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[whitespace] Men and Reindeer
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection.

'Tis the Season: This was taken May 9, 1959. The guy pointing to the reindeer is none other than George. George was a violin player and Liberace's brother (I can't remember Liberace's last name). Santa Claus was Hocus Pocus, a jolly local who devoted most of his life to magic and clowning. The photo was taken up in Scotts Valley's Santa's Village very mini theme park. The Village was once owned by Ozzie Nelson of 'Ozzie and Harriet' fame.

Bruce Bratton

WHAT A DAY. Pacific Avenue was really bustling the day after Thanksgiving. I sat in front of the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company for only an hour or so and saw many, many folks and friends strolling along the avenue. Patrice Maginnis, Romney Dunbar, Patricia Ma, Alan Swanger, Irene Herrman, Nicole Paiment, Anne Bernhard, Mark Bernhard, Vince Tuzzi, Susan Lysik, Mark Cianca, Rick Walker, Luann Linford--and what made it even more perfect, Morgani was playing his accordion all afternoon in front of Del Williams Jewelers. No, I didn't see Bob Hall.

WAR OF THE WORLDS. SITI, the Saratoga International Theatre Institute (not to be confused with SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is presenting Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre radio drama War of the Worlds. It'll happen Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 3-4) at 8pm at the Rio Theatre (which is just about celebrating its first anniversary!). SITI will dramatize in play fashion this 1938 radio program that convinced a very indefinite number of listeners that the Martians had landed on earth or New Jersey (if you include New Jersey). The original broadcast, if you haven't heard it, is pretty dated now, but at the time it must have been good fun. After the Monday performance, such local media folk as Wallace Baine, Ron Slack, Eric Schoeck, Brad Kava, Tai Moses and yours truly (and others) will discuss the power of media in times of crisis. It's general seating, and you can get tickets by calling 459.2159 or at the door.

DARK PLEASURES. Hilary Swank does a fine job of acting in The Affair of the Necklace. As you may have noted, it's a costume drama, and based on a true story. It's nicely photographed but lacks something--but go anyway. Brad what's his name and Robert Redford make a great duo in Spy Game. The waiting lines at the Riverfront Theatre went almost to Front Street last weekend, so plan ahead. It's an intelligent CIA/rescue/spy thriller and well worth seeing. No Academy Awards or grand cinema in Spy Game, just exciting and well told, that's all.

ABOUT PACIFIC AVENUE. No sense getting into who's in charge of Pacific Avenue again, but whoever it is needs to get busy and stop the motorcycles and larger vehicles from polluting with all that noise--not only the noise but the vast number of some kind of addicts who keep spitting all over the sidewalks. Downtown Hosts (I'll bet it's not their job) could do it in a week, or the police could stop it quicker. Maybe it's just lack of directions from above, but this is the holiday season, and whoever runs the downtown could do just a little bit more.

GOOD-BYE, CHARLES WOLTERS. Artist Charles Wolters died the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. It was cancer of the pancreas. Charles taught art at Soquel High School for nearly 30 years. Near the end of his illness, he told me he'd received many phone calls and letters from former students all over the world who appreciated not just the art he taught but the positive changes he made in their lives. That goes for everybody who ever met him; he'll be missed. A wake or celebration of his well-spent life will be sometime in January.

MULHOLLAND DRIVE, REDUX. I saw Mulholland Drive the second time and watched it with veteran actor and resilient survivor of the Hollywood system Ralph Peduto. A second viewing clears up nearly everything about David Lynch's complex plot. It makes it clear that Lynch, like Fellini, throws so many visual and script teasers at us that there is no possible way to connect all the lines into a coherent plot, at least not yet. It's all a dream, or maybe delusions or a series of images out of chronicled time that add up to a very enjoyable film. Just remember, when you see it again, that Lynch could have made a neatly marketable Hollywood film out of it by just adding a few lines of voice-over, but he didn't. That's what makes it fun.

THEATER NEWS, PART 1. The Players Group has just two performances left of Teresa and Other Stories. One's at 8pm Wednesday (Nov. 28); the other is at 8pm Saturday (Dec. 1) at Cayuga Vault, corner of Cayuga and Soquel. The play is based on works by Italo Calvino. If you know of Calvino's writings, you know he's out there. Born in Cuba to Italian parents, he spent most of his life in Paris. The description of the play says it's somewhere between rational and absurd--and it's a freaky comedy. Call 515.4480, ext. 6187 for more info. Amahl and the Night Visitors will be performed at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Scotts Valley on Dec. 18 and Dec. 20 at 7pm. That would be a nice thing for the family to do. Call 438.4360 for info.

MORE MUSIC AND SHOWBIZ. The annual New Music Works concert of avant-garde new music, aptly titled "The Night of the Living Composers," happens Dec. 8 at 8pm at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall. Estradasphere will be playing pieces from its eclectic repertoire of jazz, funk, surf and a bit of Tuva throat material. Works by Joseph Sekon, Henry Bryant, Wendy Reid, Julia Wolfe and others will be performed. Call 429.2277 for info and tickets.

EL TEATRO CAMPESINO. If you really want to impress your visitors, or if you haven't been yourself, go to the Mission in San Juan Bautista and see El Teatro Campesino's production of La Pastorela. It plays Thursdays through Saturdays now until Dec. 16 at 8pm and Sundays at 4 and 8pm. The show is dynamic, exciting, traditional, religious and illuminating. Call 623.2444 or check www.elteatrocampesino.com.

ADVANCE NOTICES. Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern will be performing their inspired and often funny creative dances at the 418 Project Dec. 8 at 8pm and Dec. 9 at 2 and 8pm. They're always wildly imaginative and well worth watching. Tickets at Madame Sidecar, Streetlight Records and Libelula. Libelula is that new restaurant at 418 Front St., Santa Cruz. Yes, Sha Sha Higby's performance at the 418 Project was every bit as beautiful, artistic, aesthetic and imaginative as I'd heard it would be. Next time this amazing dance artist is here, be sure to go. She's wowed audiences all over the world, and Santa Cruz was no exception.

ANOTHER EYECANDY. The fall 2001 issue of EyeCandy is out and available at the Nickelodeon. It's a nonprofit, student-run film-theory magazine. It's by film freaks for film freaks, and if you like to think more about film than just who was in it and did you like it--try reading EyeCandy. It's full of opinions about where film is going, where it's been, what it is, who's in charge and who cares. It was just a rumor that there was going to be a life-size poster of Brad Pitt included in this issue.

Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9). Reach Bruce at [email protected] or at 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the November 28-December 5, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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