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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Our State Sen. Bruce McPherson and Friend Brad Elliott, Aug. 30, 1965: These swingers and the MG are shown in front of the old Sentinel building on Church Street, which was located about in the middle of the intersection of where Cedar and Church is now--only it was before Cedar and Center streets went through Walnut and Church streets. That may be confusing, but you'll just have to look it up.

Bruce Bratton

FRIENDS OF THE NORTH COAST EVENT. Frans Lanting, Martin Simpson and Frank Balthis sold out the Cabrilho College Auditorium last Saturday night, and it was an amazing evening. Aside from the absolutely stunning photography and music, the real theme of the evening--and the purpose of the Friends of the North Coast--was to alert everybody to the rapidly increasing environmental disaster that the Santa Cruz Biotechnology goat- and donkey-raising industry is causing on our North Coast between Wilder Ranch State Park and Coast Dairies Property. The 1,700 goats are overgrazing, overbrowsing and ruining the land, and the owners now want to triple the number of goats there. The goats are used to produce blood products for research institutions, and the pollution caused by this lab-animal facility is 450 times the level considered safe. Save Our Agricultural Land, FONC and a number of environmental groups are opposed to this operation, and on March 7 (yes, voting day) at 9am, you should be at the County Board of Supervisors meeting to let the supes know that you too want to preserve and protect our North Coast, especially from this goat operation. The goat factory could be easily moved many other places since the goats aren't dependent on the land for feed. Call Save Our Agricultural Land at 429.4055 or Friends of the North Coast at 427.0343 and let them know how you want to help, or just show up at the County Building on the seventh after you vote.

A MIX OF MOVIES. The only possible reason for seeing Pitch Black is that it's the worst movie of the entire year, and you have the rest of the year to see better ones--never mind, just don't go. Bette Midler's Isn't She Great is also awful, but I worked with Jacqueline Susann and her husband, Irving Mansfield, once in San Francisco on a radio show and wanted to see how Midler portrayed her. She was agonizingly accurate. Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow's Hanging Up is one step above cute; not too clever, just cute--rent it later. The Emperor and the Assassin is long, complex and only great if you're into Chinese history. The crowd and battle scenes make it look like some C.B. DeMille epic. Bruce Willis rises to new comedy heights in The Whole Nine Yards. It's a made-in-Canada film, and there are laughs, killings and nudity, but they don't quite work right. Go and see if you don't think everything is a bit strained but good. You'll recognize Giovanni Ribisi when you see him in Boiler Room, the stock-selling scam saga. This film will make you hang up on telemarketers even faster, and that's not all bad.

SOME BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS. First the bad news. Molly Ivins canceled out of her March 26 engagement at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. The good news is that it was on the same night as the Academy Awards, so now we don't have to make a decision and feel guilty about it. I heard that she's been sick lately, but let's hope she gets here as soon as possible. We need more writers and columnists like her.

FIRST NIGHT CHANGES. Trink Praxel has stepped down as board president, and Lisa Rose of UCSC and formerly of the Citizens Police Review Board is the new president. K.B. Abood and Serina Dionysus have resigned from the board. Tim Youmans is vice prez, and Pete Tola is treasurer. Pat Clarke is a new board member. After trying lots of new things for the millennium celebration, First Night lost around $30,000 this year. They lost money the year before too, but not as much. The Civic Auditorium production was an amazing success with more than 3,000 teenagers attending. However, the Artists of the Year shows at the new Santa Cruz High School lost a bundle, and the fireworks and video extravaganza at the Town Clock were incredibly expensive and, of course, produced no income. Everybody needs to remember that this grand annual event is all about the community buying buttons to support the artists. Even though the artists' checks went out later than ever this year, they've all been paid. In other First Night cities, folks buy buttons just to help pay the bills and don't necessarily attend, which doesn't seem to have happened here yet. I'd imagine that the First Night board will be going through some deep thinking and create some excellent new energy and plans for 2001. They always welcome any new input and need volunteers, so call the office at 425.7277, and no, they haven't picked a new executive director yet.

UCSC'S GOOD NEIGHBOR SECTION. Somebody up at that city on the bluff needs to take responsibility for all those cars parking along Empire Grade by the west entrance to campus. It's a problem caused by UCSC and in spite of UC saying it's the California Highway Patrol's problem--it isn't. Bicyclists are mad, soil erosionists are mad and the situation is full of accidents waiting to happen. Speaking of which, and I haven't mentioned this for years, but why doesn't UCSC fix up the once elegant entrance, namely the white wooden gate, to the former Cowell Ranch? This would probably cost in the neighborhood of a half a tuition, or they could give the task to some errant student or some sorority/fraternity could take it on. For all the neighborly goodwill UCSC says it cares about, these are two community PR problems that need attention.

POLITICKING TIME. More than a few folks are wondering about C. Patrick Dugan's financial backing in his 5th District race against Jeff Almquist. The McCrarys and Big Creek Lumber were early supporters of Dugan, and now it appears that other out-of-county logging businesses are paying for Dugan's fancy mailers, radio and TV ads.

A VERY FUNNY NIGHT. Morton Marcus' second night of MAH's film series (Feb. 24) devoted to the genius of Hollywood's greatest comic director, Ernst Lubitsch, will screen Trouble in Paradise. Mort sez this is Lubitsch's funniest film, and it's never been available on video! It stars Miriam Hopkins, Herbert Marshall, Charles Ruggles, Edward Everett Horton and C. Aubrey Smith. The program starts at 7pm. And since the first night of the Lubitsch series was standing-room only, I'd get there early if I were you. Call 429.1964 for info.

GATEWAY PLAZA CONTEST. I spent a few hours walking around the Cost Plus, Office Max, Gateway Plaza place and had a great idea: Let's have a contest to decide the best possible use of that place. I was thinking first about renting the buildings for zeppelin hangers or for old blimps, but maybe we could turn the whole dismal area into a performing arts space. It's a fine location for something cultural, and besides that every other small town in California already has its version of a sprawl mall. We'll come up with prizes soon, but let's hear some good ideas to make something positive out of that place.

NOTES IN PASSING. Doesn't it seem to you that more and more people are keeping up their Christmas lights all year round? Nothing wrong with that, it adds a lot of color and fun. I'll bet a real survey would prove there's an increase. The icicle lights do need a little redesigning though. ... I'm not giving up on trying to get advice and support for keeping the Cabrilho College Theater intact and usable as a theater, in addition to the new same size one they're planning on building. I know Cabrilho needs lots of space for student support services and money is tight, but couldn't some organization in the county co-produce a year-round schedule of performances that would make the theater financially feasible? Then we could name it the Lou Harrison Theater. Maybe the Cabrilho folks are thinking about naming the new theater complex after Lou? That would be a fine idea too.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday at 12:50pm on KUSP (88.9FM). Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or at 457.9000, ext.400

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From the February 23-March 1, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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