic Book Day. First held in 2002, the event is organized by a panel of members from the comic book industry, including retailers, publishers, suppliers and Diamond Comic Distributors. The event is meant to get people interested in reading comic books. Hailed as an original American art form, comic books provide colorful illustrations backed by comprehensive storylines. Within the past decade, comic books have revolutionized the movie industry with films like The Dark Knight (which grossed over $1 billion in revenue worldwide) and the Spider-Man trilogy. With Free Comic Book Day, attendees can buy and read the comics before they hit the big screen.

Captain Nemo will be handing out titles such as Avengers: Age of UltronStar Wars Serenity and Spider Man Season One. Kids will enjoy titles like Mega ManTransformersSmurfs and Yo Gabba Gabba!

“People love coming to Free Comic Book Day. We get hundreds of customers coming in. It gets busy in here, but we love it,” Mr. Hanson told The ROCK. “Then people start to explore everything else!”

How could they not? Captain Nemo — formerly a muffler shop — is stocked with the latest and greatest comic books, graphic novels, board games, trading cards, action figures, videos and DVDs. When they’re not packed with customers, Captain Nemo becomes a serene getaway where one could get lost in an endless sea of interactivity. As comic book and geek aficionados, the friendly, well-informed staff encourage random discovery. There is plenty of ground to cover. Captain Nemo makes it a relaxing experience for customers to freely browse the 3,000 square-foot space. Exploring the various rooms can convert shoppers to seasoned navigators like the original Captain Nemo himself as they sail through wide-open aisles of endless entertainment interrupted only by their own discovery of something else too compelling not to stop and grok.

To reach Nemo’s, you enter through the front doors of Cheap Thrills Records. Recently, Cheap Thrills celebrated Record Store Day, which took place on April 21. Many independently-owned record stores participate in this annual event. Each participating store releases event-exclusive special vinyl records and CDs and showcase special appearances. The event is meant to promote the brick-and-mortar music retailers, which event organizers say are integral to the global retail community. By introducing people to new music and artists, Record Store Day helps customers connect with independently-run retailers on a whole new level. Sure enough, Cheap Thrills keeps that spirit alive on a daily basis.

Typically, a 1970s or ’80s hard-rockin’, vinyl-quality jam is playing through store speakers. Founded in 1971, Cheap Thrills makes it plainly clear that old is new again — and age has only intensified the subtle sensations in yesterday’s grooves.

The majority of the store is dedicated to new and used music in multiple formats: CDs, cassettes, DVDs, EPs, singles, 7-inch records, 8-track and vinyl. Each of these formats is evenly distributed among multiple music genres. Their collection of vinyl is most impressive. Cheap Thrills owner Richard Ferris told The ROCK that he grades each vinyl record that passes through his store and wholesale website, Square Deal Online (www.SDRS.biz).

“We make sure that the quality is there,” Mr. Ferris told me. “The snap. The crackle. The high fidelity. All of it.” For a business owner to have a loft fully dedicated to vinyl indicate how passionate he is about the mostly phased-out fomat. With the rise of popularity in digital music, he makes a strong argument for vinyl superiority, even over digital. He talked about enjoying the nuances of different instruments as it was easy to tell them apart with vinyl-quality sound, unlike digital.

In today’s digital-everything world it’s surprising and refreshing to see how deeply Mr. Ferris and his employees care about music’s audio quality and physicality. “That’s where the music is,” said Mr. Ferris. He turned the conversation into a battle-hardened, philosophical musing about the state of the music industry. We talked about legendary artist Neil Young, who has repeatedly argued that the digital format should “burn out and fade away.” Echoing Young’s sentiments, Mr. Ferris complained that the emergence of digital format has forced consumers to choose between quality and convenience. Yet at Cheap Thrill’s, vinyl is conveniently in abundance, and the quality is guaranteed. Young would be proud.

Consistent with the “everything old is new” mantra, Cheap Thrills has a wide selection of retro video games — going as far back as the Atari 2600, ColecoVision and the original Nintendo — that seamlessly blend in with used and new titles from next-generation consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The walls are covered in new/used games, systems and accessories at competitive prices. At first glance, there is a strong impulse to take a title off the shelf and passionately beg your parents if you can have it — even if you’re an adult, because that feeling will never leave you. No Best Buy superstore could faithfully replicate that feeling as strongly as Cheap Thrills. There’s no reason to visit Best Buy and buy games that you could get at Cheap Thrills: these guys will match the price. Some of the retro games are even in their original packaging, still waiting for the seal to be broken and the game to start.

Customers can buy, sell or trade records and videos. On the Captain Nemo website, they offer thousands of comic books and video games for sale online. The site is part of a family owned and operated business, Square Deal Recordings & Supplies, that was established in 1972. Square Deal Recordings & Supplies boasts over 9,000 different vinyl titles, 20,000 CD titles, and a wide array of pop culture merchandise. For people who like to shop online, the website is a lo-fi treat that is easily accessible and plentiful. Record collectors, comic book fanatics and hobby enthusiasts can benefit from the deep inventory. Customers looking for a good buy will undoubtedly be impressed with a selection that seems to go on for infinity — and that’s just their online storefront.

Situated in downtown San Luis Obispo, Captain Nemo Comics and Games/Cheap Thrills constantly instills the belief that it is perfectly fine to be a geek of any variety, any age. So walk or drive down, park in their generous off-street parking lot, and stroll into one of the most innovative small businesses in the County. Walk inside and you’ll see two different worlds with a similar business philosophy: the customer always comes first. No matter what. No empty walls. No dead ends. Everywhere in the maze leads to somewhere rich in pop culture collectibles with titles that come alive when you hold them in your hand. History and the passage of time has only proven that Captain Nemo’s commitment to the value of entertainment memorabilia has made them a cultural mecca across the Central Coast.

Free Comic Book Day will be an event that reminds everyone — from the casual consumer to the hardcore fan — about the everyday deals and, indeed, the cheap thrills of exploring the seas with Captain Nemo. There is nothing better than walking into a store and feeling like you’re on a relentlessly euphoric, lifelong journey that began in childhood and has yet to find childhood’s end.

— Aaron Ochs

Captain Nemo Comics and Games/Cheap Thrills, 563 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, California. Hours: Mon-Sat. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tel: (805) 544-6366. Website: http://www.captainnemo.biz/Nemo/ or http://www.sdrs.biz

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What’s So New About New Frontiers Market?

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When New Frontiers abandoned its cramped but friendly store on E. Foothill Blvd. near downtown San Luis Obispo and opened its spacious new megamarket in November 2010 in Irish Hills Plaza with roughly 32,000 square feet, it seemed a fair question to ask if such a concept could survive in the same bare, big-box neighborhood as Home Depot, Costco and Target.

What New Frontiers has done with the vast expanse to serve their high-end, health-conscious customers explains why the sophisticated hybrid market has rapidly become the best in the County. They keep replenishing the “new” in New Frontiers every day, relentlessly, purposefully adding fresh facets to the store’s already formidable array of health-driven foods, products and services.

“We now offer a really extensive food services department,” says Ron Colone, Marketing Director for New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, headquartered in Solvang, “which includes a hot bar that features a variety of entrees and side dishes that change from breakfast to lunch and dinner, a salad bar, made-to-order Asian wok bowls, pizza, panini and sandwiches, in addition to sushi, soups and salads, hot and cold entrees, a bakery, fresh juice and coffee bar and a gelato counter.”

New in the 18-month-old store is an artisan cheese shop, an expanded fresh meat and seafood department — which includes dry-aged beef — a floral department, a large deli seating area with free WiFi, and a conference room available for meetings and other uses by community groups.

So shoppers can eat in the store in a dining area with seats, tables and a microwave, or outside on the sidewalk patio with their dogs. New Frontiers’ “menu” is as extensive as any gourmet deli and restaurant in town, and, says Mr. Colone, “as it says on the wall in our deli: ‘We artfully prepare fresh food in our kitchen daily.’

“All that incredible food that you see in the deli case and in the bakery is made right there in our kitchen. And yes, freshness is very important to us, as is flavor. The fresher the food the more nutritious it is — to body and soul, and flavor is what makes it exciting. What good is having natural food if it doesn’t taste good?”

To make sure customers know the food they buy there is always fresh and healthy, New Frontiers not only grows their own produce, they also play a major role as a hub for other specialized growers.

“We own and operate our own organic farm (just south of Buellton), and help support other small, independent, family farmers, to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to our stores and others as well. … We’ve made a commitment to buying local – not only from local farmers, but we carry a lot of local products all throughout the store, and we work together with those local vendors to promote their products.”

New Frontiers is also a pioneer on the green frontier both in the fields and in the store, Mr. Colone explains.

“During the past year, we began a large-scale composting operation on the farm using food scraps from our San Luis Obispo store and vegetable trimmings and green matter from the fields, along with horse manure to create a biologically rich and safe product that builds up the farm soil.

“We strive to be good stewards of the earth, and towards that end we’ve incorporated many green measures into the design and construction of our store, including solar energy panels on the roof, decorations, bins and display units made from repurposed wood, high-tech energy-saving refrigeration systems, waterless toilet, and much more. We also eliminated plastic grocery bags entirely a year ago.”

Emphasizing their commitment to organic products, New Frontiers actively “avoids” genetically modified foods as it pursues a dedicated green course.

“Starting last summer, New Frontiers initiated a policy change that saw us taking a much firmer active stance to avoid genetically modified organisms,” Mr. Colone says. “It began with changes in our deli, when a decision was made that all fresh produce at the salad bar and the juice bar had to be 100% certified organic. The deli also replaced the most common foods containing GMOs with non-GMO or organic alternatives, including:  soy, corn, canola, rice, zucchini and yellow squash. All the tofu and tempeh and Veganaise and tamari used in the deli are organic, and there are a minimum of two organic dressings at the salad bar at all times.

“We partner with the Non-GMO Project to celebrate consumers’ right to choose food and products that do not contain GMOs, and have been a leader in the industry in working to ensure viable non-GMO alternatives into the future. In each of the last two years, we donated several thousand dollars to support the work of the Non-GMO Project, including creating a standardized definition of non-GMO and a third-party verification program, and we have supported the effort to put mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods on the ballot in California this coming October.

“We’re also taking steps in our meat and seafood department to become more sustainable and to urge our suppliers to produce or source cleaner products and to utilize more sustainable methods,” he says. “We recently added a new line of pork which has ‘never ever’ been administered hormones or antibiotics. During the year, also, Greenpeace placed New Frontiers at the top of the Seafood Sustainability rankings as the most ‘green’ retailer of seafood in the state.

“We try to provide the highest quality food and products,” Mr. Colone tells The ROCK, “and in that way contribute to quality of life… and we embrace opportunities to improve the quality of life and make a difference in the community.”

For example, New Frontiers donates 5% of sales on the third Wednesday of each month to local non-profits. They support community programs, causes and organizations with contributions, gift baskets and raffle items. They offer a 10% off senior discount on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they have a 100% guarantee return policy “to encourage people to try new things,” he adds.

Here are a few new things we tried and enjoyed on a recent visit to New Frontiers: a medium-size container of creamy bread pudding on sale ($3; $3.75 regular), a small container of baba ghanoush ($2.80; $6.99/lb.), and gelato ($2 for a small cup) made by Leo Leo of Paso Robles. The prepared half-pound containers of gourmet deli salads, dips and desserts are an affordable way to sample a wide variety of offerings.

Frontiers Finale: Available that day at the endless salad bar ($8.99/lb.), among a cornucopia of other specialty items, were: spicy yams, Hawaiian tempeh, chipotle potato salad, “Viva Italia” quinoa, collard green slaw, Moroccan toasted millet, caramel apple bread pudding, apple raspberry fruit crisp. Available at the deli: Ying Yang Salad ($8.99/lb.), Goat Cheese Tart ($5.99 each), New Wave Waldorf Salad ($9.99/lb.); Wild Blackened Salmon ($19.99/lb.), Curried Chicken & Grape Salad ($12.99), Artichoke Speltberry Salad ($8.99/lb.), Sausage Feta Hand Pie ($12.99). From the bakery: cannolis ($3.99 each). From the sushi kitchen: Chef Sampler ($11.99), Shoreline Combo ($9.79), Hawaiian Roll ($9.29). From the premium select meat & seafood markets: Vintage Natural Tri Tip Steak or Roasts ($6.99 lb. on sale), Wild Caught Albacore Tuna Steak ($13.99 lb. on sale), New York Steak ($24.99 lb.), Jumbo Scallops ($23.99 lb.). These items represent only a drop in the ocean of delights found almost everywhere in the store.

For coastal dwellers who may not have frequented the old, much smaller downtown location (opened in 1997), or have driven by the “new” New Frontiers but haven’t stopped to shop there yet, you’re overdue to inject some health and flavor into your diet. You will dazzled by the depth and breadth of high quality fresh, healthy, tasty food products you can’t find anywhere else in one place, which is the whole idea of New Frontiers. It’s not for the faint of wallet, though. Unless price is no consideration, the key is to shop carefully and ask for taste samples when possible. The store basically has its own entrance on Froom Ranch Way off Los Osos Valley Rd. – it’s the first right after passing the main entrance to the shopping center on Froom Ranch, and it comes up quickly!

—Ed Ochs

New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, 1531 Froom Ranch Way (Los Osos Valley Rd. near Home Depot), San Luis Obispo, California 93405. Hours: Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tel: (805) 785-0194. Website: http://www.NewFrontiersMarket.com

Eric Andersen Sparkles Like a Diamond in the Dark at Coalesce

Eric Andersen

Legendary singer/songwriter Eric Andersen made a rare West Coast appearance at Morro Bay’s Coalesce Bookstore on April 20, presenting a sold-out audience with a shimmering vision of the Sixties up to his still-active present, through his elegantly crafted, poetic songs and colorful, ringing guitar work.

In the intimacy of Coalesce’s Garden Chapel, Andersen, dressed in black and wearing a black fedora, played many of the classics that gained him a reputation as an insider favorite in folk/literary circles for his poetry, romanticism, and dramatic guitar and harmonica lines that endeared him to the softer side of the Sixties’ rock revolution.

Evoking a fast-fading era of emulating the French passion poets, of Jack Kerouac, Ferlinghetti and the North Beach “beat” poets, Greenwich Village folkies and enduring Woodstock music scene, Andersen held the artistic high ground with just guitar, harmonica, sometimes keyboard, and songs as captivating as the best modern literature.

Heart-bending love songs, tear-welling soul songs and history-echoing protest songs tumbled from the musical palate of a master scene painter/storyteller. A cascade of Andersen classics — “Violets of Dawn,” “Foghorn,” “Waves of Freedom,” “Close the Door Lightly,” “Is It Really Love at All,” “Florentine,” “Goin’ Gone,” “Rollin’ Home,” “Before Everything Changed,” “Time Run Like a Freight Train,” “Rain Falls Down on Amsterdam” and many more – flooded the room with a depth and style one would have to send out a search party to find in contemporary music today. Equally compelling were his versions of David Whiffen’s “More Often Than Not” and Townes Van Zandt’s “Night Train.” Outstanding were tributes to old friends — “Pearl’s Goodtime Blues,” perhaps the best-ever song salute to Janis Joplin, and “The Busker,” which rekindles his ongoing friendship with genius street-singer/songwriter/producer Joe Flood. No matter how many times he’d sang them before, it even made Andersen smile a little to once more bring back old pals in a song.

Yes, gone are his Dionysian good looks, long since replaced by a rugged durability, but the glint in the eye and gap in his front teeth are still there; his presence as solid and sturdy as his legs, his timekeeping impeccable, and guitar work crisp, precise and resonant. Standing there like a rock playing song after song was truly an impressive display of a true artist, pushing 70, fighting Father Time, still producing and going strong. Only his voice showed the strain of time and the road, but the music and the message were still hauntingly clear. Among the echelon singer/songwriters to emerge from the Sixties, Andersen may be one of the very few of his treasured ilk still touring and plying his trade with an eye toward tomorrow.

Andersen continues to keep the flame burning on a candle he fears is flickering dangerously low, he told The ROCK. As a tribute to his late friend Levon Helm of The Band, who had passed away the day before the show, a subdued Andersen closed the evening with an aching, Helm-like reading of his stirring gem, “Blue River.”

Watching the artistry of Eric Andersen unfold up close at Coalesce was a privilege and a memory reminiscent of experiencing a great artist performing in a small club in Greenwich Village with a handful of people in the room, though this small room was full, and rightfully so. It was hard not to appreciate the polished talent and skill of this amazing performer.

Andersen, now living in Amsterdam, had never been to Morro Bay before. “Can you swim in the water?” he asked, pointing toward the ocean. “In a rubber suit you can,” answered someone from the audience.

—Ed Ochs

For upcoming concerts and events at Coalesce visit the bookstore on Facebook, or visit the San Luis Obispo Folk Society at http://www.slofolks.org.

“The First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival Benefiting OPTIONS Family of Services” – A Pearl of an Idea

“The First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival Benefiting OPTIONS Family of Services,” which splashes down in style Saturday, June 16, at picturesque Morro Bay Golf Course, promises to be one of the most unique and exciting events taking place in Morro Bay this year.

The Festival will offer no shortage of the spectacular and near-spectacular – dazzling oyster dishes, premier wines and brews, an ultimate cook-off for “Best Oyster of the Central Coast” Chef Award, a tense oyster-shucking contest, an “Aphrodisiac Lounge” of exotic local taste delights designed by LA-based organic structure innovators The Do LaB, and a performance by Canadian buzz band Walk Off the Earth, headlining a a strong lineup of up-and-coming bands and day-long music.

The Central Coast Oyster Festival is not only an early-summer celebration of local oysters; this new event benefits Morro Bay-based OPTIONS Family of Services, one of the largest a non-profit organizations in San Luis Obispo County dedicated to helping people with disabilities achieve their goals, dreams and rightful place as full citizens of their communities.

Mike Mamot, CEO of Options Family of Services, believes the Oyster Festival will provide a boost to the local economy. “First of all, it will increase tourism which is the number one industry in Morro Bay. The oyster beds have been in Morro Bay for many years and the community has been known for the excellent seafood ever since commercial fishing was established here. So, we hope to celebrate those qualities of our community, as well as supporting OPTIONS which has been headquartered in Morro Bay since 1986.“

Mr. Mamot expects tourists from across the County and from all over California to attend the Festival: “We hope to not only draw people from around the county, but also attract tourists from throughout California. … We are anticipating thousands of visitors for the first year of our event.”

The idea for the Festival sprang from Jacqueline Delaney, Marketing and Sales Director for OPTIONS Family of Services.

“We were looking to create two-three unique annual ongoing fundraisers to make up for the budget cuts our program could be facing,” Ms. Delaney says. “In researching successful events and ideas that would support our local community the beautiful Morro Bay Oyster Farm stood out to me as a perfect opportunity to highlight what is within our own backyard.

“We have not had any events that highlighted oysters, yet other cities such as Arcata, San Francisco and San Diego hold extremely successful Oyster Festivals, therefore this seemed to be a perfect fit for OPTIONS and the Central Coast Community.”

Ms. Delaney located the event at the Golf Course, and shuttles will help keep traffic flowing and spread festivities throughout the business community that weekend. The Golf Course offers a pristine stage by the bay.

“The Morro Bay Oyster Company Farm is located in the bay right across from the Morro Bay Golf Course,” she says. “The intention was to provide a beautiful setting along with a space that made sense for this type of festival. This was not only the closest space to the farm, but has unbelievable beauty any which direction you are looking. Also the intention was to not interfere with the local community businesses but to help increase business and exposure for the weekend. We have selected to shuttle the patrons in from various areas in Morro Bay in hopes they will support local restaurants and retailers before and after the event.”

Once the event is over, the Golf Course will be restored to tee-off conditions, says Ms. Delaney. “We have also partnered with Eco Rotary and Morro Bay Guerrilla Gardening Club to make this a zero waste event. We will recycle, compost and leave the grounds as we found them.”

Ms. Delaney says the accent of the Festival is heavily on the best of the Central Coast, and the plan to grow the Festival long-term. “All participants and suppliers will be from our local Central Coast Community. Local wineries and local brewery Tap It Brewing will provide us with an exclusive Oyster Brew available only at the Central Coast Oyster Festival.

“Our intention is to draw people from all over the country to showcase all the Central Coast has to offer, provide local businesses with an opportunity to participate and benefit from this exciting event and continue to build on this year after year… We also believe this event will put Morro Bay on the map for holding an event that stands out as unique, classic and beautiful with structures, ambiance and fun.”

With the cost of medical care rising sharply for both provider and client-patients, the dollars raised by this event will help bridge the widening financial gap and provide essential services so people can live more “inclusive” lives, according to Mr. Mamot.

“The past few years have been a struggle for all businesses,” he says. “In the case of OPTIONS, 90% of our funding comes from state or federal sources. Not only have we not had any increases in funding, our rates have actually been reduced by nearly 5%. With other costs rising, we need to turn to fundraising to offset these rising operational expenses and lowering of reimbursement. The Oyster Festival is a fun opportunity to raise such badly need funds. We would like to raise about $50,000. However such goals are hard to achieve, especially in the first year of such an event. Nonetheless, we are optimistic we will have an excellent turn out.

“The funds we raise will help us with expenses associated with the services we provide,” Mr. Mamot adds. “A lot of times we provide services that are above and beyond what we are funded for, such as transporting persons to medical appointments or to family members during holidays. At the Oyster Festival, we will have a wishing wall where people can make donations specific to things that each service area needs. This may include such things as new kitchen supplies at a site or a special outing to some place like Disneyland for one of the groups.”

Unless a family member is directly involved, most people don’t experience the impact of a developmental disability, how important self-sufficiency is for the disabled, and how expensive customized care can be on an individual’s day-to-day path toward independence.

“Generally speaking,” says Mr. Mamot, “somewhere between 8% to 10% of the population has a disability of one sort or another. At OPTIONS, we serve about 200 persons daily with developmental disabilities or a traumatic brain injury. Our mission statement is ‘full inclusion,’ meaning that our goal is for each person to be self-sufficient and fully included in the community of his/her choice.

“A few years ago a study was done on OPTIONS on the return of the investment on the services which we provide. It found that there was a 167% return to the community for every dollar spent on the services we provide. We are extremely cost effective for the services we provide. We are accredited by CARF and have had perfect surveys — without a single recommendation — five out of our last six surveys spanning the past 18 years.”

OPTIONS is dealing with difficult times: a shortfall of funds for general pay increases for staff; an era of persistent erosion of employee health benefits; and deferred site maintenance. Limited resources are focused on the vital programs and services OPTIONS provides. So the Festival will be a celebration with a definite purpose – to help ease the financial burden and maintain a high level of services.

“At OPTIONS, we seek to provide quality care for each and every person we serve. That has been extremely challenging these past few years,” Mr. Mamot says. “The Oyster Festival is an opportunity for us to raise badly needed funds, while at the same time bring an event to the Central Coast and Morro Bay that we can all be proud of.  It is our hope that everyone will benefit from this event and I am sure it will be a lot of fun.”

 

The First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival – An Epicurean Cultural Event

 

The world is your oyster — and you get to eat it any number of ways — at the “The First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival Benefiting OPTIONS Family of Services” on June 16 in Morro Bay.

Attendees will find the great food, wine and entertainment they came for, and will take home a little something extra: they can say they were part of a coastal happening.

“There are so many great wine, food, and entertainment events on the Central Coast that we’ve really concentrated on creating an experience unlike any other,” says Jacqueline Delaney, Director of Marketing for OPTIONS Family of Services.

That one-of-a-kind experience begins with oysters, lots of them. Within view of the Morro Bay Oyster Farm and Morro Rock, the Festival will feature oysters from the Morro Bay Oyster Company, widely recognized as one of the greatest suppliers on the West Coast. Dozens of chefs from across the Central Coast will go head-to-head for the “Best Oyster of the Central Coast” Chef Award, and the audience will taste the results.

Oysters won’t be the only delectable to delve into at the event. For gourmet exotica, the “Aphrodisiac Lounge,” a stunning “modern-chic” pagoda designed by The Do LaB group based in LA, will house a raw oyster bar, sparkling and still wines, cocktails, cheeses and chocolates. Local craft brewery Tap It Brewing Company is releasing a Festival-exclusive micro “oyster brew” designed to complement the oysters in the Lounge and commemorate the event.

The Do LaB is world-renowned for its reality-bending interactive environments, event production and creative lighting design. Prominently showcased at such high-profile gatherings as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival and Burning Man, The Do LaB takes an organic approach to everything they design and create, using natural materials, found objects and sustainable resources. The “Aphrodisiac Lounge” is the special focus of their whimsical creative energies at the Festival.

Capping festivities will be the much-anticipated performance by dynamic Canadian indie band Walk Off the Earth, along with performances by TROPO and the Neon Russell Band, among others musical guests.

For an out-of-shell experience, the Festival also features a shucking competition, and local shuckers are invited to demonstrate their speed and skill to a live audience for prizes and the respect of the Central Coast community. Participants can sign up the day of the festival by 2 p.m. for the 4 p.m. contest.

In addition to the Morro Bay Oyster Company, the First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival is sponsored by the Morro Bay Golf Course, the City of Morro Bay, Tap It Brewing, Element Solar, KRUSH Radio, New Times, the Cities of Los Osos/Baywood Park, Cayucos Abalone Farm, and ECO Rotary for a Zero Waste Event.

The First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival is scheduled for June 16 from 12 to 8 p.m at the Morro Bay Golf Course. Tickets for this full-day event are $20 and are available at www.CentralCoastOysterFestival.org. For tickets or more information, visit www.CentralCoastOysterFestival.orgContact: Jacqueline Delaney via email at: Jdelaney@OPTIONSfs.org or phone at (805) 459-0701.

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Carrie Burton and The Curse of Chorro Valley

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The California Coastal Commission is currently investigating the City of Morro Bay’s plans to cut their municipal water supply to Chorro Valley residents, thereby forcing them to draw from contaminated water. Out on the outskirts of Morro Bay off of Highway 1, Chorro Valley — which is, by definition, a protected coastal zone — has an unsustainable water supply because the water is utilized by other sources and local irrigation wells are contaminated. On January 24, Chorro Valley resident Carrie Burton submitted a complaint to the Coastal Commission, which stated that the City of Morro Bay has refused to resolve the ongoing issues, despite admissions from the city’s mayor and City Council that they were completely responsible for the trouble caused.

Mrs. Burton is one of several residents in Chorro Valley who are affected by the dispute with the City. Like others who live in the area, Mrs. Burton — who lives with her husband and her two young sons — was unaware of any problems until 2008 when residents discovered that they were potentially receiving insufficiently-treated, contaminated water from their basin instead of safe drinking water.

When the Ashurst wells were in use, the Chorro Valley water customers were receiving well water instead of the blended water from City tanks.  That was because there is only one water line between the tanks and the wells. Concerned residents contacted the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). CDPH responded by ordering the City of Morro Bay to immediately stop using the Ashurst wells.  The CDPH order stated that in order to begin using the Ashurst wells again, the City must provide nitrate treatment and chlorination for the Ashurst well water before it reached any customer connections.

The City subsequently threatened to cut its municipal water supply to Chorro Valley residents, citing a few reasons.  Morro Bay City Attorney Robert Schultz stated in e-mails obtained by The ROCK that the city had “no contractual obligation” to provide water because Chorro Valley was “outside City limits.”

Unaware of the conflicts surrounding Chorro Valley, Mrs. Burton purchased her home since the property was permitted, valued and established based on the City of Morro Bay’s written authorization to provide utility water.

The Burton home was was legally permitted in 1995 and by both the City and the County of San Luis Obispo, based solely on the County-required utility water for a nonconforming lot. The City then provided to the Burton property written authorization of clean state-aqueduct utility water, guaranteed by the City of Morro Bay, and water to be billed according to the “installation of the [water] meter and monthly usage costs per the Master Fee Schedule.” For Chorro Valley residents who live under an acre, having access to the state-aqueduct water is a necessary and valuable asset. Alternatively, residents could use well water from their basin, but there are health concerns.

Studies analyzing the Chorro Basin have shown that the water was polluted as a result of leaking septic tanks from the Roandoak of God property and sewage found in domestic ag wells. The on-site domestic wells, which the city plans to leave untreated, are close to the nonconforming septic tanks and an illegal leach field on Roandoak’s property. The septics there are heavily contaminated with nitrates and coliform, and the contaminants have infiltrated the groundwater. The potential of these on-site domestic wells pulling sewage from those illegal septic tanks is high because Chorro Valley is located in a flood zone of high groundwater. The end result? Chorro Valley residents will be exposed to serious health risks by being forced to use untreated, contaminated water.

In an e-mail to Mrs. Burton, Mr. Schultz has said that the documents — showing that the City was, indeed, responsible for providing safe drinking water to Chorro Valley residents — could not be found by the City and that they “must have burned in a fire.” The ROCK reviewed several documents over the past 20 years that clearly state Chorro Valley being part of Morro Bay’s service area. As far as why the City has not decided to continue discussions with Chorro Valley residents is unclear.

To Mrs. Burton, the City’s threat to cut her municipal water supply — based on their assertion that they were “not contractually obligated” to provide it — was nonsensical. Mrs. Burton provided The ROCK numerous documents, including the City’s water authorization, old title documents from the property’s previous owner, and a special encroachment permit for utility water use and a receipt for the water meter. Though it was unrecorded by the City, a signed and notarized lease agreement from August 10, 1982 shows that the City promised to issue 500,000 gallons per month to Mrs. Burton’s property. Mrs. Burton’s property is part of the original Roandoak property from 1972. The lease — which was never recorded by the City, though they did honor their allocation of water to the Roandoak of God facility — was not disclosed to Mrs. Burton upon purchase of the property. Roandoak’s lease was canceled last year.

On November 17, 2009, the City of Morro Bay issued a petition for temporary urgency change to pump Well 11A on Canay Road and supplement the City water supply. The City sought to change the permit, which was originally issued on November 22, 1972. The City did not seek to change the permit’s place of use, which designated the Chorro Creek area as “within the boundaries of the City of Morro Bay’s Service Area.”

The Burtons purchased their Chorro Valley home in 2004. In a real estate listing, the property was listed as having water service from Morro Bay. Records show that in 1995, the County permitted the home based on the City’s written authorization to provide water. Additionally, the Coastal Commission issued a Coastal Development Permit (CDP). The CDP was contingent on the County’s building permit and the City’s water authorization. Yet the City firmly maintains that that they are under no obligation to provide municipal water service.

Instead, the city has proposed that residents — who own property that are less than an acre — draw water from on-site domestic wells while they continue tapping water from their already-strained aquifer and uniquely sensitive Coastal Zone ecosystem. In Mrs. Burton’s case, the City proposed to install a new well for her property. However, according to County Code, residents living on a property less than an acre cannot have a domestic well. Those residents would be forced to rely on groundwater that tested positive for nitrates, bacteria and other contaminants.

The City also proposed to purchase the Burton property at fair market value, and conjoin the property with adjacent City-owned property to produce a lot that’s over an acre. This would effectively allow the City to construct a new well and resell the property without disclosing water and other issues that have prevented the house from being sold . These offers were part of negotiations between the Burtons and the City. According to Mrs. Burton, she responded reluctantly to that option. Mrs. Burton, and several other Chorro Valley residents, have consistently asked to have uninterrupted supply of municipal water. To Mrs. Burton, that is the only viable option that exists.

The City quickly nixed their own offer to purchase her property. Mr. Schultz told Mrs. Burton that he was going to “wait [the family] out.” Since then, Mrs. Burton has requested a viable offer or continuance of the clean utility water and has attempted to contact Morro Bay Mayor William Yates. But after shelling thousands of dollars in attorney fees for stalled negotiations, Mrs. Burton has received no response.

“[The City of Morro Bay] is hurting my children,” said Mrs. Burton. Since they moved into their home in Chorro Valley, the Burtons have improved and personalized their living space by constructing a basketball court for the kids. She provided an area for her children to ride around in their quadrunners and has constructed batting cages. “Where else in Morro Bay can I ever find that?”

Mr. Schultz has expressed interest in restarting negotiations, but stopped short of offering a timetable.

The City stated that they plan to continue using the water from Chorro Valley to supplement their municipal water supply and blend it with state aqueduct water. However, Chorro Valley customers would not be beneficiaries of that treated water because the Chorro Valley pipeline supplying it would not be returned to residents. Beneficiaries of treated Chorro Valley basin water include include the City of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, California State Parks, California State Polytechnic University, California National Guard, California Men’s Colony, and residential and agricultural overlying areas.

An additional pipeline would be required to bring back treated water from the City’s central treatment facility. The City has declined to pay for an additional pipeline. Another option is to install a water treatment system for Chorro Valley residents, but city officials told The ROCK that it would be “too expensive” for the City, despite assurances from former mayor Janice Peters and City Council that they would “make [Chorro Valley] residents whole” at their September 28, 2009 meeting (click on the link to download the audio).The City has reportedly entertained the idea of “annexing” the Chorro Valley area after residents’ connection to the water was cut. According to Mr. Schultz, the annexation would resolve health and safety concerns for residents within the City. Mrs. Burton believes annexation would help advance plans for residential and commercial development.

Despite aggressively pursuing enforcement action in neighboring Los Osos, the Central Coast Regional Water Board (CCRWQCB) has remained uncommitted to resolving water quality issues in Chorro Valley. The water board has allowed the Roandoak of God family to continue operating their illegal septic tanks even though the water board has enacted policies to phase out that type of wastewater treatment.

The situations in Los Osos and Chorro Valley couldn’t be any different, but comparing these locations side-by-side clearly shows that the water board’s application of their policies is inconsistent. On December 9, 2011, RWQCB’s David LaCaro published an update on Los Osos Interlocutory Stipulated Judgment (ISJ) activities. “The Los Osos groundwater basin has been damaged by 1) wastewater from septic tanks causing nitrate degradation and contamination, and 2) excess pumping of the lower aquifer with resultant seawater intrusion,” wrote Mr. LaCaro.

In Chorro Valley, studies show that the illegal septics in the area are causing nitrate degradation and contamination of groundwater. The City of Morro Bay was also found in violation of State Water Board Decision #1633 in regard to excess pumping of Chorro Valley’s municipal wells. The decision states that the city cannot use its Chorro Valley wells when the surface flow downstream is under 1.4 cfs. They are supposed to  have monitoring devices downstream from 11A, and from the Ashurst wells. Decision #1633 explains that the City’s over-pumping has also threatened the creek and steelhead habitat. Sources working closely with the CCRWQCB state that the City has not been in compliance with Decision #1633 since 1997.

In an e-mail sent to SWRQCB Enforcement Investigator Jim Fischer, Mrs. Burton wrote, “I worry it’s more a diversionary tactic and cover up than anything.

“I believe the RWQCB dropped the ball. It’s pretty clear.” She explained, “The well test prove ammonia, bacteria hits in dry months, and the Cleath Hydrology report which identified the contaminator of the City well which is next to my house, as septics from the documented ‘inadequate septics’ and leach fields on a neighboring property.”

Mrs. Burton told The ROCK that she believes the water board violated their own “fair, firm and consistent” enforcement policies.

On December 2, 2010, Richard J. Lichtenfels of the SLO County Health Agency wrote a letter to the Burtons, agreeing with the family that there were concerns with Morro Bay’s proposal to have water provided to their residence from their on-site irrigation well.”Based on the information provided, the land use and well history of your area, the County is concerned that the local groundwater supply where your irrigation well draws from is significantly degraded from a water quality standpoint. Water quality testing has historically shown high nitrate levels exist in both the surrounding City and private wells in the area,” wrote Mr. Lichtenfels. He concluded that the City’s proposal “appears to be less than a satisfactory resolution to safe long-term water service.” However, Mr. Lichtenfels stated that only the City could resolve the ongoing issues.

“[SLO County Health Agency] would hope the City would find a way to keep you and the other affected residents on municipal water so as to eliminate the risk of area residents consuming water from a compromised water supply,” he wrote to Mrs. Burton.

Frustrated with the lack of resolutions, Mrs. Burton has filed a complaint with the California Coastal Commission. The Chorro Valley aquifer is located in a coastal zone, which is under the jurisdiction of the CCC. Mrs. Burton’s property was also issued a Coastal Development Permit. Mrs. Burton has specifically requested the commission to “investigate, issue a formal opinion, and if they deem it appropriate, take enforcement actions as necessary.” So far, the commission staff have responded favorably to the complaint and stated that they will conduct an investigation. The complaint is being handled by Nancy Cave and Madeline Cavalieri of the CCC. A hearing date has not been set.

With support from other residents and friends Mrs. Burton told The ROCK that she is committed to Chorro Valley. She expects the Coastal Commission to step up to resolve an issue that’s been on the hearts and minds of local residents for several years. At last, there is hope for Mrs. Burton and Chorro Valley water customers. For now, Mrs. Burton continues to wait anxiously every day. The City once assured residents that they would continue to discuss the issues with them, but they have been met with deafening silence.

The City of Morro Bay is clearly responsible for what has happened in Chorro Valley. Their unwillingness to resolve the water quality issues has not been thoroughly explained. It is clear that the City has underestimated the dogged perseverance of Carrie Burton. As a mother, Mrs. Burton has tried to make the best out of a bad situation for her family. As a fighter, she has become the face of vigilance. Her unwavering goal — to have access to safe drinking water — has also illuminated California’s ongoing water crisis. Chorro Valley cannot survive or thrive without having access to safe drinking water. Because of Mrs. Burton’s determination and the California Coastal Commission’s eagerness to resolve the curse of Chorro Valley, now there is hope.

—  Aaron Ochs

"Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade dies at age 54

Widely known for his vivid yet serene landscape portraits, California artist Thomas Kinkade, passed away from what appeared to be natural causes. He was 54.

Family spokesman David Satterfield said that Kinkade died Friday at his home in Los Gatos.

Kinkade’s paintings were sentimental, filled with idyllic subjects with an iconic Americana flare. His art was beloved by many, but critics reviled him for his focus on commercialized work. His paintings were said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales, and to be in 10 million homes in the United States.

Kinkade has two galleries on the Central Coast: one in Morro Bay and the other in Pismo Beach.

To view Kinkade’s work, go to http://www.KinkadeCentralCoast.com

UPDATE: Walk Off the Earth Headlines First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival Benefiting OPTIONS Family of Services in June

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Eclectic folk/rock/YouTube sensation Walk Off the Earth will headline the music entertainment lineup for the First Annual Central Coast Oyster Festival to be held Saturday, June 16, at the Morro Bay Golf Course from 12 p.m to 8 p.m.

Walk Off The Earth’s stunning covers of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” and Adele’s “Someone Like You” went viral on YouTube earlier this year, and their video cover of Nirvana’s “Polly” is generating more buzz for the Ontario-based band recently signed to Columbia Records.

Other bands performing at the event include:

Hot Buttered Rum – The Bay Area progressive bluegrass band has performed at such exclusive festivals as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Newport Folk Festival and South by Southwest.

TROPO – The local high-energy electronic dance-music group features a unique blend of violin, percussion, spectral pads and bass that produces a compelling urban-tribal vibe.  Their atmospheric sound regularly draws a crowd of hoopers and fire dancers that will also perform at this event, complemented by art installations from annual Burning Man hooping posse, Spin Cycle.

The Neon Russell Band – The local group will perform its own special brand of “redneck blues” and obscure covers.

Says Jacqueline Delaney, Director of Marketing and Sales for OPTIONS Family of Services, about selecting Walk Off the Earth for the Festival: “In watching the up and coming artists, Walk Off the Earth is a band out of Canada receiving tons of media exposure on you tube and social sites — I believe over 100 million hits at this point. We wanted a lineup that crosses many demographics so there is a little for everyone, but also something unique and different to draw more people to our event. Walk Off the Earth provides great energy along with international exposure on a large scale to draw the attention we are looking for.”

Tickets for this full-day event are $20 and are available at http://www.CentralCoastOysterFestival.org.

This new event will benefit OPTIONS Family of Services, a nonprofit organization serving the disabled or persons with developmental disabilities and persons with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The first annual Central Coast Oyster Festival is sponsored by the Morro Bay Oyster Company, the Morro Bay Golf Course, the City of Morro Bay, Tap It Brewing, Element Solar, KRUSH Radio, New Times, The Cities of Los Osos/Baywood Park, Cayucos Abalone Farm, Guerrilla Gardening Club, and ECO Rotary for a Zero Waste Event.

For more information, visit http://www.CentralCoastOysterFestival.org or contact: Jacqueline Delaney at: jdelaney@optionsfs.org or (805) 459-0701.

–Ed Ochs

 

The Beating Musical Heart of Coalesce Bookstore

Approaching its 40th anniversary in July 2013, Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay has taken on the rich, burnished glow of a community landmark refusing to age gracefully.

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Approaching its 40th anniversary in July 2013, Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay has taken on the rich, burnished glow of a community landmark refusing to age gracefully. In fact, Coalesce keeps evolving, and shows no signs of retreating from progressive edge on which it was founded in 1973.

Over the years, thoughtfully chosen, hard-to-find books, old and new, have been joined by well-known musicians, old and new, and a flowering contingent of local authors and poets, as Coalesce has grown into one of the most important artist venues in San Luis Obispo County.

Quiet on the outside, reserved on the inside, Coalesce has a musical heart that beats for time-tested talent. Continuing its tradition of presenting excellence in the arts – literary, musical and spiritual – Coalesce presents classic folk artist Eric Andersen on Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m., for one night turning Coalesce’s Garden Chapel into a Greenwich Village café, rekindling the thriving folk scene of the ‘60s and ’70s.

Coalesce co-founder Linna Thomas credits San Luis Obispo Folk Society for the flow of top talent through the Chapel, as well the thriving West Coast tour circuit that attracts quality musicians from around the country to play clubs up and down the coast from San Diego to Seattle.

“Most of them are touring from LA and San Francisco, particularly, and from the Nashville music scene,” Linna says. “They’re all in California doing a West Coast tour, and they love to stop on the coast.”

It makes perfect sense. Perfect weather, perfect audiences. What performer today wouldn’t want to work the California coastline?! To bring home the point, legends play Coalesce. Gordon Bok (“If the sea had a voice it would sound like Gordon Bok,” says Linna), country-rock pioneer Chris Hillman of The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers, and folk/blues master Geoff Muldaur are among the all-time greats that have played Coalesce and who, like the herons and egrets, continue to travel great distances to find sanctuary by the sea in Morro Bay.

Appreciative, music-savvy audiences fill the scenic 60-seat Garden Chapel behind the store, and become part of the kind of intimate performance only found in the best small clubs from New York to San Francisco. The store is ringed with posters of some of the artists that have played Coalesce through the years, and the variety and quality of the musical talent is astounding. Even when it’s empty for yoga and meditation, the textured, hand-crafted Chapel walls resonate with the harmonious sounds and strains of folk, country, Celtic, roots, blues and jazz – classic and modern – left behind in the ethers after more than 30 years of timeless music.

Interestingly, local authors and poets receive the same warm Chapel welcome as the trailblazing minstrels, pickers and troubadours. The impact of a personal appearance by an author or poet can be just as mesmerizing and emotional for book lovers as music is for music lovers – especially for those, says Linna, who “know how to work a room.” San Jose-based Julie Riera Matsushima’s recent event for her memoir, For the Love of Aimee, was just such a moving experience. Book signings and poetry readings flourish at Coalesce. “We really want to support our local authors and musicians. We welcome any events like that,” says Linna.

For writers, the journey from idea to finished book leads to the most prominent shelf space in the store, identified by the vertical strip: LOCAL AUTHORS. Erik Paul Rocklin’s The Tapestry of Spirit, Gordon Snyder’s Venice Lost, editor/contributor Sue McGinty’s Somewhere in Crime, and legendary teacher/maestro/artist Botso Korisheli’s Memories of a Teaching Life in Music – glisten in the finely filtered light of the soulful store. Tucked tightly in these nurturing shelves are intriguing titles by many locally known writers, all published with a polish and professionalism that should inspire the future writers and poets of the coast.

At the same time, in this era of the online bookseller, it’s easy to overlook what a great bookstore Coalesce really is, and the indispensible personal services it’s been providing to a large book-fed community for many years. That hasn’t diminished; it’s only gotten better. New books, used books, discounted books, hard-to-find books, out-of-print books, local books, buy-and-trade books, and a satisfying range of books on a wide variety of topics and subjects – all tailored to the needs of the community – all found under one roof. Local readers who think they are saving money by shopping online might be stunned to discover that Coalesce’s discounts on new books often beat the big guys. Plus, factoring in the savings on gas, postage and time, it means cracking open “Chapter 1” on that new book even faster.

There’s always something going on at Coalesce. Says Linna, “It would sort of be a shame not to, don’t you think? It’s a sweet space. Private. Serene. It’s got a furnace if it’s cold…” All together, the Bookstore, “Secret Garden” as Linna calls it, and Garden Chapel is a quiet, thinking, reflective place, yet the array of activities at the Coalesce complex is surprising – musical performances, book signings, lectures, presentations, yoga, meditation and healing classes, discussion groups, tasteful social gatherings, memorials and weddings in the Garden Chapel.

“There’s a lot of love in our Chapel,” says Linna, who has conducted thousands of wedding there and has now turned those duties over to associate Sherri Herford. Apparently, having met people only once is enough to be remembered forever, especially if you married them — and thousands of others. “People come in all the time, and they’ll come up to me and go, ‘Hi,’ and I go, ‘Hi,’ and I know what’s happening because they’ll say, ‘We were married here 17 years ago.’ And, of course, we’re all so different now…”

Now the winds of change are blowing through the Dutch doors of Coalesce Bookstore, and while time has stolen dear friends and family it has also delivered many unexpected, irreplaceable treasures. Linna knows Coalesce is in good hands with Sherri and loyal, longtime assistant Joanne Hand and her son Jordan. There is a continuum afoot. Every day, every week, every month, books are bought and sold, songs sung, books signed, poets heard, couples married, and all the while the garden of tender memories flourishes at Coalesce.

Linna and partner Janet Brown started Coalesce in 1973 in a different location nearby and moved to Main Street in ’81. “We used to be in a wonderful old Morro Bay cottage. We had big gardens, and I used to grow an acre of sweet peas and give them away by the armloads. So when we moved from there I was looking for a garden place. We got lucky.”

Morro Bay got lucky, too, and so did an inland ocean of musicians, writers and poets.

There is a timelessness about Coalesce that transcends the changing landscape because it’s a still a work in constant progress, reflecting the growth of music and literature on the creatively upstart Central Coast, to which there appears no end in sight. That’s why Coalesce has such a bright future. Its roots run deep in the community, and books, and thanks to the iPad, Kindle and self-publishing, are taking off all over again.

So if you’re walking down Main Street near Coalesce, stop and savor the realization that this quaint storefront is actually the gateway to the musical and literary arts in Morro Bay. You can’t see from the street what’s going on behind the store, in the lush gardens and Garden Chapel. You can’t tell from the front door what’s going on inside, and you can’t tell a book by its cover; nor the passion of its author for his or her subject; nor the passion of the owner of the store for choosing that author’s book to buy and sell, and keep the business growing.

The story of how Linna Thomas and Janet Brown followed their hearts and turned Coalesce from a bookstore by the sea into an entertainment center under the protective embrace of Morro Rock is one of the great business and culture stories in local history. As it’s turning out after almost 40 years, it is a story worth celebrating as much as any story in any book gracing the shelves or any song filling the air in the Garden Chapel.

Because when you enter Coalesce Bookstore you are walking into a page of living history.

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Coalesce Bookstore, 845 Main Street, Morro Bay, California 93442. Hours: Monday –  Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Telephone: (805) 772-2880. Email: coalescebookstore@gmail.com. Website: http://www.coalescebookstore.com/