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The President Has Gone Mad!: The scene at San Francisco's recent peace rally.


Marching Orders

With the prez's State of the Union address kicking off the 108th Congress this week, Sam Farr (D-Carmel) tells Nüz that critiques of the recent antiwar marches are the work of "White House spin doctors. They are trying to attack the message by attacking the messengers," said Farr, who predicts a great deal of anxiety among congressmembers about the president's direction in Iraq.

"The Republicans are guardedly cautious, not wanting to be critical, while the Democrats feel Bush is hell-bent on war regardless of public outcry and international concern" says Farr, one of 66 Dems who voted against authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

"But unless there are significant compromises on the part of the party of majority, the Bush administration will run into a barrage of opposition and get little accomplished," says Farr.

Farr is planning to attend the city's Feb. 18 townhall meeting in the Civic Auditorium. But if that date sounds a little, well, Farr off right now, rumors are flying of a Jan. 29 play-in to demonstrate against Bush's State of the Unilateralism address.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of a whole slew of peace rallies (Santa Cruz, Feb. 15; San Francisco, Feb. 16), Nüz researched the fine art of "Demonstrating Comfortably" at the recent peace rally in SF.

Contrary to what some might believe, an egg bagel and a latte are not adequate rations. No siree. In the company of some ultraseasoned demonstrators, the method of our mission was transformed into something, well, strangely militaristic: Trail mix? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Camera? Cash (with plenty of singles and at least $2 in quarters)? Water? Sunglasses? Night-vision goggles? Long-range walkie-talkies? Check.

OK, we're exaggerating, but thanks to the hyperpreparedness of our companions, we were able to focus on the more important things in the march--like who had the best signs and costumes.

And what a relief to see signs of intelligent life on the planet.

Some made us laugh ("The last time we listened to a Bush, we wandered in the desert for 40 years"). Some made us cry (picture of Iraqi girl with the caption, "I am not expendable"). Some made us positively queasy ("Palestine is going to fuck you in the ass") and plenty asked the eternal question, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Still, the tender soles of our feet would have appreciated an elevated flatbed runway at the Civic Center, a spot where we could have happily sat, as creative do-gooders strutted their stuff as part of a "Best Sign Contest" with winners getting an all expenses paid one-way ticket to Baghdad, perhaps.

But a peace march, by definition, entails marching, and so Nüz wandered for hours through the incalculable masses. (Were there 50,000, as police claimed, or 200,000, as the events organizers claimed?) Nüz lost count after the first BART-load of people, but we know there were at least 36 demonstrators, plus plenty of peace pretzels, peacefully exposed breasts, drum circles and chants, not to mention Not in Our Name "die-ins," the Raging Grannies of Sonoma County and the cheerleading Code Pinkers, with activists Medea Benjamin and Starhawk fresh from their ongoing peace vigil in front of the White House.

There was even a shameless banner for chiropractic care--which we admit did sound rather nice after standing and walking at a snail's pace for four hours. (Note to self: Don't wear worn-out penny loafers to a peace march, because your feet won't feel peaceful afterward.)

All of which makes Nüz fervently hope that the Bush Whackers Sign Contest will be a reality by the next march, with us appointed Grand sign-judging Pooh-Bah with a gel seat somewhere atop that flatbed truck ...

On the KUSP of Something Big

Starting Feb. 3, Central Coast Public Radio, KUSP-FM (88.9), is instituting big changes, changes that some suggest were triggered by Pacific Grove station KAZU's decision to replace local programming with a national talk format.

KUSP station manager Peter Troxell disagrees.

"We were looking at programming changes way before KAZU announced its competitive approach. Yes, we feared we might lose some of our audience, but in case you haven't noticed, there's an economic decline, which we feared might get worse. So, the board asked me to cut our $1 million budget by 10 percent, which translates into $100,000. The good news is that we are in the black and we're bringing some really good shows aboard."

Troxell insists that the station remodel, far from hurting the station financially, has helped it, while other insiders say the remodel shows the station is investing in its own future and more locally produced shows.

Says Troxell, "The remodel was funded by grants, individual contributions and a $50,000 loan, which will be repaid in five years and was outside our operating budget."

So, has KUSP gone NPR-heavy on our ass?

Yes, but not as much as you may have been led to believe.

Morning Edition and All Things Considered will remain in their usual slots, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross will air twice daily, but Pacifica's Democracy Now has also been added to provide an alternative source of news--which listeners requested post 9/11, Troxell says.

All this, plus an hour-long version of Talk of the Bay, and four hours of music programming presented by some of the area's finest including Charlie Lange, Bruce Larsen, Rachel Goodman, and John Sandidge--and J.T. Mason and Robin Roberts, who used to host Roadside Cafe at KAZU.

"The show will have a different name, but J.T. and Robin are personalities., doing what they do--only now they'll have a much bigger library of music to choose from," says Troxell.

Fine, but let's not forget to say RIP to Johnny Simmons' Lost Highway, Wallace Baine's Talking Pictures, Brant Herrett's Global Village and the senior Prime Time program. KUSP's new schedule is at www.kusp.org.

We Are But Bowling Pins

Goodbye 600-pound. gorillas, hello 200-pound bowling balls.

That at least is the scary imagery UCSC's Richard Stover is employing to help people imagine life in a Segway-filled downtown.

"If the rider doesn't begin stopping at all before running into you, well, try imagining what it's like to be run over by a 200-pound bowling ball," says Strover, who computed stopping distances for a 12.5 mph Segway as 20 feet.

Great, all of which may explain why Segway canceled its Jan. 28 demo at the Civic Auditorium and why the council is set to discuss a Segway ban Feb. 11.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the January 29-February 5, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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