Fireworks behind a sign reading "2023"
(Via Pixabay)
Wallace Baine

Weekender: New Year’s Eve, Santa Cruz style; a fond happy trails to Good Times chief

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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Hi friends,

Wait … what? 2022 is done? How can that be? I’m a sucker for the sense of reflection and hope that comes with New Year’s Day, which fittingly was the day I first became a parent many years ago. Love and best wishes to all of my friends and readers this New Year’s. It’s going to be a great year. And if you’re conscious and about, stop by and say hi. I’ll be at my accustomed spot every New Year’s Day, watching the sunrise at Twin Lakes Beach, and then enjoying breakfast at the Crow’s Nest.

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

The always elegant Santa Cruz jazz/blues singer Tammi Brown will be performing in a special show called “The Lost American Songbook,” as a benefit for the locally based New Music Works. That’s coming to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Jan. 21. Another local favorite, novelist Elizabeth McKenzie, debuts her latest book, “The Dog of the North,” at Bookshop Santa Cruz on March 14. Also, the fine singer-songwriter Cass McCombs lands at Felton Music Hall on Feb. 21, the notorious Expendables return to The Catalyst on April 29. And look for pianist Brianna Conrey, who will highlight the work of female composers over the years in “An All-Woman Show” at Kuumbwa on Feb. 24.

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, New Year’s Eve edition. Can you believe it? It’s the final B9 of 2022. Nine ideas for the last night of the year:

  1. The wonderfully athletic Flynn Creek Circus is presenting two big daytime family shows on NYE …
  2. And one adults-only evening show, all under the big top at Capitola Mall.
  3. One of California’s greatest rock bands — and that’s saying a lot — is spending NYE in Santa Cruz. Are you ready for Los Lobos?
  4. Attention, all platform shoes and spandex pants: The Catalyst is ready for your big moment of the year!
  5. Our current decade has yet to earn a nickname, but a century ago they called it “The Roaring Twenties,” and it’s the theme of Moe’s Alley’s big NYE bash.
  6. Don’t expect the Crepe Place to be quiet on NYE. It’s got two big musical acts ringing in the new year.
  7. The only rational way to welcome in the new year is to dance til you can’t dance no mo’. That’s the theme at The 418 Project’s big NYE bash.
  8. It’s both a ska band and a great idea for New Year’s Eve: “Let’s go bowling!”
  9. Can you name a more SLV New Year’s Eve than hanging with the Coffis Brothers at Henfling’s?

Tribute to a great journalist

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the great Steve Palopoli, a friend and colleague, who is leaving his post as the editor-in-chief at the weekly Good Times for a new opportunity as an editor for the San Jose Mercury News. For almost a decade, Steve has edited first the Santa Cruz Weekly and then Good Times with an uncanny sense of what makes Santa Cruz County special. And he’s always been on top of what’s going on in this community in both the realm of hard news and arts/culture, one of the few I’ve known in my 30 years in local journalism with the chops for both.

When I was at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, I first knew him as a competitor in the journalism field. And, in the past two years, while I’ve been at Lookout Santa Cruz, he’s also been on the other side of the competitive line. But in between, for 2½ years, he and I worked side by side at Good Times. In that time, he became a friend, a sounding board, an idea generator and always a serene presence in my professional life. He’s a fine journalist, a curious and engaged editor, a knowledgeable resource in all things Santa Cruz, and a good man.

I hope I’ll continue to see a lot of him, but Santa Cruz is going to miss his weekly presence, and Good Times has an enormous challenge replacing him. Good luck, Steve.

Earworm of the Week

“Another year’s gone/ Here comes a new one/ What’s gonna happen this year?” So begins the bittersweet ballad “This Year” by the uniquely weird singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. Sure, the emotions are heavy on New Year’s Eve, as so many of us feel time’s relentless erosion of our limited lifespans. You can get morose about it. Or you can fling yourself into denial and not think about the evaporating years — my strategy for the other 364 days of the year. Or you can spend three minutes with LW3, who paints a moving portrait of the persistence of hope against so much evidence that it’s unjustified.

Some people might find Wainwright’s cutting wit and bruising candor a tad off-putting. Count me among the legions who love the guy and his awkward flaws-and-all humor. In this lovely, reflective tune — best experienced after the last champagne bottle is empty — he comes clean that “Last year was a disaster, a real fiasco.” But even in the face of the mess he’s made of the just-completed year, he muses that his fortunes are going to change with the new year. He’s the bad gambler, convinced the next roll of the dice will reverse his fortunes. He’s Wile E. Coyote, shaking off his latest debacle to renew his pursuit of the Roadrunner. He’s you and me dusting ourselves off after a turbulent year with the faith that we’re able to learn from our mistakes and be better. Listen to it with someone you love, this year.


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.

A sign reading "Life's a beach"

A common philosophy around Santa Cruz. But do you recognize the helpful directional marker above?

A cartoon dog carved into shiny stone

Last week’s answer: Boy, this was a tough one. And if you’re not familiar with downtown Watsonville, you’re probably stumped. This cute little dog above is, in fact, the symbol for Taylor’s Hot Dog Stand, just to the north of the downtown plaza on East Beach Street.

Taylor's Hot Dog Stand in Watsonville

Taylor’s has been a fixture in Watsonville for generations (just ask anyone who went to Watsonville High). At Taylor’s, they just do hot dogs, nothing fancy, for $2 a pop. And coffee is 50 cents. If you want to step back into 1975, start 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.