Blog Archives

November 22 – 28, 2023


Highlights this week:

Bratton… Chris Strachwitz’s and Arhoolie’s new book, Santa Cruz Chorale concert, Espressivo Orchestra concert, movie critiques. Greensite…last chance for the wharf. Steinbruner…Assemblywoman Dawn Addis, County Supes and housing, 14 year old paid commissioners, Railtrail, Damian’s ladder. Hayes…Surrounding sounds. Patton…Facts and hope. Matlock…lighting the fires of integrity and loyalty. Eagan …Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes…”Saint Swithin’s Day”


PRE-NICKELODEON SITE. This was the Lincoln Bakery back on May 16, 1950. The house next door where they now have such an incredible sidewalk garden, was where actress Zasu Pitts lived (she was born in Kansas). The Nick opened July 1, 1969 with Bill Raney at the helm and Roy Rydell as designer.

Additional information always welcome: email
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

DATELINE November 20

CHRIS STRACHWITZ (1931-2023) Chris Strachwitz was a good friend back in our UC Berkeley days. (1957-1970). We went to many of the Black nightclubs around the Oakland/ San Francisco area for decades. We also collected and swapped 78 rpm records. He turned all that interest and drive into creating and operating Arhoolie Records (now owned and mostly operated by the Smithsonian Institute.  Arhoolie has just released a new book that Chris put together. Check it out here… Arhoolie has a few Santa Cruz connections such as Davia Nelson is on their board of directors, and former County Supervisor John Leopold is their managing director. Arhoolie has collected what is defined as all of America’s folk music. Chris died (age 91) on May 5, 2023. One statement about Chris states…The Arhoolie Foundation stems from the work of founder Chris Strachwitz and his seminal independent record label Arhoolie Records. In 1960, Strachwitz recorded Texas songster Mance Lipscomb for what was to become Arhoolie Records’ first album. Since then, he has devoted his life to recording and sharing regional music with a special emphasis on the genres of Blues, Cajun/Zydeco, and Tejano/Norteño. In 2016, Smithsonian Folkways acquired Arhoolie Records and continues to distribute the Arhoolie catalog worldwide.

THE SANTA CRUZ CHORALE’S MUSIC OF CHRISTMAS. On Dec.16 at 8pm & 17 at 4pm the Santa Cruz Chorale will feature works by renowned composers such as Byrd, Scheidt, Elgar, Britten, Tavener, and Biebl, and beloved carols from around the world. The power and beauty of this music will resonate with traditionalists and contemporary music enthusiasts alike. This year, the centerpiece of our program is the Magnificat for orchestra and choir by Austrian composer Heinrich Biber. Born in the 17th century, Biber was known for his innovative and expressive compositions. His Magnificat is a masterful piece that beautifully captures the essence of the festive season. Once again, we are honored to be joined by the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta, whose exceptional musicianship enriches our performances.

Holy Cross Church, 123 High Street, Santa Cruz

Tickets: General $30, Seniors $25, Students $5

For Saturday concert only, 4 or more tickets: $20 each Tickets can be purchased here or (831) 427-8023

X (Twitter): @SantaCruzChoral



ESPRESSIVO an all intense orchestra. Welcome to Espressivo’s Eighth Season. It happens on December 3rd, 2023 and is titled JAMES PYTKO PLAYS COPLAND. You’ll hear Mozart — Adagio and Fugue K. 546 (1788), Copland — Clarinet Concerto (1949), Mozart — Serenata Notturna K. 239 (1776) and Foote — Suite for Strings (1907-)  Soloist: James Pytko. In winter we give our brass players too rare a chance to shine. Too rare as well are chances to hear Leoš Janácek’s quasi-piano concerto, a work by a great composer that alternates wrenching lyricism and folksy quirkiness.  Again, we feature our own Vlada Volkova-Moran as soloist. We’ve raised the ticket prices on you a bit. You may have heard about inflation….The best deal is still a subscription. Purchase one at or at the concert, 411 Roxas St., Santa Cruz. They play at 4pm on Sundays.

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

SEBASTIAN FITZEK’S THERAPY- DIE THERAPIE”). (PRIME SERIES) (7.1 IMDB).****There’s a psychiatrist who has lost his 13 year old daughter many years ago. How he deals with that and trying to find out what happened to her makes this a deep and twisted movie. There’s another 13 year old girl who enters his life and adds to his (and our) confusion. Thought provoking doesn’t go deep enough to describe this one…go for it.

THE RAILWAY MEN (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.9 IMDB). **Bhopal in India was the site of a horrible explosion at their Union Carbide factory in 1984. 15, 000 local citizens died from the poisons in the air. Union knew of the gas leak problem and did almost nothing to avert the catastrophe. The movie is from India and is extra dramatic, overly hammy, but reveals the then corporate attitude back in the 1980’s.

TILL MURDER DO US PART. (NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY SERIES) (7.0 IMDB).***Maybe the girl and/or her boyfriend killed her parents back in 1985 in Virginia. This documentary digs up the known facts of Soering vs. Haysom. Many of the actual people in the historical case are in this documentary including the main male suspect who decides to speak only German for the movie makers. Go for it.

A THOUSAND LITTLE CUTS. (PRIME SERIES) (5.1 IMDB). A twisted, complex plot that leads us to question whether the girl is telling the truth about breaking her ankle or is it a deep conflict involving her and her therapist and the prescription drug companies? Acting is fine, the story will make you think about your own meds and it’s worth seeing.

CIGARETTE GIRL. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.3 IMDB). *A movie from Indonesia where they actually hand make cigarettes from spices and not tobacco. They are called Kretek and contain herbs, cloves, sandalwood and secret flavors to compete and the competition is fierce, and real. Don’t watch this if you have a smoking problem! There’s love, family issues, and just enough of a plot to keep it interesting.

THE KILLER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). ****Michael Fassbender does a fine job as a paid assassin. We get to watch him plot, plan and carry out numerous killings…strictly for hire. One killing goes wrong and he becomes a target himself. Tilda Swinton has a small but meaningful role. It’s not easy to like, but I did.

LOCKED IN. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.1 IMDB).*  A confusing drama centering on a formerly famous woman who has been seriously injured and unable to talk. Was she in an accident or an attempted murder? Her doctor becomes her lover and her daughter focuses the plot on many unconnected possibilities. Yes, confusing, not the greatest acting and we’ve seen it many times from Hollywood in the last 100 years.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

WINGWOMEN. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB) This French movie flips and mostly flops between telling us about the relationship between two women art thieves and their plots and plans to steal a painting. It sidetracks into pregnancies, gay sex, snipers and gorgeous scenes of Paris. The ending is infuriating…forget it.

THE BURIAL. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB).***Jamie Foxx is over the top as an attorney and Black preacher. This covers the huge and almost secret funeral business in the USA and the financial dealings that control it. There’s much courtroom stuff, juries, attorneys, plus Tommy Lee Jones. Some laughs but it will make you think about your own arrangements!!.

FOR ALL MANKIND. (APPLE SERIES) (8.1 IMDB). A clever, well thought out pseudo-documentary about our landing on the moon AFTER Russia beat us to it in 1969. SIDE NOTE: our 95 year old Santa Cruzan Tom Lehrer is in it and sings “Werner von Braun”. It’s a clever movie and will keep you attached.

THE KILLER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). ****Michael Fassbender does a fine job as a paid assassin. We get to watch him plot, plan and carry out numerous killings…strictly for hire. One killing goes wrong and he becomes a target himself. Tilda Swinton has a small but meaningful role. It’s not easy to like, but I did.

ESCAPING TWIN FLAMES. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). *•I thought this would be a slam against awareness groups like EST but it’s about cults, sex and sex traffic and finding and keeping your current sex target. Twin Flames exists and has a membership of 67,000 members.

HURRICANE SEASON. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.6 IMDB). ** It starts with a girl’s corpse being found in a river by a bunch of teen age boys. The movie is from Mexico and switches scenes from witches to straight and gay sex. There’s too many plot holes and dream sequences to describe here…Think twice before renting it.

THE BILLIONAIRE, THE BUTLER AND THE BOYFRIEND. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.1 IMDB).**** This is an excellent French documentary covering Liliane Bettencourt the wealthiest woman in the world. She was the owner/heiress of L’Oréal cosmetics and you’ll see the conflicts she has with her daughter all through their lives together and her semi-secret long time affair/relationship with a celebrity photographer. Many of the actual friends and enemies in her life are very much part of this documentary.


November 20


By the end of Tuesday November 28th, the city council will have decided the fate of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. History will judge whether the council respected its Historic Preservation Commission’s recommendation to preserve the visual character and historic design of the Wharf by removing the eyesore of a proposed below deck, twelve feet wide, eight hundred feet long walkway on the pictured west side of the Wharf. Such appendage, stretching below the restaurants, to be made of fiberglass and steel railings will impact views of the Wharf and views from the Wharf restaurants. If council does not remove the walkway from the Wharf Master plan, the common sight seen below of a Snowy Egret perched on the wooden railing outside Riva’s will exist only in memory. People, walking and talking back and forth on the lowered walkway will be its replacement.

You either have a deep love for the Wharf in its current form, or you see it merely as a money-making platform for all variety of new activities. The sentiment of the community is overwhelmingly for the former. The latter is strongly pushed by city staff despite the lack of an economic analysis.

The westside walkway is being promoted as though the very structural survival of the Wharf and its restaurants depends on it. The facts do not support such hyperbole. The Court in its 2022 ruling did not support the city’s claim of infeasibility for Alternative 2 which removed the westside walkway from the Plan and was determined by the city to be the environmentally superior alternative that met or advanced all project objectives. The city’s updated Findings add nothing new to change the Court’s ruling. With a deep pocket of public monies to spend on consulting attorneys, city staff appear prepared for a protracted legal fight. It’s up to city council, our representatives, to be the adults in the room.

If the city council votes to remove the Landmark Building, one of the three, forty- feet- tall new buildings proposed for the Wharf, that is a step in the right direction. Another critical step is to remove the lowered westside walkway. That would satisfy the Court, respect the Historic Preservation Commission’s recommendation and most importantly, give the public an indication that their opinions and feelings are respected at City Hall.

Send an email by Monday (11/27) to

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


November 20


On November 7, 10am-noon, 30th Assembly District representative Ms. Dawn Addis held a rare town hall meeting in Aptos at the MidCounty Safety Center.  It should have been held in a much larger venue to allow a group-format, but instead was a one-to-one session that was so crowded, many left.

I attended, and was surprised to see County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios standing outside the door.  It became more and more apparent that this rare personal appearance of Assemblywoman Addis was a political opportunity for many running for various elected positions. Those people seemed to be called first even if arriving later than the common folk, of which there were many. If one were lucky enough to get called in to go speak with Ms. Addis, eight minutes was allotted.

However, for the many commoners like myself who waited nearly two hours to have a moment with Ms. Addis, our time was reduced to five minutes, because she had “another place to go.”

What does one say in an elevator-speech discussion with your newly-elected State Assembly representative?  I suggested that a group meeting in a larger venue would have been interesting to many, especially those who had to leave without getting to speak with her, and that everyone could have benefited by hearing the answers to all types of questions.

That was a mistake.

Ms. Addis used up over half of my allotted five minutes to tell me about her other town halls, and her visits to the area shortly after the storms last winter.  My time was short, so I focused on asking her to help get money for rural fire evacuation route safety improvements and vegetation clearance, having attended the Resource Conservation District’s “Living on Rural Properties” gathering the night before and hearing the need for local funding.

Ms. Addis responded that I should talk with the County Emergency Response Dept.  I was shocked.  Didn’t she know Santa Cruz County no longer has such a Department since CAO Palacios disbanded it in 2020, and replaced it with the vague “Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience (OR3)”?  I mentioned this to her and asked if she had talked with  Mr. David Reid, the OR3 Director, thinking to myself that of course she had, if she visited the flood areas with other local photo-op officials with Governor Newsom and President Biden.

She paused, and replied, “I think I have heard of him.”   Then she went on to say that if I felt the County needs to get more money that would be a larger legislative action.

The five-minute timer went off.

Quickly, as I was rising to my feet, I blurted out that the Sixth Cycle RHNA mandates were unrealistic and a burden causing local jurisdictions to focus on meeting deadlines rather than promoting good planning.  Was she aware of the 2021 Dept. of Finance Audit that determined the data used to create the RHNA mandate was flawed and the results should be examined?

Her assistant showed me to the door as Ms. Addis thanked me for coming and mentioned she would look into it.

The end.

If you live in the 30th Assembly area, try writing Ms. Addis and request she return more often than twice a year for constituent meetings, maybe hold them in the evening, as a larger Town Hall gathering that would be hybrid access format.  Official Website – Assemblymember Dawn Addis Representing the 30th California Assembly District

Somehow, I just don’t have much confidence that she is in touch with her constituents in Santa Cruz County.


What happened among the Supervisors at the Housing Element public hearing on November 14 is really worth watching on the video.

For once, there was true discussion, compromise and insistence by Supervisor Justin Cummings that he be allowed to offer amendments since Supervisor Zach Friend made some, even though they had been instructed not to do so.

The County Board of Supervisors held the final public hearing for the updated County Draft Housing Element that will truly change the quality of life in the County Unincorporated areas, just to feverishly abide by the State mandate to build, build, and build, regardless of whether or not there is infrastructure to support it.

Of course, it was the last item on the agenda for the long meeting agenda, forcing many who may have attended the 9am Tuesday meeting to give up and leave.  Indeed, the Supervisor Chambers were all but empty when the public hearing was called to order.  Even though there was a scant few people, many being staff, the public was held to two minutes for speaking.

The rub came when Chair Zach Friend posed an amendment to the staff recommendation to rubber stamp their work, scheduled to be shipped off to Sacramento the next day.  Chair Friend insisted that the two parcels totaling 13 acres at 2600 Mar Vista Drive in Aptos, proposed to have 430 new units (that number was higher than the 402 told to the Planning Commission a few days earlier) have 4 acres of open space, rather than 2-4 acres suggested.

At that point, Supervisor Justin Cummings wanted to know why he could not also add something he wanted, namely the recommendation to increase the percentage of inclusionary affordable housing, make rental projects also subject to the requirement, and to not allow replacement housing for demolished affordable units to be counted as new numbers of affordable units for the RHNA mandated goals.

Amazingly, there had been no mention in the Planning Staff presentation to the Board of Planning Commissioner Andy Schiffrin’s insistence that the Commission send a recommendation to the Board for those exact issues.

Staff’s reply was that it would risk delay of the State Dept. of Housing and Community Development (HCD) approval, and thereby risk State funding to the County.

Chair Friend persisted in his ask.  Supervisor Cummings also insisted he be given such favor, mentioning that he was under the impression from staff that there would be no opportunity to make any changes, but it seemed that Chair Friend was not worried by doing so and, it seemed, would be allowed to do so.

The discussion was rich and ultimately, negotiated such that both did get to add amendments, but with a caution that basically stated if it was going to anger the almighty HCD, staff could back down.  Watch for yourself here, by clicking on Item #11 on the agenda to go directly to the time of the Housing Element public hearing

What a disaster this whipped puppy attitude of Staff and the Supervisors will play out for our County. Please contact Supervisor Cummings to thank him for standing up to improve things for affordable housing needs, but ask about the infrastructure that has to support it.  All of the County Planners need to be held accountable for this poor planning that does not include the large parcel where Kaiser Medical Clinic was to go but backed out, or the 38-acre parcel the County owned at 7th & Brommer that was recently declared “excess property” and put up for sale, or the traffic impacts of the more than 35 new units destined for the existing parking lot at the Seascape Golf Course.  And shouldn’t some cumulative impacts of the proposed 600+ Cabrillo College student housing be included when adding 430 units to the 2600 Mar Vista Drive parcel just down Soquel Drive?

Contact your District Supervisor and request a meeting to discuss your thoughts on all this.

Call 831-454-2200

The new e-mail template for them individually is

Definitely go with your neighbors if you can, and make sure you get allotted more than five minutes.

Do investigate Catalysts for Local Control, a statewide grassroots group that is gathering mighty steam to hold our State and local planners accountable for the unrealistic mandates flogging the jurisdictions into making bad planning policies. Home – Catalysts for Local Control


The County Board of Supervisors will now be allowed to appoint 14 year olds to serve on Advisory Commissions?  Yes, and pay all Commissioners a $75/meeting stipend to attend.

The Board approved this on November 14, with a consent agenda #16 unanimous nod of a second reading to change the County Code, allowing this idea “in concept”.

While I applaud including youth in our local government, I really wonder how it would work if a 14-year-old served on the Fire Dept. Advisory Commission,  Housing Advisory Commission, the Planning Commission, the Water Commission, or others that often get conscripted by the Staff to stamp approval on matters to make them more palatable for the Board of Supervisor’s rubberstamp of approval?

I was shocked to read this when I finally had time to do so.

Think about that and go talk with your County District Supervisor.  (831)-454-2200 or email him.  Even if two of the five are not running for re-election next year, they still need to be held accountable.

I think appointing Youth Commissioners to sit in on these Advisory Commissions would be a wise thing to do, and have them meet with their District Supervisor regularly, as all other Commissioners are supposed to do.


Last week, the County Staff held a public hearing for comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the portion of the Rail Trail between 17th Avenue and State Park Drive during the evening in the Board of Supervisors chambers last week.  The room was packed.

The presentation was led by County Park Planner Robert Tidmore and the Harris Associates Consultant who created the Draft EIR.

Although there was a brief Q&A opportunity, it was cut short to allow for the public to enter comment on the Draft EIR.

That portion of the hearing quickly evolved into pro vs. con on rail banking, and very few comments addressed direct issues on the EIR.

However, what shocked me is that a number of mobile homes will have to be removed, affecting many people who have relied on the affordable living space.  One such mobile home owner testified that everything he has worked for to have the unit will be lost.

Try to look at this document and send your written comment to Mr. Tidmore by December 15, 2023.  Coastal Rail Trail

What do you think about not including the Capitola Trestle area in the plan now, but keeping it as an addendum to the trail and rail when funding to repair or replace the Trestle is available?  What do you think about the lighting along the trail for safety at night?  What do you think about having raised viaducts in some areas of the trail?

What do you think about forcing several residential families and seniors to lose their mobile home and affordable community?

Here is some good news:

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved $67.6 million in competitive grant funding through its Active Transportation Program (ATP) for Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11 yesterday, and the project is now fully funded for construction. The $67.6 million in funding that the County received for Segments 10 and 11 is the largest ATP grant ever awarded. The CTC also approved $35.8 million for construction of Segments 8 and 9 (Pacific Ave to 17th Ave). This nearly $105 million in ATP funding is sufficient to build nearly 7 miles of trail through the heart of Santa Cruz County. A total of 18 miles of the Coastal Rail Trail are now fully funded for construction between Davenport and State Park Drive.

I still don’t understand why County Parks is the lead agency in this EIR for the Rail Trail, and not the RTC, owner of the rail corridor?  I keep asking that question, but no one provides an answer.


Please write December 5 on your calendar as an opportunity to meet with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) staff to comment about what you think of the aesthetic design elements on the segment between State Park Drive and Freedom Boulevard.

RTC Seeks Public Input on Aesthetic Design Elements for the Highway 1 Auxiliary Lanes, Bus-on-Shoulder, and Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12 Project

The community open house will provide an opportunity for public input on concepts for aesthetic design elements for the Highway 1 Auxiliary Lanes, Bus-on-Shoulder Facility (State Park Drive to Freedom Boulevard) & Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12 project. The open house is on Dec. 5, 2023, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Rio Sands Hotel, 116 Aptos Beach Drive in Aptos.

When the RTC held the Draft EIR Comment on this project last June, it was very chaotic, so it is too bad they have chosen to repeat the format at the same location.  Write and ask that it be a formal presentation with Q&A, rather than the chaotic open house style last time.


Here is a good opportunity to learn more about how notices for local Prescribed Burns by CalFire and other agencies can be improved.

December 6, at 6pm Beauregard Winery Bonny Doon FireSafe Council.


A new non-profit is off and running in the San Lorenzo Valley to help low and fixed income seniors.

Damians Ladder

Scotts Valley Fire Dept. recently received a $3,100 donation from a fire survivor to establish a similar service there.


When I am in the Santa Cruz downtown area, I always enjoy a stroll in the City Hall gardens because the plants and trees are interesting, unusual and well-maintained.  A tree there now in pink blossom only a few weeks ago sported enormous white puffballs the size of basketballs.  This is the Kapok Tree (Ceiba sp.).

Not only is it interesting, this species played a large role in life saving equipment in the early 1900’s for military sailors and the general public onboard sailing vessels and large passenger ships.

Buoyant Materials for Navy Life Preservers in World War II

Four of the 20 life boats on the Titanic were made with kapok and cork.

Lifeboats of the Titanic – Wikipedia

Maybe it is significant that a Kapok Tree grows in front of the City government building, symbolic of the need for “Staying afloat in times of disaster”?  The thorns on the trunk are also impressive. This site was originally the mansion of Frederick A. Hihn, a well-known local millionaire.

“The 1937 Monterey-Colonial Santa Cruz City Hall was the garden estate of the millionaire Frederick Augustus Hihn, who built a magnificent 1871 Italian Villa mansion where the 1965 City Hall Annex is today…The Gardens were world famous, containing rare plants from around the globe. It also boasted the world’s largest rose bush. These lush gardens were often shown in brochures promoting California as a year-round garden spot.

After the city purchased the mansion from the Hihn heirs in 1920, the gardens became a public park, named “Hihn Park” in honor of its creator. Though the name Civic Gardens seems to have been the popular name, Ross Eric Gibson writes “these gardens covered the entire block from Chestnut Street to Cedar Street (before Center Street was cut through it).”

In the 1930’s, the gardens and the unique history of the area determined the architect chosen and the style of the City Hall replacement. The replacement was built in front of the old Hihn Mansion. Deemed to no longer “fit in” Hihn Mansion was sold to a wrecker for $1. The community learned the gardens would be removed. The plants in the botanical gardens were salvaged by the SC community and donated to the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair Treasure Island Site. Golden Gate Park Botanical Gardens was the recipient of the plants after the Fair.

The current gardens at the City Hall are a change from the famous gardens at the F.A. Hihn Home on-site previously, yet the spirit of place remains.”

City Hall Gardens | City of Santa Cruz

Take time to explore this lovely public garden, complete with an inner courtyard fountain, whenever you have time.

Pink hibiscus-like flowers adorn the Kapok Tree now.

A few months ago, basketball-sized fluffs of kapok fiber adorned the same tree as the seed pods opened.



Happy Thanksgiving,


Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at


November 18


As the Great Marvel occurs, the sounds so change also. The Great Marvel is the onset of winter rains. As citizens of a Mediterranean climate, this should be as monumental as it is for the other living beings around us. Simultaneously, the sounds of winter set in. Are you listening?

Humans are very visual, but we have other senses that would be good to emphasize. Let’s call this next week “Sound Awareness Week.” This will have particular meaning for those who can’t hear at all or hear well: for those of you, perhaps your gift this next week is to help more people describe what they are hearing, a two-for-one kind of experience. For those of you who are already acutely aware of sound…there is always more to explore!

Background, Seasonless Sounds: Rural and Urban

Everywhere you go, there are always a few noises no matter what season. Airplanes: more so on weekends with recreational aircraft. Roaring motorcycles: replete with accentuating noise apparatus, illegal, but unenforced! Barking domestic dogs, a seemingly Universal human mishap: some dog owners can’t seem to hear their own hounds (or don’t care)!

Seasonless Urban Noises

As many readers are situated in urban or near-urban areas, let’s first sift through the background sounds that a realtor once told me (mistakenly) that I would ‘get used to’ so that one day I ‘won’t even notice.’ Traffic: the hum or revving of engines, the squealing of tires. Car stereos played so loudly as to accelerate deafness. Sirens. Fighting domestic cats. Crows, hundreds of crows cawing. Pigeons cooing. The mechanical noises of Boardwalk rides and the accompanying screaming.

Uniquely Rural Noises, All Year Round

A few birds and coyotes sing the same all year round. Dark eyed junco, spotted towhee, Stellars and California scrub jay, and great horned owl…all birds that seem to go on and on with similar calls all year round. Many other birds clearly vary their songs more seasonally. Coyotes yap and chortle-howl most any time during the year.

Winter Noises

Think about those prior non-seasonal noises, review them and visit them in your mental soundscape…then think about what you are hearing these days that’s different than say a month ago.

The three big noises that mean winter most to me: rainfall, wind, and waves.


The many sounds of rain make me smile whenever I stop long enough to enjoy them. The sound of urban rain – on pavement, bouncing off cars, pouring off of roofs, rushing down storm drains. In the City, it’s like you are part of a giant cement fountain where all of the water is guided this way and that, popping out here and there by design.

In the country, you can enjoy the very varied sound of rain hitting different plant communities. Grassland rain is very quiet as millions of grass blades expertly catch and lower raindrops, springing back for the next one, dancing on and on, up and down. Conifer forest rain is quiet at first, too: needles delicately capture the oncoming rains. After a bit, the sound changes as the needles let loose big droplets that clamor as they pass down through the canopy and onto the ground. Waxy leaved plant communities, oak and madrone forests and chaparral have particularly rattly-noisy rain sounds. Raindrops pop when they hit those leaves, spattering and spraying with more noise still. Rain on the ocean, in lagoons and estuaries, and on ponds has the most soothing sound, where you can really get a sense of the minute changes in rainfall intensity and duration.


City and country wind sounds are different, too; either way, the wind noise is significantly heightened with the onset of winter storms. Tuning into wind noises in either place, you can visualize zephyrs and gust fronts as they pass by, come towards you, or after they retreat.

In the City, wind makes varied and unique high whistling noises as it passes through wires; there are wires everywhere in the City. If you live near a tree that catches the wind, you come to know its song. Palm trees rattle and bark. Conifers roar with different pitches. Bare branches of the many street trees also sing songs.

In the Country, the ridge top forests are often talking through the winter. Depending on the wind direction, each ridge and forest type has its own distant hum-roar-swoosh. If you are in the forest when it’s windy, you get to hear the groan and sometimes pop of trees swaying. Leafy evergreen live oaks make a noise in the wind that makes you wonder if it’s raining.


Big wave events are common around the Bay through the winter, and those waves make big noises. Besides bird song, listening for the waves is what most frequently brings me back to the moment. When I catch the wave noise and pause, I try to pick out individual waves even from far away. I try to follow that wave as its crashing progresses directionally. Then, I listen for the crescendo or the lulls of the varying sets. I pay attention to my breath to compare the tempo. Sometimes, I think I can feel the waves through the ground, perhaps the big noise reverberating into the ridges and terraces. After a particularly long lull, I pick up the spray off of the first big wave before the subsequent waves drown out that higher note. I’m thinking of late that long sets of big waves make tones like singing: listen for the notes, am I right?

Other Winter Noises

There are a few other winter noises that are unique to the city or countryside.

In the City, the sound of traffic changes as rolling tires are louder, making wet and splashing noises. The Boardwalk makes less noise.

In the Country, the ephemeral streams start their chorus. Post-storm waterfalls sing. Under the redwoods in the mountains, you can hear the flute-like call of the varied thrush, a winter denizen. In orchards and in riparian forests, you might hear the distinct whiney ‘weeent’ of the red-bellied sapsucker, another species only around in the rainy season.

Now Listen!

Its over to you…check it out…report back on the onset of uniquely winter sounds. Tell me, tell your family, tell your friends what all that noise about us is? Compare notes.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


November 20

#324 / Facts And Hope

Zeke Hausfather is the climate research lead at the payments company Stripe. He is also a research scientist at Berkeley Earth, an independent organization that analyzes environmental data. On October 18, 2023, Hausfather wrote a “Guest Essay,” published by The New York Times. The essay was headlined, “I Study Climate Change. The Data Is Telling Us Something New.” The Times classified Hausfather’s essay as “Opinion.”

Mostly, Hausfather’s column presented “facts,” not “opinion.” Hausfather tells Times’ readers the following:

[The] world [is] warming more quickly than before. First, the rate of warming we’ve measured over the world’s land and oceans over the past 15 years has been 40 percent higher than the rate since the 1970s, with the past nine years being the nine warmest years on record. Second, there has been acceleration over the past few decades in the total heat content of Earth’s oceans, where over 90 percent of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is accumulating. Third, satellite measurements of Earth’s energy imbalance — the difference between energy entering the atmosphere from the sun and the amount of heat leaving — show a strong increase in the amount of heat trapped over the past two decades.

Here’s the “Opinion” part of Hausfather’s column:

It’s now clear that we can control how warm the planet gets over the coming decades. Climate models have consistently found that once we get emissions down to net zero, the world will largely stop warming; there is no warming that is inevitable or in the pipeline after that point. Of course, the world will not cool back down for many centuries, unless world powers join in major efforts to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we add. But that is the brutal math of climate change and the reason we need to speed up efforts to reduce emissions significantly.

On that front, there is some reason for cautious hope. The world is on the brink of a clean energy transition. The International Energy Agency recently estimated that a whopping $1.8 trillion will be invested in clean energy technologies like renewables, electric cars and heat pumps in 2023, up from roughly $300 billion a decade ago. Prices of solar, wind and batteries have plummeted over the past 15 years, and for much of the world, solar power is now the cheapest form of electricity. If we reduce emissions quickly, we can switch from a world in which warming is accelerating to one in which its slowing. Eventually, we can stop it entirely.

Reducing emissions quickly: that’s where we can find “cautious hope.” 

But that “hope” will be realized only if the “facts” conform themselves to the reality of what we need to do. 

What we need to do, quite clearly, is to carry out a complete restructuring of our lives on the most urgent basis possible. Specifically: 

Stop Burning Fossil Fuels!

That’s our only basis for “hope.” 

And that’s a fact.

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Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at

November 20


Former Trump White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, now governor of Arkansas can’t seem to keep her hands out of the kitty belonging to the taxpayers of the state of Arkansas. Several week ago it was revealed that she had spent $20K of state money on a wooden podium that has yet to show up, but the coverup was…and is…on. As the scandal grew the Arkansas GOP came to her rescue with money to cover the expense, whereupon she immediately got a law passed that blocks the public from commenting on the money she spends. However, this only spurred a Republican to demand a Legislative audit of Podiumgate and every other purchase made during her time in office. Sari-o is now being accused of using the $20K to fly a friend to Paris for a purloined vacation, along with governor H-S of course. The friend, coincidentally, is one of the organizers of the Trump-inspired J6 insurrection in DC. If one can’t get the needed funds with a Deutsche Bank loan, the Arkansas cash box serves just as well.

Not feeling the heat from this June escapade, Governor Sarah on September 1 held a bash at the governor’s mansion for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks football team on the eve of their season’s first game. The tally for this, funded by the Governor’s Mansion Commission, a publicly funded state department, came to at least $13,081.36 if we’re counting pennies. About $4,500 went for food, including the soft pretzels, but no alcohol was purchased if we believe the receipts provided…though it may have been served to head coach, Sam Pittman, three full-costumed mascots, team cheerleaders, or the dance team…heaven forfend that any football team members imbibed. The additional help hired for the occasion may have sneaked a nip or two, to offset what is probably minimum wage pay of $760 in toto. Sounds as if the DJ did okay with a $600 fee, as did Brooksie Balloons who charged $500. As we might suspect, got over $1400 for gingham-checked tablecloths, and likely over $800 for bamboo plates and various sizes of pompoms. The florist charged almost $800 for flowers, candles and tablescapes, with a photo booth rental earning over $700…oh, and $435 for a lighted sign spelling out ‘GO HOGS.’ What would it be for a football party not having giant footballs along with junior-size footballs sailing through the mansion…$335 worth, thanks to the taxpayers who couldn’t attend the invitation-only soirée. Ordained Southern Baptist Pastor Mike Huckabee sure knows how to raise a daughter, huh?

Sarah’s old White House boss continues to cast unpleasantries as he roams around the country spewing his vitriol. The sad thing is that we are becoming inured, desensitized, to his dehumanizing marginalization of segments of the population as he continues his campaign to unravel our democracy on his path to regaining power. His now infamous Veterans Day speech, claiming the 2020 election was stolen, saying, “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections…They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream.” Nazis used the term ‘vermin’ to describe Jews, and we can only presume that Trump intends inclusion of brown-skin immigrants, and political opponents, especially those of a darker cast. MSNBC’s Jen Psaki said, “If elected to a second term, Trump would prosecute anyone he deems an enemy, unleash troops on protestors, and essentially unravel the rule of law as we know it. And this time, he plans to line his administration with people who actually will help him do it.” Trump was caught unawares by actually winning his first presidential election, stumbling through it in complete stupidity; but now that he has done the dress rehearsal, has won over the unsavory MAGAts who will do his bidding, get ready for Vice President Tucker Carlson and Attorney General Mike Johnson.

Stephen Miller, who served as senior advisor for policy in Trump’s White House, is still in the mix as he works on plans to install loyalist attorneys across the federal bureaucracy in a Trump II Administration. Miller worked as communications director for Jeff Sessions, before Sessions was dumped by Trump, with emphasis on anti-immigration policies. In Trump’s fold he helped to implement the family separation policy for migrants, and is now working for John McEntee, former Director of the White House Personnel Office, who is now running a right-wing dating site…picture that! It’s comforting to know that neither Miller nor McEntee are attorneys…the blind leading the blind, so we can only imagine what lies ahead with these two advising Trump. Joyce Vance points out a sentence in Vanity Fair story which she calls “chilling” that warns, “imagine a future in which Bill Barr seems moderate.” The goal is to replace lawyers across the executive branch with Trump loyalists…the supreme qualification. Competence, good judgement, or a commitment to the Constitution be damned. The power to prosecute will be a political tool to be used at Trump’s discretion! Trump, in his book, The Art of the Deal, draws a distinction between integrity and loyalty, saying he prefers the latter. He compared attorney Roy Cohn to “all the hundreds of ‘respectable’ guys who make careers out of boasting about their uncompromising integrity but have absolutely no loyalty.” Cohn was Trump’s ‘other guy.’

A recently released audio of a Trump interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, recorded a couple of months after the J6 Insurrection, finds the former prez saying he would have accompanied the MAGA rioters to the Capitol building if not for the Secret Service fearing for his safety. “I was thinking about going back during the problem to stop the problem, doing it myself. Secret Service didn’t like that idea too much. And I could have done that. And you know what? I would have been very well received. Don’t forget, the people that went to Washington that day, in my opinion, they went because they thought the election was rigged. That’s why they went,” he said. The claim that he could have been the peacemaker contradicts the testimonies given by over a thousand witnesses during the J6 Committee hearings, prominently, that of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson testified that Trump angrily tried to overpower the driver of the presidential limo to force his entourage to join the protesters who were headed to the Capitol building, and that he acknowledged that some carried weapons, saying, “They’re not here to hurt me.” They were only there to “hang Mike Pence.” The committee’s 814-page report concludes that Trump “lit that fire” in fueling the raid on the Capitol.

A Colorado judge ruled last week that Donald Trump, as president, “engaged in an insurrection” on January 6, 2021, but ruled against an attempt to remove him from that state’s 2024 primary ballot, saying that the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban” doesn’t apply to presidents. Judge Sarah Wallace found Trump’s conduct “actively primed the anger of his extremist supporters” and “acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it at the Capitol.” So, even with these conclusions she hesitated because the Constitution fails to detail enforcement of the ban on running for office and was persuaded that the mention of “officers of the United States” did not include the office of President. This case and those similar cases in Minnesota and Michigan are likely to end up with the US Supreme Court making the final ruling on enforcement of the 14th Amendment since we are in such unfamiliar territory with Trump.

The late writer and author, David Foster Wallace, was often asked existential questions and explored what it means to relate to others. Of note is a well-distributed commencement address he gave to graduates of Kenyon College in 2005, entitled ‘This is Water,’ wherein he tells of a parable of a young fish who doesn’t know what water is, just as many of us go about our lives on autopilot, not fully aware of our environment or our actions. “If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious,” he concludes. Perfect words for considering our ballot choices heading into an election year!

And speaking of one who is eternally unaware, Marjorie Taylor Greene says, “You know nothing is built in America these days! I just bought a TV with a label that says ‘Built in Antenna.’ I don’t even know where that is!”

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner-view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down. 

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.

“Saint Swithin’s Day” (weather)

“St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare”.   

~Bishop Ethelwold

“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while”.       
~Kin Hubbard

“Suddenly all the sky is hid As with the shutting of a lid, One by one great drops are falling Doubtful and slow, Down the pane they are crookedly crawling, And the wind breathes low; Slowly the circles widen on the river, Widen and mingle, one and all; Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver, Struck by an icy rain-drop’s fall”          
~James Russell Lowell


Bailey Sarian is one of my favorite Youtubers. She does the Murder, Mystery and Makeup true crime videos, and she has a podcast called Dark History. This is an episode of that podcast.

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