Conservatives long complained that celebrities have no right to speak out on political issues—until, of course, they found conservative celebrities to speak out on their issues. Their attempts to wave off the influence of musicians, movie stars and TV personalities in real-world affairs clearly never worked, anyway, so “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” was really their only option. Famous people have an enormous amount of cultural capital and trust, both in this country and around the world, and the election of Donald “I Thought It Would Be Easier” Trump is the ultimate proof of just how misplaced both of those can be.
But this phenomenon can have its upside, too. It’s bizarrely thrilling when a person whose work we admire turns out to also share our personal values, and especially when we find out that how they conduct themselves in real life seems to reflect the depth we’ve read into their work.
You kinda knew that would be the case with Melissa Etheridge, right? Jacob Pierce’s interview with her in this week’s issue shows that, indeed, she is as thoughtful and conscientious as her music and public persona would suggest. What is unexpected, though, is her very personal connection to Santa Cruz. I won’t spoil it, but it makes it seem even more fitting that she is in town Memorial Day weekend to headline the American Music Festival.
You’ll find a guide to the entire festival—which comes to Aptos Village Park May 27-28, and also features Mavis Staples, Santa Cruz expats the Devil Makes Three, and many more—in this issue.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
BOOK OF PETE?
Thank you Steve Kettmann for honoring Pete (GT, 5/10). I wish I had known him. I want to read more of his poems. Will there be a book published?
Jodi Behrens, La Honda
This is the number one question I’ve been asked in the last week. I am told there has been a lot of interest in a book since the story came out, and the possibility has not been ruled out. We’ll keep our readers up on any developments. — Editor
I was deeply moved by Steve Kettmann’s account of his relationship with the late poet Peter McLaughlin, and gratified to see Good Times generously allot space to Pete’s work. I had many opportunities to hang out informally with Pete and talk about writing, politics, sports and his poetry, and I was floored by the brilliant humor and relentless honesty in his work. Pete was genuinely bedazzled by Steve’s attention to his work and even though, to a poet, there is nothing more coveted than a willing and eager publisher, Steve turned out to be much more valuable than that. He was a loyal and stalwart friend to a guy who was never quite sure he was worth befriending.
Wallace Baine | Santa Cruz
OUT AND BACK
Pete was a most extraordinary person. I knew him as a runner who refused to run in a circle. If he was going to run, it had to be an “out and back.” So we would run out to Blackberry Falls, or do laps to the gate at Pogonip and back. He used to ride his beautiful road bike a long time ago, which now hangs on the wall at his house. He hadn’t ridden it in years, but he liked looking at it with something like regret, but that’s not quite it. No matter how many times I tried to get him to take it down, he just shook his head, and that was that.
He was also a trumpet player. He used to go out to the lighthouse at the harbor or to a special place on West Cliff to serenade the sea. He was a regular at Bocci Cellars the same night every week, but I can’t remember which. And let’s not forget he liked the NYT crosswords.
I’ve never met anyone quite like him … but I do understand that thing about the phone.
Julie Bramlett | Santa Cruz
Re: Peter McLaughlin
Thank you for posting this. It is beautiful and it made me cry. I didn’t know Peter, but I feel like I know him a little now and I love his poetry. Is there any way to read more of it?
— Maria Alfaro
Found this by accident, Steve, and enjoyed it so much. Thanks to you, I feel as if I know Pete and maybe even you a bit. Good people, both of you. And now I’m going to go to bed because it’s 5 o’clock in the morning, for pete’s sake—and for the real Pete’s sake, I’m gonna pray that now he’s safe in heaven, Pete’s happy ever after.
I didn’t want the article you wrote to end. I want to hear more about Pete, I wish I could read more of his poetry as well. I hope someday I can. Thank you!
— Thia Tsuruta
Steve, You captured my brother beautifully. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
— Daniel McLaughlin