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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection.

Capitola-by-the-Air: This was taken 45 years ago on May 15, 1956. The Capitola Theater was there, but so was the Saba. The Saba featured good food and grog, and bands and dancing. You won't be able to see it, but the back end of the Saba looks quite damaged from a recent wave attack. Do note the large field just above the Saba between Grand Avenue and the ocean. Doesn't that look like a fine place to build some apartments?

Bruce Bratton

NARROWING HIGHWAY 1. Newcomers should know that mucking around with good old Highway 1 has always loomed large in the Santa Cruz legend. Many folks over the years have even suggested we close Highway 1 entirely--and close Highway 17 with it! These highway-closing visionaries used to believe our county would change drastically, become completely self-sufficient and eventually resemble heaven. They're right, of course, but it probably will never happen. Then, a while ago, Charlie Canfield, of Boardwalk fame, tried very hard to get the powers that be to change Highway 1 so that it would go down by the Boardwalk. Purely in the interest of the community, of course. If you think that's funny, now we have Bruce Woolpert, CEO of Graniterock, who, as we all know, makes millions from building highways and is president of the Santa Cruz Business Council, hiring Janet and Michael Singer, the directors of the Santa Cruz City Club, to monitor the Santa Cruz County Transportation Commission's evaluation of widening Highway 1. Is that an insult to our county staff? Of course it is. Is there any conflict of interest in this maneuver? You think about that. The Singers, who run the Santa Cruz City Club and the Walk and Roll websites, aren't transportation experts. Their backgrounds are in religious studies, software development and mathematics, according to last Wednesday's Sentinel. It seems obvious, but we really need to know that Graniterock will not even be considered if this highway project goes through. This proposed highway widening--especially adding a toll lane--hasn't worked anywhere else, and it won't help here.

OBLATES VS. THE MONARCHS. The Santa Cruz City Council has done its best to reduce the size of the Oblates' planned parking lot out by Lighthouse Field, and the Coastal Commission has required that a study be done as a requirement before any pavement is poured. The Sierra Club has endorsed the size of the parking lot. The Xerces Society, a renowned group of butterfly experts, has declared that the Santa Cruz site is possibly the "end of the monarch's migration route" and is essential in preservation of the monarchs. Now the Oblates have begun a campaign to say the city is interfering with the freedom of the church to carry out its mission. The church is also saying that the opposition isn't about environment but is an anti-church movement. This anti-parking lot movement, according to the church statements, is about wealthy neighbors of the church trying to suppress the church's efforts to help the needy and the poor. We need to start a contest to see who can come up with the most, some or any ways the Oblates have become famous for helping the needy or poor in this area. We can think up prizes later.

MORE ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL. It has been estimated that widening Highway 1 from Highway 17 to Park Avenue will cost between $150 and $200 million dollars. Two really bad ideas have surfaced in an effort by the pro-widening group to raise this enormous sum. One is to redirect current local transportation tax revenues from our local bus system. Former Santa Cruz Mayor Celia Scott, who has a degree in urban planning and worked as a transportation consultant in Washington, D.C., talked about this idea and the problems it would cause on last week's Prime Time program on KUSP. The other idea, which is equally unfair to our transit-dependent population, is to widen the highway and create a toll, or hot lane. Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt calls this a Lexus Lane and, in a recent conversation, pointed out how and why these lanes only work--if they work at all--for long distances and with very few on-and-off possibilities. Mardi went on to say that our county would suffer at least three years of chaos during construction, spend hundreds of millions of dollars and then would have maybe three years of relief before being just as gridlocked as it was before (as was the case with Highway 85 between 280 and 101). There's much more to be said on this, and no one yet has come up with an example where widening works. We also must remember that AAA is opposed to hot lanes and so are many consumer groups.

DARK PLEASURES. There are two films playing now that are wonderful examples of directors creating exactly what they intended. Neither are great films, but they are perfect products of their own kind of film. Legally Blonde is funny and cute, and Reese Witherspoon has never been better. It was also great fun to see the huge number of blondes attending the film last Saturday at Cinema 9. Final Fantasy, The Spirit Within is an amazing cinematic accomplishment, and again the director achieved exactly what was intended. The scenes and artwork are exactly what science fiction should be. The realism of the animation is fabulous and fascinating--just don't think about the plot. I'm going again. Watching Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro once again making offers no one can refuse in The Score is equally good fun. The film lacks some of the tension of other treasure heists, and Edward Norton has had better roles, but go see it anyway. Earl Jackson Jr. is showing Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once in his Summer of Love free film series tonight at 7:30, Room 75, Social Sciences II at UCSC. Earl's taste in films is impeccable, even though he went to Lafayette High School in Buffalo, N.Y., while I, on the other hand, went to Grover Cleveland High School, which definitely proves something.

41ST AVENUE PLAYHOUSE. I forgot to ask Gary Culver, new owner of the 41st Avenue Playhouse, if he's going to keep that name, but I got all the other information. If all goes well, he hopes to have it open by Labor Day! He learned that carpet manufacturers go on vacation in the summer, and he's putting in all-new carpet, so that held things up. He's also installing those great rocker seats in all three theaters, along with all-new screens and speakers, and he's strengthening the soundproofing between theaters. The George Ows (landowners) are installing all-new bathrooms and air conditioning and redoing the candy counter/snack bar, plus adding some new neon. Culver, who owns the Scotts Valley Cinema and the Aptos Cinema, will now have 11 screens in the county. The 41st will be playing more of the mainstream, commercial releases. Speaking of which, the previously mentioned Earl Jackson Jr. and the Rio Theatre are both talking about starting film clubs or film series. I'll let you know if I hear any more stuff about that.

SHAKESPEARE SANTA CRUZ NOTES. Audrey Stanley wants to remind everybody that the Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday-night performances start at 7:30 not 8pm. That's for both the indoors and the glen performances. She said she's noticed a bunch of folks coming late thinking it was an 8pm curtain. There's also talk about putting up a sunscreen over the glen for those wilting, sweaty afternoon shows, which would be nice. No, I haven't seen any of the plays yet.

A LITTLE POEM. Bruce Daniels sent this one in hopes we'll consider the global-warming problem a bit more seriously. He thinks, and I agree, that more poems like this one should be placed throughout the county as Burma Shave-type signs. Everybody remembers Burma Shave signs, right?

    Down with the ice caps,
    Up with the sea,
    You can watch it all,
    From your SUV!


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

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From the July 18-25, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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