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About Town, Week of Sept. 2

Sept. 6, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: The Red Bank Fire, just south of Redding, has now charred more than 6,000 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The fire is burning in lower 90-degree heat in remote terrain that is punctuated with hunting cabins, the CDF said. Crews from Cal Fire in Santa Cruz County and North Monterey County Fire are part of a strike team that headed up there.

I drove to downtown Santa Cruz last night to get a slice of pizza. I learned during my first visit to New York City years ago how to order a slice. I had just arrived at Grand Central Station and was starving. As I hit the busy streets, enveloped with awe to be wandering through the famed canyon of skyscrapers, the blaze of Yellow Cabs, and surge of foot traffic, I charged into the first pizza place I found, propelled by a deep-seated dream of tasting my first New York pizza.

When the busy clerk asked what I wanted, I made the ghastly mistake of saying I wanted a piece of pizza. Before I could finish saying that, he loudly cut me off: “Ya don’t say piece of pizza! Yer not from around here are ya? Piece of pizza sounds like pizza pizza — it sounds like yer ordering pizzas. It’s slice! Ya say give ‘me a slice of pizza,’ ya got it?”

Welcome to New York. Here it was — my first contact with a New Yorker and my face was blown off with a harsh directive. OK, now I know.

So I went into Pizza My Heart on Pacific Avenue last night and ordered a slice of pizza. I got their “Super Vege” and sat down and relished every bite. Two Santa Cruz Police officers came in and got in line. I liked that they joked with the clerks, who obviously knew them. They were on their night beat. Other customers took up conversation with them as well. I wondered what their reaction would be if I got up, marched over and shrieked, “Be sure and say SLICE, not PIECE, ya got it?!”

I was lucky to be a guest today for the start of the year’s monthly meetings at the Watsonville Woman’s Club, thanks to an invite from Nancy Shott. Since the Pajaronian moved downtown I only had to walk across the street. Among other things, they handed out a bunch of scholarships during the catered lunch. Janey Leonardich headed up the meeting. The Woman’s Club, I learned, is one of Watsonville’s oldest such organizations, dating back to the late 1800s. It was a kind and welcoming group. I learned a lot about the place and of some of their missions. I’ll touch base on this next week as time allows.

AT 9-6 womans club

Janey Leonardich (center) and Nancy Bilicich present one of five scholarships Friday to Abby Pardue, a recent Aptos High graduate, at the Watsonville Woman’s Club. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian 

The 38th annual Greek Festival runs today through Sunday on Church Street in downtown Santa Cruz. I’ve found the event, which is the longest-running cultural festival in Santa Cruz County, to be a rewarding experience, with contagious live music, food and crowds.

Quote of the day: “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”   George Bernard Shaw   

Sept. 5, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: The legendary San Francisco Mime Troupe will stage two theatrical performances Saturday and Sunday of their latest stage production, “Treasure Island” in San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz. In their 60th year, the San Francisco Mime Troupe does not do silent pantomime, but rather uses “mime” in the ancient sense — to mimic. They typically deal with absurdities of contemporary life and explore their causes. The troupe targets burning issues of the time, and aims to debunk the “official story.” Live music starts at 2:30 p.m. and the show begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The shows are free with a suggested donation of $20. No dogs, alcohol, or smoking allowed in park, which is on Dakota Avenue and flanks the San Lorenzo River.


A big rig carrying live chickens overturned after it collided with a concrete divider at 3:40 a.m. Thursday morning on Highway 80 in the east San Francisco Bay Area city of San Pablo. All westbound lanes were closed, according to KTVU TV, adding a lot of time to the morning commute for thousands of motorists. There were about 1,000 chickens aboard but only several hundred survived. Fire ended up engulfing the truck and much of its load.

Giant crowds loaded area shores over the Labor Day weekend, which is dubbed the end of summer vacation. On Saturday I drove to one of my favorite spots to check out the coast, the cliffs overlooking the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. The beach was packed.

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The Main Beach at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was packed with people over Labor Day weekend. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

Information continues to flow in regarding the catastrophic fire that engulfed a dive tour boat outside of Santa Barbara on Labor Day. The fire overtook 39 people on board as they slept, around 3 a.m. Thus far 33 bodies have been recovered and one person is missing. The 77-foot boat is now sitting on the ocean floor about 20 yards off of Santa Cruz Island. Investigators say it could take as long as two years to complete a study into the cause of the blaze. Those aboard the boat were on a three-day scuba diving venture. Five crew members and the captain escaped. Among the dead were several people from Santa Cruz and the Bay Area.

Today is National Cheese Pizza Day.

One person died in a solo-vehicle crash on Larkin Valley Road Tuesday night, the CHP said. Wayne Greene, 71, of Watsonville lost control of his 2007 Mazda pickup and plowed into a utility pole. The crash happened just after 9 p.m. north of White Road. He died as a result of his injuries. The CHP said he might not have been wearing a seat belt. 

A new Dr. Seuss book has just been released titled “Horse Museum,” based on an unfinished manuscript by Theodor Seuss Geisel that his wife found. “Horse Museum” was released Sept. 3 by Random House Children’s Books. It was completed by Andrew Joyner, an Australian illustrator. About 250,000 copies will be printed on the first edition.

Friday is the First Friday Art Tour in Santa Cruz. The informal, art-centric, free event, staged the first Friday of every month (from 5-9 p.m.), serves as an arena to showcase local arts and artists in a wealth of galleries, shops, cafes and museums through exhibit receptions, ongoing shows and more. A highlight is at the R. Blitzer Gallery, “20/60: Women Artists in their Prime,” 2801 Mission St. on the west side of Santa Cruz. For a schedule, locations and info, visit firstfridaysantacruz.com.

KFOG 104.5 FM radio will have its final day on the air today. The commercial station was known for its eclectic music programs which included off the beaten trail groups and mixes of alternative rock and folk. They started in 1960 as KBAY and in 1964 switched to KFOG. Programmers typically avoided commercial-sounding bands.

Quote of the day: “A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I’m afraid of widths.” —Steven Wright

Sept. 4, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: Category 3 Hurricane Dorian continues to hover over the northwestern Bahamas, and has thus far killed at least five people and wiped out thousands of homes. Massive flood, overturned vehicles and toppled trees and power lines are keeping emergency works busy, the national Weather Service said. More than a million people have left their homes under mandatory evacuation orders along the Florida east coast. 

Twenty-five people have died and nine are still missing at sea after the diving vessel they were on burst into flames off the Channel Islands early Labor Day near Santa Barbara. The 75-foot Conception, based in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said, has been shown floating in a harbor with major fire damage. It eventually sank. Four crew members and the captain managed to escape. Three people were celebrating their birthdays, including a 17-year-old girl. Among those on board and still missing is Kristy Finstad, co-owner of the Santa Cruz-based diving club, Worldwide Diving Adventures, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Finstad is a diving instructor and marine biologist.

While I was at the market last Friday I got to talking to a couple whose arms were loaded with produce. The woman was buying roses from Ana Ruvalcaba who has run her flower sales stand for Ruvalcaba Nursery since the start of the farmer’s market. The man said his name was David Deboer and he told me he was from Battle Creek, Michigan. I joked and asked him if that was in America. His reply: “You’re darn right; that’s where your corn flakes come from.” I told him he just gave new meaning to the box of flakes in my kitchen cupboard.

My friend Paul De Worken, who runs his Monterey Bay Murals stand at the Watsonville Certified Farmer’s Market, has just released his new design on a lapel pin. De Worken features a wealth of original clothing design with his famed “The Ville” design. He has sizes for infants to XXL, men’s and women’s, wind breakers, sweatshirts and all kinds of T-shirts, hats, mugs and stickers with a leaning toward local topic designs.

AT 9-3 lapel pin

Sept. 3, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: Warm weather will stick around through Tuesday, said Spencer Tangien of the National Weather Service in Monterey. “We’re getting typical late summer/early fall weather,” he said. “We’re seeing warmer days and cooler nights. There will be a cooling trend into the week as low pressure off the coast moves toward the shore. This will mean an increase in low louds and a marine layer coming back Tuesday night and into Wednesday.”

In the east, Hurricane Dorian developed into a category 5 storm over the weekend with 185 mph winds. It is being labeled as the strongest storm ever recorded. Four southeastern states have declared states of emergency. The Bahamas sustained major damage late Sunday and into Labor Day as Dorian raged by, and is now moving toward southern Florida.

I dropped by El Mercado Certified Farmer’s Market Sunday at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and was shocked by the huge attendance. Dozens of food tents, fresh produce stands and other vendors fill the event every Sunday.

Seven people were shot and killed and 22 people were injured Saturday in a rolling gun battle between Midland and Odessa Texas. The blaze of gunfire also left a 17-month-old and three police officers injured before the gunman was shot and killed, Midland Police said. The incident began shortly after 4 p.m. on Interstate 20 near Highway 191. The shooting comes four weeks after a gunman killed 22 people in a Walmart store in El Paso, one of the state’s deadliest mass shootings.

Today is Labor Day, a public holiday. The Monterey Bay Central Labor Council is staging a four-hour event at Watsonville Plaza at their annual Labor Day Picnic. The theme is: Defend and Build, support to organize the unorganized, save health care, and fight for immigrant rights.

Sept. 2, 2019:

Johanna Miller: Today is Labor Day, when we honor the U.S. labor movement. Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 in New York, when thousands of people took to the streets and marched for labor rights.

The modern holiday, however, seems to be more focused on getting shopping deals and setting up a backyard barbecue. And plenty of people still work—in fact, many retail and food service and workers will work even longer hours on Labor Day.

This is why I think events such as the Labor Day Picnic, held today in Watsonville, are so important. We’ve come a long way but perhaps not long enough.

This weekend I attended a one-of-a-kind concert by Los Angeles band Metalachi, dubbed “the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band” at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz. I was incredibly impressed by the musicianship and showmanship involved in the show. They played everything from Metallica to Queen, with some traditional mariachi songs thrown in. I highly recommend people go to see them the next time they play in Santa Cruz County.


Violinst Queen Kyla Vera of the band Metalachi leans into the beat at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz. (Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian)

The Watsonville Film Festival will hold a film screening of “Los Años de Fierro” (The Years of Fierro) on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Watsonville Public Library. The documentary follows the story of the oldest Mexican prisoner on death row—who has been in a Texas prison for almost forty years due to insufficient evidence. Director Santiago Esteinou and other special guests will be in attendance.

The Santa Cruz Greek Festival returns to Santa Cruz this coming weekend for the 38th year. Held on Church Street near downtown, the event features authentic Greek food, drinks, live music, dancing anymore. Admission is free. For information visit https://www.livelikeagreek.com/events/sc-greek-festival.

This week scientists from the Desert Research Institute in Nevada detected microplastics at various locations in Lake Tahoe for the first time. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic; fragments less that 5 millimeters in length. They often come from larger plastic debris that broke apart over time—everything from plastic food containers to synthetic fibers. Research is ongoing on how the issue affects humans and the environment.

Quote of the Day: “Seeing people passionately enthusiastic… about anything, really… to see them motivated to that degree… that’s actually terribly moving. The big enemy in this world is apathy.” —Hugh Laurie

To view last week’s About Town go to https://register-pajaronian.com/article/about-town-week-of-aug-26.


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