Blog Archives

March 25 – 31, 2019

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Saving the Historic Circle Church, Saving Santa Cruz Westside (especially Cliff and Bay), a Fire poem from Paradise resident Claire Braz-Valentine. GREENSITE… on losing the small-town character of Santa Cruz. KROHN…a statement from some very active women in our community. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water District and sewage water, San Lorenzo River Symposium, Don’t Bury the Library. PATTON…talks about “US”, the Santa Cruz horror movie. EAGAN…the perfect woman & our Which Hunt. JENSEN…didn’t see US but talks about it. BRATTON…critiques US, Gloria Bell, and Birds of Passage. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES… “RAIN”



DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ. FEB 2, 1949. This is the Southeast corner of Laurel and Pacific. Walgreens is there now, and still using parts of this building…from the looks of it.                                                       

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

SANTA CRUZ DOWNTOWN 1990. An important look at the post E’quake scene. Note the empty Rittenhouse lot, which could have been a plaza.
US movie trailer with Santa Cruz scenes.

DATELINE: March 25, 2019

SAVE THE HISTORIC CIRCLE CHURCH. That is the Errett Circle neighborhood, or Garfield Park Circle Church community.

Sue Powell and her neighbor John Sears attended the Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission meeting on March 20. Sue sent BrattonOnline the following… “There were many issues that came up during the meeting that I think are important. Here is my one-sentence summary:

Because the Circle Church is “Unlisted” (not included in the City’s Historic Building Index) and because the history report commissioned by the property owners (DPR 523) incorrectly concluded that the Circle Church has “no historic value,” it is possible that the demolition permit application for the Circle Church could be approved without public review.

  1. John Sears and I talked during Oral Communications about the many reasons that the Circle Church should not be demolished. One major concern that we have is that the Circle Church has not been listed by the City in the Historic Building Index. It has been continually overlooked, whereas churches in affluent neighborhoods that were built more recently – and without a depth of history on the site – are listed. This prejudicial omission means that the Circle Church does not have this designated protection that could save it from demolition.
  2. We stayed for Agenda Item #8 – “Discuss the Current Process for the Review of Residential Demolition Authorization Permits for Unlisted Structures Over 50 Years Old.” The Circle Church is “Unlisted” and was built over 50 years ago, with a heritage going back to the 1880s, so we thought that this Review Process might apply to the Church.
  3. Staff said that when demolition permit applications are received by the Planning Department, staff give them one of three designations: no historic value, questionable historic value, clear historic value. 
  4. There was discussion among the Commissioners about the process by which decisions are made for questionable properties. Staff said that they are presently reviewed by the Planning Department, but that they could be reviewed by a HP Commission subcommittee. In my perspective, referring a questionable property in Subcommittee means that there would be no public discussion or input about saving buildings over 50 years old that the community sees as meaningful and important to the character of a neighborhood and a sense of place, such as the Circle Church. 
  5. Commissioners asked about the category for the Circle Church. Staff said that a report commissioned by the property owners (DPR 523) showed that the Circle Church has “no historic value.” This DPR was commissioned in 2017 and completed in early 2018. Commissioners expressed concern that report was not provided to them until last month.
  6.  We have heard from our historian friends in the community that the report, DPR 523, had incorrect information and faulty conclusions. Rebuttals to the report have been written.
  7. Although the Commissioners said that they want the Circle Church to be included in their next agenda, staff did not respond. Staff discouraged holding a HP Commission meeting next month.
  8. Historic Planning Commission meetings are often cancelled. In the last six months, four meetings have been cancelled. There were no meetings in October 2018, November 2018, January 2019, and February 2019”.

Sue Powell, John Sears and many community members believe that it is so important that we have full public process on the demolition permit application for the Circle Church.

SAVE SANTA CRUZ WESTSIDE. In my attempt last week to run a list of the huge developments that are in various stages in our end of the county, I missed what could be the most obvious of all — the proposed development at Cliff and Bay by the Dream Inn. Here’s a link and note from the Save Santa Cruz Westside group of concerned locals…and visitors.

“Join our efforts to protect the Westside and surrounding areas of Santa Cruz from this massive 4 story Cliff and Bay project proposed by the Southern California Company, Ensemble, owners of the Dream Inn! The proposed development could: increase traffic and emergency response times, destabilize surrounding hillsides, increase pollution, and does nothing to promote local affordable housing in an important Westside lifeline-corridor while negatively impacting local quality of life.

Check out our website at:
You can sign up for our newsletters with updates on critical upcoming meetings as well as donate to this effort! We are opposed to the over-development planned by the Dream Inn at West Cliff  and Bay, which has been submitted to the City of Santa Cruz Planning Department.

CLAIRE BRAZ-VALENTINE POEM. Long time friend Billie Harris sent us this heart-touching poem “Fire” by another long time friend poet and playwright,Claire Braz-Valentine. Claire has lived in Paradise, California for years. She read this poem at the last meeting of the   phren-Z literary magazine group. Click here…

DATELINE: March 25, 2019

The photo on the right is of the Swenson housing/retail development under construction, stretching from Pacific Avenue to Cedar Street, containing not a single affordable unit. The half tree is all that remains of the former magnificent red flowering gum, a visual stunner and stop on the city arborist’s annual downtown significant tree tour. Probably not this year.

This is a harbinger of things to come. Only it will get worse. The approved re-zoning of large segments of downtown allows for developments twice this height. It is doubtful that any one of the 11,700 accommodation and food service workers in Santa Cruz will ever see the insides of such housing units except as cleaning workers.

What is your feeling when you drive or ride down Mission St. towards the town clock and see this new development? Does your jaw drop? Do you notice it at all?

Do you shrug and say “oh well, you can’t stop progress.” Or does it look good since you’re planning a move from Sunnyvale where housing prices are higher than Santa Cruz and your high tech job gives you location flexibility and means you can afford one of these pricy units?

I and others sat through countless Planning Commission meetings where staff and commissioners, with straight faces, assured each other that such re-zoning was in the spirit of the Downtown Recovery Plan (DRP), set in motion after the 1989 earthquake. This, despite the fact that the main thrust of the DRP was to keep the downtown area of human scale, to keep its charm and avoid new heights above two to three stories, allowing for exceptions such as the landmark Palomar’s impressive 93 feet height.

Do you find this sort of new development charming? If not, and you care, then you will have a chance to weigh in when future developments of even larger scale are before the planners and the council within the next few years. Front Street next to the levee is one such area where building heights of 70 feet are now allowed due to the approved DRP re-zoning. Heights up to 80 feet are allowed on the other side of Front Street. That this re-zoning has already been approved makes opposition to such developments more difficult on a legal basis. But political opposition is always a community right and has been employed in the past to stop developments that erase the past and destroy the small town character of Santa Cruz. But it won’t be easy.

The pro-mega development forces are well organized, well funded and strong. The non-profit Monterey Bay Economic Partnership has had reps at the local hearings stating support for these sorts of developments. Look them up and review their Board of Directors. Some local surprises are there. Then there is the YIMBY group, newcomers, ardent supporters of all big housing developments irrespective of affordability and impact on the town’s character. Even the more homegrown group, Affordable Housing Now! seems mindless of the impact of mega-developments and not overly concerned about the affordability aspect.

One group focused on supporting human-scale development and opposing over building is Save Santa Cruz. If you haven’t checked out the group online it’s worth doing so. As the town becomes daily more gentrified and populated increasingly by the well-off, driving the low income service workers further away for less expensive rents, the ability to muster those with a passion to preserve what’s left of the small town character of Santa Cruz becomes more challenging. Take a look at the building pictured above and see if that doesn’t stir your small town soul to raise your voice and take a stand.

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

DATELINE: March 25

BrattonNote…instead of running Chris Krohn’s weekly Majority Report I asked him if we could re-“print” a letter that originally ran in the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s editorial page. He agreed. This letter is signed by some of the most active women in our community and gives a very deserving and needed approach all the recent fuss and furor over Mayor Watkins and the agenda choice.

“We respectfully disagree with a recent opinion piece regarding Santa Cruz City Council decorum. As women who have worked most of our lives, we are very sympathetic to the challenges women face in a sexist culture. As women, however, we are not exempt from the standards we enforce. We need to stay mindful of our responsibility to accuracy, inclusion and public process.

The Santa Cruz mayor and city council are no exception. We have a well-educated, firm woman serving as mayor at present, Martine Watkins. We are fortunate that our City Council, including all of the three men: Drew Glover, Chris Krohn and Justin Cummings, are unusually supportive of and sympathetic to women, as well as to people of other oppressed genders living in our sexist culture. We are aware of the personal journeys each has taken to be effective in that struggle. That is why we are saddened by the mayor’s actions this past month. On Feb. 5, Mayor Watkins declined to agendize items that council members Glover, Krohn and Brown had prepared together and forwarded to her several days before the regularly scheduled “agenda review” session. She did not communicate with her colleagues personally to discuss her decision. The item addressed the topic of how to help move levee encampment residents, an urgent problem. The decision was the mayor’s to make and her responsibility. Declining her colleagues’ request, however, was unnecessary. None of us supports using the role of meeting facilitator as a means to prevent colleagues from bringing forward new ideas. Especially when three elected colleagues, the most allowable under public meeting laws, endorse the ideas.

On Feb. 8, as part of an article on homelessness, Councilman Glover wrote about his feelings of being sidelined in this way, ending his article with the following: “I can understand what the mayor may be trying to do and I think she is a good person, but needless to say, I am disappointed,” communicating sadness mixed with conciliation. Unfortunately, Mayor Watkins responded by delivering a now-infamous, public tongue lashing from her seat at the center of the dais on Feb. 12, taking her colleagues and the large public audience by surprise, and giving the objects of her accusations no details and no opportunity to respond. Sexism is a serious problem in our culture, but using unsubstantiated attacks to tar your colleagues does nothing to improve the situation at best and at worst, weakens the entire movement to dismantle sexism.

We are disappointed with Mayor Watkins and her supporters. Mayors serve as facilitators, and hopefully leaders, of the council. Mayor Watkins received the support of Krohn and Glover. The ad hominem attack included a group opinion piece alluding to nonspecific sexism and poor decorum attributed to members Krohn and Glover. Choosing sides, as the opinion-piece promotes, feeds the flames of division on the council and promotes the very divisiveness that the women who signed the opinion piece objected to. The comments seem a frustration that the centrist leadership has shifted and she is now serving on a council with a more progressive council majority. The resulting attack to the integrity of councilmembers Glover and Krohn seem exactly the personal attacks that the mayor discourages at council meeting public comment.

We are confident that the mayor and all council members have the capability to resolve any misunderstandings and differences for the good of the community on their own time. We also hope that all council members maintain the ability to address issues with each other in person rather than from the dais. We wish Martine Watkins, Chris Krohn and Drew Glover success in their leadership roles. This is a dynamic time for the city of Santa Cruz with a high-level community engagement which many communities would envy.

Signed by, Mathilde Rand, Randa Solick, Susan Martinez, Ernestina Saldana, Denise Elerick, Alesa Byers, Sara Ringler, Barbara Riverwoman, Abbi Samuels, Isabelle Scott, and Kaitlin Gaffney. (Previously published in the editorial section of the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.)

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected the the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His current term ends in 2020.

Email Chris at

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, former Santa Cruz City Councilmember (1998-2002) and Mayor (2001-2002). He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 12 years. He was elected last November to another 4-year term on the Santa Cruz City Council).

DATELINE: March 25, 2019

Those were the words of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board that met last week in Salinas and Watsonville.  The key issue was nitrate and 1, 2, 3-TCP contamination of shallow wells in agricultural areas on the Central Coast, and a proposed new Ag Rule 4.0 that would impose new requirements and restrictions on ranch owners in order to protect surface water and groundwater quality.

It provided a good segue into my public comment about growing concerns of the MidCounty Groundwater Basin users about Soquel Creek Water District’s proposed Project to inject millions of gallons of treated sewage water into the area’s Purisima Aquifer with no opportunity for the non-District water users to have a say in what the District plans to do but that could potentially affect all users.  I served Notice of Association as Real Parties in Interest to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, relating to the CEQA Petition for Writ of Mandate that I have filed in beneficial public interest against Soquel Creek Water District.   There are eight causes of action and alleged CEQA violations, one of which is that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was deficient in public trust agency comment, such as the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Fish and Wildlife, on the Draft EIR. 

So, if  “YOU CAN’T REMEDIATE AN AQUIFER”, what would Soquel Creek Water District do should there be a contamination problem due to system failure and/or human error, resulting in aquifer contamination?  There was no Safety Plan included in the Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Recharge and Sea Water Intrusion Prevention Plan Project EIR analysis.  This was pointed out in comment submitted by the County Environmental Health Services, but was ignored in the District’s Response to Comments.

Contact Soquel Creek Water District Board and insist the EIR deficiencies and errors be corrected and that the document be re-issued for public comment.  That is what I asked for in the Petition for Writ of Mandate.  The District Board instead approved an additional $172,000 in legal support to fight me.  Does that make sense to you???

Contact Board of Directors The next Board meeting is Tuesday, April 2 at 6pm Board Meetings Standing Committees

Contact the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and ask that their agency closely examine the Pure Water Soquel Project EIR and correspond with Soquel Creek Water District Board regarding any issues of concern.  

How much progress has the City made to chart solutions for water supply issues since the Water Supply Advisory Commission presented a list of recommendations in 2014?  Mark your calendars for Monday, April 1, 7pm, to attend this public meeting.    The Water Supply Advisory Commission recommended the best solutions for long-term and feasible water security would be conservation and a regional water management approach with Soquel Creek Water District for surface water transfers and in lieu storage.  This will be revisited at next Monday’s meeting.

The press release states the location is at the City Council Chambers, but earlier releases stated it would be at the City Police Community Center.

Make sure to visit the Water for Santa Cruz County website for excellent information regarding the water transfer project issues:

I attended this event last Saturday at Louden Nelson Center and enjoyed the wide range of speakers and topics.   It would have been nice, I think, to have heard more comprehensive information from fewer speakers, but it was informative.  I especially enjoyed the presentation on Climate Change by Dr. Shawn Chartrand of Balance Hydrologics, Inc.   I learned that there are many different climate change models existing, and they do not agree with each other, but the one aspect common for our area is that the models predict wetter winters here, but with more frequent intense storms.  It appears that if these models are correct, we can expect the winter of 2016-2017 to be common.  The data also indicates we could have cooler minimum temperatures.

Dr. Chartrand had some interesting historic weather data from 1875, and it is available on the NOAA website under the National Climate Change Data Center.  I looked at some of the Santa Cruz County information available here

Dr. Chartrand also said the CalAdapt website does a good job of putting together the different predictions of 10 models and has information on a number of issues, including Wildfire.  That particular topic was not really addressed in Saturday’s Symposium, but here is a link to the topic on the CalAdapt website that you might find interesting.

The issue of coastal fog influences is NOT addressed in the climate change modelling, but as we all know, that plays a huge part in our temperatures and fire fuel moisture levels.  Finally, Dr. Chartrand announced that the radar information for approaching storm and associated flood warnings will improve in the near future, thanks to a grant that will improve radar imaging of real-time rainfall gauges in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The current NOAA weather radar system is on Mt. Umunhum and does not project downward into the Santa Cruz side very well.  A grant will soon allow the County to install a new x-band radar system in the City area with a shorter range than the NOAA system and provide better real-time information and warnings for debris flows and landslide hazards locally.

Here is a link to the current NOAA weather informational site

Here is a link that Dr. Chartrand talked about the current resource available to monitor the USGS Big Trees Stream Gauge on the San Lorenzo River, and that information is available here.

After the talks, we went on a walking tour of the San Lorenzo River levee with City staff and volunteers.  With all the discussion of the morning’s predictions for increased flooding along the River, I just had to ask the City staff why the City plans to build a lot of dense, multi-story development right next to the river levee when it seems the danger of future flooding will be greater???   “Well, we don’t actually know that just yet.”  was the response.  Hmmmm……..

You can look for the video recording of the State of the San Lorenzo River Symposium in about 30 days at the information provided on this event flyer.  

DON’T BURY THE LIBRARY! This is from an update #36 from the DON’T BURY THE LIBRARY. 
It is amazing that the Santa Cruz City Council seems bent on building an expensive new library under a multi-story parking garage in downtown Santa Cruz.  The citizens active in organizing a call for common sense have issued a call for action this Tuesday, March 26, at the 7pm Santa Cruz City Council meeting.  Here is what you need to do:

“This update is to inform you that a few of us will be speaking at 7 pm (Oral Communications) at the City Council’s Tuesday, March 26th meeting. Our main message to the Council will include the following:

  • We urge you to place on an agenda, as early in April as is practical, an opportunity for a separate discussion of our downtown library and how best to proceed with renovating the library, including all creative ideas for producing a beautifully revitalized and fully utilized building.  
  • This discussion should take place in the upcoming weeks and not left hanging, especially because its funding with Measure S has a deadline. No other project for downtown has such a deadline, so priority should be given to the library. 
  • After last week’s study session about transportation demand management, it appears that spending $37 million on a 5th downtown garage would not be a good choice for our city. So we are free to talk about other ideas for our library.  
  • You have been given a suggested way to move forward by Don’t Bury the Library that calls for an independent examination of what it would cost to renovate the library at its present site.  

Please consider either attending the 7 pm session on Tuesday and also speaking to the Council at Oral Communications about getting going on the library, independent of the older garage/library project presented to a previous Council over 2 years ago. Alternatively, send the same message (in your own words, please don’t cut and paste from this email) to the Council either before or after the meeting (

We know many of you have done this before. Still, the Council has stated it wants to hear from the public, so let us take every opportunity to be responsive to the Council’s solicitation of public views on matters.

Jean, Michael, Judi



Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes.

Email Becky at


DATELINE: March 24, 2019 #83 / Santa Cruz Horror

Us, a new horror movie, is described as “coming from the mind of Jordan Peele.” The story takes place in Santa Cruz, and the picture above shows one of the prototypical Santa Cruz scenes. You are forgiven if you don’t immediately identify the location of the burning car. This burning car scene takes place on East Cliff Drive, right after it turns to the left, after coming off Murray Street, and as East Cliff traces the edge of the bluffs above Seabright Beach. In the movie, you won’t have any problem picking out this and other locations. A lot of the action takes place at the Boardwalk.

I am not a horror movie fan, at all, but since my son shows up in this film, near the end (or so he tells me), I did feel obliged to try to pick him out of the crowd. In fact, since my son appears in and among about a hundred people, all holding hands, and dressed in red, I am not actually sure I properly identified him. I did well know the location, though, on the main beach, in the lagoon that forms at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. My son is somewhere, I am assured, in that long line of red-clothed men and women, seen from afar.

I don’t think I would have gone to see the movie just to try to get that glimpse of my son in that single, long-distance scene. What actually sent me to the movies on a Friday afternoon was a review that appeared in the March 22, 2019, edition of The Wall Street Journal. Joe Morgenstern, The Journal’s movie critic, called Usdouble-dealing at its dazzling best.” This is, in fact, a movie about doppelgängers, and it poses some intellectual challenges. Before the red-dressed doppelgängers show up, filled with anger and hostility, we meet a pretty ordinary family, heading for a Santa Cruz vacation. After the doubles appear, it’s a duel to the death, and the real question is “who is fighting whom, and why?” Who or what do these doubles represent?

In view of the fact that the family being most directly challenged by their doubles is black, and that the hostile doppelgangers (also black) identify themselves as “Americans,” a commentary on race relations is clear. But there may be a few more layers. The Morgenstern review, withholding the “reveal” that comes at the very end of the movie, suggests that the movie is really about psychology and existential fear. Because of the review, I wanted to understand what that surprise ending was, and what it might mean. I ended up thinking the movie intends to make us have empathy for others by showing us that we are all compounded of both good and evil, and that any effort to try to suppress either of these aspects of who we are will turn us into genuine monsters. 

So, here is my quick movie review: Us is fun for those who know Santa Cruz because not only is it filmed in Santa Cruz, the story is completely and explicitly centered on Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz community is where the movie starts and ends, and everything in-between is Santa Cruz, too. 

Besides that (and I was able to let the “horror” just pass me by), the film is intellectually worthwhile. As the title suggests, it is all about “us.”

Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Check out the perfect woman, in your dreams…!!! Scroll below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Which Hunt” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.



The Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival is now in its 19th year. It presents films free to the public from Saturday, March 30 through Thursday, April 4. The festival opens at the Jewish Community Center in Aptos and continues at the Del Mar Theater in Santa Cruz, Aegis (EE-gis) of Aptos, and Samper Recital Hall at Cabrillo College. This year’s program focuses on love, reconciliation, and the pursuit of justice for the powerless. For the full schedule, please visit the Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival online at  https://santacruzjewishfilmfestival.coM

ESPRESSIVO ORCHESTRA.  Romanticism — Morning to Evening
Espressivo—a small, intense orchestra concludes its fourth season at Peace United Church 900 High Street in Santa Cruz on Sunday, March 31st, at 3 p.m. The program of late-Romantic music includes Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll,” Arnold Schoenberg’s “Chamber Symphony,” and Antonin Dvorak’s “Serenade for Winds, Cello and Bass.” The professional orchestra will be conducted by Michel Singher, founder & Artistic Director. Tickets at, and at the box office.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “The big movie news for us locals this week is Us, the new fright-fest horror movie with a social conscience from Jordan Peele (Get Out). Santa Cruz co-stars as herself, and the Boardwalk has not been used so effectively as a movie prop since The Lost Boys. No, I don’t review it this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( ), but check out Steve Palopoli’s review in this week’s Good Times.” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

GLORIA BELL. Julianne Moore and John Turturro are the struggling twosome trying to be a couple in this semi-serious drama set in Los Angeles. Julianne is great as the insecure, horny, pot-smoking single working mother who’s trying hard to find a mate. Turturro is even more confused in his search for a woman to replace his ex-wife, and to help him forget her and the drain she places on him. Good film, very engrossing: Julianne Moore has never been better — and that’s saying a lot. 93 on RT.

US So much of this movie was shot at our Boardwalk and has hundreds of nearly unrecognizable locals in it…you simply have to see it. It’s a socially-aware horror movie with a very complex plot, and truly scary. Jordan Peele — who also directed Get Out — made sure it also contains a serious critique of racial inequality and our attitudes to living “the good life”. It’s disturbing, puzzling, well-acted, and a little better than Lost Boys… but not as good as Harold and Maude. A 94 on Rotten Tomatoes.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE. Set in Colombia, in and around 1968, this is a story of how selling marijuana ruined individuals, families and changed an entire group of Colombian Indians. As many have noted, it’s a version of Godfather, only in Spanish. Because so many non-actors were used and it’s based on fact, it’s nearly a documentary. You’ll almost be pulled into the story… but not quite. Also a 94 on RT. Closes March 28

APOLLO 11. Surprising, important, relevant, heart rending, tense …Apollo 11 is all of these and more. Assembled from much never seen NASA footage this documentary got a 100 Rotten Tomatoes score. The flight was 50 years ago and yet this film is so deftly handled that you’ll be on the seat’s edge hoping they make it. Numb nuts who noted that there are no stars in the background when you walk on the moon will be shut up finally. If you liked the tension and identification of Free Solo you’ll definitely like Apollo 11.

FREE SOLO. A National Geographic documentary of young Alex Honnold free-climbing El Capitan in Yosemite. It is beautiful, terrifying, and the most tension you’ve ever felt from anything ever on screen. He climbs the three thousand-plus feet in a little over three hours. It’s a nearly perfectly-made film, on a topic you’ll never forget. See it on the big screen at the Del Mar…you won’t regret it, trust me!!! Oh yes 98 on RT!!.

NEVER LOOK AWAY. Warning…this film is 3 hours and 9 minutes long and is based on a still famous German contemporary artist’s life. It’s full of Nazi politics, artistic statements, and it’ll make you think constantly. Not a great film but I call it courageous, because it is absorbing and well made. The real artist’s name is Gerhard Richter and none of us can afford his paintings today. Closes March 28

GREEN BOOK. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali (from Oakland) are getting extra-super praise for their roles in this almost-true story of a white chauffeur driving a black jazz pianist through the American south in 1962. I couldn’t buy the entire plot. Both Viggo and Mahershala play their roles way over the top…becoming caricatures. There isn’t a surprise, revelation, or any lesson to be learned from this movie. It’s a racist story we are all too familiar with, how the white race protects the Blacks. If Slumdog Millionaire got an Academy Award, this one could too. But not from me.

THE WEDDING GUEST. Dev Patel is still learning to act (from his shameful start in Slumdog Millionaire) stars in this war time travelogue through India and Pakistan. Patel is supposed to be a hired kidnapper but we never learn enough about whom, what, or why all this back alley stuff is happening. Fine photography, Patel is getting better at acting…but save your money.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. I should note that I’m no fan of “Queen” the band, or of Freddie Mercury, their Mick Jagger-copying lead singer. Nonetheless this Hollywood-style movie is shallow, hammy, trite, and adds nothing to film, music, or history. It’s actually boring for much of its screen time of two hours and 15 minutes.



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 archived for two weeks… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG. . Sue Powell and John Sears tell us all about Saving the Circle Church (Errett Circle) on March 26. They’re followed by Gillian Greensite discussing city, county and University issues and trees. April 2 has Jena Casey from Africa Matters talking about their organization and golas.Lisa Sheridan and Robert Morgan discuss the Nissan Dealership in Soquel and Sustainable Soquel plans. Dean Kaufman from the Santa Cruz Vet’s Center talks about Vets benefits on April 16th. He’s followed by folks from the Reel Work Film Festival listing the screenings around the county and Bay. May 21st has concertmaster Roy Malan discussing the Hidden Valley String Orchestra concert occurring on June 2nd.  OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here You have to listen to about 4 minutes of that week’s KPFA news first, then Grapevine happens. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always and only at

I miss Carrie Fisher!

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 9 years here’s a chronological list of some past broadcasts.  Such a wide range of folks such as  Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson, 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.


“The rain is famous for falling on the just and unjust alike, but if I had the management of such affairs I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust out doors I would drown him”.   Mark Twain
“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain”. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually”. Eeyore
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby”. Langston Hughes
“I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying”. Charlie Chaplin

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