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Pacific and Soquel, circa 1910: New Leaf Market is on the right where it says Smoke House, and that bookstore is on the right and it was a business college back then. I never noticed before, but there was a Coffee Club right there on Soquel. Their sign says the Best Place to Eat and Free Reading Room, and of course, we have mass transit staring right at us. What have we learned since?

Bruce Bratton

BEAUTIFYING PACIFIC AVENUE. Certainly I noticed that those pots around the Cooper House are now flowering--they are wonderful. I also noticed the new and well-thought-out plants at the We So Bistro in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz. That's what Pacific needs more of. Pacific Wave added a sidewalk plant, and so did Many Hands Gallery. I've undoubtedly missed some, but it's getting better. Now Locust Lane needs a lot of work. That pretty little green lane from Locust Street to Plaza Lane, behind Chefworks, Bugaboo and the optometry place, actually only needs chairs, benches and tables to make it a fine downtown destination. No need to comment on those three pickup trucks parked on the sidewalk right in front of O'Neill's new store at the Cooper House. They're gone now, but it was such a dumb idea that it makes you wonder who could have allowed it? It's another case of the downtown sidewalks belonging to the residents of Santa Cruz, and because Pacific Avenue is everybody's front yard it needs to be treated with a lot more respect.

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST. I thought it would be better to see the new Kenneth Branagh film version first, then go see Shakespeare Santa Cruz's production. After seeing the play, I don't think it matters which you see first, as long as you see them both. Shakespeare Santa Cruz does a fine job and, as usual, is selling out most of its performances--so get tickets now. The play is nutty and frothy and has meaty lines that can startle you, if you wade through all the fol-de-rol. I'd suggest you go at night, when the Festival Glen setting is less distracting. Bring cushions because the plastic chairs get very hard.

FROM BAD TO WORSE. Disney's The Kid, featuring Bruce Willis, is worse than you've heard. I know the coming attractions made it look OK, but it delivers only manipulated tears, and the plot is hokey. Avoid it no matter what you do. I saw Scary Movie and Loser because some second-string reviewers in newspapers on the Internet had to write something to justify their jobs and said some intriguing things about these films. Trust me, don't go. Scary Movie might work as a rental, but even then ... What Lies Beneath, the Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeiffer mystery, lacks tension, originality and believability.

SANTA CRUZ CITY WATER COMMISSION. There's one opening on this eight-member commission. As you've probably heard, our city's water supply is arguably our biggest problem. You have to be a city voter and care a lot about future growth problems, but it would definitely teach you a lot about how the city works. If you have ever considered running for a public office, here's how to learn the ropes. Call 420.5030.

WIRES ON MISSION. Both Emily Reilly of Emily's Bakery and Cathlin Atchison of the Redevelopment Agency tell me that it won't be easy and it won't be soon, but the overhead lines, wire and cables along Mission Street will eventually be going underground after all! The necessary deals with Pac Bell, AT&T and all the landowners with easements and rights-of-way need to be worked out, and it will take a while, but just before the final top coat of street stuff is spread, they'll dig a weird ditch and bury the lines. Three cheers to Emily and all the members of the Mission Street Widening Project who worked so hard to accomplish this eighth wonder of the world.

C-U in CUBA? That's a great old Ted Lewis song, and the Cuba Study group of Santa Cruz takes it seriously. It is producing a summer video and discussion series featuring films produced in Cuba by Cubans about Cuba. An expert will be at the screening to comment on Cuba and the film. You can learn all about the rapidly changing relationship between them and us--and enjoy a film too. Brett Taylor from KUSP will introduce The Buena Vista Social Club Saturday (July 29) at 7pm at the Live Oak Grange, 1900 17th Avenue. Everybody is invited, and there'll be lots of time for questions and comments.

FOURTEEN WEEKS LEFT. There are just 14 weeks left until the November elections, and what elections they'll be. To make things perfectly clear: there will not be a SCAN slate of candidates. To be sure, SCAN will endorse some candidates who share its principles, but SCAN is not going to "sponsor" or create any candidates. The candidates I've talked to would like SCAN's endorsement, and they'd also like just about anybody's endorsement, but each candidate is running on his/her own. There'll be some campaigners who share lots of political beliefs, and you can bet the Sentinel will work overtime to label certain candidates as members of a SCAN slate, but it isn't true. A friend and I were laughing about the Sentinel's SCAN labeling habits, and we wondered why they don't spend as much effort labeling members of the Santa Cruz Business Council every time they make the news? This group of business leaders, which includes Charles Canfield of the Boardwalk, Harvey Nickelson of Coast Commercial Bank and Dave Regan of the Sentinel, unlike SCAN, is a secret group. They don't reveal members' names, for some reason. I'm sure they exist only to serve the good of our community, but if the Sentinel really, really cares about our welfare, it should identify Business Council members when they, too, make news.

CABRILLO MUSIC FESTIVAL, PART I. The sets are being built right now at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium for Aaron Copland's opera, The Tender Land. It'll be a fully staged and costumed theatrical production, and it will play just twice: once on Aug. 4 and again on Aug. 5. It's Copland's only opera, and because it's so rarely performed, you'd better call for tickets quickly. The other evening to plan on at the CabMuFest is A Three-Star Gala on Aug. 9. Due to some very fortunate planning, we'll have Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Mark O'Connor playing O'Connor's Double Violin Concerto and other things with conductor/director Marin Alsop that night. Call 420.5260 or fax 420.5251.

COFFEE COFFEE EVERYWHERE. Did you know that Proctor & Gamble imports 35 percent of the coffee marketed in the U.S., which includes Folgers--and that Philip Morris controls 30 percent, including Maxwell House and Gevalia. Nestle's has 10 percent of our coffee market. Didja know that coffee is the U.S.'s second-largest-value food import? There's a move afoot to get everybody to switch to Fair Trade Coffee. The British House of Commons has switched, and the Santa Cruz City Council is being asked to as well. Fair Trade Coffee pays workers a decent living wage and promotes organic farming that helps the environment. You can find out about all this at the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company, where they call this coffee "bean of the Earth." They're the first certified Fair Trade Roaster in Santa Cruz County. There's a lot more to learn online at www.transfairusa.org.

DOWNTOWN DEPARTMENT STORE? I ran into Sam Leask, and if you just got here, Sam's family owned a much-missed department store for generations on the corner where Wherehouse now sits. Sam doesn't think it's possible for a small operation like they had to make it in today's marketplace. He believes that even Gottschalks might be too small to handle the capital outlay necessary to compete with the megagiants. Sam says that multifaced businesses like The Limited could do it with their many little businesses that look like small independents but are owned and operated by Limited. Aside from that, Lisa Leask just turned 50 last Friday, and normally I don't reveal ages but since she's been battling cancer for nine years, this accomplishment deserves a bigger cake than usual, plus some extra beams of healing light or whatever you can do to help.

End Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP (88.9FM) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at [email protected] or leave messages at 457-5814, ext.400.

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From the July 26-August 2, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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