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How Much for That Pony in the Window? Artist Dag Weiser's pony was nearly lassoed by a posse of apolitical volunteers on First Night.


Politics on Parade

Santa Crustaceans often joke about the circuslike atmosphere of this town, what with a carnival parked on our tidelands and buffoons cavorting on our streets. So, when Nuz heard that "Cirque de Santa Cruz" was the First Night theme, we wondered if downtown would look any different or would it be just another excuse to wear PJs?

The answer was yes. Squared. Yes, the town was transformed, beginning with the 40 colorful balloon arches stretched across Pacific Avenue. And yes, there were an awful lot of people in polka dot pajamas, but for once most of them were deliberately dressed as clowns.

Mayor Chris Krohn fearlessly led the townsfolk section of the First Night parade in a clown suit, along with county Supe Mardi Wormhoudt and former Santa Cruz Mayor Katherine Beiers, also in clown garb. Who knows how many other politicos passed by, disguised?

Either way, politics was definitely in the First Night air. Standing outside Lulu Carpenter's, waiting for the parade to arrive, Nuz noticed a couple handing out free yellow balloons--a gesture that went down well with the largely parents-with-preschoolers crowd. But instead of reading "Happy New Year!" the balloons said "Bob Lee for DA."

For a few minutes it looked as if we'd been airlifted to a Bob Lee campaign kickoff, what with all the balloons, dare we say it, bob-bing above the heads of young innocents. Then the first wave of the First Night parade hit, beginning with a freewheelin' herd of unicyclers, closely followed by cute little kids on stilts, venerable giant sun and moon puppet heads, a fabulous smoke-exhaling dragon, Morris dancers, bagpipe players and a red-faced singing Cossack. (Note to self: hula-hooping the length of the parade can damage your health.)

First Night organizers say the circus theme was a takeoff of Cirque de Soleil, the classy Montreal-based circus group that doesn't use animals. Parade participants Circus Reversus took the animal-free idea one step further, by placing humans in the cages and whips in the lions' paws.

After the parade ended on that most Santa Cruz of notes--a traveling drum circle--Nuz viewed the collection of uniquely decorated toy spring ponies, corralled on Co0per Street as part of the Year of the Horse Pony Brigade, a collaborative public art project organized by, and as a fundraiser for, the 418 Project--one of the last surviving dance and performance art places in town.

A First Night first, the Pony Brigade consists of 35 toy spring ponies, each decorated by a local artist with unique results. Printmaker Bridget Henry, who organized the Brigade, painted her pony red and decorated it with Chinese writing, an equine nod to the Chinese Year of the Horse, which begins Feb. 12.

And artist Dag Weiser painted his with the Stars and Stripes, mounted it with a toy oil-derrick and inscribed the pony's rocker with the unforgettable motto, "Who's really in the saddle?"

That question apparently proved too much for three First Night volunteers who told Weiser that his pony was "too political" when he and best friend Leslie Murray visited it on First Night, before the parade began.

Maybe covering the words with bunting would alleviate any tension, the volunteers cordially suggested.

A dismayed Weiser said that initially he was, "going to go along to get along. But then my friend Leslie put up a big fuss, saying she'd rather see all kinds of politics on parade than none."

It wasn't until the volunteers came up with a package of really wide tinsel, that Weiser put his foot down.

"There had never been any restrictions placed on the design by the 418 Project, and I toyed with the idea of pulling the piece from the brigade," said Weiser. In the end the volunteers called First Night organizers, who wisely decided to leave Weiser's pony alone.

If you missed the Pony Brigade, take heart. Downtown businesses are hosting individual ponies as part of a silent auction. Weiser's uncensored piece is currently on view in the front window of Metro Santa Cruz. For details on other pony locations visit www.four-eighteen.org.

Sex Degrees

Lish Daelnar, 23, has an unusual piece of personal history posted on the web: her very own sex chart. Despite her relatively tender years, the chart already registers 1,400 links, some of which are very famous, very old--and very dead.

Reached by phone, the Santa Cruz resident said the project started four years ago when she dated a lot of guys in the Internet scene.

"To make fun of me, some of the guys created a sex chart," says Daelnar of the website, which defines as a link "any sexual action between computer users that is capable of spreading an STD with a minimum requirement of wet kissing."

But according to Daelnar's definition, one-way links don't count. "Body parts have to be touching, fluid has to be exchanged. I don't count it as a link if the girl didn't get anything out of the situation."

In the first version of the chart, Daelnar, listed by her email nickname "crank," made out with 8ball, Dcheese, beastie, oodles, fatslayer, jamesy, pip and aoxomoxoa--proving that geeks aren't celibate, after all.

But boys being boys, the guys soon tired of the joke.

"I wasn't embarrassed enough," says Daelnar, who took over the chart 3 1/2 years ago "because I needed to do something else other than play computer games."

Today the chart takes up 46KB and connects 1,400 names in a perverse connect-the-dot puzzle, an effect that apparently has not pleased all those listed.

But Daelnar ain't sweatin' it.

"I'm sure about the Minnie Driver link," she says, "but Drew Barrymore could be someone's email nickname, which is why I kept the list so vague.

So far, the chart has garnered a lot of interest.

"Everyone has either met or knows someone on it," says Daelnar, who so far has been interviewed by Wired News and NBC. "And Sally Jesse called!" she adds, admitting that she gets lots of weird emails.

And what does her mother think?

"That it's pretty hilarious. Besides, she thinks html stands for hotmail, so I'm not sure she'd grasp what the chart's all about."

Despite revealing all her makeout links, Daelnar's not about to release any photos, a lesson in caution she learned from her other great obsession: body art.

"I'm very ornamented--I even have a tattoo on my head," says Daelnar, explaining that since a picture of her head was posted on the Internet, complete strangers have come up to her on the street. "Which is kinda creepy."

In case you're wondering if you or someone you know is on Daelnar's chart, visit www.attrition.org/hosted/sexchart/.

Habit Forming

Sister Rosa Dolores Rodriguez never imagined she'd be chosen when a friend asked her if she'd agree to be nominated to carry the Olympic Flame.

"But lo and behold, a few weeks later, I got a letter from the relay team," says the Watsonville-based nun, who is one of 60 local torchbearers chosen to carry the flame when it passes through Santa Cruz as part of the Coca-Cola sponsored Olympic Torch Relay.

"People could choose between running, walking, traveling by wheelchair or with a seeing-eye dog. I'm not a runner, so I chose to walk," says Sister Rosa, who'll be trading her nun's habit for a white uniform on relay day.

Born in east Los Angeles, the bilingual Mexican-American joined the Daughters of Mercy 30 years ago and today runs Casa de la Cultura in Watsonville, a St. Vincent de Paul project that offers food, clothing, classes and free medical clinics to migrant workers--an operation she runs on a shoestring.

Sister Rosa is one of an estimated 11,500 torchbearers in the U.S. who'll each carry the flame 0.2 miles , accompanied by one of 4,300 support runners.

Besides torchbearers, the flame, ignited by the sun's rays in Olympia, Greece, will travel via boat, car, dogsled, ice skaters, train, plane, horse-drawn sleigh, snowmobile and covered wagon as it visits 46 states and covers 13,500 miles, entering Salt Lake City on Feb. 8 for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Sister Rosa and fellow torchbearers will run through Santa Cruz's scenic spots, culminating in an 8:40am ceremony Jan. 18 at City Hall. Call 420.5273 for details.

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From the January 9-16, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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