While working on this week’s cover story, I was getting a bit nostalgic about days of Pacific Avenue past, and how great the street performance scene used to be. Of all people, it was Tom Noddy, one of Santa Cruz’s biggest street-performer success stories, who gave me a reality check. “Remember the guy who used to hang out in front of the pawn shop with a ventriloquist dummy and call out to passersby?” he asked me. “Remember the older Mexican man with the squeaky violin? Some people loved those guys—me among them—but no one would argue that they were acts that you sell tickets to.”
OK, I do remember those guys, and yeah, they were terrible. So maybe the Golden Age of the Pacific Avenue scene wasn’t always as golden as we romanticize it to have been. Ah, but the Great Morgani—to me, he was always the class of the avenue. He came along much later than Noddy and other legendary downtown acts, but actually, I’m glad, because in those post-earthquake years, Santa Cruz’s main street suddenly needed all the cultural help it could get. The Great Morgani carried the flag—a brightly colored spandex flag, sure, but still … he made Pacific Avenue feel like Pacific Avenue at a time when downtown was desperately searching for its identity. Talking about his 20-year career with me, he was as funny and down-to-Earth as always. I hope you enjoy our look back at his two decades of street performance.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
No Act of God
Chris Potter at NASA completely misses the ball when he argues the so-called causes of Santa Cruz Mountain “wildfires,” which is a misnomer for what are really “man-caused disasters.” (“Burn Notice,” GT, 11/2)
Let’s look at the facts: The three main fires focused on in the article were all caused by human error, not by lightning strikes, the true and real cause of wildfires.
The Summit fire was started by a burn pile not fully extinguished when winds came up and re-kindled it. Horrific, irresponsible behavior.
The recent fire in Big Sur was started by an illegal campfire created by humans, or sub-humans. Deplorable.
The most recent Loma fire was caused, once again, by a spark from a motor at a legal or illegal pot-growing operation. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I learned this early by contacting an employee at the Summit Store on day two. The locals know the scoop!
These are certainly not “acts of God” and have nothing to do with warm air, climate change, sunspots, etc.Let’s keep it real and not let a government bureaucrat mislead us in an effort to create a boogeyman. The sky is not falling, sir. We’re all smarter than that out here.
Tom Legan | Corralitos
Rent Control Now
A specter is haunting Santa Cruz—the specter of rent control. All the powers of gentrified Santa Cruz have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this specter: City Council and Chamber of Commerce, Rittenhouse and Canfield, Take Back Santa Cruz and the California Apartment Association.
Rent control and tenant protection ballot measures were passed or strengthened Nov. 8 in these nearby communities: Humboldt County, mobile home park rent control; Berkeley, stronger tenant protections; Richmond, rent control and limits reasons tenants can be evicted; East Palo Alto, limits rent increases to 10 percent a year and limits reasons tenants can be evicted; Mountain View, rent control and allows landlords to increase rent each year by at least 2 percent but not more than 5 percent, depending on the inflation rate.
Even as severely weakened by the California Costa-Hawkins Act, which exempts housing constructed after 1995 and enacts vacancy decontrol, rent control would affect a significant number of Santa Cruz city renters. And Costa-Hawkins may yet be overturned.
So let’s get going. Rent Control for Santa Cruz, now!
Bob Lamonica | Santa Cruz
Re: Jail Suicide
The County serves us all, and we pay for it dearly with our property taxes, and state taxes. They work for us, period. This is not our fault, and yet we ultimately pay for this. Why not revoke the pensions of those directly involved with this, and fire them, and fine all of the administrative management, including the Board of Supervisors. They have zero ability to supervise anyone. The Sheriff, or any other important official, only receives praises, and no disciplinary actions are ever taken, and this is what we get? Expensive lawsuits, tragedies and false promises? — Bill Smallman