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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Construction Sites Downtown, 1965: It's easy to see that the County Building is progressing; what's harder to make out is that the Sentinel building is also under construction. There were two gas stations at the intersection of Pacific and Mission, and another one at Center and Mission. The McHugh-Bianchi building was still there, the Octagon had that ugly addition on Front Street, there was the real Cooperhouse and the Eric's Deli/Zanotto's building was all enclosed by the huge doors. In addition too all that, the Post Office annex was also being built.

Bruce Bratton

NEIGHBORHOOD ELECTIONS. Peter Shank, on a recent Channel 3 program, outlined several very real problems with the planned maneuver to change voter representation in Santa Cruz. Not only could the new district elections force a plan like MetroBase into an underrepresented district, the districts as proposed make no sense at all. Instead of realizing that we have existing neighborhoods--East Side, the Circles, Seabright, etc.--the new plan has a dividing line right down Seabright splitting it into two or more districts. Beyond that, the Fourth District combines part of the Circles neighborhood with the Sashmill. The tricky First District would contain Carbonero Estates and Prospect Heights with the East Side business district. The Fifth District has UCSC plus Mission Street from Water Street to Laurel Street. We'll look at the other district plots later. Using Watsonville's change to district elections as a reason for Santa Cruz to switch is good and bad news. According to Pete Shanks, if I got it right, Watsonville had two districts with unopposed seats and one district had candidates spending enormous campaign funds for a city race. As it is, all Santa Cruz City Councilmembers are responsible to all residents, and residents get equal representation. District elections for this city would start factions and create neighborhood-focused power groups that would change forever what has been working well.

MENDACIOUS MOVIES. John Travolta's Battlefield Earth from a book by the emperor of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, is just about a comedy. It's so over the top or around the bend or off the map, you have to laugh. If you're clear, you can see this is about little thetans and how they can control everything, but go see it just for the fx and the silliness of it all. Luminarias contains just about every love and relationship problem known to humans. The problem is that the acting is so terrible it's tough to even sit through it; it oughta be redone with pros. Two excellent films not to miss are The Filth and the Fury, the documentary about the Sex Pistols; and Kevin Spacey's poorly titled The Big Kahuna. The Filth and the Fury (which opens June 1) is a brilliant film even if you don't know or even care about the Sex Pistols. The Big Kahuna is Spacey's film in every way, and you get Danny DeVito, too. Three salesmen pacing their rented hospitality suite talk about life and sales techniques--and you should go see it.

IN MEMORIAM. There's a celebration of the life of musician, composer, teacher Gene Lewis (who died Feb. 13) at 2pm on Sunday (May 21) at the First Congregational Church, 900 High St., Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Chorale, colleagues from the Santa Cruz Chamber Players, the Santa Cruz Opera Society, Paul Whitworth from Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and Patricia Barton Bayer, who now lives in Madrid, will all be contributing to this very wonderful event. There'll also be a memorial service Sunday (May 21) at 2pm for Miriam Patchen, widow of writer, poet Kenneth Patchen. Miriam had lots of friends and affected many lives in Santa Cruz. The memorial will take place at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, near Embarcadero, in Palo Alto. The word went out like wildfire that Bill Belton died last Wednesday about midnight from a heart attack. He and Bernice shared one good last joke, and he died. Bill fought the good fight all his life. He was a great role model for many of us and his combination of loyalty, humor and principles was praised by everybody who knew him. The services will be on June 4 at 2pm at the Live Oak Senior Center.

CONTEMPORARY THEATRE SCENES. Ian McRae has put together an evening of scenes from plays by Harold Pinter, Neil Simon, David Rabe, Caryl Churchill, A.R. Gurney and others. McRae teaches acting classes in Santa Cruz and studied under Sanford Meisner in New York. His first-year students are featured Wednesday (May 24) at 8pm, and graduating students will appear May 26 at 8pm in the Santa Cruz Art League Theatre at 526 Broadway. The evenings are free; call 459.7628 for more information on classes or about the performances.

LARGEST WINERIES. I was surprised by a full-page list of wineries in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in the May 5 issue of The San Jose Business Journal. The paper ranked the wineries by number of cases sold in 1999. J. Lohr was first with 553,000; Randall Grahm's Bonny Doon Vineyard was second with 160,000 cases; Bargetto's was fourth with 48,000; Storrs was 11th at 10,000; Ahlgren was 13th with 4,000; Roudon-Smith was 17th at 2,000. J. Lohr and Bonny Doon Vineyards each have 50 local employees, Bargetto Winery has 18 and Storrs has eight. Based on this chart, which also contains capacity figures, the proposed entertainment center with winery that Bill Cunningham is trying to develop in Bonny Doon would be about the size of Bargetto's operation. Cunningham wants to build three structures, one at 15,000 square feet, one tasting room at 1,800 square feet and an office building, plus he has plans for an olive grove, 12 events a year with up to 250 people and unlimited events with fewer than 100 people. I could never figure why it seems that Cunningham wants to change Bonny Doon's rural atmosphere and friendly community feeling so much, but this winery circus would do just that, if you ask me. There'll probably be a hearing next month, and you could check out the Rural Bonny Doon Associations website at www.bonnydoon.
got.net to read more on this issue.

HISTORY CLASS IS HISTORY. Sandy Lydon has been teaching his Santa Cruz County history class since he first met Portola in 1769, or since 1976 or close to that. His last class meets Thursday (May 18) night, and after that everybody's on their own. Sandy (real name Sandor) has made Santa Cruz County residents probably the most historically informed, most historically conscious group of citizens in California, or maybe anywhere. His contagious enthusiasm and desire to share the excitement of our history have left thousands of students with a life-lasting new way to view the place we live. His excellent books, Chinese Gold: The Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region and The Japanese in the Monterey Bay Region, a Brief History (plus a little book on Capitola and Soquel he did with Carolyn Swift), will always be around to refer to. They will also intrigue new enthusiasts, but reading them won't be the same as attending those classes. We all need to stand and applaud Sandy for a class well done.

GLOWING GOATS. There's a Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting next Tuesday (May 23) at 1:30pm. If you are concerned about the BioTech goat industry that has been developed on our North Coast, you need to be there to let the supervisors know you care. Pollution measures are being sidestepped, regulations are being ignored, and the county needs to exercise more control over this growing menace to our health. The polluting of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary and water wells has caused more than a dozen environmental groups to demand more and stronger operating conditions. Call SOAL (Save Our Agricultural Land) at 429.4055 to help preserve our coast and our environment.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP (88.9FM) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or at 457.5814, ext.400.

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From the May 17-24, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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