Ken Babbs speaks to a crowd
Ken Babbs has a book out detailing his days with the Merry Pranksters.
(Via Ken Babbs)
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Morning Lookout: Pranksters and the Dead in Soquel, plus weekend Best Bets

Hey hey hey — happy Friday, Lookout fam! It’s Jan. 28, and the forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures approaching 70 around Santa Cruz County, with much the same on tap for the coming weekend.

I’ve passed the bus stop on Soquel Drive with a display explaining our local connections to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters of “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” fame a couple hundred times, but shame on me for not stopping for a closer look. Fortunately, it’s Lookout’s Wallace Baine to the rescue, as he catches up with the fellow who hosted that crew — plus the band that would become the Grateful Dead — at his Soquel digs for the first of their famous LSD-fueled parties.

Wallace and our Team BOLO crew also have another round of Best Bets, with their recommendations for things to do this weekend and beyond varying from beer newcomers and pizza in Watsonville to legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and a world-class ensemble playing the Civic.

We’ve also got the latest on COVID-19 infections in Santa Cruz County, and experts worrying that gatherings for Sunday’s 49ers-Rams NFC title game could lead to another spike.

To the headlines we go:

Pranksters, LSD and the Dead

Ken Babbs with a trombone and furry friend with the Merry Prankster bus "Furthur."
(Via Ken Babbs)

Ken Babbs was there at Santa Cruz County’s most famous (or infamous) party, and now he traces those days in a new book. Read what he told Lookout’s Wallace Baine ahead of a coming event with Bookshop Santa Cruz.

MORE FROM WALLACE: Drop the remote — the cure for our latest viral malaise awaits us right outside the door

Presented by Sempervirens Fund

Join Sempervirens Fund for a once-in-a-generation opportunity to permanently protect 153 acres of redwood forests and...

BOLO Best Bets feeling jazzy

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
(Via Kuumbwa Jazz )

Tuesday brings a world-class jazz orchestra to Santa Cruz, and there’s plenty to do all over the county between here and there. Get all the recs from Wallace and Lookout’s dedicated Team BOLO here.

OUR FULL EVENTS CALENDAR: BOLO, your place to go for things to do
DON’T FORGET TO PLAN AHEAD: Check out Down The Line, Wallace’s list of all the big events headed our way


COVID-19 updates in Santa Cruz County

A nurse checks on IV pumps attached to a COVID-19 patient at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angles Times)

Lookout checks in on the county’s infection rate — which is still rising, but not as fast as last week — plus hospitalizations, deaths and demographic data. Find the latest information here.

GETTING SHOTS AND TESTS: Vaccine update: Rates, where to find a COVID shot or test; wait, cost and turnaround times (Lookout)

49ers-Rams football, Lunar New Year pose new COVID-19 challenge for California

Fans take a photo with Rams mascot Rampage at SoFi Stadium.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California is on the downslope of yet another coronavirus surge as it enters another season of celebration; will gatherings in the coming days send things in the opposite direction? Our partners at the Los Angeles Times look ahead.

WINNER HEADS TO SUPER BOWL: 49ers encourage fans to take over Rams’ stadium once again for NFC championship game (Los Angeles Times)

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente has partnered with systems change agency to disperse donations of sanitizing wipes, N95...

When parents are vaccinated against COVID-19, protection extends to their kids

Monserat Ramos, 3, watches as her grandparent receives a COVID-19 vaccine
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A study of families in Israel finds that when parents are vaccinated against COVID-19, the protection they get extends to their children. Read more from the Times here.

LOCAL COVID SCENE: How Santa Cruz County’s public schools have avoided the higher absence rates, sickouts seen elsewhere (Lookout)


Around the county ...

Watsonville mom fights off armed man who broke into her home (KSBW-TV)
Santa Cruz County public defender reveals July 1 transition plan (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Watsonville’s Hangar complex ‘filling out’ despite COVID setbacks (The Pajaronian)
‘Mission bells’ have become California’s version of Confederate statues. Gilroy is poised to install one (San Jose Mercury News)

OK, you’re fueled up for your Friday. But you’ll want to check back later — bookmark our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — for all that we have cooking, including another helping of Eaters Digest from Lookout food and drink maven Lily Belli. If you hadn’t heard, Lily has a newsletter, too, and you can get that plus breaking news alerts and more by visiting our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center.

And I can think of few better ways to kick off a weekend than by supporting local journalism, so please consider becoming a Lookout member if you’re not already (and tell a friend!). Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Get out there and show Friday who’s boss, and have a safe, relaxing weekend!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

Supporting local Santa Cruz businesses continues to be more important than ever. When it comes to buying gifts this...