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Aug 28th
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Making the Homeless Count

Making the Homeless Count

GT tags along on the 2011 Homeless Census and learns how Santa Cruz takes an imperfect science and does one of the nation’s most perfected counts.

I’m not much of a morning person. So when I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. the night before taking part in the Jan. 25 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census, I feared the worst—for all I knew, I wasn’t even an operable human being that early. I’d surely be a bleary-eyed zombie, at best.

I moaned and grumbled as I forced myself out of bed the next morning. But as I filled the largest travel mug I own with some much-needed coffee, I gazed out of the kitchen window into the dark, frosty winter morning and a wave of humbling realization washed over me. Here I was, irritated to be yanked from my warm, comfy bed in my safe little house, grumpily making coffee in my very own kitchen, and yet in less than an hour I’d be setting out to count people who had spent last night, like most nights, outside, prey to the elements. These would be people who rise at this godforsaken hour every morning because they have to keep moving, because they don’t feel safe, or because they can’t be wherever it is they are.

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In Search of Charlie Chan

In Search of Charlie Chan

The Cruz Connection.  How a longtime Santa Cruz resident, Helen Kinau Wilder, figures prominently
Charlie Chan, the great fictional detective, was a man of mystery and intrigue—as well as a racist cultural stereotype wrapped in an enigma. For an entire generation of mainstream America he represented a skewed and constructed image of Chinese Americans, a deferential and asexual caricature, spewing out fortune-cookie clichés for mass consumption.

Beginning in the early 1920s through the end of the 1940s, Chan was a remarkably ubiquitous icon in American film and literature, comic books and television shows. Chan was the title character in no fewer than six novels by the popular mystery writer Earl Derr Biggers, a rather proper Mid-Westerner and Harvard graduate who first “created” the Chan character in 1917 and brought him into the world full-bloom in 1925, in his novel “The House Without a Key,” first published serially in the Saturday Evening Post.

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Great Shot

Great Shot

Behind the lens with wedding photographer Joop Rubens — how he captures the most important memories on a wedding day and why he stands out
There’s one person at your wedding that is going to be up in your business more than anyone else. Are you guessing that it’s your mother-in-law? Nope. The wedding planner? Close, but not quite there. Your new husband-to-be? Almost. It’s your photographer. Surprised?

Don’t be, because whomever you contract to take photos on your wedding day is going to be there when your mom buttons up your dress; when the makeup artist applies the final swipe of lipstick; when your maid of honor hands you that “something blue.” The photographer will be there for the first kiss, the exchange of rings, the cutting of the cake, the first dance, and every other epic moment that happens on the best day of your life.

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And The Nextie Goes To

And The Nextie Goes To

Analicia Cube, Doron Comerchero, Deutron Kebebew and Cliff Hodges think outside of the box to better the community. Here’s how.

January is National Mentoring Month. In a recent proclamation President Barack Obama declared that this is the time to honor “important individuals who unlock the potential and nurture the talent of our country.”

It’s fitting that this week our progressive networking group that seeks to encourage and connect new generations of local leaders, Santa Cruz NEXT, is doling out its 2011 NEXTie awards to four locals who not only think big, they’ve put their big ideas into big actions.

Embodying the spirit of National Mentoring Month and the key words promoted by Santa Cruz NEXT—“inform,” “inspire” and “involve,” Analicia Cube, Doron Comerchero, Deutron Kebebew and Cliff Hodges each brim with the kind of passion and proactive resolve that is taking Santa Cruz to new heights. The results of their disparate work—out on the streets, in the classroom, in volunteer programs or in business—have had transformative effects throughout the community. The fact is this: they’re teaching us more than a few things.

The public is invited to celebrate the achievements of these honorees during the NEXTies party at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Top of The Ritt in Downtown Santa Cruz. Tickets are $45 and include champagne, appetizers, music and more.

Here, we take a look back at how each of their stories started—and how they’ve proven to be some of Santa Cruz’s brightest forward thinkers.

Learn more at santacruznext.org. Tickets: nexties2011.eventbrite.com.

 

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Heal Thyself

Heal Thyself

Everywhere I turn in Santa Cruz, I’m astonished by the fortitude of its citizenry. Clearly I’m not referring to conquering inclement weather, withstanding horrific living standards or existing in abject community poverty. In comparison to other cities of comparable size, all of these noted needs are met for the majority of us in a spectacularly satisfactory manner. (Yes, our local hunger issues, crime upswings and cost of living woes are not to be ignored or made light of, however that’s another day and another 2,000 words.)

The overwhelming characteristic that impresses me so is the number of my fellow Santa Cruzans who are healing from something. (Included in this “healing” verb are the phrases “Working through something.”  “Dealing with something.” “Cleansing something.” And my personal favorite, “Processing.”) We, Santa Cruz, are a community of professional full-time menders.

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The Tiki King

The Tiki King

One lover of ukuleles keeps the torch lit for Tiki-loving locals
In 1966, when local entrepreneur Pat Baron was an impressionable young lad, his surfer uncle gave Baron’s father a three-foot stone Tiki (an image of a Polynesian god). “My dad stuck it out next to our playhouse when I was a kid,” Baron recalls. “It was always there under the tree. It was one of those both alluring and frightening things, because here was this stone idol.”

Apparently the Tiki’s presence had a lasting effect on Baron, who now goes by Tiki King (tikiking.com). You can recognize Tiki King by his Hawaiian shirt and his fez, the latter of which is emblazoned with an imposing-looking Tiki and the initials TK. Even at events like the Anaheim, Calif.-based music product trade show known as NAMM, Baron’s colorful appearance demands attention. “There’s people dressed head-to-toe in zippers and leather, there’s girls wearing patent leather nurse outfits and there are people like Slash and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I’m wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a fez,” he laughs. “Here in this Mecca of alternative extreme, where they have guitars shaped like machine guns, I can make heads turn just by doing my thing.”

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Year in Review

Year in Review

Great Expectations … for 365 days
How did you pronounce it? Formally—two thousand ten? Or casually? Twenty ten. If you’re like me, and odds are you’re more like me than you’d like to admit, you accidentally wrote it as 2001 sporadically for most of the year. Any way you addressed it, 2010 had a lot to live up to based on my intense research. (Disclaimer #1: To those of you who are not familiar with my method of intense research … it involves re-reading my own diary, talking to a panel of approximately three people—at least one of whom will undoubtedly be in elementary school—and Internet searches, which somehow always guide me directly to the “Buy it Now” list of Buffalo China on eBay.)

Judged purely on the cultural guideposts set for us by those who came before (mostly the low-hanging guideposts that we run into in the dark), it appears our current year failed on a number of levels. Perhaps the roadmap for the year wasn’t as plain as in previous times  (1984—dystopia über alles, 1999—party like it’s, 2000—Y2K grid boogie), but we can’t deny that the expected goals were there for the realizing. All we had to do was stop, look or listen.

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The Holiday Spirit

The Holiday Spirit

Reclaiming the winter holiday, Santa Cruz-style
Here in the winter holiday season, we take time out to honor our loved ones, cultivate camaraderie and compassion and huddle together for warmth during the darkest, coldest part of the year. But what to do when the nonstop barrage of elevator-friendly Christmas tunes and falsely perky TV commercials dampens our holiday cheer, and the true song of Yuletide joy is drowned out by the clinking of coins and the beeping of barcode scanners?

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of Santa Cruzans who have found inventive ways to combat mall-culture consumerism and rediscover the original meaning of the holidays. A prime example is “An Altared Christmas” (altared.com), which made its sixth annual run at The Rio on Dec. 11. In this offbeat yet heartfelt Christmas celebration, an assembly of world-class musicians performs traditional Christmas numbers, but with a unique twist: The songs have all been transposed to minor keys. Rather than being a mockery of these tunes, this fresh take on well-known seasonal standards offers listeners a chance to hear songs to which they’ve become numb due to endless repetition in mercantile venues in a new way. In the process, many audience members receive a much-needed reminder of what the holidays are all about.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Meet five local teens whose passions are positively affecting their community.


“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation.” – Pearl S. Buck


While the idea of a teen “acting out” traditionally espouses a negative connotation—runaways, drugs, parties, or gangs—there are teens who are currently standing up and acting out on behalf of their conscience.

Contrary to most news headlines, there are plenty of remarkable teens serving as progressive role models who are just plain getting a bad rap—soldiering on amidst all the stereotypes of 2010 teens that prefer to dwell on the depressing, the violent, or the discouraging.

While focus tends to remain on a videogame-obsessed legion of kids that could be labeled Generation X-Box, there’s also something to be said for the advantages of modern technology and how it’s utilized by modern youth. More than ever before, teens have worlds of information at their texting fingertips, with a plethora of outputs of information constantly surrounding them—all the i-things, TVs, computers and cell phones. And there are many kids now tapping into these modes of communication for research, support and strength as they fight for sundry causes.

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In the Field

In the Field

Spend a week with cops and you start hearing the same things over and over.

“People think it’s like a cop show on television. They think we can solve crimes in an hour.”

Or: “We’re human. Sometimes we make mistakes.”

Or: “It does get frustrating when we know someone is guilty but we have to spend so much time and energy just to prove it.”

Or: “Yeah, they (criminals) come over here because they know that if they get caught, the sentences are less than other places.”

Welcome to the inner workings of the Santa Cruz Police Department. It’s not Iraq or Afghanistan, but Interim Police Chief Kevin Vogel recently invited me to “embed” with his department for a week. The deal was this: I had complete access. I was welcome at staff meetings, briefings and on any calls. I was free to report whatever was said, except, of course, spilling the beans about a specific case, an upcoming arrest or details of an investigation. Then again, I wasn’t interested in specific cases. What I wanted to find out was this: are Santa Cruzans being well served by their cops?

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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
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Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual