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Jun 30th
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Cover Stories

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Learning to Love Autism

Learning to Love Autism

A local family’s experience with the disorder

River Robbins didn’t make eye contact for the first 10 years of his life. Not even his mother, father, grandmother and grandfather—all of whom help to raise him and his twin brother, Bodhi—knew the joy of looking into his beautiful blue eyes. Until recently.

“River had not made any eye contact with anybody, ever. His eyes might have, in passing, grazed over a person but there was no connection,” recalls River and Bodhi’s grandfather, John Robbins. “This particular time, about five months ago, something happened. Our faces were close to each other’s, and we found each other’s eyes and just stared. For about a minute. It hadn’t happened for even two seconds before.”

The boys’ grandmother, Deo, watched in amazement. “I remember watching it happening and I didn’t want to talk or even breathe because I didn’t want to break the spell,” she says. The “soul to soul” contact John remembers making with his grandson a few months ago was a breakthrough for the Santa Cruz County family.

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The Kids are Alright

The Kids are Alright

How a cool posse of enterprising teens managed to find greater meaning in life and give back to the community. Two words: Food Justice.

Not too long ago, Jacques Jackson, a Watsonville teenager, often came home after school and, by his own admission, would not do anything productive at all. “Me and my friends would just go and waste time.”

Then there’s Sal. He lives in Santa Cruz’s Beach Flats area. A year ago, the 19-year-old says he just “partied” with his friends—like … off and on from Friday night through Sunday.

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Fall Fashion

Fall Fashion


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Marin's Milestone

Marin's Milestone

Conductor Marin Alsop looks back over her 20-year legacy at The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. PLUS: Why this year’s fest is destined to stand out.

Through composer Michael Daugherty’s eyes, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music is a lot like Las Vegas in the ’50s and ’60s. Strip away the neon lights, wedding chapels and slot machines, and the man has a point. For entertainers at that time, playing Vegas was considered a career milestone. The same prestige applies to the festival today. And it is at this renowned gathering, where some of the greatest musical minds from around the world share the stage, that Marin Alsop reigns queen.

Celebrating her 20th year as music director of the festival, which has had a significant presence locally since 1963, Alsop is hailed by Daugherty and all who have had the opportunity to collaborate with her, as “the hardest working woman in show business.”

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School’s Out...(forever)

School’s Out...(forever)

Homeschooling and unschooling. A look at the alternatives in Santa Cruz
School isn’t for everyone. Some critics even say that mass schooling makes kids dumber and less creative, less confident and less capable of thinking for themselves. Today in the United States, about 56 million children attend compulsory schools while the trend in learning outside of schools is growing as more families decide to avoid the socialization of control that’s a hallmark of “public education.” If “regular” schools are symbolized by a regimented system of bells and rules, the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling and unschooling might be characterized by this maxim: trust that children learn everywhere, all the time.

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What’s So Funny?

What’s So Funny?

Searching for laughs in Santa Cruz—seriously

To Get to the Other Side

Readers’ Digest said it best, or at least most famously: Laughter is the Best Medicine. The adage is thought to come from the Bible, Proverb 17:22,  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Similarly, the Koran supports the funny with, “He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh.” And who among us can argue with Siddhartha Gautama’s observation, “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Of course historically we laugh with equal gusto at all that is imperfect (see What’s Up With Airline Food?).

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Kyer Wiltshire

Kyer Wiltshire

Views the world through a spiritual lens
This moment. Yes, this one right here. Are you enjoying it? Are you milking it for all it’s worth, savoring its nuances, pouncing on its opportunities?

The reason I ask is that this moment happens to be the only game in town. Not to be a downer, but the paper on which these words are printed will one day yellow and fade, then wither and crumble. Everything we see—as well as the eyes we see it with and the brains we’re using to process it with—will eventually return to the earth, and all of our efforts, dreams, struggles and schemes will be forgotten. The truth of Emerson’s assertion “Life is a journey, not a destination” couldn’t be more evident: The end of the line is oblivion (or at the very least, the oblivion of our present forms), so let’s not be in such a hurry to “get there.” Instead, let’s make damned sure we enjoy the ride, shall we?

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Harbor Life

Harbor Life

Vibrant and full of all the natural wonders the coast has to offer, the Santa Cruz Harbor is a thriving close-knit community. It’s also one filled with neighbors who pull together during challenging times.

Don Lind, 84, pinches off pure Virginia tobacco, stuffs it into his pipe and lights a match. Beyond the curls of smoke he watches kayakers and couples in dinghies glide by outside his port window.

“Everything is alive here,” he says.

It was never a long sought-after dream to live on a boat for Lind. He hadn’t even been out on a boat until he was in his sixties. But, when he finally did go out onto the ocean he knew something was right. He said he got the feeling that he’d been there before. Now when he plays music in the cabin of his 32-foot motorboat, he looks out the window and to the trees on the hillside.

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Thirty & Thriving

Thirty & Thriving

Cabrillo Stage’s Lile Cruse and Jon Nordgren open up the theater company’s milestone season.
Plus: a look back at how it all began.

Lile Cruse. Jon Nordgren. They are the two masterminds behind Cabrillo Stage. Cruse is the founding artistic director of the much-admired local theater company and Nordgren is the current artistic director. And they’re both in the spotlight as Cabrillo Stage celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

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The World On My Back

The World On My Back

Camping and backpacking - and back again. Our adventurous scribe unveils all—just in time for summer
I’m writing this from inside my tent. I managed to erect it just as the first sprinkles started, and now it’s steadily raining. It’s a new tent, and so far has no leaks. Fingers crossed there.

Bringing this laptop is fairly indulgent, weight-wise, on a backpacking trip. Same with my wilderness survival books. But I knew this weekend was going to be rainy, and my original hike would likely be too hazardous when wet, so I picked an easier destination and figured I could deal with a little extra weight.

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I Was a Teenage Deadhead

Memories of life on tour, plus the truth about that legendary Santa Cruz Acid Test

 

I Build a Lighted House and Therein Dwell

Wednesday, June 24, Chiron turns stationary retrograde (we turn inward) at 21.33 degrees Pisces. We usually speak of “retrograde” when referring to Mercury. But all planets retrograde. Next month in July, Venus retrogrades. What is Chiron retrograde? Chiron represents the wound within all of us. Wounds have purpose. They sensitize us; make us aware of pain and suffering. Through our wounds we develop compassion. Through compassion we become whole (holy) again. Chiron helps develop these states of consciousness. Everyone carries a wound. Everyone carries family wounds (family astrology tracks the astrological “DNA” through generations). Chiron wounds are deep within. We’re often not aware of them until Chiron retrogrades. Then the wounds (through pain, hurt, sadness, suffering) become apparent. They seem to break us open emotionally, psychologically. Painful events from the past are remembered. They are brought to the present for healing. Through experiencing, talking about and deeply feeling what is hurting us, healing takes place. We begin to understand and bring healing to others. All week, Jupiter and Venus move closer together in the sky. They meet in Leo at the full moon, Cancer solar festival, on Wednesday, July 1. The Cancer keynote is, “I build a lighted house and therein dwell.” The soul’s light has finally penetrated the “womb” of matter. The New Group of World Servers is to radiate this light. At the end of each sign are keywords to use and remember during the Chiron retrograde.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of June 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Kickin' Chicken

Local kitchen alchemist Justin Williams is fast becoming a cult flavor master. His late-night wizardry, which began last fall delivering mainly to starving UCSC students, is catching on with taste buds beyond campus. Kickin’ Chicken delivers its spicy-sweet fried chicken and waffles to Westside residents between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. nightly. Or you can catch him and his brother and sister, Candice and Danny Mendoza, serving it up at their “Sunday Mass” at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge at 1001 Center St. in Santa Cruz. Using sous vide, a French method of cooking chicken in a water bath at a tightly controlled temperature, they then flash fry it for an amazingly crispy coat. Candice Mendoza spoke to GT about Kickin’ Chicken’s rise.

 

What’s a creative new approach to addressing summer beach litter?

Robotic dogs, with duct tape on their paws, that walk around picking up litter wherever they go. Joaquin Heinz, Santa Cruz, Barista

 

Pelican Ranch Winery

The most popular red wines found on store shelves are also those most commonly known, such as Pinot, Zinfandel and Merlot. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Pelican Ranch Winery’s Cinsault ($19), it opens up a whole new world. Cinsault is a grape that can tolerate heat, so it is found in countries with warmer climes such as Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and France. It’s rare in California but grows well in places like Lodi—Silvaspoons Vineyard in this particular case—where it’s hot and dry. Often used as a blending grape, the silky Cinsault is just fine on its own.

 

Open Wide

Soif’s soft reboot leads to expanded menu, plus the ‘thinking woman’s ketchup’