What’s in a South Coast Name? John Vonderlin Dissects ‘The Notch’

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Hi June,

It took a while for me  to warm up to “The Notch’s,” name. It didn’t seem to measure up to its neighbor’s monikers. To the south there was the rebellious, psychedlic Acid Beach; the seemingly misnamed, but relativistically correct oddity, Warm Water Lagoon; the mysterious Monty Parker‘s Amb Beach, and the “annagrammic”, French-love-triangle-sounding Triferet Beach. To the north, the more mainstream Greyhound Rock and Pelican Rock.

“The Notch,”  was seemingly named by Joel, Larry’s exploring partner (after the notch evident in Picture # 6418 (California Coastal Records Project)  at the top of the cliff) BUT when viewed from high altitude, the entire cove is nothing more then a tiny notch in the line of cliffs along much of this stretch of  Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties.

My exciting and slightly dangerous trip to The Notch has made me respect the name more than I had. Now I think it’s a great name but I didn’t always. Chalk it up to the connotations that introduced me to ‘notch,’ the word.  As a youth, viewing endless Westerns on the newfangled idiot box, I became aware of the “tradition” of Bad Ass gunslingers, usually stone cold killers, who would enhance their fearsome reputations by carving a notch in their gun handle for every person they killed, either in the mythic fast-draw duel,  facing each other at noon in front of the saloon, or the more longevity-promoting sneak attack with a double-barreled shot gun blast in the back from behind a tumbleweed as their drunken victim left town.

Oddly, when I took up archery as a youth, I discovered the ersatz celluloid Indians I was viewing in those same shows were notching their arrows, that is engaging the notch at the feathered end of the arrow with the string of the bow, planning to fire an arrow into the heroic Good Guy cowboys, otherwise known as the fork-tongued white locust devils, hoping to cause their death.

Of course there’s the word “topnotch,” meaning first rate or excellent. While its origin is hazy, there can be no doubt there is some etiologic relationship indicated by the fact that he, who is not topnotch. has been taken down a peg.

Nowadays, with street gunfighting being frowned upon, you need to merely notch victories in athletics instead of deaths.

And of course, if you decide to climb over a mountain range, you’d be safer to cross at the Pass then trying to climb through the more dangerous Notch, a V-shaped rawer passage.

Lastly, yet oddly still in tune with all the other connotations of the word notch, as well as  with my reflections on my experience visiting “The Notch,” in a psychedelically hebephrenic sort of way, is the explanation for the Notch protein discovered in 1917 by Thomas Morgan. Thank you Wikipedia.
The Notch protein sits like a trigger spanning the cell membrane, with part of it inside and part outside. Ligand proteins binding to the extracellular domain induce proteolytic cleavage and release of the intracellular domain, which enters the cell nucleus tore alter gene expression.[6]
Great Name! Enjoy, John.

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