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Mar 03rd
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Cover Stories

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Tales of the Vine

Tales of the Vine

How gonzo journalist Rak Razam met his maker in the Peruvian Amazon—and lived to tell about it   

In the summer of 2006, an Australian journalist named Rak Razam ventured to South America to put together a story on Amazonian shamanism for Australian Penthouse. In the thick of the Peruvian jungle, he repeatedly drank ayahuasca, a powerful psychedelic tea made from a vine called Banisteriopsis caapi and plant leaves containing the hallucinogenic compound DMT. Legally recognized by the Peruvian government as a sacred medicine and a national treasure, ayahuasca is said to detoxify the body and mind and imbue its drinkers with a sense of connection to the Divine.

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Surveillance City?

Surveillance City?

Santa Cruz officials, locals and others weigh in on implementing Automatic License Plate Readers   

It had been a bright day in September and the clocks were striking 8 p.m. “You’ve had a long day,” said the man in the police uniform. It was Sept. 10, 2013, and the Santa Cruz City Council was about to hear Deputy Chief of Police Steve Clark request that a $37,000 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the Bureau of Justice be approved to purchase Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) for the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD).

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Best Shot

Best Shot

Two local wedding photographers prove that love and creativity are a powerful mix

It may not be News at 11, but it’s worth noting—especially during wedding planning season —that love sparks creativity. (And, quite often the other way around, too.)

That has certainly been the case for one young, local couple, Jeff and Doriana Hammond, who, after just a few months of meeting in Santa Cruz County back in 2009, fell in love—and then tossed aside their conventional “day jobs” for a creative stint in El Salvador, which lasted nearly a year.

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Big Data

Big Data

The ability to sort and query through expanding oceans of digital information takes an increasingly central role in the world. How far can this new technology take us? And at what point does Big Data become too big? 

One of the most elemental ways of thinking about “Big Data”—quite possibly the most prominent buzz word permeating the tech world's modern lexicon—and the role massive amounts of data play in the technical and scientific communities' advancements, is, fundamentally, the ability to detect and examine highly diffused patterns.

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Growing Pains

Growing Pains

Public officials, members of the marijuana industry, and the community weigh in on the various factors that the county must consider as new cannabis laws are drafted. With a dispensaries ordinance now in effect, how will regulation for cultivators play out? 

On a cold, clear afternoon in mid October, I sat in the passenger seat of a white pickup truck next to a man named Bryce, a staunch advocate and experienced cultivator of medical marijuana for the Santa Cruz-based California Growers Collective (CGC). As we drove up Highway 9 and into the mountains of the San Lorenzo Valley toward our destination, one of CGC's two cannabis grow sites in the county, Bryce handed over a cloth blindfold and asked that I slip it over my eyes, which he and the collective's attorney, Ben Rice, had suggested earlier as a means for plausible deniability on the farm's whereabouts.

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Back in the Black

Back in the Black

It wasn’t that long ago that Santa Cruz County was hit with a serious mortgage crisis and an eye-opening recession. Now that the economic storm has passed, GT examines the county’s recovery process.

After the subprime mortgage crisis in the summer of 2007 and the ensuing recession of 2008, Santa Cruz County’s economy, like most in the state and the nation, plummeted into challenging times. That fall into a recession financially injured some parts of the county more than others, and, for the most part, those areas have healed.

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Lunch Time

Lunch Time

How an Emmy-winning writer and two award-winning music titans managed to unearth a promising musical about second chances and serve it to the masses at Cabrillo Stage. Is Broadway next?

One never knows where the winds of fate will take you. One seemingly genuine act may produce a surprising ripple effect that defies the odds. In many ways, that is what has happened with the musical “Lunch.” The production, which hits Cabrillo Stage Jan. 3, first came to life 22 years ago thanks to a powerful creative trio that were, quite frankly, musical theater virgins. Rick Hawkins was an Emmy-winning TV writer and the man who birthed the legendary “Went With The Wind” sketch on The Carol Burnett Show back in the 1970s.

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All Booked Up

All Booked Up

2013 was a great year for local literature. Find out which books made our top 10 must-read list.

As 2013 comes to a close, we look back at some of the best local literature released this year. Whether you’re in need of a last-minute gift this holiday season, or your new year’s resolution is to read more, our must-read list has something for everyone—from aspiring chefs, to history buffs, to mystery fans, to young children.

Plus: The inside scoop from some of the authors themselves.

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Civinomics Rising

Civinomics Rising

Since its recent groundbreaking event, Civinomics' online users are posting their own civic initiatives for the community to vote on. Where will digital governance take Santa Cruz?

Just three weeks after Civinomics launched a well-attended local public event dubbed “Civinomicon” at its Cruzio headquarters, the fledgling startup in Downtown Santa Cruz finds itself boldly moving forward with a unique mission to drastically modernize civic engagement. Its two founders, Manu Koenig and Robert Singleton, both in their twenties, describe their endeavor as “an experiment in digital governance,” but if their early signs of success are any indication of the possibilities that lie ahead, the “experiment” may generate a variety of new and, perhaps, different, kinds of civic conversations locally.

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The Ladies at Eighty

The Ladies at Eighty

As its 80th anniversary approaches, the esteemed Walnut Avenue Women's Center turns some of its focus toward families. How the directors hope to broaden conversations about safety and more.

Despite the organization’s name, the enterprising individuals who run the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center are shifting the focus to families as the organization prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary this month. Jennifer O’Brien-Rojo, co-executive director of the nonprofit organization, says it has been turning toward the community and letting those needs dictate what they do.

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Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
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Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia