Opinion May 9, 2018

Plus Letters to the Editor

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

In his cover story this week, Wallace Baine writes about how Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction kicked off a surf music revival with its use of Dick Dale’s “Miserlou.” I have to admit I fully embraced that revival at the time, and throughout the last half of the ’90s, I was regularly going out to see everyone from Dale himself (who played some mind-melting shows at the Catalyst as he took full advantage of that post-Tarantino comeback) to Man or Astro-Man? and Los Straitjackets to even the most obscure surf revival groups like the Ghastly Ones.

But my favorite surf band of all was the Mermen. In particular, I listened to 1996’s Songs for the Cows over and over and over again. In fact, on the Mermen’s website there’s a GT quote about the album from that year that I may very well have written (although it may have been my esteemed colleague at the time, Rob Pratt, who was just as in to the surf-rock revival). It remains not only my favorite Mermen album, but also my favorite surf album of all time. All you really have to do to understand why is listen to the way the opening song, “Curve,” rises out of nothing to swell into your senses in one of the most dramatic instrumental intros ever.

Despite having seen the Mermen many times at the Catalyst and Moe’s Alley, I didn’t realize they had moved here until maybe a couple of years ago. Since then, I’ve been plotting how to really do them justice in the paper—they’re one of the untold Santa Cruz stories that the alternative press here has always prided itself on spotlighting. When Wallace told me how big a Mermen fan he is, too, I knew this story had to finally happen. And he did a fantastic job. So hold tight and prepare to enter the world of Jim Thomas and the Mermen.


Letters to the Editor

Look Ahead

With its article on e-bike momentum in Santa Cruz (GT 5/2), Good Times missed an opportunity to catalyze a forward-thinking vision for the county, the next thing beyond e-bikes that will provide transportation options for everyone: “velomobiles,” or enclosed, pedal-assist personal transportation vehicles. Popping up throughout Europe, and as close as Vancouver, B.C., these vehicles have all of the advantages of e-bikes and none (as far as I can see) of the disadvantages. They keep you dry, they have a modicum of cargo space for your groceries, you can pedal with electric assistance for hills, uneven terrain, and long distances, they lock, they’re allowed on streets in bike lanes (classified as a bicycle) and guess what? If we build a wide, separated trail in the rail corridor, multi-speed vehicles such as these would fit right in. Let’s start looking ahead, Santa Cruz, and not behind us!

Nadene Thorne | Santa Cruz

15 Years Late

Thank you for your recent coverage of the “rail trail debate.” It sounds like the no-train, trail-only advocates are 15 years late to this discussion.

We—the community and our local urban planning and transportation experts—have a real plan which has been refined over many years. It’s being challenged by an imaginary plan, which has no blemishes (because it is imaginary).

Professional planners and engineers have developed the best, most cost-effective plan for Santa Cruz County’s rail corridor and have already shepherded it through approvals and scrutiny. The Rail Trail plan is ready to go. Why are we still talking about this?

David Van Brink | Santa Cruz

What About PRTs?

Neither article on the trail/rail made any mention of the technology called Personal Rapid Transit, or PRT, a radically low-cost and effective solution to mass transit. No surprise here given that RTC apparently gave up seriously pursuing this promising technology long ago, because they are afraid of it. There are virtually no working applications on the planet—one important exception being at London’s Heathrow Airport, connecting the terminal to the parking ramps—and most cities won’t take the chance of investing in an “unproven” transportation infrastructure. Perfect application for the SC rail trail corridor.

A. Tawil | Santa Cruz

Rent Control Raises Costs

Santa Cruz is paradise. Property costs more in paradise to buy or build. Owners must cover their mortgage costs, maintenance and taxes even if they don’t make a profit.

Control costs for some renters results in one of two consequences. Raised costs for renters who are not in controlled housing (everyone else) or fewer rentals built, raises demand and prices.

We need to find other solutions. Tiny homes, work remotely, longer commutes, shared housing, fewer transitory students, government subsidies, fewer non-essential services, more taxes through business growth, fair taxes. Vote!

Andrew Block | Santa Cruz

Learn From Other Cities

Rail companies are largely exempt from local regulations, so I am deeply troubled by our Regional Transportation Commission’s choice of Progressive Rail to operate our rail corridor (GT, 5/2). Progressive Rail is deeply involved in the crude oil and fracking industry, and they expect to work with Lansing Trading to build a propane distribution facility in Watsonville.

Our community must learn from the experience of Grafton, Massachusetts, which was unable to stop its local rail operator from building a propane plant near an elementary school. We must prevent railroad companies from building fossil fuel infrastructure in our community. The RTC has not signed a contract yet, so there is still time to stop Progressive Rail in its tracks.

Brett Garrett | Santa Cruz

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