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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Aerial View of the County Building Building, March 18, 1966: That's the Water Street Bridge and the construction of our world-famous architectural marvel, the County Building. The design of the County Building set the high standards for all the other architecture in our downtown. Vapor Cleaners on Water Street is right there, and so is the El Rio Mobile Home Park (upper left).

Bruce Bratton

SCAN'S ENDORSEMENT FORUM. As you may have realized, I have secret deep sources inside SCAN. (Full disclosure: they're some of my best friends). The real secret about that endorsement night last week was that no one in SCAN had a clue about who would get endorsed. There were hopes, dreams, plots and plans to be sure, but to be corny about it, the forum was just like the old days of democracy--no one could possibly predict the outcome, even within minutes of the final vote count. There were more than 200 folks at the London Nelson Center to hear the candidates. It was easy to predict that Jake Fathy, Peter Cook, Scott Kennedy, Steven Argue, Mark Primack and Michael Hernandez would get the fewest votes, and they did. To give you an example: 154 people voted, and the leading vote-getter, Scott Bugental, got 117! At the other end of the scale, Kennedy got 17 votes, Argue got 12 and Hernandez got 9. The surprises were Bugental, Ed Porter and Emily Reilly getting the top three endorsement spots--and Dick Doubrava, Bonnie Morr and Arnie Leff splitting the fourth-place nomination spot. So the fourth spot is open. This should forever put to rest the rumor that SCAN is some smoothly oiled political machine. SCAN operated as in the old days of political conventions, when no one knew the outcome and no one controlled the outcome. Now, SCAN is working hard to increase its voting drive by 45 to 50 percent over the last city election. Call the SCAN Office at 458.9425 if you want information on how to get in on the fun during these last seven weeks before Nov. 7.

FOUR MISERABLE MOVIES. Duets, Bait, The Watcher and The Way of the Gun are four films that have no redeeming social value whatsoever. Gwyneth Paltrow and Santa Cruz favorite Huey Lewis are OK to watch sing for two minutes in Duets, but that's not worth your money or patience to sit through the whole film. Jamie Foxx has about two funny lines in Bait, and that's not worth much either. I've said many times that there should be a law against Keanu Reeves ever appearing in any movie, but he's back again in The Watcher, and that's enough warning. The Way of the Gun was worse than the reviews, because I really wanted to see these guys make a great film--but they didn't. The print actually burned up at the ending of one of these films at the Cinema 9, so I missed the last six minutes, but I can't even remember which one--which has to tell you something. Something beyond my losing my notes, that is. To repeat last week's suggestion, go see Nurse Betty and Girl on the Bridge--fine films.

LEE QUARNSTROM'S COLUMN. One rumor I didn't want to confirm was that Lee Quarnstrom wouldn't be writing his San Jose Mercury News column anymore. I confirmed it in the worst possible way: I asked Lee, and it's true (his farewell column appeared Sept. 15). After 14 years of Lee's lives, loves, peeves, problems and opinions we won't have that column to kick around and wait to read every week. We'll never know why he won't be writing the column anymore. According to Lee, it's probably because some editor said don't write the column anymore. In the newspaper business--and in the media business generally--no reasons are ever given; you are just told to stop. Just like normal humans, Lee and I disagree on about 50 percent of everything, but damn, it was great fun to get those juices flowing on such a regular basis. Week after week and year after year of exposing himself to the public (or baring his soul if you prefer) never stopped Lee from having a good time doing it. We've been good friends for years and have spent endless hours topping each other with reader reactions--or, to be honest, commiserating over some terribly misunderstood attempt of ours to correct the world as we see it. Oh, sure, he's still doing his Mercury reporting thing, and he's a pro at it, but who wants to deal with facts all the time? You could write David Yarnold, managing editor at the Mercury, at dyarnold@sjmercury.com and tell him the Mercury and Santa Cruz won't be the same anymore--it might help.

WHAT PLAZA? It's odd when you think about the fact that none of the present issues or City Council candidates will be remembered 50 years from now, yet a plaza downtown at Pacific and Church streets--which would certainly be enjoyed an easy 100 years from now--isn't regarded as being important enough to discuss. SCAN, on its City Council candidate questionnaire, asked the meaningless question, "Do you support the establishment of a central downtown plaza on Pacific Avenue?" to which, of course, just about everybody said yes. The problem is that there are at least six sites on Pacific Avenue that have been discussed as possible plaza locations by people who don't understand the enormous difference that the Pacific/ Church site would offer, so naturally the candidates could say yes. But the issue is that 3,000 people have signed petitions asking for a plaza specifically at Pacific and Church streets because it's the only site that would allow both the space and the easy access to the thousands of folks who are at that intersection every day. It's also a very threatened space, one for which the property owner could someday find a developer and a chain store who would want to erect a five-story office building right there. Out of the City Council candidates, only Bugental has publicly stated that he supports a plaza at that corner. If we elect a City Council majority that supports a Pacific/Church plaza, we could have one there in a year--and future generations would thank us. Face it, it's come down to a five-story office building (that's the last site downtown for which a five-story building has been permitted) or a plaza/park/square. The city staff has managed to shuffle the plaza issue into its "too busy to deal with" pile, and councilmembers have other things to do. We probably should have gone the other direction and marched, picketed, protested, hassled, leafleted and harangued to get the attention this plaza deserves. We didn't and relied instead on proper procedures and promises. If, and that's a big if, any more City Council candidates are willing to say yes to a plaza at Pacific and Church, then it'll be up to us voters to elect a City Council willing to do whatever's necessary to give us this small amount of green space in the heart of our very successful downtown.

ARTS AND LECTURES. The two stars from The Buena Vista Social Club--Omara Portuondo and Barbarito Torres--will appear at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on Oct. 4 at 8pm. Their performance the next night at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall is sold out, so don't wait much longer if you like Torres' Cuban countryside blues on the laud (sort of a lute) or Portuondo's beautiful romantic singing. They will be accompanied by a 22-piece ensemble led by bandleader and trombonist Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos (from Portuondo's latest CD) and featuring vocals by Conchita Torres, Sonia Cassola, Victor Martinez and Nilso Arias. You can only get tickets now through the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium Box office; call 420.5260 or you can drive there or email ticketmaster.com. I'd definitely go if I were you, because everybody's going to be talking about this for years. This tremendous Arts and Lecture 2000-2001 season-opening concert will be followed immediately by another winner: Ruby Nelda Perez performing her Rosita's Day of the Dead, presented by El Teatro de la Esperanza. That happens Oct. 11 at UCSC, and if you haven't heard, the Alvin Alley II Dance company will be here two nights--Oct. 14-15--doing different performances each night. Call the UCSC Box Office Tuesday-Friday, noon-6pm, and Saturday, 10am-4pm, at 459.2159 for everything except the Omaras and Barbaritos concert.

HO'OPAU. That's Hawaiian for "to finish." Tim Seidl, noted Ben Lomond recluse, sent these winning fractured translations. Posh Mortem=Death styles of the rich and famous. Haste Cuisine=Quick French food. Harlez-vous Francais?= Can you drive a French motorcycle? My favorites are Cogito Eggo Sum=I think, therefore I waffle, and Monage a trois=I am three years old.


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

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From the September 20-27, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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