Santa Cruz Good Times

Feb 08th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Best Professionals 2011

bo_profLong before GT ran its cover story on UC Santa Cruz professor David Jay Brown, the votes were stacking up high for the local writer. This year, he claims the top spot as Best Writer. See how the others faired.



Risa200Times—astrologically and otherwise—continue to shift at a dramatic pace. With humanity ever changing, it makes sense, then, that we all like to turn within—or without. For that, readers continue to rely on Risa for the astrological 411. Fortunately, we just moved through a rather butt-kicking Mercury Retro and things seem to be more balanced. In the meantime, there’s plenty of astro news on Risa’s Facebook page and on her website. Thing To Know: Check out some interesting tidbits at, where Risa offers cool 411 on gardening and entertaining, as it relates to astrology. | Charlie Price

Runners-up Rob Brezsny


Shannon (Motiv)

The not-so-secret ingredients that give Motiv an edge over its nightlife competition are threefold: live DJs spin everything from Top 40 hits to House music four nights a week to get you sweatin’ on the dance floor; top-shelf cocktails like the Black Betty and Summer Sangria, plus tasty bites, including Garlic Fries and Grilled Sliders; and Shannon. The always smiling bartender has established a reputation for being the best mixologist in town—and it’s not just for his cocktails. Shannon is known to go out of his way to learn the names of patrons and their drinks of choice, in order to deliver a product that always goes down smoothly.  Thing To Know: Rumor has it that Shannon’s favorite drink is Patron—hint hint, nudge nudge. 1209 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; 429-8070; | Jenna Brogan

Runners-up Patrick Johnson (Motiv), Jeff Pappas (Clouds)


John Fuchs Construction

Anyone who’s undertaken a large construction project knows how stressful the whole process can be. But even if you have no clear plans on what you want to do, JFC can help you come up with a design to fit your needs. Best of all, you know the work will last. JFC is a member of builders who opt to build “code plus.” This means that all construction practices are above and beyond the basic requirements. He’s also a certified green builder, so he can help build the most environmentally responsible home possible. Extra kudos to JFC for providing an extensive and helpful FAQ on its website.  Thing To Know: This long-running enterprise is overseen by Fuchs and his wife Robin. The pair has enhanced local homes and overseen local real estate for more than 26 years. 758 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Aptos, 688-8008, | Jessi Hamel

Runners-up Rudy Medina, Matt George


Erica Schafer

Santa Cruz was recently ranked as one of the most active cities in the country, so it makes sense that you picked a chiropractor who specializes in the treatment of sports injuries. For the past 12 years, Schafer has been working with overworked surfers, cyclists, triathletes, and golfers in Santa Cruz. Schafer’s background is in massage therapy, and she takes a gentler approach to the body than the popping and cracking of traditional chiropractic methods. Thing To Know: As a former resident of Hawaii, Schafer brings the Aloha spirit to her work and to her other passion: Hula dancing. 549 Frederick St., Santa Cruz, 427-9600, | JH

Runners-up Duncan McCollum, Amy Rubio



Summer is on its way, and we know how much you love to be outdoors when the weather gets warmer. That’s probably why you love Dreamscape so much. Their beautiful landscaping projects will give you hundreds of reasons to get out of your house and into your garden. The best part? Dreamscape does pretty much everything. They’ll design and build anything from waterfalls and ponds to redwood decks and tile work, arbors and trellises to irrigation and drainage. They also use eco-friendly local goods whenever possible. Who needs indoors when the outdoors looks so good?

Thing To Know: Dreamscape will even design and install putting greens. 476-6800, | JH
Runners-up TerraBella Landscaping, The Landscape Company

Massage Therapist

Tomek Walas

“I like helping people—making them feel good, relaxed,” Walas says simply. Walas attended medical school in his native Poland before coming to Santa Cruz in 1984 and pursuing the healing art of massage. He works out of KIVA Retreat House, Nourish and his own private practice, offering a variety of modalities including lymphatic drainage, pre natal, deep tissue, sport, Swedish, cranio-sacral, post operative, and relaxation. He says that massage is one of the best things you can do for your body—incorporating it into your regular life will help your body relax, recuperate and cleanse. Thing To Know: Walas typically plays “massage music” during sessions with clients, but allows people to bring their own music, as well. One client brought in a country album. Call Walas for appointment info: 809-6059. | Elizabeth Limbach

Runners-up Miriam Janove (SC Bodywork), Linda Thompson (Frogley Chiropractic)


Dr. Steven Gardner (UltraDerm)

The precision and attention to detail that Dr. Garner puts into his work makes him the best choice—again—for nip/tuck. Founder of UltraDerm, Dr. Garner has provided state-of-the- art face and body procedures with the utmost care and expertise since he came to Santa Cruz in 1994. Those in need of a little change in their lives can indulge in a face lift, ear surgery or laser resurfacing. For more non-invasive experiences, patients can rejuvenate with a facial, waxing or microdermabrasion.  Thing To Know: Garner is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon from Boston University School of Medicine. 3311 Mission Drive, Santa Cruz, 475-4315, | Cristina Karbertyan

Runner-up Dr. Kerley MD (PAMF)


T. Paul Sek Painting

The environmentally conscious movement has progressed to the field of house painting with T. Paul Sek Painting. Sek is the best painter for the third year in a row because, in part, he uses eco-friendly paints and materials for his interior and exterior painting services. His company is the first in the Monterey Bay area to be a Certified Green Painting Contractor. Eco-friendly painters use only paints, washes and stains that are durable, safe and non-toxic to prevent air pollution; quickly recycle on-site waste materials; and buy locally manufactured materials to support the local economy. Thing To Know: In addition to painting and staining, Sek offers maintenance and refinishing, patio and deck services and wood siding. 721 Seabright Ave., 588-4080, | CK

Runners-up Walls Painting, Bell Painting


bo_prof_photogPhotographer: Peter ThomsenPeter Thomsen

From capturing a tear streaming down the cheek of the matron of honor, to the soulful connection between a newly engaged couple as they gaze into one another’s eyes, to the sense of wonder a two-year-old experiences as she navigates the beach, Peter Thomsen proves time and time again to be a master of the lens. A household name in Santa Cruz, Thomsen’s portraits bring out the personalities of his subjects and evoke the natural beauty of this coastal paradise we live in.  Thing To Know: Thomsen’s blog ( is a great place to find awesome wedding ideas. 239-3228, | JB

Runners-up Van Zante’s, Sylvia Valentine Nature Photographer, see photos at >


Gary Young

Gary Young’s poetry speaks to the beauteous landscape that surrounds us, the pleasures and challenges of parenthood, and the intricate moments of difficulty and delight that life inevitably brings. Well-appreciated by the Santa Cruz area, Young was dubbed first-ever Poet Laureate of the county last year, and now readers have voted him Best Poet. He has many plans in motion to increase awareness of the ancient art in Santa Cruz, including bringing poetry to the walls of busses, and poetry programs to local schools. Perhaps we are all such fans of Young’s work because it reminds us, like the title of one of his books, that we will know “No Other Life.” Thing To Know:  Young runs Greenhouse Review Press.  | Christa Martin

Runner-up Johnny Arbogast


Devika Kumar

She must have seen this coming! Devika Kumar has been giving readings in Santa Cruz for the past seven years. Curious to know what sort of things locals want advice or insights on, we probed further. Our extremely thorough research suggests that many of you ask about legal and family issues. But the most common question? Love, baby, love. Turns out Santa Cruz is a city full of romantics. Who knew? Thing To Know:  Kumar was kind enough to do a reading for Santa Cruz for 2011 and beyond: “This year will be the start of a seven-year growth cycle for Santa Cruz. Expect Santa Cruz individuals to be more politically outspoken and demonstrative than usual. Generally, more people will seek closer working relationships with our representatives. There will be an opening of new job opportunities that will crop up from the reorganization of local businesses and local government. Look for dramatic changes in architecture.” | JH

Runners-up Leigh Wunce, Katie Rose


Bellows Plumbing, Heating, Air & Sewer

Bellows Plumbing is now in its 27th year and co-owners, father-in-law/son-in-law team, Greg Bellows and Jason Schlunt, aim to keep the bar raised high for the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and drain industry through courtesy, honesty, and integrity. They offer a range of services for home and commercial needs including: drain and sewer clogs, gas piping, heating repairs, pipe leaks, furnace installation, vent and duct repair, general maintenance and leak detection and more. Thing To Know:  Bellows Plumbing maintains a blog on its website with helpful hints and facts for their customers on everything from the effects of heavy storms on sewer  systems to what items can go down a garbage disposal and what should be avoided.  Santa Cruz/Watsonville: 477-7150, Los Gatos/Santa Clara: (408) 866-4620; | Dana Burd

Runners-up Surf City Plumbing, Cimarelli, George Allen & Sons

Best Surfboard Shaper

Nick Palandrani

Nick Palandrani’s star in the surfing world continues to soar, and GT readers have decided he’s still your go-to shaper. Confidently putting your boards in his artful hands, you rely on Nick to craft your favorite longboard and shortboard designs that have you cruising in style. A busy guys these days, Nick is in high demand as he takes the helm of Source Surfboards, GP, and, now, The Meadow collective (in collaboration with C.J. Nelson). Still operating out of his personal workshop on the Eastside and sans any fleet of workers, Nick sticks to an old school format of a one-man handcrafting operation that upholds the artistic side of the sport of surfing. Thing To Know: Nick won “Best of Show” at the 2011 Sacred Craft Expo in Santa Cruz. | Linda Koffman

Runners-up Doug Haut, Ward Coffey


Jason Miller DVM,  Soquel Creek Animal Hospital

Dr. Miller received his veterinary training in St. Kitts at Ross University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and has a special interest in geriatric care and pain management. Here’s what you—well, your pet—gets: full dentistry, orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, preventative care, diet counseling, puppy and kitten vaccination, spay and neuter, vaccines, microchips, boarding with large yard for cats and dogs, house calls and home hospice. Thing To Know: This is a full-service companion animal hospital with a focus on community building. The friendly and compassionate staff want to make each customer and their pets feel like a part of their family.

2505 S. Main St., Soquel,  476-1515, | DB
Runners-up Dave Shuman (Westside Animal Hospital), Dr. Evelyn Sharp


bo_prof_writerWriter: David Jay BrownDavid Jay Brown

Ah, it’s so nice to see a talented, wildly intelligent member of the psychedelic counterculture get his due. Local wordsmith David Jay Brown’s background in psychology and neuroscience has informed not only his visionary sci-fi books “Brainchild” and “Virus: The Alien Strain,” but also his bestselling interview collections “Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse,” “Mavericks of Medicine,” “Mavericks of the Mind” and “Voices from the Edge.” Brown has been called “the most compelling interviewer on the planet,” and, as such, he’s coaxed fascinating commentary from some of the best-known mind-spelunkers, trailblazers and free thinkers of our time, including Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Albert Hoffman, Andrew Weil, Sasha Shulgin, Alex Grey, Jerry Garcia, Stanislav Grof, Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, John Lilly, Noam Chomsky, Jack Kevorkian and George Carlin. He’s also the coauthor of the health book “Detox with Oral Chelation,” a contributor to a number of well-known magazines and science journals (among them Scientific American, Wired, Mondo 2000, Tricycle, High Times, The Sun, Magical Blend and Hustler) and a frequent guest editor of the MAPS Bulletin, the tri-annual journal from the local psychedelic research group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. MAPS recently published the second edition of “Mavericks of the Mind,” available at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Brown is currently at work on the book “Over the Edge of the Mind,” a collection of new interviews and notes from his psychedelic journeys. The fact that our readers have named him Best Writer is an encouraging sign that at least here in Santa Cruz, consciousness exploration isn’t strictly the interest of an anomalous few. Thing To Know: In the early ’90s, David Jay Brown appeared on The Montel Williams Show to discuss the merits of smart drugs. Check out some of Brown’s work at and | Damon Orion

Runners-up Greg Archer, Johnny Arbogast, Wallace Baine (Three-way tie)

Best of Santa Cruz Professionals, Photo Captions:
Writer: David Jay Brown
Photographer: Peter Thomsen

Best of Santa Cruz County 2011 index:bo_2011_star
- Best Shops in Santa Cruz >
- Best Food and Drink in Santa Cruz >
- Best Arts & Entertainment & Nightlife in Santa Cruz >
- Best Health and Fitness in Santa Cruz >
- Best Professionals in Santa Cruz >
- Best of the Rest in Santa Cruz >
- Critics Picks in Santa Cruz >
Feature: James Durbin >

Other Good Times items of interest:
- Music in Santa Cruz >
- Events in Santa Cruz >
- Dining in Santa Cruz >
- Community Calendar Santa Cruz >
- Visit Santa Cruz Guide >
- gtActive - Santa Cruz Activities Guide >
- Archives & Articles by Section / Author >
- Search Good Times >

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?


Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  


The New Tech Nexus

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


Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

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


Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street


How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster


Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty


Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits