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Dec 18th
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A&E

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House of the Rising Son

House of the Rising Son

Justin Townes Earle trades ghosts, leaving Nashville for New York

For some people, it’s hard to be the new kid on the block. For others, it’s what they seek. Speaking from his home in New York City, Justin Townes Earle’s southern twang makes its way through the phone line—the Nashville native tells me he was chasing the ghost of Woody Guthrie when he made the move to the Big Apple a year ago. He wouldn’t be the first; there was one Robert Zimmerman who did the same. Earle is, however, an anomaly in plenty of other ways.

The progeny of Steve Earle that inherited his name from Townes Van Zandt, Justin Townes Earle has enough to live up to—his dad just won another Grammy and has been a folk rock force for decades. Unlike most children of stars, though, he’s managing just fine as the proposed “next big thing” in country, and he’s bringing his pre-war acoustic blues to the Crepe Place on Friday, Feb. 12. Whereas his last show in town was a knockout solo scene-stealer (one in which I kept looking for the nonexistent second guitarist I was sure I was hearing), this time he’ll add upright bass and fiddle.

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Pottery for Peace

Pottery for Peace

Local artists auction teacups to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Don’t underestimate the power of the tea party—it could start a revolution. Bonnie and Steven Barisof, Santa Cruz potters with more than 70 years of combined experience, understand this. Spurred on by the power of another little everyday thing, the written word, the Barisofs are spearheading a teacup party in town to raise awareness and funds for education in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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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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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire