I'll admit to being spoiled living in Santa Cruz. We have great movies here, great restaurants, beaches, open space, redwood forests, a fantastic climate - and so many terrific independent bookstores. Our favorite, Bookshop Santa Cruz, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. I remember when I first moved to Santa Cruz in 1966 and the first iteration of BSC opened on the main street downtown. It was tiny, funky, and attached to the big hang-out spot, the Catalyst, which later moved to another spot. Outside, on the front of BSC, was a larger-than-life sized modern metal sculpture of a man and a woman. In the 60's, everything about it signaled "cool place" and we spent many happy hours there slumped in old arm chairs, reading, watching the human scene drift by, and sipping tea from the Catalyst. Over the years the bookshop grew and prospered, until the earthquake of 1989 forced it out of the old building and into a tent. Loyal customers kept on being loyal, and eventually BSC found its way to its current location, a huge store in the middle of downtown, quite near where it originally began.
This past week, as part of their anniversary celebration, we've attended three great events there -part of their ongoing 'visiting authors' series. First was the adorably nutty and quirky Amy Sedaris, author of I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, who served cheese balls and tiny cupcakes while pitching her book and simultaneously demonstrating a craft project. Next was her brother, David Sedaris (at a sold out 2500 seat venue on Halloween night, Santa Cruz's biggest holiday). He read many pieces of his work to an audience of wildly costumed Santa Cruzans ready to head out afterwards to the Mardi-Gras like street revels that happen every Halloween in downtown. Anyone who has heard Sedaris on NPR, or read one of his books, knows that his comic voice is unique, sarcastic, and hilarious, and he did not disappoint us.
Best of all the events, however, was last night's evening with Bettina Aptheker, one of Santa Cruz's true local treasures, and someone I'm proud to call a friend. She has just published a memoir, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel. This book (which of course I purchased) promises to be a great story of her life. Her presentation last evening was just over-the-top wonderful, warm, intimate, funny, brilliant, and insightful. She has such a passion for life, politics, social change, justice - what an inspiration.
No matter how insane the world gets (and it is at crescendo level these days) I'm so grateful to have a home in one place that seems eminently sane, good old Santa Cruz.