[Metroactive News&Issues]

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Home | Archives ]


Bullets Over The Tannery

'Tis is not part of the regular tour," said Tannery Arts Center director GEORGE NEWELL as he led about 25 people on yet another tour of the SALZ TANNERY last Sunday afternoon, just two days before the critical June 14 City Council vote to approve or deny permits that will enable the project to convert the old tannery into an artist live/work compound.

All participants on the tour were given a "Save the Artists" button and required to sign a formidable liability release form. Yes, there were plenty of holes in the ground that were once necessary for some reason or other during the tanning process, but now were just lying in wait for artists with their heads too high in the clouds to notice.

And yet, despite rumors of toxic sludge pits breeding red-legged, four-assed, man-eating ducks and methane gas jets exploding from a mere spark of interest, no such dangers presented themselves during the hour-long tour. Plein-air artists were scattered about the grounds, safely recording their first impressions of the site for posterity. But during "not part of the regular tour" part of the tour, Nüz noticed hundreds of 9 mm bullet casings littering the floor. Closer inspection of a few of the misfired rounds revealed them to be colored plastic bullets--the type commonly used in police training exercises. TONY ALVAREZ books the trainings for the LEZIN family; he says they get SWAT teams, firefighters, paramedics and bomb squads from all over the state using the Tannery as a training ground, with the SWAT teams firing off the most bullets.

"When the SWAT team trains," says Alvarez, "they'll have people acting as bad guys and they'll actually shoot it out inside the buildings."

Alvarez has seen police training their attack dogs and drug-finding dogs on-site, as well as car chases and paramedic exercises using the jaws of life on abandoned cars. The bomb squad has even practiced using its robots to diffuse bombs in the buildings and old buses.

Amazingly, despite all the gunfire Alvarez says they've never had any phone calls from people concerned that something terrible was happening in the old Tannery.

After our tour last Sunday, Nüz got an idea for another temporary use of the site: If the SILENCE OF THE LAMBS franchise continues, producers might find in the Tannery an ideal setting for a horrifying slasher flick. And depending on the council's June 14 vote, filmmakers (and SWAT teams) may have a little or a lot of time in which to shoot.


Gossip-mongers love to judge projects by their participants, and Nüz loves to feed the flames. So, let's just say that it seems like the Tannery Arts Center has bragging rights for getting California's new secretary of state and Santa Cruz's very own BRUCE McPHERSON on board as an honorary chair of its capital campaign. In a press release, McPherson weighed in thus: "This is a smart, forward-thinking project. From historic preservation to the arts to economic development, the Tannery Arts Center meets a host of community needs. I'm proud to be involved."

So far, the TAC Board includes HARVEY NICKELSON (Coast Commercial Bank), JESS BROWN (Farm Bureau), MARY JAMES (Housing Authority and SCC Symphony), STEPHANIE SCHRIVER (artist), BRUCE NICHOLSON (Cabrillo Music Festival, real estate developer/artist), CAROLYN HYATT (theater), EMILY REILLY (Santa Cruz City Council member), GARY REECE (real estate/development), ALBERTO RAFOLS (Cultural Council), ED HOUGHTON (UCSC dean), STEVE EDMONDS (Mountain Community Theater), ROBERT KELLY (Santa Cruz Ballet), RAM BHOJWANI (real estate/hotels) and CHARLES CANFIELD (Seaside Company).

KUSP Theft

Fundraising is a fact of life for KUSP, but as the station discovered last Wednesday morning, so is burglary. The radio station has a rusty old Air force surplus truck it uses as a production van for remote broadcasts. The van was parked in the COMMUNITY TELEVISION parking lot at the north end of Front Street last Tuesday evening when somebody broke into it and stole what station manager TERRY GREEN estimates to be between $2,000 and $3,000 worth of equipment.

"It's a real drag when you're a nonprofit and you're doing fundraising and somebody steals your stuff to do the fundraising," says Green. "It's one of those bitter ironies."

Green says that the folks at Community Television moved quickly to lend KUSP enough equipment to get them back on the air to continue their pledge drive, which ended up setting a new record for the station, with the total amount bid topping $85,000.

In the meantime, Green is waiting for the fun-filled forms from the insurance company. Of course, he already reported the matter to the police, but he also alerted stores in the area that buy and sell used audio equipment in hopes the stolen goods might be found.

As for the van, Green wasn't especially surprised that it was burgled, but he was surprised by how the job was done.

"I always figured if someone was going to rip us off, they'd just punch through one of the rusty panels," says Green. "I think they pried their way in; the thing has little access hatches which the cables run through, didn't look like anything was broken; it wasn't until we unlocked everything and opened the door that we said, oh, where's our stuff?"

We know what you're thinking right now: Why, if they knew the truck was a heap and probably easy to break into, didn't KUSP buy a new one? Nüz likes to call the answer to that question bitter irony No. 2636.

Says Green, "One of the things we're doing fundraising for is to replace the van."

Wah! Wah! Wah! Do not pass go; do not collect $200, and do not, under any circumstances, delay in spending some of that bid dough on a powerful force field.

Henfling's Returns?

Nüz has got word that CAESAR RAMIREZ and his wife, SUNDI MARTIN, (owner of Boutique Moulin Rouge), have taken the helm of HENFLING'S TAVERN, the legendary local nightspot nestled up in the hills of Felton. Ramirez is shooting for a grand opening next weekend (June 25-26), provided they get their liquor license approved.

Not that there's any indication they'll get the International Folk Music Series back from DON QUIXOTE'S, where booking agent TOM MILLER took his expertise after Henfling's closed out of the blue last winter. Only time will tell what the new owners will make of the joint.

Sustainability And Dads

UCSC hosts the fourth annual statewide SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE, June 20-21. Visit www2.ucsc.edu/sustainabilityconf2005/ for speaker info and details.

Meanwhile, when you smack yourself upside the head on Monday morning because you forgot FATHER'S DAY was Sunday, June 19, don't come crying to Nüz about it. In a busy world that often fails to remind us about Father's Day, you just got served.

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the June 15-22, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate