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Bruce Bratton

[whitespace] Downtown Santa Cruz
Covello & Covello historical Photo Collection

Dec. 22, 1957. Santa Cruz Downtown: That's our same Town Clock in its original location, high atop the Odd Fellows building, where Tengarra and Artisan's are now. That's a little part of the real Cooperhouse on the left, and it's obviously 7:46am. Leask's sorely missed department store is on the right where Blockbuster and Cinema 9 now sit. You can just barely make out Mock's Drugstore and Rittenhouse Ladies' Apparel where the empty lot has sat for 10 years and where the Downtown Plaza is planned.

THE ANNUAL SCAN DINNER. Every year SCAN members fill some hall or auditorium and create a full sit-down celebration dinner. This year's, which was held at the Live Oak Senior Center, was not only the most successful and happiest of recent dinners, it was also the most future-looking dinner I've been to. No, Mike Rotkin, Cynthia Mathews and Michael Hernandez weren't there, but Scott Kennedy and Christine McGuire were, for some reason. Neither Art Pearl nor Jan Beautz were present, but Mardi Wormhoudt, Jeff Almquist, Joe Grossman, Paul Elerick, Fred Keeley and John Laird made it. Bert Muhly, Kaitlin Gaffney, Bob Taren, Scott Graham and Jerry Hoffman had a good time, and rumors were passed that Kennedy and Hernandez were going to run again for Santa Cruz City Council. Awards were given to the grass-roots folks in Davenport for improving bus service up there. David Jackman and just plain Chip of So Say We and the new We So Bistro in Bookshop Santa Cruz got an award for being the most progressive business of the year. Christine Johnson Lyons and Fred Geiger were the progressive woman and man of the year. Steven DeCinzo of this very own paper won an award for "Setting an All-time Local Record for the Most People Pissed Off in a Year." Naturally, Katherine Beiers, Keith Sugar, Christopher Krohn and Tim Fitzmaurice attended. So did Sandy Brown, Arnie Leff, Elizabeth Kaylor, Jane Yett, Paul Brindel, Gordon Pusser, Paul Hostetter, Jane Weed, Celia Scott, Peter Scott and Frans Lanting, who not only had dinner but also donated one of his books for the silent auction. I didn't mention all the awards, such as Doug Ley's, and more attendees, but I will later.

COUNTY SUPERVISOR FORUMS. The SEIU Local is having the year's first Santa Cruz County Supervisor forum on Jan. 10 at 6:30pm at the Live Oak Senior Center. The candidates will be going for the labor endorsement. With our organized labor movement stronger than ever, this will be a big deal. SCAN is finishing plans for its supervisor forum, which should be a gala event. There are three supe seats up for grabs: Jan Beautz ( Live Oak), Walt Symonds (Aptos) and Jeff Almquist (Scotts Valley).

THE BIG SCREEN. I repeat, you need to go see The Third Man, especially if you liked Usual Suspects and film noir, or if you've ever wondered what all the fuss is about Orson Welles. It's a fine film. If you've ever enjoyed David Lynch's films, The Straight Story is a tribute to his superlative directing. Scotts Valley Cinema got an area exclusive on The Straight Story, and it's a fine little independent film house. Jane Mansfield's Austen Park, as I called it at one party this weekend, is better known as Mansfield Park by Jane Austen is a mixed bag of a film. It'll keep your interest most of the way through, but it's no Emma. Tumbleweeds is also at the Nick; it's a nice possible award winner, another in the "runaway mom" genre.

THE DOWNTOWN PLAZA. The Santa Cruz City Council has the topic of the Downtown Plaza on the agenda for Jan. 18. We've begun circulating to council members a video of William H. Whyte on creating downtown spaces. Whyte shows in great detail why and how plazas work; more than that, he tells why inviting, appealing spaces are so necessary to the health of downtown. I am convinced that if the success of our downtown includes all these new high-tech office workers that they too are human. They too want a place to rest, watch and relax--we all want such a place, and it has to be located in the heart of where it's happening. When you stop to think about it, leaving that space open and creating a plaza/park there will last many centuries, even forever. Any new building, especially of the quality they build nowadays, can't last even 100 measly years. So a plaza is forever--an office building temporary. Which legacy would you want to leave to those 2000-type people?

MORE ABOUT SWEET & LOWDOWN. Woody Allen's newest, Sweet and Lowdown, is a fine film and even has a local connection. The guitar that Sean Penn uses is now owned by the Hot Club of San Francisco headed by former local guitarist Paul Mehling. Penn comes to see the HCSF; Mehling proceeds to tell Penn how to play Django; Penn corrects him and sez he doesn't play Django--Mehling and Penn haven't spoken since. Paul tells me that you should go see the film if you like jazz; it's at the Nick.

MORE ON MUSIC. The Dirty Butter Jug Band (don't ask) started back in 1971, which makes it the world's longest-lasting jug band (don't ask); the members are mostly from New Jersey (again, don't ask). D. Butter--along with Oganookie, Jango and Fly by Night--was the Catalyst house band for many years. Dirty Butter will debut it new CD Thursday (Dec. 30) at Bocci's Cellar, starting at 9pm. This is not a formal CD-release party. D. Butter has never done anything formal, but they'll probably have another party in March 2000.

ABOUT JOAN OF ARC. I spoke with letter-writing Douglas Crable (see letters to the editor this issue). We agreed that no one had last names when little Joan was swinging about the countryside. Doug also tells me that Jeanne La Poucelle meant Jean the Virgin, and she was proud of that. However, R. Grump Levine later provided me with statements from both the 1999 Encyclopedia Americana and the 1996 Colliers Encyclopedia saying Joan was the daughter of Jacques d'Arc. I have special problems when I think about making a saint out of any teenager who says God or other "voices" told her to lead armies and go kill people. Joan of Wherever wasn't the world's first oddly motivated killing teenager (and Crable sez she actually didn't kill anybody personally), but we've had some recent problems in that area--and besides it's still a bloody movie and not worth seeing.

THIS JUST IN. Bubble maker Tom Noddy just emailed to say he's working (i.e., blowing bubbles) in Le Casino in Monte Carlo. He's going to be there both Christmas and New Year's. He wishes all his old friends Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year's and warns all normal people not to try to create palindromes. (If you just got here, palindromes read the same backward as forward). He also included one of Baby Gramps better efforts--"Slap a ham on Omaha pals"--as proof of what type mind makes these things up. Tom said Herb Caen included one in his column when the Islamic revolt ended the Shah's reign in Iran: "No evil shahs live on." Noddy's personal contribution to furthering the universe is "Did rats pop a one lb. bubble? No, a pop star did." And that's about as profound a way to wish you a Happy Holiday time as I can think of.

Bruce critiques films every other Thursday at 12:50pm on KUSP(88.9FM). Reach Bruce at [email protected] or 457.9000#400.

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From the December 22-29, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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