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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] Highway 1 in 1956
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Widening Highway 1 in 1956. You can see the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 9 in the center. The two long buildings on the left are the Sash Mill, the large vacant territory in the middle is more or less Harvey West park, and Salz Tannery is in the lower right-hand corner.

WIDENING HIGHWAY 1. Now we have the news that less than half of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce supports widening Highway 1. That is, according to the Santa Cruz daily (which shall remain nameless), 329 of the "about 800 members" of the Chamber think widening Highway 1 would relieve traffic problems. When you add that the Santa Cruz Business Council supports widening Highway 1 (according to an earlier issue of that same nameless paper), you do have to wonder. Now we know that the Business Council "is made up of 80 member businesses, including RMC Lonestar, Granite Construction, the nameless daily, Ow Family Properties, Santa Cruz Medical Clinic and West Marine." Every example I've ever seen from San Jose to Los Angeles and across the country sez that widening freeways or building new freeways works for only a year or two. After that the new lanes are just as crowded and bottlenecked as before--plus millions of dollars have been spent and nothing has changed. Maybe these business leaders figure when the resultant gridlock becomes permanent, the drivers will get out of their cars and shop near the traffic jam. We certainly do need a solution to this overpopulation of our highways, but a temporary fix just ain't it. Now if any of these business wizs could just show us one example of where widening freeways has worked it would be appreciated--and widely reported, I assure you.

MISERABLE MOVIES. Like the latest Star Wars and Wild Wild West, The Haunting is a good plot gone bad--i.e., ruined by special effects. I think we'll all be happier when Hollywood tires of its new special-effects toys and gets back to trusting in stories. For example, The Blair Witch Project is infinitely scarier than The Haunting, and about the only special effects it uses are maybe two flashlights. Then there's Drop Dead Gorgeous, the latest in dumb films. As a former beauty-queen town, we've seen much more clever films on the same themes. Gorgeous is, at times, cruel, vicious, boring, trite without any real point to make--avoid it.

FISHY FISHING. According to hearsay, a group of eight well-known folks went fishing down to Cabo San Lucas. Rumors have it that the week before City Council elections, Councilmembers Scott Kennedy and Mike Rotkin (who had just been caught ripping down City Council campaign posters); City Attorney John Barisone and his attorney partner, Tony Condotti; City Councilman Michael Hernandez; city parks director Jim Lange; Francisco Serna, director of the Beach Flats Community Center; and Mike Mason, part-time radio commentator, all headed south. I have no idea if they caught anything, and for sure there's no reason they shouldn't have gone fishing. I mean there's no hint of any wrongdoing of any kind, it just seems odd somehow. I'll definitely get back to you with any feedback on this.

SPEAKING OF GOOD OL' BOYS. The Museum of Art & History is sponsoring a docent-led tour of the Evergreen Cemetery this Saturday at 10am. The tour "will highlight stories of early movers and shakers" whose remains remain there. Call the museum at 429-1964 to see if they're including anyone you knew. Of course, they'll include London Nelson--he certainly was an early mover and shaker. MAH will also be doing a docent-led tour of Carol Summers Woodcuts: 50-Year Retrospective on Friday, Aug. 6, at 12:15pm. Carol is a very contemporary mover and shaker in the world of art. Besides that, he lives here. Don't miss this exhibit of his works--you'll love it.

POLITICKING TIME. Inside sources around the County Building figure that Santa Cruz County Supervisor Jan Beautz will run again. There are so many land-use/development issues facing her territory that need monumental decisions and direction that I'd bet she would win, unless somebody spectacular creates an opposing race. Up in Jeff Almquist territory, only Patrick Dugan's name has surfaced as possible opposition. Patrick tells me, "I've been thinking about it ever since I ran against Fred Keeley in '92, but nobody's approached me yet. But we really do need somebody who's pro citizen!" Now, you need to realize that Patrick's two major disappointments in life are that he didn't get to vote for Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Now added to that we're talking about a district that includes Felton and Boulder Creek, so you never know.

SALUTING JOHN BEAL. John Beal was a co-star with Katharine Hepburn, did dozens of historic dramatic television plays, traveled the country in major theatrical dramas, composed music, was an accomplished painter and was Tandy Beal's dad. He lived his last years here in Santa Cruz. On Saturday, Aug. 14, the Nickelodeon will present a free screening of Double Wedding starring William Powell, Myrna Loy and John Beal. Tandy says this film is one of the last of the great Hollywood magnificently silly comedies. Following the screening, Tandy and I will talk about her Dad and his amazing life; following that, the Nickelodeon will unveil a photograph of John Beal to be added to their Star Gallery of famous Santa Cruzans in the film business. This is another in the monthly series of events highlighting Santa Cruz's connections with the screen art. Circle your calendar and get there early.

THE DOWNTOWN PLAZA. Don't forget that former Santa Cruz County Supervisor Gary Patton will be speaking at the Downtown Plaza meeting Thursday, Aug. 12, at 7pm in the upstairs meeting room at the main library. As a gesture to help make us more aware of the beauty and necessity of downtown plazas, the Pacific Coffee Roasting Company on Pacific Avenue has a fine display of piazzas in Rome over their coffee-brewing stations just on the right as you walk in the door. Stop by and think how great a plaza would be at the corner of Pacific and Church where the fencing has been for the last 10 years.

ZINGER LETTERS. The nearly legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist Art Hoppe, celebrating his 50th year on the job, wrote his favorite reply to people sending in nasty notes about his column (or "colm" as we say): "One more nasty letter like that, and this newspaper will be forced to cancel your subscription." What one does when the paper is free is up for discussion.

OUR FINEST SEASON. With the Cabrillo Music Festival and Shakespeare Santa Cruz both upon us right now, there is no better time to experience just how great these events are and how honored we are to have them as part of our community. Shakespeare Santa Cruz performances always sell out toward the end of the run, so get your tickets asap. The same goes for the Cabrillo Music Festival, and especially so this year, when the concerts are made up of somewhat more adventuresome music than in the past. There are way too many citizens who "haven't been yet" and aren't quite sure what these events are really all about. Live dangerously and call for tickets now, or at least attend one of the free attractions offered by both of them.

ABOUT ZASU PITTS. Zasu Pitts and Rory Calhoun were Santa Cruz's most famous former residents who went on to gain fame in Hollywood. Rory had more lead roles than Zasu, but Zasu was in the business longer. Anyway, Gayle Haffner of Michigan is writing a book about Zasu and wants any possible Pittsiana tidbits. Or you could call Rachel McKay, research librarian at the Museum of Art & History, at 429-1964. Zasu's sisters were named Rulandus and Asa, in case that jogs your memory, or tickles your funny bone.

PALINDROMES AND OTHER EARTH-SHATTERING NEWS. The all-knowing Tami Roadarmel says the South Asian dialect "Malayalam" is the only palindromic tongue on earth, and Tami is almost always right. Stefan Berlinski saw this bumper sticker on a pickup: "I'm pro-lifejacket--and I boat!" Keep those cards and letters acomin' in, folks; we're getting near the bottom, as you can tell.


Reach out and touch Bruce in cyberspace at bbratton@metcruz.com or call him at 457-9000, ext. 400.

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From the August 4-11, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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