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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection.

DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ, 1951. This was Spike Jones (no relation) Tire Service and gas station on Dec. 26, 1951. It was at the corner of Pacific and Water streets where the Town Clock now sits.

Bruce Bratton

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION. This being such a recycle-conscious town, why don't we all start carrying our own coffee cups when we go to our coffee places? I started carrying my cup to Beverly's Espresso Bar in front of Logo's and got a discount, and the same thing happened at Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company. They save money on those cardboard cups and it's like getting a free cup every 10 refills.

WHAT HAPPENED? I never heard or read what happened when the West Coast Santa Cruz Hotel (read "Dream Inn") asked the city if they could remove those two big trees at their main entrance so they could add on more rooms. Did the city let them build on? Or maybe suggest they tear the whole thing down and build it over? (Just kidding.) Newcomers to the area should know that the sight of that hotel remains for what seems like forever as a reminder of what happens when you lose a battle to developers.

KINGDOM OF SHADOWS. Moonlight Mile stars Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter and Jake Gyllenhaal and it's almost every bit as good as you hope it will be. They all act up a storm, and it is a delight to watch these pros--especially Sarandon and Hoffman--do their thing. I'd call it a bittersweet comedy, and it's set in a small town in Massachusetts in the '70s. It lacks just a little something to make it completely real, but do go see it by all means. John Leguizamo can't save Empire from being just another drug flick. One could draw comparisons between Leguizamo in Empire and Jennifer Lopez in Maid in Manhattan as they struggle to leave their ghettos, but it isn't worth it. Besides, I haven't seen M in M yet.

HISTORICAL SANTA CRUZ BOOK. I just met with Sheila O'Hare and Irene Berry, the authors of Santa Cruz, California, that photo book that I mentioned previously. They had a hidden plot behind the publishing of these amazing historical Santa Cruz photos. The idea is that the Special Collection of historical Santa Cruz photos at McHenry Library is very much open to the public. They want folks to come see the photos, research whatever they want, use the photos and make more use of the university library in general--"It's a community resource," they emphasized. Get up there and see the more than 25,000 photos they have on hand. But while it's still in print, don't forget to check out their book, which is in the Arcadia press series Images of America, Santa Cruz, California ($19.99 paperback). Arcadia also publishes 14 history series and just finished their 1,800th title. Try going to www.arcadiapublishing.com and checking out books on such places as Batavia, New York, Fort Lewis, Washington or even Pasadena.

THE ST. GEORGE HOTEL. Mr. G. Dunn of this city emailed to say that A.P. Hotaling rebuilt the St. George after the enormous downtown fire of 1894. An old oil painting that hung in the St. George showed St. George fighting the fire-breathing dragon , so that's why the name. There were many dragons hanging out in the St. George in those days; somebody should do a history of that hotel. Ever seen that photo book of the original Catalyst just before it succumbed to greed? Greed has destroyed more buildings than any fire.

VINTAGE VIDEO. Due to a long and hasty battle with AT&T Broadband, our latest cable suppliers, I haven't had any television since last March. I lost that battle obviously. And since UCSC's Earl Jackson Jr. is in Hawaii and his film classes are halted, I decided to go back and review some "early" classics I either never understood or missed completely. Westside Video at 1226 Mission behind Sabieng Thai restaurant, across the street from Round Table Pizza, has about 16,000 videos, and more than that, their videos are the hard to find ones. So I checked out Alain Resnais' 1959 masterpiece Hiroshima Mon Amour. It was way ahead of its time, and I didn't understand the plot all those 43 years ago. It's as moving and pertinent now as it was then. The same goes for Kon Ichikawa's 1960 film Odd Obsession and Yukinojo Henge's An Actor's Revenge made in 1963. These vintage films are full of what were then new cinema techniques. We see these angles, fades, flashbacks and close-ups in glossy Hollywood films now. When they were created and first used they spoke volumes and were argued about endlessly. There's not much on the big screen now that will grab you the way these old films will. Go back and check out films you missed from your early years, absolutely amazing. I'm working on a list of available masterpieces, and I'll tell you more about that later.

ANOTHER RESOLUTION. Why don't we ask our Police Department very nicely to check up on the attitudes of the women on the force who work the downtown area? For the last six months I've heard complaints about their unnecessarily mean way of handling folks, lots of folks, on Pacific Avenue. Maybe we can make it a friendlier place?

BILINGUAL EDUCATION. S.K. Tile Company of Soquel sent these. It's called "Chinese in 5 minutes." You have to read them out loud to make it work, and yes, they're terrible. That's not right ... Sum Ting Wong. Are you harboring a fugitive ... Hu Yu Hai Ding? See me ASAP ... Kum Hia Nao. Stupid Man ... Dum Gai. Small Horse ... Tai Ni Po Ni ... Did you go to the beach? ... Wai Yu So Tan? I bumped into a coffee table ... Ai Bang Mai Ni. I think you need a face lift ... Chin Tu Fat. It's very dark in here! ... Wai So Dim? I thought you were on a diet ... Wai Yu Mun Ching? This is a tow away zone ... No Pah King. Staying out of sight ... Lei Ying Lo. Our meeting is scheduled for next week ... Wai Yu Kum Nao? I tried to make up one saying Happy Holidays, but I gave up.

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

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From the December 18-24, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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