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Good Old Days: Back on March 13, 1965, Norm Lezin (of Salz Tannery fame) was seen telling the crowd about civil rights at this Sympathy Crowd Demonstration at City Hall on Center near Locust. Along with civil rights, Norm was probably sneaking in a little bit about city districting and how we'd need it in 35 years.

Bruce Bratton

BUILDING DOWNTOWN. Mark Simon gave a big report in The San Francisco Chronicle (Feb. 23) on the rapid rise in vacant office space along the peninsula, including Menlo Park and Palo Alto. And office rents are going down, too. It's all due to the slowdown in the dotcom industry. Simon calls it "the end to skyrocketing rent increases and demands seen throughout 2000." He says, and I agree, that we need to think about the building of more office space now that the surge has ended. Do we want to allow the building of more empty offices in downtown Santa Cruz? Don't we want to focus instead on affordable housing, say? Anybody who's ever knocked on the Cooperhouse facade knows those office buildings aren't very solid, but they do last long enough to change the quality of our downtown.

DARK PLEASURES. Instead of seeing Snatch a second time, which I should have done, I saw 3000 Miles to Graceland. They shouldn't have made it, and you definitely shouldn't see it. It has Kevin Costner in it, and that's enough warning. Monkeybone is worse (that's "monkey bone" as in "choke the monkey"--get it? Brendan Fraser and Bridget Fonda should be fined for appearing in a film this bad. I did see Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? again, and it's still one fantastic, creative, funny film that deserves as many awards as possible. Go see this one on the big screen with good sound, because the soundtrack music is nearly half the film.

THE 5-P PLAZA. The Palace, Peet's, Palace, Pacific Wave and Primack proposal for a minipark on Pacific Avenue between Cooper and Locust streets that Robert Fish drew has a major problem. When we first started talking about the corner lot at Church and Pacific, a few (very few) folks asked about the amount of sun that open corner would receive. We calculated, and as anyone can see, being open on the three sides means plenty of sunshine. The 5-P Plaza on the other hand would be in the middle of Pacific Avenue. Pacific Avenue, like 41st Avenue, runs almost exactly north and south, which means maybe one hour of sunshine a day. A much better plan, as proposed many times by some informed citizens, would be to close off Church at Pacific down to the alleyway by the parking garage. We could do this quickly and inexpensively and see how the empty lot right next to it would be great to create a truly fine plaza.

ATTENTION DANCE FANS. Most Santa Cruz and West Coast dance enthusiasts already know that Ban Rarra is coming to Santa Cruz March 12 at the Rio Theatre. This wildly colorful dance and music group is from Cuba and has been selling out all performances on this first tour. The music and dances are Cuban, Afro-Cuban and Haitian-Cuban, and the eight dancers and four musicians do salsa, timba and even santeria. This performance is sponsored by the Rio Theatre, the Salsablanca Production Company and our local Cuba Study Group. Call 423.8209 for info and get advance tickets at Rhythm Fusion.

THOSE DARNED COOKIES. Bill Trimble emailed to say his old Boy Scout troop picked and sold mistletoe every year and kept 100 percent of the profits. You probably read that George Weston, the "Canadian food conglomerate" (San Francisco Chronicle) that makes our Girl Scout Cookies (which seems a bit odd), bought Unilever's bakery division for $1.77 billion in cash. Weston bakes for Wal-Mart stores, too. We're talking awfully big money here. In the old days, there were six separate baking companies licensed to make the cookies; now, it's down to one Canadian company. Because each Girl Scout troop makes so little on each box sold, it just seems like good business sense to find another way.

DOUG RAND PEACE PARK. You've probably read that the Santa Cruz City Council established a committee to create and develop a park at the Town Clock/Collateral Damage Sculpture site. They came up with a great interpretive art wall that would unify the space on that little island. On Sunday (March 4) at 10:30am, friends of Doug Rand will be completing and celebrating their one year of monthly get-togethers at the site of Collateral Damage. Bring flowers and hear the latest ideas on the Peace Park. Call 458.9042 for more information.

FUN WITH FLUORIDE. This is a perfectly good time for anybody who still needs convincing where to go to catch up on the latest and earliest research on why we should add fluoride to our drinking water. Check out the American Dental Associations website. If you need to know more, try the National Center for Fluoridation Policy & Research's site at fluoride.oralhealth.org. Among some fluoride facts: 42 of the 50 largest U.S. cities are supplied with fluoridated water. That's New York, Chicago, Seattle, Miami. San Francisco, Oakland, Phoenix and Detroit, among others. Dr. C. Everett Koop endorses fluoridation. Sixty countries worldwide have fluoridated water, benefiting 360,000,000 people--that includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Chile, Israel, Ireland and Brazil. South Africa made the most recent countrywide decision to fluoridate. Contrary to what some rabid naysayers say, no country in Europe has banned community water fluoridation. Add to that, courts around the world have consistently ruled that fluoridation is not a form of compulsory mass medication. Check out those websites--they'll convince any thinking person.

PLANNING NISENE MARKS. This fine state park has never had a general plan, but now it will. The first public meeting will be held March 11 at 2pm in the Soquel High Auditorium. The plan will take at least a year according to Sandy Lydon, who's the consulting historian on this. All public comments are welcome. This plan will determine trail systems, permitted uses, future land acquisitions and, of course, an EIR. Call 429.2822 for info or check out the website of the San Francisco firm that's been hired to bring this together: www.rhaa.com. Managing a park for the best uses for the most folks isn't easy, so if you like the way Nisene Marks is now and don't want changes, you better go to that meeting.

DEVIL'S DETAILS. Dan Dickmeyer says that the Outback Restaurant chain is planning on opening one next to Kiva Retreat on Water Street. The Santa Cruz City Council will deal with that at its March 13 meeting, if you have feelings about that. ... Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be here May 24 at 4pm. I forgot where, but save the date. ... Scott MacClelland has a friend in Tokyo who reports that many Japanese are very worried about the attitude of the new film Pearl Harbor. His friend in Japan asks how we'd react to a Japanese film titled Hiroshima. ... Why is it taking so long for UCSC to fix the gate on High Street that leads to the old Cowell House? They've done a little, but with the renewed town-gown relationship, you'd think that restoring that gate would be a nice move on the university's part. ... The New Music Works' Night of the Living Composers happens this Saturday at UCSC's Music Recital Hall. It's usually the most innovative concert of the year; call 429.2277 for info. ... UCSC's Arts & Lectures has added another performance of Taraf de Haidouks on March 8 due to big demand, so maybe you can get tickets to one of their shows. Call 459.2159 about Taraf tix. ... Longtime artist Ray Ginghofer has a show of his recent oil landscapes of Rio Del Mar on the fourth floor of the County Building. ... Dan Bessie is giving another two-day workshop on Writing Your Book, Making Your Movie on March 10-11; call 462.9763 to enroll.

BUMPER STICKER TIME. Tandy Beal saw this one: "George W. Bush: The President Quayle we never had." Simon Kelly reported spotting "My wife keeps telling me I don't listen ... or something like that."


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 February 28-March 7, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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