The Blues are back. Santa Cruz is one of its unlikely new homes. How do these things happen? How do cultural scenes coalesce? Bigger than the sum of its parts, a cultural movement is the product of people who will it into being. Big Jon Atkinson is a large part of the reason why the Blues is prominent in Santa Cruz, these days thanks to Larry Ingram, owner of Aptos St BBQ and Mission St BBQ. Larry is the huge force behind this development, bringing Christopher “Preacher Boy” Watkins, Big Jon Atkinson, and a deep pool of legendary Blues talent on board. Larry has live Blues music in both restaurants 7 nights a week from 6-8. Big Jon and Larry have been My last two art exhibitions have had the Blues as part of their theme, explicitly and implied through tone. The first was a series of experimental paintings with poems that was entitled “Pogonip Blues.” It was a series inspired by the idea of the Blues expressed visually and with words, in response to things that were happening around the world and here in Santa Cruz. The next extended series I worked on was entitled “Dark Fields, Bright Spots.” The Blues have historical roots in the US American South, but they speak to a universal spirit of resilience in the face of uneven odds and challenging times.
There’s a lot to think about, these days. Being thoughtful is usually considered a good thing and in an age of phone-scrolling zombies all too rare. Mindfulness, we mainly agree, is a technique that everyone could use a little more of. We can’t forget about the body, though. Sometimes, it’s ok to let go and let the body have its time at the wheel. That’s one of the goals of meditation and one of the effects of beer; freedom from mental slavery.Physical discipline is also a path to freedom. Every kinetic form has its own unique ways of getting the body to grow dominant during the time of practice. It’s not just about building the body in a pleasing form, but attuning the mind to the body and giving the body control in relation to the mind.Medical Cannabis is truly a panacea. It helps with so many things, including: building a strong appetite, creating restful sleep and providing pain relief. Training and living in the contemporary world can be enhanced by this medicinal herb.
There is so much more to food than meets the eye. Food is an expression of culture, of life itself. Food is about connection. Arctic Char, for example, is a fish related to Salmon and Trout. It is loved for its flavor and chosen for its sustainability. This fish was served at the Cremer House and it came from Royal Hawaiian Seafood.
You always heard older people talking about how fast time moves, but it wasn’t until you actually had experienced enough years to feel it for yourself that this mysterious element of time began to take shape: acceleration. My dad used to share an explanation for it. He thought that you always feel the same age internally and can remember what it was like to be younger, so the more time passes the faster it seems to go. It’s mostly an effect of the conflict between knowing that a lot of time has passed and feeling that it was just yesterday. He has a rare capacity for memory, though. He can remember slight plot details and character points from novels he read twenty years ago. When I stop to remember things that vividly stand out in my memory, like the earthquake of 1989, it doesn’t feel like yesterday, at all. For me, it feels like a different lifetime.
Santa Cruz is experiencing a revolutionary time in its culinary world. New restaurants are staking their claim on providing the best possible food for the people of Santa Cruz.
Blues music is a world music. Its melancholy theme of unrequited love is felt by people from all walks of life. The power of the Blues is to turn depressed feelings into beautiful sound and to transform feeling through the alchemy of music.
There’s no excuse for mediocrity, today. Quality makes all the difference between a life well lived and a life endured. This doesn’t mean that you have to be excessive or spend a lot of money to achieve quality experiences. Quality shouldn’t have to be as rare as it is. First of all, if you consume less you can consume better. Buying a bottle of cheap liquor makes sense if your goal is to forget your worries for a night even though it’s going to cost you the morning. Buying an expensive bottle of whiskey that you savor and drink small amounts of over time actually creates a greater value even though you spent more money at the time of purchase, because you give the experience time and space to happen out of respect for the quality of the drink. If you pick up a bottle of Wayward Whiskey by Venus Spirits from 41st Ave Liquor and you have a visitor to entertain, then you can offer them a nice glass of whiskey on the rocks and your life will be fun and filled with more drinking scenes like those classic vignettes in detective fiction by Raymond Chandler and less like those bleary-eyed laments in early Bukowski. Great drinks compliment great food. When it comes to what you put in your body, don’t you want the best? Again, this is a quality over quantity equation. I’m not saying that you should break your bank by shopping for the most expensive things. I’m merely suggesting that if you value quality you can find ways to incorporate it into your life. This Bob Salad from the Cremer House is an example of a way to treat yourself well. The Cremer House is a reflection of my sister Emily’s desire to share quality experiences with people. The Corned Beef that is featured above is also her creation. She owns a brewery and a restaurant and she spends her time working to deliver the best possible experiences to the people of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Mountains and beyond.What would life be without music? It’s impossible to say, but surely it would be much more difficult. Music is a powerful art of connection. When we listen to music together we share an experience. Evoking visceral emotions, playing with words and tones, drawing out time with rhythm, engineering a body of sound: musicians create an amazing happening when they play. The Blues is central to American music. The influence of Blues on almost all other American musical forms cannot be denied. We are lucky enough here in Santa Cruz to have some great music that comes through town. Added to our already rich musical heritage, Aptos St. BBQ and Mission St. BBQ have been hosting world class Blues acts. These intimate and free concerts are one of the best things happening in Santa Cruz 2016. Every night from 6-8, you can eat dinner while listening to live music that is a direct continuation of true American roots music. Last night, Alabama Mike played with Big Jon Atkinson at Mission St and brought the heat, soul, and style that makes Blues music so universally enjoyed.
Gary Irving in his natural environment: the studio. Don’t be fooled by his adventure-machine (the ultimate van for exploring): he’s not all safaris and mud-flaps. This guy has compelling ideas about art, too. He’s a technical wizard who does things with Photoshop that make people scratch their heads with a dazed-by-jealousy smile. It has been a real treat to work with Gary while he is creating a masterful series depicting the Seven Sins as things we have done to the environment. Making art today would seem pretty hollow and shallow without considering our global contexts. Climate changes, nuclear proliferations, genetic modifications: there are plenty of concerns facing every human, and every living thing for that matter. Gary has a vision and it is a dark one but one that is full of intelligence and wit. For anything to change, we need first to face the problems confronting our times and that is what Irving is attempting in this series: it is a self-portrait of humanity’s vices on the edge of the brink.