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Covello & Covello Historical Photograph

Republicans in Santa Cruz: This picture was taken May 22, 1965, at Deer Park Tavern in Aptos. The guy on the left was known as Mr. Santa Cruz Republican and was a major contributor to Cabrilho College--it's Carl Conelly. That's President Gerald Ford in the middle (and I never knew he visited here either). The other political luminary is Donald Grunsky, former assemblyman, state senator and driving political force around here for years.

Bruce Bratton

MANAGING DOWNTOWN. I'll try to make this clearer. I'll also resist the temptation to repeat what Ralph Nader said about the chambers of commerce at his Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium talk here last week, but he sure was absolutely accurate, and I'm voting for him. My belief about managing our downtown couldn't be more capitalistic in principle if I tried, and I'm not even trying. What I'm saying is that our downtown belongs to our city. After seeing the ruin of downtowns all across the nation due to developers and real estate agents taking over, our city needs to run our entire downtown like one well-run business. In order to continue downtown's present success, the city needs to think about what businesses are needed, what size should the businesses be, which franchises, if any, should be allowed, how should downtown look--in short, planning and creating with the future in mind instead of asking what will fill spaces quickest and who makes the commissions. Now, who makes up the deciding group for the city is another story. Even though they're needed, few small-business owners have the time or extra interest to devote to civic planning beyond their front doors. Beyond that, we're hearing that once again, the small-business owners are far from satisfied with the representation from the Downtown Association and the Chamber of Commerce. That's why there's talk about creating a new downtown-business owners' association. It's also the developers, contractors and Realtors that have a very questionable interest in being able to make decisions regarding our downtown's future. We just need to rethink how our downtown's run, that's all--and it'll probably take a while.

FRACTURED FLICKERS. The great news is that through a breakthrough in booking, Topsy-Turvy opens tomorrow at the Nickelodeon. It's a nearly perfect movie, even if you don't like Gilbert and Sullivan. Most critics' lists across the country place it at No. 1, so just go, and go quickly just in case that booking falls through again. Erin Brockovich is a great Hollywood movie, and Julia Roberts chews up PG&E just as she did the script. It almost makes you wonder why Santa Cruz doesn't buy its power in bulk as a few communities do and eliminate part of PG&E's stranglehold on us. Of course, it isn't really PG&E, it's the greedy PG&E stockholders that cause the trouble. Thank goodness, we don't have any of those around here. There's a movie called Final Destination out now, but just ignore it and maybe it'll just go away. Yes, I saw it, but there's no reason to discuss it at this point in time.

TRIANGLE SPEAKERS. As most of you probably know, Triangle Speakers is a group of folks who work hard to eliminate prejudice against gays, lesbians and bisexuals in our community. It's obviously very much a full-time job. Triangle provides speakers for school classes, civic and faith groups. Well, the group just got some much-deserved grants, and now it needs office space, new board members and, especially, a treasurer. The United Way awarded Triangle Speakers a Community Hero Award in 1999. The office can be little and can be anywhere, from downtown Santa Cruz to midcounty. You can check the group's website at www.trianglespeakers.org or call 429.6529. That would be a nice new project for some successful company to take on, wouldn't it?

NICKELODEON 2. The plans are finished, Matt Thompson of Thacher & Thompson is the architect, and they're gutting the entire Theatre 1&2 building over on Front Street to create three new auditoriums with about 200 seats in each. The property is in escrow now, and if all goes well, the new theater could be open by September. Jim Schwenterly and Chuck Volwiler, now partners in both the Nickelodeon and the Nickelodeon 2, want to find a restaurant and a book shop or something like that to go into the 843- and 1,884-square-foot spaces in the front of the new building. If all really goes well, they're even planning on excavating a few feet to provide the proper sight lines for the screens. There are no plans for stadium seating (which isn't working out all that well in many theaters across the country), but the new theaters will have the finest and widest seats possible with excellent leg room. We need a Hollywood opening night for this new theater, so if anybody knows any movie stars or has any suggestions, call the Nick and let them know--or tell me, and I'll pass it on.

PLAZA PRINCIPLES. Many things became very clear at last Sunday's celebration of Doug Rand's life. One of the major points is that it's the caring and dedication to our community that make Santa Cruz so special. In the past 30 years, we've fought hard to protect and create great new spaces at Wilder ranch, Wingspread, Gray Whale Ranch, Lighthouse Point and many places throughout the county. That small piece of land at the corner of Pacific and Church streets where we want a downtown plaza is no less important. The challenges to be met before it becomes a plaza and one of the most usable and appreciated open spaces in our community may be just as tough as those other battles. The Wingspread, Wilder and Lighthouse battles took years, but we still have hopes that the plaza at Pacific and Church may be worked out more easily. India Joze's has offered to cook up a storm of great food and we've collected much research and are still going to these city-sponsored panel, or task force, meetings. Our Downtown Plaza Committee, which is completely committed to only that Pacific and Church location, isn't meeting at Palookaville on the 30th, as previously printed; that was a misprint. We'll let you know when the next monthly meeting will be ASAP. Call the committee at 475.9172 or 460.1553 if you want in on the ground floor of what will be the most visible land-use battle we've ever been involved in.

CABRILLO MUSIC FESTIVAL. Every year, the Cabrillo Music Festival has one of the finest arts and crafts fairs in our county. It's called the Cabrillo Music Art and Wine Festival, and it takes place on Church Street right in front of the Civic Auditorium during the Music Festival on Aug. 5 and 6. More and more out-of-town arties and crafties are taking part lately, and it's a shame that more creative folks from this area aren't involved. It's quite successful, and this year they're even extending it down Church Street between Center and Cedar. If you know local crafts and arts folks who would like to show and sell their wares, have them get in touch with Leslie Connor at the Civic Auditorium at 420.5243. She's in charge of that part of the festival. It's spelled Cabrillo because it's named after the college; it's the college name that should be spelled Cabrilho, that's all.

A LITTLE VIVALDI NEVER HURT ANYBODY. The Santa Cruz County Symphony is performing Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring Saturday at 8pm in the Civic Auditorium. Violinist Stephanie Chase will play and conduct the Vivaldi with a small orchestra, and maestro Larry Grainger will conduct the Stravinsky with almost a Wagner-sized orchestra. They'll be performing right on the floor of the Civic, so they can test the new acoustics and the new sound system. Tickets are available at the Civic box office at 420.5260 or at the door. Claire Schneeberger will give a free preconcert talk at 7pm in the City Council Chambers, which as Ralph Nader noted with amazement and appreciation, are right across the street.


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

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From the March 22-29, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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