Dharma Punk Noah Levine comes home to Santa Cruz to celebrate his new book on the Buddha’s radical teachings
Twenty-five years ago you could’ve run into Noah Levine leaving your house or apartment with your stereo or jewelry tucked under his arm, stolen to trade or sell for crack cocaine. These days you’ll bump into him sitting on a meditation cushion, practicing and teaching compassion and loving kindness. To say that he’s come a long way might be an understatement. Though he claims to lack ambition, Noah’s third book has just been released; “The Heart of The Revolution: The Buddha’s Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion and Kindness” (HarperOne, 2011). This follows up on “Dharma Punx” and “Against The Stream.” Noah will return home to Santa Cruz for a free book event on Saturday, April 30 at Bookshop Santa Cruz at 7:30 p.m. GT recently spoke with the original punk rock Buddhist about ending suffering, giving up control and being a parent.
Local tombstone is found on a Water Department outing
It started out just like any other day. Gary LeVa took off from his home in Watsonville and went to work for the City of Santa Cruz Water Department. Oftentimes, his days are spent crunching along gravel and hiking through grass, trying to find hidden water meters to read, replace or maintain. Over the years working in this business, he’s found all sorts of hidden treasures on job sites—spiders, pennies, bottles and the like. But this day in December 2010 was a very different type of day, with a very different finding. On this day, he was sent up to the Graham Hill area for a maintenance call on a water meter.
He started digging around in the dirt on the road near a telephone pole. Down the street was a home. “I got my stick and I heard this thud, and it didn’t sound right, so I started moving the dirt,” LeVa says. At the time, it was baffling because he figured this was where the water meter would be, but whatever was under the ground didn’t sound at all like a meter. As he continued to kick aside more dirt he was able to make out some letters. “This isn’t right,” he says about searching for the meter. But with an “aw heck, why not” approach, he continued to dig and soon realized it wasn’t a meter—it was a tombstone.
Editor’s notes: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of Lewis Turco, author of “The Book of Forms.” He has two books coming out this year: the fourth edition of “The Book of Forms,” and a book of criticism, “The Dialects of the Tribe: Post-Modern American Poets and Poetry.”
Autumn swells the cribs. The moon
turns to ivory hanging
in the heavens, a vulture
with a skull’s smile.
As a librarian, Jody Alexander manages and organizes information and materials. Imagine her behind a 1940s reference desk, ready to find a kernel of information someone's searching for. This imagined Alexander perches on a wooden chair, looking out with benevolent intelligence from behind that desk. Here she deploys the connectivity that exists within a massive oak catalog organized on the Dewey Decimal System, hunting for Iroquois beaded belts, wielding associative brainpower and the codes typed on index cards contained within the catalog's preternaturally deep wooden drawers. We need not imagine, as we've seen the evidence, that such old books, vintage wooden chairs, deep drawers, thumbed index cards, long, high information desk might be part of an artwork by Alexander, a benevolent intelligence engaged on an unique artistic journey, very worth following.
There’s a proper way to text. Local Shelly Seeger shows people how
LOL. OMG. WTF? Gd 2 C U! OMG is right. These dreadful ways of texting have become the norm for many respectable adults who have taken on teenager slang in their texting relationships. It’s embarrassing. And not just hideous text language, but unreturned texts, eating with your mouth open, not offering guests first dibs on the bread basket, business meeting snafus, taking cell phone calls in restaurants … the list goes on and on in terms of bad etiquette. And in a society where etiquette seems to have been displaced at the same time the Internet took over the world, it might be time for Americans to re-learn “modern etiquette.” These aren’t old-fashioned behaviors, but polite and considerate things to do when you’re eating, hosting, traveling, texting and so forth. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Making these simple lifestyle changes can feel empowering, give people a new sense of confidence and be fundamentally thoughtful gestures offered to other people.
Excellent memoir, 'Reading Lips,' reveals a life, one kiss at a time
A funny thing happened to former Santa Cruz Sentinel columnist Claudia Sternbach when she was making the dreary rounds of agents trying to get her novel published. Just for fun, she started writing short-story snippets of memoir, snapshots from her own life very loosely grouped around a common thread: each story contained a kiss. With no thought of publication or "the marketplace," she delved into every aspect of her life's experience: comedy, tragedy, romance, laughter, and every gradation in between. Imagine her surprise when the first publisher she showed it to offered her a book contract.
History looks out steadily from the surface of old photographs, holding a pose, jaws clenched, arranged against representative scenery in tones of black and white. History also seeps through dreams in vivid color, and charged moments loom near, or fade back into the pattern and texture of the emotional environment. Ron Milhoan, in “No Place to Hide,” at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, draws deep from his childhood memories of a Nebraska family homestead to tap directly into the racial unconscious for this body of expressive narrative paintings, heavy with meaning.
Catching up with former Cruzan and beloved, revolutionary sweetheart David Lowery
Cause what the world needs now/ is another folksinger/ like I need a hole in my head,” sang Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman, David Lowery on Cracker’s 1991 hit “Teen Angst (what the world needs now).” For 20 years Lowery lived up to his word. Now, with the recent release of The Palace Guards, Lowery hasn’t necessarily gone folksinger on his fans nor gained another hole in his head, but there is a noticeable dent.
Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of Deborah Brown who is an editor, with Maxine Kumin and Annie Finch, of “Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics” (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2005) as well as a translator of “The Last Voyage: The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli” (Red Hen Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Margie, Rattle, The Alaska Quarterly, Stand, the Mississippi Review and others. Brown teaches literature and writing at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester where she won an award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Warner, New Hampshire, with her husband George Brown and four cats.
Poems below are from Walking The Dog's Shadow published by BOA Editions Rochester, New York.