Mission St. BBQ article in Summer/Fall 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

Admittedly, Northern California is not a region that springs to mind when people think of barbeque. On page 40 of the latest issue of Santa Cruz Style, I introduce you to Larry Ingram III, who (with his brothers and father) is changing that perception with Santa Cruz’s Mission St. BBQ. You’ll learn the secrets of the menu, why the brothers insist on featuring live blues performances nightly, and how Santa Cruz carnivores prompted the family to add this location to their thriving group of barbeque joints! The online edition appears here.

Mystery author Leslie Karst and Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant features in Spring 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

If you enjoy cozy mysteries or the local food scene, keep an eye out for the Spring 2019 edition of Santa Cruz Style. In “Mystery with a Santa Cruz Flavor,” I introduce you to Leslie Karst, the renowned author of the Sally Solari mystery series. Beginning on page 12 of the magazine, Karst tells me how Santa Cruz inspired her unexpected path to writing, the origins of Sally Solari, and the birth of the “snarky cozy.” Want to know how a 17-year-old restaurant has stayed buzzworthy? Turn to page 42 for “Soif and Santa Cruz: The Perfect Pairing.” Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant owner/founder Patrice Boyle reflects on Soif’s evolution, and discusses the restaurant’s new collaboration with UCSC’s Coastal Science and Policy Program. New chef Tom McNary reveals his culinary inspirations, and bar manager Matthew Barron discusses the cocktail menu that’s swaying the allegiance of Soif’s most devoted wine drinkers! If you’re in Santa Cruz County, find free print copies here. The online version appears here.

Saturn Cafe’s Ernesto Quintero and arts administrator Linda Levy featured in Winter 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

As Santa Cruz’s premier destination for vegetarian and vegan diners for nearly forty years, Saturn Cafe has intrigued hungry tourists and loyal locals alike. In my article “Dine Among The Stars,” owner Ernesto Quintero discusses the restaurant’s controversial change in decor, the French fries that inspired an uproar, and plans for the future. Check it out on page 40 of the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Cruz Style. On page 54, you’ll find my interview with Santa Cruz’s Linda Levy, a true Renaissance woman. The former Lockheed Martin research scientist is renowned for her art, but her greatest achievement may be her volunteer work for various local arts organizations. I guarantee you’ll come away inspired once you read “The Art and Science of Giving.” In Santa Cruz County, find free print copies at these locations. The online edition appears here.

Cafe Kuumbwa chef Cheryl Simons interview in Fall 2018 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

For forty-three years and counting, Santa Cruz’s Kuumbwa Jazz Center has been renowned for its eclectic artist lineup, exceptional acoustics and atmosphere, and contributions to the county’s artistic community. More and more, however, concertgoers are becoming hip to the venue’s best-kept secret: the inventive cuisine of Cafe Kuumbwa chef Cheryl Simons and her crew. On page 42 of the latest Santa Cruz Style, Simons reveals her path to the culinary life, and the unique (yet completely natural) way that jazz converges with cooking. (You’ll even learn which multiple Grammy-winning bassist insists on moonlighting in the Kuumbwa kitchen when he comes to town!) Read the online edition here.

Song In My Head #98: Drake Bell’s “It’s Only Time”

Last night Drake Bell rocked the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, and I was the sole representative of the non-teen demographic (or so it seemed). While I missed the heavier harmonies of Bell’s past full-band arrangements (best showcased in the 2008 In Concert at the Auditorio Nacional video), I loved the Neil Finn vibe of his solo acoustic performance. Bell’s cover songs entertained mightily, especially a sprightly deconstruction of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby.” (I admit I kept yelling for his version of Jellyfish’s “Joining A Fan Club,” to no avail. Bell’s triumphant version may be the most meta cover in rock history [as much as I hate to use that term], although that’s a post for another time.) Since I have a contrarian streak, I’m going to post the Bell song I missed most, which I’ve been singing to myself all week:

Artist Burt Levitsky and Aquarius chef Ken Drew profiled in Summer 2018 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

While Surrealism outraged society generations ago, today it’s the realists who are misunderstood. I recently discovered this while interviewing legendary Santa Cruz painter Burt Levitsky. Levitsky’s dedication to his craft can be downright death-defying, and his scenes will have you believing that magical realism isn’t found only in books. You can read the story on page 10 of the Summer 2018 edition of Santa Cruz Style. On page 40, you’ll meet Ken Drew, executive chef of Aquarius at Dream Inn Santa Cruz. Hotel cuisine can scare off the bravest culinary talents, but you’ll learn how Drew embraces the challenge, winning over hordes of tourists, curious locals, and loyal regulars in the process. The online edition appears here.

RSD 2018: Cured at last…or am I?

My morning was occupied by Santa Cruz’s March For Science (yes, one week after everyone else’s took place, don’t ask me why) and lunch, respectively.  So, I didn’t arrive at this year’s Record Store Day festivities until noon. I expected to beat the morning rush, but I was #135 in line…while #88 was being served. After flipping through a few racks, I thought about leaving for a while. As if Streetlight Records could read my mind (recalling the Teenage Fanclub incident of RSD 2016), the store blared Rockin’ Horse’s “Biggest Gossip In Town,” the first in a lengthy string of personally beloved power-pop songs. (Why yes, I was the one singing along like a dork in the middle of the store.) I virtually doff my cap to the fellow spinning records at Streetlight this afternoon. I know you longtime followers of my annual Record Store Day saga are in suspense: did I finally have sales resistance for once?

Unlike previous years, I had no Holy Grail RSD release in mind this time. Most usual auto-buys (Redd Kross, Chris Bell) were re-releases of things I already have. I confess to feeling rather cheapskaty and more risk-averse this year, since I’d spent my Streetlight store credit slips on the (completely necessary and worthwhile) new Sloan album two weeks ago. The shelves were rather picked over, too. Nevertheless, I hesitated mightily over the Nazz’s Fungo Bat Acetates double-album set. I turned the record over in my hands a few times, reminded myself of an expensive week ahead, and put it back, feeling pretty self-satisfied.

A couple of hours later, I sit writing this in the Santa Cruz Public Library. Todd Rundgren and company still call to me. I have the sinking feeling that, before the day is out, I will be standing in line again, hoping to claim Fungo Bat Acetates as my own.

I’ll keep you posted…

And the winners are…

You may remember that I volunteered to help set up at the Good Food Awards chocolate tasting last September. While judges sampled and evaluated products (for taste and ethical practices) all day, the winners were not to be known for months. Last week, the winners were revealed! Even if I hadn’t had a small part in the proceedings, I’d find the results fascinating. (The Creo Brown Butter Bar I’d enjoyed won a prize in the chocolate category, while Patric’s legendarily crowd-pleasing Browned Butter Bar won in the confectionery category. I’m not sure why two browned-butter bars would be in different categories…perhaps it had to do with eligibility from previous competitions? Just a guess.) I recognized a few old favorites, as well as some potent potables from Santa Cruz-based Venus Spirits that I’ve yet to try. If you’re curious, the list is here. Congratulations, everyone!

Dell Williams Jewelers and Alice’s Restaurant articles in Winter 2017 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

In the latest issue of Santa Cruz Style, I learn the secrets of two of Northern California’s most cherished businesses. Santa Cruz’s Dell Williams Jewelers celebrated its 90th anniversary last month. In “Diamonds Are Forever,” Dell Williams’ great-granddaughter Emily Bernard Coonerty reveals how the store has thrived in spite of a flood, an earthquake, and a retail landscape that has seen countless other brick-and-mortar shops come and go. (The new co-owner of the store also talks about her place in the continuum of the family-run business, and the joyful challenge of combining new ideas with a cherished legacy.) Then, take a road trip to Woodside’s Alice’s Restaurant in “Square Meals and Round Wheels.” There, restaurateur Jamie Kerr discusses the strange alchemy bringing everyone from old-school hippies to Silicon Valley venture capitalists to his place in the middle of the redwoods. The online edition appears here.

Logos Books and Records, how I’ll miss you!

I read the news today, oh boy:

Santa Cruz’s Logos Books and Records to close

As anyone who’s walked down Pacific Avenue (or read Going Coastal‘s “Santa Cruz Vinyl: Cutting A Groove” chapter) knows, Logos is a Santa Cruz fixture. It’s 11,000 square feet of pure enchantment for any bookworm or record hound. The entry-level floor overflows with records, CDs, DVDs, cookbooks, art books, graphic novels, fiction…you get my drift. If you tire of that (not that you could), the downstairs level has floor-to-ceiling shelves laden with humor books, children’s books, sports books, poetry books, and ever so much more. In spite of the size, the shop doesn’t overwhelm me the way some large stores can. That could be because of the clearly marked aisles and posted maps. More likely, it has to do with muscle memory: I walk into the place, and immediately I feel at home.

Logos has been part of Santa Cruz since 1969. It survived 1989’s Loma Prieta earthquake, so I’m in disbelief that high rents and digital downloading will outlive it. (My mother bellowed “I don’t believe you! I refuse to accept this!” when I told her the news.) I feel heartsick for the employees (especially Dave, the friendly bespectacled guy who turned me on to Lawrence Weschler’s fantastic book Boggs: A Comedy of Values), and certainly for owner John Livingston. I know that generations of county residents must feel the way I do, and I hope someone will take up the Logos mantle. Losing Logos forever would be disastrous for the city and lovers of culture everywhere.

What a crazy year it’s shaping up to be. The world is fraught with tension. Quintessential San Jose Shark Patrick Marleau will be a Toronto Maple Leaf this coming season. Now, a place that has brought great joy to so many is about to be shuttered permanently.

Logos, you’ll always be in my heart.