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[whitespace] Thought Crime Thoughtcrime Kills: Alert, good citizens! It can happen in your neighborhood! And don't forget to have a pleasant war!


Nüz

Unhappy Halloween

Halloween almost rang up another casualty of the curse. At least that's the explanation Curse of Santa Cruz screenplay writer Stephanie Michel--recently profiled in these very pages--has been left with after a near-fatal shooting of 19-year-old José Ortega took place outside her Beach Hill home on Halloween night.

Ortega was shot several times in the upper torso, reportedly while walking home to Ocean Street after leaving his family at the Haunted House on Beach Street.

Ortega's life hung in the balance over El Dia de Los Muertos, but he is currently in a critical but stable condition, "after having surgery to patch him up," says Sgt. Brad Goodwin of the Santa Cruz Police Department, adding that Ortega is still sedated, so police have been unable to talk to him.

Meanwhile, Michel is reliving the nightmare.

"I was getting ready to go to a Halloween party when we heard four automatic rounds right outside our place. We all dropped to the floor--it was that loud--then we crawled to the window, looked out and saw a scared white guy crawling along the road with his cell phone."

Michel then ran outside to find Ortega lying on the sidewalk, bleeding profusely from his stomach.

"He must have stumbled over to my car, slumped over the trunk and then slid to the ground parallel to my bumper, because there was blood on my trunk," recalls Michel. "He was moaning, 'It hurts, it hurts,' while a woman who lives in my building was sobbing over his body and talking to him in Spanish, telling him to hang on. I rushed upstairs and grabbed a blanket, by which time the ambulance came."

Police spent the rest of the night looking for bullets. One hit Michel's beat-up Mercedes Benz. Another made a perfect hole in the passenger door of her neighbor's car.

"Instead of going to a party, I spent the night watching four or five guys in fancy suits, like the CIA, walking the crime scene, which had big floodlights set up; it was surreal," Michel says. "The whole incident has changed the way I feel, like as if I was in New York. But I'm the one who moved into this area. I don't expect anyone to shape up. I just want to move away from Beach Hill. I'm saying prayers for Ortega."

Die-in Daze

Meanwhile, other Santa Crustaceans celebrated the Day of the Dead in happier style, starting with a Halloween street party that drew thousands and brought Pacific Avenue to a standstill. (Which makes Nüz wonder if next year we can officially close the street to traffic for once.)

Sources also tell us that participants in UCSC professor Rosa Apodaca's Dia de los Muertos class built altars to honor the dearly departed, including famous people like Gandhi, but not excluding relatives, friends, pets and even former selves.

And on Nov. 2, about 150 residents, including Mayor Chris Krohn, went on a Peace Boogie through downtown, bearing signs saying "No War on Iraq" and "Real Men Seek Peace," led by Brazilian band SambaDá. The whole thing culminated in a die-in outside O'Neill's.

According to organizers of the event, sponsored by the recently formed Iraq Action Network, "The die-in represented the many innocent deaths of this impending war. Each one of our bodies is no different than the bodies of Iraqi men, women and children who will suffer if this war starts."

A performance artist dressed as a George Bush Little Red Devil thanked onlookers as participants chalked the sidewalk with silhouettes of the "dead."

"I sure couldn't have killed all these people without your help!" said Devil Bush, moments before the die-inners rose up in defiance, shouting, "We're not gonna take it any more."

The march ended at the Santa Cruz County Jail, after two men got arrested during the die-in.

"Set them free!" demanded a drumming, dancing crowd. When it turned out that neither man was at the jail and no charges had been filed, the crowd chanted, "Then give us who you've got!" and drummed some more before peacefully disbanding.

P Is for Purple Peace Poppies

A dozen local women, including Vice Mayor Emily Reilly and the indomitable 94-year-old Eleanor Wasson, are planning the party to end all wars--WomenRise, for Global Peace--on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 11am-4pm.

"Women strike 11/11! We're not here to promote anything but peace," says Wasson, who believes in changing the world--one conversation at a time.

"There's not going to be peace on this world until we think and talk about it. We have to mature the culture, get out of adolescence into adulthood. Adolescents fight; adults negotiate. It's a hard transition from power to love. From a position of power, love looks soft."

Fellow WomenRiser Hina Pendle says it's important to have a diverse group.

"War creates separation. We must break down barriers. Everyone is invited. This is not a peacenik, lefty event; it's not religious; it's not about fear."

So far, WomenRise has received support from Australia, France, England, Israel, Colombia, Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt and from Native Americans, giving it, says Wasson, "a truly global consciousness."

When she was 10 years old, Wasson recalls dancing in the streets to celebrate the end of World War I.

"We spent the whole day celebrating. We really believed there would be no more wars. The joy we felt in our hearts--we'd been so unhappy--was wonderful, but we will never have peace until we get rid of fear, injustice and poverty."

Wasson also hopes to change the color of Armistice Day poppies from red to purple. In Europe, people wear paper poppies with blood-red petals and black hearts in memory of those who died in the wars, after a fabulous crop of red poppies sprang up on the bomb craters, trenches and soldier's graves in the fields of Flanders during World War I.

WomenRise for Peace is holding a purple poppy potluck Monday, 11am-4pm, San Lorenzo Park; www.womenrise.org.


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From the November 6-13, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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