Santa Cruz Weird

by Vinnie Hansen

Even though we’re not a large city, people across the country know of Santa Cruz, California. Huntington Beach may think it’s “Surf City,” but everyone here knows we claim the title.

After all, we’re the ones with a statue of a surfer who wears a pumpkin head on Halloween. And Jack O’Neill, inventor of the wetsuit, lived here until his death last year. Santa Cruz has  a lighthouse converted to a Surfing Museum and even a hanger for Lost Souls.

This pole is right beside Jack O’Neill’s home.

Others recognize Santa Cruz as a tourist destination featuring a beautiful coastline and The Boardwalk, with its historic, wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster. But there’s so much more here!

Santa Cruz overflows with artists and musicians. The Doobie Brothers and Neil Young  lived here. Santa Cruz produced James Durbin (who should have won American Idol). My own orchestra leader used to play with Eddie Money. For visual artists, we have a long-running Open Studios event, and we offer first-rate theater via Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

Here I am with The Great Morgani.

Music, visual art, and theater collide in local legend, The Great Morgani. The Great Morgani is a real musician with over 1,000 songs in his repertoire. His costumes (over 50) are all hand-crafted masterpieces that cover even his accordion. And he has his patter down—artist, musician, and thespian—rolled into one. And, just a little weird—a perfect representative for Santa Cruz.

Where else but Santa Cruz can you find Sons of the Beach—as many as 200 ukulele players congregating every Saturday morning to play music? And that’s separate from the Santa Cruz Ukulele Club, which boasts it’s the largest ukulele club in the world!

Not convinced yet that we’re any quirkier than, say, Austin, Texas?

In our Santa Cruz Mountains, we have a museum dedicated to Bigfoot and a physics defying Mystery Spot.

We’re literally fishy. Fish were vital to the native Ohlone. Commercial and sport fishing remain integral to our community.

Santa Cruz is a city where you go for a walk and encounter magic. It’s part of our everyday life. We expect nothing less.

And now to celebrate the wonder and weirdness of Santa Cruz, Nancy Lynn Jarvis has put together SANTA CRUZ WEIRD, an anthology where all the stories are set in this wacky place. The collection includes my story, “Critical Mass.” Order your copy now and let the fun begin. 

What is the strangest story associated with the place where you live?

Vinnie Hansen fled the howling winds of South Dakota and headed for the California coast the day after high school graduation.

She’s now the author of the Carol Sabala Mystery series, and LOSTART STREET, a cross-genre novel of mystery, murder, and moonbeams. Her short fiction has appeared in Transfer, Alchemy, Porter Gulch Review, Lake Region Review, Crime & Suspense, Web Mystery Magazine, Santa Cruz Noir, Destination:Mystery!, Fish or Cut Bait, Santa Cruz Spectacle, phren-Z on-line literary magazine, and Mysterical-E. 

Still sane(ish) after 27 years of teaching high school English, Vinnie has retired. She plays keyboards with ukulele bands in Santa Cruz, California, where she lives with her husband and the requisite cat.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    September 18, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Wow, Vinnie, your town sounds so cool and fun! I’ve never visited, but now I want to move in! Lots of fodder there for stories, I’ll bet!

    Congrats on the anthology. I contributed to a mystery cookbook that Nancy Lynn put together a few years back – she’s a nice lady who’s very organized!

    • Reply
      Nancy Lynn Jarvis
      September 18, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      It’s about time to make up some Pumpkin Creme Brulee from your “Unseemly Pursuits” which is in “Cozy Food”

      • Reply
        K.B. Owen
        September 19, 2018 at 12:44 pm

        Ah, you remembered! It’s been ages since I’ve made that. You’re right, it’s time!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Yes, Cozy Foods. I’m in there, too. 🙂

    Thanks for reading, K.B. I’d love to see you in Santa Cruz!

  • Reply
    Katherine Hyde
    September 18, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    The weirdness of Santa Cruz extends and gets intensified northward in the San Lorenzo Valley. In beautiful downtown Ben Lomond (pop. about 5000), a flock of wild turkeys roams the streets, and some neighbors of mine walk their goats on leashes along with their dogs. Maybe I’ll write about them for Santa Cruz Weird, vol. 2.

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    There’s definitely enough strangeness for a vol. 2, and 3, and . . . .

  • Reply
    Leslie Karst
    September 18, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    And don’t forget the pink man who used to walk down the Pacific Garden Mall with his pink umbrella!

    Great launch party the other night, and I’m so looking forward to reading all the stories! Congrats!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 18, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Yes, Umbrella Man! Not only pink, but silent, and walking in tiny, tiny, very slooooow steps.

    • Reply
      Nancy Lynn Jarvis
      September 18, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Even thought she’s a grown woman and can be fierce when she needs to be, mysterious daughter-in-law was terrified of him.

  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    September 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    We visited Santa Cruz years ago, when our son was little. I remember the roller coaster well, and also a small train that went up into the hills overlooking the town. Great memories!

    Hopefully I’ll get there to visit again soon, but in the meantime, I have Santa Cruz Weird! Thanks to all the authors!!

  • Reply
    Nancy Jarvis
    September 18, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    It was such a great adventure to put together Santa Cruz Weird. The authors in the book wrote such interesting stories, but Santa Cruz definitely has more to tell so we’ll see…Weirder, Weirdest?

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      September 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Yay! Sequels!

  • Reply
    S.L. Hawke
    September 19, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Congratulations on celebrating the “weirdness” ! Don’t forget to stop in at Evergreen Cemetery. I know at least some of you hung out there once upon a time…
    There are many ghostly narratives to be found buried in the past.

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 19, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    What better place to find the strange than in this historic graveyard! Thanks for visiting, S.L.

  • Reply
    Nancy Wood
    September 19, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Wonderful post, Vinnie! You highlighted so many of the beautiful quirks that make Santa Cruz such a special place to live. And Santa Cruz Wierd is a fantastic celebration of all those beautiful, quirky things. I was sorry to miss the launch party but am looking forward to the other events. Would love a sequel! Best, Nancy

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for dropping by, Nancy. I loved your story in this anthology.

  • Reply
    Lynda West Scott
    September 24, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Very informative, fun blog and great pictures Vinnie. As a fellow contributor to the Santa Cruz Weird anthology, I appreciate the promotion. For those who may read my response and haven’t read the book, my story, BODIE, relates the story of 15 year old Jamie following the death of his mother and being kicked out of his mother’s home by his step-father. Jamie runs away to a camping spot in the Santa Cruz Mountains he shared with his mother and meets an unusual companion who helps Jamie prepare for a future without his mom. I also want to give a shout out to Vinnie’s story, CRITICAL MASS, with an ending I did not see coming. Good work!

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