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Dec 22nd
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And The Nextie Goes To

And The Nextie Goes To

Analicia Cube, Doron Comerchero, Deutron Kebebew and Cliff Hodges think outside of the box to better the community. Here’s how.

January is National Mentoring Month. In a recent proclamation President Barack Obama declared that this is the time to honor “important individuals who unlock the potential and nurture the talent of our country.”

It’s fitting that this week our progressive networking group that seeks to encourage and connect new generations of local leaders, Santa Cruz NEXT, is doling out its 2011 NEXTie awards to four locals who not only think big, they’ve put their big ideas into big actions.

Embodying the spirit of National Mentoring Month and the key words promoted by Santa Cruz NEXT—“inform,” “inspire” and “involve,” Analicia Cube, Doron Comerchero, Deutron Kebebew and Cliff Hodges each brim with the kind of passion and proactive resolve that is taking Santa Cruz to new heights. The results of their disparate work—out on the streets, in the classroom, in volunteer programs or in business—have had transformative effects throughout the community. The fact is this: they’re teaching us more than a few things.

The public is invited to celebrate the achievements of these honorees during the NEXTies party at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Top of The Ritt in Downtown Santa Cruz. Tickets are $45 and include champagne, appetizers, music and more.

Here, we take a look back at how each of their stories started—and how they’ve proven to be some of Santa Cruz’s brightest forward thinkers.

Learn more at santacruznext.org. Tickets: nexties2011.eventbrite.com.

 

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Heal Thyself

Heal Thyself

Everywhere I turn in Santa Cruz, I’m astonished by the fortitude of its citizenry. Clearly I’m not referring to conquering inclement weather, withstanding horrific living standards or existing in abject community poverty. In comparison to other cities of comparable size, all of these noted needs are met for the majority of us in a spectacularly satisfactory manner. (Yes, our local hunger issues, crime upswings and cost of living woes are not to be ignored or made light of, however that’s another day and another 2,000 words.)

The overwhelming characteristic that impresses me so is the number of my fellow Santa Cruzans who are healing from something. (Included in this “healing” verb are the phrases “Working through something.”  “Dealing with something.” “Cleansing something.” And my personal favorite, “Processing.”) We, Santa Cruz, are a community of professional full-time menders.

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The Tiki King

The Tiki King

One lover of ukuleles keeps the torch lit for Tiki-loving locals
In 1966, when local entrepreneur Pat Baron was an impressionable young lad, his surfer uncle gave Baron’s father a three-foot stone Tiki (an image of a Polynesian god). “My dad stuck it out next to our playhouse when I was a kid,” Baron recalls. “It was always there under the tree. It was one of those both alluring and frightening things, because here was this stone idol.”

Apparently the Tiki’s presence had a lasting effect on Baron, who now goes by Tiki King (tikiking.com). You can recognize Tiki King by his Hawaiian shirt and his fez, the latter of which is emblazoned with an imposing-looking Tiki and the initials TK. Even at events like the Anaheim, Calif.-based music product trade show known as NAMM, Baron’s colorful appearance demands attention. “There’s people dressed head-to-toe in zippers and leather, there’s girls wearing patent leather nurse outfits and there are people like Slash and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I’m wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a fez,” he laughs. “Here in this Mecca of alternative extreme, where they have guitars shaped like machine guns, I can make heads turn just by doing my thing.”

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Year in Review

Year in Review

Great Expectations … for 365 days
How did you pronounce it? Formally—two thousand ten? Or casually? Twenty ten. If you’re like me, and odds are you’re more like me than you’d like to admit, you accidentally wrote it as 2001 sporadically for most of the year. Any way you addressed it, 2010 had a lot to live up to based on my intense research. (Disclaimer #1: To those of you who are not familiar with my method of intense research … it involves re-reading my own diary, talking to a panel of approximately three people—at least one of whom will undoubtedly be in elementary school—and Internet searches, which somehow always guide me directly to the “Buy it Now” list of Buffalo China on eBay.)

Judged purely on the cultural guideposts set for us by those who came before (mostly the low-hanging guideposts that we run into in the dark), it appears our current year failed on a number of levels. Perhaps the roadmap for the year wasn’t as plain as in previous times  (1984—dystopia über alles, 1999—party like it’s, 2000—Y2K grid boogie), but we can’t deny that the expected goals were there for the realizing. All we had to do was stop, look or listen.

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The Holiday Spirit

The Holiday Spirit

Reclaiming the winter holiday, Santa Cruz-style
Here in the winter holiday season, we take time out to honor our loved ones, cultivate camaraderie and compassion and huddle together for warmth during the darkest, coldest part of the year. But what to do when the nonstop barrage of elevator-friendly Christmas tunes and falsely perky TV commercials dampens our holiday cheer, and the true song of Yuletide joy is drowned out by the clinking of coins and the beeping of barcode scanners?

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of Santa Cruzans who have found inventive ways to combat mall-culture consumerism and rediscover the original meaning of the holidays. A prime example is “An Altared Christmas” (altared.com), which made its sixth annual run at The Rio on Dec. 11. In this offbeat yet heartfelt Christmas celebration, an assembly of world-class musicians performs traditional Christmas numbers, but with a unique twist: The songs have all been transposed to minor keys. Rather than being a mockery of these tunes, this fresh take on well-known seasonal standards offers listeners a chance to hear songs to which they’ve become numb due to endless repetition in mercantile venues in a new way. In the process, many audience members receive a much-needed reminder of what the holidays are all about.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Meet five local teens whose passions are positively affecting their community.


“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation.” – Pearl S. Buck


While the idea of a teen “acting out” traditionally espouses a negative connotation—runaways, drugs, parties, or gangs—there are teens who are currently standing up and acting out on behalf of their conscience.

Contrary to most news headlines, there are plenty of remarkable teens serving as progressive role models who are just plain getting a bad rap—soldiering on amidst all the stereotypes of 2010 teens that prefer to dwell on the depressing, the violent, or the discouraging.

While focus tends to remain on a videogame-obsessed legion of kids that could be labeled Generation X-Box, there’s also something to be said for the advantages of modern technology and how it’s utilized by modern youth. More than ever before, teens have worlds of information at their texting fingertips, with a plethora of outputs of information constantly surrounding them—all the i-things, TVs, computers and cell phones. And there are many kids now tapping into these modes of communication for research, support and strength as they fight for sundry causes.

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In the Field

In the Field

Spend a week with cops and you start hearing the same things over and over.

“People think it’s like a cop show on television. They think we can solve crimes in an hour.”

Or: “We’re human. Sometimes we make mistakes.”

Or: “It does get frustrating when we know someone is guilty but we have to spend so much time and energy just to prove it.”

Or: “Yeah, they (criminals) come over here because they know that if they get caught, the sentences are less than other places.”

Welcome to the inner workings of the Santa Cruz Police Department. It’s not Iraq or Afghanistan, but Interim Police Chief Kevin Vogel recently invited me to “embed” with his department for a week. The deal was this: I had complete access. I was welcome at staff meetings, briefings and on any calls. I was free to report whatever was said, except, of course, spilling the beans about a specific case, an upcoming arrest or details of an investigation. Then again, I wasn’t interested in specific cases. What I wanted to find out was this: are Santa Cruzans being well served by their cops?

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The Forgotten Epidemic

The Forgotten Epidemic

Thirty years ago, AIDS emerged and changed the fates of millions. But even after great strides were made medically and otherwise, three decades later, some ask: Is AIDS awareness fading?
Almost 30 years ago in the summer of 1981 while IBM was rolling out its first PC and NASA was celebrating its first shuttle launch … and  Charles, Diana, Luke and Laura were all still single while MTV was just about to kill the radio star, two separate reports were issued from the Centers for Disease Control. The first, on June 5, reported that between October 1980 and May 1981, five young men were treated for biopsy-confirmed pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in three different hospitals in Los Angeles. All five patients had laboratory-confirmed previous or current cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and candidal mucosal infection. Two of the patients died. All five were sexually active homosexuals men.

 

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Community Fund

Community Fund

Profiles in service:
Planned Parenthood
Hospice of Santa Cruz
Barrios Unidos
Family Service Agency of the Central Coast

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Bill Says the Darnedest Things

Bill Says the Darnedest Things

One of history’s best-loved comics comes to the Santa Cruz Civic. In this exclusive interview, Bill Cosby speaks his mind on humor, Barack Obama and the African-American condition.
There’s an outtake from the second season of The Cosby Show that speaks volumes about Bill Cosby’s role in American history. Seated on a couch, Cosby leans over a chessboard on the living room coffee table and asks the show’s director, “What are we doing?” A reply comes from off-camera: “Take the black pieces off the board, and we’ll start with you just putting ’em on.” Raising his eyebrows in mock indignation, Cosby shoots back, “Take the black pieces off?” To riotous crowd response, he decisively removes all the white pieces from the chessboard in a single swift swoop. Then, staring stone-facedly at the camera, he does one of his trademark head wiggles.

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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