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Opinion: April 24, 2019

Plus letters to the editor

Cover subject, comedian and psychedelic explorer Shane Mauss goes shroom hunting in the new documentary 'Psychonautics.'

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

A little while ago, I saw that Shane Mauss, a nationally known comedian whose stuff I’ve enjoyed for a long time, was coming to Santa Cruz with a psychedelics-themed stand-up show. Considering that we are home to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, I thought, “Oh, man, Santa Cruz is the perfect place for him to do that! I wonder if he knows about MAPS?”

In hindsight, I might not have looked like such a moron if I’d done a little research before I asked Mauss, “Hey, you’re coming to Santa Cruz with a psychedelics-themed stand-up show, do you know MAPS?”

Now, Mauss is a really nice guy, so he didn’t say what he was probably thinking, which might have been something like, “Hey, I’m coming to Santa Cruz with a psychedelics-themed stand-up show, of course I know about MAPS, ya dumbass!” Instead, he enthusiastically and not at all snarkily told me how MAPS had actually sponsored his 111-city tour of the show in 2016 and 2017, and how it played a big part in his new documentary on the subject, Psychonautics.

Mauss is a real rarity in today’s entertainment culture—a very funny guy who’s also an analytical thinker. Both his “Good Trip” drug-themed show and his “Stand-Up Science” show—which tackles a lot of the other scientific topics he’s interested in—at DNA’s Comedy Lab this weekend should be a blast. In the course of doing this week’s cover story, I discovered just how wild Mauss’ own experiences with psychedelics got, and his story is truly a trip. Hope you enjoy it!

Letters to the Editor

Re: “Well Enough” (GT, 3/27):

Great article by Jacob Pierce. It’s been quite difficult to find out what is going on with the Santa Cruz City Water Department in terms of infrastructure and water storage issues and how they’re being addressed. The Santa Cruz City Water Dept. publishes precious little in their occasional updates to consumers on such important issues. It’s especially disconcerting for the Santa Cruz County residents who don’t even get to vote on any of their decisions, yet need to live with their consequences. Mr. Pierce’s article was an excellent update.

Robert Malbon
Live Oak

How’s That Working Out?

Since the ’80s, politicians have told us that a “pure capitalism” economy will solve every problem we have economically. An unregulated free market became more important than democracy to many politicians. During those years, Dr. James Hansen testified before Congress, and the public heard that global warming is real and we’d better take actions to prevent it from getting worse. Bill McKibben, former New York Times science writer and founder of the climate change organization 350.org, recently said that it “was unfortunate that political point of view developed” just when we needed a response to climate change.  

Unfortunate or deliberate, how is that working out for us? Fossil fuel companies are the obvious companies that—had they been mildly regulated or taxed for their carbon footprint—we would be far better off today. This is really true of most, if not all big businesses. The more we consume what they produce, the more carbon is released into the atmosphere.  Our worldwide ecosystem is breaking down, and now we are faced with needing to take drastic measures to prevent going over 2 degrees Celsius. So far the interpretation that “a completely free market solves everything” is still our religious type of belief and appears to be elevated even above the ideal of democracy.

Monday was Earth Day, and this year’s theme was extinction. Species are going extinct at a rapid rate—plants, animals, birds, insects, coral reefs, ocean life. We humans depend on all of those species for our own survival.

How’s that theory of unregulated growth of production resulting in more and more consumption working out for us?

We’ve witnessed other species overpopulate when food is plentiful and die off when it’s not. We could learn something from observing that. In theory, we are smarter than that.

Diane Warren
Boulder Creek

Re: Earth Day

On a sunny day, viewed from the hills above Watsonville, that shimmering ocean below is not Monterey Bay. Rather it’s a sea of plastic covering farmland and crops, especially strawberries.

Estimated at dozens of square miles in the South County and Salinas Valley, this farmland plastic increases profitability, but causes unseen harm. Not only does the plastic release greenhouse gasses as the sun heats and reflects, but causes erosion and sediment in estuarine watersheds. Most telling of all, little of this plastic is recycled, less than 25%. Coated with residual chemicals that kill insects, weeds, and fungi, this single use plastic sea is ultimately buried in landfills, unloaded by farm workers infrequently wearing protection, sometimes not even gloves. Next time, when buying berries from local berry farms for that summer treat, consider the amount of plastic and chemicals it took to deliver those delicious red berries. Buying organic, IMO, is worth the extra cost.

Skip Allan
Capitola

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