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Weekender with Wallace Baine

Hi friends,

The most social, buzzy place to be this weekend? How ’bout the aisles of your friendly neighborhood Halloween store — people zooming in and out, looking through all the fun stuff, open to chatting with strangers. It’s kind of magic to watch someone browsing in a Halloween shop and then read their minds as they ponder, “Hmm, can I really pull this off?”

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

The acclaimed presidential historian Douglas Brinkley is coming to Santa Cruz and bringing his new book with him. Brinkley has written a new history of the roots of the environmental movement with a focus on the role JFK, LBJ and Nixon played in the movement. He comes to the Cowell Hay Barn on Dec. 1 in an event presented by Bookshop Santa Cruz and UCSC’s Humanities Institute. Also, a favorite of local audiences, the Rev. Horton Heat, returns to Moe’s Alley on Jan. 23, and Santa Cruz comedian and provocateur Noel Murphy appears at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Nov. 19.

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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. I don’t really have to remind you that it’s Halloween, right? Go downtown, find a party, or just wander your neighborhood and chat up your neighbors escorting their trick-or-treaters. The couch and Netflix can wait.
  2. Country singer Margo Price has a story of grit and resilience to tell. And you can hear it in person at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
  3. The quintessential Santa Cruz experience: “The Lost Boys” on the beach, in the shadow of the Boardwalk. You gotta do it, at least once in your life.
  4. Last weekend for the tender, coming-of-age tearjerker (just kidding) “Bikini Werewolf Massacre!” at The 418 Project.
  5. The Black Jacket Symphony recreates a classic album from beginning to end on stage. This weekend in Santa Cruz: “Led Zeppelin IV,” and yep, that includes “Stairway.”
  6. Celtic rockers the Young Dubliners used to be regulars on the Santa Cruz music scene. Now they’re back, at Moe’s this time.
  7. It’s not every day that a former U.S. poet laureate comes to town, but Natasha Trethewey is visiting UC Santa Cruz.
  8. Great story about Santa Cruz’s Tim Eagan’s near-death experience. Now the cartoonist is telling that story himself.
  9. Maybe the most uplifting and fulfilling experience you’ll have this week is the wonderful celebration of Dia de Muertos at the Watsonville Plaza.

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

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Don’t let downtown Halloween catch you by surprise. This year, the city of Santa Cruz will close down Pacific Avenue and many of the streets that come into it from about 9 a.m. on Monday until 10 a.m. Tuesday. Other roads, or portions of other roads, will be closed off by 5 p.m. Last year, the first official Halloween celebration since the pandemic shutdown, police did not close off Pacific Avenue, choosing only to manage the sidewalks. This year could look a lot like pre-pandemic Halloweens when literally thousands of people will find a way to get downtown. See you there? …

The Santa Cruz Cinema is throwing itself into the Halloween spirit with what it calls “Five Nights of Fright,” beginning Thursday and ending on Halloween night. It includes single screenings of a handful of timeless horror classics for five days — “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Shining,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Nosferatu,” lots more. Sorry for the old man-ism, but they just don’t make ’em like they used to.

Santa Cruz-raised writer Hannah Sward has just released a new memoir titled “Strip: A Memoir,” chronicling her chaotic, harrowing life that led to, among other things, stints in prostitution and addiction. Hannah is the daughter of the late Robert Sward, one of the commanding names in the recent history of the Santa Cruz poetry world. A Fulbright scholar and Guggenheim fellow, Robert Sward also served as Santa Cruz County’s poet laureate. Hannah’s book is getting a lot of attention and, if anyone has read it, we’d love to hear about it …

Not sure the Brookdale Lodge is an especially funny place — maybe it is, for some people — but it will be the site for a big standup show on Nov. 4. The headliner will be Los Angeles-born, Bay Area comedian Louis Katz, who will undoubtedly make a crack or two about the weird old lodge …

Attention visual artists: Cabrillo College is throwing out a big invitation for any California artist to contribute to its group show “12×12.” The catch? You’ve probably guessed it. Every art work should be 12 inches by 12 inches (for three-dimensional art, it should be 12x12x12) — no bigger, no smaller. The show will open Nov. 7 at Cabrillo, so organizers are moving to find the art right now, with certain dropoff dates for submitted artwork. Check out the details and entry requirements right here

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 250th birthday has come and gone — it was in 2020. But because of a pandemic you might have read about, the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival’s celebration of Beethoven’s big b-day didn’t happen. But it’s happening now — with a lecture on Nov. 16 at the UC Santa Cruz Music Center and a concert Nov. 19 at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Santa Cruz. Happy 252nd, big guy …

Earworm of the Week

Politically oriented pop music is so much different now than it used to be. Once, you could cut through the din of indifference with a bracing political song. Now everybody’s political, it seems. And no one particularly wants or needs another political anthem. We no longer need awareness. We need action. Still, political music can make an impact when it finds a way to do something different. One great example of a political anthem that sounds fresh is “How Low,” by the great Ohio band Heartless Bastards, fronted by the magnetic Erika Wennerstrom. “How Low” is a lament of frustration more than anything else — “On and on, it never stops …” — but this indictment of race-to-the-bottom greed and affluent complacency comes by way of a sprightly reggae-ish beat that I find myself humming to all day long. I don’t think Erika and her bandmates have any novel answers to the world’s ills, but what better way to get a message across than to embed it into an irresistible earworm?

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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.

cartoon peppers

That’s two extremely happy chili peppers above. Do you know them? Perhaps you’ll see them this weekend.

close-up of a face on a mural

Last week’s answer: If you happened to have gone to the “Saturday in the Park” event last weekend in Watsonville, you likely saw the face above. It’s one of many in the magnificent mural in Romo Park in downtown Watsonville, right across from the plaza.

a mural

This vivid and Picasso-esque masterpiece is called “The Triumph of the Victory of Balance Between People” and it comes to us from the fine Watsonville artist Jaime Sanchez. Originally painted in 2016, earlier this year Jaime went out and gave it a refreshing touch-up. It never looked so good.

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.

Wallace reports and writes not only across his familiar areas of deep interest — including arts, entertainment and culture — but also is chronicling for Lookout the challenges the people of Santa Cruz...