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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] Pacific Avenue
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Downtown Santa Cruz Parade, 99 Years Ago: This wasn't a Fourth of July parade, it was an Oct. 16, 1900, parade on Pacific Avenue at Cooper Street. I can't figure why they were parading either--Admission Day is Sept. 9. The grass in the right corner is where the Cooper House building is being constructed. Blockbuster and Cinema 9 have replaced the Hammer building, and the Sentinel Printing Office is on the left. We do need more parades downtown.

ABOVE THE BOARDWALK. According to the Sentinel's quote from Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (6/3/99), "California has led the nation in amusement park deaths since 1973, with 13 of the 14 fatalities at permanent parks the state does not regulate." Only California and a dozen other states have no regulations on rides and water slides at permanent parks. Assemblymen Fred Keeley and Peter Frusetta voted in favor of a bill requiring permanent parks to be inspected each year for maintenance and mechanical problems, and parks such as Disneyland and the Boardwalk would have to report all accidents to the state, and fatal or serious accidents would have to be reported immediately by telephone, according to the Sentinel article.

The state could shut down a ride after the accident, and the penalty for violations would be at least $25,000. Now that the Assembly approved it, the bill has to go through the Senate. There are 71 amusement parks in California, and under this bill the parks would have to train employees in safety procedures and show proof of insurance. Six previous attempts at state regulation have failed because of lobbying from the amusement park industry. The feeble argument from the parks saying they already have their own inspections sounds like the tobacco industry saying we've tested and tobacco is really wonderful. I'm assuming our very own Boardwalk sees how reassuring a state safety inspection approval would be in addition to their own high-quality standards.

CABRILHO'S NEW THEATRE. I got a draft copy of Cabrilho College's new site master plan. From what I can figure, they are going to build a new theatre almost the exact same size as the present one and convert the present one into offices or classrooms. The costs of keeping the old building as a theatre must be astronomical, but isn't there some way we could do that? This community is so starved for performing space  ... maybe we could call it the West Marine Community Theatre, or LightSurf Community Theatre or SCO Community Theatre or George Couch Community Theatre or something like that? As I've stated many times afore, I'm not trying to cause any trouble, I'm just trying to straighten everything out.

MOSTLY FORGETTABLE FILMS. Mike Myers tried too hard in his Shagging Spy sequel. Paul Reubens' Pee-wee Herman character is much funnier and more brilliant. Wait and rent it, if you absolutely have to. Cher and Lily Tomlin forgot all their acting lessons in Tea With Mussolini, and director Zeffirelli forgot to make the characters in his own mother's story real--don't go. The General's Daughter is another whodunit, but you don't really care much by the end of the film--wait a few weeks, it will make a fine video rental. The Red Violin is cute, overacted and a summer-type light fun film. Limbo, as everyone agrees, drags for the first 40 minutes, catches some fire and then it's over. I didn't like Lone Star, Secret of Roan Whatever or any other Sayles films, so go warned. I saw Fellini's 1997 film Casanova starring Donald Sutherland on the Independent Film Channel (#501). I don't know how I'd missed it all these years; it is one of Fellini's and Sutherland's finest achievements.

THE DOWNTOWN PLAZA. Economic development expert Kent Burnes told me after his sold-out workshop last week, sponsored by the Chambers of Commerce, Pac Bell, Bank of America and the local Small Business Development Center, that downtowns definitely need a plaza or park right in their most central spot. "It's a place for shoppers to rest and think about where they're going to shop next; they need to have a place to meet before, after and during their shopping. Plazas make good economic sense," he said.

Besides that, most of the businesses I know that don't like the Plaza idea also oppose the Art and Wine Festival, the Antique Faires, the Farmers Market and anything that brings people downtown that doesn't result in immediate sales. Come to our next meeting, 7pm Thursday night in the upstairs meeting room of the main library. Rod Quartararo has volunteered to be our treasurer, so you know everything's on the up and up. Call Carli Stevens at 475-9172 for information and to find out how you can help create our new Downtown Plaza.

A GREAT IDEA. Why don't we all plan on dedicating the new Downtown Plaza and using Geoff Dunn's idea of renaming streets, places and things honoring our first residents, the Ohlones. We also need to pay tribute to our early residents, settlers and landowners from Mexico, China, Japan, Italy, Africa and Portugal. If San Jose and San Francisco can rename their places, why can't we? Starting off the New Millennium with a new Downtown Plaza and some long-deserved tributes to our many cultures would add some significance to celebrating this very biggest of New Year's in the last 1,000 years. What else could we do that would make such a lasting impression?

KUSP'S 23rd AUCTION. Even though the last one was one of the biggest ever, it was news to me that KUSP's live auctions raise only about half as much money as their on-the-air fund drives. Starting every January, the auction volunteers work like crazy to produce the goods, services and auction booklet. While it's a great circus, positive outreach and a sight to behold, KUSP is rethinking ever doing it again. If you have thoughts on this tradition, call the KUSP comment line at 1-888/549-6421 and let them know your feelings.

THE PANETTA INSTITUTE. Unfortunately, Leon Panetta's summer class at CSUMB (California State University at Monterey Bay) was canceled, but Sylvia Panetta told me he'll be teaching it in September. It's called "Perspective on 30 Years in Washington--Policies, Politics and Personalities." Sylvia said Leon hardly ever swears when he's teaching it. I'll keep you informed as to details, but in the meantime call the Panetta Institute at 831/582-4200 for info about how to enroll.

PALINDROME TIME. Glen Howard sez I'm not supposed to tell you this one came from Baby Gramps, ace guitarist and vocalist nonpareil who played at Henfling's again recently. Baby thinks it may be a mite smutty, but what the heck. "Tulsa sex elf party booby trap flexes a slut." Remember, you read these things backward, and it reads exactly the same, whatever that may be.

P.S. Having a wonderful time, it's very nice to be here. Glad you're here too.


Bruce critiques films on KUSP every other Thursday at 12:50pm. Bruce's email address is bratton@cruzio.com.

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From the June 30-July 7, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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