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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] Soquel in 1890s
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Future Home Depot Location? This is Soquel in the late 1890s. That's the Congregational Church, and Main Street is the intersection. The Home Depot would be about where that grove of trees stands at the top of the photo. Yes, we all should have bought property then. This photo always reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting or Robert Frost poem.

SANTA CRUZ JUST CHANGED. Candy Coonerty, who passed away last week, added a lot to making Santa Cruz unique. Her love of people and her genuine appreciation of life went beyond her personal life--they were an integral part of Bookshop Santa Cruz (which she co-owned with her husband, Neal) that any of us Bookshop regulars felt every time we entered the store. Candy and I disagreed on almost as much as we agreed on, and we were friends for more than 25 years. We'll all miss her.

THAT NEW COUNCIL. There have been some excellent changes since the present Santa Cruz City Council came into office. That ridiculous Surf City News, which cost $40,000 per year and did nothing to improve communications, has been stopped. There's a River Task Force, which I predict will do a lot to improve our city's relationship with both the river and the Army Corps of Engineers. We now have a city staff ecologist who will look at EIRs, and that's called catching up with the environment. There's a Homeless Advisory Committee, and even though the entire U.S.A. and the world are facing the same challenges regarding the homeless, it shows we care. The approval of increasing golf course fees (that the Golf Course board of directors asked for) may even help produce income for the city. In addition, there's the splendid reaffirming of the importance of trees to Santa Cruz, and generations will thank the council for that move. That's just in the first eight months--they did indeed hit the ground running.

THE SHOULDER-TAPPING ORDINANCE. I agree with Councilpersons Beiers, Fitzmaurice, Sugar and Christopher Krohn: we shouldn't jump into this one. There are too many extenuating circumstances and existing laws that cover the same territory. Our young citizens are demanding better treatment, and we need to be more open to giving them understanding and listening to what they want and deserve. Opening a skateboard park would be a nice idea, just for starters.

CABLE NEWS. I haven't watched a weekly television program since the original Star Trek series in the mid-60s, unless you count a few episodes of Masterpiece Theatre once in a while. That's changed since I watched just two weeks of The Sopranos on HBO. The show is up for several Emmys, and it should be; it has absolutely the finest acting and most intelligent writing I've ever seen on television. It's about a Mafia family named Soprano, and you should watch it. I accidentally caught A Price Above Rubies starring Renee Zellweger on cable last week. It was a 1998 film that somehow missed us; rent it or watch it somehow, anyhow--and soon.

DOWNTOWN PLAZA MEETING. Former county Supervisor Gary Patton will give a talk at our next Downtown Plaza meeting, Thursday, Aug. 12, at 7pm in the upstairs meeting room of the Main Library. Gary's an expert on land use and relating to the community. The Plaza Committee has nearly 2,000 signatures and has been collecting hundreds of wants, wishes and needs from everyone who signs the petition showing support of a Downtown Plaza at Pacific and Church streets where the fence has surrounded the empty lot for 10 long years. Folks ask if there'll be facilities for children, space where local painters can show their canvases, a place where swing dancers can do the lindy hop, a place for performances of theater groups, for mariachi bands, for classical music, for concerts by the Watsonville Band and hundreds more great ideas. The answer is a resounding yes. The Plaza will have a managed operation that will allow all kinds of community participation. Remember, too, that this corner is the very last space in the heart of our downtown that will work as a true plaza. The few other spaces are all fine places for community green spaces--like the Ron Lau property, the Town Clock area, the Front Street parking lot and the Oak Tree place on Cedar Street--but they don't even resemble a Town Plaza concept. Call 475-9172 to become part of the growing Plaza Committee or just to find out more about how it is going to work.

TWO THUMBS UP, ONE DOWN. Somebody must have called it Lake Flaccid by now. Bridget Fonda shouldn't have been in Lake Placid, and neither should anybody else, and you shouldn't go near it either, if you know what's good for you. It's about a 30-foot alligator , and yes, it's really a crock. Stanley Kubrick has always been far ahead of the public with his films. It's always later when we see his films that we can really understand what he was up to. That's the way it is with Eyes Wide Shut. Just as he mastered every film genre he tackled--such as science fiction, war, social values and others--he addresses sex, communication and relationships in this one. By all means, see it now; let it sink in. Then wait a few years, see it again and watch what a difference time makes. Then there's The Blair Witch Project. Like Kubrick's films, this one also breaks all old cinema rules in getting its point across. Just when you think we've seen it all on the screen, just when we almost believe that computers will replace human actors and special effects will eliminate any need for reality, along comes a film like this one. It's not gory, it's not screaming scary, it's just terribly unnerving and very well done. Go see it, but only if you really like movies that work.

CHAIN STORE MEETING. With the proposed threat of Home Depot opening one of their blimp-hangar-sized stores at 41st Avenue and Soquel Drive, and with Whole Foods (the nation's largest natural food chain) wanting to open less than a mile away at 17th Street and Soquel Avenue next door to Staples, neighbors and businesses in the area are upset ... to say the least. There's going to be a meeting brought to you by Live Oak Neighbors Against Sprawl on Monday, Aug. 9, at 7pm at the Elena Baskin Live Oak Senior Center on Capitola Road near Chanticleer Avenue. Worries about increased traffic, noise and the deterioration of the neighborhood are going to be the hot topics. It's a matter of overdevelopment and how those stores will impact the community that needs careful discussion. It's also a matter of how citizens can get their elected officials to listen to them. Call Jennifer Brager at 423-5403 to learn more.

UCSC ARTS & LECTURES. I don't remember if I mentioned that Arts & Lectures is bringing artist/cartoonist Art Spiegelman here Oct. 7. Columnist and Texan Molly Ivins will be here March 26, and Wynton Marsalis plus the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra will be at the Cocoanut Grove April 12. You can get a beautiful new 99/00 brochure by calling 459-4058. Since so many of their events sold out last year, I think you should plan ahead. I realize that planning ahead goes against all known Santa Cruz traditions, but it's a brand-new millennium, and if you wait until the next millennium you might miss something.

A SHOW OF HANDS. Everybody who's wondering why Bruce Gabriel has sided with the vote to widen Highway 1 should write him a letter or something. "What's that guy up to?" "Who got to him?" "What happened to the old Bruce Gabriel?" are a few of the confused mutters heard around town. Besides that, is it really true, as Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice states, that the widening of Highway 1 isn't even starting at the Fishhook but will begin at Morrissey and go east? Can't you almost see the Whole Foods Freeway, Home Depot Drive, Circuit City Cutoff and the Toys R Us Turnaround?. Why, if we don't think much about it, Live Oak and Soquel will look like San Jose in no time.

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM. Rick Smallwood thinks we should rename the Fishhook and call it "The Learning Curve." Dan Pulcrano swears that the "S" in the Scotts Valley Shell station sign is out, leaving "hell" as a welcoming to Scotts Valley. Dan was calling from a car phone, so I couldn't hear what he said after that, and we're probably better off. Dan Lawson sent in a beautiful palindrome: "Sycamore has a hero: Macy's." I still can't create one of those damned things, but then again nobody's perfect.


You can reach Bruce in cyberspace at bbratton@metcruz.com or call him at 457-9000, ext. 400.

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From the July 28-August 4, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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