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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] West Coast Santa Cruz Hotel
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Dream Inn Construction (a.k.a. West Coast Santa Cruz Hotel), April 26,1963: A great photo that's only been printed once before back in '63. This shows the original Sisters Hospital on the left, which grew to eventually become Dominican Hospital. It shows the trestle bridge and the recently departed train depot. The large open space in the upper center is Neary Lagoon.

GETTING RID OF RUMORS. Sources around town have seen mail addressed to Burger King at 920 Pacific Ave. That's at the Metro Bus Center. Our city wouldn't allow that, would they? Especially with the good old Saturn Cafe about to open just down the road. This really isn't a rumor, it's my guess. How long do you think it will be before the City Water Department restarts its campaign for building a dam in Zayante? I guess about the first of October, just before the rain season starts. Another rumor sez that Annieglass is going to move into the Cooperhouse street floor with a 6,000-square-foot footprint. We also hear that Herland Books is moving into the old Chili Pepper place on Locust. The last time somebody tried "districting" the city was back in '73 or '74, when they went for 17 districts! Did you ever notice that UCSC always cuts its trees down when the students are gone? Anyone want to bet money that UCSC is still planning on cutting through an eastern access, even though they haven't mentioned it lately? Residents of DeAnza Mobile Home park aren't the only folks concerned with UCSC's new lab building at Terrace Point. Observers say that building will be very visible and obtrusive from our scenic Highway 1. They also say the dirt and dust, combined with the heavy coastal winds, will make life miserable for miles around.

TOP SECRET. There'll be big announcements and a dignified amount of folderol out soon about Metro Santa Cruz moving to the Leonard Building on the northwest corner of Front and Cooper streets next month. If you're into history, that's Michael Leonard (because there were a lot of Leonards around Santa Cruz). The new headquarters will be right on the street level in the corner office across from the red ball behind the shark's-teeth sculpture. According to John Chase's The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture (edited by none other than Metro Santa Cruz editor Michael S. Gant), the Leonard Building "was constructed in 1894 from the designs of Edward Van Cleeck." John goes on to say, "Above the bracketed cornice is a slight mansard roof with small gambrel gables, and short pilasters with Romanesque-influence capitals support the windows." But who didn't know that? He sez that the grapes in the trim are appropriate because Leonard had a saloon down in the basement (which probably is closed now). The horrible fire of 1894 destroyed the previous building, which was John "Fatty" Cooper's store. I'll get into more Leonard Building history later, but what was the name of that chain delicatessen that was there briefly a few years ago, and what were some of the other businesses that were there? I remember that Penniman Title was there for years, but before that, who knows?

WATCH OUT FOR THIS ONE. More and more business owners around the county are talking about forming their own small-business owners association. They're less than enthused about the political stands, statements and actions by the Chambers of Commerce and the Downtown Association. All businesses who care about their future health and success and more realistic representation are invited to call Emily's Good Things to Eat on Mission Street at 457-4042.

SILLY CINEMA. Why any humans would want to go to a Kiss concert is beyond me and why anyone would want to go to a movie like Detroit Rock City, which is about going to a Kiss concert, is even sillier. There is one inventive camera angle that lasts for three or four seconds that is fun to watch but don't think about it. Forget about Mickey Blue Eyes, and I'm ready to forget about Hugh Grant's tired shtick entirely--he's used up all his charm, and the plot's lousy too. If you're into Mafia material, then watch The Sopranos instead. That cable series on HBO just gets better and better, or have I said that before? The title Teaching Mrs. Tingle should be enough of a warning, and even the acting talents of Helen Mirren can't make this film worthwhile. Mirren must have owed somebody, or she didn't read the script, or she's broke, or something weird must have caused her to be in this film  ... don't go, whatever you do. Twin Falls Idaho is a thoughtful film. I'm still thinking about it. It will keep you glued to the screen, as they say, although there are plot holes bigger than our street's potholes, and it really doesn't hang together. Yes, it's about love and Siamese (or conjoined) twins, and it's directed by and acted in by twin brothers too--but it's still weird.

SAN FRANCISCO MIME TROUPE. Put 2:30pm Sunday, Sept. 12, in your little calendar notes. That's when the San Francisco Mime Troupe will be performing in San Lorenzo Park--FOR FREE. Yes, it's true, this mime troupe talks--the members also shout and produce some of the most dead-on satire you're liable to see and hear anyplace nowadays. This current production, City for Sale, has had hot, rave reviews, and if you've never seen how powerful and funny and effective political theatre can be, just be sure you're there. The show will be picnic style, so bring chairs, blankets and whatever. Get there early because the music--stupendous music--with the troupe's live band starts at 2:30; the play starts at 3. There is a conflict of interest here, because I was a member of the S.F. Mime Troupe along with Saul Landau and Ronnie Davis back in the early '60s, and any words I ever write about this troupe definitely contain a great amount of pride, but wait until you see them in action: they're fabulous.

GENE LEWIS FUND. Gene Lewis has given more music and talent than almost anybody. Now he's got damned old cancer and needs help. He's going through radiation treatments and even doing something with thalidomide, and it's very expensive. Miriam Ellis of UCSC and SCOSI Inc. has assisted in establishing a nonprofit fund for Gene at the Calvary Episcopal Church. Send him a donation to the church at 532 Center St., Santa Cruz 95060. Miriam is also working on two benefit performances, one with jazz at Kuumbwa and one with classical stuff in October. Do something while you're thinking about it.

BORDERS PROBLEM. I went to a secret meeting the other night where people were talking about how cities like Calistoga and Cotati have ordinances prohibiting chain stores from locating in their city that have "fixed floor plans" or stores that have more than X amount of square feet of floor space. Cities from all over are beginning to find the muscle and creativity to stop these monsters from taking over our community. We need to be sure that Ceil Cirello and her redevelopment minions are kept in perspective. More than once we hear opinions that the Redevelopment Agency is way too important and that their word has become the governing force of our city. Wasn't that parking structure on Front and Soquel built figuring that the businesses going into the Redtree building would have open-door access on Soquel, and isn't Borders planning on not even using those doors at all?

ABOUT THE WEATHER AND WHY WE LIVE HERE. Now that the tourists have left, it's safe to talk about how the weather is always best in September and October. This is the season we always remember as the Mediterranean climate we tell our out-of-town friends about. In addition to the weather, most of us who moved here did so because of the uniqueness of the place. Few cities in the world have the scenic beauty and the climate, plus a university and an amusement park. The mix continues to provide an atmosphere and sense of community unequaled anywhere. I'll continue to plead for preserving that uniqueness, maintaining that sense of place even if it means almost constantly fighting the always increasing pressure to grow at any price. The university keeps growing, the Boardwalk keeps the pressure on to grow and swarms of developers want to build anything, anywhere. That's the price we pay, and actually it's a small price for living "another day in Paradise."


Bruce critiques films on KUSP-FM 88.9 every other Thursday at 12:50pm. Reach out and touch Bruce in cyberspace at bbratton@metcruz.com or call him at 457-9000 #400.

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From the September 1-8, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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