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Photograph courtesy of Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

CHRISTMAS ON PACIFIC AVENUE, 2PM, 1946: The quaint St. George Hotel was built in 1895 and remodeled in 1912. Believe it or not, it was in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style originally. It was completely rebuilt after the 1989 earthquake. I've never heard any stories about why it was named the St. George, anybody know any?

Bruce Bratton

HOLIDAY SHOPPING DOWNTOWN. Every year I make the strong suggestion to buy locally. More than that, buy locally made arts and crafts. Our community is noted for creativity, and doing your holiday gift buying from locals supports the uniqueness of where we live. If arts and crafts aren't going to do it for your list then be sure to shop in and support locally owned businesses. I truly believe that small independent business owners are probably the most courageous participants in our American way of life. With global economies changing as dangerously as they are, supporting locally owned businesses makes very good sense--it keeps the money here.

KINGDOM OF SHADOWS. Two excellent films not to miss. Mike Leigh's All or Nothing is an almost-classic saga of London's depressed working class and life in general. Not your holiday feel-good film, but excellent anyways. The Crime of Father Almaro is Mexico's most popular and most controversial film, ever. Go see it. Sad, touching, human, and a straight on attack on the Catholic church. Watching Robert De Niro in Analyze That is embarrassing. He's got no funny lines, no chance to act, it's like he was called up out of an audience to stand in for somebody. Don't go under any circumstances. Kevin Kline's Emperor's Club is one of those Hallmark Greeting Card-type productions. Well done, good acting but too saccharine to make a lasting impression. The new Solaris starring George Clooney is worth going to. It leaves some room for imagination, but it's no competition with Tarkovsky's original--and better--version.

FIRST NIGHT PROCESSION 2003. The procession, which we all know is really a parade, is open to everybody. So get your friends together, get out that Halloween costume, and make it party time! This year's theme is "Animals, Myths, & Magic" and you probably fit in there somewhere. You can download an application to get into the parade or to be a volunteer to help with the parade from the First Night website, www.firstnightsc.com or call the First Night office at 425.7277.

A DOWNTOWN PLAZA. No, I can't let go of the idea of a plaza at the corner of Pacific and Church streets. It's even harder when so many people still ask me if there's still a possibility of it happening. I thought it would have been a great idea to take the dirt from the Cathcart Pacific excavation, dump it in the Church Street lot and just try out a plaza for six months or a year. See if it did attract more undesirables than shoppers. If it worked fine, we buy the lot and have a plaza complete with performances, sunshine and happy shoppers. If not, we dig it out and at least we've been there and done that. With this new City Council in place and considering the vote of the last City Council, I don't see a snowball's chance in hell of us ever having a plaza there.

ATTENTION WORLD WAR II VETS. Bill Findlay, an email pal who lives in Scotland, wants to give away a very rare booklet issued by the U.S. Army Airforce. It details the exploits of the VIII Bomber Command on its first year of operation in Europe 1943-1944. It covers with text and photos the role of the 8th Air Force role in Europe and is titled "Target: Germany." If you're a veteran of this campaign, get in touch and we'll talk about it.

CALYPSO DREAMS. Michael Horne and Geoff Dunn and friends won first place in the "Best Caribbean Documentary" last month at the Jamerican Film Festival in Montego Bay. The film is called Calypso Dreams and consists of great and rare footage of the finest of calypso music. It'll premiere at a film festival, and then they'll show it here. Michael says that they even have an interview of Harry Belafonte telling why he didn't intend to be part of the calypso legend.

MOVING THE MONARCHS? The way I heard it was that our City Staff gave permission to a professor from Cal Poly to tag monarch butterflies at Lighthouse and somehow move them to Natural Bridges. Since so very little is known about why, where and how monarchs decide to migrate, you have to wonder why our local Parks Commission wasn't consulted on this. This year's attendance of monarchs at Natural Bridges looked pretty slim two weeks ago when I was there. To start interfering with this natural migrating process without full involvement of local experts could mean we'll lose them forever, and that would be a shame.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING DOWNTOWN. Don't forget that the Women's Organic Flower Enterprise and Holiday Store is open again. This year their great dried flower creations are located at 1515 Pacific in the ID building or around the corner at 108 Locust Streets. They have handmade jewelry, beeswax candles, lavender sachets and great smelling wreaths. They grew and dried the flowers themselves and the proceeds go directly to the Homeless Garden Project. The store's open from 11am to 8pm seven days a week and may be open longer as the season progresses. Call them at 426.4783.

THE PEACE PARK AGAIN. I spoke with Christopher Krohn last week. He and I agree that a Peace Park in Santa Cruz is still a good idea. What if it was somewhere else instead of at the Town Clock? What if it was just called the Santa Cruz Peace Park? What if it created as much thought about war as the Vietnam Veterans monument in Washington? We've already got a few significant symbols that would go a long way to creating a park that could become a national site.

BUMPER STICKER. Roger Emanuels of cello and KUSP fame saw this one: "Somewhere in Texas a village is missing an idiot."


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9). Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com.

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From the December 11-18, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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