A TRIBUTE To a Local Hero Mike Locatelli: 1960 to 2007
Mike Locatelli wasn’t the quietest, but he moved on quietly on February 21, finally succumbing after many many hard years to a brain tumor that slowly took away his life, his livelihood and his loves.
Mike Locatelli’s slow demise was proof positive that sometimes life just isn’t fair. What happened to Mike over the last 17 years was the kind of slow punishment that Saddam Hussein deserved – or Enron executives – but not Mike. He remains the best of guys in the hearts and minds of everyone he left behind – including the hundreds of people who came to Santa Cruz over the weekend of February 24 – 25 to say goodbye at Resurrection Catholic Church in Aptos on Saturday, and then under Tom Blake’s “Blessed Church of the Open Sky” for a paddle out at Santa Maria on Sunday.
“Mike Locatelli’s slow demise was proof positive that sometimes life just isn’t fair”
I knew Mike since the 70s in Santa Cruz, where we both grew up during a lucky time under that Blessed Church of the Open Sky, when Santa Cruz was just a cool, little hippie surf town. Santa Cruz was the Murder Capital of the World at that time, but also a beautiful, inexpensive, quiet place to live. Mike was one of seemingly hundreds of Locatellis who had been in Santa Cruz forever, one of the many founding families who came there to fish, cut logs, make a life.
I took Mike surfing for the first time, and the memory is a memory of Santa Cruz at its best. We came from Seventh Avenue, which is now called mid-town. Our path took us along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk which at the time was lined with real Hell’s Angels hanging out along Beach Street, and also funky town men and women from Oakland with full afros, listening to the O’Jay’s, Ohio Players, Earth, Wind and Fire and a lot of 70s super funk that makes rap pale in comparison.
Mike had grown up in Santa Cruz and I was from the Valley and we all rode surf matts at Twin Lakes Beach before moving up to hard boards. I had a purple, eight foot Haut gun-like thing that I loved. Mike and I were riding our bikes along the Boardwalk, wearing our Animal Skin and Seal Suit wetsuits, when a black couple walking by said: “You all goin’ surfin’ man?” and “Skin tight, man!”
Skin tight, man. Mike and I said that to each other for years.
I pushed Mike into his first wave at Cowell’s and I have a very vivid memory of Mike surfacing in time to take my Haut across the back of his head. He got better from there. He was a good surfer, and was part of many many many hundreds and thousands of hours of surf sessions around Pleasure Point and at the Harbor and Rivermouth, during those lucky years.