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[whitespace] Capitola Hotel
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Legendary Capitola Hotel: This gorgeous structure could have changed Capitola's history, if it had lasted longer. It was built in 1895 and burned in 1929. Like the idea of naming Capitola streets after valley towns, it, too, was designed to attract tourists. But our side of the bay never got the moneyed groups as Carmel and Monterey did. The hotel was never replaced, and its main backer, Frederick A. Hihn, died in 1913.

Bruce Bratton

WAGNER'S BIGGEST FESTIVAL. Many of the music critics I've talked to here in Berlin agree that the size, depth and sheer work and planning that went into presenting 10 of Wagner's greatest operas in two cycles of about two weeks each is too big and too important to get into negative criticism about. Besides that, criticism here isn't usually as negative as in the United States. When you realize that many conductors choose never to conduct even one Wagner composition in their careers, you get some concept of what Daniel Barenboim has accomplished. It's also noteworthy that it's been done in Berlin. As Wagner's Die Meistersinger states, art and culture is very important to Germany. The number of museums in Berlin is staggering. The number of art galleries, performances, concerts and events of all sizes is probably more than in New York City. The April 28 performance of Parsifal ended the Wagner Festagge 2002. There were a couple of flaws and probably 1 million debates over each performance in hundreds of languages, but the agreement over Barenboim's dedication, the quality of the voices and the orchestra's professionalism and near-perfect sound will never be forgotten. This truly was an event for the chronicles of opera and music history. I'll talk about it a lot more later.

MARLENE'S MUSICAL SAW. I had a long talk with Silke Ronneburg about Marlene Dietrich. Silke is one of the curators of the Berlin Film Museum and specializes in Dietrich history. She knew all about Marlene's devotion to astrology and how important the famed astrologer (and my father's fraternity brother) Carroll Righter was to her career and life. Silke went on to tell me that the museum has audio tapes and even a video of Marlene playing a saw. A sequence of her playing the saw was cut from A Foreign Affair. What Silke didn't know about was Santa Cruz's Musical Saw Festival. She was amazed when I told her about the Beijing School of the Musical Saw and its 200 students.

SUFFERING TRANSLATION. I made previous mention of the odd use of English on popular items around Berlin. Things like Nice Club, Wide Team, Streetlife and a winner, Jack Wolfskin Farewell, on backpack logos. Then there are public portable toilets (just like ours) named Toi Tois, and a tour company called Pucky Tours and a mention of Synanon on some elevated subway stations. What really got me was the German word for pineapples, which is "Ananas." The word for banana is "Banane." How could a language be so illogical as to call pineapples "Ananas"? I mean we all know that pineapples are apples from pine trees, right?

MORE MOTORCYCLE MATERIAL. Folks have been sending me lots of angles on this motorcycle environmental pollution problem. Seems that Los Gatos decided to enforce its motorcycle-nuisance laws, so more of the noisy biker types are coming to Santa Cruz. Others wonder whatever happened to the promises that there'd be no problems with noise that our City Council made when it so enthusiastically pushed the opening of the Harley-Davidson store over on Soquel a few years ago. I was told that every new motorcycle must have a permanent engraved label on the muffler stating that it meets EPA standards of 80 decibels. But nearly every owner replaces those mufflers with 90-decibel mufflers, and 90 decibels is three times louder than 80. Research is being done, and we just may see some enforcement soon. But still, you'd think that Harley drivers would care enough to stop this extra noise on their own, but I guess not.

BABBLING ABOUT BERLIN. It's odd to see the exact same color and make of UPS trucks racing around over here, except that they don't have those bashed-in top corners. Elton John is doing his Songs From the West Coast tour here at the Max Schelling Halle. Rod Stewart is also playing here next month. Panhandlers here use very skinny dogs and little babies to appeal to your generous nature, and it seemed nearly quaint until I translated one of their written appeals. Many street folk here are from Bosnia, which changes the rules. It's also a bit unnerving to look at a building and realize those are machine-gun-bullet pockmarks running in lines up and down the walls. Thanks to the kindness of the almost omnipotent influence of Richard Bender, I had a fine lunch at the Block House. The Block Houses are a string of American restaurants in Berlin specializing in steaks and baked potatoes. Don't miss the Block House if you're missing the Hindquarter, the Shadowbrook or the Crow's Nest while you're here on your next tour of the world.

SANTA CRUZ MUSIC MURMURS: S.D. Satish will turn 85, and there's going to be a special birthday concert on May 18 at 8pm at the First Congregational Church, 900 High St., Santa Cruz. He's composed and added greatly to East Indian classical music. Tickets at the door. Santa Cruz's New Music Works presents its Free Range Virtuosities concert May 11 at 8pm at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall. David Tannenbaum, William Winant, Bill Trimble, Brian Staufenbiel and Cynthia Baehr will play music by Hans Werner Henze, Lou Harrison and Dan Wyman. Speaking of Harrison, all the critics I've talked to in Berlin know and love his music. When I pointed out a guy in the Staatsoper who happened to look a lot like Lou, they acted surprised and said they know what he looks like. I've said it dozens of times before, but we need to name a street or highway after Lou. Berlin has hundreds of streets named after folks who have a local connection. My closest tram stop is at Thomas Mann Strasse, which is also named Paul Robeson Strasse, a few blocks from here. See you next week.

Reach Bruce at [email protected] or 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the May 1-8, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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