The Ongoing Works of Matt Kettmann

    Published in The Santa Barbara Independent

Matt started at The Independent as an intern in the spring of 1999, got a job as a proofreader that fall, and then, eight months later, was hired as a full-time news reporter, which he did for five years, winning multiple awards for writing. He was promoted to pop culture editor in 2005, and spent nearly two years redesigning and strengthening the newspaper’s arts & entertainment coverage.

Matt took over as senior editor in September 2007, and focused his efforts on building content for, which was named the best weekly newspaper website in the country by Editor & Publisher in 2008. In addition to overseeing the popular website — by far the most well read in Santa Barbara County, with more than 10,000 unique visitors per day — Matt also oversees many elements of the printed paper, and continues to write, edit, and photograph as much as possible.

What follows is a selection of his stories, from February 2006 till today. The stories between February 2006 and April 2007, when we relaunched, might be oddly formatted and missing some photographs. All of his work as a news reporter was published before the modern build-up of the website in 2006, but he is working to get digital copies of his best work in the preceding years, and will post those soon.

Cover Stories

UCSBigger: Will the University’s Expansion Strangle the Region’s Resources?, September 2, 2010

Stayin’ Alive: Profiles of Santa Barbara’s Nightclub and Bar Owners, July 1, 2010

A Mosque Grows in Goleta: Inside the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara’s Quest to Build a Home, May 20, 2010

How the Irish Saved Mission Santa Ines: The History of Preservation at the Mission, March 11, 2010

The Great California Condor Comeback: Report on the Endangered Species, January 7, 2010

Human Rights Superman: Profile of Human Rights Watch’s Peter Bouckaert, December 24, 2009

High Noon in the Garden of Controversy: Investigative Report on the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, November 19, 2009

Within the Syuxtun Story Circle: Chumash-Inspired Mosaic Hits the Shorefront, November 5, 2009

Saving the Silence: Facing Threats from Inside and Out, the Carrizo Plain National Monument Prepares for the Future, April 16, 2009

The Rockstar Who Would Save the World: How the Jack Johnson Family Is Making Musicians, Concert Venues, and Fans Rally ’Round the Earth, August 21, 2008

Taxi Timebomb: Chaos and Competition Cause Santa Barbara Cabbies to Fear for Their Future, July 24, 2008

Can Vitamins Save the World?: How Santa Barbara’s Vitamin Angels Is Saving India and Beyond, One Dose at a Time, April 24, 2008

Kid Millionaire Cashes In: The Isla Vista Roots of Superstar Deejay, Record Exec, Clothing Designer, and Global Trendsetter Steve Aoki, March 13, 2008

Not Just Bushes Anymore: Introducing Jan Timbrook’s Chumash Ethnobotany, August 30, 2007

Wine Legends: Bien Nacido Grows an Empire in the Santa Maria Valley, March 29, 2007

Last Calls: Old-Timers, Newcomers, and Stray Hipsters Remember Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, the Best Bar in Town, July 27, 2006

The Lord Hath No Mercy: Millions Suffer as Uganda Prolongs a 20-Year War Against Crazed Rebels, June 29, 2006

Bad Eyes, Good Medicine, and a Guy Named Bob: A Short History of the Modern Medical Marijuana Movement, March 30, 2006

The Accidental Environmentalist: A Reluctant Businessman Named Yvon Chouinard and the Making of Patagonia, Inc., October 2005

The Karabakh Conflict: Traveling Into a Dark Corner of the Former Soviet Union, June 17, 2004 (currently hosted on

The Tragedy of Toxic Mold: Killing Us All…Or Just the Latest Lawsuit Craze? , January 8, 2004

Arrainging the King of Pop: Michael Jackson’s First Day in Court, January 22, 2004

It’s Not Easy Being Green: Sierra Club’s Board of Directors Bitterly Divided Over Upcoming Election, March 11, 2004

Uncommon Ground: Hikers and Bikers Square Off Over Use of Santa Barbara County Trails , July 24, 2003

Biking for Bolivia: Ride for a Reason Brings Relief to Bolivian Amazon, Summer 2003

Backstage with Jack Johnson: UCSB’s Most Famous Export if Just Like You and Me, May 2003

Travel, Fun, & Life

Getting Well in Newer Ways: Alternative Health Profiles, October 7, 2010

Comforts of Home in the Great Outdoors, Living the RV Life at Ocean Mesa Campground, June 10, 2010

Ski All Day, Party All Night: How Mammoth Mountain Is Trying to Tap the Winter Nightlife, March 20, 2010

My Own Private Utah: A Snowboarding Trip to the Land of Mormons, January 9, 2010

Stargaze on the Sunset Strip: Good Times at the Mondrian in West Hollywood, August 16, 2009

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009: In Memoriam for the Pop Star, June 25, 2009

Dalai Lama Imparts Wisdom to UCSB Crowd: His Holiness Graces Thunderdome, Santa Barbara’s Finest Turn Out, April 24, 2009

Desert Dreams: Escape to Palm Springs in Winter, When the Time Is Right, February 19, 2009

Santa Barbara’s Alpine Connection: Snow Scientist, Gallery Owner, and Ski Bum David Court Leads Wintry Adventures in the Alps, January 8, 2009

Five-Starring in Pismo Beach?: Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa Offers Livable Luxury and Good Autumn Eats, September 25, 2008

Taking the Fast Lane Through S.L.O. County: Three Easy Weekend Excursions to Plan for in 2008, April 24, 2008

Merv Griffin, 1925-2007: Remembering My Great Uncle, August 16, 2007

The Fog Rolls Over El Encanto: Iconic Santa Barbara Inn Closes for Renovations, August 30, 2007

Fast Cars, Good Times: Rents Hot Rods to Satisfy Your Need for Speed, June 14, 2007

The Joy of Carnival Rides: A Vomitous Ode to the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo, April 26, 2007

Not Just Mai Tais Anymore: The Big Island’s Kohala Coast Delivers a Luxurious Lesson in Hawaiian Culture, January 3, 2007

When Winter Means June: A Weekend of Snow Riding and Relaxation at June Lake, Winter 2006

Wheelin’ the Waterfront: What Makes the Tourists Spin Those Silly Surreys, Summer 2005

Blue and Green Guide 2004: Adventure on the High Seas of Santa Cruz Island (sailing) and Living on the Ledge (rock climbing), May 2004

Fresh Tracks, Furry Fun, and Frozen Lakes: Wild Winter Sports of Central Montana, Winter 2004

Livin’ La Pura Vida: The Gringo Show Heads to Costa Rica, Fall 2003

Food & Wine

Santa Barbara’s Sole Certified Cicerone, October 13, 2010

Seeing Winemakers in Sepia: Portraits of Santa Barbara County Vintners, August 11, 2010

Sommelier Knows Best: Joshua Klapper’s La Fenetre Wines, July 1, 2010

The Conway Show:Arroyo Grande’s Hidden Family Winery, April 1, 2010

Tool Frontman Unveils His Arizona Wine: Interview with Maynard James Keenan, November 30, 2009

Mr. Picky Makes Wine Tasting Easy: Mobile App for Santa Barbara Wine Country, September 14, 2009

Make Way for Monterey: Report on Wines from Monterey County, September 2, 2009

Rebirth of the Wine Cask: Report on Re-opening of Storied Restaurant, August 14, 2009

Vodka from Stem Cells?: Introducing Santa Barbara’s RND Vodka, August 12, 2009

Saddle Up and Sip It Down: Riding High with Vino Vaqueros, June 21, 2009

Say Howdy to Sagebrush Annie's: Good Food and Fine Wine in Ventucopa, June 16, 2009

The Little Vineyard That Does: Michael Larner Keeps Up His Father’s Dream, June 11, 2009

They Got Terroir, We Got Alma: Celebrate the Spirit of Santa Barbara Wine Country at This Weekend’s Vintners’ Festival, April 14, 2009

The Marketing Winemaker: Larry Schaffer’s Campaign to Take Santa Barbara County and Tercero Wines to the Top, April 9, 2009

Figuring Out the Futures Tastings: Elements Consumes Courthouse April 25; The Winehound Hits Museum of Natural History May 9, April 23, 2009

Wine Cask Owner Speaks Out: Bernard Rosenson Blames “Depression,” but Will Former Owner Doug Margerum Salvage the Business?, February 24, 2009

Wine Cask Evicted: Venerable Santa Barbara Institution Closes Without Warning, February 19, 2009

Champagne on the Brain: Bounty of Bubbly Choices to Pop in the New Year; Plus, Which Cheese Will Please?, December 24, 2008

Santa Barbara County’s First Syrah: Zaca Mesa Celebrates 30 Years of the Black Bear Block, December 18, 2008

See You at The Stonehouse: Getting a Taste of San Ysidro Ranch, Where Locals Mingle with the Elite, November 13, 2008

Highlights from the Harvest: A Report from the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association’s Celebration of Harvest, October 18, 2008

High Time for Tequila: From Badge of Bravery to Cup of Class, a Primer on Fiesta’s Favorite Drink, July 31, 2008

A Toast to Fiesta: It Wasn’t Always Margaritaville Around Here, July 31, 2008

Syrah Secrets Revealed: A Report from the Second Annual Syrah Symposium, June 12, 2008

The Green Fairy Is Free: Distilling the Myths and Washing Down the Rumors of Absinthe, March 20, 2008

The Tastiest Autumn Ever?: Fewer Grapes Mean Better Wine for Santa Barbara County’s ’07 Harvest, November 1, 2007

A Proven Past and Promising Future: The Evolution of the Sta. Rita Hills, June 21, 2007

Music, Film, Arts, & More

Mellowman Cometh: Jack Johnson Makes People Happy, October 8, 2010

Grunt’s-Eye View of Afghanistan: Interview with Filmmaker of Restrepo, August 10, 2010

Do the Country Electro: Interview with Zach Gill of ALO, February 11, 2010

South Africa's Unifying Scrum; Interview with Screenwriter of Invictus, December 5, 2009

Welcome to Your Planet: Interview with Directors of earth, Disney’s New Nature Documentary, April 14, 2009

The Master Glazer of Figueroa Street: Santa Barbara Ceramicist James Haggerty Turns Pottery into Fine Art, October 2, 2008

George Clinton’s Mothership Touching Down at West Beach: The Parliament Funkadelic Take Part in Santa Barbara’s Sandiest Festival, September 9, 2008

The Icon of Our Era?: UCSB Grad and Global Superstar Jack Johnson Releases Sleep Through the Static , February 7, 2008

Getting His Experience: Meet Javier Bardem, This Year’s Montecito Award-Winner for Classic Performances, January 24, 2008

Hollywood’s Next Wave: Actress Amy Ryan Joins the Cast of SBIFF’s Virtuosos, January 24, 2008

Stealing Advice from the Trees: Matt Costa Looks at Unfamiliar Faces, His Second Full-Length Album of Folk-Pop, January 10, 2008

Michael Jackson Is Innocent: Aphrodite Jones’s Book Exonerates the Pop Star, November 15, 2007

Bang to the Boogie: Rap Pioneers Sugarhill Gang Come to Santa Barbara, September 13, 2007

Intrepid Reporter Saves Forgotten Generation: Jeff Gordinier’s X Saves the World Reminds Us that Gen X Is Making Everything Alright, April 3, 2008

The Bowl Raises the Roof, Literally: The Hallowed Santa Barbara Venue Goes Big with a New Stage, May 17, 2007

First King of the Festival: Forest Whitaker Talks Acting, Uganda, and Why Idi Amin Wasn’t So Bad, February 1, 2007

Talking Life and Music with ALO’s Zach Gill: An Early Morning Spent with the Frontman for the Animal Liberation Orchestra, December 21, 2006

Jon Stewart’s in the House: The Daily Show’s Host Comes to UCSB, November 16, 2006

Monkeys He Will Make of Men: Del tha Funkee Homosapien Gears Up for Best Album Yet, September 19, 2006

Meet the Marleys: Ziggy and Stephen Perform on Their Father’s Hallowed Ground, August 9, 2006

Dancing Days Are Here Again: Conversatin’ with Taj Mahal, April 20, 2006

Nature & the Environment

Caught in the Carrot Crossfire: Pesticides and Life in the Cuyama Valley, September 16, 2010

Campground Conflict: Battle Over RVs at Gaviota Beaches, July 22, 2010

Weeding and Waiting at the San Marcos Foothills, Pains and Progress on Preserved Landscape, June 17, 2010

Getting Grief for Going Green : Quail Springs Permaculture Farm’s Growing Pains, September 10, 2009

Flaming Whale of a Problem: Jean Michel Cousteau’s Next Two PBS Specials on Beluga and Killer Whales Get Personal, April 2, 2009

Birder’s Paradise: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Unveils Its Revamped Bird Exhibit, September 9, 2008

What’s 30 Feet Long with Eight Legs, a Big Beak, and a Life of Mystery?: Giant Squid Dissected at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, August 22, 2008

Sharks and the Chumash: Santa Barbara’s First People Relied Heavily on Our Finned Friends, August 14, 2008

Leaving More Than a Trace: Re-creating Carpinteria’s Historic Franklin Trail, May 17, 2007

Want More?

All Independent articles from February 2006 until now

Published by Time Magazine
In 2004, Matt was hired as a stringer by Time Magazine. Since then, he has covered everything from illegal immigration, national energy policy, and podcasting to the Michael Jackson trial, blind photographers, and the American toy industry for both the printed magazine and the website Here is a selection of that work. 


The Mystery of the Vanishing California Sea Otters, September 25, 2010. Article about how the furry marine mammal is finding it hard to recover to historic levels.  

What to Do After an Oil Rig Dies: California's Quandary, July 8, 2010. Article about what happens to offshore oil platforms when they run out of oil.

Helping Condors Relearn Their Wild Ways, July 12, 2010. Article about how the endangered California condor is recovering through social learning.

Bringing a Historic but Haunted Winery Back to Life, March 20, 2010. Article about efforts to restore a Napa Valley winery and how its haunted by the ghosts of pre-Prohibition.   

A Tree Carving in California: Ancient Astronomers?, February 9, 2010. Article about a Chumash carving in San Luis Obispo County and its implications for prehistoric science.

What's SUP? A Surfing Sport That's Bucking the Recession, June 7, 2009. Article about the explosive growth of stand-up paddle surfing.

The Art and the Heart of Blind Photographers, May 17, 2009. Story behind a Riverside photography exhibit.

Solar Power: Eco-Friendly or Environmental Blight?, March 24, 2009. Report on solar plants planned for Carrisa Plains in San Luis Obispo County.

Recession Threatens the Original Surf City, January 19, 2009. Article about plan to save Santa Cruz’s surfing museum.

Wind and Fire: One Family’s Escape, October 24, 2007. Interview with family who escaped San Diego wildfire.

Saving Bukowski’s Bungalow, September 14, 2007. Story about fight to save Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles home.

Taking Aim at Hunters’ Ammo, April 4, 2007. Article about restrictions on using lead ammunition across the country.

Michael Jackson’s Date with Destiny, June 14, 2005. Report of jury decision in Jackson case.

Surfing’s Sudden Wipeout, December 14, 2005. Article about demise of Clark Foam and what that means.

Will Podcasting Kill the Radio Star?, December 17, 2004. First major nationals story about podcasting.


The Myth of Black Friday, November 27, 2007. Reported from San Jose mall on shopping.

The Great California Fires , October 25, 2007. Reported on one family’s escape from San Diego wildfire.

The Harley Honor Guard , May 1, 2006. Reported from Riverside on motorcyclists who defend soldiers’ funerals from protesters.

The Next Energy Crisis?, January 15, 2006. Reported on proposed natural gas facility near Oxnard.

Playing Both Sides of the Fence, November 27, 2005. Reporting on use of illegal immigration in California agriculture.

Target: Trans Fats, October 16, 2005. Interviewed Stephen Joseph, leader of anti-transfat movement in Bay Area.

Toy Story 3: Dolly Dramas, April 26, 2005. Interviewed Montecito toymaker Rouben Terzian.

Jacko’s Bad Day in Court, March 14, 2005. Organized reporting on Michael Jackson’s pajama day during molestation trial.

Let the Lawyering Begin, March 7, 2005. Lawyer rundown in Michael Jackson trial.

The Thriller Begins, February 7, 2005. Kick-off to Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial.

Published elsewhere

Matt has been freelancing since 2000, writing for publications small and large on a variety of topics. He was also the managing editor of Ventura Magazine in 2005. Here is a selection of freelance pieces.


Carving Out the Condor Trail , September 27, 2010. Cartographer Bryan Conant leads the quest to link Big Sur to southern California in the West Coast’s answer to the Appalachian Trail.

The Ghost Wineries of Napa Valley , October 27, 2009. In the peaks and valleys of California’s wine country, vinters remember the region’s rich history and rebuild for the future

Not So Dead: Death Valley, California, May 2008

San Francisco Chronicle

Slumdog reality, February 24, 2009. Report on the good news in India that Slumdog Millionaire forgot.


(Most of Matt’s many articles for Sunset are 100-word blurbs that don’t show up on the website. But here is a feature that is viewable online.)

Visit a different Santa Barbara: For a change of pace, leave State Street behind and journey to SoCo, July 2008

Wine Spectator

Zin-Fanatic Rocker John Conway: Q&A with John Conway of The Bravery and Conway Family Wines. August 10, 2010.

Award-Winning Wine Cask Restaurant Will Be Resurrected: Quest to Save Santa Barbara Institution. August 18, 2009

Winemaker Q&A: Doug Margerum. November 15, 2009.

Santa Barbara’s Wine Cask Closes: Recession derails restaurant and wine shop, February 25, 2009

Los Olivos Wine Cask Restaurant Changes Hands: Restaurant reclaimed and renamed by vintner Fess Parker, who owns the hotel in which the restaurant was located, June 12, 2007

Santa Barbara's Wine Cask Being Sold: After 25 years of touting Central Coast wine, owner Doug Margerum opts to step away from heralded market and restaurants, April 10, 2007

Muse and Medium: Wine inspires and helps create Christina LoCascio's art, December 15, 2005

In the Mountains of Karabakh: A war-ravaged former Soviet region tries to recover its winemaking roots, June 15, 2005

Ode Magazine

Seeing is believing: Ophthalmologist Ramniklal Doshi gives India the gift of sight, June 2008

Supplementing global health: Howard Schiffer and Vitamin Angels are saving the world one multivitamin at a time, January 2007

Swindle Magazine

Pader: The Broken Heart of Northern Uganda, Issue #10, 2006

Chewing Mairungi in Uganda, Issue #8, 2006

Hemispheres Magazine

Having a Vine Time: Santa Barbara County’s wine industry has both tourists and business owners seeing red, white, and rosé. December 2007

Glorious Getaways: The Simpson House Inn (page 2), December 2007

SkyWest Magazine

Secret Sips and Two-Wheeled Trips: A Town and Country Guide to Santa Barbara Wines, May 2003

LA Yoga

The Promise of Eco-Tourism, March 2008. Story about ecotourism worldwide, including scenes from Bolivia and Panama

Spreading the Micronutrient Message, Spring 2008. Report on Vitamin Angels’ programs in India and beyond.

Ventana Magazine

Story about Yoga on the Rocks, a yoga/climbing combo course, June 2009

Story about the Farmer and the Cook restaurant and market in Meiners Oaks, January 2009

Story about Sustainable Vine Wine Tours, November 2008

Profile of Manfred Krankl, owner of Ventura County’s Sine Qua Non Winery, December 2007

Broughton Quarterly

Profile of Gene Montesano, founder of Lucky Jeans. On page 17. Spring 2009

Profile of Yulun Wang, inventor of remote surgical robots and hospital rovers On page 20. Winter 2008

Profile of Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard On page 30. Fall 2008

Profile of Sustainable Vine Wine Tours On page 24. Summer 2008

Ventura County Star

A Chat with Mason Jennings, September 11, 2008. An interview with the Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter.

art ltd.

Santa Barbara Shooters: Inside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s exhibit of S.B. photographers. August 2007.

American Cowboy

Bakersfield and Back Again: A road trip in search of California’s country soul. November 2005
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