Stephen Kessler

Staff Writer

A Classic Example

Cooking dinner on a Wednesday night, I tune in to public radio, actual airwaves, imagine that, not my private device with my private songs hermetically piped into my pre-programmed head, but unpredictable, possibly unfamiliar music streaming out of an antique boom box set on the counter, its antenna pulling in a sexy signal, violins guiding the rhythm of my chopping as the greens are prepared for the cast-iron skillet and an improvised omelet takes shape under my watchful hands and listening eyes.

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Midnight in Santa Cruz

Coming out of the Art Deco darkness of the Del Mar after the late show I note it is past midnight and Pacific Avenue looks oddly twisted, the street wiggled down to one lane curling snakelike among dense foliage like the old Garden Mall and, amazingly, it is.

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Santa Cruz Poet Releases Career Collection

Robert Sward, Santa Cruz Weekly poetry editor, with Toby

When Robert Sward arrived in Santa Cruz in 1985, he instantly became the area’s most nationally famous resident poet.  Thanks to his much-anthologized poem “Uncle Dog: The Poet at 9,” the first he ever published and one that remains a classic 50 years later, local writers knew Sward’s name and welcomed him as a borderline celebrity.  Ever since then he has thrived here as a prolific poet, novelist, journalist, teacher and, in recent years, poetry editor of the Santa Cruz Weekly.

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Don’t Call Him Beat

Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be honored this Tuesday in Santa Cruz. Photo by Chris Felver.

‘Don’t call me a Beat—I never was a Beat poet,” Lawrence Ferlinghetti declares flatly in Ferlinghetti, filmmaker Christopher Felver’s 2009 documentary screening this Tuesday night, Oct. 18 at the Del Mar as the main event of Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day in Santa Cruz. Both Felver and his subject will be present as the city honors Ferlinghetti’s monumental contributions to American literary, cultural and political life.

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Senior Discount

In some way you are diminished, and so these businesses—the moviehouse, the grocery, the Goodwill, the discount store that already slashes prices—knock a percentage off your purchases as a gesture of compassion for your shrunken condition. You don’t exactly feel old, unless you happen to notice your wizened visage in the mirror or the pain in your joints or the ancient habits you repeat as if in perpetuity, but you know you are.

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Younglove Avenue

It’s only three blocks long, between Mission Street and the circle with the church, hardly an avenue really, but the train tracks slashing through it at an angle give it a greater scope because as you ride across them carefully on your bike so as not to slip you can look both ways and imagine long trips in a boxcar.

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Westside Farmers Market

Four girls perched in a row on the pickup tailgate behind the blueberries are a sight for old eyes on a Saturday morning, their dangling legs keeping time to the bluegrass band serenading the shoppers and the farmers and the faux flâneurs out for a stroll in a parking lot turned country fair for a day.  The pasta man offering bargains under his baseball cap, the Happy Boys and Dirty Girls coolly flaunting their greens, the gourmet olive oil entrepreneurs with their tempting bits of bread for dipping in little golden bowls, fruit purveyors with their sweet bright hills all take me home to a farm I’ve never known except in old poems by aging drunks nostalgic for imagined Edens remembered precisely and harvested in language alone.

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