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Covello & Covello Historical Photograph

The Real Cooperhouse, 1895: This magnificent structure was our county courthouse and stood on the corner of Pacific and Cooper streets until it was ripped asunder in an untimely manner to save a few bucks for its new owner right after the 1989 earthquake. Sure, it could have been saved; that tower collapsed after an earlier "quake," and the building was restored. Yes, that's the County Bank building with the original corner entrance and basement entrance.

Bruce Bratton

DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ. Nobuho Nagasawa, who is an assistant professor of art at UCSC, is installing an iridescent lunar calendar sprayed with a mist fountain in the plaza in downtown Saitama, Japan. Nagasawa's site-specific public works have been displayed in Prague, Germany, Mexico City, New York City and Los Angeles. She's working on some wind-vane sculptures for the Children's Park in San Jose and some artistic improvements to an 860-foot-long public access area near the 280 freeway in San Francisco. She has another project in Stockton that involves beautifying a freeway interchange! I bring this up because it sure would be great to see if she would even consider creating, if only on paper, something of her world-class designs for the proposed plaza at Pacific and Church streets. I still can't believe any visitor/tourist would say let's go to downtown Santa Cruz and see Jamba Juice, the Gap, Starbucks, Taco Bell and the lovely new Borders. On the other hand, the city is supposed to be holding workshops and studying various plaza concepts. They've had exactly one workshop in 90 days, and the next hasn't been scheduled yet. As far as I know, the only consultants or experts the city has heard from are talking only about retail and business potential. They have never talked to any experts on spaces, art, aesthetics and what makes a plaza work. Feet are being dragged in the city hierarchy and at the last meeting of the Downtown Plaza Committee; lots of impatient plans were being both fomented and fermented. The next Downtown Plaza Committee will be at the world-famed Palookaville at 7pm on April 26. We'll be talking about better coordination with the city powers and still exploring possible ways to work with the property owner on the vision for a more exciting downtown than a five-story office building would provide.

NEWSPAPER NEWS. The reason everybody's walking around holding their breath is because the Santa Cruz County Sentinel has hired Bob Fenster to change the "look" of the paper. Fenster and Wallace Baine, at the annual Cultural Council media workshop, said the change would happen in June. There'll probably be plenty of changes at Good Times now that Carole Atkinson is no longer running things. (See Nu-z on page 13.) She ran things for a long time but once told me she always anticipated some new owner firing her and that she had put some funds away for those rainy days, so no problem.

MOVIE RANTINGS AND RAVINGS. Leelee Sobieski has gone downhill since her stunning role in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, and you should never go see her in Here on Earth. I tried to remember the plot but gave up when I realized I was better off without it. Color of Paradise by Oscar-nominated Majid Majidi is a stunning film. Majidi, who's from Iran, also did The Children of Heaven. His new film is about blind children and will use up every tear you've ever planned on shedding, but it's completely brilliant, and the photography is staggering too. High Fidelity, starring the Cusack kids, John and Joan, is another fine comedy set in a very kinky record store. Go see it and don't confuse it with Empire Records, starring Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger, which is also about a kinky record store and has been on cable TV lately. Empire Records is miserable. Jimmy Smits' new film, Price of Glory, is about the warm family values of raising your kids to be boxers. It tells about how blood, greed and being as macho as possible are good things, but the fight scenes aren't bad. The Polish epic Pan Tadeusz will be back at the Nick on April 15 and 16 for 10:30am showings. It's a huge historical costume epic with fabulous music, but it would help a lot if you boned up on your Polish history because it does get confusing.

LATE APRIL FOOL? I thought everybody would realize that last week's historical photo of Chuck Abbott planting a 3-year-old tree in the 1960s and saying the tree is now 800 years old was supposed to be--ah, yes--an April Fool's joke. Nope, many professional correctors and pickers of nit, plus some caring souls who figured it was another senior moment and tried to be kind, really let me know about it. I do appreciate it, in a special way.

CLOSING OFF PACIFIC AVENUE. The idea of closing off Pacific or more reasonably just one block of Pacific never quite goes away. It became a serious topic right after the earthquake during the Vision Santa Cruz meetings, and it's back again. The idea is to close one block maybe just one day of the week as an experiment to see if it would work on a permanent basis. Which block and which day are the questions. For many business owners, Saturdays and Sundays are their biggest days. To really test pedestrian traffic and shopper satisfaction, closing the top block from Jamba Juice (Mission) to the ID building (Locust) wouldn't work because that block isn't in the middle of any pedestrian patterns. But closing the block from the new Cooperhouse to Walnut Street one day and one evening would be a fine test of the potential value of a permanent closing. Of course, it would also give us an idea of nonvehicular traffic at the oft-talked-about Pacific and Church plaza corner too.

DURANGO? It won't be the same in Santa Cruz, especially at London Nelson, now that Raymond Evans is moving to Durango, Colo. He was assistant coordinator at London Nelson for 15 years. Instead of all the boards of directors and community work he's done around here, he'll probably join a posse or help keep all the wagons in a circle or whatever else there is to do in Durango. He'll be missed, especially so because he understood why I've always tried to change the spelling to London.

WELL WORTH NOTING. Lula Washington's Dance Theatre will be back here this Saturday night (April 15) to perform a new piece featuring music by Vivaldi, Bach, Stravinsky (Rite of Spring) and Chopin. Her company, now 20 years old, will dance some of the more familiar social and politically themed works that have made the company famous. Tickets and information from UCSC's Arts & Lectures at 459.2159. UCSC has also held an annual festival of new music for many years. If you like the exciting experimental cutting-edge sounds, don't miss MIT's Tod Machover's appearance and performance Wednesday night (April 19) at 8pm in the Music Center Recital Hall. The LA Times called Machover "America's most wired composer. This will be the world premiere of his Future Music Blender, featuring the Sensor Chair, a device that evolved from a musical magic trick Machover developed for Penn & Teller and a "hypercello" designed for Yo Yo Ma. Along with four works by Machover, Peter Elsea's Number Games for keyboard and computer and Chris Chafe's Push Pull for electronic cello and interactive computer will be performed. You can probably get tickets at the door; they're very affordable. Or you could call 459.2159 just to make sure.

Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP (88.9FM) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at [email protected] or at Metro Santa Cruz at 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the April 12-19, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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