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He's a Real Goat Getter: The Rev is willing to make sacrifices to keep soothsaying legal.

Nüz

The Curse of the 52 Pickup

Santa Cruz, so the story goes, already has its fair share of curses (Metro Santa Cruz, Oct. 9, 2002), so Nüz was shocked to learn that another curse could be on the cards--the tarot cards, to be precise.

Seems that a local ordinance which prohibits fortune telling for pay--yes, there really is such an ordinance, and it applies to anyone who can't foresee that they need to buy a $100 permit--has got the goat of the Reverend Dr. Electronic Galaxy Jay, a.k.a. the 52-card Prophet. The Rev was recently slapped with a ticket for giving psychic readings on Pacific Avenue, an activity he's been doing daily since he rolled into town last summer.

As it happens, the Rev was calling himself James Le Gambit when he first arrived in Santa Cruz, an intriguing choice of name given that the gambit is an opening chess move in which you sacrifice something for the sake of a compensating advantage. And now the Reverend says that for the sake of "religious freedom" he's contemplating sacrificing a goat--or a lamb, since his real name is Jason Paschal, and the Paschal Lamb is none other than the lamb of God.

"I'll come downtown in a black leather loincloth and chains, together with 20 brothers and a goat or lamb, and we'll play drums, dance and yelling, and then I'll sacrifice the goat, and put a curse on the town," says the Rev, adding that he does not want a permit and will "pull a psychic Rambo" if such a permit is insisted upon.

"I'm a sinful messiah, a voodoo child who's been a Christian, a Rastafarian, a follower of Islam and Hare Krishna, but now I'm just a crazed individual who gives psychic readings. They need to leave me alone."

Judging from the official response, it sounds like the city is trying to do just that.

City attorney John Barisone told Nüz that "it's not unusual for cities to have an ordinance like this on the books" and that said ordinance is "primarily intended to prevent fraud."

Meanwhile, Lt. Patti Sapone of the SCPD said that the permit doesn't really apply to people on the street.

"It's designed to be applied to one specific location and to protect people from getting ripped off," she said.

Weird as they may be, however, these civic provisions for "metaphysical science and fortune telling" do not apply to such acts "performed as a religious practice by and directed towards persons who in good faith hold such metaphysical science and fortune telling to be a religious practice."

Since we'd hate to think someone would have to go to the lengths of animal sacrifice to cover their ass on "religious practices," we're praying the leather loincloth will suffice.

Killer Astroturf Wars

Seems Nüz isn't the only news media outlet in Santa Cruz to be targeted by a fake grassroots--hence the name Astroturf--letter writing campaign, in which the Republican National Committee provides form letters to puff up support for their current pet cause.

The Senile published one such piece of Astroturf on Jan. 15, but to date Metro Santa Cruz has spotted these fakes fairly easily for the simple reason that they are all identically worded, despite the fact that they are signed by different authors, thereby giving the unnerving impression that said scribes are really aliens with a bad case of the mind melds:

"When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership," began this GOP letter which was posted on the RNC website, www.gopteamleader.com, which is described as "an on-line toolbox for Republican activists."

Once visitors register, they can receive Republican email updates and even the opportunity "to collect 'GOPoints' by completing Action Items." Letters to the editor that get published earn extra points, which can be redeemed for everything from coolers and folding chairs to mouse pads and T-shirts.

Evidently, the promise of free mouse pads works, since one such form letter in praise of Mr. Bush was printed, often verbatim, in nearly 75 papers, presumably because it was brief, to the point, and contained a smattering of factual information--in other words, the "perfect" letter.

Fighting back against these unethical tactics are a number of Internet sleuths, including the most excellent www.failureisimpossible.com, which not only tracks such letters, but also suggests ways that concerned citizens can monkey with them in devilishly clever ways.

The website is the brainchild of Maia Cowan, who has dedicated her website to suffragist and abolitionist Susan B. Anthony, who became world-famous for her crusade to extend freedom and legal rights, particularly voting rights, to all United States citizens.

"As my contribution to defending voters' rights, which were so widely assaulted during the 2000 Presidential election, this site is dedicated to 'Aunt Susan' and to all her spiritual nieces and nephews who continue the crusade," writes Cowan.

Check out her site. You'll be glad you did.

Bulldozers R Us?

With a seemingly imminent war (at presstime) and the horrifying news of the death by Israeli bulldozer of U.S. protester Rachel Carrie on our mind, Nüz turned to the recent words of former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Dr. Robert Muller for solace.

"Never before in the history of the world has there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war," said Muller, pointing out that it's taken more than 50 years for the United Nations to realize its real function, and that in the last months and weeks, "it's become the most powerful governing body on earth, the most powerful container for the world's effort to wage peace rather than war."

Meanwhile, local City Councilmember and executive director of the Resource Center for NonViolence Scott Kennedy told Nüz that the timing of Rachel Carrie's death is "sobering, since Bush has said that they are gonna treat the human shields in Iraq like combatants."

Bush and Sharon appear to be on the same page, says Kennedy. "What Bush said was shocking, particularly with thousands of people trying to get the pope and the Dalai Lama to go to Iraq. As far as we know, Bush will view bombing them as a bonus. And his war on Iraq will doubtless overwhelm the tragic loss of this young woman."


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 19-26, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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