I live ground zero for weird. You might think, from the safety
of your home computer or mobile device that the distinction for “weirdest city
in America” might go to Portland, Austin, or San Francisco and you would be wrong. Santa Cruz wins hippie hands down. You want hard-hitting numbers to back
up my claim—too bad, weird cannot be quantified by mere statistics.
I live in La Bahia, or, command center for the weird, as I
like to call it. Built in 1926 as luxury suites for those visiting the prime destination point on the Western seaboard, there weren’t many contenders.
Located across the street from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk our
apartment has a view that encompasses a wide swath of the dregs, droids and dilatants of society. For example, on any given weekend, there are a variety of drummers to choose to listen to (as if you have any choice). There is a family of six
that drives up, unloads the car, dons similar African garb and plays congas guided by the spirit of Olatunji. There’s the autistic gentlemen who beats on a bucket with a drumstick, from sunrise to sunset, making us feel like we’re in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
There was a guy last week who set-up an entire rock and roll drum set, like he was auditioning for a Swedish death metal band. He lasted 2 days until somebody
called the cops. We may be weird, but Santa Cruzians have their limits.
The City Council banned drummers from attending the Farmers
Market, and I have to agree. I don’t mind marching to the beat of a different drummer—I just don’t like shopping to the beat of 15 hippies, 20 congas and no discernible rhythm.
Be aware there are many people in Santa Cruz who actively participate in shedding the image of weird from our town. These folks, young and old, find the adjective “weird” to conflict with their world-view of a prosperous future.
“How could,” in their minds, “being known for being weird attract big business and the right kind of community?”
I find this perspective to be short-sighted and ill-informed. 2012 is being defined by the weird events taking place throughout the current space-time continuum. Battles over the right for certain people to be married, the right for women to have access to medical treatment and birth control, the right for people to say where and how their taxes are used are butted up against those who want to withdraw the Civil Rights Movement, Child Labor Laws and anything that guarantees minorities a say in our country. And this, in a word, is weird.
We are caught up in a drama that seems to parallel what happened
when Sapiens and Neanderthals played an evolutionary game of Roshambo to determine who was to move forward and who was to be left behind.
I believe it’s only going to get weirder as fringe political
parties gain strength, as seasons disappear and reappear and as technology mutates into something we never suspected. Perhaps the drummers across the street have a deeper insight then anyone has given them credit for. Perhaps they are like the band on the Titantic—providing a soundtrack as our ship sinks. Or maybe, I’m trapped in the movie Jumangi and the repetitive beats that echo through the hallways of La Bahia symbolize the call of something more ancient and primal and weird.