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Koo-um-ba. Koo-um-ba. Kuumbwa. Sorry, I just realized after reading Andrew Gilbert’s cover story this week that I’ve been pronouncing “Kuumbwa” wrong for the last 20 years, and it’s a bit of a shock. The “w” is silent? Who knew?

There are lots of other things I didn’t know about the history of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, it turns out, and even longtime locals probably won’t know them either until they read this story. Gilbert, who basically grew up as a jazz fan and writer around the venue, combines his personal remembrances with a survey of the considerable impact the Kuumbwa has had on the Northern California jazz scene. It’s a fitting tribute to what has become an iconic local institution, as it turns 40 this year.

I, too, have seen some of my favorite shows ever at Kuumbwa—dating back to when Robert Earl Keen would do four solo shows there in a weekend (and I would go to all four)—and I’ve always felt that with its combination of intimacy and superior acoustics, any show I saw there was guaranteed to be special. So happy birthday, Kuumbwa. Koo-um-ba. I’ll get it eventually.  





Mall’s Well

After reading “Shopping Bawl” in last week’s Good Times, I was very disappointed that the reporter did not do a little more research to discover the way local nonprofits have been partnering with the Macerich Company to bring more local offerings to the Capitola Mall.

Our community arts organization, the Regional Artisans Association, opened a strictly local arts venue in the Capitola Mall in May of 2014, called “Art of Santa Cruz.” This nonprofit gallery features the work of over 80 local artists. Also, in partnership with the Capitola Mall and the Capitola Art & Cultural Commission, we launched our “Third Friday Walking Art Tour” at the mall in March of 2015. This free monthly community event features local artists and artisans, who exhibit in the empty stores and common areas throughout the mall from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Third Friday.

Another local nonprofit organization, the Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery, opened in the former Abercrombie & Fitch store in the Capitola Mall in November of 2014. The “MOD” is a wonderland of science, imaginative play and hands-on learning for young people, and has become a very busy destination for local families.

The Santa Cruz SPCA also has a satellite location in the Capitola Mall, next to Target and across from Art of Santa Cruz. Adoptable dogs and cats are brought in to this location by SPCA volunteers and many shoppers at the mall make a point of visiting this location every time they’re in the building.

This article seems like a not very successful attempt to lump the Capitola Mall into the same group of “Malls in Trouble,” which was reported on so often last year in the national press. But more recently, publications such as Fortune magazine and the Wall Street Journal have been reporting that occupancy in indoor malls is significantly up, and that the epidemic of malls closing across the country resulted in the closure of “weaker properties,” while strong properties continue to bounce back. And from our insider’s perspective, the Capitola Mall falls squarely into the latter category. We can report, from personal experience, that our monthly art walk is happening more and more in the common areas of the mall as there are less and less empty stores available in which to hang our exhibits.

But more important to us as local nonprofits is the fact that the Capitola Mall management has a great track record of working very effectively with local nonprofits to fill its empty spaces with more local offerings that are relevant and exciting to our community. And this is something we feel was sadly overlooked in this article.

Dawn Teall

President, Regional Artisans Association

Does It Take A Village?

Some of the solutions to the homeless problem proposed by readers in GT’s 9/15 Letters column are truly comical. One suggests turning some unused land into an “Eco Village.” What could possibly go wrong with something as innocent-sounding as that?

This “village” would have to be very near the city center, so its residents would still have access to all the other city-provided services they use, and that type of property would be very expensive. Who would pay for it, and who would be responsible for managing, maintaining order, and providing upkeep for such a place once the city builds it? The homeless themselves? Fat chance!

Before long, residents would be in fear for their safety, as the place would most likely degenerate into a haven for petty criminals and drug dealers. “Eco Village,” indeed. Many homeless won’t even utilize well-organized shelters now because of safety concerns.

And here’s another brilliant idea: letting the homeless camp out in our county parks. This idea is even crazier than the first!  Sure … why not just let them trash our parks the same way they trash all their illegal encampments now. This plan would render these parks unsafe and virtually unusable by the very people who pay for their construction and maintenance—the responsible, tax-paying citizens of our community.

One plan I never hear discussed is this:  Why don’t all of our local homeless activists and members of groups like the Freedom Sleepers start leading by example instead of always wanting to solve this problem with other people’s money? They could all invite groups of homeless to pitch camp in their yards to demonstrate for the rest of us what compassion for the needy is really all about.

Jim Sklenar, Santa Cruz

Online Comments

Re: Aloha, Pacific Rim Film Fest

It may be closed, but definitely not forgotten. I have many fond and appreciative memories of the extensive range of fine films I would never have even heard of, let alone have seen for free, but for the PRFF. Are you sure there’s no possibility of a Renaissance? PRFF’s passing was a major loss for the intellectual life of the Central Coast. Auw? No Ho’i ?!

— Chris Kenney

Letters Policy

Letters should not exceed 300 words and may be edited for length, clarity, grammar and spelling. They should include city of residence to be considered for publication. Please direct letters to the editor, query letters and employment queries to [email protected] All website-related queries, including corrections, should be directed to [email protected]


photo contest


CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? A border collie, Belle, meets a gopher on West Cliff Drive. There were no casualties. Photograph by Sue DeCarolis.


good work


Stan Wilson, a Scotts Valley Little League coach, has been suffering from a kidney condition for several years now, and his kidney function is below 10 percent. When he needed a kidney, fellow coach Craig Yates stepped up and offered to donate his. The operation is on Wednesday, Sept. 23, and a fundraiser will be held Oct. 10 at Bruno’s BBQ beginning at 5:30 p.m. There will be music and raffle prizes, along with wine tasting and dinner. Tickets are $25 apiece and $60 for a family. For tickets, contact [email protected]


good idea



An international symbol for peace sailed into the Santa Cruz Harbor on Monday afternoon. The sailboat was built by Quakers more than 50 years ago and was recently refurbished by the Veterans for Peace. The initial crew set sail in 1958, concerned about increasing nuclear testing. Today, the Veterans for Peace are dismayed by the nation’s plans to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. The boat will be in the harbor through Wednesday, Sept. 16 or Thursday, Sept. 17.


“Forgive me if I don’t have the words. Maybe I can sing it and you’ll understand.” — Ella Fitzgerald

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