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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Historical Preservationists Save the Del Mar Theatre: This photo was taken on March 10, 1955, and the real occasion was the opening of the new National Guard Armory. I have no idea why the tank has 'Balls A Farr' painted on it. Could it relate to Sam Farr's dad? We'll find out. Think how gorgeous that Del Mar neon marquee would be if somebody could get the funding to fix it up again. Yes, the Delmarette Soda Fountain was in full swing, as you can see on the left.

Bruce Bratton

DOWNTOWN EXPERTS. The five consultants who presided over that symposium on our downtown last week didn't really stun anybody with shocking revelations. One consultant said it was like a graduate seminar, but one city councilperson who was there said it was more like a high school government class. One interesting concept from a consultant was that North and South Pacific avenues are separate niche markets, and that's OK. Another idea was that our downtown should now look at spreading or developing west and east to Front and Cedar streets. As I feared, there was no mention of community ideas like families, children, bathrooms, teens, aesthetics, living downtown and fun--and, of course, plazas were only discussed briefly after I brought the subject up. They said things like hundreds of cities are fighting chain stores moving in, family-type clothing stores are always difficult to get into downtowns, we have to beware of "predatory tenants" (no names given) and we lack high-priced restaurants downtown and in the county. They went on to say that Pacific Avenue is the only real downtown we have in the county and that it's entirely possible to have a successful downtown with only independent businesses. One guy stated we have an "authentic downtown," unlike say Old Town Pasadena, which was created by developers.

LOCAL FEATURE MOVIES. One of those movie-screen ads at Cinema 9 asks how many feature films were made or shot in Santa Cruz in the last so many years. They then say the answer is 50! I've always maintained--and have yet to see proof--that no feature film was made in Santa Cruz ever! Unless you want to count that stupid Clint Eastwood 1983 Sudden Impact or Lost Boys, with Kiefer Sutherland, as feature films. We should forever deny any connection with either of those shameful attempts. Aside from that, what 48 feature films is anybody talking about? Maybe a tree shot or two in Felton in the 1920s, but 50 feature films? Never happened.

MORE ON DOWNTOWN. Those consultants said we get between 600,000 and 800,000 people per year downtown to see movies and that any office development should not be at the expense of retail development. As Ceil Cirillo and Eileen P. Fogarty, the hosts of this symposium, announced, these experts were hired only to talk about retail and economic strategies for downtown. They said it would be very hard to get a department store downtown because of our demographics and the size of available spaces for a department store. Our downtown lacks critical mass, and there's not enough here to attract tourists to shop only for a social experience. You can't shop downtown for hours, they said. Don't try to spread the retail to the south-of-Laurel area--that's a separate and alternative market and should be viewed as viable in itself. I'll bet we'll see attempts by restaurants like Red Lobster, Benihana, Chart House and Lawry's as soon as these consultants' wild ideas are spread around. Basically, they said that our downtown is in great shape because it's unique and that we should be happy to have these problems, because so many downtowns in the U.S. are dying.

JUST ONE MOVIE. The Last September is a film about a very aristocratic Anglo-Irish family living in Ireland in the 1920s. These well-to-do Irish folks are very British in manners and outlook, and their existence is threatened by extremists on both sides of the ongoing war between the British and the Irish. Trying to comprehend the British stiff-upper-lip approach to life, which is the theme of this film, made The Last September one of the most foreign films I've ever seen. Akira Kurosawa's historical Japanese dramas and Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy are easier to relate to than The Last September, but the acting is veddy good.

NICE AWARD. Special congratulations to the Kitchen Sisters for winning a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson are the Kitchen Sisters, and their relation to the Kitchen Brothers who built the funny structure on Swift Street is better left untouched. Nikki and Davia have been producing Lost and Found Sound for NPR's All Things Considered for a long time. The programs really are about lost sound images from our past. Last week's program was French Manicure, Tales From Vietnamese Nail Shops in America. I'll let you know when their next production is on as soon as I hear.

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT. We don't often get a chance to see classic Kathakali, the theatrical dance form from India. A seven-member traveling troupe from India will be at UCSC's Theatre Arts Center Second Stage Wednesday (May 3) at 8pm. Kathakali combines mime, music, singing and drumming--everybody should be there. The UCSC Second Stage is right across from the Main Stage, where Arts and Lectures and Shakespeare Santa Cruz do their things. The stage is small, and the performance is free, so get there early.

BAY AREA BACKROADS. The crew was here about a month ago filming Pacific Avenue, Neal Coonerty, the Tom Scribner musical saw statue and other things that make Santa Cruz unique. If all their plans worked out, we can see this monumental tribute Saturday night (May 6) on KRON-TV (Ch. 4) or on cable channel 21 at 6pm.

CULTURAL FEATURES. Songwriter, singer and guitarist Charlie King is making one of his nearly annual visits to Santa Cruz, this time as a benefit for the Santa Cruz County Campaign for a Living Wage. Appearing with Charlie will be accordionist Len Wallace. The concert is sponsored by SCAN and the Resource Center for Nonviolence. They aren't kidding about limited seating (like maybe 80!), and King has hundreds of fans here, so call 457.1741, ext. 152 to reserve seats. The Rainbow Theater is presenting the Original Soul Stirrers at UCSC's College Eight Dining Hall on May 11 at 8pm, and it's free! The Stirrers began back in 1932 and trained such artists as Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor, and they "paved the way for all African American singing groups such as the Ink Spots, the Temptations and the Mighty Clouds of Joy to follow." After that, the Rainbow Theatre presents Teatro Milagro performing Cenizas, a bilingual musical with dancing on May 24 at 8pm at UCSC's Stevenson College dining hall--one performance only, and it's free, too! Arn Ghigliazza sent a great Santa Cruz poem by a Howard Glyndon from a 1900 publication titled The Hills of Santa Cruz. I can't run it all due to space, but some lines are "I've seen the far-off Apennines melt into dreamy skies; I've seen the peaks the Switzers love In snowy grandeur rise; twixt gentle skies and gentle seas, Your outlines never lose the tenderness that Eden knew, calm hills of Santa Cruz!" Maybe that's enough, but it does have a certain charm, doesn't it?

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 May 3-10, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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