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Playboy Bunnies Visit Santa Cruz: This quartet of lovelies was here on Nov. 15, 1965. If you look at the background, you'll see our municipal wharf. The fellow with the unlit cigarette who's either giving a drink to, or grabbing it from, that sly bunny is none other than Keith Shaffer, owner of Shaffer's Tropical Gardens, who produced world-famed anthuriums and orchids out in the Capitola/Brown Bulb Ranch area. Keith was also a founding member of Cabrilho College's board of trustees and played a big part in the college's development.

Bruce Bratton

THAT DARNED NEW COOPERHOUSE. Those 12 huge empty garbage-filled flower pots around Stucco Station (the new building where the Cooperhouse used to be) are just about enough to make you wonder if the building's owner cares anything at all about our downtown. What makes it worse is that Abbott Square right behind the Station now looks great with flowering pots and has received care and attention. In addition to the insult of those unflowered pots, the Station's owner went and tried to eliminate the requirement stating that any business locating in the Station had to have a passageway to the Art and History Museum. As you walk by the building, you can see how important this passageway is to the museum and to Abbott Square. For reasons I sure can't figure out, Santa Cruz city staff and the Redevelopment Agency bent over backward and forward to allow the owner to shut off the passageway. Fortunately, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to maintain the passageway requirement. Rumors are getting heavier that a move into Stucco Station is being looked at by Banana Republic, Old Navy and other megabiz stores of that ilk. We need to do everything we can to be proactive in this case and let everybody involved with everything downtown know we don't want any more of those trendy plastic operations--we've got Gap and Gap 2, and that's more than enough.

GOOD OLD GAY PRIDE PARADE. Santa Cruz has had its gay pride parade for 25 years now, and it's happening again Sunday (June 4), starting at 11am from Cathcart and Pacific. The old regulars are looking for memorabilia from the first parade and are inviting everybody to dress in costume (don't ask). Moon Zooom and Cognito on Pacific will give 10 percent discounts if you're a Gay Parade Pioneer and bring in that letter from Dan Dickmeyer dated May 24. There's going to be an organizing party the night before and the one after, so call 425.8159 to get the details about marching, floats or whatever.

ABOUT PASSAGEWAYS. I never realized, until a friend told me last week, that there are 17 businesses on Pacific Avenue that have passageways through to the street or alley behind them. Bookshop Santa Cruz has the most noted one, but Artisan's, Shen's Gallery, Pacific Coffee Roasting Company, Jackson's Shoes, Palace Stationers and my favorite, secret Paper Vision, all have walkways through them. Obviously Stucco Station can do the same and prosper.

UNIQUE MOVIES. I liked the new Mission: Impossible and Jackie Chan's Shanghai Noon much more than I thought possible. The action, editing and photography in M:I-2 are breathtaking and took me back to the first time I saw Bullitt. There's a plot, but no one can remember or figure out what it is, but it doesn't matter, it's a roller-coaster ride. For me, Jackie Chan has gone downhill ever since he left the Hong Kong movie scene, and his cutesy stuff seemed just dopey, but Shanghai Noon has a funny script and lots of funny action, and co-star Owen Wilson is even funnier--go for it. One good thing about the four films onscreen at the same time in Time Code is that it's over four times faster. Abel Gance did the same thing better in Napoleon in 1927, but the technique is intriguing. Go see it even though it's at the Rio and even though the crew there still hasn't figured out how to run the projectors. That dance film Center Stage, even though there's a local guy in it, is terrible, with not enough dancing, acting or story.

UNIVERSITY TOWN CENTER. Folks are calling that new building at Pacific and Cathcart UTC, which if you're an old-timer is a lot like UTE, which used to mean Undesirable Transient Element, but we won't go there right now. Anyway, it looks like all the street level is rented. eyeQ is a locally owned optometrist shop going in next to House of Bread. Puerto Vallarta Taqueria, another locally owned Mexican restaurant, will be opening soon. Then there's a fine-art gallery coming in. I have no idea what fine arts will mean in this case. Let's hope it isn't Thomas Kinkade light shows and other tourist stuff. I can't reach the out-of-town enterprise that's handling the gallery, so we'll have to wait and hope the place has some integrity. Let's make bets on how much local art will be represented. Didn't anybody listen to the experts at April's Downtown Symposium? They kept saying your downtown is unique, keep it that way.

ANOTHER FRIEND GONE. Al Johnsen called from Gig Harbor last Saturday morning to say his wife, Clarice, died from pancreatic cancer that morning. She and Al had been married for 57 years. Al is an artist and taught pottery at UCSC for many of the early years and knows just about everybody in Santa Cruz. He and Clarice moved to Gig Harbor back in 1989. Send any donations to Hospice. Memorial services will be held at the Unitarian Fellowship in Aptos at 3pm, Saturday, June 10.

CULTURAL CORRESPONDENCE. The May Palookaville posters are being snapped up as fast as the ones from the old Fillmore era in San Francisco used to be. Check them out. Wouldn't it be great if more art came back to poster making? ... Bob Brozman is giving a rare group of guitar seminars in Ben Lomond starting this weekend. Blues, Hawaiian, slide, open tunings--all that stuff. It may be full up, so call 336.0304. ... There's a Gypsy Magic show happening someplace locally on June 2. I saw one poster about it but forgot where, so check it out. I think it's great that Community Television is televising the KUSP auction live on channel 73, 2-9:30pm on Saturday and Sunday (June 3-4) and 6:30-9:30pm weekdays starting this Saturday.

DOUG RAND ACTION FUND. Doug Rand had so many friends supporting him in his last months that they've formed a fund to create grants for folks who continue to do the kind of work Doug performed during his lifetime. Grants must be filed by June 23 and will be awarded in August. For information, call 458.9042.

GET INVOLVED. If you want to find out about our Downtown Plaza Committee and its ongoing project to get that Plaza at Pacific and Church streets, call 429.8963. ... There's big-time concern about stopping Home Depot from invading Soquel and 41st; call 239.0936 to join forces against that disaster. Now that the Del Mar Theatre is an official historical building, we need to make sure it's refurbished and used properly--contact Linda Corday online at cordycruz@aol.com.

NOTES IN CLOSING. Yes, the Boardwalk's new old cave train is worth visiting; it's very Santa Cruz. ... Yes, the Downtown Association is taking over the supervision of the Downtown Hosts program, and no, I don't know what that'll mean if anything. ... Sure, I saw that article about how health officials state that California's children suffer twice as much dental disease as kids nationwide. They of course recommend using fluoride in public water supplies, and I definitely believe we made a big mistake defeating that here, but I carry only very small grudges and just when absolutely necessary.


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

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From the May 31- June 7, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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