Plus Letters To the Editor
Though I grew up on Star Wars, I didn’t discover the true potential of science fiction until I read the mind-bending work of Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard in high school. These authors wrote about ideas in a way that ultimately had very little to do with “speculative fiction,” and everything to do with the questions that are at the core of our existence: What does it mean to be human? What is the true nature of reality? Is the Buddha in the park? (OK, that last one was just for VALIS fans.)
In college, someone gave me a copy of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, which turned me on to a whole different set of possibilities for what science fiction could be. Her work was neither paranoid nor cynical, as Dick and Ballard so often were, and it asked revolutionary questions about society that I’d never seen any science fiction writer take on in the way that she did.
The influences that led Le Guin to these themes are a big part of what GT contributor John Malkin discusses with her in our cover story this week. Now in her 80s, Le Guin is fascinating both as an intellectual thinker and a creative person, and I have no doubt she’ll bring a unique perspective to the new Anthropocene Conference this week. (Don’t worry, Malkin explains what that is, too.)
Also recalling a time when science fiction seemed like a blueprint for revolution is the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which Lisa Jensen reviews this week. Would Alejandro Jodorowsky have done any better with Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking epic than David Lynch did? Well, sure, but my 4-year-old would have, too. (Although her casting of the well-worn stuffed animal Favorite Kitty as Paul Atreides would no doubt be controversial.) Jensen asks a more interesting question: is watching a movie about the unmade movie perhaps better than the actual movie would have been?
Steve Palopoli | Editor-in-Chief
Return of RvB
I wish to register my disagreement, in the strongest possible terms, with Veronica Garrett’s vicious slander of Richard Von Busack (“Review of Reviewers,” Letters, 04/10/14), the finest film critic the Santa Cruz area has ever known. Not only did he describe David Lynch’s Inland Empire as playing the viewer’s spine like a xylophone, he also accurately conveys the atmosphere and style of each film, letting the reader decide if he or she would enjoy the movie in question. I always found a Von Busack recommendation reliable; he also writes vividly and with insight. The gaping void left in these pages where Von Busack’s words once shone is the gravest tragedy to strike Santa Cruz since Tuesday, 5:04 p.m., October 17, 1989.
—Graham McGrew | Santa Cruz
Not to worry, Graham, Richard’s first review in these pages can be found in the Film section this week. — Editor
Reading Jeff Dunn and Christina Waters on Buz Bezore brought back many memories of those heady days of Santa Cruz journalism at its yeastiest (although I don’t really remember being a “golden boy,” even for a week). I’d like to add shout-outs for two major figures in that halycon scene: Sundaz! editor maudit Patrick Fox; and cartoonist, Santa Cruz Independent stalwart, commissioner of the Media Softball league, DA candidate and colleague Tim Eagan.
—Michael S. Gant | Aptos
Blast from the Pasta
Geoffrey Dunn’s tribute to Buz Bezore was spot-on. My mother (Mary Barnett, now in her ’90s) wrote for Buz’s various ventures many times, and unlike other small-paper editors of the day Buz always paid as promised, even if the paper itself was failing. He loved “the story,” loved Santa Cruz, and was all about accountability. He was never a tool of the left or other political group. His last few years were a tough journey and unfairly so, for someone who gave so much to this community. It was great to read and remember the salad days of independent newspapers in Santa Cruz. Yes, kids, there really was a publication called Free Spaghetti Dinner.
—Michael Fitzgerald | Ben Lomond
Re: PVUSD Traffic
So glad I moved away from there when I did (in 2004). The ensuing traffic was easily foreseeable when that school was being built, long before it opened.
Re: Best Local Issue
Thanks, Good Times: It was quite surprising to find my photo once again in a public publication. It’s a very good image of me so I can’t complain. The one thing that worries me though is I’m quickly becoming the poster boy for homelessness in Santa Cruz and with that comes responsibility both good and bad. I’ve been an activist most of my life fighting for what I believe in including taking a deeper look at homelessness and finding ways to stop blaming and start thinking of people, all people as our community, and how we can bring value out of everyone. I don’t believe in handouts, but also I don’t think anyone should starve. What I do believe is having a way for people to find value in themselves. The only way that’s going to happen is there needs to be opportunity for everyone. Many are willing to volunteer in exchange for food, housing and support. It takes work from everyone, and there’s much to do that government aren’t willing or capable of doing. It’s really up to all of us to come together and find out.
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“The core of science fiction—its essence —has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all.”