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Jul 23rd
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A&E

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True Nature

True Nature

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new novel explores human reactions to a devastating natural disaster
It’s difficult to fathom the unbelievable stories of heroism and endurance that have daily reached our ears since the massive earthquake hit Haiti a few weeks ago. But it should set us thinking that, if a quake of that magnitude were to strike here, would we be prepared? What would we do if a temblor more substantial than any we’ve seen in 200 years hit Santa Cruz County? Would we rise to the occasion, helping our friends and neighbors in the hour of need? Or would we cower alone, hoarding our food and water in a dark corner? Natural disasters are a sure-fire way of bringing out the true nature of individuals, as demonstrated in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new book, “One Amazing Thing.” Banerjee will be speaking about her new book at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8 at Capitola Book Café.

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Blank Verse

Blank Verse

Local jewelry designers woo Anthropologie … and maybe Madonna

One afternoon in the summer of 2009, good friends Jane Farrar and Laamie Young sat themselves down on the floor of Farrar’s house in Santa Cruz, and spread out beads, buttons, leather fragments, gloves, and a mishmash of craft-related stuff, as well as a bottle of Prosecco. And then they got to work. Hours later, they had crafted together an über chic cuff bracelet that was remarkably original, encompassed by a brooch, slabs of leather and more. Neither had any idea that the day’s creation would be the beginnings of a potentially successful jewelry line, and that the names “Anthropologie” and “Madonna” would become a natural  part of their lexicon just six months down the road.

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Fighting for Equality

Fighting for Equality

Local event sheds light on discrimination against LGBTQ people and others

Comedian Louis C.K. has an unforgettable routine that underscores the absurdity of legal battles related to gay marriage: “How do they argue it in court? I can imagine when they get to the Supreme Court, and the lawyers for the gay side are like, ‘Well, your honor, we pay taxes; there’s nothing illegal about what we do; we’re the same as anyone else. Why shouldn’t we get the same protection under the law that the heterosexuals get?’ And then they ask the other lawyer, and he says, ‘Your honor … THEY’RE F***IN’ QUEER!’ That’s it, isn’t it? Isn’t that the whole argument?”

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Pulling a Legend’s Strings

Pulling a Legend’s Strings

Kuumbwa Jazz celebrates guitarist Django Reinhardt’s 100th birthday in style

It’s hard to imagine a more daunting task for a musician than to try to fill Django Reinhardt’s shoes. Nearly 60 years after the celebrated gypsy jazz guitarist’s death, Reinhardt remains one of the world’s most revered jazz musicians. His superhuman chops are all the more impressive in light of the adverse circumstances with which the musician had to work: As most guitar fans know, the Belgian-born maestro was badly injured in a fire at age 18. The mishap rendered Reinhardt’s right leg—and, more distressingly, the third and fourth fingers of his left hand—paralyzed. Thwarting doctors’ attempts to amputate the injured leg, and ignoring their claims that his guitar-playing days were over, Reinhardt re-taught himself not only to walk within a year, but also to play guitar by way of a completely reinvented approach. He performed his intricate, high-speed guitar solos with the two fully operative fingers of his left hand, while he used that hand’s two partially paralyzed fingers to play chords.

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Discovery Cruise

Discovery Cruise

Local skipper helps ‘MythBusters’ get to the bottom of a bizarre sea tale

There’s a nasty rumor about a phenomenon known as “the squeeze,” which supposedly plagued early deep sea divers. As the story goes, the failure of the pressure mechanism on a dive suit could cause a diver’s entire body to be sucked up into the suit’s helmet in radically compacted form.

TV watchers who tuned into Nov. 25’s episode of MythBusters—a Discovery Channel program dedicated to proving or debunking urban legends—saw local skipper Jim Christmann helping MythBusters stars Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara test the legitimacy of this claim. While Christmann’s research boat, the 52-foot Shana Rae, is generally used for serious scientific work such as tagging and tracking dolphins, monitoring toxic algal bloom or studying the behavior of sea otters, the MythBusters crew had more fanciful purposes in mind for the vessel: Namely, toting a gruesome-looking “Meat Man” (a Frankenstein’s monster-like human substitute made from the skin and organs of pigs, placed into an old dive suit) from the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor to Monterey Canyon, where it was lowered into 300-foot-deep water and then deprived of air.

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All Fun and Trains

All Fun and TrainsMAH’s toy train exhibit takes spectators on a creative ride
Whether you are of the generation that grew up riding trains as your primary mode of transportation or you associate locomotives with Thomas the Tank Engine, trains evoke a carefree nostalgia that can make anyone feel like a kid again. After all, who wouldn’t get a kick out of the sound of the cheerful whistle, white steam puffing mightily from the steam engine and parallel tracks stretching on as far as the eye can see?        
For the fourth year running, The Museum of Art & History at The McPherson Center (MAH) has partnered with the Over the Hill Gang (the apropos name of the local Toy Train Operating Society’s Golden Gate Chapter ) to share the excitement and history of trains with a new generation. “As we get older and we die, where do our collections go if we don’t have young people coming along that are interested?” says Craig Miller, chief facilitator of the Over the Hill Gang and co-manager of the MAH exhibit. “We’re trying to infect them with this interest in toy trains. Maybe one out of a hundred kids will remember coming here and then when they get older they’ll think about it with their kids and start collecting too,” Miller surmises.
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Boy Paints World

Boy Paints World

Artist Brian Barneclo’s mid-century modern design brightens up downtown

Flip Cameras are all the rage right now. Celebrities and common folk are toting them around, capturing day-to-day video, without having to be technological geniuses. A select group of artists has been chosen to put their designs on said Flip Cameras, and at the forefront of the mix is local Brian Barneclo who also just installed a stunning mural in downtown Santa Cruz. The 37-year-old muralist/Flip Camera designer/artist has painted an enormous, Santa Cruz-inspired, urban stylized piece on the adjacent wall to the ever-popular Old School Shoes in downtown Santa Cruz.

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Chocolate-Covered What?

Chocolate-Covered What?

Marini’s scores a spot in the new Ripley’s Believe It Or Not book with its strangest offering: chocolate-covered bacon

You just never know which combinations of flavors are going to work. The first guy to extol the virtues of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches was probably met with ridicule, and we all know the story of Chubby Hubby, an unlikely mix of pretzels, peanut butter, fudge and vanilla malt ice cream that began as a prank by a couple of mischievous coworkers, yet remains a highly successful Ben and Jerry’s flavor to this day.

I cling to these thoughts for dear life as I prepare to sample the most unique item that the local candy store Marini’s has to offer: a stick of bacon smothered in milk chocolate. It’s a combination that would make Homer Simpson drool, but between the obvious strangeness of the snack and the fact that I generally don’t eat factory-farmed meat, the prospect of biting into this thing is putting my journalistic intrepidness to the test.

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Erotic Environment

Erotic Environment

A local artist’s work fits right in at Camouflage

Some art is made for gallery walls. It hangs unabashedly on vast expanses of white, unaffected by the emptiness of the space, as if it were designed to sit quietly in a row of other paintings. This is not the case with the erotic artwork of Abbie Rabinowitz.

Rabinowitz’s erotica belongs in the cozy comforts of someone’s home, hung over a couple’s bed, or, as she has recently discovered, on the walls of a sex shop: A selection of her erotic paintings, woodcarvings and thangkas recently found new life through exhibition at Camouflage, an adult sex store in Downtown Santa Cruz.

Erotica is one of Rabinowitz’s oldest and most developed styles. Inspired by Picasso’s erotic series, she began painting sexually charged pieces in her early twenties as a way to express her own experiences. Today, she still finds herself returning to eroticism to process her personal life, but also uses it to capture larger, universal realties of sexuality. “It’s a theme I go back to because it’s such a part of all of our lives,” she says. “It’s a basic, primal, emotional experience.”

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She Who Laughs Last

She Who Laughs Last

Local legend Sista Monica proves that you can’t keep a good woman down

Blues Lioness” Sista Monica Parker is about as successful as a Santa Cruz musician can get: She’s performed at major music festivals all over the world, accepted an invitation to play for President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, and won a profusion of awards—including Artist of the Year for Santa Cruz County, a Bammie for Best Blues Artist in California, the 2000 Gail Rich Award and the San Jose Mercury News’ award for Silicon Valley’s 12 Most Creative & Powerful Women. So it will surprise some people that in the almost two decades that Parker has been singing blues, soul and gospel music for a living, she’s kept a day job as a recruiting consultant for various high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley area. “That has been what has been able to catapult me into existence as an artist. By having my own record label and taking my band to the studio and saying, ‘We’re gonna do this, and I’ll pay for it,’” she explains.

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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

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

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.