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Tuesday, 30 December 2003

Has Santa Cruz changed or have I?

I swear that once upon a time the beaches there were really nice. Herland cafe and bookshop was a hip hangout. The Saturn Cafe had good food (it was the first place I aver had chai . . .). It was a really queer-firendly town. Crawling with lesbians.

I haven't been to scruz regularly for ten years. I used to date a Santa Cruz girl. I would go nearly every week down to Capitola. I told my parents that I was participating in all night movie marathons at a friend's house, but I was really going out to see this girl. Then, she dumped me and I went away to college. This was a smart move on her part as I was a complete asshole at the time.

Anyway, getting back to the present tense, or at least the recently past tense, when Ellen wanted to know where was a nifty place to go to the beach, I said that Santa Cruz was a hip little town with a nice beach. So yesterday, we hopped in the car and drove down a looong stretch of 880/17 to get to the beach. We hopped out at the Boardwalk. Ok, the boardwalk is not cool and never has been, but we walked down the beach aways and saw sea lions. The sea lions were pretty cool. the long dock near the boardwalk has pieces of it close to the water that sea lions were napping on and barking at each other.

the beach was grayish. Noise pollution from the boardwalk floated down it. I walked barefoot and let the frgid water run over my feet.

then we went to the downtown. Full of chain stores. I went to the Santa Cruz Dyke March a few years back. It was a small and fun affair. It included street theater, chanting, partial nudity and a brief protest outside of the Barnes and Noble store. It was the first chain store on the main street. Some subterfuge had been involved in it's getting there. Some community members were outraged. those outraged people clearly lost that battle and maybe left town, i dunno. Baby gap. Urban outfitters. etc etc etc.

So we went to herland to get a cup of coffee or some hummus or whatever. It's not a cafe anymore. It's a bookstore only. They had to move down the street from their old location. the person behind the counter was a baby boomer goddess-worshipping type. The store was playing really bad out of tune folk music. the books were all published by Naiad press. Lame lame lame. I got a copy of the latest Dykes to Watch Out For book. The woman behind the counter said, "Since you're planning to go out to lunch, are you sure that you don't want a bag?"

Closetted? In Santa Cruz? What's happened to the world? I've been whining that people on the East Coast aren't out. But this is California. This is Santa Cruz, which in 1993 or 1994 was reported by the San Jose Mercury News to be 25% lesbian/bisexual/LUG. (The first place I ever saw the word LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) was in that article.) Did the whole world change when I wasn't paying attention?

We walked through the yuppied throngs amidst the chain stores towards the Saturn Cafe. I was feeling discouraged. A piece of my youth is gone forever. Or was it always lame and I hadn't noticed because I was young and breaking so many rules by going down there?

The Saturn Cafe was recently in the news for responding to the French Fries/Freedom Fires debacle by renaming their fried "Impeach Bush Fries." Alas, now the menu just says "Fries." And they're not very good. The only hint of the activism and queerness that I thought still lurked in scruz was a manifesto on Saturn's bathroom doors about how they were fighting against binary gender divisions by making their bathrooms officially non gendered. If only thier food was still good.

Ellen was a good sport. She said that it was a good learning experience and she's glad we went all the way down there to find out she doesn't need to go back.

Alas. either the town has completely changed or I have. Or maybe both of us. Everything in the world is different. The girl I dated isn't even a girl anymore.

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