.Opinion November 1, 2017


As this issue goes to press, it’s Halloween. When it’s finished, and after I take my kid trick or treating tonight, I plan to watch John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s something I do every year; in fact, it’s the only movie that I watch every year, without fail—and always around this time, of course. To me, there’s something about it that embodies not just the eponymous holiday, but also autumn, my favorite season, itself. It might sound ironic, considering it’s a horror movie full of shocks and suspense, but Halloween—with its famous, ominous tagline declaring “The Night HE came home!”—makes me feel at home.

And it’s not even my favorite of Carpenter’s films. (That’s They Live.) I grew up watching them, and he was always one of the horror directors I was most interested in as a film fan and a writer. Considering the bizarre hostility he took from critics over the years for films that would eventually go on to be considered classics (including Halloween!), I always suspected he must be kind of a bitter guy. As you’ll read in my cover story this week, nothing could be further from the truth. He, in fact, considers himself the luckiest guy on the planet. His roll-with-the-punches attitude toward his wild career is what made my interview with him most fascinating to me, but he was also just very, very funny. He’s coming to Santa Cruz on Sunday for a performance of his movie music at the Catalyst, and two of his best films will be shown at part of the Midnights at the Del Mar series on Friday and Saturday.

I also wanted to mention that I will be in conversation with Jason Segel on Friday, Nov. 3 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Cruz. Most people know Segel as an actor in films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and TV series like Freaks and Geeks and How I Met Your Mother. But he’s also built quite a career as a writer, and has just released his first YA novel, Otherworld, a trippy, Black Mirror-type trilogy-starter that he co-wrote with Kirsten Miller. We’ll be talking about his new book, his films and the general state of Jason Segel-ness. Tickets are almost sold-out, so get them quick; more info at bookshopsantacruz.com!



Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Seeing Green? No, Seeing Red

Reporter Mat Weir points out that there has been “a surprising lack of controversy” over the County’s Cannabis Draft EIR (GT, 9/27). I submit that the document itself is so formidable (636 pages) that most folks won’t read it unless they have a stinky grow or explosive hash oil lab next door. The legislation is so onerous to growers that I doubt most will clear licensing hurdles. As cited in your article, only 25 out of roughly 760 registered cannabis growers so far have paid the $2,500 application fee. (And that’s just the folks who dared to walk out of the shadows.)

The crux of the issue is enforcement.  Nowhere in the humongous document is the fact that the county intends to enforce whatever law it decides upon. (It doesn’t want to get sued?) Under Section MM AT-1.3b, page 6-3, you will note the term “mitigation” for the licensed growers and “monitoring” for unlicensed growers with annual reports to supervisors. Once the annual reports are presented (a two-year process at best?), maybe a budget for “enforcement” will be considered. “Mitigation” and “monitoring” are not the same as enforcement. The lack of enforcement from the beginning is unconscionable.

Currently, enforcement against illegal growers depends upon private parties who must report the perpetrator to the Planning Department. We are told by government reps “no one will find out who reported—it would take a lot of money and time to do that.”  Hello? The illegals have enough cash to pay their lawyers for their time. Therefore, the illegals go unreported because the reporter fears reprisal to body or property or both. The system is broken.

Voilà! The county gets money and oversight jobs without fear of litigation. The legal (licensed) growers get to sell their goods in the county stores. The illegal (unlicensed, unmitigated) growers get a perpetual slap on the collective hand and continue sales on the lucrative black market. The rest of us tax-paying, non-growing, non-using citizens get nothing but the status quo: fear of fire in the hills; fear of poisonous environmental degradation; fear of doped-up drivers running us off our “private” roads, for which the “bad dudes” do not pay their road assessments, but transport all of their supplies, goods, and workers.

It appears that the cannabis industry has done a terrific job, with its well-oiled and monied PR machine, of keeping the lid on any news which has a whiff of negativity.  (Witness the Cannifornian hosted on the Sentinel’s website and advertised as a “product” of the Bay Area News Group and other digital outlets who have visions of golden geese dancing in their heads. And, of course, the “warm and fuzzy” ads hosted by Good Times.)  There is no controversy because there is no light on the subject.

Mary Comfort


Online Comments

Re: Business Closures

Great article Jake! When all that is left is chain stores and chain restaurants, Santa Cruz will be just like any other town. “Nothing to see here folks … same stores, same restaurants, different town.” E-commerce doesn’t appeal to all of us, and there is no personality in a computer screen. Virtual dining out, anybody? A resident of Santa Cruz County for more than 25 years, I finally decided that my paycheck was more valuable to me if I could save some of it, or better afford gas and food–instead of giving it all to a landlord. Certainly the problem is complex. But a big piece of the puzzle is a lack of housing inventory. People who buy homes with cash with no intention of living in them, and the vacation homeowners who usurp local housing inventory contribute to the crisis. Maybe after they’ve bought everything out from under what’s left of the middle class, they’ll wonder where all the nice restaurants and wait staffs went, or why there is a teacher shortage. And it isn’t just service people and minimum-wage workers being affected or forced out. Even doctors can’t afford to live here. Or if they can, they choose not to because of the extremely high cost of living. This is not a “tip of the iceberg” warning. There is a hole in the hull of our community.

— Brooks


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Veterans Day comes early this year with a free screening of Honor Flight, a documentary chronicling an effort to fly thousands of World War II veterans out to Washington D.C. to see a monument built in their honor. Hospice of Santa Cruz County is sponsoring the 7 p.m. showing on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Del Mar. Local veteran James Peterson is in the film. Tickets are required for the free event, and can be reserved at hospicesantacruz.org.


The holiday gift shop at Ben Lomond’s Valley Churches United Missions (VCUM) opens for the season on Wednesday, Nov. 1. The shop is open every day—on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekdays from 10 to 5—until Christmas Eve, when it closes at noon. The winter wonderland display has brand new toys, jewelry, accessories, home goods and ornaments. All proceeds directly benefit the VCUM programs for those in need. For more information, call 336-8258.


“Get a new president!”

-Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, ‘Escape from New York’


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