Underneath the bright sun and surf that spills across our postcards and Insta pics is another Santa Cruz. It’s a shadowy world of addiction that, for most locals, only sees the light when there’s a story every few years about Santa Cruz County’s endless heroin problem, or a meth lab busted in the mountains. But for some, that darker world is the reality of everyday life. While most of us would agree that the cycle of addiction is never more tragic than when young people are trapped in it, we often have so little understanding of what keeps them there that the idea of making the problem any better seems hopeless.
That’s why Tess Sweet’s Cleaner Daze project—and Anne-Marie Harrison’s cover story about it this week—is so important. More than ever, it seems like storytelling is what’s helping us better understand many of the issues that would normally overwhelm us; think of how much the average person’s understanding of the American criminal justice system has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years thanks to podcasts like Serial and Undisclosed, documentaries like Making a Murderer and even fictional shows like Orange is the New Black and The Night Of.
Sweet’s web dramedy hopes to have a similar effect on the understanding of addiction among young people, and to achieve that goal she and her creative partners have drawn on stories from right here in Santa Cruz County. In this issue, Sweet and the stars of the show—most of whom have had struggles with addiction themselves—take the first step toward fostering that increased empathy by opening up about their own experiences.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Re: “The Nature of Medicine” (GT, 8/3): I like the article, it was very clear and interesting. I do think you downplayed the dangers of kratom though. By itself it isn’t dangerous besides that it gives some people jaundice. People are combining it with other substances to aid their withdrawal symptoms and dying. I’m a big fan of herbalism, but people seem to get this idea that natural remedies are all safe. People seem to forget that some plants are poisonous, and some are addictive or habit forming. In southeast Asia they often cut down the kratom trees because especially the elderly there become addicted. They develop hepatic faces and it doesn’t seem to be viewed positively there.
Transgendered people’s push for legal protection to use the public bathroom of their choice has brought to my attention that, unbeknownst to me, they have been sharing public bathrooms with me for my entire life without incident, and I should have been terrified the entire time. Similarly, with former House Speaker Dennis Hastert admitting that he sexually abused boys while he was their wrestling coach, and former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky having been convicted of serially molesting dozens of children, it is clear that anyone who participates in athletics, especially coaches, must be barred from all public bathrooms. Athletes can simply plan accordingly and use their private bathrooms at home. Finally, given that 80 to 90 percent of sexual assault survivors know their assailants, all private bathrooms in family homes must be outlawed, as everyone who uses them knows each other.
It Takes Two
We appreciated Lisa Jensen’s trenchant and amusing movie review of Absolutely Fabulous in the July 20 issue—except for one sentence, in which Jensen burdens the mother of the six Fantastic offspring with full responsibility for bringing them into the world. While she may have done the heavy lifting, that achievement would presumably have required a collaborator—perhaps even Mr. Fantastic.
Sarah Rabkin and Charles Atkinson
Has anyone yet pointed out that the term is “maestra” when the conductor is a woman? It’s Italian, and they can be fussy.
Otherwise, nice story on the incomparable Ms. Alsop and the Festival.
Perdonami, scusami tanto. — Editor