Josh in California - Part 11: Beer and Nuts in Santa Cruz

Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Daud — or “Dave,” as they call him in California — said I should name one of my posts “Beer and Nuts.” A couple of evenings ago I thought it funny that we had three beers and a sack of mised nuts in the trush… It doesn’t seem so funny now, but at the time, well. Anyway.

The bigger issue would be my finally getting try surfing, after a somewhat dramatic couple of days of thinking I’d blown my chance. You see, when I checked my financial situation on Thursday, I realized that I’d been overspending and that spending $70 to take a surfing lesson would be out of the question, unless I didn’t want to eat or take the bus back to LA for my flight home. Argh. I made some quick calculations to see how much I would get for, say, selling the books I’ve read ont he trip and some of the older clothes I brought with me… Nothing close to $70, for sure. So, well, I just went back to the hostel and grumped to myself and watched a couple of movies with the people at the hostel (Adam had checked out “Simon Birch,” “Taxi Driver,” and something else from the library that morning). I enjoyed the movies — “Taxi Driver” more than “Simon Birch,” though the latter has that wholesome New England sentimental sparkle that makes everything seem noble, and played a game of chess with Adam.

Warren, the 36 year old Brit with short, bleached hair and a loud voice, gave us some commentary on the moral ambiguity “Taxi Driver.” “You have a hero, you see,” (not his exact words, but my imitation — read with thick accept and hand-gestures) “who does the wrong thing, but ends up accidentally doing the right thing and getting lauded for it. It’s morally ambiguous. How do you judge what he’s done?” “Taxi Driver,” for those not paying attention, recounts the tale of one Travis Bickle (de Niro, of course), a solitary sort of guy who drives a cab in New York City. He decides to assassinate a presidential candidate named “Palantine,” but fails. Instead, he ends up using the same resources he built up to kill Palantine (guns, gun skills, money, strength) to rescue a twelve-year-old prostitute (Jodie Foster) from the clutches of a pimp named Snake (A young’n’buff Harvey Keitel). (Been reading too many movie blurbs, have you, Josh?) British Warren compared it to another movie he’d seen in which a man rapes a young woman who has been in a coma for years — and the trauma brings her out of the coma and back into life. Is he a good guy? Is he bad? Was the action good, bad? It’s a simple little mental-moral game, I suppose. I had some other thoughts about “Taxi Driver” that came from my government class last year and have more to do with the idea that people have the will to express themselves upon the world, and channels must be made available to allow this to happen constructively or else it will happen destructively. I could write more, but not now.

We watched these movies and stayed up and talked and then went to bed. I stayed up later than everyone else to read some silly travel essays before going to bed myself. My bed was covered in sand from my shoes Wednesday night, making me a little uncomfortable, but I slept.

The next day I got up and had my usual fresh pancakes, cooked in the hostel courtyard and served of a surfboard for a $2 donation. The weather stayed chilly in Santa Cruz the whole time, the mornings especially so. I had to take off by 10 AM, as usual, and walked out Cliff Drive to a bus stop to catch a bus up to UCSC (which I did not do, it turns out, as I wrote below in my UCSC post). The 10 AM rule comes from an agreement the hostel has with the city and the neighbors. The property is technically a city park, so between 10 and 5 PM the buildings have to be locked and the people out so that other folks can come enjoy the little park between the buildings. I don’t know if many people actually did this, but that was the idea. And then we had an 11 PM curfew and were not allowed ot have alcohol on the property to keep us relatively quiet as an agreement with the neighbors.

(Time to go put my laundry in the drier…)

So, yeah, I’ve written about my time at UCSC already. I got a ride up there with some business major kids and read a book about Charles Bukowski which caused some questions to come into my head. After I left he library I got sort of lost on campus — not difficult to do without a map — and wandered in fear and forest and dark and cold for about a half-hour before coming to a major road with a bus that (thankfully) took me right down to Pacific Avenue in downtown.

So I got back to the hostel, where Adam had two more movies (“The Red Violin” and “Under a Cherry Moon”). One of the desk staff, Cora (I think) sat and watched some of “The Red Violin” with us, which was really cool because she’s my age and is from Ireland and has big blue eyes and slighty bucked teeth and is really slim and cute and friendly… A couple other women, Jane and Anushka, joined us, as well. They seemed to be hostel regulars. “Under a Cherry Moon,” by the way, stars Prince and was written by Prince and is a big old fat piece of late-eighties romance schlock filming in hazy black-and-white. Silly. And Prince kisses terribly, it turns out. For the big kiss scenes he’d sort of slam his face into the girl’s and mush it around — looked like it might hurt. Maybe it’s a Minnesota thing. Beware, ladies…

I stayed up late, again, to flip through a book compiling the best advertising of 1984 and to read a couple more funny travel essays. At about 2:00 my phone goes off! It sat on my backpack in a room with five sleeping guys (I was out in the living room of the smaller house where I could have light). Oh my god! I stole into the room after a few minutes and took the thing out and turned off the volume and hid it, just in case it rang again and I didn’t want anyone to know that I was the asshole with the cellphone waking everyone up in the middle of the night. Javier the South American skater got up soon after and went outside to have a cigarette. “Someone’s cellphone kept ringing and woke me up.” Erp. Turns out Daud called and left a message… He was in Santa Cruz staying at a co-op at 316 Main Street which, it turns out, is right across the street from the hostel and had been talked about a bunch by Chris, who had been staying in town to fill out an application and attend a couple house meetings. The Cesar Chavez House, they call it. So I tried to call back but couldn’t get a hold of anyone so I just fell asleep on the sofa in the living room in my clothes. I don’t know — it felt right.