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Oct 22nd
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Area Opinions

Columns - Opinion

Economic slowdown, then innovation

Economic slowdown, then innovation

Considering that Santa Cruz is suffering through economic hardship right along with the rest of the country, it’s surprising that there’s so much energy by so many entrepreneurs.

More than 400 motivated listeners streamed into the Del Mar Theatre a week ago to listen to Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix and a Santa Cruz resident, as he discussed his path to success. A businessman? Selling out Santa Cruz? I wouldn’t have believed it.

The most surprising thing that Hastings said had to do with Santa Cruz. “The economy here is more diversified,” he said in comparison to Silicon Valley, which is Netflix’s home base.

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Columns - Opinion

Voting. It’s Not For Everybody

Voting. It’s Not For Everybody

I stood in line to vote behind a 30-ish couple who appeared to be on a first date, judging by the small talk: “I’m more of a dog person.” “Middle children, yeah! High five!” “I’ve never seen a baby pelican either! Weird!”

I didn’t want to eavesdrop, but she had a tag sticking up from the back of her shirt and I’ve always found that to be really distracting. When is it OK to tell a stranger her tag’s up? To me it’s like a little flag that says, “Help! I have trouble with details!” Can’t I just reach out and ...

“So how do you pick your peeps?” she asked. A cagey way to get some insight into his politics, I thought.

“Throw the bums out. Fresh start.”

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Columns - Opinion

Fear Of Art

Fear Of Art

This was the scene at the recent Capitola Art and Wine Festival. Wine was selling as briskly as ever (one of the few truly recession-proof commodities). But many artists, especially among the stalwarts who do this show every year, had to depend on smaller items—cards and prints instead of original art, earrings instead of more elaborate pieces of jewelry—whose sales added up to a show that was good, but not as sensational as in palmier days of yore.

Despite sluggish sales at outdoor shows or in galleries, however, there's a slight uptick in commissions, mostly from private collectors who know exactly what they want and aren't afraid to ask for it. By "collectors," I don't mean philanthropic billionaires cruising in stretch limos, or swanky nobles, à la the Medicis, throwing around purses of gold (not that every artist alive wouldn't love to have a patron like that, but let's try to stay on track, here). In real life, especially here in Santa Cruz, collectors are ordinary working folks with mortgages, families, and property taxes, just like the rest of us. In tough economic times, an artist's best friend can be the collector who already knows and appreciates his or her work.

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Columns - Opinion

Rock Me Like a False Alarm

Rock Me Like a False Alarm

(Note: Writing humorous essays involving hurricanes during hurricane season is insensitive, reckless and ill-advised. The author recognizes this. She is currently planning a series of pieces on drunk Santas, so clearly has no perception of social boundaries. She feels awful about this.) 

September is underway, another school year has begun, and I, along with legions of my writing peers, had planned an annual ritual dripping with nostalgia: a poignant, amusing column on the back-to-school miracle affecting anyone past the age of … back-to-school, waxing poetic about sharpened pencils and fresh lined paper. I had even undertaken a project to empathize with my kids’ hours of mind-numbing boredom during less than interesting academic subjects. (FYI, I intended to study a topic about which I have absolutely no curiosity whatsoever, find chillingly dull, and causes my eyeballs to melt from lack of interest: What to Expect When I’m Expecting. This took much consideration. My list also included Other People’s Drug Trips and Hedge Funds. Also note— it’s very difficult to think of things about which one doesn’t give a hoot. It’s elementally counterintuitive.)

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Columns - Opinion

Release the Hounds: The great house hunt

Release the Hounds: The great house hunt

Recently I moved again. This morning I tacked up a map and grabbed some push-pins and determined that this will be the 19th place I’ve lived in Santa Cruz County. Even serial killers don’t inspire maps with that many pins. And now with all those holes in my wall, I’ve probably violated my lease.

Not that I’m a bad tenant. I pay on time and I’m considerate and I can fix stuff and I only bark when fire engines go by. But when I meet potential landlords with whom I want to make a good impression, I feel the same kind of nervousness I get on first dates or job interviews. I struggle to think of just the right thing to say.

“No pets? Do bedbugs count?”

See now, right there, that’s a good example. In these situations, in what my therapist hand puppet says is an attempt to defuse discomfort with humor, I channel my inner sitcom writer and think up loads of sort of funny but inappropriate comments that I struggle not to say.

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Columns - Opinion

A Tale Of Two Blogs

A Tale Of Two Blogs

Woo hoo. A knife fight and pirate sex in the first chapter! Love it!" This was the very first comment posted on my serial novel-in-progress, “Runaways: A Novel of Jonkanoo,” now going up online, one chapter a week (runaways-jonkanoo.blogspot.com/).

This is the gratifying part of the writing life, feedback from happy readers. It's the part that those of us who toil away just under the radar of traditional publishing crave the most. Yes, the act of writing itself has to be its own reward for so many of us who keep plugging away because we just can't stop ourselves; the stories demand to be told, and we are liable to get pretty snippy about it if they're made to fester too long inside some murky cranial passage or other, waiting to be born. But reader response is both invaluable and irresistible.

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Columns - Opinion

When Good Journalism Disappears Too Quickly

When Good Journalism Disappears Too Quickly

My original idea was to entitle this column “At last—success of the mainstream media.” How unlikely sounding that was, so it immediately appealed to my sense of finding dignity in unexpected places.

Alas, it’s not to be.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last month, a mainstream media reporter, Dana Priest of the Washington Post and a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, co-authored a major series in the Post called “Top Secret America.”

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Columns - Opinion

Doppelgangers Among Us

Doppelgangers Among Us

Or Who’s That Girl?
A few weeks ago, during a typically foggy, chilly Santa Cruz morning, I decided to take a brisk walk to get the blood moving, revitalize the senses and energize my mental state. It was early in the day and as such I chose to simply hide my comfortable almost-pajamas and disheveled almost-awake self with a black trench coat cinched dramatically at the waist, a pair of extra large sunglasses, and a neatly tied black scarf atop the leftovers of the previous night’s fantastic hairdo. As I headed for the front door, a brief glance in the mirror told me I looked a lot like a movie star in a clichéd disguise, more specifically (and fantastically, in the true sense of the word—the derivative of “fantasy”) I imagined I looked a lot like 1970s era Elizabeth Taylor dodging the public eye. (Need I remind you that it was very early, and I probably had not yet had my reality-inducing first cup of coffee, so humor me.)

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Columns - Opinion

A New Economy for Santa Cruz?

A New Economy for Santa Cruz?

People like me who put words on paper are always looking for a trend. I had an English teacher in college who said clues in literature and life come in threes. Later I met a cop who said he didn’t believe in coincidences at all and that CIA agents who don’t see trends are, generally, dead CIA agents.

Following that advice, then, it’s significant that I came across exactly six people in Santa Cruz one day last week who all wanted to discuss the economy. One was a guy who, like me, has spent most of his life in a “legacy” business that’s struggling in the so-called new economy. Another was a guy who was sharply focused on
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Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
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Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher