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ABCatalyst: Has overzealous enforcement by the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control pushed the Catalyst onto the market?

Nüz

Raising Kane

After 31 years entertaining Santa Cruz County, local institution Randall Kane is selling the Catalyst.

Kane confirmed the sale to Nüz, but did not say whether it is related to recent actions by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to suspend his liquor license. However, the announcement of the ABC action came just days after the business was put on the market.

According to Jim Roberts, the agent handling the sale, Kane is asking $300,000 for the business, although he will maintain ownership of the building. Several prospective buyers have emerged, Roberts adds, one of which is a local business interest. He would not elaborate.

The Catalyst was started in 1967 and was housed in the old St. George Hotel on Pacific. Kane bought the business two years later for $22,000, he says, but problems with the building forced the business to move to its present Pacific Avenue location by the mid-'70s.

Roberts says a sale is likely several months off, but in his business a sale could happen "at any time."

Many local taverns believe that they have been penalized by the ABC for following police instructions to report disturbances, which often occur outside their businesses but are not related to the business or its patrons. "When you do what they want, the police tell you you're doing a good job, then they turn over the info to ABC. It's entrapment," Fred Friedman, manager of the Blue Lagoon told Nüz in an earlier interview.

Catalyst entertainment manager Gary Tighe is also outraged by language in a new downtown entertainment ordinance that would require noise levels after 10pm to be "inaudible" from the outside.

"We'd have to tell musicians to stop at 9:30--and people don't even start coming until 10:30," Tighe says.

Gutter Politics

Nüz has heard of nasty campaign gimmicks before, but this one just about beats all.

On Feb. 5, at the annual county Bar Association dinner, a loose collection of lawyers with dubious musical talent known as the Spoofers was performing its annual ritual of lampooning the local barristry. But in this politically charged election atmosphere, with Santa Cruz County residents on the verge of picking their first new district attorney in 20 years, two songs seemed to skirt a bit too close to the edge of bad taste.

At the center of the storm is Assistant DA Gary Brayton, one of a handful of diehard opponents of District Attorney Ron Ruiz and an active supporter of Ruiz's main challenger in the election, former Deputy DA Kate Canlis.

Brayton helped pen lyrics to two satires, singing solo and accompanied by a tinkling piano. Naturally, Brayton did not choose Canlis, his former boss, to poke fun at. To the 1959 Dion and the Belmonts' tune "Teenager in Love," Brayton took as his theme the case of Laurie Flower, the Corralitos woman who awaits sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old boy who was a foster child in her care.

Flower was also the key witness in the case against her attorney, Peter Chang, who was accused of witnesses-tampering for allegedly helping the boy flee to Hawaii to avoid testifying. Chang is a candidate for DA in the primary, and Canlis' supporters accuse Ruiz of going easy on Flower in order to get Chang.

Brayton's lyrics go a step further, suggesting Ruiz condones child molestation. "Now child molestation/Don't bother us a bit/Don't speak of exploitation/'Cause we don't give a whit" goes one stanza.

A second ditty attempts to make fun of the Chang case, sung to the 1957 Johnny Mathis tune "It's Not for Me to Say."

So was it a satire or a polemic? Naturally, Brayton defends the songs.

"The tradition has been to satirize current events at the bar and to satirize participants in the events," Brayton explains. "Others can be arbiters of taste, but this was not outside the range of prior material that's been performed."

And what reactions did he get? "There may have been those who thought it was in poor taste, but they didn't come and talk to me about it."

Outgoing Bar Association president Ginaia Kelly didn't share Brayton's assessment--and she isn't alone.

"I think the reaction was unanimous that is was inappropriate," Kelly says. "Every year they entertain and someone is offended. But this year it was right on the edge."

"Horrified," said another attendee.

ILL Communication

How many of us would have ordered Martha Stewart Living magazine sight unseen, online? You have to touch its glossy pages and inhale its light, citrusy scent. UC-Santa Cruz students may prefer crumbling old pages, obscurity and the je ne sais quoi of musty, moldering tomes. But they too need to browse.

Beginning this July, 50,000 books, representing about 16 percent of the total collection, are leaving UCSC's McHenry Library, bound for the dreaded Northern Regional Library Facility.

"Every working day, we receive about 100 new volumes, and we don't have the space for them," says university librarian Allan Dyson. The moved volumes will be available to students through the Interlibrary Loan program (ILL), which provides access to books from all nine UC campuses. But librarians are concerned with the impact of "reduced browsability."

In addition, the California Digital Library System, in conjunction with UC, is set to start offering online book ordering. The technology is here, but with space at a premium, some wonder whether McHenry and ILL staffers can reasonably expect to deal with the increased demand for 50,000 off-site volumes plus the new online features.

Chris Breu, a graduate student and teaching fellow in 20th-century literature at UCSC who uses ILL, is upset at the prospect.

"It's a hassle to use already," he says. "But there's a larger problem, that the humanities are systematically underfunded to privilege the sciences."

Dyson says that "everyone on this campus from the chancellor on down" supports expansion of McHenry, which holds the campus' nonscience collections. "We have had a proposal for expansion in at the Office of the President for a long time," Dyson says. "Our last improvements were made 25 years ago."

Dyson says that within a year, McHenry will be on a "one-in, one-out policy," meaning essentially that only newer volumes will be stored on shelves at UCSC. Talk about reduced browsability.

Maybe UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood should consider the expansion of McHenry a higher priority than the exclusive University Club facility for faculty and staff she has proposed.

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

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