Opinion July 26, 2017

Plus Letters to the Editor

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

I have to imagine that nothing puts the pressure on a hiring committee like knowing their candidates could be in the job for the next 25 years. That’s how long Marin Alsop led the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and in that time she put it on the map as one of the country’s top destinations for new music. Soooooo … kinda big shoes to fill. But reading Christina Watersinterview with Alsop’s replacement, Cristian Măcelaru, I think the nerves of everyone involved should be soothed. Not only does he clearly have the same love of music and ambitious goals as Alsop, I sense a similar sense of playfulness, which was always my favorite thing about Marin. I mean, this guy’s funny! It’s a great interview. She also sat down with composer Karim Al-Zand, whose new work The Prisoner—inspired by letters from a prisoner at Guantanemo Bay—gets its world premiere at this year’s festival, and with virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who will perform Ad Infinitum, a new piece written for her by festival composer-in-residence Clarice Assad. It all comes together to provide a great deal of insight into this year’s program, and the future of the Cabrillo Festival.

I also hope you’ll check out Jacob Pierce’s moving story about a new exhibit at MAH that shines a light on the issues faced by kids in the foster care system. And lastly, a little extra plug for Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s production of Measure for Measure, which I review in this issue: it shouldn’t be missed.


Letters to the Editor

Border Troubles

Lisa Jensen is one of the most intelligent film reviewers in Northern California. Her work is consistently well researched and articulate. However, her review of Letters From Baghdad (GT, 7/12) is misleading in certain respects. Jensen notes that Gertrude Bell was often engaged as a mapmaker and that she had “extreme knowledge of inter-tribal relationships” in the part of the Middle East that, prior to World War I, had been controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Also that she was “enlisted to help divide postwar ‘Arabia.’”  She fails to mention, on the other hand, that this region was populated by both Shiites and Sunnis, and that the segment inhabited by Kurds was a potential part of a future Kurdistan. The land of the Kurds has been and is currently divided between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria—much to the discomfort of ethnic Kurds.

How is it that Gertrude Bell thought that these three competing cultures could be successfully yoked together into a new country, Iraq? It is no wonder that she was disillusioned. Jensen refers to the “thorny issue of how to govern Iraq” and notes that these issues continue “to play out on the world stage.” What an understatement! The current wars in Iraq and Syria, which began with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, have destroyed much of the cities and displaced a large proportion of the population. Isn’t it obvious by now that the borders of Iraq are an untenable construction, that Kurdistan should be a recognized nation, and that the notion of jamming all these different cultures into to one hastily drawn border was a brutal mistake?

Gertrude Bell was an amazing historian and world traveler and, as Jensen notes, a role model for women everywhere—absolutely. But she made a big mistake when she allegedly drew the borders of modern Iraq.

Robert Scott

Santa Cruz

Pull ’Em Up

While we all applaud Fred Geiger’s impulse to keep and potentially reuse the tracks in the existing county rail/trail corridor (GT, 7/19), the most recent study indicates that the condition of the tracks, not to mention the trestles, bridges, and narrow corridors through sensitive habitat—as well as congested intersections (think Seabright and Murray Streets)—make a rail and trail prospect problematic, in addition to costly, and well beyond the present capability of funds voted by Measure D.

The not-so-misnamed Greenway website points out that the substantial merits of a trail-only proposition was never previously considered, nor offered to the voters. Take a look at, and review the report by Nelson/Nygaard & Associates examining prospective enhanced access and usage by bicyclists and walkers. Thinking about the kind of community we want to be in the future, remember that a trail-only option supports Santa Cruz County’s initiative to provide infrastructure to support 20 percent bicycle use by 2035, and we can complete a trail alone in the existing corridor within a few years.

There’s a lot more to learn here. The bottom line is a train will never pencil out. Projected ridership is low. We have no money to build or operate a train. Pulling the tracks is self-funding, since the steel rails can be recycled for the cost of pulling them. The Nelson/Nygaard study shows the potential for a scalable, healthy, safe, and cost effective beautiful Greenway that will move way more people than a train. Check it out.

Nadene Thorne

Santa Cruz

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