Weekender: A return to Boomeria, cozying up with Nick Offerman & a Cement Ship earworm
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If you’re not reading this in a hammock, lounge chair, or on the beach, may we remind you it’s summer, which doesn’t last forever. Remember if you’re not busy chillin’, you’re busy illin’.
Now, on with the show:
This Just In!
It’s big news in these parts when the elegant Laurie R. King publishes a new novel, and, yep, she’s back with a new book. The longtime Santa Cruz writer comes to Bookshop Santa Cruz on Sept. 7 to discuss her latest — a historical novel steeped in the history of California and the clash between the mainstream and the counterculture. Also, Giants fans might note that longtime third base coach Tim Flannery is an accomplished musician, and he comes to town with his band Sept. 3. Plus, luminous local singer Lori Rivera teams up with Cabrillo Stage powerhouse Jennifer Taylor Daniels on Aug. 6 at Kuumbwa.
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.
Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. Welcome to the B9:
- Suspense, laughs, intrigue. What’s not to love about Ira Levin’s beloved play “Deathtrap,” opening for a four-weekend run at Jewel Theatre?
- Be prepared for Shakespeare season with a lively and informative talk from UCSC drama maven Michael Warren.
- One of the coolest musical experiences of the year happens deep in the Bonny Doon redwoods, with a one-of-a-kind pipe organ. Gotta hear it to believe it.
- Looking for a great, relevant, intelligent, fierce Americana rock band to adopt as your 2022 crush? Have you heard of Erika Wennerstrom and the Heartless Bastards?
- Any day is a good day to spend with the eternal spirit of Edith Piaf, but hearing a live reimagining of the Little Sparrow on Bastille Day? Oui, merci!
- Many of the greats of the late-1960s explosion of Jamaican reggae are still around and performing, and Moe’s Alley welcomes a foundational act in that realm.
- Isn’t it time Our Lady of Guadalupe and her enormous influence on art deserves a serious academic assessment? It’s happening in Watsonville.
- There is one local person above all others to ask about what’s happening in our big blue beautiful ocean. And Gary Griggs is ready to answer your questions.
- Next time you’re in the county building and looking for a reason to be grateful you live in Santa Cruz County, check out the photos by Nina Koocher.
➤ WANT MORE B9 PICKS? Find recommendations from Team BOLO — Wallace, Max Chun and Will McCahill — here
The Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz (affectionately known as “the MAH”) has announced a big new arts festival for the fall called “CommonGround.” The festival will take place Sept. 16-25 at the MAH and Abbott Square downtown, featuring a wide variety of artists — from local to international — that includes an homage to the river carnivals of a century ago (including one that took place in Santa Cruz), an immersive installation of music and sculpture based on birdsong, works focused on California’s agricultural heritage, and the aerial dance of the acclaimed Bay Area group Bandaloop. Santa Cruz artists with big contributions to “CommonGround” include textile artist I.B. Bayo (a favorite of the fashionistas in town) and the provocative and ambitious multimedia artist/curator Martabel Wasserman. Going forward, the “CommonGround” festival will come to the MAH in even-numbered years, alternating with the digital arts festival “Frequency” in odd-numbered years. Save the date. …
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Big party for the local surf community on Saturday at the R. Blitzer Gallery on the Westside of Santa Cruz. The Blitzer is currently showing “The Call of the Surf,” featuring the surf photography of veteran press photographer Patrick Tehan. It’s an amazing show that works not only as great action shots, but as a portrait of the Santa Cruz surf community as well. The R. Blitzer Gallery is in the old Wrigley building at 2801 Mission St., Santa Cruz. The reception is 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Lots of surf celebs will likely be there. …
Summer Beach Reads
Well, if it isn’t beach reading season again, that time of year when you have to make the call on which book would look best on your beach towel or would fit best in your beach bag. Maybe the last thing you need these days is another book recommendation. If you’re like me, you already have enough books circling the airport looking for a place to land. But there is a particular category of books that is pertinent to our purposes here, and that’s books that contain some kind of shoutout to Santa Cruz County.
One of the most entertaining in that category is the 2021 nonfiction title by Nick Offerman called “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play.” Yes, that’s the same Nick Offerman who starred as Ron Swanson in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” for years. Usually, I’m loathe to give attention to books written by celebrities in other fields — hey actors, can’t you let us writers do books? We don’t move in on your turf (unless you ask us to). But Offerman has authored several books, and sometimes he feels to me like a writer who somehow lucked out as a TV actor.
“Deer” is a wry and reflective travelogue across America with Offerman, who possesses a kind of contemporary Will Rogers-style wit. The book goes all over the place, much of it in the company of Offerman’s guy pals, writer George Saunders (who lives locally part-time) and rock musician Jeff Tweedy (who else did you think Nick Offerman would be hanging out with?). But there is one section that features Offerman’s take on Santa Cruz, where he spent time shooting the mind-bending mini-series “Devs” back in 2018.
Offerman obviously was charmed by his weekslong stay in Santa Cruz, though he used “The Lost Boys,” a film shot here 35 years ago, as the basis for noting “the Hollywood good looks of the community.” But mostly, Offerman gets the vibe of our town:
“Maybe it’s because Santa Cruz is far from any major highways, so it’s lacking any of the superficial attempts at freshness that one see next to any given freeway off-ramp these days — the gaudy sparkles of consumerism. Whatever the reason, I found the town to have a really groovy vibe, like it never fully made it out of the Seventies.”
Santa Cruz is only a pit stop in a broader picture of the American landscape, and Offerman is a compelling tour guide. If you’re looking for a thread for some kind of renewal of faith in your home country (and who isn’t these days), you’ll find “Where the Deer and Antelope Play” a companionable beach read. Let me know how you liked it.
Earworm of the Week
Purely by chance, I recently discovered a song by the terrific and underrated singer-songwriter Steve Forbert titled “Palo Alto,” pegging it for a tribute to the Silicon Valley enclave on the Peninsula and home to Stanford University. But no. It’s actually all about our very own “Cement Ship” in Aptos. Forbert’s tune is, in fact, a kind of blow-by-blow history lesson on the famous landmark, now in ruins just offshore at Seacliff State Beach. The boat, as many locals know, was originally known as the SS Palo Alto, and Forbert’s sweetly wistful song tells you everything you need to know, how it was brought to Aptos as a kind of money-making stunt in 1929, how the Great Depression put an end to that dream, and how the state of California bought it and let it sit there as a curiosity. Plus, it’s a pretty and hummable tune above all else. I wonder if the local band Cement Ship knows about this song.
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.
It’s swimsuit season in Santa Cruz County. But this bathing beauty above is always playing in the water, no matter the time of year. Have you seen her?
Last week’s answer: The beautiful clock above that has the curves and confidence of a mid-century Chevy? It’s the fabulous clock outside the Quantar Technology building on the Mission Street extension on the far Westside of Santa Cruz.
Once you’re past Swift Street, heading out of town toward Davenport on Highway 1, keep an eye peeled to your left (or on your right if you’re coming into town), and you’ll see it. It’s not exactly hidden, but it’s not quite obvious either, obscured a bit by the trees between Swift Street and Western Drive. Here’s an idea: Any chance we could get that baby downtown, where it will receive the admiration it deserves?
Stay tuned ...
I’m excited to be hosting a new trivia night event, the first to take place Tuesday evening, July 26, at Abbott Square. We’re going to have a lot of fun. Register today and get more event details here.
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.