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A Radical Plaza Idea: Back in 1967, the city fathers (and mothers, too, we assume) proposed demolishing the original Cooper House! It had been poorly used and needed much renovation. Some folks even suggested using the space as a car lot. The drawing above shows the Octagon Shop (and now Metro Santa Cruz office) and Front Street on the right, with Pacific Avenue on the left. Fortunately, entrepreneur/ developer Max Walden saved the Cooper House building, and it worked beautifully until that earthquake. Another version of this plaza idea surfaced later, using just Cooper Street, but that didn't work out either.

Bruce Bratton

IMPORTANT THEATRICAL NEWS! R.G. (Ron) Davis, the creative genius who created the San Francisco Mime Troupe, is sneaking a new project of his into town for only two performances (March 29 at London Nelson Community Center). He's only staged this new project, which he conceived, wrote and directed, in England and for two private performances in the Bay Area. Ron tells me that Symbiogenesis has music by Schoenberg, Satie and others. It features two performers and a long unrolling scroll and is a story about Science and Art. Ron has collaborated with many of the great musical and theatrical people of our times. Steve Reich and Luis Valdez are two whom I remember. The performances are 45-50 minutes long and begin at 7:30pm and probably 9pm. I'll get more details this week and report back to you. In the meantime, tell everybody you know who enjoys new ideas in performing arts to circle March 29 on the calendar. It'll be one of those nights just like UCSC's Arts and Lectures presentation of Taraf de Haidouks last week; you'll be really sorry if you miss Symbiogenesis. Besides that, it's free, with a subtle passing of the hat afterward.

GO HERE! UCSC's Long Marine Research Center has a website. Part of this website is about its future plans, and it wants dialogue and comments on those plans--or yours. You can find the center's housing proposals and weird ideas like naming it Wells Fargo. Apparently, Charles Eadie, the project manager, reads this site and will answer your questions. Go to www2.ucsc.edu/ppc/planning/marine/discus/ and give the center a piece of your mind.

MUSICAL HISTORY. There were other reasons, but after hearing that Santa Cruz had a musical group called the Antiquarian Funks that played authentic Renaissance and Baroque musick on traditional instruments, I decided this would be a great place to live. That was 30 years ago, and the Funks are performing again this Saturday and Sunday. They're playing instrumental and vocal works by Tarquino Merula (1595-1665). You'll hear his music played on a sackbut, cornett, viol and organ--plus a keyboard toccata. Saturday, the concert takes place at the First Congregational Church, 900 High St., Santa Cruz, in the Fellowship Hall at 8pm. Sunday, it's at 4pm in St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 216 Oakland Ave., Capitola. No charge, but donations are welcome! Call 423.8977 for info.

FUN WITH FLUORIDE! Last week, I brought up such topics as chlorine in our water, vaccinations, flu shots, chicken pox shots and a few other items I assumed civilization recognized as progress. Geez, I was rapidly reminded that this is indeed Santa Cruz! I got the usual anonymous junk mail (all anonymous mail is junk) plus several emails and letters telling the world just how bad chlorine is. Other pieces included one from Greenpeace saying that any use of PVC anywhere and anyhow is probably planned by Satan and will kill us all. Marilyn Garret, usually a reliable source, sent a packet with that age-old photo of mottled teeth that somebody claimed was due to fluoride. But when challenged years ago, no documentation could be provided as to the source of that photo, but anti-fluoride folks still use it. Again, check out www.quackwatch.com; all the answers providing the truth about the benefits of fluoridating our water are there--and documented and proven and signed!

A SPECIAL FILM. Wong Kar-wei's latest film, In the Mood for Love, should be seen by everyone who loves great cinema. Go to www.mrqe.com, and read any critic from around the world--they agree it's great. But don't go if you don't like subtitles. The folks at the Riverfront Theater tell me (and I've seen it happen at the two showings I attended), that folks just walk out when they realize they'll have to read. Some critics compare Kar-wei's directing to Jean-Luc Godard's. I see much of Kubrick's unfinished Eyes Wide Shut in this film. Only Richard von Busack, of all the 20 or more critics I read, noted the use of Nat King Cole singing part of the soundtrack in Portuguese, not Spanish. It's a very delicate love story. It should be showing at the Nickelodeon, because no one is going to the Riverfront to see it. Go quickly, because they'll replace it asap.

DARK PLEASURES. Robert De Niro's 15 Minutes is a little more tricky and intelligent than I expected. It's not a great film but exciting, and Edward Burns does a fine job, too. Before Night Falls is the true story of poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, directed by painter Julian Schnabel. It stars Javier Bardem, and they all deserve as many awards as possible for this film. Before Night Falls shows the very darkest side of Castro's revolution and the very strongest side of Arenas. Look very closely for Sean Penn as the gold-toothed driver of the donkey wagon who gives Arenas a ride. Johnny Depp plays two roles, the first one in drag, and he's stunning. Don't miss this film either.

HISTORICAL PHOTO TOUCH-UP. Both Jud Van Gorder and some snotty (anonymous as usual) writer referred to the historical photo of March 7 and let me know that before it was the McHugh and Bianchi Grocery Store at Pacific and Mission, it was Lease and Wettstein's grocery store. I gotta admit, I've never seen any photo of Lease and Wettstein's store. There are plenty of photos of Hinkle's store, which came before Lease and Wettstein's. Pat Miller of the Aptos Millers told me all about that historical photo from the Feb. 28 issue of then-Mayor Norm Lezin and crowd in front of City Hall. Ms. Miller also sent in more photos taken at that same event. Pat went on to say that she and May Ray organized the Selma Freedom Walk here in Santa Cruz on March 13, 1965, as a tribute to the Civil Rights struggle going on in Selma, Ala. Pat mentioned that Unitarians, Quakers, Congregationalists, YWCA, WILPF, ACLU, NAACP and Augusta Trumpler, and Herb and Ellie Foster were all involved. Pat also asked if there were any photos of Lezin unveiling Ron Boise's controversial statue atop the Hip Pocket Book Store (I'll ask around).

GAY YOUTH LEADERSHIP DINNER. Last year, 250 folks went to this dinner, and the organizers are expecting more this year, so plan ahead. The Fourth Annual Gay Youth Leadership Awards Banquet and Dance will be April 27 at 6:30pm at the Cocoanut Grove. Tickets are available now at Herland Bookstore, 1014 Center St., Santa Cruz. If you'd like to be a sponsor or reserve a table of tickets, contact Gee at 459.0955 or gee@cruzio.com. Patricia Smith, who's involved with this celebration, promises that organizer Terry Cavanagh will not sing a duet with Eminem, which is reason enough to attend.

OUR VALUABLE NORTH COAST. If you'd like to see a gorgeous panorama photo of part of our endangered North Coast, go to www.fonc.org/coast.html. As you pan left and right, you'll also see the obscene trophy home that the owners of Santa Cruz Biotechnology built right on the scenic hillside. Not only is that monster house sitting empty but the now empty, contaminated goat yards are still polluting everything downstream including our marine sanctuary plus nearby surfers. S.C. Biotechnology still hasn't removed its wildlife-threatening fences that line both sides of Back Ranch Road. Write to the Coastal Commission and tell it that we want our North Coast cleaned up and that they better get busy and take care of it!

HO'OPAU, EL FIN, UND SO WEITER. Tom Snell sent in these probable bumper statements: "Corduroy pillows are making headlines." "I like cats too. Let's exchange recipes." "Am I ambivalent? Well, yes and no." Xerox and Wurlitzer will merge to market reproductive organs." Lastly, Tom sez, "Confession is good for the soul but bad for your career."


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 March 14-21, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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