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Covello & Covello Historical Photo collection

The Original Town Clock Being Removed: The original location of the clock was high atop the Odd Fellows building, which was on Pacific Avenue across the street from Leask's Department store (now Cinema 9). It was removed during July 1964, it rotted away for 10 years over in Harvey West Park and was resurrected July 1976 for our bicentennial celebration. The photo was taken from the Palomar Hotel as I was recently reminded.

Bruce Bratton

MORE PESKY RUMORS TO GET RID OF. I just heard that UCSC and the city are planning on opening a parking lot at the corner of Highway 9 and Highway 1, with shuttles. That sure sounds great at first--then we hear that Graham Hill Road where the circuses used to be will be the site of 165 houses. They need water, of course. and sewer hookups, which will probably mean a lot more houses all along the sewer and water lines leading up to the Graham Hill property. ... Goodness knows that Santa Cruz has plenty of unusual ordinances that no place else has, but let's get together and stop this "Shoulder Tap" monster of an idea before it get serious. Teenage drinking is a national problem, but this couldn't help. How about more work on what other communities are doing about it instead of being the first city in the U.S.A. to try this one on the kids?

It's no rumor that there's a five-story building planned by Pacific Union Homes and George Ow for the corner of Cathcart and Pacific, where Gateways Books is now. It's being planned as four floors of market-value apartments and street-level retail. It's also no rumor that there's already plenty of official and unofficial opposition to another five-floor anything Downtown. However, George is a reasonable guy, so we'll wait and see. ... In the meantime, George's plans are going along for the oft-mentioned Nickelodeon Theatre II over on Front Street, where that other movie theatre used to be. There seems to be a parking problem, but I'm betting it can be worked out.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT IN SANTA CRUZ. Wow, did I get fast, informative and wonderful reactions about the great first lady's visit here. The photo showed none other than Mrs. Erva Bowen looking on as Eleanor shook hands with Santa Cruz Mayor Bert Snyder back in 1962. Erva called to tell me she was the first president of the local chapter of the NAACP. She was also the first African American elected to the Santa Cruz City School Board, and she ran for city council. Bob Swenson, then president of Cabrilho College helped create a speakers' tour. Folks like Arnold Toynbee and Mrs. Roosevelt came here to speak. I have to thank John Daly, O.D., Leslie Connor of the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and the world's only real Robert Hall for the above information.

MOVIE NOTES. American Beauty is even better than you hoped it would be. The entire cast is perfect, the script is brilliant and you can't guess any of the plot as it unfolds. Be sure to see it. If you like good films. go quickly to see Mumford; I'm betting the attendance will be poor, and it will vanish quickly. It's almost as good as American Beauty. It's another cleverly written story, and let's hope we see more films like these. The thing about American Beauty is that you keep thinking about the characters in it for days after you leave the theatre. Double Jeopardy is sort of fun to watch, and if you're one of those people who go to the movies just to be entertained, you'll love it, but it is fairly mindless.

Martin Lawrence's Blue Streak is one long setup for his routines, and they aren't good enough to carry the film--wait and rent it. The distributor's poop sheet that comes with Black Cat, White Cat calls it a "farcical slapstick comedy" that centers around Gypsies who live along the Danube River. It's gross, disgusting and not funny. It's the comedy of excess, as in if people laugh at one gross sight, let's put in 100 gross images, and they'll really laugh. It's about the fun of cocaine, shootings, excretion, brutality, sexism and laughs like that. Then there's Robin Williams' film Jakob the Liar. Without getting into all that Holocaust and humor business, this film is boring. I'm glad Robin has decided to go back into standup comedy.

DOWNTOWN PLAZA UPDATE. Somebody on the city council will put the Plaza on the next agenda, and it will then be moved to closed session so they can discuss it. I certainly agree that the lot is looking better and better now that its being cleaned up. Maybe we should go for a basement community theatre as long as it's there. Do call the city council at 420-5017 to leave a message about wanting a Downtown Plaza at Pacific and Church. Call 475-9172 if you'd like to become part of our Downtown Plaza Committee. We are just beginning to really get rolling, now that our homework (2,500 supporting signatures) has been submitted.

EARTHQUAKE CELEBRATIONS. There are two Santa Cruz 10th-anniversary celebrations being planned, one by the Downtown Association and the city in what used to be Abbott Square before the new Corner Building ruined that fine space by the Octagon Building. We have to remember to never call it the Cooperhouse again or the New Cooperhouse, just out of respect. The other celebration is planned for Duck Island over in San Lorenzo Park. Seems foolish to split this remarkable celebration into two locations. But Abbott Square isn't big enough. Now, if we had that new Plaza open at Pacific and Church, it would be perfect for a real party.

CHINA'S 50TH BIRTHDAY. Historian, author, teacher Sandy Lydon of Cabrilho College has put together a symposium recognizing the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. It will happen Friday, Oct. 1, at 7:30pm at the Erica Schilling Forum at Cabrilho College. It's free. The full title is The People's Republic of China Turns 50. It'll be a discussion featuring Morton Marcus talking about Mao Zedong as a poet, Cherie Barkey, a China scholar from UCSC/UC-Davis discussing some relatively unknown mass movements in China, and Lydon discussing cultural changes such as a Colonel Sanders KFC at one end of Tian'anmen Square and Mao's portrait at the other end. Lydon is leading one more trip to China heading 1,500 miles up the Yangzi in June 2000. That means this symposium will be packed, so get there early.

EYES WIDE SHUT, II. An L.A. friend who's working on Sidney Pollack's newest film agreed with me that Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut had much more going on than met our eyes or minds at first viewing. After seeing it twice now and reading the original novel, Dream Story, by Arthur Schnitzler, I am forever convinced that it will be years before we catch up with that film. The first time through, I missed the curtains of light, the mask theme in many scenes, the omnipresent color blue (and sometimes red). I took 16 pages of notes during the second viewing. Remember the password "Fidelio," the costume shop named rainbow? Kubrick was a brilliant man and obsessed with details; everything in his films is there for a reason, and someday we'll figure it out.

IN CLOSING. Don't miss the Santa Cruz Hot & Cool Jazz festival October 1-3. It happens at four locations, all near the Cocoanut Grove and the Ideal Fish Restaurant. This is the new old jazz--the kind Jelly Roll Morton, Lu Watters and Turk Murphy used to play. Call 1-888/474-7407 for tickets.

PALINDROMES AND BUMPER STICKERS. Linda Laurie from Yucaipa created this palindrome: "step not on pets." Too bad Linda isn't from Ukaih (get it?). Dean Silvers may have been hallucinating when he saw this sticker: "Possum-The Other White Meat." It's better not to think about it; just call Dean directly.


Bruce critiques films on KUSP 88.9 every other Thursday at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bbratton@metcruz.com or leave messages at 457-9000, #400.

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From the September 29-October 6, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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