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Jul 29th
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Cover Stories

Cover Stories

The Chronicles of Charlie

The Chronicles of Charlie

His holidays will never be same

Charlie Price shot himself a long, hard look in the rearview mirror of the convertible mustang he had just rented near Chicago O’Hare airport. “OK,” he tried to convince himself. “You can do this. You can do this.”

True. He could. But somewhere deep inside Charlie’s mixed up, coming-off-the-loss-of-a-pathetic-love-affair mind, he was painfully aware of one thing: He didn’t want to. He didn’t want to spend three long, gonna-retain-water days with his family during the holidays. In fact, if he was smart and actually used the almost-acquired psych degree back in college, he’d return the damn convertible to the asinine rental clerk who’d just mocked him because he insisted on renting a convertible in the middle of December in the first place. Then he’d hop back on the drafty shuttle bus and head right back to Santa Cruz; back home, where all his neuroses would be waiting—naked, unwrapped and ready for the taking—under some sort of imaginary mistletoe. But Charlie was far from home. He was just home.

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Cover Stories

The Three Lost Boys of Sudan

The Three Lost Boys of Sudan
In their gripping memoir, three Sudanese boys share a tale of horror—and hope—and uncover the mindbending plight of war-torn Sudan.
The last time Alephonsion Deng saw his mother he was 7 years old. He was out tending to his goats when marauders attacked his Dinka village, Juol, in Southern Sudan. He knew what to do—his mother had always told him if something happened, if the government’s soldiers came to kill them, flee. He did.
“Before they reached my house they began shooting. People scattered everywhere. Roofs went up in flames … I watched them kill our cattle, set the millet and sorghu fields on fire, Benjamin Ajak, from “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky.”
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A Woman Named Sia Amma

A Woman Named Sia Amma

She turned tragedy into comedy and found the perfect way to heal. Now she’s inviting everybody to celebrate something divine: female sexuality

It’s a breezy February afternoon when I meet with San Francisco performance artist Sia Amma. She appears in a doorway looking fresh, draped in a flowing chocolate brown frock, her dark hair a passionate explosion of freedom, expression; her persona totally female, fully alive, absolutely happy.

A few minutes later, when we’re walking along the bristling Santa Cruz thoroughfare known as Pacific Avenue, Sia Amma tells me about her upcoming gig at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. It will be an unconventional showcase, she says, something that will celebrate female sexuality. I believe her. Five years ago, I witnessed one of Sia Amma’s performances locally and if her upcoming show—launched in celebration of Women’s Month and featuring other dynamic female performers—is anything like her previous endeavors, it’s a safe bet that audiences will walk away amused and smiling … if not a bit shocked by some of the subject matter.

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Cover Stories

Dina Babbitt

Dina Babbitt

More than 60 years ago, Dina Babbitt came face to face with the ‘Angel of Death.’ How she remained alive during the Holocaust is another story.

Dina Babbitt is a striking 82-year-old woman. She stands on the porch of her Felton home, which is set in a picturesque landscape, complete with big trees and a garden. Babbitt is ready for lunch—ready to break bread together.

Once inside, a mutual friend, Judy Bouley, and myself, watch Babbitt’s little dachshund, Penny, hop around our feet, hoping for a pat on the head. On the way to the kitchen we pass an art studio where an easel holds Babbitt’s work-in-progress: the gypsy woman, Celine, staring out from her painted face. She looks sad. Celine’s baby just died, Babbitt later explains.

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Cover Stories

Good Company

Inside the brilliantly choreographed world of Robert Kelley and Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre

Radon is a chemically inert radioactive gaseous element produced by the decay of radium. Log on to radon.com and you will discover that the "action level" for deciding when you need to "do something" about the radon in, say, your home, school, or work place is 4 pCi/l. Let’s break that down: pCi/l= picocuries per liter, is the most popular method of reporting radon levels. For number queens, a picoCurie is 0.000,000,000,001—one-trillionth—of a Curie. A Curie is an international measurement unit of radioactivity.

Radon has nothing to do with dance, the topic I am supposed to write about after I interview Robert Kelley, who has everything to do with dance, specifically ballet. Radon is, however, the thing that fascinates Kelley at the moment, and the very thing he speaks of, as he winds his SUV along Old San Jose Road’s scenic thoroughfare on the way to the stables that house Zugia, his 16-year-old pregnant horse. Radon is also the very thing that keeps me captivated on my subject.

Kelley’s curiosity of the two-syllabled element began the evening prior to our meeting. The night was significant mainly because Kelley enjoyed a rare evening out.

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Cover Stories

Liquid Therapy

Liquid Therapy

Filmmaker Dana Brown opens up about his new surf documentary “Step Into Liquid’. PLUS: Inside the film that also spotlight somes of the best surfers in Santa Cruz.

When I was growing up in Chicago, our summertime fun usually consisted of a few treks to Lake Michigan. It was there I saw my first wave. It must have been four inches high. Adventure sports on the shores of the ol’ LM back in the ’70s invited the use of one primary material—rubber. Rafts, floaties, beach balls—you name it. Yeah-ha! What fun! I did not have the finesse of a swimmer—I was 40 pounds overweight—and, quite often, my rocket red bikini-like swim trunks felt uncomfortably snug, exposing the unwanted physical side effects of consuming too many Ho-Hos and Hostess Chocolate Cream Pies. In a way, I was “surfed” the treacherous waves of LM whenever I embraced the canary-yellow Donald Duck innertube of my youth. At the time, it was cool. And it hid the fat surrounding my mid-section. I’d often sit in Donald—so buoyant, so there for me—while my Polish parents and their gregarious friends lounged in striped lime green lawn chairs on the shore. They’d down a Schlitz or two, talk about the Bicentennial, or gossip about the risqué new temptress at the last Polka party. For chuckles, they would tell jokes in Polish—you haven’t heard a real joke until you’ve listened to the rhyming ones in my family’s native tongue—and cheer on all the kids performing “daredevil” stunts in the lake. The closest thing a Chicagoan like me got to surfing was watching Greg Brady wipe out in that cool Hawaiian episode from The Brady Bunch. (Third season; episode three, and it’s really sad that I know that.)

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Cover Stories

Peter Condor Mel

Peter Condor Mel

The Lowdown: Whether he’s attending epic surf competitions like Eddie Aikau Quicksilver Big Wave Event or just kickin’ it locally at Steamer Lane or Mavericks, 33-year-old Peter Mel makes his presence known. He says passion is the key to success—perfect for a guy who loves to “take a challenge against mother nature.” While he’s fast become an international force in the surf world, deep down, Mel enjoys his home turf—Santa Cruz. (There is, of course, the über popular Freeline Design Surf Shop, founded by his father, John, which has been going strong for more than 30 years.) Surf to him at www.petermel.com. Here, “Condor” discusses the inner workings of appearing in Step Into Liquid, specifically, surfing the Cortes Banks, an area 100 off the coast of southern California,  outside of the contintental shelf, where the biggest expansive of ocean produces amazing yet dangerous swells.

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Cover Stories

Ken SkinDog Collins

Ken SkinDog Collins

The Lowdown: Considered to be “100 percent Westside” and one of Steamer Lane’s royalty, SkinDog is a mighty force on the water. Sure, he’s proven he can push it with “the big boys” locally, but SkinDog’s frenetic, adventurous spirit is downright captivating—watch, and you’ll see. These days, the Santa Cruz native enjoys partaking in the myriad of surf competitions out there and boasts a long list of sports sponsors. After nailing a Mavericks event several years back, his name has generated big buzz in the surf universe. But what was it really like surfing the Cortes Bank with local boy Peter Mel in Step Into Liquid?

Q: So, Dan Brown approaches you to be featured in this movie Step Into Liquid and how cool is it that you got to trek out 100 miles off the coast to the Cortes Bank? Tell me a little about that day and, of course, the waves?

A: Well the scariest part was just getting out there. We set out to sea at sunset the night before into 20-foot swells, and motored all night, up and down. To tell you the truth I wasn't digging it.

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Cover Stories

Darryl FLEA Virostko

Darryl FLEA VirostkoThe Lowdown: He’s been called the “Tommy Lee of surfing,” an athlete that is “strangely magnetic.” But Flea, at 31, has become one of the area’s most recognized phenoms. Back in the ’90s, he was lured to Mavericks and his daredevil attitude garnered the attention of more than just locals. Eventually, the world would see another surfing boom, and, thankfully, Flea helped fuel it. He’s been in countless surf tournaments around the world and is sponsored by significant sport organizations. He’s bonded with Mavericks, and now, he gets his feet wet on the big screen in Step Into Liquid.
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Cover Stories

Shawn Barney Barron

Shawn Barney Barron

The Lowdown: Pomona-born but raised Santa Cruz, “Barney” began surfing in fourth grade after checking out local surf wonders like Vince Collier, Rich Schmidt, and Charle Heightman. At 32, he’s considered one of the most innovative and progressive surfers—whether he’s “busting flips” or surfing Mavericks, he’s making people take notice. Like his surf cohorts, Barney has his own particular style and rhythm. Heck, he’s been called a “total air freak” for his entertaining moves, often a mix of skate styles, with plenty of rolls and spins—just enough to freak people out, of course.

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Cover Stories

Robert Wingnut Weaver

The Lowdown: Ever since legendary surf filmmaker Bruce Brown decided to cast Robert “Wingnut” Weaver in his second, updated installment of the surf classic Endless Summer, Wingnut has risen to the top of a unique and accomplished career in surfing. Besides being one of the best, most talented longboarders in the water, Wingnut enjoys surf star status as host of Fox’s Longboard TV, is the director of marketing at SURFTECH in Santa Cruz, is a high-end surf guide, traveling around the world with clients and is dedicated father of his 6-year-old son Cameron, who he surfs with. “I keep my fingers in a bunch of little pies,” he says, followed by his at-the-ready, contagious laugh.

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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 25

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.