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The Real Santa Cruz: This photo is one of about three that are generally regarded as "earliest known photos" of downtown Santa Cruz. It's 1859, and we're looking down Front Street on the left (back then it was called Main Street). Today, our post office sits about on the left side of the picture. The Bear Building, containing Jamba Juice and others, is right where that oddly angled building faces us in the photo. Pacific Avenue was Willow Street, and those very tall poles were known as "Victory Poles," which, if you had one, somehow proved patriotism.

Bruce Bratton

DEVILISH DEL MAR DETAILS. I didn't get it right when I wrote about what's going to happen in the new old Del Mar Theatre. I will now try again. The city bought the property and the building, and they are the landlords--that's important. The city is leasing the building to George Ow and Barry Swenson, who will bring it up to code and make the downstairs auditorium one theater again. They will do that for no profit--that's important too. Ow and Swenson will then rent the entire building to the Nickelodeon. The Nick will show films on the two screens upstairs and the one downstairs. Once open, it's the Nick's baby; they've got to figure how to make the entire operation work financially because they're paying the rent. It's not a community space, and because of an immense and very solid new firewall built right behind the downstairs screen, the stage can't be used for much more than speeches, jugglers with no more than one ball, or slide shows. Maybe someday that firewall will be taken down by the city, but even then the backstage area isn't much. Then, too, because it's a movie theater, the natural acoustics aren't too good. Speaking of juggling, the Nickelodeon is trying to figure how to juggle film bookings and distributor demands in ways that will allow for such screen events as the Pacific Rim Film Festival and other cinema and video presentations from time to time. As previously mentioned, a group of folks has worked hard to save our only remaining downtown theater (we've had about four others, I think). It may even be possible that the City Arts Commission would consider renovating the brilliant marquee. Let's just all get behind this project and enjoy our shared treasure.

THANKS FOR THAT. Your calls and communications about my hip replacement were much appreciated. In answer to questions: Dr. Nicholas Abidi is doing the surgery. He's new here from Philadelphia; he's now part of the Gerstein, Schwartz, Spiegel, Welle group (Gerstein retired). Dr. Howard Schwartz will be his surgical assistant, and Edward Herald might be the anesthesiologist. It's happening at Dominican on Jan. 9. I'll be in Dominican for a few days after the operation, then at the Dominican Rehab Center on Frederick Street until I'm relatively ambulatory. It's walker-and-cane time for four to six weeks after that. So send me material or leave it at the Metro Santa Cruz offices at 115 Cooper Street. I can't go places to gather it.

LOCKHEED REVISITED. Pat Matachek sent me the results of the annual Multinational Monitor's list of the 10 worst corporations of 2000. Lockheed Martin, "a military contractor," is one of them, for its hiring of Loma Linda University to do large-scale testing of toxic drinking water (containing rocket fuel components) on human subjects. The list was based on an L.A. Times report. There are 20 pages on this Monitor site explaining the Lockheed testing and more about the other nine corporations. It won't exactly make your day, but look at www.essential.org/monitor/mm2000/00december/enemies.html.

DARK PLEASURES. Sandra Bullock's Miss Congeniality is a pro-beauty pageant film and was definitely made for people who love beauty pageants. I was surprised that the Santa Cruz audience I saw it with was roaring at this ditzy piece of fluff. Didn't we have a beauty pageant here? Wasn't it viewed as a bit out of time and place? Cast Away could have been a contender; it could even have been an important film. Unfortunately, it's just another Hollywood studio-type film: predictable, everybody's beautiful, no plot. I take longer to readjust to Santa Cruz after a weekend in L.A. than Tom Hanks took to face his old life after four years on his island. But go anyway--it's entertaining, and you'll enjoy the popcorn. State and Main is a funny film and well worth seeing. William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rebecca Pidgeon all do fine acting jobs, but Philip Seymour Hoffman does better yet. He is consistently superb. He develops and creates more new characters than any actor I can think of. Don't miss this film. A Hard Day's Night was made in 1964 and shows just how unique those four mop tops really were. Each of the Beatles was funny, gifted and, as we know, amazingly creative. Just about everybody born up to the mid-'50's remembers the release of each new Beatles album--they were that important. Even if you've seen A Hard Day's Night on video, see the newly remastered big-screen version.

MUCH OBLIGED. After mentioning the hip thing last week, I was honored beyond belief at the many suggestions I received for stuff to try instead of surgery. Having lived in Santa Cruz for more than 30 years and having fought the idea of a total hip replacement for more than 11 years and being sort of open-minded, I have tried a few cures and disciplines. Here are some of them: acupuncture, acupressure, Trager, Vioxx, Feldenkreis, chrome, palmists, chiropractors (four or more), Celebrex, Laphroaig, Cortisone, merlot, glucosamine, Jung, Wagner, Lodine, fitness centers, sensory-deprivation tanks, herbs, orthopedics, ganja, exercycles, Vicodin, psychics, zero balancing, Voltaren, sobriety, fluoride, runes, Arthrotec, Haagen-Dazs, Relafin, I Ching, medicine balls, Aleve, aspirin, sex, abstinence, the Zone Diet and zinc. What I haven't tried are Christian Science, opium, Jehovah's Witnesses, a raw-food diet, Breatharianism or amputation. And again, thanks for the thoughts.

SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY. If you like Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite (remember when the Modern Jazz Quartet did its version?), Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (you'll know it when you hear it) and Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony, go hear our symphony this Saturday at the Civic at 8pm and Sunday at the Mello Center in Watsonville at 2pm. Call 420.5260 for tickets or get them at the door if there are any left.

SILICON BEACH. Bookshop Santa Cruz and Cruzio, the Internet Store, are sponsoring a community forum titled "Community Survival in Silicon Beach." It'll focus on issues that are happening as more and more dotcom businesses and their people move here. This is a very big deal, and how our sleepy little beach town with a college handles all this economic impact will make big differences. Author Paulina Borsook is part of the panel, and so are Sandy Brown, Frank Brunings, Peggy Dolgenos, Geoffrey Dunn and Cliff Tillman. Novelist Asher Brauner will moderate. Borsook wrote Cyberselfish--A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech. She also writes for Wired and will be giving her own talk at the Bookshop Friday (Jan. 12 at 7:30pm.). The panel will happen at the Museum of Art and History conference room from 5 to 7pm. Community TV will video the forum. I just hope that a bunch of high-tech business owners will attend and make this a dialogue.

NOT RANDUMB THOUGHTS. With all the enthusiasm for things Cuban in this community, why doesn't some group start an annual Cuba Festival? Parade, performances, booths, dances--it could be a huge fundraiser and community project--why not? ... Watch for UCSC's Arts & Lectures and the Film and Digital Media Department's Film Fridays. The series showcases the first feature films of American directors. It runs Jan. 26-March 2 at the Media Theatre, with directors and producers in person. Call 459.4058. ... Yes, I know the Girl Scouts start taking orders for cookies Jan. 12, and yes, I know that the new cookies this year are Aloha Chips. I still think we should all boycott those junk-food snacks and get them to sell something worthwhile. Maybe next week, I'll get into explaining the many reasons to stop encouraging Girl Scouts in this 65-year-old, out-of-date tradition.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or call 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the January 3-10, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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