Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Bittersweet Symphony

The Santa Cruz that I grew up in is much different than the Santa Cruz
that most of you all know.  It wasn’t the gorgeous, open-minded,
paradise that most people see it as.  Though it is one of the most
physically beautiful places on earth (I’m not arguing that point),
being young in Santa Cruz is somewhat like being in a war.  People,
many more than you anticipated, are lost along the way, and people
don’t come back, the way they left.  The Santa Cruz I grew up in was
one where my first friends got addicted to crank at age 13 (I was 12).
 The first person who died in my circle of friends OD’d on Heroin at
the age of 15 (I was barely 14).  It was a place where I was a late
bloomer, starting to smoke cigarettes at the age of 13, starting to
drink at 14, starting to smoke pot at 15…we’ll stop there.  But the
Santa Cruz I grew up in afforded kids who didn’t fit in, a sort of
respite.  A place where we freaks could be ourselves.

For those of you who knew me then, you probably remember the different
colored hair every few weeks.  Chain bracelets, chain necklaces, and
studded belts.  The now infamous jacket covered in safety pins and
patches.  The dickies, the converse, the black band t-shirts.  I was
soooo punk rock and thought I was pretty damn awesome because of it.
Living in Santa Cruz exposed me to drugs and sex at a very very young
age (among other things), but getting involved in punk rock, believe
it or not, steered me away from taking part in too much of that stuff.
 Sure, I experimented.  I drank myself stupid.  I did things I
probably shouldn’t have, but as I got more and more in to the punk
rock scene, I actually started doing those things less and less.

My first real Punk Rock Show was at the now defunct Palookaville.  It
was a show for the release of a CD called Santa Cruz Sucks.  Pretty
fitting, I think.  Basically, this was the beginning of the end of a
punk rock scene in Santa Cruz because all the hippie liberals who were
sooo accepting didn’t want these scary looking kids with spikey hair
and chains playing their loud music and dancing in those freaky mosh
pit things where they just slam into each other hanging out around
their town.

Anyway, at that first show at Palookaville, a little band named Good
Riddance played, and my life was forever changed.  Okay, so it wasn’t
that straight forward, but I did learn alot at that first show.  I
learned that you don’t stand right next to the stage because when you
get slammed into from behind by one of the guys in the mosh pit, you
end up with bruised ribs.  I learned that people who had cars would
always drive you home because your parents didn’t want to come pick
you up that late and the nice guys with cars wanted you to see the
rest of the show…they were staying for the whole thing.  I learned
the rules of a circle pit (watch your face because there are alot of
elbows and they hurt when they hit you in the nose).  But mostly I
learned that these freak kids, though some of them would end up strung
out or pregnant, were mostly smart, politically conscious kids who
didn’t fit in with the Water Polo players and surfers who ruled the
school in Santa Cruz, just like I didn’t fit in with the dumb girls
who didn’t care about anything but drinking and having bonfires at the

At first, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but as I started
getting more and more into this scene I started learning the major
players…everyone listened to Fury 66, Good Riddance, and Riff
Raff…they were the local Santa Cruz bands.  Everyone listened to the
Sex Pistols, Crass, and the Ramones…they were the classics.  And
everyone listened to A.F.I. (before they sold out to capitol records).
 It was a great time: shows happened one, two, sometimes three times a
week.  They usually didn’t cost more than $5, and I went to every
single one.

Over the years, shows became harder and harder to put on.  Cops
cracked down on us poor punks, Palookaville closed, thursday night
showcase (where local bands played at the catalyst for $3) stopped.
There were very few shows.  There was, however, one constant
throughout my time in Santa Cruz.  A band named Good Riddance.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen them, but they seem to
have been around throughout my young adult life.  I remember seeing
them when A.F.I. jumped onto the stage and played about three songs
while waiting for Good Riddance (whose van was experiencing technical
difficulties).   I remember seeing them right before the fateful
election of 2000, when Russ, the lead singer, reminded us not to vote
for the lesser of two evils just because he’s the lesser of two evils.
 I even saw them in London when I was there.  But it’s not just that I
got to see them a million times.  It was also that the music they sang
was exactly what I believed.  They sang about respecting women, about
being anti-war, about not getting in fights in the middle of a mosh
pit, they would stop playing if people started fighting.  Good
Riddance, in a very big way was responsible for a huge part of my
political and social awakening.

Okay, I’ll get to the point.  On Saturday night Good Riddance played
their second to last show in San Diego.  On Sunday night they played
their last show in Santa Cruz.  On Saturday night I saw them for the
last time.  And I have to say, I was a little choked up.  Okay, I was
more than a little choked up.  It was one of the most bittersweet
nights of my life.  It was one of those nights where one part of your
life comes full circle.  Of course, my friend and I got lost and ended
up at the Mexican border (in a maneuver that can only be pulled by a
Callahan I actually got lost and ended up in another country).  We did
manage to get back and watch the show.

Now, I need a little flashback.  Think back to the Election of 2004.
This is really one of the first times in my life that I changed over
night, Literally.  I had just spent a year of my life defending
america to many a Briton who had a good question.  Why on earth is
Bush the president?  And I told them…He stole the election.  That
was the only explanation.  So in November of 2004 when he was elected
by this country, I lost it.  I lost all my idealism.  I pretty much
lost hope.  I became a little more bitter, a little more angry.

But you know what, on Saturday night, I gained back a little bit of my
youthful hope and idealism.  It’s hard to be in a room of people,
mostly young people, all of whom throw their fists in the air and
chant, ‘I STILL CARE,’ at the top of their lungs, and not gain some
hope.  Maybe if we all start caring, and I mean really caring again,
things can change.  And in the immortal words of Good Riddance:


Peace, Love, and Good Riddance,



June 14, 2007 - Posted by | Music, Santa Cruz, Sex

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