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It's a Small, Small World

A high school located in a town that treasures its adherence to all things politically correct might consider many ideas for raising funds. A transgendered disco night or a name-that-redwood contest, perhaps. But Aptos High School's Booster Club decided on something a little ... well, different. With that in mind, get your tickets early to catch Lil' Nasty Boy and Cowboy Lang mix it up for a few rounds of midget wrestling.

Explains Roland Alexander, vice president in charge of Pacific Coast Sports, the promoter responsible for bringing this event to our county: "Midget wrestling is completely different than what you normally see. But," adds the promoter, "it will be a lot of fun and for a good cause." As far as Alexander is concerned, as funding for intramural activities like football, soccer and dwarf-tossing dwindles, more kids end up with nothing to do. "We do this to keep school programs going and to keep kids off the street."

Alexander admits that this sport involves a "lot of showmanship," but denies that the erstwhile grapplers are faking it. "Oh, I think that's a bit harsh," he says.

Phil Campbell, a.k.a. Lil' Nasty Boy, agrees. Reached by phone at his Oregon home, the pint-sized matman bristles at those who ask him if it's all a big show. "I show them the bruises and war wounds. I do real wrestling," he snaps. Campbell, who's been wrestling professionally for about nine years, says his career "is a childhood dream that I made come true. I worked for it."

But isn't Lil' Nasty Boy a lil' concerned about persons of size-challenged stature being the object of mockery? "No one's ever approached me about that," Campbell says. More upsetting to him is the trend toward pumped-up behemoths like Hulk Hogan holding court in the main ring. "There's not many midgets left in wrestling," he says.

Promoter Alexander agrees. "It's tough to break in, especially for the little guy," he jokes.

Gooden Ready

Charlotte and Warren Gooden, defendants in small-claims lawsuits brought by 16 neighbors over their problem-infested apartment complex on lower Ocean Street, have agreed to fork over roughly $10,000 for the errors of their ways. Tenant-landlord difficulties that included code violations, prostitution, drug dealing and overcrowding were detailed in a Dec. 14 Metro Santa Cruz article titled "Gimme Shelter."

Approximately $6,000 will go to repairs on the property and another $4,000 will be paid to four of the plaintiffs. "This agreement that we've hammered out is an important model. It will show other property owners what we are looking for," says Erik Larsen, one of the spokespersons for Neighbors of Lower Ocean (NOLO), a neighborhood activist group that has rallied community support against problem landlords. However, Larsen admits the agreement was a "mixed bag." "It was not the monetary settlement we had hoped for," he says. Originally, there were about 20 neighbors participating in the process, with lawsuits totaling close to $100,000.

According to Larsen, there is now another group, not affiliated with NOLO, that will be monitoring the Goodens' property. "The [new group] may file future small claims if the properties decline to what they were six months ago. And, there is already some evidence that it is beginning to backslide." Warns Larsen, "I don't think this group is going to give in as easily to the Goodens--or any other property owner, for that matter."

Tangled Cable

About six months ago, TCI Cable subscribers found a survey tucked in their monthly bill, asking which channels viewers wanted and which TCI should dump. Well, the results are in, sort of. This month's bill was bundled with The Cable Connection, a chatty newsletter containing the results of that exhaustive survey. We, the viewers, apparently pine for the History Channel, Independent Film Channel, the Sci-Fi Channel, Turner Movie Classics and the ever-newsworthy Home and Garden Television.

So, we should look forward to catching these channels soon, right? Wrong. Explains community relations director Carol Mulford, "Now the challenge is what we would have to go through to get these new ones on." Adds marketer Lee Ann Giblin, "The problem with working for a big cable company is you have to go through contract negotiations, and that's completely out of our hands."

What's more, the path to deleting unpopular channels appears to be scattered with marketing land mines. "We have to do more extensive surveys to find out what people want to drop," Mulford says. It seems that if the Internet is an information highway, the cable world would more closely resemble a treadmill. But stay tuned: Response to viewer requests may happen any year now.

Drug War and Peace

Following closely on the heels of the latest library exhibit, "Atrocities of the Drug War," the Santa Cruz Hemp Council and the Santa Cruz Citizens for Medical Marijuana are inviting interested parties--uh, folks--down for a Drug War Teach-In this Sunday at Louden Nelson Community Center.

According to a flier being distributed about town, the day will offer local and national speakers, victims' testimonies, and panel discussions addressing the drug war in Santa Cruz County.

Says Hemp Council spokesperson Theodora Kerry, "The purpose of the meeting is to generate more public discussion and involvement in creating policies that will be effective in combating the problems that occur with drug use by children and drug abuse by adults."

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From the MArch 21-27, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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