As a community newspaper grounded in the alt-weekly tradition, one of the things we like to do here at GT is explore interesting Santa Cruz subcultures. We also write fairly often about locals with interesting or offbeat professions. But this is the first time I can remember publishing a cover story about a subculture that is also a profession. Considering that lifeguards are integral to our beach culture, and that our lives may at some point be in their hands, it’s kind of surprising that we don’t know more about the people in the towers and what they have to go through to get there. I think you’ll find this piece by G.P. Scheppler pretty enlightening, as well as entertaining.
One thing we didn’t know when we first conceived this story months ago was how poorly most of our local lifeguards are paid for looking out for us. As often happens with these stories, this unexpected element of the story turned out to be one of the most important things that it revealed. Thank you to our local lifeguards, and thanks for reading!
Letters to the Editor
Kudos to Good Times and Geoffrey Dunn for the engrossing article on the mysterious presence (and yet mystifying absence) of Ah Fook in the 7/10 issue of GT. I have lived in Santa Cruz since 1987, and consider myself an adopted local. Across those decades, I have caught various murmurings of our legendary local Chinatown, mostly the Front Street incarnation (which I believe burned at some point, possibly from arson?), but never have I felt a true insight into this whole muffled chapter of our history. This piece at last changed all that for me and, with its bell-ringing photo of our noble local entrepreneur and philanthropist George Ow as a child beside Ah Fook himself, I felt a tangible “aha” moment as this secretive, private, and sometimes illicit but almost always industrial society of Chinese immigrants and their American descendants became palpable through Dunn’s transparent and subtly eloquent writing. May Ah Fook and his community continue to haunt us—all lovers of this wonderful town—as long as we have history to tell!
It is relieving to see the Good Times—which, formerly as Metro Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Weekly, too, has often been on the cutting edge of news reporting here—make a foray into reporting on the current climate crisis. It’s true that as other species “go,” so too will we. Of course, lizards are not the only species that speak to the profound effects the crisis is having now, here, and the potential for full-blown catastrophe if we reach certain global tipping points—many of which look alarmingly, alarmingly (!) tippy now.
UCSC professors and local biologists are studying the decline of coastal bull kelp beds and sea stars, particularly the Sunflower Sea Star, as related to “wasting syndrome,” atmospheric heating, and the heating of our oceans in response. UCSC Professor Mark Carr says of the Sunflower Star: “We cannot find them anywhere,” and this has led to an explosion of sea urchins and creation of patchy urchin barrens, where urchins have eaten up kelp beds, in Pacific Grove, for example.
The further implications of a heating, acidifying ocean on kelp (which thrives within a narrow temperature band) on the oceanic food chain, as well as increasingly severe weather along the global grain belt, cannot be overstated at this time.
As much as we may not want to acknowledge this, we are now in an “all hands on deck” planetary crisis; and that means the City Council, the Board of Supervisors, Anna Eshoo and Jimmy Panetta, along with our state reps and senators must do everything in their power to both educate the public (Extinction Rebellion Demand #1: “Tell the Truth”) about the current state of emergency, and work full-tilt toward mobilization of the population to respond in a manner that may save at least some parts of the ecosystem for generations to come, including current generations.
If there is any doubt a climate emergency is at hand, ask the people of the Micronesian Islands—currently disappearing—of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana and of Norfolk, Virginia. Ask the Guatemalans, fleeing, in part, because they can no longer farm due to severe drought. If we think there is no crisis, it is only because our focus is overly and dangerously narrow.
Ami Chen Mills-Naim
Thanks, Ami! (For those who don’t know, she was formerly a star reporter at Metro Santa Cruz.) We’ve actually done quite a lot of reporting on climate change over the last few years. I recommend readers search for the phrase at goodtimes.sc to see the local and global angles we’ve tackled on the subject. — Editor
In last week’s review of Cabrillo Stage’s “Into the Woods,” the names of the actors who play the stepsisters were incorrectly listed. They are Morgan Peters and Catrina Contini. Also, Melissa Harrison’s name was misspelled in the photo caption. We regret the errors.