Blog Archives

September 30 – October 6, 2013

BUILDING THE LIGHTHOUSE AT LIGHTHOUSE POINT. The lighthouse went up (this photo was taken May 5, 1967). If you really squint you can see that the project was being done by Milt Macken, contractor.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

Dateline: September 30, 2013 (date column written)

MAH (Missing Art and History) PART 3. If you’re new to this discussion you can scroll down to the last two BrattonOnlines…those would be September 16 & September 23 issues. We’re talking about the dissent in the general community and especially within the museum and the art and history communities, about the direction Nina Simon has taken The McPherson Center for Art and History. The discussion grew rapidly and nationally when Judith Dobrzynski’s column in The Arts Journal titled “Trouble in Paradise Santa Cruzs Museum Loses its Way” hit the internet. Read it here. You’ll also notice more than 30 responses from museum professionals and Art and history lovers taking both sides of this issue. It was Dobrzynski’s New York Times article from 08/11/13 that made me realize that all of the complaints and concerns I’d been hearing for almost the full two years of Simon’s takeover at MAH was worth revealing.

MORE ARRANGING AND HAPPENINGS. Since that initial column in BrattonOnline… artists, MAH board and staff members and neighbors have told me Nina is hoping to take out the Abbott Square Fountain and replace it with a kiddy wading pool. They also tell me she’s completely re-doing or removing the “Where the Redwoods Meet the Sea: A History of Santa Cruz County and its People “permanent” exhibit. “Where The Redwoods” description reads… “The Museum’s installation is devoted to a thematic and topical interpretation of county history, from its earliest days to its more recent past. Dedicated to the uniqueness and diversity of Santa Cruz County and its residents, the exhibit describes native peoples, the Mission period, early immigrants, early industries, and more”. Many times emails, letters and personal chats focus on the almost total lack of Nina Simon’s museum experience, and especially historians worry that this modernizing of the “Redwoods Sea” exhibit will be done with no credentialed historian in charge.

VOICES FROM THE COMMUNITY. Here are some of the many reactions I’ve received in the last two weeks re: Nina and MAH. “I agree with you that the MAH is tightening its belt so far that it is an amateur hour place to go now. Let’s keep our community amateur entertainment at the Louden (London) Nelson Center”. A slightly different view…” I agree with your assessment of the MAH. It’s kinda like a circus sometimes. It’s lost its “credibility” in my mind, and as you say, has become sort of a community center. How does ART in itself fit into a MUSEUM context? I do believe that we should have a museum that reflects our lengthy and interesting history. But I always thought that the same-old dusty displays were hokey in today’s atmosphere. I also abhor the tendency to make everything “child friendly.” And for that reason, I have not returned to the Museum of Science in Golden Gate Park. It’s all steel and cement, and noisy, and focusing on restaurants and shops, and you can hardly even find the planetarium! You don’t even want to know my take on the “new” DeYoung”. I talked about MAH last Friday with Rosemary Chalmers on her KSCO Good Morning Show. Immediately after the interview I got a phone message from one of our very top five most noted artists in the County thanking me for saying all of above. That was one of many artists who have responded in similar manner. Nina Simon will be on Rosie’s show next Friday about 8:43 am.

ON IT GOES…MAH. There’s no denying that Nina has raised attendance. She says it’s from 17,000 up to 40,000 per year now.She says there’s a 50% raise in membership and a 30% increase in children’s experiences. No one has denied any of that. It’s all about why people are going to MAH nowadays , that’s it!! It’s not old versus newpeople are still waiting for hours to see the Mona Lisa, The Venice Bienelle always draws visitors from around the world, The Getty Center, The De Young, The Norton Simon, San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art is doing beautifully, they don’t feature experiences with Post-It’s and paper mache . Here’s one more letter (for this week)…

CAT & THEREMIN. Paul Hostetter sent this in. If anyone finds a You Tube of a cat lutherist send it to me.

“As a retired museum curator, I’ve witnessed the decline in museum quality since the 1990s. Museum administrators, challenged by diminishing visitor numbers, have increasingly turned to entertainment events, at the expense of art or science based exhibits, to attempt to increase visitorship. Museums have become entertainment destinations for school groups, tourists and locals, while their role as a repository for the curation and exhibition of cultural artifacts and documentation is diminished and ultimately lost.

In my experience, this emphasis on entertainment results in decreased emphasis on collections management, preservation and curation. Museum collections languish in dark storerooms, are poorly maintained, inventoried and curated, and inadequately supplemented with new collections.

Museums and museum collections serve functions other than public education and entertainment. Archived cultural collections, whether on display or preserved in storage, provide opportunities for research and education by historians, natural scientists, archaeologists, genealogists and the general public. Museums have limited budgets. When emphasis is placed on events rather than collections management and curation, the heart of the museum, its collections, is placed in jeopardy. Events are for the present. Collections are for the future. Museum collections are much more than the objects in storage or on display. The documentation that accompanies the objects in storage or on display are in many ways more important than the objects themselves, providing the cultural continuity that gives meaning and interest to the objects. Documentation requires careful and thorough preservation and curation in perpetuity.

Unfortunately, while a institution may prosper financially under such management, it can, at the same time, fail in culture, art and science”.

More letters next week.

MAH…WHAT COULD HAPPEN? Well if half as many folks that have talked and emailed me wrote or contacted Vance Landis-Carey, the President of the MAH board she too would see that something should be done about the direction MAH has taken. Nina is formidable and tough to face AND great at what she wants to do…but what does the community want her to do? Contact Vance at

EVERGREEN CEMETERY…LOOKING GREAT!!! One close associate of MAH reports great things about the re-furbishing of our Evergreen Cemetery. We saw photos in the Sentinel of the new Chinese Gate that George Ow is sponsoring in the Chinese section of Evergreen. Nina Simon’s husband Sibley Verbeck “Simon” , formerly of Comcast and CEO of Electric Sheep Company ( has been spearheading this much needed miracle and ceratinly deserves our thanks.

SANTA CRUZ WATER QUOTE. I looked this up…”The Nevada State Library and Archives has a web presence at An undated article discussing the saying was titled “Myth #122 – What Mark Twain Didn’t Say” by Guy Rocha, former Nevada State Archivist. The essay began with this unequivocal statement: Mark Twain didn’t say “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over,” or any other version of the oft-quoted phrase. That’s what seemingly everybody wants to believe. We Santa Cruzans have revised it locally, as follows….”Whiskey AND Water are for drinking, De-Sal is for fighting”.

SHAKESPEARE SANTA CRUZ UPDATE. There’s no real news on this except that staff, founders, students, actors, directors and anybody connected with SSC were given exactly two hours notice from Dean Yager about UCSC’s cancelling their future. It also turns out that a nameless somebody was actually selling the SSC stored costumes for $5 (five) dollars each. Fortunately he was stopped.Now’s also the time to note Romeo & Juliet (the NEW movie) opens Oct.11 at The Del Mar. The National Theatre Live (NTL) Macbeth with Richard Branagh plays Oct.17 & 24. NTL’s Hamlet plays Oct.24 & 27. NTL’s Coriolanus plays Jan. 30 & Feb. 2, 2014….don’t say you weren’t notified.

ELERICK’S INPUT. Paul emails…


About the only thing for sure in and around Aptos Village and Rancho Del Mar is traffic congestion.

Other issues are not clear. The Sentinel reported that Aptos Cinema has been granted a two year lease extension that will see new digital movie equipment installed along with new seats is good news. It’s nice to know that we’ll be able to see good movies without driving all over the county, at least for two years. I saw the 6:45 showing of “The Butler” at Aptos Cinema on Friday night, it’s been showing there for quite a while, but still had lots of customers coming to see it.

ALE (Aptos Local Economies), an Aptos citizens group continues to collect signatures online and by volunteers with clipboards from people who oppose Safeway’s expansion plans. With the extension of leases to Ace Hardware (14 months) and the Cinema (24 months) and other local stores, Safeway’s strategy still is unclear. Could it be they might do the right thing by just updating their store where it’s located now? They could also win friends by taking down all those Verizon yard signs posted on their property facing Soquel Ave. along with their own promotional signs throughout their parking lot.

Barry Swenson’s Aptos Village Plan is another mystery to the general public. Will the new railroad crossing ever get the approval from the Public Utilities Commission to build it? Is it a deal breaker if they don’t? If the Soquel Creek Water District raises its rates, will the Village Plan still “pencil in” for Swenson? What if SCWD chooses to declare a building moratorium due to salt water intrusion in the district? We’ll stay tuned to these issues. (Paul Elerick is co-chair, along with Peter Scott, of the Campaign for Sensible Transportation, , and is a member of Nisene 2 Sea, a group of open space advocates).


PATTON’S PROGRAM. Gary talks about Monterey’s Measure K and M and the development behind them. He talks about our Santa Cruz Supervisors dealing with two land use items on 10/1, and how planning departments believe that developers are their customers. Our planning Commission will face a Solar Panel ordinance on 10/3. Monterey County listeners to Patton’s program should care about Paraiso Hot Springs and EIR comments. He closes the week talking about why we should not allow the Santa Cruz City Council to finalize the De-Sal EIR. Read all of above scripts at Gary Patton’s KUSP Land Use site Gary is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor, and an attorney who represents individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. Gary has his own website, “Two Worlds / 365?

VINTAGE DE CINZO. These are really, really vintage DeCinzo creations. He loaned me a stack of oldies but goodies and I choose one each week (for many years now). We’ll all have to wait and wonder about DeCinzo’s Sentinel contributions during October. He’s re-vacationing in Cuba. He goes there often, I’ve been told. This week Steven DeCinzo pays a special and revealing tribute to Open Studios. Check it out 4 pages down there.

EAGANS DEEP COVER. Peace loving Eagan shows us just how strong our President can be….see below, just a bit…down there after the movie section.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “This week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (, color me pleasantly surprised by an enjoyable new romantic comedy from a director I usually dislike, and get a sneak preview of the 2013 Open Studio artists at this year’s preview exhibit at the Art League.” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

WHERE SHOULD THE BIRDS FLY? The Palestine-Israel Action Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, Resource Center for Nonviolence and the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom all present this film about two Palestinian women trying to exist in the Gaza of today. Fida Qishta the filmaker will be there. It’s Wednesday October 2nd at 7 p.m. at The Resource Center 612 Ocean Street.


……In order of perfection……

ENOUGH SAID. Julia Louis Dreyfus and James Gandolfini create a perfectly complex and brilliant relationship movie. There are some genuine laughs in it, but the truth is you’ll bed deeply touched by the tenderness and the pain they go through. Gandolfini does an excellent acting job here. Far better than I ever thought he could….we’ll miss him. See this grand film asap.


GOOD OL’ FREDA. Freda Kelly was the Beatles secretary for 11 of the ten years the boys were together.No matter how famous YOU thought the Beatles were…Freda’s story shows they were much more than that. It tells great background on each of the boys families, and about Brian Epstein’s controlling and guiding influence on them. If he hadn’t died would they have remained together??? We’ll never know. See this film quickly, it’s probably another one week only showing at the Nick.

RUSH. Ron Howard directed it. That means it “feels good” and that it will end happily. It’s got a sound track of racing cars that sounds like Pacific Avenue on weekends. Hulky Chris Hemsworth appears to be a rare good looking actor who can act, at least he does in this 1970’s Formula One race car epic. The racing scenes are exciting, but the pseudo bios linking all the action fall very flat. Save your money and rent it, even though it should be seen on the big screen.

DON JON. Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed this nearly hot and sexy film and Scarlett Johansson does a great acting job as a New Jersey citizen. That’s the looney- crazy attempt at comedy part of the film…then Julianne Moore enters the plot and adds the only reasons to see this 1/2 comedy 1/2 tragedy attempt.


(from BEST 2 worst)

THANKS FOR SHARING. Mark Ruffalo and Gwenyth Paltrow do fine work in this serious comedy. It’s about AA and Tim Robbins as a spoonser all dealing with sex addiction. I didn’t know if they were kidding about there being an AA concept for sex addiction….and I’m still not sure. A good film never the less and another idea for a better title would be…”Much Ado About Rutting“.

SALINGER.I’d forgotten that three (3) crazed killers actually used Salinger’s Catcher in The Rye as justifying their killing. This is one odd movie. It seems to confuse Salinger with God, or somebody more special than just a writer. Like Thomas Pynchon he became a recluse and shied away from the public. The film says that his “newest” material like a few books will be released next year!!! We’ll soon see if he was worth all the spying and guessing. Only see this if Catcher STILL means that much to you. Wait until they do a film on Pynchon, then I’ll get to tell about my meeting him over in Live Oak when he lived here!!!.

BLUE JASMINE. Don’t expect to see much of San Francisco in this one, even though Woody loves “The City”, he didn’t show us much of it onscreen. Cate Blanchett goes beyond acting…she digs deeper into her character than we’ve ever seen onscreen. She is simply brilliant. Alec Baldwin is perfect as a sleek, snaky “Mr. Smarmy” type. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll fall all over in your praise of Mr. W. Allen and his “on again-off again” directing technique. See this movie just as soon as you possibly can.

SPECTACULAR NOW. It’s back again!!! Remember Shailene Woodley? Well, not by name- nobody does, but she was George Clooney’s fantastic teen age daughter in The Descendents. She’s back as an older teenager in this serious, beautifully directed, thoughtful movie. There’s a bunch of teen-age-angst movies lately and I like them, mostly. We’ve all been there and done that, and this movie will touch all of your rough memories.

THE BUTLER. A very odd film. At moments it’s moving, deep, and influential. But Oprah Winfrey will always be Oprah, and you won’t forget that it’s Oprah being Mrs. Butler. Forest Whitaker has never been my favorite actor and he’s worse in this feel-almost-good flick. Robin Williams playing Eisenhower? John Cusack as Nixon? Alan Rickman as Ronnie Reagan? But Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan is terrific!!And nope, you never get to see who would have played Obama. Wait a couple of weeks and rent it.

THE FAMILY. Robert DeNiro plays another Mafia made man and Michelle Pfeiffer does her best with this boring, predictable, over used plot. DeNiro informed on the mob and the fuzz moved them to France for protection. Lots of blood, few if any laughs, and it’s still boring. You’ve seen it all before.

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer (live only or sometimes old programs are archived… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG. On October 1st Peggy Dolgenos CEO and director of Cruzio will tell us what’s new in the internet world followed by Bruce Van Allen illuminating De-Sal and other pressing issues. Cathy Pickerrell from the Santa Cruz Chamber Players opens the program on October 8, then John Hibble curator of the Aptos History Museum talks about old and new things. October 15 has Erin Tools and Stacey Falls discussing Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp. Then Ken Koenig talks about The Community of Artists photographers group and their show at Felix Kulpa. Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold returns to co-host the bi annual Pledge Drive on Oct. 22. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always at

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 5 years here’s a chronological list of just this year’s podcasts. Click here then tap on “listen here” to hear any or all of them… all over again. The update includes Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson-Darrow, Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld, Rachel Goodman, George Newell, Tubten Pende, Gina Marie Hayes, Rebecca Ronay-Hazleton, Miriam Ellis, Deb Mc Arthur, The Great Morgani on Street performing, and Paul Whitworth on Krapps Last Tape. Jodi McGraw on Sandhills, Bruce Daniels on area water problems. Mike Pappas on the Olive Connection, Sandy Lydon on County History. Paul Johnston on political organizing, Rick Longinotti on De-Sal. Dan Haifley on Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Dan Harder on Santa Cruz City Museum. Sara Wilbourne on Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. Brian Spencer on SEE Theatre Co. Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro on MAH and Big Creek Pottery. Carolyn Burke on Edith Piaf. Peggy Dolgenos on Cruzio. Julie James on Jewel Theatre Company. Then there’s Pat Matejcek on environment, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack on the Universe plus Nina Simon from MAH, Rob Slawinski, Gary Bascou, Judge Paul Burdick, John Brown Childs, Ellen Kimmel, Don Williams, Kinan Valdez, Ellen Murtha, John Leopold, Karen Kefauver, Chip Lord, Judy Bouley, Rob Sean Wilson, Ann Simonton, Lori Rivera, Sayaka Yabuki, Chris Kinney, Celia and Peter Scott, Chris Krohn, David Swanger, Chelsea Juarez…and that’s just since January 2011. Hear them all!!!

QUOTES. “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths”, Muhammad Ali. “You can’t trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it”, W. C. Fields. “Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know”, Groucho Marx


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Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

Posted in Weekly Articles | Comments Off on September 30 – October 6, 2013

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