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Photograph by Sarah Phelan

Scheie Scheie Scheie: Shakespeare Santa Cruz media luncheons have not been the same without Danny Scheie, who was in rare form in his return last week.


The Running 'Man'

Imagine a hundred guerrillas gathered under a bridge, listening to haunting music as a world of evil and lies unfolds before their eyes--only to be intercepted and disbanded by the cops. No, we're not talking about insurgents in postwar Fallujah, but attendees at the Santa Cruz Guerrilla Drive-In, which has seen not one, but two attempts to screen The Third Man shut down by the Santa Cruz Police Department in recent months.

Organizer Rico Thunder says the drive-in has been going on for a few years, but this is the first time any screenings have been closed. The first time occurred midway through a screening on a big white wall next to an empty field near Dubois Street near Costco, just as Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) betrayed Harry Lime (Orson Welles) and Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli) showed up to say it was all a horrible trick, with the bust triggered because a nearby building owner didn't want them to cover up his lights.

As for the second bust, that occurred before the next under-the-bridge screening of The Third Man had even begun, with the SCPD discovering it not because of publicity, says Thunder, but because the large crowd was gathered under the bridge.

"They must have thought they had a major kegger on their hands," says Thunder of the dozen cops who showed up last week, noting that the officers were "extraordinarily cool, but still shut down the show."

Thunder, who is currently scouting for another location while trying to get permission from the city to screen under the bridge, says the Guerrilla Drive-In provides a place for the community to gather for fun at night--an act that has become next to impossible unless it is moderated by commerce.

"It's illegal to be at the beach, on the levee, in the park at night, meaning that, as Santa Cruzers who love our outdoors, we're not allowed to be anywhere at night, meaning we have a de facto curfew, all because those places are where people who are out to commit crime sometimes go," says Thunder, noting that "the police in general are probably completely supportive of the idea of outdoor entertainment, as long as we are not trespassing, stealing property or on city park land at night, but with so many restrictions, we're not given an opportunity to exist."

SCPD Deputy Chief Patti Sapone says that, depending on location, people doing guerrilla theater need either permission from a private property owner, or a special permit, if the event is on public property.

'Under the bridge, they need to apply for a special event permit, which is available from the SCPD and the cost of which depends on whether they need extra garbage cans and insurance coverage."

Thunder intends to go ahead with the July 16 screening of Waking Life, and recommends people go to www.thespoon.com/drivein and sign up for the drive-in's email list, "So we can let people know where it'll take place."

Pickup Politics

Nüz would like to thank the driver of the green pickup parked outside Westside Video last Sunday night for keeping the following questions alive by painting them on the back of his vehicle: "Where's Bin Laden? Who mailed the anthrax? What's a constitution? How did that Enron thing work out? What's up with our economy? Who got tax breaks? Where did this deficit come from? How powerful will we be when we have to pay for perpetual preemption?"

These questions were followed by "Convenient time for a war," a statement that sounds more than a little ironic right now, what with the war on Iraq having so far killed 987 coalition forces and at least 9,436 Iraqi civilians, and injuring an estimated 40,000 Iraqis, at a cost of $151 billion this year alone, with Halliburton having spent $160 million on meals never served to troops. No wonder Cheney was saying the F-word in the House, even as the Pentagon announced that Dubya's military payroll records had been "inadvertently destroyed"--an event that far from saving George's ass is looking like yet another nail in his electoral coffin. Yeah, we know Bush has a huge war chest, his buddies own the media and the GOP is well organized at getting out the vote, but we gotta ask: can even that save Dubya's ass?

Let Them Eat Shortcake

"Shrews have a heartbeat of 800 beats per minute, making them so fragile that if deprived of food for half a day they will die, making them highly anxious animals."

Nüz gleaned the above-mentioned factoid not at the annual convention on Soricidae, the biological family to which shrews belong, but at Shakespeare Santa Cruz's annual media luncheon, an event during which the running dogs of the press momentarily refrain from calling Will "the Bard" (a term guaranteed to tweak SSC's artistic director Paul Whitworth), but only because the press's mouths are temporarily full of grilled chicken and strawberry shortcake.

As it happens, the shrew factoid was shared by Tim Ocel, who is directing The Taming of the Shrew in SSC's 2004 season, which is light on Shakespeare (only one play by the Bard), but heavy on marriage, a selection that proves that SSC is politically clairvoyant, given the Senate is set to vote on an reportedly doomed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage this week (a ban which VP Dick Cheney supports, wife Lynne opposes, with their lesbian daughter Mary--in what must be one of the most ironic twists of the election so far--directing VP operations for the Bush-Cheney campaign, which wants to deny all gays the right to legally marry their partners).

SSC has happily paired Shrew with The Tamer Tamed, in which the shrew's husband Petruchio finally gets his comeuppance.

"The Tamer," said its ever flamboyant director Danny Scheie, "is a nasty, dirty sexy remake of The Shrew," posing questions like, "Will Petruchio be able to get it up?" and "Can you die from someone withholding sex?" and suggesting that "one of the advantages of marriage for women was that they could have as much sex as they liked without being called a whore."

As Michael Edwards, who directs Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to round out SSC's 2004 season, put it, "At a time when a lot of ill-informed nonsense about the institution of marriage is making the political rounds, and no one wants to do the work of figuring out the history of this institution, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? gives us a springboard that examines marriage from the place of having to ask questions."

All of which had Whitworth, plummy Brit accent still intact after a two-year sabbatical, sounding like a dark version of Prof. Albus Dumbledore at the start of another Hogwarts school year, as he said of the 2004 lineup. "What an exciting journey it is!"

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the July 14-21, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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