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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] Venetian Water Carnival
Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Water Works: The Venetian Water Carnival, circa 1895 or 1896. Some plucky devils way back then dammed up the San Lorenzo River and staged these festivals, which lasted four or five days. Floats and the bleachers had electric lights and all kinds of attractions. As you can probably guess, this photo was taken just past the Laurel/Broadway bridge. A bunch of us, including Paul Lee, tried to recreate the Venetian Water Carnival back in 1974 or '75, but they wouldn't let us dam the river due to serious environmental impact problems--but we tried.

SANTA CRUZ NEIGHBORHOODS 2000. It was very clear at the first organizational meeting of this group that the attendees want to get any and all progressives out of our City Council asap. The meeting was led mostly by Rod Quartararo with frequent asides from Corralitos resident Vic Marani and Dave Rouen. The idea is to get 5,685 signatures and create seven districts and provide for the recall of councilmembers by district recall elections. Quoting from their "great news" flier, " ... starting with the November 2000 election, four of the seven councilmembers will be chosen by voters in separate distinct neighborhoods. After the 2002 city election, all seven council representatives will be elected by their fellow neighbors." Who was there, you ask? Well, funny Democrats like Sheila and Orla Stuart, Dick Little, Darryl and Karen Darling, Carol Fuller and Robert Freitas. Then the usual suspects like Lillian Finnerty, Michael Schmidt. Ken Koenig, Eric Johnson, Renee Flowers, Bill Shepard, the police review board's Lisa Rose, Jack Knoll, organization treasurer John Lisher, Bruce Gabriel and others that totaled the 45 present. The organization has hired Brian Arbour from Sacramento, who told me he worked on Measure A and some school bond issues and is being paid to get the necessary signatures by Feb. 2, 2000. The petition being circulated calls for amendments to the City Charter to do the following: (1) create the seven districts; and (2) establish the recall of councilmembers by majority vote in those districts. Gary Hintz, Jean Quartararo and Pete Tola signed the document as proponents of the amendments. The other change would be that instead of a plurality vote whereby the candidates who receive the highest number of votes win, it would be by a majority vote, and if somebody doesn't receive a majority vote, they have to do a runoff election. You'll have to check out the proposed new district boundaries yourselves. SCN 2000 claims their boundaries really don't disenfranchise UCSC students and that no lines were drawn to protect conservative neighborhoods, etc. and ho, ho, ho. Quartararo, in answer to "Do we have any candidates yet?" laughed and said no. Checks were written, backs were slapped, petitions were handed out and Dick Little accused me of spying, but took it back when I pointed out my signature on the sign-in page and my obvious name tag. Make no mistake, folks, this SCN 2000 is serious about this. The last attempt at district elections failed by 300 or 400 votes, according to Jack Knoll. Jack thinks SCN 2000 is "using the right approach." To say you'll be hearing more about this is an understatement. Now we'll have to see just how the progressives rally forces and work together like never before.

SHAKESPEARE SANTA CRUZ. It isn't often easy to agree with other critics, but I sure agree with the Chronicle saying that Arms and the Man is one of the finest productions Shakespeare Santa Cruz has ever produced and that they did as much as possible with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Just don't miss the Shaw play--they could take it on the road tomorrow.

DOWNTOWN PLAZA MEETING. Channel 46 gave us advance coverage, as did John Laird's KUSP program, and Community Television covered the meeting last Thursday, so you can watch it in a few weeks. Many new folks attended the meeting, and Monterey Landwatch executive director Gary Patton spoke eloquently on how we lost the heart of our city when the Cooperhouse went down, saying that a publicly shared, aesthetically pleasing space defines who we, the residents, are. Gary also said that a few years ago pundits predicted Santa Cruz would have half a million residents by now and that by well-planned growth management and overcoming enormous difficulties we succeeded in managing that growth. We can overcome more difficulties and show the City Council that we think a City Plaza is a good thing to have and that we support the council in creating that Plaza. Not having a paid signature gatherer, we need more volunteers to staff tables and spread the word about how much Santa Cruz needs a Plaza in the heart of the city. Call 475-9172 and find out how to help this happen.

CABRILLO MUSIC FESTIVAL. I've never liked Bernstein's music except for Candide, so I must have been the only one who thought his Mass was like a Christian road-show version of Hair or some other dated extravaganza. The production included voices, dancing, staging and directing, and everything was super. It's just that those lyrics and the music were just a bit old and used. The rest of the concerts--especially the Adams, Rouse and Copland night--almost took me back to the Dennis Russell Davies era.

DeANZA MOBILE HOMES. I learned very quickly not to call the mobile homes trailers after last week's story. As one resident replied, "You can't tow these things." I also learned that The Wall Street Journal's story on the problem with the new park owners charging too much for water was about half the total story. There is a much longer story of the victories many mobile home parks have achieved in cases involving gas and electric pricing. It's too complex to deal with in this space. I'll work at it asap.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE. Doug Rand, on leave from the Resource Center for Non Violence, got the Youth Coalition of Santa Cruz, which included the visiting MANA Teens from Florida (I don't know what MANA means), to polish that grand statue by the Town Clock at a fine event last Thursday. Whilst polishing continued, E.A. Chase, the statue's sculptor, related the strange story behind the statue and its placement. The statue was polished to honor the civilian suffering from war, and special tribute was paid to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies. According to reports, both the statue and Doug Rand shown brightly after the polishing.

MOVIES OVER LIGHTLY. Bruce Willis' Sixth Sense is a nicely done, intelligent film. See it just to watch Haley Joel Osment, the greatest child actor since Liz Taylor. The Thomas Crown Affair is interesting, by which I mean it'll hold your interest all the way through, but what's-his-name is no Steve McQueen, and neither is Rene Russo, thank goodness! Mystery Men is nowhere near the fun of the comic-book-to-screen genre that the original Batman or Superman was. Excellent talent but lacking the delicate balance between reality and a cartoon world. Existenz, Kronenberg's latest adventure into mind-bending cinema, fails too. It's sort of a Tron meets Cube experiment and doesn't have the imagination Kronenberg usually displays. Trick is a new gay male comedy, and dare I say  ... it drags? Lots of funny bits in it, and well-acted but awfully slow--go warned.

SENIORS AND COMPUTERS. Dr. Mary Furlong co-wrote a book titled Grown-up's Guide to Computing, which I gather is not like PCs for Dummies. She'll be at the Cruzio Internet Store at 903 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 19) at 2:30pm to speak about and sign her book. Cruzio is dedicating their classroom for the Senior Center; the reception is free, and everybody's welcome. Cruzio has well-attended daily classes in all the basic computer stuff for both Mac and PC and of course the Internet and other inventions of the devil. Call 459-6301 for information.

EFFLUVIUM AND ERRATUM. I take full responsibility for seeing this bumper sticker: "Lost Your Cat? Try Looking Under My Tires." Yes, disgusting, even cruel, and no decent person would ever dream of putting that on their car, even though it does have a certain flair. Have you noticed that those rebar towers on the construction going up at Front and Soquel sort of remind you of the legendary Watts Towers? Don't you secretly hope that the structure going up around those towers will look at least that good? Just asking.

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From the August 18-25, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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