.Opinion January 4, 2017


I’m sure there were local entertainment celebrities in Santa Cruz before the reality TV era—there had to be, right? But the way I remember it, Lex van den Berghe’s sudden fame when Survivor: Africa hit the airwaves in 2001 was unlike anything that had come before it around here, and it paved the way for future American Idol contestants who will always elicit thrilled whispers when they’re spotted at the Bagelry. The Santa Cruz Roller Derby Girls blew up, too, a few years later; much like when the Santa Cruz Warriors debuted at Kaiser Permanente Arena, you had to be at the Civic to see the Derby Girls.

So Lex and Kelly van den Berghe (the former SCRDG who had a huge following when she skated as Roxy Scarmichael) are pretty much Santa Cruz’s perfect local-celeb power couple. But what do you do with the power that comes with that? Where do you funnel that attention? I’ve always admired the very Santa Cruz attitude Lex has had about it, and the way he’s used his name to generate buzz for things he believed were worthwhile.  

But this week’s cover story by Aaron Carnes is interesting, because it’s not about a cause that Lex and Kelly chose; it’s not a project or an endorsement. It’s an intimate part of their lives that has been both agonizing and, at times, transcendent. It’s also different because the life-changing events they’ve been through in the last few months would be remarkable no matter who they happened to. And they happen every time someone chooses to save another person’s life by donating an organ. That’s the larger truth I hope we can all remember when we read their story.



Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Play List

Mr. Pierce and Mr. Palopoli, I thoroughly enjoyed your “Best Songs” feature in this week’s Good Times (GT, 12/28). I would love to hear the playlist on the radio, and would be eager to buy the CD. Maybe KPIG could host a special night with your selections! Or maybe you’d like to play DJ on KRUZ-TV or at the Museum of Art & History. I think people would pay money to hear this. I believe you’ve stumbled upon a piece of pop culture that many of us would treasure.

After all, Santa Cruz still is the center of the universe.

Mark Hucklebridge | Santa Cruz

Song Check

I was surprised to see Larry Hosford did not make your 20 best songs about Santa Cruz list in your 12/28/16 issue! Larry’s song “Down in the Santa Cruz Bay” is not only about Santa Cruz, it is about some of the local musicians who have played here over the years. Larry, who sadly passed away a short time ago, has been entertaining the local Santa Cruz music scene and has played with many local musicians for many years, and in my opinion was a brilliant songwriter. I hope someday Larry gets the recognition he deserves!

Dan O’Bannon  | Watsonville

Gah, and only a week after I wrote a tribute to Hosford in our Year in Review issue! Thanks for pointing out this oversight. We got a lot of great feedback and song suggestions after publishing this story. Keep them coming, there may have to be a follow-up! — Editor

About Last Nite

Such a wonderful time last night at the Last Nite Parade—reminding me of the power there is in how we use our energy.

When I first arrived downtown, the energy felt so tense. There were police and police cars on every block, and many signs warning of triple fines for a whole list of things. No one was smiling. I wondered if our parade would be allowed.

Walking down Pacific toward where the parade was to start, I began seeing people in colorful costumes, blowing bubbles, playing drums, bagpipes, dancing, singing. The bagpipes led the way down Pacific. How could anyone not smile—so much joy! I felt the shift in the energy; even the police were smiling. The parade was short and ended up near Bookshop Santa Cruz with a drum and bagpipe circle. So simple, so heart-opening.

This is the way we make the shift.

Ajna Orion | Santa Cruz

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Online Comments

Re: Salud y Carina

We don’t describe our girls as “at-risk”; rather, we believe we are serving middle-school girls at a critical time in their development: the pre-teen and teen years. We are honored to do this work and when it comes to our youth there is always more work to be done. Thank you!
— Theresa Cariño


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As of Jan. 1, all takeout containers in the unincorporated areas of the county must be compostable. The rules, approved by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, prohibit plastic straws, plastic stir sticks and Styrofoam to-go containers. The rules apply to restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, food trucks, special events, and anywhere food is sold to go.


It was a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve in downtown Santa Cruz, at least compared to previous years. There were 12 arrests made, mostly for public intoxication, according to SCPD. Officers were still busy though, responding to 160 calls for service between 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 and 5 a.m. the following morning.


“Kidney transplants seem so routine now. But the first one was like Lindbergh’s flight across the ocean.”

-Joseph Murray


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