Over 45 years ago, Rob Brezsny came across a message scribed in a bathroom stall at a Roy Rogers in North Carolina: “I got Santa Cruzified and Californicated, and it felt like paradise,” it read. “You know you’ll never become the artist you were meant to be until you come live in Santa Cruz.” The unconventional sign inspired the younger Brezsny to go west and settle in Santa Cruz. Mark C. Anderson’s cover story is a window into Brezsny’s wisdom and those roads less traveled—many of which have led to good things—you’ll understand why sometimes the unconventional, unexpected or downright destitute route might be best.
Brezsny’s early years in Santa Cruz weren’t easy: He rotated between living in a room with a shared bathroom in the original St. George Hotel and a sleeping bag in San Lorenzo Park. He lived on food stamps, which never lasted a month, even when he stuck to a diet of mostly rice and veggies.
Brezsny’s rickety old bike was his means of transportation—it was a challenge to scrounge up enough for bus fare—so he was devastated when his one-speed jalopy was stolen. He now sees it as a blessing; it led him to the classified pages of Good Times, where he saw an ad that the paper was looking for a new horoscope writer.
Before the horoscope column, Brezsny lived in “squalor and deprivation.” After his column launched on Jan. 26, 1978, life remained unchanged. Good Times paid him $15 per week. So, along with his guaranteed monthly resources, including food stamps, his total monthly earnings amounted to less than $150. Brezsny supplemented his income with temp jobs, which included weeding senior citizens’ gardens and volunteering for medical experiments.
Brezsny delves deeper into his early days in Santa Cruz in his forthcoming book, Astrology Is Real: Revelations from My Life as a Horoscope Columnist, (release date: TBD). Not including his books, his Free Will Astrology column has accounted for 70,000 words for each of the 45 years it’s run—it appears in 90-plus publications in North America, Italy, France, Japan, the Netherlands and beyond. That message in the North Carolina bathroom stall eventually led Brezsny to a comfortable life in Marin. More importantly, as Anderson relays in his story, it led to Brezsny’s understanding of how he’s constructed on a molecular level. “I’m made of Santa Cruz,” he says. “I’m Santa Cruz taken to the world at large.”
Adam Joseph | Editor
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This Saturday, the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) will hold a free discussion with two prominent Santa Cruz activists to inspire future activism. The “Stories of Resistance” event will feature Bella Bonner and Joy Flynn, local Black Lives Matter organizers. Flynn initiated the first Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Santa Cruz right after George Floyd was murdered. Bonner organized the largest Black Lives Matter march in Santa Cruz later that summer. rcnv.org
UCSC will host its first Land Acknowledgement event Wednesday, April 12. The event will recognize the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, the Indigenous people who originally inhabited the land, and discuss the tribe’s relationship with their homelands. The event aims to answer the community’s questions about land acknowledgments and will be hosted online and in-person, beginning at 3pm at Stevenson Event Center. Register at calendar.ucsc.edu/event