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The F Stops Here

Manuel Santana
Manuel Santana owns Manuel's Restaurant in Seacliff Beach and is both a painter and sculptor. He has served on civic boards too numerous to mention.

Manuel Santana

Just how will Manny be remembered? For the vibrant colors splashed across dozens of canvases? Or the soft, sensuous curves of the marble sculptures that hold court in his studio? Maybe it will be for the succulent bite of a chile relleno served up piping hot from his restaurant. Or for the hundreds of tireless hours he has given to his community.

Nope. Our guess is that Manuel Santana will be remembered for being "Manny"--with a heart and a laugh bigger than all his accomplishments combined. And, of course, that wicked sense of humor.

"Give me a rocket-fuel enema and gather my friends around to light the match," guffaws our favorite restaurateur/artist/activist about his plans for a parting ceremony. "Nothing like going out to space, huh?"

There's gotta be a big party, of course, and everybody who wants to see this interstellar departure is welcome. And for a guy this big and a party this big, Manny expects Pacific Avenue to be roped off for the "communal blast," which he also likes to think of as the "Santana Space Probe."

Like its host, the party must be creative: international foods, dancing to the blues and salsa, with even a little classical thrown in for the revelers.

"I've lost my fear of death," Manny says. "It's sort of a new adventure. And, like all great adventures, you just pull up your boots and away you go."

As far as what happens after the Grim Reaper makes his final call, Manny figures that he'll just disintegrate back into molecules, then take another shape for the next round. "Hopefully, I'll come back with my same quest and challenges," he says. "But everything will be new--new wines, new people."

Hmmm. Sorta sounds like how Manuel Santana embraces each day in this lifetime.

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From the Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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