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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection.

Santa Cruz, 1955: Less than 50 years ago. Cowell's Beach, pre-Dream Inn, pre-Lighthouse, pre- almost everything that makes our beachfront property what it is today. I'm guessing it must have been winter because it looks cold. No surfers either, probably because it was pre-wet suit?

Bruce Bratton

WHOSE BOARDWALK IS IT? The ownership of the six-plus acres of beachfront property that the Boardwalk partially sits on has been discussed, disputed and damned for more than 60 years. The agreement by the city to grant the Boardwalk title to our most valuable property has been debated, and for the last two and a half years, the ownership has been "in negotiations." Now's the time to get this settled. Let's have a survey and a study of the legal papers done before a pro-Charlie Canfield/Boardwalk City Council gets back on the bench. Are the Logger's Revenge and the Cave Train on city property? Shouldn't the very needy city funds be making the money from the Tidelands parking lot? Shouldn't we be talking about restoring the river mouth and making the San Lorenzo River healthy again? I think we need a new Beach Area Plan: a real Beach Area plan that forces the Boardwalk to finally pay its fair share of rent and taxes. All the rest of us do!

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. After seeing maybe 6-10 versions of the play and at least three or four film versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, I really didn't expect much from this year's Shakespeare Santa Cruz version; I was wrong. It's well done, so get tickets quickly. The show will sell out, due to the Chronicle loving it so much. The actors playing Puck, Oberon, Helena, Nick Bottom did exceptional work, but the entire cast deserves great praise; just go see it.

LIBERAL OPINION WEEK. I just started reading Liberal Opinion Week. It's been published for 12 years now, and if you like reading liberal opinion columnists, you need to start reading it, too. This 32-page weekly newspaper has an average of 50 of the best-known liberal columnists and 40 of the finest political cartoonists. Molly Ivins, Ralph Nader, Ellen Goodman, Dave Barry, Jesse Jackson, Marianne Means, Robert Scheer, Andy Rooney, Tom Oliphant, Mark Russell, Mary McGrory--all are in there. It's an expert production, and you can read samples by going to www.liberalopinion.com. They'll even send you a free sample edition. You can also call them at 1.800.338.9335. Try reading just one issue. You'll get hooked, and you'll see what we miss around here.

SOME MORE DRAMA. Well, Pisces Moon presents Christopher Durang's Durang, Durang: The Second Coming July 27-Aug. 25; Friends of Gus presents Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock, starting Sept. 14; and the Monterey Bay Repertory Theatre, with Brian Spencer directing, presents Shakespeare's R&J as adapted by Joe Calarco (that's not Romeo and Juliet), which opens Oct. 18. All of that takes place at the Broadway Playhouse, i.e., the Santa Cruz Art League Theatre, where the Last Supper was held for decades. Call 429.2339 for information on those productions. Santa Cruz Repertory Theatre presents Edward Albee's Three Tall Women Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 3-Sept. 1 at London Nelson; tickets are available at the Santa Cruz Civic Box Office or by calling 420.5260. The Bay Shore Lyric Opera Company is doing Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, one of my all-time favorites, at the Capitola Theatre Saturday-Sunday, 7:30pm, through Aug. 12. Tickets are $15-$20; call 831.462.3131. In the good old days (circa 1975-80), we had lots of serious theater here. Nobody supported it very strongly, but very courageous theater folk did some fine and provocative thoughtful theater anyway. It looks like we again have an opportunity to leave our screens (monitors and video) and experience the age-old challenges of live theater. I'll meet you there; save a seat.

SHAKESPEARE NOTES. Brian Payne, former managing director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, was back in town for last weekend's productions. He says he's given up showbiz and is now the "Lance Linares" of Louisville's Community Foundation. At Last Saturday's Midsummer production, the co-sponsor, Ow Family Properties, received fine applause, while there were quite a few boos when they mentioned Barry Swenson Builder as the other co-sponsor! Bruce A. Young, the muscular black actor who was usually seen dressed onstage in women's lingerie in several Danny Scheie productions, can currently be seen piloting the plane in Jurassic Park III. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival has Ray Reinhardt as King Lear starting Sept. 15 at the Gershwin Theatre in San Francisco; call 415.392.4400 or go to www.tix.com or www.sfshakes.org.

SAUL LANDAU RETURNS. Saul Landau is, as one flyer says, an internationally known scholar, author, filmmaker, lecturer, journalist, Pacifica Radio commentator and senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is known for his intimate knowledge of South American and Cuban cultures and political struggles. He will be giving two different evenings of talks about Cuba. The first is tomorrow night (July 26) at 8pm in the second- floor fireside room of the Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz. That's being sponsored by the People's Democratic Club. As you may know, Saul has produced 40 films dealing with social, political, historical and human rights issues. He'll be showing his short film Cuba and Fidel and talking more about Cuba on Aug. 11 at 7pm. The event is titled "Cuba and Fidel: An Evening With Saul Landau." It's sponsored by the Cuba Study Group of Santa Cruz and the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. It takes place at the Live Oak Grange, 1900 17th Ave., near Capitola Road. Call 465.8272 or try [email protected] for more about that evening.

DARK PLEASURES. Jurassic Park III is a Hollywood sequel, and you probably know by now what that means. Wait and rent it; or better yet go to one of the exciting live plays that are happening around town. Same goes for America's Sweethearts, even though Julia's in it along with John Cusack; it's a blah film. Songcatcher is sort of Oh Brother meets Deliverance, and it, too, misses being what could have been a stirring saga. The Closet has Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil and Jean Rochefort in it. There are laughs, but they're forced--and not at all like the classic French comedies.

PALAU. How can Santa Cruz be so lucky as to have Luis Palau coming to town. If you see him, ask Palau about his calling abortion murder and a terrible crime. Or, if you have time, ask him about his saying that homosexuals are going to hell. On the other hand you could just go see a good play and try to forget this guy is even coming here.

CHANGE IN FILM SERIES. UCSC has changed the location of Earl Jackson's Summer of Love Crimes film series to the new state-of-the-art Media Theatre up by the Shakespeare ticket office. Tonight (July 25) at 7:30pm is director Clara Law's Farewell, China; next Wednesday is Atom Egoyan's Calendar. Go to www.anotherscene.com for complete info.

BONSAI KITTENS. Bonnie Morr sent in this website: www.bonsaikitten.com. It tells how you too can buy these kits of special apparatus to stuff kittens in and grow them in bottles. It goes into lengthy detail on how environmentally sound it is to raise them that way and how their bodies adapt to this compact site. It also offers tips on how to make cat-skin picture frames and things like that. Check out that site. It also contains signers of folks from around the world who are opposed to stuffing kitties into bottles. But you must admit it's better than having them bronzed. Then again, have a good laugh at the nonsense and realize just how many folks fell for this wild example of Internet humor.

WATSONVILLE AND FLUORIDE. What can I say, Watsonville's not only got a plaza, but now it's going to have fluoride in its water. Congratulations to all the people down there who worked so hard to make it happen. Mayor Chuck Carter and a majority of City Councilmembers knew that fluoride would help the dental-health crisis, and along with health authorities and business leaders, educators, nonprofit service providers and parents from all over the community. The professional anti-fluoride wing from San Diego was there in force, but reason prevailed, obviously. Watsonville joins more than 100 California cities, such as San Francisco, Long Beach, Palo Alto and San Diego, in a fluoridation program that the U.S. Surgeon General calls one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century. Even the Sentinel now supports fluoridation, and editor Tom Honig told me he thinks they came out in favor of it before, but neither of us were too sure about that.

Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at [email protected] or 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the July 25-August 1, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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