A flyer for ALO's "Halloweekend Haunt" show
Wallace Baine

Weekender: Props for Santa Cruz Shakes, Halloween coming into focus and a rant about Liquid Death

Hi friends,

Grouchy Old Guy Chronicles, Vol. 1: Recently, I coughed up $2.39 for a can of this stuff that the young’uns are drinking called Liquid Death, y’know, just to see what the fuss was all about. Turns out it was just water. WATER! Like, that stuff that you shower in? OK, sure, I live in the contemporary world where we all pay for our drinking water. It wasn’t the price that annoyed me so much (though, it did annoy me), but the fact that it was called by a name that suggests grain alcohol or bleach. Do we really have to sell plain old water in some idiotic, faux-gangsta, look-at-what-a-tough-guy-I-am packaging? Who’s the target audience here? Don Trump Jr.? Somebody make it make sense.

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s got something fun planned for October. The Boardwalk will open up its beautiful Cocoanut Grove ballroom for scary movies, every week from Oct. 4, beginning with the second-greatest flick ever shot at the Boardwalk (behind “The Lost Boys,” of course), which is Jordan Peele’s “Us.” The Boardwalk’s “Fright Flicks” series continues each Wednesday through October. In a related vein, Bookshop Santa Cruz, the Museum of Art & History and UC Santa Cruz’s Monster Studies Program combine forces to present the “Festival of Monsters” on Oct. 13 at the MAH. The Sin Sisters Burlesque returns to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Sept. 9. And Stephen Marley comes to The Catalyst on Sept. 22.

Be sure to check out Lookout’s 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

B9: What’s what in the week ahead

Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. It’s the dog-days B9:

  1. Santa Cruz Shakespeare drops a bravura final weekend at the Grove with Paul Whitworth’s commanding performance in “King Lear.”
  2. Stand-up comedy doesn’t have to be in cramped clubs with watered-down drinks. Check out some rising comedy talent outdoors in the park with “Laughternoon.”
  3. Love gardening? No, I mean really love gardening? Three fine poets gather at Bookshop to meditate on what love of plants does to the soul.
  4. Unless you’ve caught Will Rogers’ act lately — and nobody alive can make that claim — you’ve haven’t seen a cowboy entertainer as fun as Dave Stamey.
  5. A master American songwriter, interpreted by a talented and sensitive jazz singer: What’s not to love with “Nalley Sings Bacharach.”
  6. Vegans, vegetarians and … well, most people, you might just want to skip to number 7 — unless you’re actually excited about all-you-can-eat USDA-inspected bull testicles at the Testicle Festival in Watsonville.
  7. Local artist and performer Rachel Maryam Smith has some great songs and amazing stories to tell about bubbles. Yes, bubbles.
  8. Yes, it’s a road trip. But the all-weekend West End Celebration in Sand City, near Monterey, is an illuminating (and fun) way to celebrate art and creativity.
  9. Deadheads will get the joke — Jerry’s Middle Finger is about Garcia’s famed missing digit, not a gesture of rudeness — but you don’t have to be a Garcia-ologist to enjoy this fine L.A. tribute band.

Shakespeare takes a bow

A scene from a performance of Santa Cruz Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew"
(Via Kevin Lohman)

It’s the final weekend to see “The Taming of the Shrew,” “King Lear” and Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will” in the Grove at DeLaveaga, but an expanded five-production season is in the works for Santa Cruz Shakespeare next year. Read more here.

New doc to show for free

The Watsonville Film Festival was disrupted last winter with the heavy rains and floods. And because of that, it didn’t get a chance to show one of the jewels of its lineup, the documentary “Sansón and Me.” On Saturday, the WFF will screen the film for free at CineLux Green Valley Cinema in Watsonville.

The film, from acclaimed filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, traces the filmmaker’s relationship with a young inmate solely through letters, to chronicle the young man’s story and to throw light on the criminal justice system.

The screening is free, but registration is required.

Halloween already?

The Boardwalk can get you in the mood with its “Fright Flicks” series happening throughout October, and there’s ALO’s “Haunted Halloweekend” happening at Felton Music Hall, a Zappa tribute downtown and other events on the calendar already, with more sure to follow. Read more here.

Upcoming shows at the catalyst

More trivia

It’s that time again, our own Lookout Trivia Night, live and in person at Abbott Square on Tuesday evening, Aug. 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m. As usual, I’ll be your host, joined by sharp friend Sven Davis as co-host. In July, we had a great time with trivia about the Hollywood sign, famous comedian routines and stuff only Santa Cruz locals would know. Please come out and have some fun with us. It’s free, but we’d love you to register.

Earworm of the Week

For our Earworm this week, no mindless ditty to whistle all the live-long day. Instead, we’re going deep, as in the nature-of-consciousness deep, meaning-of-life deep. It comes from the ambient artist known as East Forest, whose 2016’s album title “Music to Die To” kinda tells you what he’s all about. In 2019, East Forest released an album in tribute to Ram Dass, featuring new recordings of the great American mystic just months before he died at 88. Included on the recording is an arresting and deeply moving piece called “I Am Loving Awareness,” from one of the most well-known mantras of Ram Dass. The mantra attains much of its power from its double meaning, depending on the role of the world “loving” in the phrase. The first meaning — I am an entity that could be described as a node of loving awareness — morphs into the second meaning — I am digging this experience known as awareness. It’s a hypnotic listen. But maybe you just want to hear “Start Me Up” while washing dishes. Fine. Maybe you’re just not loving awareness.

All the Earworms in one place

For those who’ve been following my Earworm of the Week, I’ve assembled a playlist that contains them all.

Santa Cruz County Trivia

In the history of Santa Cruz performing arts, what does “Um … Gee … Um” mean?

Last week: It was named one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, it won the Pulitzer and much of it is set in 19th-century Santa Cruz. What is it? It is Wallace Stegner’s masterpiece “Angle of Repose,” a historical novel in which a history professor investigates his grandmother’s life as she moved from the East to the West in the 1800s. The novel was published in 1971 and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year. But since then, the book has become controversial because Stegner liberally used the unpublished memoirs and letters of another writer, Mary Hallock Foote, as the basis for the novel. Because of that appropriation, Stegner, who died in 1993, has been dogged by accusations of plagiarism. Another Stegner connection to Santa Cruz is his son, Page Stegner, also a novelist, who was a longtime Santa Cruz resident, running the creative writing program at UCSC. Page Stegner was the author of an infamous Esquire magazine article called “The Limits of Tolerance,” in which he bemoaned the cultural decline of Santa Cruz in the same embittered tone you hear from some folks today … in 1981.


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.