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Photograph by Sarah Phelan

None Dare Call It Art: If you don't count the entire backyard that came floating down that one El Niño year, this is one of the strangest things we've seen floating in the San Lorenzo River.


Fish Tale

Last week, just as Nüz was looking for an excuse to get out of the office and into one of the most gorgeous March days on record, deliverance arrived in the form of voicemail message.

"Hey, I just crossed the Soquel Avenue bridge, and there's this giant fish sculpture sticking out of the San Lorenzo River," said the tipster in a puckish voice that was recorded against a background of group laughter--twin details that had Nüz already wondering if our tipster might be at least partly responsible for said fish.

Either way, minutes later we were winding our way along the levee, past banks of California poppies and purple lupines, toward, yes, a giant sculpture that was fish-shaped, silver-coated and patterned with purple squiggles that suggested fish scales.

Descending the river levee behind the Royal Taj restaurant, we found pieces of silver and purple wood, a wooden pallet and a pair of deep tracks in the sand beneath the bridge, all of which challenged the notion that the monster had perhaps floated here from some place upstream.

Just as Nüz noted that the monster's eye consists of a crescent containing an egg that in turn contains a full moon and a wave, the guy napping on the levee beside said monster awoke long enough to tell us that the fish was already there at 9am that morning, while a guy named Giovanni wondered if you could sleep inside the fish. It was one of those rare moments that left Nüz utterly speechless.

Back at the office, Nüz consulted Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Freshwater Fish, which states, "Each spring 6-inch-long steelhead smolts leave their natal streams to begin an ocean journey few can survive," leaving Nüz to wonder if this project was intended to raise awareness of the fish's plight.

Asked what they thought about the sculpture, Bruce Van Allen of the city's San Lorenzo River Committee said he was delighted by anything that highlights the plight of fish but hoped the paint used wasn't toxic, while city staffer Donna Meyers said she was "not aware of any such project."

Meanwhile, a local environmentalist who preferred to remain anonymous suggested the fish might in fact be a rendition of the San Lorenzo Dragon, which is already represented by dragon-shaped playground equipment in the San Lorenzo Park.

Quipping that perhaps the dragon was getting restless, our source explained that, traditionally, the townsfolk would sacrifice a virgin to it, "but we can't find any virgins downtown anymore."

Giving It All Away

As California's Supreme Court ruled unanimously that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom must "refrain from issuing marriage licenses or certificates not authorized" by California marriage laws," the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County announced a fundraising campaign at the newly opened Barossa Grill to create a million-dollar endowment that will benefit the Diversity Partnership Fund and combat homophobia and bigotry locally.

Asked at a kickoff luncheon attended by county Sheriff Mark Tracy and county Supe Mardi Wormhoudt how she felt about County Clerk Richard Bedal's insistence that he can't pick and choose which laws to uphold, fund co-chair Margaret Leonard said Bedal is required to uphold the state's constitution and not individual laws. "Wouldn't it be great if past county clerks had gone down in history as standing up for their constituents' rights by allowing women to vote and interracial couples to marry, back in the day?"

She also predicted that "things are going to get messy legally when couples who've been married elsewhere transfer property or give birth in county limits."

With a recent survey showing that queer seniors, Latinos and youth face the most homophobia, Santa Cruz High School senior Nikira Hernandez recalled being in sixth grade when all the other girls were saying, "Oh, he's cute," and she was thinking, "Oh, she's cute."

"I thought I was gonna die," said Hernandez. "Every day, it was 'fag this, fag that,' and I hear people say "That's so gay!' 20 times a day."

Recalling how a female soccer player once fell off the bench during a SCHS game just to keep her distance from her after she'd just come out, Nikira says, "When I say I'm lesbian, I'm automatically attributed this huge sexual identity who likes all women. And some of my friends have this running joke about the conservative idea that you can 'catch gay,' in which we cough on each other and say, 'You're gay now!"

Asked what she'd ask Dubya about his proposed constitutional amendment, Nikira says, "I'd ask why he wants to deny a group of people a right that the majority of Americans have. I'd ask, 'What are you doing going against the essence of our country in expanding our rights?' I'd ask, 'Why be the first president to constrict them?'"

Meanwhile, Alisa van Dissen, who recently married her partner of seven years in San Francisco, has given nearly $50,000 to the CFSCC fund, noting, "You can't keep what you have, unless you give it away." Nice one, Alisa.

Write [email protected] or call 831.477.0800.

Grace Note

Temple Beth El clergy, along with several multifaith religious leaders, are hoping to promote the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people in churches and synagogues with an event this June on the topic. To help plan for this first of a kind (on this issue) interreligious leader gathering, meet at 11am on Wednesday, March 24, at Temple Beth El, 3055 Porter Gulch Rd., Aptos. Call 831.479.3444 or 831.419.7971.

Twice Blessed

Thoth delivered two dazzling prayerformances last weekend, first at the Cayuga Vault as part of a sold-out benefit for the Santa Cruz Film Fest, and then on a downtown walkabout, which ended with him blessing the Cooper House tunnel while someone called the cops.

Asked how he felt about being asked to leave the tunnel which he first blessed two years ago--after which the then-empty retail spaces adjacent to the tunnel were rented out--Thoth, who is headed to Oregon on the next leg of his tour, said, "The cop was very nice, and it really didn't matter, because I'd already managed to go in, do a blessing and clean the place's energy."

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 March 17-24, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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