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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Light Rail Transportation in Santa Cruz, Circa 1890: This south-looking view down Pacific Avenue show the rails that went all over the county over 100 years ago. At first, the trolleys were horse-powered; then the system became the first electric railway in the county and the second in the state. Zealous public officials removed them in favor of automobiles.

Bruce Bratton

DOWNTOWN PLAZA/PARK I. The Downtown Plaza/Park Committee has received plans for the site at Pacific and Church showing everything from an 18-story star-shaped hotel to a sunken amphitheatre with 373 seats. Somewhere in the middle is Hugh Carter's compromise plan showing a two-story building on the west side, where the cars park next to the alley, plus some performance space, restrooms, etc. The point is that there is tremendous support for using this last space in the heart of our downtown for a plaza (or park). The Downtown Plaza Committee holds its monthly meeting this Thursday (Oct. 14) at 7pm in the upstairs meeting room of the Main Library. Everybody's welcome. We're going to discuss the Nov. 2 City Council meeting (see below), do an update on just how successful we've been and talk about what needs to be done to get our park or plaza. Since Gateway Plaza hasn't gone over so well, there has been some resistance to using the word "plaza" for someplace wonderful, but we'll talk about that too. Call the Downtown Plaza Committee at 475.9172 to join in the fun!

25 YEARS! The Santa Cruz Pottery has been in business at the same location, 1642 Mission St., for a quarter century. That's great for any business, and for a pottery, that's a miracle! They're going to have a sale/reunion celebration starting Oct. 22 and running through Oct. 24. Stop by, see the demonstrations and check out what's new in pottery. Call 426.8711.

DIRTY CHAIN STORE. What's with Noah's New York Bagels on Pacific? The front of that business is embarrassing. The paint is peeling; they never sweep; there's always gunk on the sidewalk--the place just looks bad. The locally owned neighbors around them keep their businesses clean and are getting mad about Noah's. Where's the sense of community pride or whatever the chains always brag about?

SAD CINEMA. Aside from the guy who plays the transgendering character in Better Than Chocolate, there aren't many reasons to go see it. But he's so good that an entire film could be based just on him. If you are still a fan of Saturday Night Live, you might like Superstar, but Molly Shannon's doofus character is not what you could call hilarious; don't go unless you absolutely have to. B. Monkey at the Nick has a tightly woven plot and lots of accents that are hard to understand, but go anyway. Kristin Scott Thomas and Harrison Ford make a passable couple in Random Hearts, a genuine and total Hollywood film. That means the movie was professionally done and directed by a committee. Go only if you've seen everything else.

DOWNTOWN PLAZA/PARK II. The Santa Cruz City Council has set aside Tuesday night, Nov. 2, at 7pm, to talk about creating the Downtown Plaza at the corner of Pacific and Church Streets. That's the time to let them know how much our Downtown needs a park/plaza instead of another five-story office building. Some great suggestions have come in using the newly excavated basement as a great site for an underground community theatre/meeting space. It could be rented to all sorts of commercial or nonprofit organizations for exhibitions, performances and conferences, and it could produce much additional civic revenue. Hugh Carter's architectural concept showing the headquarters of the Downtown Hosts in the corner of the two-story building on the west side of the park removes any of the problems possibly connected with security or the intrusion of "the element" (i.e., street people). Unlike the Ohlone Park project, which includes a great site for our city museum, we only have one "unwilling seller" to negotiate with and hopefully convince, but it'll work out. Plan on attending that Nov. 2 council meeting. Your presence and the more than 2,500 supporters who signed our petition should convince them to give the Plaza a go-ahead before the millennium turns.

ODDS AND LEFTOVERS. Don't miss the pan dulce at the El Rosal Bakery (or panaderia) across from Polivio's over in the East Cliff Shopping Center. Probably none of their sugared goodies qualify for the Zone diet, but they are affordable and incredible. ... True rumors say that Camouflage (that store) is going to knock out its back wall and create a "tunnel of love" back there. It's best not to even try to imagine what it's going to be. ... Nurse Cheryl Ann Bullock of Dr. Andrew Calciano's office sez that hydrogen peroxide will remove any of those pesky blood stains, in case you have any. ... New Yorker artist Art Spiegelman wowed the audience up at UCSC last week. He only briefly mentioned the Holocaust and art; he only smoked three cigarettes; and we all survived. ... Sherry Glaser's performance also at UCSC was a monumental tribute to comedy and acting. Don't miss her the next time. ... Eric Hilger, formerly of this city and Santa Cruz High, now of San Francisco, recently had one of his professional photos of the polluted lake Ural in Uzbekistan published in The New York Times. That's an accomplishment to be proud of, unless you then learn what the Times pays for photographs--but what price art anyway?

DON'T CALL HIM FRED! Frederick Augustus Hihn arrived in California 150 years ago. He later owned a grocery store where the Flatiron building is at Front and Pacific, and he was a true mover and shaker. He was a founder of Camp Capitola and of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and he was our state Assemblyman 1870-72. Librarian emeritus Stan Stevens sez Herr Hihn was a generous man, a teetotaler and a devoted father, und Stan vill be giving a special talk about Hihn and introducing the Hihn Younger Archive at UCSC's Special Collections on Saturday (Oct. 16) at 10am in the auditorium at the Museum of Art & History, 705 Front St.

SPEAKING OF HISTORY. Leslie Connor, assistant manager of the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, wants to create a display in the lobby and halls over there of the big events, and little strange ones, that happened in the auditorium since it opened in 1940. If you have souvenir programs, photos or posters of events like Howdy Doody or Megadeath who appeared, call her at 420.5243 or email her at lconnor@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us.

WRITERS RETREAT COMING UP. I'm not sure why they're retreating, maybe it's because of something they wrote ;)! Writers such as Claire Braz Valentine, Ron Ruiz, Robert Sward, James D. Houston, Sandy Lydon, Jeanne W. Houston, Morton Marcus and Susana Herrera will be at the Happy Valley Conference Center the entire weekend of Oct. 29-31. Only 25 people can attend each of the hands-on seminars and workshops. Call 469.3764 or email www.santacruzwriters.org. Don't dilly-dally if you're serious about writing. This was a big event last year and will be again.

THE RYDELL FOUNTAIN. S.C.O.P.E. (Santa Cruz Organization for Progress and Euthenics ) is going to honor architect/designer Roy Rydell by building a fountain in the Sculpture Garden on Pacific Avenue. Rydell is responsible for very much of what you'd have to call the "look of Santa Cruz." That includes everything from Abbott Square to the original design of the Pacific Avenue Mall to the lobby of the Nickelodeon Theatre. There'll be a special SCOPE/Rydell event at the new Holy Cross Parish Hall on Nov. 9. Call 476.0600 for tickets or information. Where's the Sculpture Garden? On the east side of Pacific, where the Cooperhouse used to be at the intersection of Church Street, across from where the New Plaza will be located.

NEW PALINDROME. Sabrina Eastwood of UCSC's Arts Division was a bit hazy on the origin of this palindrome (remember to read it backward), but it is staggering, especially just before the millennium: Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas. Being Santa Cruz, you could start an entire new religion on just that alone. Wow!


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 October 13-20, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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