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[whitespace] Lou Wainman Curious Lou: Move over Curious George! Radical kiteboarder Lou Wainman is living proof that what doesn't kill you makes you strong.


Nüz

Pretty Fly for A Kite Guy

What they call "le flysurf" in France, Ammuricans call kiteboarding --proving, yet again, that things sounds sexier in French.

Whatever you call it, this sport, which looks like it was invented by Curious George, is shaping up to be the Next Big Waveside Thang.

Ask world champion kiteboarder Lou Wainman, who'll be in Santa Cruz for the Wipika Waddell Kiteboarding Clash, May 16-19.

Wainman moved to Maui from Florida to further his wakeboarding/ windsurfing career--until he saw a kiteboarder near Kahului Airport.

"I put two and two together," says the 27-year-old Wainman, who wasn't the first to hitch a kite to a body harness but did pioneer wakeboards and crescent-shaped kites, which make the monkeyish aerials possible.

"The sport didn't really take off
until the development of inflatable kites, which relaunch if you crash," says Wainman, who claims the sport is easy to learn. "All you need to know is your left from right and be able to do a pull up." Hmm, well that's a pretty big assumption here in the newsroom, Lou.

"It's like throwing punches at the sun," he says. "Even beginners can jump 25 feet in the air."

If they don't keel over at the $1,000 sticker price, that is. But kiteboards are way easier to lug around than boats.

"You can get on a city bus with a board under your arm, and your kite, bar and line in your backpack." says Wainman. While he admits the sport started as a freak show, "with kiteboarders launching off bridges, monster trucks and hot-air balloons, catching police officers and lifeguards unprepared," all that has apparently changed.

"There are safety rules in place," says Wainman, who advises people to offload that pricey equipment, rather than risk their life. "There have been a few incidents, where people shackled themselves to their kite, then got pulled across roads and into restaurant kitchens and power pylons, or under Jet Skis. If the wind is kicking, the kite won't stop pulling on land or water, so it's best not to learn near bridges, power lines, traffic or sharks."

The good news? Those who survive can be world champions in months.

"There are no set professional standards yet, so it's just a matter of who is the craziest jumper with the craziest outfit," says Wainman.

No one is giving lessons locally (yet), but Curious George wannabes can check out some truly awesome aerials and jumps from the safety of the shore, when Wainman and other kiteboarders goof it up at the Wipika Waddell Kiteboarding Clash. Says Wainman, "There'll be up to 20 guys at a time, one riding, one jumping, another carving the waves. It'll be like a fireworks display." Call 728.2998 or email Rainsfin@aol.com.

Keeley: Go, Bruce, Go!

The screwing Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Fred Keeley (D-Santa Cruz) got from his Democratic peers during reapportionment was so thorough that some political observers wondered aloud if it would end the hardworking lawmaker's career.

Readers may remember that Keeley had had his eyes on the 11th Senate District, whose current officeholder, Byron Sher

(D-Palo Alto), is termed out in 2004. Instead, the new maps shifted Keeley's Boulder Creek home from the 11th to the 15th--a new district drawn for Assemblyman Abel Maldonado (R-San Luis Obispo), a Latino Reep who's become the state party's latest Hot Young Thang.

Meanwhile, the current 15th District senator, Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz), is running for lieutenant governor against incumbent Cruz Bustamante--and his campaign might not be the long shot everyone thinks.

"Some of the early polling shows that Bruce has a fairly decent chance to win," says Keeley, adding that the numbers show McPherson within single digits of Bustamante. "So there's a rumble going around that McPherson could actually win this."

That's good news for Keeley.

If Brucey-boy left midterm, Keeley would be able to run in the old 15th, something that has not escaped Fred's notice. "I'm preparing for a special election in the 15th," the speaker pro tem reveals. "In that eventuality, my candidacy is very strong."

With $420,000 in the bank, Keeley sounds optimistic, especially with the backing of Senate President John Burton (D-San Francisco). It's true that Burton oversaw the drawing of the lines that aced Keeley out, but if Fred wins now, Burton would then have a solid and enviable two-thirds majority. But even if Keeley prevails, 2004 is just around the corner, raising more questions for Fred.

As an incumbent senator, he could choose to run again in the new 11th District, or move down the hill into the 15th and take a shot at blocking Maldonado's ascent. "Democrats would push me very hard to run in the 15th, and I've said that, if there's a special election, I'm absolutely interested in the 15th," Keeley says. "The question is what I would do in 2004. I've made no commitment about which seat I'd run for, but what I have said is that the logic of moving into the 15th is very compelling."

Bus Skinny

With Bike Week beginning May 12 and the need for alternative/mass transportation growing, it was a shock to learn that the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District is reducing rerouting, and eliminating services.

SCMTD's assistant general manager, Mark Dorfman, confirms the cutbacks, which he says are directly tied to the economy, since SCMTD's biggest sources of funding are related to sales tax and passenger fares.

"Right now people aren't going shopping or buying things," says Dorfman. "And with layoffs, which hit the bottom hardest, less people are riding the bus. It's a double-edged sword."

Also citing huge increases in insurance for both the employees and the buses, Dorfman said he hopes the cuts will create a more efficient service.

"We hope the economy turns around ASAP," he says, "not just for the buses, but for everyone's sake."

But hey, in the meantime, why not make lemonade out of mass-transit lemons--if you can't ride the bus, how about hauling out the pedal-pusher instead? Call 423.3773 for Bike Week details.

Thothic Industrial

To those who called Nüz asking about Thoth, he'll be prayerforming in the candlelit Cooper House walkway at 7:30pm after the film THOTH plays the Del Mar.

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From the May 8-15, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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