The woodies were back at the wharf last weekend.
(Wallace Baine / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Wallace Baine

Weekender: A quintessential Santa Cruz day, B9 fetes the Fourth and clockspotting

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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Hi friends,

Yes, I know, it’s as American as apple pie and SUVs, but can we all please agree to cool it with the freelance fireworks? Fire season doesn’t need any help. It’s scary enough. Forty million Californians thank you.

Now, on with the show:

This Just In!

In new bookings this week, surfer Maya Gabeira, who set a mark recognized by the Guinness World Records for the biggest wave ever ridden by a female surfer, comes to Bookshop Santa Cruz on Aug. 3 to talk about big waves and her new children’s book. The neo-gothic folk duo Rising Appalachia plays live at the Rio on July 29. Throwback country and rockabilly artist Wayne “The Train” Hancock pops in at Moe’s Alley on Aug. 17. And acclaimed jazz drummer (and “beat scientist”) Makaya McCraven brings his combo to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Oct. 27.

Check out my carefully curated and constantly updated planning guide Down the Line for the staggering riches and amazing choices awaiting Santa Cruz audiences. It’s our look ahead at the best shows, concerts and events through the rest of the year at clubs, stages and venues all over the county.

The logo for Baine's Nine


Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. Welcome to the B9:

  1. Talk about two art forms that were made for each other: Surfing, meet photography.
  2. Southern-born singer-songwriter Adia Victoria says it all in what should be her signature song — “South Gotta Change.”
  3. Santa Cruz’s deep tradition in performance poetry continues as the folks at The Hive Poetry Collective pick up where Poetry Santa Cruz leaves off.
  4. Ever heard of enigmatic surf legend Gerry “Mr. Pipeline” Lopez? There’s a remedy for that.
  5. The best Fourth of July traditions happen before lunchtime.
  6. A pair of artists who are also champions of the community come together for a big new art show.
  7. Sherry Austin and her harmonious band Henhouse are reuniting for a special Saturday show in Soquel.
  8. One of the hottest young guitar prodigies on the scene, a young Aussie named Daniel Champagne, makes Santa Cruz a stop on his latest tour.
  9. What’s life like after Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen? It’s pretty sweet for the great guitar titan Bill Kirchen.

WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here

Three-Dot Gazette

So, whaddya doin’ on the Fourth? Historically, Santa Cruz County’s main organized Independence Day events have centered on three places: Scotts Valley, Aptos and Watsonville. This year, you can actually go to more than one celebration, if you choose. The Lost Boys featuring James Durbin certainly will. They’re performing both Sunday and Monday.

Scotts Valley’s Independence Day Celebration takes place this year, as in past years, at Skypark, but it’s happening Sunday, July 3. The parade and flyover are at 3 p.m., followed by live music from The Joint Chiefs and The Lost Boys, all culminating in a fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. This is a ticketed event; tickets are $10.

On Monday, July 4, Watsonville weighs in with the Spirit of Watsonville parade, featuring antique cars, equestrian riders and lots of other fun stuff beginning at noon at St. Patrick’s Church heading down Main Street, ending at First Street. This one’s free.

Also on Monday comes a local treasure, at least in mid-county. We can’t confirm the claim, but Aptos is again hosting “The World’s Shortest Parade” beginning at 10 a.m. After the always weirdly entertaining parade, check out the Party at the Park at Aptos Village Park, with games, vendors, food trucks, beer and live music from The Lost Boys. Hope to see you at one (or more) Fourth celebrations, and if you feel moved to belt out the third verse of “America the Beautiful” in public, it’s a free country …


Not all of us are blessed to live in Bonny Doon, but we can still visit. And the best time to crawl through its forests and winding roads is at the annual DoonArt arts studio tour. The event is on schedule for the weekend of July 30-31 as 29 accomplished visual artists open up their Bonny Doon studios from Empire Grade to Davenport. Prominent names include Mattie Leeds, Linda Levy, Nancy Howe, Sage Lee and many more. Make a plan to visit your favorite Dooner artist that weekend. It’s free, but, yes, you’ll probably need a map

Many of us deny it, but most people would love to be an actor — just once, just for a little while. Well, let’s see who’ll step up. In September, Michael’s on Main in Soquel is going to host a bit of mystery dinner theater, this one called “Body on the Beach.” And they’re looking for cast members. “Body” is looking for eight men, three women, a teen girl and a teen boy. (No word on who exactly will represent the “Body”). For more info, call Paula Slate at 510-612-7077 …

Golden State Diaries

Maybe there’s no such thing as a quintessential Santa Cruz day. But, boy, did Saturday, June 25, ever come close. I spent a good chunk of my afternoon that day listening to a trio of musicians that, for two years on my radio show at KSQD, I proudly and without challenge called “California’s greatest band.” It’s, of course, The Mermen, the Santa Cruz-based surf-rock instrumentalists who create a hypnotic and mind-expanding sound that can only be called “oceanic.” Guitarist Jim Thomas, bassist Jennifer Burnes, and Martyn Jones on drums create a distinctively soaring, neo-psychedelic sound that you can recognize from three blocks away … which is precisely what happened to me.

The Mermen perform at the Pleasure Point Street Fair.
(Wallace Baine / Lookout Santa Cruz)

I am ashamed to admit that I did not know that the Mermen were headlining last Saturday’s Pleasure Point Street Fair until I was walking down 41st Avenue toward Portola Drive and the fair midafternoon. I was just past the Chill Out when I heard it, the pillowy but somehow still propulsive sound of the Merms cutting through the air like a summer sea breeze. Pleasure Point is the Mermen’s home turf, and nothing seemed more right and fitting to see them center stage at the head of the fantastically vibrant neighborhood summer festival. The Mermen live, a skateboarding contest going on simultaneously, and between the two, an artists booth featuring the work of the hometown genius Jimbo Phillips stamped this festival with an only-in-Santa-Cruz vibe.

Woody with the woodies on the wharf.
(Wallace Baine / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Earlier in the day, up the coast just a tad, was another beloved touchstone of Santa Cruz summer, the annual Woodies on the Wharf car show featuring the most bedazzling surf wagons on this continent or any other, all together on the Santa Cruz Wharf. It was almost too much visual pleasure for a car lover to endure.

Both events were making comebacks from a pandemic layover. And both were reminders that maybe we got a bit too complacent about the amazing things our community enjoys year in and year out. Woodies on the Wharf and the Pleasure Point Street Fair brought a huge energy of joy and sweet vibes to Santa Cruz on the day after the sobering Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. Long may they both wave.

Earworm of the Week

It’s that time again — Independence Day, the Fourth of July, America’s birthday. Given the intractable and traumatizing political warfare happening today — unthinking nationalism disguised as patriotism, the flag weaponized against those who honestly reflect on American history, grifters and bad-faith actors hiding behind empty patriotic flattery — celebrating the old Red, White & Blue is becoming increasingly awkward, especially in 2022. But there remain deeply moving expressions of love of country that don’t deal in sentimentality or chest-thumping. My favorite remains “American Anthem,” recorded for the 2007 Ken Burns film “The War,” and sung by the lovely Norah Jones. Written by composer Gene Scheer, “American Anthem” is a kind of variation of John F. Kennedy’s immortal “Ask Not” speech. It envisions the sense of fulfillment of being able to look in the mirror at the end of a meaningful life, knowing that you gave something of yourself for the sake of your nation. Whether you’re conservative, liberal, or something in between, this quiet reflective benediction to our common American ancestors is worth a moment between the hot dogs and fireworks shows. Share with someone you’re politically estranged from this Fourth of July. Maybe something positive will come out of it.


Where in Santa Cruz County Am I?

So how well do you notice the little things when you’re out and about across Santa Cruz County? We’ll post images from places that are accessible to the public somewhere in Santa Cruz County. You tell us where it is, as specifically as you can … or, better yet, send us your own photo of the same thing.

an art deco clock on the side of a building

This beautiful clock above has the curves and confidence of a mid-century Chevy. Have you seen it?

close-up of a laughing clown

Last week’s answer: Who else has a smile exactly like that? It’s “Laffing Sal,” of course, the funny/creepy animatronic figure you can see each and every day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

the Laffing Sal mannequin at the Boardwalk

Laffing Sal is the name for a number of animatronic carnival clowns known for their herky-jerky motions and maniacal laughter. The Sal in Santa Cruz is, according to the Boardwalk, the original Laffing Sal, a refugee from San Francisco’s long-defunct but legendary Playland By The Beach. You can find her at one of the Boardwalk-side entrances to Neptune’s Kingdom, laughing at a joke only she can hear. Caution: Be prepared for her to visit your nightmares.

That’s all I got, friends. Come at me with comments, ideas, complaints, or thundering insights. Thanks to all Lookout members for your faith and support, and please, spread the word on what we’re doing.