Friday, November 12, 2021



Maybe it is the Autumn light, the crisp air, the cerulean blue skies. Maybe everything seems fresh and new again because we've been so closed in. Maybe we have a chance to look at the world with new eyes.

After sequestering for so long, we found we had to learn to drive on freeways again. We cringed as speeding cars zipped back and forth through the growing number of cars. We held our breaths at the nearness of big trucks almost scrapping our car's side. With more practice, we have returned to our confident driving. 

We entered the grocery store and marveled at the colors in the produce section and grabbed a small thing we hadn't had in eighteen months. (We were so lucky that our son brought our weekly groceries so we didn't have to depend on deliveries or on going early in the morning to our local store. Thank you, Theo!)

We have ventured out on short outings, still wary of the Delta Variant, though now with good coverage from our booster shots. We went deeper into a time warp last weekend when we stayed at the Dream Inn Santa Cruz to hear the Big Brother and the Holding Company. Their fame derives from their association with Janis Joplin, the era of the late 1960's-70's, and the Summer of Love. We didn't know they still played together until we found news of the show. 

The balconies of the Dream Inn SC all face the ocean. The set-up for the show came as a response to COVID with the band at poolside while colored lights illuminating each balcony. We laughed because we were part of a light show. 

The music reverberated against the hotel walls and radiated out to sea. BBHC still has a terrific sound. They are experienced musicians (some of them are in their late 70's and early 80's). Most of the songs, such as A Piece of My Heart, Me & Bobby McGee, and Kozmic Blues, connected the audience with Janis Joplin. The singer KAte Thompson (one of 30 who has replaced Joplin) had a huge range, but the desire to hear the whiskey-soaked, raspy Joplin voice is hard to break.

Like the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and the Who, BBHC still performs the old-style rock and roll with its heavy, loud bass rumbling through the music. We were brought back to that long-ago era which made us think of the young performers caught up in the fame and the rampant drug scene of the time. People like Joplin, Jimi Hendricks, John Beluchi, and Jim Morrison of the Doors, who all died in the early 1970s from drug overdoses. If they hadn't made that fatal mistake, they could still be performing before loving audiences.

The Dream Inn Santa Cruz, built in the 1960s, has been remodeled and turned into a mid-century spare, clean place without the grungy feel of old beach hotels. As I walked into the lobby and looked at the minimalist chairs and tables, I had to remind myself that this is 2021 and mid-century 2020 is new fashion again. Once in our room, I looked down at the Boardwalk Arcade close by and remembered that the rickety wooden roller coaster that had given so many thrill rides had been torn down long ago. I could see people walking out on the long Wharf to take in the Monterey Bay views. 

Santa Cruz is Northern California's Surfing Capital as well as a college town. The hotel is situated close to Steamer Lane, where surfing competitions are held. As I stood looking out to sea, seagulls and pelicans swooped by reminding me of Summertime at the beach.

We walked through Santa Cruz's downtown streets and noticed the diverse group of people from college students to old hippies to tourists who filled the streets, masks on, for the most part, all hoping to wake up a little more from sheltering and to catch some of the old California vibes.

All photos by Bill Slavin

Check out these places in Santa Cruz:

The  Dream Inn Santa Cruz:

Steamer Lane:

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH):

Artisans & Agency store filled with beautiful, hand-made goods with a back entrance to the cafe at the MAH:


  1. From Letty by email: Wow! What a colorful trip back in time. I still listen to Janis sing when I’m deep cleaning the house. I feel it’s an insult to her at dime I even, but her soulful music drives me to move and get things done.
    How fun that must have been to hear BBHC by the ocean.

    1. She stayed in my head for several days after the BBHC show. What a voice!


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