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Moose Gap

Nüz first heard about last Friday's knife-wielding man on Pacific Avenue from Metro Santa Cruz office manager CORA RODLER, who realized something was awfully wrong the moment husband MICAH called to say he was in The Gap--a store to which Micah is, in Cora's words, "horribly allergic."

Turns out Micah had been walking down Pacific on his way to our office, when he almost bumped into 25-year-old Angeleno ALEJANDRO GUZMAN, who was brandishing the knife he'd snatched from NEW LEAF'S deli and held to a little girl's throat before forcing a shopper onto the street and entering into a standoff with local police. The officers eventually shot him with Taser guns and sponge projectiles.

Immediately after encountering Guzman, Micah noticed two of those officers approaching with guns drawn, at which point Micah backed away--and was herded into The Gap by police, who then called and asked the store to lock its doors--leaving Micah imprisoned in his idea of shopper's hell for 20 minutes straight.

"I'm surprised he didn't come out in a rash. If he had his way, he'd be clad in hemp," says Cora, who did note, a tad sadly we thought, that her hubby had failed to buy her a single item while in the store.

Meanwhile, fellow Metro Santa Cruz staffer REBECCA BUSA reported that her friend ANDREA BARKER underwent an equally harrowing Guzman-related experience, though hers ended more sweetly, thanks to being forced into Pacific Cookie Company. As Busa reports, Barker and her boyfriend's pit bull pup, MOOSE, were sitting in a truck on Pacific, when Guzman walked by, knife in hand. Scared, Barker locked her doors and laid her chair back flat, only to find her truck blocked by squad cars and officers knocking on her door, demanding that she get out, to avoid being in harm's way. At which point, Barker, who didn't have a leash for Moose, had to get the terrified pup to run into Pacific Cookie Co., where he was royally rewarded with treats--and we're not talking dog biscuits.

Trading Spaces

November was smelling a lot like Christmas in downtown Santa Cruz--at least until the spirit got dampened by a string of pocketbook-burning car towings. Many locals have had to spring their vehicles out of car jail, including dancer/choreographer TANDY BEAL, who recently returned to her vehicle, parked alongside Mobo Sushi in the lot behind the incoming Trader Joe's on Front Street and next to Longs Drugs, only to find it gone, thanks to what many towees consider a sudden enforcement of a 24/7 two-hour parking limit.

As Beal reports, the day after she finished The Nutcracker 's recent run at the Mello Center, she took 14 of its performers to Mobo where they feasted on the restaurant's famously fabled sushi.

"I was there for an hour an a half," reports Beal, "and when we walked out, I thought, 'Oh my god, I only had one saki! Where did I put my car?'" Fearing her car had been stolen, Beal called the cops, who called for backup, thinking that perhaps a fight was in progress, thanks to the sight of Beal and a dozen performers in the lot at midnight.

Beyond the waste of taxpayer's money involved--as it turns out, unnecessarily--in summoning the cops, Beal worries that this heavy-handed parking enforcement is going to kill local small businesses.

"The natural reaction you have to something like this happening is, I'm never going back there," says Beal, who, thanks to her entourage and having just been in Mobo buying stuff for her performers, got her car back at no charge, though she did have to wait hours in the cold.

Others however have not been so lucky, including one guy who reportedly left his car there overnight, after eating in Mobo's--where he also reportedly drunk more than the legal drink-and-drive-limit. His sage decision ironically cost him over $300, thanks to tow fees. And from our Nüz Travels Fast But Not Always Fast Enough Department: while this story was in progress, one Metro Santa Cruz staffer discovered his car had been towed during a Metro-sponsored fundraiser for First Night Santa Cruz.

Told about these, er, PR disasters, LORI THERIAULT, property manager for HOWARD PROPERTIES INC., which oversees the lot, said regarding Beal's experience that while Mobo Sushi pays $300 a month for parking, their privileges actually exist in "another neighboring lot that we don't manage."

What that means, it seems, is that Mobo customers who park in the Longs lot are subject to the 24/7 two-hour limit.

And while locals speculate that all this towing is due either to Longs' transition to a 24-hour store, or an aggressive welcome by Trader Joe's, Theriault insists that her company "blanketed cars in the lot with warning fliers for six weeks prior to the towing" and has been enforcing the two-hour limit "off and on for years."

"It's not because of a particular tenant," she says.

Talking Blues

Council News 'n' Blues, a 15-minute show featuring Santa Cruz Mayor MIKE ROTKIN singing the upcoming City Council agenda, returns to Community TV mid-December. Asked if this time around he'll be hip-hopping and rapping, Rotkin--who first sang the agenda during his last term as mayor (1995-96), when the show was a finalist in the "innovative" category of the HOMETOWN VIDEO FESTIVAL--said, "I've never done rap, but we'll see. The music is mostly blues, rock & roll and country folk."

Rotkin, who in his time played electric guitar, and once made 12 bucks on Pacific Avenue, not to mention a living playing folk music in bars in D.C., says the purpose of the show, which also highlights items of current interest in the community, is to get viewers to contact him and other councilmembers, "and so participate more fully in the democratic process."

Meanwhile, cats may wish to take note that executive producer of the current series is Rotkin's cat, QUARTERNOTE, who hosted KITTY VISION (a.k.a. TV FOR CATS), the community TV series that ran in 1997, and is fondly remembered by blue-haired ladies with cats and UCSC stoners. Of particular note were the subtitles for humans, not to mention the cat-scintillating footage of birds flitting around, fish in an aquarium and lizards moving rapidly on a trail.

Kitty Vision producer MADELYN MCCAUL, who's producing the current Council News 'N' Blues, notes that the production quality is much improved this time. Rotkin, however, says he's had to change some of his song lyrics, because back in '96, Community TV was on channel 72, but now it's channel 27.

"Such, I guess, is the life of the songwriter," he said.

Council News 'N' Blues airs Sat, Dec. 11, at 8:30pm, and Mon, Dec. 13, at 5:15pm.


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From the December 8-15, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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