Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Aug 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Where Have All the Bad Boys Gone?

Kim_Luke2I spend an inordinate amount of time in Downtown Santa Cruz. I enjoy the shops, restaurants and outdoor markets, but what really keeps me coming back are the people. As a child I was tutored in people-watching by my parents, mostly in and around the old Cooper House. I also learned the craft of categorizing—not with malice but with a sense of appreciation and enjoyment. “Salty Sea Captain!” my dad would nudge toward the pedestrian passing by. “Jesus!” I would add, nodding at the young shirtless, bearded man passing by. (It was the ’70s. Everyone looked like Jesus.) This playful genus and species game is still fun, though not always politically correct. “Yoga enthusiast!” and “Prius driver!” are well-worn, as are “Self-Employed Tech Guru!” and “Non-Contributor!” There is one declaration that seems absent these days—“Bad Boy!” Where have they gone?

Once upon a time there were bad boys, or more reverently—Bad Boys. They were dangerous, rebels with or without a cause, skulking on the fringe of societal norms and absolutely anathema to parents or other authority figures.

They were also exciting. Exciting in a foreign exchange student way, a visitor from the far away Land of Sneer, surveying our shores for a rule-bashing, curfew-smashing and heart-breaking spree.

The iconic image of the rebel that involuntarily comes to mind is usually Marlon Brando, in leather jacket, cap askew, from The Wild Ones circa 1953. However, he wasn’t the first bad boy to get the nation’s collective attention. The silent film era had Rudolph Valentino, whose 1921 The Sheik role cemented his place on the exotic forbidden fruit aisle. In the 1930s, James Cagney’s roles in hard-scrabble tough-talking films like The Public Enemy filled the Bad bill.  Even mid-1400s France had Bad Boy poet François Villon, no stranger to knife fights and brawls. And les chicks dug him.

Personally, the Bad Boys who influenced me were Jackie Earle Haley and Gary Busey, portraying Kelly Leak in the original 1976 The Bad News Bears and Buddy Holly in 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story respectively. Miraculously, they seem to have melded into my one and only Reigning Rock Bad Boy–Tom Petty. The fact that I attended Catholic school, where nobody at all, ever, in a million years resembled Tom Petty, and the fact that the neighboring public school was comprised of three hundred boys who looked exactly like Tom Petty—well, he won my secret heart over all five Osmond Brothers put together. (Correction—there was someone in my high school who looked identical to Mr. Petty. Her name was Sister John Mark.)

So what’s my point (aside from waxing poetic about my predilection for unattainable, emotionally resistant, cocky men)? Where have all the Bad Boys gone?!

How do we define the Bad Boy in today’s culture, and, more importantly of course, here in Santa Cruz? And, as much as it pains me to ask, are Bad Boys still relevant? We have bad boy surfers, yet somehow their connection to the great watery mother makes them a little too feely for danger. There are bad boy skaters, but, really, doesn’t that seem a little pedophilic? Is there such a thing as a bad boy green-cycle-therapist? Not in my Blue Book. (I don’t believe in bad boy hippies since they stopped looking like the Son of God.)

While I ponder this conundrum I do recognize the presence of real bad boys, and bad people altogether, and this points to a larger issue; Being rotten has become so prevalent, accepted and glorified in our culture that it’s about as edgy as a tribal tattoo on the cafeteria lady. Being bad used to give outsider status; now it’s a mass-produced T-shirt at Macy’s. Will good be the new bad?

Most of you aren’t concerned with this in the least. Perhaps it’s never crossed your mind, or maybe the image of the Bad Boy has always been a turn off instead of a turn on. Good for you! (Get it?) Perhaps you’re partnered with one of our up-and-coming cultural icons of goodness. But where does that leave the rest of us?

In a town where it’s perfectly normal for a defense attorney to skateboard to work, and for the bro’ with the neck and sleeve tattoos to be your X-ray technician, what are the new signposts of steamy peril? Not a leather jacket and motorcycle—a look that now screams “accountant.” Not a Tommy gun—is that what the kids call them these days? Not a knife fight—even in French it’s become passé. It’s anyone’s guess who’s bad and who’s Bad these days. Here are a few pointers:
• Is that a glint in his eye or a teardrop tattoo?

• Does he receive cash for his day job or diplomatic immunity?

• If you date him will your family cringe or co-star on a reality TV show?

• Does his nickname look great in spray paint?

• Is he Charlie Sheen?

Good luck in your pursuit of goodness or Badness, and if you hear a passing voice on Pacific Avenue  whispering “Avid Opinion Column Reader,” it’s probably me.

 


Kim Luke is grateful to Colin Farrell for keeping our minds off of Russell Crowe. Send your bad comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Dawna Phillips, June 15, 2011
I love this article! I grew up on the mall of Santa Cruz and I was one to learn, grow, and live with those bad boys. As I sat this morning and searched for pics from Santa Cruz to add to my facebook as a memory lane album I realized with tears in my eyes that none of the pics had captured the true heart and reality of the mall. I love the SC boys and always will be thankful for them. There may not be photos, but the memories are many...

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover