I have had plenty of nasty things to say about the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz where I live. (I remain here for two reasons. First, its superb ocean sites, second I like to stay close to the enemy where I can keep an eye on it.) There are also some nice things to say about the town.
First, street musicians abound here, on weekends but also on any warm evening. I always give them money, sometimes if only so they may take music lessons. Incidentally, this is also a town with an immensely rich musical life after dark. I am mostly asleep at that time but I sleep pleasantly in the knowledge.
Second, there are many murals about. I hate a few of them but they are not the ones that show People’s Heroes in the 1920′s Bolshevik style, as you might expect. They are the ones done in simplistic fake-childish style, according to an old-man’s cliché-filled unimagination about childhood. I won’t name him because I can’t afford the lawsuit right now against a man who is successful enough to be becoming rich on my local businesses stubborn bad taste. (I am still awaiting the fat oil company check promised to me because I “deny” global warming!)
Third, this is a town with not one, not two, but three bookstores. Everyone can buy his books on Amazon after I am gone, as far as I am concerned. In the meantime, I want the eye candy of rows after rows of new books. I do my small share by agreeably paying the couple of dollars more per book the privilege costs me.
Fourthly this is a university town with many restaurants although I would call few of them very good: It’s hard to maintain high culinary standards where your average cook is a Mexican who has not idea of what the food he prepares is supposed to taste like and the average diner is 23 and has never tasted anything beyond burgers and pizza.
Fifthly, there is much arresting street spectacle on nice days. A couple of days ago, on a sunny morning, a young man is walking up the main drag with his skateboard in one hand, his laptop in the other, and his plastic cup of coffee in his teeth. Dynamism, athleticism, intellectualism, and resourcefulness all rolled into one person, a sight that makes you smile.
Then, two teenage girls also walk by. One, the busty one, is wearing a tight white t-shirt with yellow bananas printed and the word “bananas” in black in several places. She is carrying her purse against her chest in a futile attempt to cover up. I am guessing she was feeling very brave this morning in her room, choosing her daring-vulgar clothes. Then, she walked on Pacific Avenue, crossing paths with dozens of guys, eye rapists each and everyone of them. I wonder if she is thinking that Mom is right, some of the time.
By the way, how I am longing for a no holds-barred debate between women on relentless female exhibitionism! It would go a long way toward countering the pernicious feminist simplification that has dominated our culture for two decades. I wouldn’t get involved in such a debate, I am too smart for this. I wonder though why it is that at the gym, all men who wear shorts were long shorts while all women who wear shorts wear short shorts. Go figure!