Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Eastside or Westside?: It's a fact of local life: sooner or later, everyone must choose.
Our Annual Student Guide
The Seabright Twins' tips on how to pass for a local, plus our guide to procuring coffee and other life essentials
By The Seabright Twins (Laura and Deborah Nadel)
So, you decided to go to UCSC and live in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is an awesome place to live. There are a bunch of cool beaches, weird characters, and a small homey feel. It's basically paradise, if you can excuse the painfully gouging rents and the hard-to-catch-a-break job market.
But let's face it: The UCSC student is about one notch above the Santa Cruz summer tourist on the totem pole. A lot of locals view UCSC students—much as they view tourists—as entitled, self-serving jerks who eat away at our resources, tip little and contribute to the exorbitant rents. That's primarily because most UCSC students do a two-to-four-year stint and then bail to make real money somewhere else, failing to stick around long enough to contribute to the spirit of the city. No, it is not your imagination; those menacing whispers of "Go home, Valley" deep in the woods near Kresge Hall were real.
However, if you are reading this still, you must be the exception. Perhaps you are the UCSC student who appreciates the small local beach town flavor that this city has to offer. Instead of mocking the strange traditions and idiosyncrasies, perhaps you are strangely drawn to it. The following is a rough guide that details how to blend in a little better, how to not piss off the townies and how to value the strange but unique qualities this place has to offer.The Seabright Twins' Tips on How To Pose Like You Are Local, Even Though You Never Will Be
1. YOU WILL NEVER BE LOCAL.
LAURA: It's OK, the Seabright Twins never will be either, and we have lived here for over 10 years. When anyone asks, "Are you from here?" I have been dutifully conditioned to pause and ponder the correct response. In my years of research, it appears you can't claim local status unless you were born at Dominican Hospital. DEBORAH: I have learned to reframe this position by asserting that I'm "common-law" married to Santa Cruz. This means Santa Cruz and I have stayed together for over seven years and would like at the very least a little recognition of that status. You may also be able to call Santa Cruz your "life partner," depending on how committed you are to remaining in this town.
2. THE SERVICE INDUSTRY IS GOD.
LAURA: There is no real caste system in this town except for the hierarchy in service industry jobs, with bartenders at the top. The restaurant servers, the busboys and girls, the baristas and the people who mop up your crumbs and discarded paper are proud members of the working class—also known as your peer group. If you are going to eat or drink, you must tip big. These people either once were (or still are) starving students or are just trying to pay the massive rent and utilities bills that haunt us all every month. Although you may qualify as a faceless UCSC student, they will remember you if you are stingy, rude or just plain abominable. The Seabright Twins advise you to consider carefully the company you keep, as your obnoxious frat boy buddy who decides to stand on top of tables, break bottles and scream Sublime lyrics at the top of his lungs can cause permanent 86ing, or at least a suspicious addition to your food.
3. THERE ARE APPROPRIATE AND INAPPROPRIATE PLACES TO ORDER YOUR RED BULL AND VODKA.
DEBORAH: For example, if you saunter into Callahan's and order a banana daiquiri, they might make it, but they'll look at you a little funny. Order that same drink at the Red and they'll whip it up in a fancy little package with a ribbon tied around it and sparkles appliquéd to the side, no problem. Santa Cruz was once voted the No. 2 party school in the country, so there is no need to worry: there's a venue for every type of lush. If you really want to blend, though, you'll have to develop an affinity for whiskey. Just sidle up to the bar at the Jury Room, the Avenue or Brady's and order a shot of Jameson's and the bartender will slam it down on the counter with a gleeful glint in the eye. You're welcome anytime, so long as you're legal.
4. YOU MIGHT AS WELL THROW AWAY YOUR WATCH, BECAUSE YOU DO NOT NEED IT IN THIS TOWN.
LAURA: Everyone is late. Classes will start 10 to 15 minutes late, your co-workers will stroll into the job whenever they roll out of bed, your friends will keep you sitting alone for countless minutes, and parties have a two-hour delay on original start time. Yes, it's a California thing, it even could be considered a West Coast phenomenon, but in Santa Cruz it's a way of life.
5. EXPAND YOUR CONVERSATIONAL REPERTOIRE.
DEBORAH: You're going to have to learn to address topics other than your intended major, your hideous professor or how long of a paper you have to crank out before Monday if you want to figure out how not to become a Foucault-spouting bore. Thus you must embrace ad nauseam such topics like the ever-increasing cost of living and the lack of career opportunities in this town.
6. LEARN THE SANTA CRUZ VERNACULAR.
LAURA: "Tranny" does not necessarily mean transgendered here, despite what your community studies classes dictate. "Tranny" means transplant, which means "you" and about 80 percent of the people who make up this town. "Over the hill" is not a jab at the aging middle class, it's a reference to everything and everyone that lives on the other side of Highway 17. Those people and things are so unimportant that they are lumped into one general category, and thus the term is thrown around quite loosely.
7. CHOOSE YOUR GEOGRAPHY.
DEBORAH: Are you a suburban Westsider? An Eastside surfer bro? A mellow Midtowner? Teetering on the outskirts of town in Capitola, Aptos or Soquel? Or maybe you're more comfortable in flannel, drive a big truck and enjoy living like a hermit in the mountains. You'll discover the neighborhood that seems to fit like a pair of sparkly hot pants on Richard Simmons. If you're anything like the Seabright Twins, you may have to move a lot before your roots manage to take hold in the perfect place. But once you find it, it becomes quite cumbersome to ever try to escape—er, leave. LAURA: These delineations make up specific boroughs in this town, and the borders must be treated with great respect.
8. AFFECT DISDAIN FOR THE BOARDWALK.
DEBORAH: As fun as it once may have been to visit as a child, the Boardwalk must now be left for only the tourists to devour. It's an area to be avoided and shunned unless you go to the arcade to play pinball or you're cool and coordinated enough to master some steps on the Dance Dance Revolution game. LAURA: Take some time between classes to observe the spectacle that is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with new adult "local" eyes. It's a bunch of sunburned, irritable families who are holding on by a thread to their sanity. The screaming is ear-piercing.
9. KNOW YOUR LOCAL CHARACTERS.
LAURA: We speak of the Pink Umbrella Man, the Accordion Guy and the Deep Baritone-Voiced Man who plays guitar. Know also the spanging area in front of Borders. Make up elaborate backstories that contribute to the classic urban legends about these local fixtures: "I heard he/she was one credit away from graduating from UCSC ..." Prepare a poker face that registers zero reaction as you pass them because you are so used to it all.
10. LOSE THE 'MOM DOESN'T PAY FOR MY HAIRCUT ANYMORE' HAIRDOS, THE GENERIC GOATEE AND THE IRONIC T-SHIRTS.
LAURA: It's tired, and more importantly it's a dead giveaway to your collegial semi-permanent student status. This does not mean you must conform to a Santa Cruz local dress code, but it should be noted that it is very casual here. Flip flops and shorts are acceptable year-round and are unabashedly donned for outings at high-end dining establishments without so much as a second glance.
11. WHILE HOLED UP IN YOUR DORM ROOM, THINK ABOUT REPLACING THAT BOB MARLEY 'LEGENDS' CD WITH ONE BY A LOCAL SANTA CRUZ PUNK BAND.
DEBORAH: In fact, try to get out of the dorm room every once in a while. There's more to Santa Cruz then drinking Boones Fuzzy Navels and playing cards on the dirty carpet of your hall mate's room. Get out and explore a little! Discover the enigma of the Mystery Spot. Research what makes Santa Cruz weird and attempt to keep it that way. View a Guerilla Drive-in movie or two. Just get out there and mingle a little!
12. MUCH LIKE THE SUMMER CAMPS OF YOUR YOUTH, IT WAS ALWAYS 'BETTER BEFORE YOU GOT HERE.'
LAURA: The rent was lower, the bars were hipper, the parties were phatter, the surf was better and the Gap didn't exist. You will forever have to hear the locals wax nostalgic for the Silver Bullet, reminisce about the crazy drug deals at Hippie Corner and mourn the loss of Emi's (now the Red). No worries, if you stick it out, you too can add to the memories. It's a vicious cycle and it must be accepted.
13. SMALL-TOWN PRIDE MEANS YOU NEED TO SUPPORT LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES.
DEBORAH: Forget about Wal-Mart—in fact, spit on the ground and sneer at the mere mention of the words. Turn your love to places like Shopper's Corner, Java Junction and Saturn Café. Make your parents' dollars count where it's important.
14. WALK, ROLL, PEDAL OR RIDE THERE.
LAURA: This may be a hard concept to grasp, particularly if you are migrating from the smoggy environs of L.A. or the congested highways of the Bay Area, but you do not really need a car to get around town, unless of course you live deep in the mountains. In fact, the Seabright Twins frown upon the excessive use of vehicles. particularly when you are just running to the corner store for a Wow Wow Tuna sandwich or a case of Two-buck Chuck. You can walk to pretty much any destination in Santa Cruz in about an hour. The streets pander to the pedestrian, the skater, the bike rider, and the Santa Cruz chapter of Roller Girls. Well, not physically, as there are several places in town sans sidewalk. But on a spiritual level, if you will, the town cherishes the non-gas-guzzling methods of transportation. It is not uncommon to witness throngs of people wandering the streets at most hours of the day. And if you are foolish enough to drink and drive, you truly are an asshole. A taxi generally runs about five to 10 bucks. A DUI costs about $1,000. You're in college now; you do the math.
LAURA AND DEBORAH: So there it is. The Seabright Twins are not suggesting you conform and meld to the point where it gets a smidge creepy in Santa Cruz. We're simply naming a few pointers to open some doors that might otherwise be slammed in your face shortly after the word "kook" is hurled your way. We're trying to say there's more to this city than just spewing back the notes you copiously took in Intro to Psych or late-night smoke sessions with your roommate. The Seabright Twins recommend you whip out your trusty highlighter and mark up something useful this quarter: Santa Cruz can be a tough nut to crack sometimes, but if you're able to find a tool to smash it open, you'll find the nutty meaty contents to be delicious.The Seabright Twins proudly proclaim a common-law marriage with Santa Cruz, with special devotion dedicated to the Seabright 'hood, as illustrated in their zine 'Fuzzy Lunch Box' (www.myspace.com/fuzzylunchbox). They were both Banana Slugs (1995-1999) and have graduated into working-class schmoes. Deborah works in the veterinary field and Laura works as a social worker. Together they address most of the needs of the mammal world.
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