Julie Howard

Ok, Julie–heh, heh, heh,–Howard.

Ok, dreams.

Do you remember your dreams?

Mmmm… only sometimes—not often. I’d say not often.

Do you have any dreams you remember?

Not really, only from when I was a kid. This one particular dream—it was the mailman was coming but he was like, he looked like one of the balloons in the Macy’s Day parade and it was like him and his mailcart were like a giant slow floating Macy’s Day parade-type of golf or postal truck and then the mailman would come out and throw the mail really slowly and everything was like these giant Macy’s Day parade float envelopes.

And, that’s what I remember. I used to call it the “mail dream.” It was actually scary. I would have to go sleep with my parents. But otherwise no, I don’t really recall.

Do you have any dreams or goals you want to accomplish in life?

In life? Just to see stuff, do stuff—not like be totally sedentary.

What’s the most important work you’re doing?

Mmmm… I’m a stay-at-home mom. Yep, running the household.

What’s the best part about your work?

Well, it always evolves. A lot of evolving and changing, I’m always busy putting out all kinds of fires, and it’s never the same day. Everything’s different, so that’s fun.

What’s the most challenging part?

There’s no real break, so that’s probably a big challenge. But, it’s not really that challenging, I’ve gotta say at this stage—pretty easy.

What’s your current opinion of Santa Cruz?

Well, I love Santa Cruz and I’ve lived here for almost thirty years. And I’ve seen it do all kinds of ups and downs. And, I did just read that according to the 2023 census that Santa Cruz is the second highest growing city in the United States, which is nuts. So, it’s pretty crazy I think Santa Cruz is going to change in the next twenty years, I don’t think it’s going to be the Santa Cruz that we know. I think we’re going to be the Malibu to San Jose. So, I love it ,but I don’t think it’s going to stay—I don’t think it’s going to stay the way it’s been. I think a lot of people are going to get pushed out, sadly.

People of Santa Cruz: Alene Smith

Short, A long E accent on the second syllable. A common French name. But the French spelled it A-l-i-n-e and mine is A-l-e-n-e–a namesake for a great aunt on my father’s side who didn’t have any children.

So, they said, okay, if it’s a girl, will name her after you.

Well, I wish to God I could remember them more vividly–in my thirties and forties I remembered my dreams.

But I do remember erotic dreams, which are very rare. Or the strange dreams.

I had one that’s on my mind every day. And I got a call. I’m trying to find a somebody to interpret it for me.

It was horrible. It was in a I was sitting in the back of a van of six-seater van of sorts.

Somebody was driving. I didn’t know the people in the front, just I was traveling and this ugly, ugly man.

I now know where that comes from. He represented all the homeless men I’ve seen out and about. But this man was smearing human feces on my jacket, shirt, torso.

And I screamed to the people in the front. Help me. Help me. And nobody came to help.

You can interpret that a lot of ways.

Yes. I still want to write a book that I started 30 years ago.

A nonfiction book about the second oldest job in the world, known as Sex Work.

I have published three self-published poetry books, and I write lots of poetry and like to orate it.

Loving and nurturing my cat, taking care of and helping neighbors, taking care of nurturing my plants.

We’re still in a supposedly a drought.

But I wish to start cultivating vegetables, if not in a plot, a small plot, at least by containers. One can do small cultivations on my little deck porch–little deck patio, and, well, every day we work at staying alive.

Well, my favorite work is composing poetry, which has to come to you in sort of a dream state, like a self-hypnosis.

Getting around to doing it.

I’ll jot down inspiration. But then–

And then maybe it’ll all come out. I’ve got, two or three now, works in progress that have to be fully crafted.

Oh, and I’m crazy about photography, but it’s expensive, so.

Oh, they’re so darling. Oh, three in a row.

Too goddamn crowded. I love it, though. It’s fascinating. People, other ethnicities, other countries visiting and and I’m thrilled with having made friends with a Punjab, Indian mother and her daughter who run a motel.

That’s all delightful. I thrive on diversity.

So many goddamn people and I’m scared. I hate all this horrible high-rise construction.

And I don’t want to see Santa Cruz–I predicted 30 years ago. How are we going to be another Carmel for just rich white people?

Or a miniature San Diego. But if we’re where we are with the building, the skinny skyscrapers per say, little ones, we’re too small to be another San Diego. I remember somebody joked years ago saying, “Yeah, let’s expand Santa Cruz, take over Monterrey and put an airport in a big airport in Davenport and a big zoo.”

Big like a San Diego Zoo in Davenport and a bigger airport here in Monterrey. And it’ll be a miniature San Diego. And I’m religious about conserving water and energy and recycling. But now there’s so much–we need to get rid of plastic all together, not to even make it. And I mean even produce it that way.

There’re not enough things to do with the recycled plastic. I learned from a BBC broadcast.

So, I guess that’s that.

Thank you. And I, if you see anybody out there, see me out and about with my postcards, come look at them and buy one–very unique photography.

And if you don’t mail anything anymore, you can use it as a bookmark or decoration, an ornament, a visual in your living space.

Big, Bold, and Beautiful: 2023 Little Mermaid Remakes a Disney Classic Into an Oscar Worthy Film

The Little Mermaid’s remake as a live action movie improves upon the original in several important respects. The racial diversity of the movie not only helps to invite more people into the fantasy, but it also makes it a more interesting story and one that is truer to life. The ocean scenes are rendered more realistically, are sure to please ocean lovers, and might even entice some people to care more about the seas. The brilliant acting also takes this film to another level and allows viewers to empathize with all the characters and to respond emotionally to the narrative arc of the story. All in all, this version of one of Disney’s beloved classics has blown its predecessor out of the water in a big way.

The most controversial decision the filmmakers made was to have Ariel reimagined as a Black mermaid. This initially provoked racist outrage and backlash from a segment of the public who have characterized Disney as pushing a “woke” agenda and who consider that to be a bad thing. In an age of outrage marketing, adding a new racial component also seemed like an effective way to draw attention to the movie. When people complained about Ariel being Black it instantly made the movie’s opening more important. The way race functions in The Little Mermaid, however, works as more than a mere gimmick; it deepens the story and adds additional meaning to it.

The mermaids in this version are from the seven seas and consequently represent a variety of cultural differences. One potentially tricky aspect of the plot is that King Triton is father to all the mermaids in a kind of polygamous underwater royal family, but that is a side note and not the reason people were outraged. What works well is that Ariel is like the people who inhabit the islands on which the story take place. It is not just that her skin is darker than the cartoon version, but she also has dreadlocks in her beautiful reddish hair. When she joins Eric for a tour of the island, it is full of the vibrant colors of Caribbean culture with fruits, clothes, and art accenting the lush green land and vibrant blue sky. The island is populated by a beautiful array of Black people and Ariel matches their look.

Another reason why the casting of Hallie Bailey as Ariel matters is precisely why people were outraged at the decision in the first place. They identified with the first version of Ariel and presumably feared what it might feel like to see their favorite mermaid being Black. What they didn’t consider, however, was what it might mean to young Black women to see themselves represented in an iconic Disney movie.

When Ariel sings “Part of Your World” it taps into a deep sadness felt by many young Black American women in a culture rife with systemic racism and sexism. It is a radical revision of racial difference that transfigures racialized pain such as that felt by the main character in Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. It takes the anguish of a girl who feels snubbed for her looks by the dominant culture and transforms her racial difference into something incidental. If a mermaid can become a human, what importance does race have?

Having a Black mermaid sing opens the meaning of this song in truly profound ways, as she wonders what it is like to belong to a world denied to her. It is not, however, her race that holds her back. As Ariel sings this lament, she is poised on a rock and a wave breaks against the boulder behind her hiding her fishlike tail. This synchronicity with the rhythm of the ocean amplifies the force of her feeling. The focus in this moment is on what is shared and not on what separates. It is visually stunning and creates a powerful emotional impact.

The depiction of underwater life makes excellent use of Disney’s army of digital artists to create an amazing experience of the ocean. From the way the waves crash against cliffs to the diffused filtering of light through kelp, this is a moving painting of an oceanic setting, a stunning similitude of the sea, that evokes an amorous response in anyone with affinity for the saltwater world.

When the mermaids are clearing the lumber of a wrecked ship from a coral reef, the film veers into an ecological plea to humans to understand the impact they are having on the ocean’s ecosystems. It is hard to imagine this having as much of an effect without the vivid rendering of the underwater world and its incomparable beauty. The mermaids can speak on behalf of the animals who suffer every time we pollute the oceans with busted oil pipes, gyres of trash, and acidification. When we don’t see the damage that we are doing and the beauty it destroys, we don’t feel compelled to change. When we witness the anger and sadness of the mermaids, the traumatic aspect of our way of life is given a voice.

It is the quality of acting that raises this movie to the level of greatness. Halley Bailey is an absolute superstar, and she brings strength, poise, and beauty to the role of Ariel with such undeniable greatness. It will be hard for the Academy Awards to not give her an Oscar. If Disney was accused by some conservative fans of pandering to the Left by forcing diversity into a classic movie, then the power of her performance should overcome any gripes.

Javier Bardem shines as the protective King Triton and manages to bring dimension to a caricature of fatherhood. His anger is believable, but his introspection wins the audience over to understanding his behavior. Bardem earns the respect of the viewers. This in turn transforms the final scene of the movie into an emotional ceremony to rival any wedding.

Jonah Hauer-King’s performance absolutely remakes the cliched character of Eric into a tortured and complicated voyager with a heart of gold. Hauer-King is a joy to watch on screen as young Eric strives to forge a new path of leadership through example. He has been raised on this island as an adopted royal and he masks his sense of unbelonging with unflappable optimism and good cheer. While much of the attention has been focused on Halley Bailey, it is Hauer-King who remakes his character to the greatest effect.

The rest of the acting is top notch. Melissa McCarthy is the perfect Ursula, all appetite, and no remorse. Awkwafina makes the airhead seabird Scuttle a hilarious comedic relief. Daveed Diggs gives emotional depth and comedic timing to the classic crab Sebastian. Noma Dumezwini turns a minor part, the Queen, into a major accomplishment. An all-star ensemble, this cast turns a children’s fairytale into a movie with serious chops.