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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] Miss California hopefuls
Covello & Covello Historic Photo Collection.

Remember the '60s? These obviously excited young women are none other than Miss Tulare and Miss Azusa, once-upon-a-time hopefuls for the Miss California crown when that event was actually held in our fair town. They are standing on the roof of the original St. George Hotel, located where the faux edifice is now situated on Pacific Avenue. The photo was taken in June 1963.

THAT BIG OLD FARMHOUSE. You know that big old farmhouse sitting in the middle of the fields on the ocean side of Highway 1 just before you get to the Highway 152 turnoff? It's known as the Redmon House and has a sign on the side saying call 1-800/827-9085 if you want to help preserve it. Well, I talked to John Skinner, who's chairman of the new nonprofit committee to save it. He sez among other things that the house was built in 1897, and they need $25,000 to make it level, put a roof on it and get it through this next rainy season. There are, as you may have suspected, some quite involved problems behind that great-looking old place. The present owners are a group of investors called Green Farm Ltd. Rich Kelley is president of the group. He's the son of Rye Kelley, the developer who tried to develop the Wingspread property across from Cabrilho College a few years back. According to Owen Lawlor, who's part of Green Farm Ltd., the group wants to turn the surrounding 13 acres into commercial development someday. They're willing to donate the house to Skinner's group as soon as the group finds sufficient restoration funding. That could total up to a million dollars or more. The property is now zoned agricultural, and LAFCO and Walt Symonds don't want to change that. Skinner sez maybe they could change the zoning for just the area the house sits on. It has also been proposed that the place become an agricultural museum. In the meantime, the house is falling apart. Sandy Lydon made a fine video about why we need to save that place, and I sure agree. Seems like some big high-tech company could dig into petty cash and make this a project. If you want to hear still more details, call John Skinner at 722-3476. Owen said that Rye is still going strong at his office up in Menlo Park; I sort of miss him after all these years. Someday when we have more time, I'll tell you folks who just got here all about the Wingspread land-use battle.

NINE, COUNT 'EM, NINE MOVIES. Outside Providence bears no resemblance to There's Something About Mary, and it's not funny or clever or worth seeing. Chill Factor doesn't resemble any good action movie, and even Cuba Gooding Jr. can't save this disaster--so avoid it. Sharon Stone, Albert Brooks and Andie MacDowell are terrible in The Muse, and the plot is lousy too. I slept through much of A Dog of Flanders and woke up a few times when Jon Voight was on screen, but if you have dull children, they might like it. The Astronaut's Wife is yet another disappointment; it's forced and overworked, and Charlize Theron is too good-looking. Antonio Banderas is too good-looking too, and he wears too much eyeliner in The 13th Warrior, but as a ridiculous action film it is pretty good. It's great to see Omar Sharif back on the screen. Some few folks may not realize that Omar not only is a world-class bridge player but also writes a newspaper colm about bridge. Eric Rohmer's Autumn Tale is the last chapter of his Tales of the Four Seasons series. It's very talky, very long and very beautiful. It's all about the sensitivity of relationships. I liked it better than most of Rohmer's last films. Later, I saw What Happened Was, a film of a play by Tom Noonan on cable TV that took relationships even deeper. Lovers of the Arctic Circle is a Spanish film and is tremendous.

SKATE PARKS. I've been in favor of every one of the proposed locations--just as long as we stop this lip service about wanting to support our youth and then denying them a skate-park location because it's in somebody's backyard. There's talk now about a temporary location near the Mike Fox Tennis park, and maybe some businesses would help pay for it--let's go for it, and quickly. We've got more than enough young people growing up with an attitude about their community. Let's be really supportive of at least this temporary skate park, if the one by the sewer plant can't happen, and show them we care. Remember, too, that if the kids can't handle the responsibility of maintaining a well-run operation, we can always padlock it as they have in some other towns.

JAZZ NOTES. Jazz singer Nancy Heth, daughter of the almost legendary Heth family, will be back at the Crepe Place one last time Saturday, Sept. 12, noon-2pm. The Heths ran the old Buy and Sell Press and opened the Staircase Theatre in Soquel; Jim and friends ran The Evening Star and, along with yours truly, even started a daily newspaper once upon a time.

ABOUT BOOKSTORES AND COMPETITION. Herland Books was going to move into the Chili Pepper store on Locust Street with books and related materials, but Wherehouse Records, one of those wonderful competitive big chains, won't let them. It seems there's a clause in Wherehouse's lease saying no one can sell CDs, videos and other competitive items in their building. So much for our locals saying competition is fair, it's good for the economy, let the market decide, and other knee-jerk utterings. By the way, for anyone wondering about Keith Sugar's or Christopher Krohn's support of Bookshop Santa Cruz's battle against Borders and if that support was because Bookshop Santa Cruz owner Neal Coonerty supported their campaigns--fahgeddaboutit! Coonerty's cash support went elsewhere in that election.

ABOUT STREET THEATRE. There's going to be a meeting at noon at Duck Island Theatre in San Lorenzo Park on Sunday, Sept. 12, for people who are interested in creating a road show for the World Trade Organization. A group of performers from San Francisco will be there to talk about protest theatre. Then the San Francisco Mime Troupe does its free performance of City for Sale at 3pm, with band music starting at 2:30. After the performance you can meet the cast at a nice party catered by Gabriella's at the Harvey West Clubhouse, 5:30-8pm. Tickets are $100 in advance and $115 at the door. Proceeds go to paying for the performance, and any extra money will go to local housing and advocacy groups.

THE LEONARD BUILDING. Schlotzky's was the delicatessen that was in the building that Metro Santa Cruz is moving into in October. David Brick, Tami Roadarmel and Lee DeCinzo Quarnstrom all remembered Schlotzky's better than I did. The Leonard Building is that grand historic building at Cooper and Front streets. Metro Santa Cruz will be right in that corner office where we can keep an eye on everything.

THE REDTREE PARTNERS. Redtree is the limited partnership that brought us Costco, Toys "R" Us and Circuit City and are now planning on bringing Borders to our downtown. I'd been hearing a rumor that the Boardwalk's Charley Canfield is one of the partners so I called Doug Ley, who is the general partner of Redtree to find out if it was true. I didn't have Charley's home phone number, so then Doug sez, "I don't like being called at 9am, and we don't talk to Metro Santa Cruz" and hung up. Now there's a great example of community pride, but it is nice to know we make a difference. I wonder if Doug's father, Les Ley, who was quite a mover and shaker around here, would be proud? You'd think these Redtree Partners would be proud of all they've done for Santa Cruz, so why wouldn't they make their names known? Maybe Charley will call and clear all this up.


Bruce critiques films on KUSP-FM 88.9 every other Thursday at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bbratton@metcruz.com or call him at 457.9000, ext. 400.

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From the September 8-15, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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