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Because the human brain loves patterns and symmetry, the obvious thing to do when writing about oral historians like Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain would be to do so in exactly the oral history style they popularized—no prose, no exposition, just their quotes. That was my first idea for this week’s cover story about the incredible legacy of Please Kill Me, their oral history book on punk music; how it shaped both the literary world we live in today and our understanding of music history. God knows that like hundreds of other writers since the book was published, I’ve stolen that style they laid out in Please Kill Me myself for articles about Santa Cruz music history.

But in talking to the authors, I realized that actually wasn’t the right way to tell their story. They don’t generally give the kind of expansive answers you’ll find from a lot of interview subjects in their books. They are extremely concise, totally to the point. Legs, in particular, can sum up a lot of things in a couple of choice words. It underlines, I think, why Please Kill Me is so much better than other oral history books that have followed in its wake: they’re better editors. And since they shape their stories entirely through editing, rather than their own narrative voices within the text, that’s the most important skill for them to have.

Though they love talking about their work, it’s mostly the people and the process that delight McNeil and McCain. I had to add the analysis of the huge impact their work has had, and I broke all their own rules in the process. I hope they find that punk.

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


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Right Direction

In “Straightening Out Downtown” (GT, 6/10), a couple historical facts were omitted.

Well before the fire department put an end to the feasibility of two-way traffic on Pacific Avenue, residents of both our main drag and neighborhoods to the west objected. Two-way vehicular traffic would result in more noise and more pollution. Neighbors collected signatures and sent them to the city council, pointing out that more traffic would be bad for pedestrians and residents alike.

Mr. Gibbs’ plan also would have decreased parking on Pacific, costing the city much-needed funds for maintenance.

Changing the one-way direction seems OK. We need less noise and less pollution, not more. I’m glad that city leaders decided to listen to reason.

Robert deFreitas, Santa Cruz 

ONLINE COMMENTS

Re: ‘No Place to Call Home

I moved from SC in 2007 to San Diego. It was easier to find housing in SoCal than it was anywhere in SC. Ended up moving from SD in 2011 because it was still too expensive to live anything other than hand-to-mouth for a desk jockey, but it was easier than trying to live in the Cruz.

I live in Denver now and there’s a lot of hate on for Californians for reasons that don’t make any sense at all. Once I get my VT license, I’ll be moving back to the West Coast, but probably not California. Overall the state is just too expensive—Santa Cruz, for all that I love its personality, beaches, redwoods, and well, basically everything—is way out of my budget. I miss SC. But there’s no way I’ll ever be able to live there again.

— Ewolf23

Greed. I’m wondering why this word has yet to come into the conversation. Seven years ago, we finally landed our current rental after six months of looking at a lot of crappy, overpriced, ill-kept rentals, dealing with heartless property managers, and competing with college students for these “gems.” Now things are even crazier. When I read that landlords are evicting long-term tenants in order to sell or rent for higher, the word that first comes to mind is “greed.” I understand that landlords have to make their mortgages and a bit more. But have they no compassion for their fellow humans? Have they no shame?

— Margie

I’ve lived in Santa Cruz almost my whole life (18 years) and it disgusts me at these prices! The only reason my family isn’t on the side of the road, homeless, is because my family has owned land and two houses since the 1890s! Without that, we’d be out of luck, and probably move to a different state.

— BrittanyW

I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for eight years and have never, ever had an issue finding a rental—until the past year. Every single open house is packed with dozens of eager applicants, clutching their application and $25 processing fee, elbowing their way to the property manager with unhappy grins on their faces. The desperation in the air is palpable.  

And it is sad how many property managers are hustling fee-based applications under the guise of “background checks” with no guarantee of housing.  

A friend of a friend referred me to a two-bedroom Scotts Valley cottage. I emailed the landlord and she quickly called me and wanted to know more about us to make sure we were the “right for her lifestyle.” She asked me how old I am. What I do for a living. She was so thrilled to hear that my partner and I are artists and writers. So was she, she said, excitedly, and she would prefer to rent to “friends of friends” rather than culling the list of 30 Craigslist applicants that flooded her inbox within the hour. Then I mentioned my newborn son and she immediately sputtered, “um, um, um, well, wow this isn’t a great place for kids, um, um, there’s not a lot of sun, um there is no yard, um, let me talk to my husband, yeah, um, let’s have you look at the rental and you can see for yourself.  

I knew immediately that she had already decided.  

Even still, we booked a time to meet, but the next day she wrote me a long email, full of flowery and pseudo-compassionate excuses, about how it would be best for “all of us” if we didn’t even see the unit. She went on about how much she loves babies and … man, I’ll stop there. I can’t even recap it without gagging a little.

So goes the Santa Cruz rental market, where people are all namaste about housing discrimination.  

Good luck to you good people out there. It is rough.

—  Rhonda A

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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

photo-contest-1524-april-stearns

PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE A walk in the Pogonip. Photograph by April Johnson Stearns.

 



good work

PREMIUM VALUE

Santa Cruz housing prices may be the worst in the country, but at least you can afford car insurance here. The city ranks seventh cheapest in the state for car insurance in a study by the personal finance website NerdWallet, with an annual premium of $881.23, which is 14.5 percent lower than the state average. The cheapest city in the state is Santa Maria at $813.19 per year. The most expensive is Glendale at $1,379.71.

 

 

good idea

 

BANK BAN

After an effort by Supervisor Ryan Coonerty last week, Santa Cruz County won’t invest with the five banks that pleaded guilty to illegally manipulating the price of Euros and dollars. Citigroup, Chase, Barclays, JP Morgan and the Royal Bank of Scotland were fined $5.9 billion in May by the Justice Department for rigging trades between 2007 and 2013.

 

quote

“Play ‘Louie Louie’ and it will always get you outta anything.”—Iggy Pop 


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