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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Downtown Santa Cruz, 7:45am, December 1957: Yes, Virginia it has snowed in Santa Cruz. This is the corner of Pacific and Cooper and Church streets. Now you'd be looking at Wherehouse Records and Cinema 9 on the right where Leask's department store stood. O'Neill's and Rouge would be on the left where the Cooper House used to be. You probably can't make it out, but the Santa Cruz Theatre marquee is quite visible on the right and the Del Mar marquee is way down the street on the left. Note the original Town Clock site high atop the IOOF building next to Weber's Photo Shop.

Bruce Bratton

HOLIDAY SHOPPING. Aside from buying locally made arts and crafts and shopping in locally owned and operated businesses, this would be a good year to give gift subscriptions to publications like Liberal Opinion (www.liberalopinion.com) or The Nation (www.thenation.com). There are many other small excellent alternative news sources, but as we've learned since Sept. 11, it isn't easy to read anything but government-sponsored statements in our major papers or network television.

SPEAKING OF SHOPPING. In its Dec. 3 issue, Liberal Opinion had two columns by Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe. In the first, Jackson wrote of Philip Morris's plans to change its corporate name to Altira. Philip Morris is doing this to hide the fact that Marlboro and Virginia Slims, remain its main money earners and not Jell-O or Cool Whip. Jackson also said that the percentage of adult smokers in the United States dropped from 42 percent in 1965 to 25 percent in 1990 and has stayed right there ever since. Numbers of high school-aged smokers grew from 28 percent in 1991 to 35 percent in 1999. In his next column, Derrick Jackson listed many of the products produced by companies owned by Philip Morris. So depending on your conscience and your pocketbook here are a few items you could eliminate and maybe feel better about: Oscar Meyer and Louis Rich meats, Taco Bell, Stove Top Oven Classics, Di Giorno, Knudsen, Grey Poupon, Cream of Wheat, Nabisco, Claussen pickles, Altoids, Life Savers and Callard & Bowser. Also Miller beers, Red Dog, Henry Weinhardt, Hamms, Olde English 800, Mickey's Malt Liquor and Sharps nonalcoholic beer. Add Corn Nuts, Planters, Triscuits, Stoned Wheat Thins, Premium and Ritz Crackers, Zwieback, Certo, Milk Bone dog biscuits, Balance bars, Jenny Craig, Cool Whip, Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran, Minute Rice, Seven Seas salad dressing, Shake 'n' Bake, Calumet baking powder, Capri Sun, Crystal Light, Country Time and Kool Aid soft drinks, Tombstone Pizza, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Athenos and Cracker Barrel cheeses. As you can see, all Kraft foods plus Gevalia, Maxwell House, General Foods International Coffees, Sanka and Yuban, Breyers yogurt, Miracle Whip dressing and once again, Altoids. Doesn't it seem like nearly all Philip Morris' food products are bad for you too?

FRIENDS OF THE DEL MAR NEWS. Even historical people were surprised to find out that the Del Mar Theatre was called the Rex on the original blueprints. One event scheduled to happen as a part of the grand opening gala will be a reunion of all the ushers who ever worked at the Del Mar. (Well not all, that would number in the thousands.) So if you know any old (read middle-aged) former Del Mar ushers tell them to leave a message at the Friends of the Del Mar (426.7507) or email [email protected]. We're also looking for photos of any of the old-timey Del Mar uniforms. Lots of folks have asked me and, in case you haven't heard, the Del Mar is scheduled to open in March (the new seats are already in downstairs) with two theaters upstairs and a 500-seat beautifully restored auditorium downstairs. The movies will be the same type as the Nickelodeon now shows, just more of them.

DARK PLEASURES. Just because of the editing, Vanilla Sky will keep you interested all the way through, but it's still not much more than a glorified 1940s second feature. Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz do as much acting as they can but it's still only a rip-off of all the spliced plots that have been confusing us in the last two or three years. If you've got friendly tourists here for the holidays take them to see lovable safe films like Amélie or Ocean's Eleven or Spy Game. If they think or read a lot, take them to The Business of Strangers, The Man Who Wasn't There or Waking Life. K-Pax and Life as a House are even more bland and feel-good, but at least you won't argue about them.

PAULA POUNDSTONE RETURNS. The Rio Theatre never looked better and it was almost wall-to-wall sold out for Paula's return last week as presented by Pulse Productions. Paula canceled all of her other engagements to make Santa Cruz her first public performance in six months. It was a magnificent and hilarious night and awards should be given to Paula, Pulse Productions and the Rio for making the evening possible. Paula told wild, silly and profound stories about her rehab experiences, her cats, AA, atheism, massages and even Santa Cruz, and the crowd loved it. Laurence Bedford of the Rio tells me that NBC filmed the performance and we'll see part of it aired on the Jan. 22 segment of Dateline.

A CAMOUFLAGE CHRISTMAS. I ran into Joan Levine, owner of Camouflage on Pacific Avenue. In answer to my question she said business really peaked, shot up (reached a climax?) right after Sept. 11. She and her staff heard several customers saying they wanted to have "end of the world sex." Her hottest items this season are little vibrators shaped like London bobbies, chefs or clowns, "stuff your stocking things," Joan calls them. The rumors are not true that Thomas Kinkade is starting a line of Kinkade's Kinky vibrators. But stop by Camouflage and see its line of Zodiac vibrators--they're much more artistic than anything Kinkade ever created. And yes, they do stock Fukuoku's like you see on TV.

FIRST NIGHT TIPS. Edgardo and Candela is one of the Bay Area's top salsa bands and it's going to be at the Civic after 9pm. You can dance or listen, but don't miss it. Local dignitaries and business leaders will be in costume leading the procession, try to guess who's who. Volunteers are needed in every category, so get some friends together and go for it. Go online at www.firstnightsc.com and check out how to buy a button and also how to take part in the Webwall, which will be a projected community message that we can all help create. Remember that First Night is a nonprofit organization, and all money from button sales goes to paying the performers. So buy a button and add to this great community event, or call the First Night office at 425.7277 and see what else you can do.

BUMPER STICKERS. It's the religious season so it figures that Wally Goldfrank would see a "Darwin Loves You" sticker up in Berkeley. Tom Wallace and his wife saw "I found Jesus--He Was Behind The Couch All The Time" on their last trip to Vancouver Island. Let's make next year a banner year for bumper stickers. Don't be nervous, just send them in. I've printed well over 1,000 so far, but yours just might be the best one ever. And do have a Happy Christmas or whatever it is you celebrate.

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 December 19-25, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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