Santa Cruz has a lot of Hippies. And Butt Cheeks.

I just spent two blissful weeks in Santa Cruz, CA, and I must say that Surf City USA is the only place I can think of where a person can look one direction and see idyllic scenery, and turn the other direction and see the most destitute homeless hippies sifting through trash to lick out the inside of a broken crack pipe. 

It’s a common misconception of casual visitors to Santa Cruz that the charming, lovable collection of unwashed nutcases and aged surfer/hippies playing various instruments and shouting political slogans up and down the mall on Pacific Avenue are a charming, quirky collection of individuals who pack up their {s-t} and go back to their appartment at night when they are done entertaining downtown Santa Cruz.  It’s an easy image to conjure up given that Santa Cruz is a hippie beach town, and playful images of street performers and beat poets performing for change on a sunkissed street near the boardwalk don’t exactly evoke the images of scraping poverty one sees on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.   But after spending a few weeks walking past the same people, you start to notice that being a hippie…

…{f-king} sucks.

These are real hippies.  People who did a lot of drugs back in the sixties and seventies and can’t think straight enough anymore to hold down anything but the sidewalk, much less a job.  Closer inspection reveals burned, deep-lined faces framing empty, shattered expressions of desparation.  Many of them shout radical, irrelevantly nonsensical political slogans from bygone ages and better times at a young, progressive populace which passes them by on the street as dismissively as they have passed them culturally.  Many of them have severe drug issues.  As daily walks give one a closer view of this reality, one develops a sad pity, and a desire to avoid the cultural center of Santa Cruz, because it’s mythology has become too real. 

I know that was a bummer.  I wanted to set the bar really high now that I’m going to try to make this funny.

So I’m walking with a friend of mine and my wife to this Italian sandwich joint to get some lunch, and on the way he comments on my posture.  No, he’s not a total dick.  He’s actually an Alexander Technique clinician, and he’s giving me pointers on how to not feel like total ass after participating in a three hour dress rehearsal of all contemporary music that requires me to use the entire range of my violin every three seconds with no apparent relationship between any of the notes.  Incidentally, if a French Horn player bitches to you about how it’s the hardest instrument, tell them to suck it.  Violin is way harder, and the myth that horn is tough is mostly propogated by {s-tty} hornists who suck and frack notes.  What that really means is, horn is hard for THEM, not in general.  Personally, I suck at bocce ball, but you don’t see me declaring it’s harder that a triathalon.  No other instrument has to deal with the neck and shoulders while playing the number of notes violinists are required to play, and if you want a non-musical comparison, imagine trying to change  a baby’s diaper  in under two minutes while it’s sandwiched between your chin and shoulder for three hours with a conductor stands over your shoulder telling you your not doing it right and you’ll have some idea of how much this can suck.  You’ll probably have a similar amount of {s-t} flying around as well.  Oh, and {f-ck} conductors too, for the record.  The best ones make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, fly all over the goddamned place getting showered with attention and love, and they’re the only ones who don’t make any sound during the goddamned concert unless they grunt dramatically.  {F-k} that. 

{S-t}, that got long.  I think I have some repressed anger. 

Anyway, Andrew’s talking to me about different ways to relax my shoulders and neck while I play, and after a while we start talking about eye fatigue.  Apparently, he says,

“One of the best ways to relax your eye muscles when you’re typing or reading music for a long period of time, is to try to realize that you don’t actually see anything with your eyes.  You are seeing the picture with your brain…and the eye is just the medium through which your brain takes it in.”

Wow, thank you Captain Posture.  The sick part is this actually works.  Take a second, stare at the words on the screen, and imagine the images going straight through your eyeballs and directly onto your brain.  Immediately relaxes your eyes, doesn’t it?  Not because that’s actually happening mind you, but because you stop trying to “see” things, and let them come to you.  Now your eyes aren’t working so hard.  Neat trick, huh? But the more you think about it, the more you start to have some pretty amazing realizations about your physiology and your experience of  our sensorial perception of reality.  What “we” are, are basically  really smart blobs of grey matter which sit in a rather hairless chimpanzee which we drive around taking samples of the world and trying to screw other chimpanzees.  When we talk about “ourselves” we’re only kinda talking about our bodies and mostly talking about, for lack of a better word, our soul.      

   This realization would have horrible, life altering consequences for me in about ten minutes. 

So we get a few sandwiches, and mine is delicious.  The Meatball Sandwich.  Now for those of you who don’t know, Subway is bull{s-t).  I mean, it’s fine and whatever, but a Subway meatball sub is basically a non-sensical tube of bread stuffed with the marinara equivalent of microwave meal Swedish meatballs, and it’s pretty {s-tty}.  {S-tty}, that is, if you’ve ever had the delectable sandwich I was now eating.  Giant, homemade meatballs made of minced lamb, pork, and beef, braised in a sumptuous tomato sauce made with fresh herbs picked from their backyard garden and San Marzano tomatoes.  {F-king}.  Brilliant.  There we three sat, munching down these giant monuments to gustation, as happy as could be sitting outside on Pacific Avenue with the Santa Cruz sun kissing our foreheads. 

All of a sudden, Robyn froze.  I didn’t notice at first, and it was only after I realized that the wet smacking sounds were only coming from my mouth that I looked up to see what was going on.  She has literally suspended in mid-bite, staring straight ahead with a cheek full of meat and bread, and she had this strange, casually bemused smile on her face.

“What,” I asked, probably somewhat more annoyed that I had any right to.  (For some reason when my wife is mildy bemused it can be a little annoying if she enjoys my not knowing what it is for too long)

She said nothing.  Not a whisper or even a twitch of the corner of her mouth.  All she did was flick out a solitary index finger from the hand holding the sandwich in front of her mouth.

I followed the finger.

Slowly.

Slowly…

SHHHHIIIITTTT.

Right in front of me, literally six inches from the area I typically describe as “RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE…” is about nine inches of red, chaffed butt crack hanging out of the pants of some {f-cking} hippie asshole who decided to get stoned and forget where his pants were.  Horror broke into panic as nerve impulses rebounding off my spine caused me to gag on my sandwich, likely as a last ditch effort to generate a near death experience in order to separate my conscious self from my sensory organs like a pilot ejecting from a burning fighter jet. 

As desparate as this situation was, it very quickly became totally appalling.  As I stood up, I realized this “person” to whom that awful man womb was attached was slowly rocking side to side, eyes half closed, and abjectly failing to figure out that, in order to leave the table, he had to step around a chair.  Oh, and he had meatball sandwich all over his face.  Yeah.  Apparently he tried to eat his sandwich by shoving it into his left eye.  Try to imagine it’s your brain’s eating the sandwich, right?   Seriously, have you ever seen a fully grown adult human being with sandwich all over his face?  God I hope not.  He looked like someone just cut his placenta off and kicked him screaming…and mostly naked…out into the real world. 

Finally, this guy and his equally-stoned douchebag friend wandered off.  And into things.  Basically pinballing their way down Pacific in slow motion until they disappeared either behind a building or under the wheels of a dump truck full of road base, and frankly I don’t care which.  And as we were walking away, Andrew, who was still laughing his balls off because apparently my eyes bugged out of my head so far they almost hit the cheeks, says to me:

“So how was your meal sweetie?”

Me:  Shut it.

Andrew:  I mean, the look on…

Me:  Shut. It.

Andrew:  I guess you got a pressed ham sandwich, huh.

Me:  More like the full English Breakfast with ham, two eggs, and sausage.  His pants were that low dude.

Andrew:  Ha!  I guess that makes you kinda gay, right?

Me:  Yeah, I saw Waiting.  And I don’t care what happens to me any more. 

Andrew:  No, wait, wait.  So you remember the thing I told you about relaxing your eyes.”

Me:  SHUT…

Andrew:  No seriously, it will make it better.

Me:  Don’t even.

Andrew:  No, seriously.  Take a second and realize that you didn’t see that ass crack with your eyes.  He actually rubbed it directly onto your brain, and your eyes are just the medium through which he did it.

Wow. 

So the rest of my day was ruined. 

Even now, when I look back on that experience I cringe.  What’s funny, is that thing he said about the brain is kinda true.  Not the eyes bit, but something else.  Something a thousand times more savage and more terrifying.  Maybe there really is some truth to that brain thing, and maybe we really are just blobs of grey matter floating around in giant chimpanzees.  My meatball sub?    Yeah, I finished it.  That’s not the point.  The truth is,  no matter how much I try not to think about it or rationalize it away, I’m forced to admit that it didn’t taste the same after seeing that ass crack.  Something about that ass-to-eyes-to-brain thing actually changed the way those meatballs tasted.  And not in a good way.

3 Responses to “Santa Cruz has a lot of Hippies. And Butt Cheeks.” Subscribe

  1. John August 26, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    So, did he ruin that place’s meatball sandwiches for you forever? Assuming you ever find yourself there of course.

    • Ben Tomkins August 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      What he ruined for me was the last fleck of lingering sympathy I carry around for idiots who get ridiculously stoned somewhere other than the privacy of their own home or other suitably harmless establishment. Next time, dead.

  2. Courtney February 1, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    re. the cowlrday and shameless attack on a sovereign state.Is Mr. Chomsky giving us an object lesson in “manufactured dissent”? His speech is peppered with terms such as “cruel dictator”, “A slaughter in Benghazi was likely”, “erratic Libyan dictator”, again “Preventing a likely massacre in Benghazi”. Chomsky rejects, by his words, that Qadhafi is the legitimate and popular leader of his embattled nation, and slyly perpetuates the fiction that he’s instead bent on the slaughter of innocent civilians. All of it the same nonsense parroted by the Western media without a shred of evidence to support this argument, relying on loaded terms to appeal to instinct and stampede the mob. Despicable, as I’m sure he already knows who these armed-to-the-teeth “civilians” really are, and at whose behest they are trying to tear apart a country. Libya is indeed crawling with mercenaries, but unlike the Western portrayal, they’re not exactly Qadhafi’s men.If Chomsky is truly “concerned for peace, justice, freedom and democracy”, he should perhaps free the Libyans of the constraints he himself imposes on them by implying that the patriots/loyalists are somehow supporting an evil dictator who would have carried out a slaughter of innocents in Benghazi. An interesting piece indeed…What a lovely sheepskin coat Noam, by the way.

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