Opinion: Aug. 12, 2020

Plus letters to the editor

Percussionist Charles Levin remembers Cooper House-era McCaslin as ‘almost like something out of a Kerouac novel.’ PHOTO: COURTESY OF JAMES BRUDNICK

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Cooper House. Warmth. Don McCaslin. These are the names that have come up countless times since I first moved to Santa Cruz, right after the Loma Prieta earthquake. It always felt like the ultimate “you should have been here when,” and the extra “you just missed it” factor made it sting a little more. I do wish I’d been there, at the height of Santa Cruz bohemian chic.

Our CEO, Dan Pulcrano, was here at that time. He tells me, “As a first year student at UCSC, I worked at the Santa Cruz Independent newspaper, whose office, where the Rittenhouse Building now stands, overlooked the Cooper House across the street. We’d keep the windows open, listen to Warmth and see women in long skirts with flowers in their hair spinning on the sidewalk. I remember wondering whether it was normal for there to be music every day and dancing in the streets. It was a special time.”

I’ve seen McCaslin play many times over the years, but strangely I never did interview him. I always assumed I would, but I suppose I also felt like there was no rush, because it felt like he’d be part of Santa Cruz forever.

His legacy certainly will be, though the local legend himself passed away last month, after performing right up until the lockdown in March, months after his 93rd birthday. Wallace Baine’s cover story this week is essential to understanding that legacy; I personally learned a lot about what a musical machine McCaslin was—his tireless work ethic and his uncanny knack for finding talent. And it’s essential, too, to understanding the remarkable legacy of jazz music in Santa Cruz. I think it’s a wonderful tribute to a man whose name will continue to be spoken around these parts long into the future. 


Letters to the Editor

What Happened to Tamario Smith?

In agreeing with Steve Schnaar’s letter titled “No Time to Congratulate Ourselves” (GT, 7/29), I would like to add to it the concern over the death of Tamario Smith. Tamario Smith died on May 10, while in the Santa Cruz County jail, of “acute water intoxication.” It is my hope and expectation that Good Times will further investigate this very confusing and concerning cause of death.

Tamario must have shown signs of severe distress. Did that go unnoticed, and why? What kind of medical care did he receive?

His family and the community need answers that could be attained by a deeper investigative report.

Jane Devine | Santa Cruz


Better After Recall

Drew Glover was recalled because he bullied women whose political views differed from his own; because he did everything he could to divide Santa Cruzans, simply to keep his base revved up; and because he showed no contrition ever for his antisocial behavior. Steve Schnaar’s defense of Mr. Glover continues this divisiveness by attempting to drive a wedge between “white liberals” and “progressives”—overly simplistic labels that do nothing but create us-versus-them discord. Because political opinions vary among voters everywhere, public officeholders are duty bound to create an environment in which all members of a community feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints in open discussion and debate. Mr. Glover got into office with a relatively small percentage of the vote because the “liberals” ran way too many candidates. Furthermore, Measure M (so-called rent control) was soundly defeated, in part because Glover and his comrades demonized local mom and pop landlords whose “crime” was choosing to invest in real estate instead of, say, the stock market. Individuals and families who provide rental housing were wrongly equated with corporate moguls such as Jared Kushner and his ilk. While the post-recall city council continues to be politically diverse, its members treat each other with respect as they collaborate to solve daunting problems.

Robert deFreitas | Santa Cruz


Beating the Drum for Masks

I read Mr. Palopoli’s Editor’s Note comment on mask with great interest. In the early ’80s, I used to have a band that was extremely popular in the Santa Cruz and Capitola area. We were able to receive airplay, get in Billboard magazine, open up for numerous big acts at the Catalyst—and then we vanished just like that. Today, we are living in an unprecedented time and it is extremely necessary that we understand we are all (young, old, Black, white, Democrat, Republican, red state or blue state) in this together. Currently, I happen to be the director of Grant Drum Line. We have been on Jimmy Kimmel and traveled the world (Asia, Africa, and Europe) representing America. We have a Public Service Announcement that targets young people with the hopes they will wear a mask because, as Mr. Palopoli has acknowledged, it is important. I have included the link: youtube.com/watch?v=exjIZBGIyn8. 

James Van Buren | Grant Drum Line


James Van Buren fronted the Santa Cruz band Van Buren and the “G” Force from 1982 to 1984. — Editor


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