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Leask's, Downtown Santa Cruz, 11:10am, January 1952: This locally owned department store went through many design changes during the decades it stood at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Church Street, where the Wherehouse takes up space today. You can see in just a few hundred feet Gosliners Shoe Store, Melvyn's Drug Store, Santa Cruz Hardware, Santa Cruz Building and Loan, People's Bank and more good reasons to shop on Pacific Avenue. Now, they're all gone.

Bruce Bratton

DAMNED REDISTRICTING. No matter where you stand politically, you're going to lose out if the proposed redistricting of the California state Senate districts goes through. We've had at least our fair share of representation in Sacramento under the existing district borders, but including Santa Cruz County in the same district that covers much of the San Francisco peninsula would mean we have no say whatsoever at the state level. Being the second-smallest county in California, we have to stand up for every issue that affects us. This proposal would divide Santa Cruz County into two districts, and Monterey County into three, and render both powerless. So if you care about protecting our coast, our highway issues, state funding problems and other issues that change your lives, write, call or email immediately: Gov. Gray Davis, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814; 916.445.2841; governor@governor.ca.gov. Assembly speaker Robert Hertzberg, State Capitol, Room 219, Sacramento, CA 95814; 916.319.2040; speaker@assembly.ca.gov. State Senator John Burton, State Capitol, Room 205, Sacramento, CA 95814; 916.445.1412; no email available, but you can fax Burton at 916.445.4722.

DARK PLEASURES--TO AVOID. Bubble Boy doesn't offend immunity-deficient folks as much as it did dwarfs, Jews, Asians, bikers, Latinos, Christians and every other group you can think of. Don't go; it's beneath you. Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion has already offended most Allen fans that I know. It's slow, not funny and not clever, and as popular word has it, it seems to contain Woody's unused jokes from his old films. Wait and rent it. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the ultimate in-group film, and I'm not sure who that in-group is, except Kevin Smith fans. If you don't know who Kevin Smith is, avoid this film at all costs.

DOWNTOWN AREA RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION. Three cheers for the newly formed Downtown Area Residents Association, or DARA. The group has held meetings, printed two newsletters and dealt with some serious problems. Membership in DARA is open to anyone living on the following streets: Pacific Avenue, Front Street and the 100-300 blocks of Lincoln, Cathcart, Walnut, Cooper and Locust streets. There are ombudsmen in the Palomar and El Centro buildings, and DARA is looking for representatives in the St. George and Gularte buildings. Three Santa Cruz City Councilmembers and the city police have attended the meetings. At last, we'll be hearing from the folks whose lives are affected by changes in our downtown. Currently, DARA is dealing with the drag races on Pacific Avenue. On Friday and Saturday nights, around 10:30pm-11pm, one car will block traffic on the Palomar block of Pacific while motorcycles or cars drag race! The noise, the danger and the illegality are problems DARA is demanding the city and the police stop immediately. Residents of the St. George are mad about the rave parties at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall and the loud groups that hang out in the bank parking lot after security police leave the scene. Veterans are very concerned about the security of their exhibits during these wild nights. DARA is also concerned about the placement of a plaza on Pacific Avenue between Church and Locust streets. The DARA newsletter reports that Eugene Arner, director of Planning and Community Development, says the downtown businesses want the plaza there, but no one ever consulted a single one of the more than 100 residents who live within 100 feet of this location. DARA is asking all downtown residents to attend the Santa Cruz City Council meeting Sept. 11 at 12:30pm, when the location of this plaza will be discussed. If you want to get involved with the Santa Cruz Downtown Area Residents Association, call 420.0316 for information. DARA's next meeting date and location haven't been set yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

DARK PLEASURES--NOT TO MISS. O, the updated Othello film, is one of the cleverest, most apt versions of Shakespeare ever to bloody up the screen. The acting is excellent, and Shakespeare fans will love watching the brilliant new plot changes and seeing how they add to the original play. The Anniversary Party didn't impress me all that much, but it's still well worth watching--or renting. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming are entirely responsible for this film working as well as it does. The Deep End is another fine film. It's one that causes deep thought and introspection; as usual, Tilda Swinton is perfect. Steve Buscemi plays a version of director Terry Zwigoff in Ghost World. It's a tribute and statement to lonely and different people who don't think they fit into society. Anyone who still collects 78rpm records and can tell a Paramount label from a Brunswick at 40 paces must see this film: the monster in Jeepers Creepers actually plays 78s on a windup Victrola, and the rest of this amazing film has class, too. It's a true horror film without the clichés, and it's scary--go see it.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY END-OF-LIFE COALITION. This is a group of more than 80 members from more than 30 organizations working to increase awareness and acceptance of death as a natural part of life. The coalition has a project called Promises to Keep that helps folks take care of the details that are often overlooked when somebody is dying. Hospice and two local HMOs are part of this task force. Then there's Living on Purpose and Living With Cancer, which are somehow all related to these issues. Dr. Bruce Bartlow is giving a talk about Living on Purpose on Sept. 21 at 7pm at the Pacific Cultural Center, 1307 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. Dr. Bartlow is also conducting an exploratory workshop about Living on Purpose on Sept. 22 at 10am. It takes place at the Congregational Church of Soquel, 4951 Soquel Dr., Soquel, and is sponsored by the End of Life Coalition. Call 688.7684 to learn more about the work all these groups are doing.

ABOUT SHAKESPEARE. If Shakespeare were alive today and collecting all the royalties owed to him from the thousands of books, movies, plays, musicals, operas, ballets and products with his picture and name on them, he'd be richer than Bill Gates. But I'll bet that just like John Grisham, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Barry Manilow, Danielle Steel and every other bestseller, we'd resent him, too.

GOOD-BYE PONTIAC GRILL. After 16 years of operating the Pontiac Grill, Catherine Daniels was given 30 days' notice, and she has to close it up. I asked landlord Russell Zoccoli what his plans were for that location, and he wasn't sure. I asked if this move had anything to do with George Ow's development of the new building next door--he said no. Catherine had just fought breast cancer, is raising kids and is still puzzled about why the lease wasn't renewed. Catherine's hoping to relocate and continue to use the equipment. The Zoccoli and Ow names are usually held in high esteem around here, so we'll just have to watch that corner to see what happens.

THE LAST SUPPER, THE FILM. Famed Cuban filmmaker Tomas Alea made La Ultima Cena in 1976. It's become a classic, although it is rarely shown. The Cuba Study Group of Santa Cruz is showing it Saturday night (Sept. 8) at 7pm at the Live Oak Grange, 1900 17th Ave., near Capitola Road. Film historian, author and teacher Morton Marcus will talk about the film and how it relates to Cuban culture and to Cuban politics in the '70s. Bring cushions, because the seats get hard after the first two minutes. Call 465.8272 or email nabbey@saber.net. Donations accepted.

SPEAKING OF M. MARCUS. On KRUZ, Channel 4, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, from 6 to 7pm (and again from 10 to 11pm), you can see the first in a series of programs titled Channel 4 Biography. It's directed by Paula Mahoney, and the first biography is about the aforementioned Morton Marcus: baby pictures, how he overcame adversities, his New Jersey childhood--and maybe it'll tell about how he used to box, too!

BUMPER STICKER. "Tailgaters Are Sexually Insecure" was contributed by just plain Lee, who saw it on an old Datsun. It was Jud Van Gorder who sent in last week's "No Man Is an Island, But Palau Is an Archipelago," and we certainly praise him highly for that.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the September 5-12, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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