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Apr 17th
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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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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.