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In the Pink: Jennine Mae Olea (center), co-owner of Emmy Mae's Bauty Parlor, works on Brenda Schrodetz during her first visit to the salon.

Best Arts

Critics' Choice Awards

Best public art

Harold Moodie's Untitled Clevis #2

Located at Cooper and Pacific streets in downtown Santa Cruz, this huge thing has become the drum, lounge chair, jungle gym and plain curiosity for thousands of passersby. It's made "art" fun for kids, and for sure it's caused 80,000 conversations about why would a city spend money on that when there are potholes in the streets and starving children someplace. We need to think more about art.

Bruce Bratton


Best reason to rediscover pink

Emmy Mae's Beauty Parlour

Fashion designers may be pushing pink as the color to rediscover this spring. But long before getting the go-ahead from the trendy visionaries of Vogue, the cutting-edge young lasses of Emmy Mae's Beauty Parlour opened a salon that celebrates pink and other traditionally feminine features--while creating traditions of their own. In a funky setting dotted with Barbie-pink, animal prints and retro wares, the Emmy Mae's women chat about everything from weaponry to the proper pedicure while washing, cutting and dying. Feisty and forward-thinking, the new salon promises to shape many of Santa Cruz's best 'dos, while redefining pink as we know it. (1432 Soquel Ave., SC; 425.1744)

Mary Spicuzza


Best way to get your point across

Vanity Plates

Forget about parking yourself downtown on a bench with a hand-lettered sign--there are better ways to speak your mind in public. So-called "vanity" plates proclaim loud and clear whatever it is Santa Cruzans want to share with the masses. Plates can be funny: "PZNAPOD" on a cute new lime green VW; philosophical: "BITOZEN"; appetizing: "ALFRSCO"; corny: "OPURRRR"; obscure: "AKWA"; suggestive: "DDCUP"; and even downright X-rated: "2LCKBOO." The DMV does monitor plate requests to weed out those they deem objectionable. Nevertheless, the message is usually crystal clear. Case in point: the dark green Mercedes coupe with tinted windows and gold trim, cruising slowly through the city streets, always driven by an unsmiling, impeccably dressed man. The plate? "UBOWDWN." I have--and you might see him crack a smile if he catches you at it, too.

Janet Blaser


Best candidate to teach real girl power

Kristin Olson

As proved by the Spice Girls, any bubble-gum diva wannabes can hop around a stage singing about girl power. But young visual artist Kristin Olson doesn't need talk about it. She just proves it with her powerful work. Barely old enough to vote, Olson earned rave reviews for her recent show at Cafe Pergolesi. She is also part of comix art teacher Arnie Clapman's dream team that created COMIXBYKIDS, the first comic book by Santa Cruz's youth. Like all of the contributors, the talented redhead showed that adults have a lot to learn from "those kids today."

Mary Spicuzza



Crack Track: The dirt clods fly as NASCAR types put the pedal to the metal at the Watsonville Speedway.

Best unique cultural experience

Watsonville Speedway

For those who never venture out of the city of Santa Cruz, the world can shrink to a narrow reality dominated by politically correct college kids, trust-fund hippies and beach-hugging tourists. Upon arrival at the Watsonville Speedway NASCAR tracks (the season runs April to August), adventurous types will instantly realize they've stepped into a unique universe--one complete with everything from corn dogs to trophy girls (a step up from trophy wives). Getting the full experience means braving "the pit," an often muddy lot where drivers prep their stock cars for the races. In the pit, the thrill of watching metal monsters twist, turn and flip over each other is heightened by the agony of dodging flying dirt clods.

Mary Spicuzza


Best use of cardboard in decorating

Pontiac Grill

Forget Martha Stewart. Interior decorating is 10 percent skill and 90 percent sheer instinct. Either you've got it, or you don't. The folks at Pontiac Grill are a definite "do." And they do it with cardboard, no less--no easy task. Of course, the black-and-white tile, red-cushioned bar stools, table jukeboxes and lava-thick chocolate malts add to the American Graffiti ambiance. But the larger-than-life, two-dimensional James Dean cutout is the real kicker. He's a commanding presence in the window, enticing passersby to take a trip back down memory land--and into the diner. It's hard to say no to cardboard. (429 Front St., SC; 427.2290)

Jessica Lyons


Best invisible mural

Behind Ace Hardware

The late artist and UCSC professor Eduardo Carrillo painted an amazing three-dimensional religious mural in the now locked-off passageway directly behind Ace Hardware on Front Street in Santa Cruz. Like the other mural that was on the side of where Poor Richard's and McWhorters were on Front Street, it was painted over and now almost forgotten. We need an art ordinance to protect these contributions.

Bruce Bratton

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

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