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Christmas at the Court House (a.k.a. The Cooper House), 1954: This used to be the Santa Cruz County Court House until the new thing was built across the river. Then this became our famous Cooper House located at the corner of Pacific and Cooper where O'Neill's is now. The Cooper House, which had been recently retrofitted to withstand earthquakes, was rapidly destroyed by the new landlord after the earthquake in 1989 to collect FEMA funding.

Bruce Bratton

NEW YEARS PREDICTION No. 1. I'm predicting that the District 3 county supervisor's race for Mardi Wormhoudt's position will get even nastier than it is now. The new guy in the race is already misrepresenting the race when he calls people trying to get support for his campaign. Because this district includes all of our North Coast, the UCSC Campus, the Boardwalk and downtown Santa Cruz, you can bet that developers can just smell the bucks rolling in if their man gets in. The Boardwalk's involved, the Santa Cruz City Club directors are on the new guy's campaign committee, and district election believers are all readying their arsenal to change the environmental protection we've maintained through many land use battles. Just you wait.

DARK PLEASURES. The American Film Institute was right in nominating Cameron Diaz for her part in Vanilla Sky. We also have yet to see Blackhawk Down, In the Bedroom, Ali, Gosford Park and Monster's Ball, which were also nominated, but they'll get here eventually. Don't forget that Bread and Tulips is now at the Nickelodeon and is great fun, especially if you think you've seen all of Venice.

MORE ABOUT MOVIES AND TELEVISION. I didn't think 2001 was as bad a movie year as many critics say. It was also a fine year to watch television. Now that AT&T may be leaving the area we may get even more channels. Don't forget films like In The Mood for Love, Ghost World, Mulholland Drive, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Man Who Wasn't There, Moulin Rouge, Memento, Amores Perros, Requiem for a Dream, Nurse Betty, Dancer in the Dark, Apocalypse Now Redux, Donnie Darko, Shrek, Training Day, and some others that haven't gotten here yet. The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, plus Sex and the City remain my favorite weekly video fare. Specials like Band of Brothers and Wit make for a powerful argument that TV might be here to stay.

SYMPHONY NOTES. I mentioned it a few times last year, but do go see and hear our Santa Cruz County Symphony. They've never sounded better, audiences are growing by leaps and bounds, and whether you go to the Civic or the Mello Center you'll enjoy it. Their next performances are Jan. 12 and 13. They'll be playing Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, Shostakovich's Concerto no. 1 and a piece called Thunderwalker by Stacy Garrop. Robert Thies is the featured pianist. For tickets, call the Civic Box Office at 420.5260 (press 5 after greeting).

MORE PHILIP MORRIS PRODUCTS. Considering the deaths caused worldwide by Philip Morris cigarette products, isn't it a good idea to not contribute to its financial success? Remember now, Philip Morris has changed its name to Altria, supposedly derived from the Latin word altus meaning "high." The following products and last week's are from the Dec. 3 issue of Liberal Opinion (www.liberalopinion.com). Go for boycotting: Bakers baking chocolate and coconut, President brandy, Fosters beer, Hand-Snacks, Stella D' Oro, Honey Maid, Undead, Snackwell's, Thornberry's, Chips Ahoy!, Lorna Doone, Mallomars, National Arrowroot, Newtons, Barnum's Animals, Worcestershire, A-1, Bulls Eye and Kraft barbecue sauces, Postum, Tang and Total Balance. Philip Morris also distributes Starbucks coffee at your local grocery store.

APRIL 27, 2002. Save this date. The Watsonville Santa Cruz Japanese-American Citizens League will re-enact the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. It takes place at the Mello Center and the Vets Memorial Hall in Watsonville. Norm Mineta will be the keynote speaker and Sandy Lydon will be the emcee. Even after the crime of incarceration most Japanese-Americans were not well received when they returned to their homes here. Some brave people and families in Watsonville sacrificed their own safety to welcome them back. You'll hear all about these untold stories on this day. The Japanese-American Citizens League motto is "Liberty Lost--Lessons in Loyalty." There is still so much racial discrimination in our country right now this will be a very powerful event. The re-enactment committee is looking for volunteers, actors and donations. Contact Mas Hashimoto at 831.722.6859 or Susan Tatsui-D' Arcy at 831.462.5655.

MORE PREDICTIONS. Some are pretty obvious, like the huge changes on Pacific Avenue that will happen in 2002. The Del Mar's opening will make a big change. The restored marquee will light up that entire block and will expand the walking and shopping traffic further southward. George Ow's building at Cathcart will be under construction, so that'll change things even more southward. I also predict that Louis' lot at Pacific and Church will remain exactly as is, in spite of the fact that the entire City Council bent over backward, but mostly forward, to approve anything Louis wanted so he could start building last summer. Maynard Manson's enormous housing project at Chestnut and Laurel by the tracks will bring a mere 300 cars to the downtown neighborhood, and that'll change things too.

THE KITCHEN SISTERS' NEW PROJECT. Local award-winning producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson have created a Sonic Memorial Project for NPR's Lost & Found Sound broadcasts. This will be an audio tribute to Sept. 11, "commemorating the people, life and history of the World Trade Center and the events surrounding 9/11." The sisters are working with more than 50 radio producers across the country to gather audio artifacts of all kinds to create many memorials. They are looking for donations of any amount to help preserve and pay respect to the tragedy in this unique and timeless way. Check out their website at www.sonicmemorial.org. To hear some of the Lost & Found Sound archives go to www.npr.org/programs/lnfsound or for even more info email [email protected].

ERRATA UND EFFLUVIUM. It's still hard to believe that no one even reacted to Costco's plan to grow and add on a gas station. Other towns and cities have stopped it cold. Home Depot obviously is continuing its battle to add a few more stores to our county. You can tell by the ad inserts in our papers. ... Go to www.tompaine.com/news and check out the story "What's Not in the News" by Steven Rosenfeld, and read what Medea Benjamin reports from her recent trip to Afghanistan. The Tom Paine site also issues a warning about the new book The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomberg. It tells how Lomberg has no credentials and basically sells out the environmental battle with false statistics. Don't give this book as even a belated Xmas gift. I just read that the X in Xmas is a Greek symbol meaning Christ, which should prove something.

SUMMING UP. As per usual, thanks so much for all your feedback. Twenty-six years (more or less) of writing a weekly column in Santa Cruz is still as exciting and rewarding and surprising as the very first issue was. There's no place like home and even though they need lots of correcting, nudging and constant changing, our city, county and country are still like no other place on earth for me, and I assume you must feel the same way. Have the best possible New Year's Eve and new year too.

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 26, 2001-January 2, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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