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[whitespace] Flooded street
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

The Real Flood: This was Pacific Avenue near Church Street during the flood of December 1955. At least two feet of water rushed down Pacific and eight lives were lost. Once in a while, we should remember that our entire downtown is built on a flood plain. The San Lorenzo River would periodically cover everything from Chestnut Street to the bottom of the cliffs along Branciforte Avenue. The 1982 flood was worse.

Bruce Bratton

SILICON BEACH? There's little doubt that our city is changing, not just by new five-story-office buildings, but in character too. With UCSC fanning the flames to develop its high-tech offerings and local developers and Realtors chomping at the bit to make big bucks on every move made, we've got to make equally big decisions about having any say in how our city and county changes. Office space is selling right now, so we are stuck with more and more dull and intrusive office buildings. When was the last time you ever praised any of our new buildings or sent your visitors to check out the new buildings--do we want more? Sensing a chance of dividing the progressive community probably based on the decision to widen Highway 1, the developers and real estate gang are out for blood, progressive blood. The district-elections group is not sleeping. Its plans for the November elections call for recall of the existing council as well as the new election system. If we want to continue to have a say in the quality and quantity of our growth, we need to support our City Council and leave decisions on the size, shape and appropriateness of new businesses to the council members, because they are responsible to us and we can vote them out of office if they go wrong. We owe nothing to developers and real estate procurers; if it's too tough for them to find tenants due to civic restraints, they can get jobs in some other city that's already been ruined by their partners.

CINEMA TIME. Stephen Rea must have owed somebody something for him to have bothered making a film like Guinevere, which is about an old guy lusting after young women. Maybe you've seen this before? Maybe you think they could add some new perspective to this old cliché? Maybe you'd better not go see this film. Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead isn't quite like his older films. It lacks a point or focus or statement, but it is still a very fine film, and Nicolas Cage is better than ever playing his very flawed, confused character. Don't miss it. Ving Rhames is excellent, and even John Goodman is passable. Genghis Blues, now at the Nick, is an enchanting documentary; as Kenneth Turan of the LA Times says, Go see it, especially if you like Tuva, Richard Feynman and throat singing.

'PIAZZA, PLAZA, PLATZ: THE SQUARE AS A WORK OF ART.' That's the title of an exhibit of plazas and squares from more than 30 European cities on display Monday, Nov. 1, 1-6pm in Carmel in the Carmel Room at La Playa Hotel. It's part of the 25th International Making Cities Livable Conference taking place at the La Playa, Nov. 1-4. The next International M.C.L. Conference is in Charleston, S.C., and the one after that is in Vienna. At each of these international conferences, public places are always made a major topic. More specifically, papers and workshops are given on plazas and how important they are to any city. "Traditional Squares," "Neighborhood Plazas," "Plazas for People" and "Heart of the City" are some of the titles. They work on concepts like Family Friendly New Urban Neighborhoods, Community Festivals and New Urban Spaces. The IMCL members are mayors, officials and city planners from all over the world. They know (from a global and historical viewpoint) how important plazas are; they've seen hundreds of cities build plazas and watched and studied the results. Matter of fact, the Vienna conference will feature a special exhibit titled Plazas Old and New. I spoke with Dr. Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, author of Livable Cities Observed and the soon-to-be-released Why Cities Need Squares. She's very happy that Santa Cruz has an opportunity to create a plaza. Dr. Lennard will be giving a talk on the necessity of plazas on Wednesday, Nov. 3. Any Santa Cruzan who is interested in learning world viewpoints on why plazas work is invited to the exhibit on Nov. 1. As I've said before, we've got one last chance to create a beautiful plaza in the heart of our Downtown, and that's at the corner of Church and Pacific--any other space is only a poor substitute, not centrally located and incapable of working. Just ask those worldwide experts from the Making Cities Livable Conference. If you want to learn more about our Downtown Plaza Committee, call 475.9172 and come to our next meeting in the upstairs meeting room at the Main library at 7pm on Nov. 23. Maybe we can bring Dr. Lennard here and have a huge workshop on plazas!!!

GREAT NEWS. It looks like our fair city has a real case regarding the ownership of the Third Street parking lot. As you know, the Seaside Company has been collecting enormous parking fees for decades. Whether or not the city has been the rightful owner has been seriously questioned. After preliminary investigation, our city will probably regain ownership. I think we should bill the Seaside Company for back fees, like about several million dollars. That would go a long way toward fixing potholes and restoring needed services. If we don't bill them, wouldn't that be cronyism? What about checking into just how much in taxes they pay on our superprime real estate? And if the beach in front of the Boardwalk really has free public access, how come the Seaside Company owns all the available parking lots? Then again, didn't the city make a huge deal with the Seaside Company over entertainment taxes--was that cronyism? Nobody hollered cronyism when the city gave J. Paul's Palace (faux Cooperhouse) a huge subsidy. What is with cronyism all of a sudden?

ART AND AMAZON.COM. Al Johnsen, artist, potter and longtime resident of this area, now settled near Puget Sound, is part of the 71st-annual Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters' Art Auction. Proceeds from these auctions (typically $40,000 or more) go to student art scholarships, awards and art community projects. Al tells me that somebody knew somebody who knew the guy who owns Amazon.com. So this year, Amazon.com is putting the entire auction live on the Internet beginning Nov. 6 at 7:15pm. You can bid live on the Net at amazon.livebid.com. Al's painting is number 53; check it out and watch how the bidding goes. We should get something like this going for our local art groups, like the Cultural Council, for example.

CHANGES. After 31 years, Dale Matlock is selling The Print Gallery. The Gallery has printed and will continue to print T-shirts and things for most of the major events and institutions around our county. Dale sez he's not sure what he'll do once it's sold--maybe try to get the ink off his fingers. David Jackman of So Say We bought Georgiana's Cafe (the coffeehouse part of Bookshop Santa Cruz) and will call it the We So Bistro. It will feature more food (like lunches and dinners) than coffee, and David sez they'll make all their sweets on site. Dreamsweet Futons and Popa's restaurant out by Linda Vista Market are also up for sale, and so is Aragona's restaurant out in Soquel.

HISTORICAL PHOTO CAPTIONS. Sorry about the flood caption under the Santa Cruz Opera House photo last week--it'll never happen again, not with those specific two photos anyway. But remember that shark photo from three weeks ago? Well, after Bob Zufall, Don Carniglia, Nick Faitos and Geoff Dunn called with definitive information as to who's who in the photo, we managed to agree that August "Jocko" Carniglia was holding the shark; Vince Cardinale was standing next to him. Nobody knew the white guy and figured he must be the guy from the Ice Company who gave Jocko the check for catching the shark. Malio Stagnaro was next to that guy; it was probably Martha Carniglia next to Malio; and that was Auggie Basano behind Martha and good old Gustanin Olivieri holding the shark's tail. Gustanin was better known as "Nono" and was Aldo's uncle, and we all know Aldo, corretto?

ANONYMOUS BUMPER STICKER. I found this in a note at KUSP. It's from some anonymous Gypsy. The note said it's her favorite bumper sticker: "Boycott Gripes."


Bruce critiques films on KUSP-FM (88.9) every other Thursday at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or leave messages at 457.9000, ext. 400.

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From the October 27-November 3, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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