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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Gas Station Opening, Corner of King and Mission Streets, 1957: You could say this corner is a real 'gas' corner. It converted from petroleum to novocaine because now there's a 'new' suite of dental offices there. That doesn't look like King Street because there are only three cars on it.
Plus, the photographer was able to stand in the middle of Mission Street to take the picture!


DOWNTOWN SYMPOSIUM TOMORROW. Ceil Cirillo, redevelopment director, and Eileen P. Fogarty, planning and community development director, are inviting the public to a special round-table discussion and symposium. They are going to discuss what kind of retail we want downtown, what is the role of retail business downtown, how can we reinforce independent local merchants and what are potential new uses for downtown. There are going to be downtown land-use and retail specialists there. They are revisiting the program the city started after the earthquake to rebuild and revitalize our downtown. They say they want to "create an updated retail strategy." What I think has happened is that in the last four or five years, developers, Realtors and money people have worked overtime to take control of our very successful downtown. They have just about eliminated the real input of the independent small-business owners and claim the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Association speak for all 600 or more downtown owners. I don't think so. The same financial interests have replaced the old community-based parades, festivals and uses of downtown with sales-oriented affairs like the Art and Wine Festival, the out-of-town-dealers antiques sales and stuff like that. There aren't many citizens arguing for the preservation of the community part of downtown. The reason is that, except for the few folks who do live right on or near Pacific, downtown isn't in anybody's backyard. So the financial interests have taken the upper hand in planning. This symposium Thursday (April 27) is the opportunity for any of us who still believe that downtown Santa Cruz is owned--and should be operated by--the citizens of Santa Cruz. Sure, I hope folks will show up and tell them why a plaza is needed at Pacific and Church streets more than another five-story building, but even more important, come to the meeting--it's from 3 to 6pm at Holy Cross Church Auditorium, 170 High St.

BAD MOVIE WEEK. I should have known better, but I tried to see Ready to Rumble and had to get out after about half an hour. I refuse to divulge who recommended it, except to say this person is an Oliver Platt fan--'nuff said. Gossip isn't all that much better, except that it tries to convince us that it has style or class or direction--but it's an empty hollow film. Deterrence, which doesn't open for another week or so, is one of those nuclear holocaust films in which the president is about to push the final button, etc., etc. It does achieve some degree of tension, but it's a silly film trying to be serious. East-West, the Catherine Deneuve film, is engrossing. It's one of those sneaking-across-the-border films about Stalin's reign in Russia; go see it.

U-571. The only reason I'm putting this film in a separate section is because I'm doing one of those Let's Talk About Movies nights at the Jahva House, this Sunday (April 30) at 7:30pm, and I decided that this is the film we'll be talking about. Film reviewers and critics such as Lisa Jensen, Morton Marcus, Catherine Graham, Wallace Baine, Marsh Leicester, Helen Meservey, Carla Freccero and plenty others take turns Wednesday and Sunday nights inviting anybody who's seen the film to sit around a coffee table or two at the Jahva House. They rant or rave about one film or wherever else the cinema discussion goes. As a result, I've now read nearly 20 reviews of U-571. The funniest one said U-571 lacks depth; another said U-571 is the reason popcorn was invented. Nationally, about 60 percent of the reviews are negative, saying the film lacks any real character development and has almost no original plot. I agree with that. It is exciting, loud and has great effects. But on the other hand, come on over to the Jahva House Sunday. We can talk about any movie stuff that's on your mind. It should be fun, and it is free.

NEW FIRST NIGHT DIRECTOR. Ask any First Night board member about how Marc Murai, the new First Night executive director, involved Richie Begin in sending in his acceptance for the job. Marc replaces Melodye Serino and starts June 1. Among Marc's many accomplishments, he's produced TV projects that won nine Emmys, a Peabody and an Iris award. He played Pluto, Brer Fox and Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland, produced a PSA with Carlos Santana, was part of Oprah's Angel Network, directed a Thornton Wilder play at Western Stage and will be performing there this summer--and he even had dinner with Madonna when she was still married to Sean Penn! In answer to the oft-asked question, yes, First Night executive director is a full-time, year-round job that Marc will learn beginning June 2.

HOME DEPOT EXACTLY. I saw a map of the proposed Home Depot site and drove out to look it over. If you took a 40-foot-wide bulldozer and went straight north on 41st Avenue across Soquel Drive to the creek bed, then follow the creek to the left all the way west to Carriker Lane, you'd have it. The Mohler & Sons Vacuum shop will be leveled, and the huge parking lot will start on that site. The brand-new and not-yet-opened Winchester Car Parts store will be the western boundary on Soquel. Makes you wonder what Winchester knew that we didn't. Carriker Lane is right across from Norman's Family Chapel and next to Senate Furniture & Mattress. I also drove up Greenbrae Lane, which will overlook Home Depot. It has many fine-looking homes, a pigeon rookery and green rolling hills. I have no idea of what Greenbrae residents think about Home Depot moving in. Some will sell out and move, a very few will probably fight for the neighborhood and, as usual, the majority will figure Home Depot is a done deal and that you can't fight city hall, or in this case, the county building. My guess is that Supervisor Jan Beautz needs to hear from more residents--call her or even better, write to her. If Japan can outlaw these huge box monstrosities, why can't Santa Cruz?

DOWNTOWN PLAZA COMMITTEE. We meet tonight at Palookaville at 7pm to discuss tomorrow's Downtown Symposium, the Plaza Panel meeting on Friday morning and where and how to best get the information tables operating. If you'd like to get involved with creating a Downtown Plaza at Pacific and Church streets, where the empty lot has been for almost 10 and one-half years, please join us tonight or call 460.1553 or 475.9172 for information.

CULTURAL NOTES. Very big weekend happening--Baby Gramps will be at Moe's Alley Thursday (April 27). If you like great guitar playing and the wildest vocals, be there at 9pm. He did 13 encores at his last appearance at Henfling's. He and Utah Phillips have new CDs out, which I'll get to next week. Cabrilho's Distinguished Artists series presents Alasdair Fraser and Skyedance Sunday (April 30) at the Cabrilho College Theatre. They play Celtic, baroque and their own style of upbeat folk. They did soundtracks for Titanic and Last of the Mohicans. He also played for Sean Connery's award presentation at Lincoln Centre. Maybe tickets are available at the door but call the Cabrilho box office at 479.6331 quickly just to plan ahead. Folk band Seize the Day plays Patagonia Friday (April 28) at 7pm as a benefit for Resistance Against Genetic Engineering; call 469.1945 for information. I'll be a bit diverted because my grandson, George Jack Boulanger, now a very wise 12 weeks old, is coming to visit Santa Cruz for the first time. He's bringing mom and dad, so we'll show him where we hope the plaza will be so he'll have a place to play in our downtown.

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 26-May 3, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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