I’ve been a bit surly on social media (moi? you don’t say?) about my relationship with and feelings toward Santa Cruz. You must understand this is a result of having lived here for more than a decade (and it hasn’t been the best years of my life) and being a bit burnt out on the whole thing, starting to feel that travel-lust of wanting to explore other parts of the world, and having a had particularly “personal hell” sort of time with it in the last few years instead of my world taking off like a rocket like I had hoped. Also watching the inept and/or cruel political “leadership” over at City Hall largely shit all over what used to be a very vibrant, world-renowned place was just depressing to witness. While I have a lot of fun throwing invective around (stupid writer trick), I should also be careful to give context, without which it might seem a bit unnecessarily bitter and mean-spirited.
I thought I was going to move out of here a few months ago but as soon as we got back from Vegas I re-entered Santa Cruz’s well known vortex (I’m pretty convinced there’s a soul-devouring psychic field over the entire town), nothing went as planned and here we are with Christmas and New Year’s approaching (Kwaanza, Boxing Day, Hannukah…) I am still working on making the stars align to allow me safe passage to new chapter in my life in another location. At least I’ve gotten to take a few refreshing road trips in the past few months. Have you ever had the experience of wanting to move on from a place but having to stay there longer because you don’t have all your affairs in order to just pick up and go? That’s what my world has been like going back to around the time of my birthday in October. Being in that situation kind of forces you to reevaluate the whole thing and consider what it is you really feel about the place, weigh it’s pros and cons.
So in the spirit of not being a total shithead, I decided to start making note of all the things in this town that I really do like about this town instead of just complaint-ranting about the negatives all the time. Here’s what I came up with:
- The Boardwalk, because it’s an amusement park, duh. Don’t you find that amusing? Already covered this in a previous post.
- Coaster’s Bar and Grill. It’s in a bowling alley and there’s karaoke. As an extension of the Boardwalk beach-side complex, it’s decorated in a modern enough way to not looking run down, but it’s a bowling alley for fuck’s sake, so it still can’t quite shake that “seedy underbelly” feel that I find appealing somehow. For me it’s a good atmosphere to do some writing. The bartenders are all fabulous. It’s one of the few places in town that reminds of what I liked about Vegas, all neon lights and flashing video consoles (Atari Centipede!). The Hot Buttered Sailor Jerry is one of the finer experiences your taste buds can have.
- Salsa Dancing next to main beach Sunday night. Great music and those Latino guys really know their dance steps, an avid dancer myself, I’ve learn a lot about various moves just from watching them.
- The Poet and the Patriot. A true Irish bar all the way down to the historical political posters on the wall, not like Rosie McCann’s which is an “Irish bar” only in that it is a bar with an Irish name.
- Fire poi spinning, Sunday nights at the lighthouse. It’s fun. Who says hippies can’t do anything right?
- The Blue Lagoon. While occasionally overrun by oafish jock boys or twerking millennial hipsters, there’s enough of an older crowd holdover from when this place was truly the refuge for all the freaks and faggots to keep the ‘authentic’ feel going. Also watching Sal the manager (owner? not sure) hop over the bar and take down some obnoxiously too-drunk 22 year old twice his size is worth the price of drinks by itself.
- The Boat Harbor. As one who feels the call of all things nautical (see: first chapter of Moby Dick. Don’t worry, millennials, you don’t need to read the entire book, if you just skim the opening pages to figure out what I’m referencing then it’s only slightly longer than 140 characters. But you probably should read that whole book anyway though.), this little nook really soothes my soul. It’s the second best place in town – after the rather touristy wharf – to view sea lions, who use it as an ideal hunting ground. There’s some nice restaurants too.
- Aviary. Santa Cruz is an excellent locale for bird watching with multiple ecosystems (coastal, wetlands, forest) all colliding in the same area. One great place to go see waterfowl, including the always graceful Great Blue Heron is:
- San Lorenzo Park. Which would be, um, hypothetically a great place to smoke marijuana, if that weren’t, you know, totally illegal.