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Dec 26th
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Cover Stories

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Dancing Queen

Dancing Queen

Watsonville’s Ruby Vasquez keeps Mexican folk dancing alive
“Every region in Mexico, every state, has its own unique style of dance,” says Watsonville native Ruby Vasquez. As she speaks, her eyes shine with a passionate enthusiasm for the Mexican folk dancing that has played such a major role throughout her life. “In the style of Jalisco and many other styles in the Mexican dances, one of the main articles of clothing that is a common thread for the women is a rebozo,” she explains as she gently twirls the multicolored woven garment in her hands. “You’ll still see in Mexico women using the rebozo as a daily article of clothing. They use it like a shawl, in the marketplaces to display their produce, and they use it to carry their babies with them. For me, at a young age learning about the different dance styles from each state and the outfits that represent them allowed me to start growing up and start making connections with other cultures. There are a lot of commonalities that you can make and you can really draw on those connections when you get exposed to them.”

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Home & Garden

Home & Garden

The Great Cover Up

Rest and rejuvenation for your weary soil, green manure gives back

by Bruce Willey
The transition between summer and fall has always been an especially acute time for vegetable gardeners. Not only must we reacquaint ourselves with store-bought tomatoes that taste like gopher fur dipped in wood shavings, but we must also adapt to all the extra time on our hands as our garden beds lie fallow.  There is, after all, nothing worse than a gaggle of gardeners wearing overalls and floppy hats, fondling their hoes outside a 7-Eleven and asking strangers for a spare heirloom tomato.

But as any good organic gardener knows, late summer/early fall is time to sow the cover crop. Often called green manure, cover crops have been around before the invention of the “green” light bulb, or for that matter, before “green” meant something other than the color of plants, grass and trees. Organic gardeners have long touted the benefits of green manure with the same zeal of growing their own vegetables. And they know that the two have a symbiosis that works magic in the garden.

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What’s For Lunch?

What’s For Lunch?

A record number of students are qualifying for the federal free lunch program; but what are we feeding them?

With the country abuzz over health care reform—decrying supposed death panels or outraged over soaring insurance premiums—it seems the health care fervor has forgotten something pretty important: health. Not sickness, not insurance, but health. Wellness. It’s something that is quickly slipping from our grasp as a society, and yet the debate rages on about what drugs and surgeries to use and how to pay for them, instead of how to stay healthy in the first place.

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Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

One high school reunion and a bundle of memories spawn a bunch of headscratching. Welcome to Human Memory 101

You know, there’s a cold, cruel poetry to the phrase “over the hill”: At birth, we begin an uphill climb—struggling to stand on two legs, growing, learning, reaching for the stars, rising in stature and status, aspiring to great heights of achievement, etc. Arriving at the top of the hill—life’s peak—we bathe in the sun’s warmth, enjoying equally clear views of all that lies behind us and all that lies ahead. All too soon, however, we begin the inevitable decline, the slow march down the other side of the hill. The force of gravity tugs at our flesh and bones with increasing insistence as we gain momentum on our descent, gradually causing our spines and faces to droop earthward, as if in haste to merge with the soil that waits to reclaim us at our journey’s end.

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Surfing for Change

Surfing for Change

Local wave rider encourages Santa Cruz to bank locally, save the world
Clad in a T-shirt, shorts and sandals, Kyle Thiermann is the kind of guy one might expect to run into on Pacific Avenue. His sun-bleached, sandy hair and quintessential Santa Cruz demeanor make even more sense when he reveals that he is a professional surfer. At 19 years old, it seems that a person in his position would have few worries outside of hitting Steamer Lane and devouring Zoccoli’s chicken pesto sandwiches (his favorite). But behind Thiermann’s blue eyes there lies a worldly passion, which extends far beyond the exhilaration of catching a perfect set down at Pleasure Point.

After finishing lunch and detailing the stories behind each of his many scars—a compound fracture in his left arm from Derby Skatepark, a gash in his abdomen from a ruptured appendix in Mexico, a divot above his right eye, which he caught surfing—we get into Thiermann’s preoccupation with the environment, global economics and fractional reserve lending.

That complex debt instruments would be of interest to a guy living as carefree a life as Thiermann may come as a surprise to some. However, as this Santa Cruz native has discovered—and documented in a short video titled Claim Your Change—even surfers may be adversely affected by the actions of Wall Street titans. Worse, he says, many individuals in Santa Cruz, surfers included, are contributing to environmental degradation simply by depositing their paychecks.

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14 State Parks in 4 Days

14 State Parks in 4 Days

Before budget cuts hit and gates close, our diligent scribe explores the area’s greatest treasures

Bonny Doon was burning. Jaws was lurking. The Terminator was touring. And it was all happening in Santa Cruz County on the third day of my story. It seemed like a strange convergence as I returned home from a long day amongst the redwoods. Big Basin, California’s oldest state park, at this point, was recoiling from the smoke that had swirled into its canopies from the blazing Lockheed Fire, which had spread across more than 5,000 acres and was 15 percent contained. News headlines were buzzing about how the worst local fire in 20 years had set up camp north of Santa Cruz, while a great white shark that mauled a dolphin had taken up residency in our local beaches in the south.

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Money, Money

Money, MoneyStimulus funds are here, but where can we find the money—and how can we use it—while the economy recovers?
When President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into effect on Feb. 17, we didn’t hear the end of it. The man hardly had time to settle into the Oval Office before designating $787 billion of federal funds for an economic stimulus.

Was he crazy?
A genius?
Was it too little, too late, a cure-all, or just a Band-Aid?
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Fashion 2009

Fashion 2009

Get the Hot Tips on Cool Fashion for 2009

The Stars in Stripe

New store offers a new twist on attire and more
The buzz, which started a few months ago, went something like this: “Have you been to that new store … the one near Pacific Avenue? It’s called Stripe. You have to check it out.” Following Stripe’s March 13 grand opening, the vintage-inspired, modern-influenced, Anthropologie-ish store has seen a lot of foot traffic. And that’s not particularly surprising. With masterful window displays, an indoor children’s tree house structure, vintage clutches, contemporary clothing by sought-after designers, children’s clothing, one-of-a-kind shoes, original jewelry, and so on, it’s no wonder people have been curious about Stripe.

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Transcendental Medication

Transcendental Medication

A look inside the local nonprofit that has set out to prove psychedelic drugs like ecstasy and LSD can help restore mental health. Do the benefits outweigh the dangers?
The notion of psychedelic substances having medicinal or therapeutic value is far from new: For centuries, indigenous people have been chewing psychoactive cactus flesh as a cure for such ailments as toothache, fever and skin disease. And since at least as far back as the mid-19th century, members of tribes throughout the Amazon Basin have been drinking the mind-altering brew ayahuasca and purging themselves of longtime mental, emotional and physical ills. However, for modern-day Americans raised on horror stories of kids being carried off the dance floor on stretchers or plummeting to their deaths while trying to fly, such a concept can be hard to swallow. Alternately, if the mention of drugs like LSD, ecstasy and psilocybin mushrooms fills your head with images of people named Carob and Bhakti lounging on pillows and painting each other’s bellies with organic hot fudge, you might dismiss the idea of psychedelic therapy as the wishful thinking of New Age drug enthusiasts. link

In truth, it’s the other way around: Many of these substances began as therapeutic drugs before people started using them recreationally. For example, scientific studies conducted in the late ’50s and early ’60s showed LSD to have great promise as an aid to the treatment of disorders like alcoholism, drug addiction, sociopathology, criminal psychopathology, sexual deviance and anxiety or depression related to terminal illness. Complications set in when vast segments of the counterculture answered former psychedelic therapy researcher Timothy Leary’s call to “turn on” in the early and mid-’60s. The clinical and recreational use of the drug were quickly outlawed, prompting Sen. Robert Kennedy to comment at a 1966 congressional hearing, “Perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that [LSD] can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.”
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The government is broken

The government is broken

Here’s the blueprint for fixing the mess that is California
The California Constitution is no work of art.  It’s more like the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Lots of little rooms, stairs that lead nowhere, doors that open onto blank walls and windows set into the floorboards. “We keep adding rooms, but the hallways don’t connect together,” says state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, of our state’s constitutional house of mystery. “There’s not a lot of thought given to the overall architecture.”

Since 1879, the state constitution has been amended 512 times. Compare that to the U.S. Constitution, which you just don’t mess with. Its 27 amendments are straightforward principles concerning the essential function of government and the rights of the governed.

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Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Pinned Down

Actors shine in true-crime wrestling drama ‘Foxcatcher’
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Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her