Uncovering Cali cool in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

Once a retreat for older, wealthier Californians, the West Coast town is finding its edge, says Elizabeth Day

James O’Mahoney opens the door to the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum wearing a dazzling blue Hawaiian shirt. Although the word “museum” might be stretching it somewhat, we are standing in a room filled with an eccentric collection of surfboards.

O’Mahoney bought his first board 22 years ago and has never looked back. His favourite is a replica of the one used by Colonel Kilgore’s men in Apocalypse Now. The walls are lined with cases displaying memorabilia, including the St Christopher’s Medal worn by Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock and the ukulele played by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

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