When I left the Santa Cruz Sentinel last November, I avoided the r-word (“retirement”) like it was the last donut in the tire shop’s waiting room. Many well-meaning people congratulated me on finally attaining a life of shuffleboard and crossword puzzles, but I considered it bad form to remind them that I was not old enough, wealthy enough or exhausted enough to retire. Like cowboy hats and facial jewelry, retirement might look good on some people, but it wasn’t something I could pull off.
Now that I’ve begun a new odyssey as a writer for Good Times, I’m embracing other r-words—recharging, renewal, rejuvenation.
After more than 26 years working for the local daily, I’m making the jump to the other side of the Santa Cruz media playground, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. For years now, Good Times has been at the center of Santa Cruz County’s cultural life and, as a competitor, I’ve always admired its energy, its ideas and its commitment to local journalism and the community it serves.
My new job is nicely suited to my skills and interests. I’ll be covering the arts community (and more) for Good Times in Santa Cruz County, as well as doing something similar for sister papers in San Jose, Gilroy and Hollister as a kind of writer-at-large. It’s an invigorating blend of the new and the familiar, expanding my horizons and pushing me out of the dreaded “comfort zone.”
I’m under no illusion that Good Times needs me in order to reach some new level of greatness. I think of the GT staff much like the Golden State Warriors—who, let’s remember, won the NBA title before big-name free agent Kevin Durant showed up. What I’m looking to do is to shed my old skin a bit and become a different writer, a better one; to look deeper, to find better angles, to take a longer vision.
The social and political dynamics in the U.S. and California at large make these—understatement alert!—interesting times. Santa Cruz finds itself a bright blue node in a defiantly independent state in a country under the control of an authoritarian federal government unprecedented in American history. That political model, along with communication technologies that continue to disrupt daily life, is already creating all kinds of fascinating social and cultural undercurrents, even on a small-scale local level, many of which we’ve only barely begun to perceive.
That’s why there’s no better moment in my lifetime to be a cultural journalist than right now. Good Times is poised to be the leading media organization in this county and I’m deeply grateful to Dan Pulcrano, Steve Palopoli and the Good Times staff for bringing me aboard to continue to reveal the shape and character of my community.
Good or ill, we’re all in for a wild ride through the 21st century. I’m ready to find those stories that will help us all navigate history as it unfolds. Who’s with me?