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Pacific Avenue in the '60s: Help me out here, folks. I can see it's 58 degrees on the County Bank building thermometer, but I don't have the exact year. Car enthusiasts who recognize models and years correct me constantly, so let's hear it for the year of this photo. We can see it was before Roy Rydell and the Abbotts redesigned the avenue into the mall of the '70s and '80s. The building with the 'egg crate' facade was the last face change for Leasks Department store, which went down in the '89 earthquake, but I'm betting that these are our present-day parking meters, which proves something.

Bruce Bratton

ABOUT POWER OUTAGES. Everybody seems to have made it through those outages recently, but it made me wonder why we have never seen a print-out/guide/chart/instructions from the police or Highway Patrol or sheriff on what to do at intersections when the stoplight isn't working? It's as if we must reinvent the wheel every time we approach a corner and wonder who's supposed to do what. There must be simple rules, common-sense rules, about dealing with traffic coming four ways, so how come we never read about them? The car on the right has the right-of-way (right?) or the first car there goes first (right?). We should have a little card we can put on our visor. Just look at all the driver's faces at those powerless intersections. We could use a little official guidance here.

THE REVENGE OF SAN ARDO. Last week, I idly mused on how the unusual town of San Ardo got its name. I mean, it's an unusual name even for a saint. So Sandy Lydon, late of Cabrilho College and now working on a North Coast history project that will open at the Museum of Art and History on Feb. 9, tells me that, according to Donald Clark's book Monterey County Place Names, they wanted to name the town San Bernardo back in 1886. The post office thought it would be confused with San Bernardino, so "they lopped off the bern," leaving, of course, "ARDO." All well and good, but then Cathy emailed me saying St. Ardo was a Benedictine abbot from Languedoc, France. He died in 843; his feast day is March 7; and he was originally baptized Smaragdus, which would really be an unusual name for a town. Ardo served under St. Benedict of Aniane and directed the monastery school there. Ardo also wrote the biography of St. Benedict of Aniane. So there you have it, folks. Who you going to believe? Donald Clark, who never told a lie and was a librarian, author and scholar, and Sandy Lydon, author, lecturer and one-time weatherman, OR a Benedictine abbot? Of course, you could go to San Ardo, which is just 20 miles south of King City on 101 and survey all the San Ardonians (which wouldn't take long) and ask them. I may not discuss this ever again.

ABOUT PRESIDENT BUSH. There are better things to write about than this new administration, but I did receive some material on a guy named Marvin Olasky. Olasky is a University of Texas journalism professor and a close friend and adviser to George W. You, too, can read about this guy in the Saturday, Jan. 13, issue of the Toronto newspaper the Globe and Mail at www.globeandmail.com (search on Olasky). Olasky has a plan and a theory "to allow religious groups to provide most government social programs, allowing them to operate homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, pregnancy counseling services, prisons and unemployment offices--even if their mission is to convert their clients to religious faith." Believe me there's much more in this five-page article, including information about Olasky's ties to Bush and the theory of how religion and politics work together. It's all bad. Check it out and get back to me.

WATSONVILLE WETLANDS WATCH. Ever since reading Watching the Watsonville Wetlands, I've become a believer in preserving these special sloughs. Jerry Busch, who wrote the book, will be leading a field trip into the sloughs next Sunday (Jan. 28) at 8:30am rain or shine. Meet at Eric's DeliCafe on Green Valley Road south of Main Street. Jerry sez that this is a great time of the year to visit the sloughs to see the wintering populations of waterfowl and raptors, shrikes and other passerines. No, I don't know what a passerine is--probably some wildlife that's just passing through the area, like UCSC students. Busch will also be giving a book reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Feb. 7 at 7:30pm. There are a lot of activities happening through the WWW, so if you want to become part of this ongoing watch, call 464.3237 or, at the other end of the county, 728.5667.

BIG THANKS. My stay at Dominican Hospital and at their Restorative Care Unit on Frederick Street is over. I'm healing at home as rapidly as possible, and I want to especially thank Dr. Robert Quinn and Bruce Pidgeon for their care and expertise. I also should tell you that Cindy Weber and Leo Malaybalay will probably become saints due to their infinite patience and their patients. Somebody should call the Pope and tell him about Cindy and Leo. I also must thank Susy Gans of PC Mentor Services for loaning me her very own laptop computer that I used to do last week's column. The emails, calls and visits meant more than you can imagine--so thanks again to you folks, too.

GREAT FLUORIDATION NEWS. The Santa Cruz County Fluoridation Task Force reports in its December 2000 newsletter that since the California Endowment made $15 million available for water fluoridation throughout the state, eight more California systems have become fluoridated. That includes Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Modesto (no mention of San Ardo). The number of Californians served by fluoridated water increased from 6 to 10 million, or from 17 percent to 30 percent. The Superior Court in San Diego issued a definitive ruling on Sept. 1 confirming an earlier Attorney General's opinion that cities cannot exempt themselves from state law requiring water fluoridation when funds are made available. If you'd like to get involved with the Santa Cruz County Fluoridation Task Force, which is made up of local dentists, public-health officials and folks who care about the health of our children's teeth, call 426.3581 or email [email protected].

PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX FILM FESTIVAL. There's a three-night film festival this weekend (Jan. 25-27) that focuses on the expansion of prisons. It's being sponsored by the Santa Cruz Critical Resistance Film Festival. There'll be different films and different live forums each night. The first night is an introduction to the prison industrial complex. Friday night is about women and the criminal injustice system. Saturday night centers on Mumia Abu Jamal. Screenings are nightly at 7pm at Kresge Town Hall at UCSC. Call 460.1431 for film titles and the panelists' credentials and names.

PLAN AHEAD. The UCSC African American Theater Arts Troupe is presenting Blues for an Alabama Sky, a play about five African Americans living through the Depression and the Harlem Renaissance. The play premiered at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. It'll be at UCSC's Second Stage theater Feb. 15-18 at 8pm. The Second Stage is that theater across from the Main Stage theater, where the Dalai Lama gave a special set of prayers a few years ago. You can try to get tickets now by calling 459.2159 except that nobody live ever answers that phone, and as of Monday the message hadn't been updated since December. There's a website that might be helpful though http://arts.ucsc.edu/aatat/index.html.

ASTROLOGICALLY SPEAKING. Now that Bush is president, we see all the astrologers saying, "It's in his chart." They always say that: "It's in his chart." Two questions in case you have time to think about this. Why didn't those astrologers say it was in his chart before he was elected? And why don't they come out now and tell us things that are in his chart for the future? Why not warn us and him that a week from Tuesday he'll bang his head on a helicopter or have a bad time with a dark stranger on Feb. 14 or that he shouldn't sign a document with an Aries in March. I'm just trying to find something that may help get us through these next four years.

Bruce will continue to critiquing films every other Thursday on KUSP's Prime Time (88.9FM) at 12:50pm as soon as he's up and around. Reach Bruce at [email protected] or call 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the January 24-31, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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