Blog Archives

January 8 – 14, 2019


Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Whale City Bakery and Bar for sale, Bruce McDougal died, Brommer and 17th architect, Save Errett Circle Church public meeting, Jack “Broken Egg” Churchill’s birthday party. GREENSITE…on protecting our open space lands. KROHN… Chris Krohn is off this week and will return next week. STEINBRUNER…Campaign news, 17th and Brommer building, Don’t bury the Library, 908 Ocean Street project, CSA Rural tax illegal?, Nisene Marks closed to traffic. PATTON…on Dementia. EAGAN…patriotism. JENSEN…links to reviews.BRATTON…I critique Two Popes, Little Women, Uncut Gems, Marriage Story, Aeronauts, Star Wars. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…”2020″


SEABRIGHT AND SOQUEL AVENUE CIRCA 1949. That’s a ’49 Studebaker and a ’49 Oldsmobile and what appears to be one huge flood. Now it’s Lillian’s Italian Kitchen, The Post Office and Ace Hardware.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

LEARN TO YODEL. Long time friend Bob Armstrong on guitar.

DATELINE January 6

WHALE CITY BAKERY BAR & GRILL FOR SALE!! The near legendary success of this warm, friendly stopping point right on historical Highway 1 keeps on going upward. Finally after many long years of the Raugust/McDougal ownership and managing they are tired and have just announced that it’s for sale. Check out the Facebook page and the great customer comments.

If you want to know more call Chris Shoemaker at (831) 476-8194.     

BRUCE McDOUGAL DIED. Bruce fought Alzheimer’s, his only enemy in this life, and lost on Monday, December 30 at 5 am. Bruce and Marcia McDougal had been my closest and dearest friends since 1962 in Berkeley. Bruce’s remarkable pottery artistry led them to open Big Creek Pottery School back in the late 60’s and 70″s. I’ll bet that more than 3/4 of the pottery you see in this county was directly inspired, or is related to, Big Creek Pottery. After Big Creek Pottery, Bruce and Marcia opened The Davenport Cash Store as a pottery studio and restaurant. Bruce taught me and influenced me more than anyone I’ve known. 

SWENSON’S BROMMER AND 17TH ARCHITECT? Many friends and passersby and me too thought that the new building at the corner of 17th and Brommer was so ridiculous (ugly) that it must have been designed by Mark Primack, especially if you look at his buildings over on the west side. But nope, it was Daniel W. Sells. And I’ll bet Sells knows Primack. Be sure to read Becky Steinbruner’s more complete piece below on the Brommer Bummer, and see the one page from Swenson here.

PLEASE HELP SAVE THE ERRETT CIRCLE CHURCH ON JANUARY 15. . Now’s the time when all of us can act as a community and attend a meeting that will help save an important part of our community. There will be a public hearing at the City Council Chambers at 7 p.m. on Wednesday January 15th to hear from concerned community members and determine the historic significance of the Circle Church and the property at 111 Errett Circle. Here’s what Sue Powell from Friends of the Circle Church sent….
The Historic Preservation Commission could recommend that the property should be listed on the City’s Historic Building Survey or be designated as a Local Historic Landmark

Please attend to speak or support speakers. We need a huge turnout!!

At their December 10th meeting, the City Council voted 4-3 to refer this issue to the Historic Preservation Commission. Christopher Krohn, Sandy Brown, Drew Glover, and Justin Cummings voted in favor of referring the developer-paid historic report to the HPC for their review and recommendations. 

Special thanks to all who showed up and spoke in favor of the agenda item at the City Council meeting!! Speakers included: Janet Bryer, Karolyn Ronzano, Andrea van de Loo, Bruce Thomas from Dufour Neighbors, Candace Brown from Save Santa Cruz, Freya Sands, Artist of the Year and former Poet Laureate Ellen Bass, Ron Pomerantz, Jan Chaffin, Jennifer Smith, Marilyn Garrett, John Sears, and Hilary Martisius. Speakers were passionate and persuasive – and very effective!

At the upcoming Historic Preservation Commission meeting, public comments may be limited to 2-3 minutes, so be prepared to keep your speeches short. If you can’t attend, please submit your comments in writing to the Historic Preservation Commission, c/o Planning Department, 809 Center Street – Room 206, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

The developers’ historic reports can be accessed via this link

Please email if you would like to receive the 11-page review of the developers’ first historic report.

Historic Preservation Commissioners Joe Michalak and Jessica Kusz wrote the critique and concluded that the developers report was inadequate, incomplete, and full of errors.

To be added to the email list, please send a message to 

We have 960 petition signatures at, and 55 paper-petition signatures.

Our Facebook page is “Save the Circle Church” 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK CHURCHILL. Long timers will certainly remember the Broken Egg Omelet House on Front Street.  Jack Churchill managed it for years around the early 70’s . He lives in Hawaii now and was back here last week to greet family and friends while he turned 90.

January 6

A small entry in the most recent Sierra Club Magazine caught my eye. It read: A crash in the elk population in the vicinity of Vail, Colorado, appears to be related to an upsurge in the number of hikers and mountain bikers in the region. We are facing the same issue on the central coast (not elk but other species) and especially Santa Cruz County, which is fast becoming the most popular mountain biking destination in the region. Popular, not only due to the relative abundance of state, regional and local parks but also to the absence of restrictions that face mountain bike riders in other counties. There, land managers are aware of the negative impact on the natural environment (as well as the impact on other users) by the ever-increasing numbers of mountain bike riders and are taking steps to address the impact. Here, land managers appear indifferent to the impact and actively court the well-funded mountain bike organizations. And well funded they are, compared to the cash-strapped local and state government entities that are responsible for our open space lands. Mountain Bikers Of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) showcase twelve staff on their website. Plenty of human resources to court the decision-makers at this critical time when new open space lands such as San Vicente, acquired through years of effort and at great expense are coming online for public use. 

Open space land managers are constantly lobbied to develop new trails for mountain bike access and to allow mountain bikes on trails currently restricted to hiking only. Castle Rock State Park for example is currently considering what is termed a Change In Use (CIU) to allow mountain bike riders on trails previously restricted to hiking only, including the iconic Skyline to the Sea trail. Despite the fact that hiking is far ahead of mountain bike riding in any survey of popular usage of open space (almost 4 times as popular in a local random survey), hikers lack well-funded organizations to lobby on their behalf. This lack of political clout might be compensated for if more land managers cared about other users of open space and the care of the open space itself but they don’t. The result is that hikers have been pushed out of many parks and the open spaces have become crisscrossed with eroded dead zones wherever scores of bike riders have access. Include technological additions such as night-lights to bikes and even the nocturnal species such as mountain lions have no respite from the incessant intrusion into their habitat.

I was thinking about all this on a daylong hike at Mount Diablo State Park this past Saturday. Fortunately that day there were no bikes on the narrow, steep trails although evidence of their damage was clear. Wherever there were switchbacks there was evidence of shortcutting by bicyclists. There was also evidence that State Parks maintenance crew had tried to prevent further damage by installing barriers but the bike riders had just gone around the barriers and created new ruts. The photo shows typical mountain bike erosion on a section of Wilder Ranch bluff trail. Despite its being a flat trail, since there is no restriction on bike access after rain, the soft sandy soil is easily eroded. In parts the cliff has collapsed due to bike riders widening their tracks to avoid the areas damaged from years of bike use. In the face of clear evidence of the disproportionate trail damage created by mountain bike tires as they wear the telltale longitudinal grooves that channel water downhill, the industry and the organizations produce “scientific” documents purporting to prove that mountain bikes cause no more damage to trails than hikers. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. 

This year will see increasing pressure from the mountain bike industry for more access and more trails. No one expects anything less. What we should expect is that land managers whether local, regional or state will do their job, which is to protect the natural environment and evaluate without bias, the impact of the various land users. And sometimes they will have to say no, even to those who have money and influence.

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.


“Chris Krohn is off this week and will return next week.” 

(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


January 6


With the help of my neighbors and friends, there are now a large signs for my campaign up prominently in the Aptos Village and Rio del Mar, with requests pouring in for others and for yard signs. A post on NextDoor last Saturday caused an explosion in posts (mostly good!) from people throughout the MidCounty area. 

It is humbling, and also enforces what I have known: the people of the Second District want and deserve responsive leadership with respectful equality for all. I would certainly do my best if honored with this job. 

I will be available this Friday, Jan. 10, at Peet’s Coffee in Rancho del Mar Center in Aptos from 6pm-8pm, and Saturday, Jan. 11, 10am-noon. Stop by if you would like to ask questions, discuss matters, and perhaps take home a yard sign.

You can e-mail me at Becky Steinbruner . My website will be up in the near future. HUZZAH!!

I have wondered this as I travel past the new multi-use development on this busy Live Oak intersection. Someone contacted me to ask about the architect responsible for this ugly beast? I did a bit of research, and learned the public process was anything but robust, and seemed to change the design mid-stream. That sounds a lot like the Aptos Village Project process, too.  

We can only hope that Swenson has perhaps learned that it is smart to pay attention to the triple bottom-line early on, getting important public input and actually incorporating it into the proposed project.

The architect for the 2014 amended design (what we are gagging over now) is Daniel W. Sells. It appears that he is (or was) an in-house architect for Barry Swenson builder but I cannot find any other mention of him in the architectural field. That says a lot right there.  

In the Planning Commission staff report (10/28/2015), there are notes from the one and only community meeting for the project (seven people attended). A Swenson architect named Jeff Current presided there. I found a news release that shows he had worked for Barry Swenson for 28 years as an in-house architect, but launched his own business in January of 2014. He is married to Barry Swenson’s daughter.

I did a search of the County Planning Dept for the address and application and found that the mixed use project (1155 17th Ave., APN 026-311-33) was originally approved in 2008 for eight for-sale apartments and some retail space.  There was some environmental analysis, but it got approved with a Negative Declaration.

The permit approved in 2008 languished, due to economic downturn, but came back to the Planning Commission on October 28, 2015. Swenson wanted to increase the number of units to 13, making them smaller, but only adding two bedrooms total (14 increasing to 16 total), and also making them rental units. The design included seven retail spaces.

It seems that the roofline architecture really changed with this design re-working. Public comment at the community meeting included statements that they liked the roof lines of the other design better.  

I found it shocking that the planner, Annette Olson, stated that the design of the structure “will enhance the aesthetic qualities of the surrounding properties.” “The bulk, massing and scale of the structure will be minimized by using varied roof and wall planes and different finish materials…making it compatible with existing built environment..” (page 26 of the October 28, 2015)

In looking at the architect’s plans (an example on pages 45 and 57 of the Planning Commission staff report) 

The County actually did create an environmental review for it, but it, like the Aptos Village Project, got away with just a Negative Declaration. The biggest issue is increased storm water runoff from the impervious surfaces but also the increased sewage to an area that had a moratorium on new sewage service.

The County wanted Swenson to install pervious paving to reduce storm water runoff, but Swenson hired a new soils engineer that submitted a report claiming there is a clay layer that would not permit proper drainage from the (more expensive) pervious paving. So, the County required Swenson to install a storm water treatment unit on site to improve the water quality before it is discharged into the storm water drain. This was on page 15 of the staff report. ( I wonder if that is getting built and if so, who will monitor it’s function?)

There was no traffic study required, just a general trip study to calculate developer fees.

The notes included from the one community meeting held on May 22, 2014, which only seven people attended, noted that people said they liked the old roof lines of the 2008 design better. The response was that the building design had been altered to create an interesting space in the units and provide large windows overlooking the streets. (page 184 of the staff report) There is a note on page 185 that says the previous design was a combination of shed and roof gable design, but it was altered in the 2014 design. According to Barry Swenson Builder website, the in-house architect Daniel W. Sell’s phone number is 408-938-6338. Planning Dept. staff report claimed this project will revitalize the area..I think it will increase traffic speeds as people try to race at top speed past this ugly eyesore and try not to look at it!

Both Jean Brocklebank and Becky Steinbruner worked on the large, expensive and suspicious plan to spend large sums of money on our Downtown library and its future. Jean wrote “In my opinion, the similarities are basic for all branches, even the two that were clearly identified for new construction during the Measure S campaign (Felton and Capitola). Rather than having the branches repaired, upgraded and modernized, we’ve witnessed manipulation of a public fervor for architectural grandeur. Plans call for substituting sleek for cozy, snazzy for practical, brand new loud colored furnishings for all branches, entertaining for informing, loud and noisy for quiet contemplation, and social services for informational services. More empty space than peopled space, for a sense of expansiveness, which is energy foolishness in cities and counties with Climate Action Plans and Climate Emergency Resolutions (e.g., replacement of eleven foot high ceilings with eighteen foot high energy-inefficient ceilings, while even the new shelving will only be six feet high). 

All branches are way over budget totaling millions of dollars throughout the system and that is not due only to the escalation of construction costs, as some would have us swallow. It is due to asking too much and not being content with sufficiency. This constant voracious societal demand for more and bigger is what drives destruction of the environment, locally, nationally and globally. Apparently decision-makers can’t connect the dots. But that may be because they are too busy providing for entertainment rather than education.

The shocking plan to build a large new library downtown beneath a parking garage continues. The proposed parking garage is senseless, and would destroy the space that has hosted the weekly Farmer’s Market providing a wonderful community connection beneath graceful Magnolia trees. The fight to remodel the existing library and thereby save not only the Farmer’s Market, but also lots of taxpayer money, goes on. Many wonder if the parking garage idea is simply to provide parking that is absent from planned dense developments nearby. Below is a thoughtful response from” Don’t Bury the Library” leader, Ms. Jean Brocklebank, remarking on my comparison of the similarities of the Aptos Library’s remodel plans to demolish what is structurally sound in the name of modernization, when remodeling is less expensive and can accomplish the goals intended . Jean kindly gave me permission to share all of what follows: 

Dear friends of the Downtown Library ~

This Update is devoted solely to Stephen Kessler and his latest exquisite column in Saturday Jan. 4 Sentinel. What a pleasant surprise to read it earlier!

Be green now. Save Lot 4. Rebuild the library” by Stephen Kessler 

Stephen captured all aspects of the matter before us and articulated them clearly. It would be well for everyone involved — from the City Council and City Manager, to staff of the Economic Development Department, and the Library System administration — to read and digest this column. 

A BrattonOnline reader contacted me about a proposed project at 908 Ocean Street, wondering if I thought the parking at the County Government Building might become shared parking for the 333 new residential units?  The mixed-use development would swallow the 19 parcels encompassing the area from Marianne’s and extend nearly to the Sewing Center at Water Street. Indeed, how will this all work?

You can read more about the proposal here: Designer responds to Ocean Street 333-unit condo project concerns

What made me catch my breath was when I investigated the City of Santa Cruz Planning & Development website, and saw that the large 908 Ocean Street project is only the tip of the iceberg for what is in the works!

Take a look:

Development Projects | City of Santa Cruz

While it is encouraging that the 908 Ocean Street project would provide 15% or 50 of the units to be affordable, one wonders why the percentage is not higher? These are to be 600 SF units for living a quality of life that is something different than what Santa Cruz has known and come to treasure.  

Will there be large trees to provide shade and a sens of nature nearby? Will the parking be waived, as has occurred for the Laurel Towers development? Is there enough water in prolonged periods of drought for all this development without forcing people to drink treated sewage water that requires massive amounts of energy to process and yet may not be reliably clean? Traffic is already a congested nightmare. Are these part of the 700 new units the City has promised to the big tech companies, as City Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb stated on local television two years ago? I suggest you add your contact to the project notifications lists for the project near you…make a big difference by showing up, and speaking out.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on January 14 to consider the final public input and voting on the proposed County Service Area (CSA) 48 County fire benefit assessment. This new tax could be substantial, and would be levied in addition to the current CSA 48 property tax. The Board voted October 22 to move forward with this ballot action, referring to the staff’s claim that “County Fire recommends” the Board do so. However, maybe that letter of recommendation and all that staff claimed is not legally correct.

The “Letter of Recommendation” came from FDAC.  However, I attended the meeting at which the FDAC supposedly voted unanimously to make this recommendation and it was not at all what was represented in the staff report to the Board. The FDAC never saw the engineer’s report before it went to the Board. There were only three FDAC members that attended the meeting, but there were other non-voting staff present. Doug Aumack said that the FDAC could not make any recommendations, but Michael Beaton insisted that they do, and pressured them to do so.  

The three FDAC members approved IN CONCEPT action to augment County Fire revenue, but never explicitly recommended the ballot action at hand. Michael Beaton wrote in his staff report to the Board that there were 10 members of FDAC present at the meeting and the vote was unanimous to send the ballot to the property owners.

Here is a link to the minutes of that FDAC meeting (it does not include members of the public who were also present).  I have just noted that the vote recorded for the Item included a vote in favor by Alex Leman. However, the minutes note that Alex Leman was absent.

Also, I think it needs to be pointed out that Carey Pico, the Second District FDAC representative, does not live within the CSA 48 boundaries, and therefore cannot legally support a tax increase for CSA 48.

This was recently established in Santa Cruz County Superior Court by Judge Paul Burdick when residents of the San Lorenzo Valley School District argued that Supervisor Bruce McPherson could not legally sign on to the Measure S school bond ballot measure as a supporter because he does not live in the school district boundaries.  Therefore, Carey Pico should have abstained from any vote on the CSA 48 tax issue.

I submitted a letter that is attached to the October 22 hearing item about the incongruity of what the FDAC actually had done and what Mr. Beaton’s report stated to the Board.

At the October 22 hearing, Supervisor John Leopold did ask Michael Beaton about the FDAC recommendation, and I believe that Mr. Beaton just stated that there had been a quorum present and the vote was unanimous. Doug Aumack, dressed in his County Fire uniform, testified in support of the action. I think it would be worthwhile to review the video of this public hearing (Item #12 at the 1pm hearing) 

I think there are some very serious issues we need to raise in writing. In my experience, it is best to send these issues to the Board early because they will not do anything at the hearing to make staff look questionable if we wait to bring it up at the hearing. 

Write your County Supervisor and raise question of legality in this very vaguely – calculated tax that has rounded UP all acreage to a whole acre amount for assessment, which can mean substantial tax difference for “invisible land”. 

A reader who lives in the Nisene Marks State Park area let me know that for the past two weeks, the road leading into the Park has been posted daily with the sign you see below, barring visitors from driving to the hiking trail heads, and forcing them to park dangerously alongside the pothole-filled road. I wanted to see if the sign were removed one evening, so drove in on Aptos Creek Road at dusk. The sign was indeed folded and stowed, but there were hikers and bikers dodging potholes in an effort to return to their vehicles parked behind the Aptos Station Center.  

I gave one such young woman a ride. She was grateful because she had not come prepared to have to walk alone at night in the woods for an extra couple of miles to return to her car in Aptos Village. It would seem that perhaps it is time the State Parks considers providing a shuttle bus for such vulnerable visitors at the end of the day when the “PARKING FULL” signs have to go up. Write Mr. Chris Spohrer with your thoughts.

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

January 1, 2020
#1 / Dealing With Dementia: Walk And Write

Happy New Year to all!

A whole new calendar awaits us, and for those of us who just had a post-Christmas birthday (and even for others, who didn’t, but who do approach a New Year with the thought that they are getting older), visions of dementia float through our heads.

Of course, I am exaggerating! How to deal with dementia isn’t, actually, the very first thought that came to mind as I woke up on this January 1st. Still, while I can’t speak for anyone else, I am almost positive, as John Lennon might have said, that “I am not the only one.” I am not the only one who does consider the possibility that dementia is an issue to which I should pay some increasing attention as I get older.

Because certain mental failings and lapses do come to my attention from time to time, I am comforted by the thought that I am not so far gone that I don’t even realize that I have a bit of a problem in coming up with the right word, or name, as quickly as I’d like, and as quickly as I used to. Again, however, the idea that age and dementia are related is not a new idea for me. How to deal with it?

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last November titled, “What Science Tells Us About Preventing Dementia.” Presuming you can slither past a possible paywall, I recommend the article. Here’s a pretty adequate summary:

When it comes to battling dementia, the unfortunate news is this: Medications have proven ineffective at curing or stopping the disease and its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease. But that isn’t the end of the story. According to a recent wave of scientific studies, we have more control over our cognitive health than is commonly known. We just have to take certain steps—ideally, early and often—to live a healthier lifestyle.

In fact, according to a recent report commissioned by the Lancet, a medical journal, around 35% of dementia cases might be prevented if people do things including exercising and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities. “When people ask me how to prevent dementia, they often want a simple answer, such as vitamins, dietary supplements or the latest hyped idea,” says Eric Larson, a physician at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle and one of a group of scientists who helped prepare the report. “I tell them they can take many common-sense actions that promote health throughout life.”

My personal take-away from the article (confirming what I have learned from my own experience), is that Walking and Writing are two important ways to make sure I stay connected with the world. For what it is worth, if you are thinking about those oft-adopted, seldom achieved, “New Year’s Resolutions,” I would like to suggest walking and writing as two ways to deal with and defeat dementia (and the threat thereof).

For me, because I do take seriously that “writing” part, you can look forward to another 365 days of “We Live In A Political World.”
God Willing / Inshallah!

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. Scroll below for yet another Sub Con and a peek way inside our driving forces. 

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Terriorism and Violationism” 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

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS Concert #3. The concert title is From the Old World to the New:Schubert and 21 st Century America

Music by Schubert, Rebecca Clarke, Henry Mollicone, John Wineglass, Emily Wong  

It happens Saturday, January 11, 7:30 pm and Sunday, January 12, 3:00 pm. The musicians are;Kristin Garbeff, Concert Director and cello; Cynthia Baehr-Williams, violin; Chad Kaltinger, Viola; Kumiko Uyeda, Piano.

Travel through time as we begin with Schubert in 19th century Europe and emerge in California in the 21st century. The program begins with Schubert’s masterful Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat Major then moves to the new world with Morpheus, Rebecca Clarke’s impressionist-inspired work for viola and piano. From there we explore the beauty and tragedy of 21st century American composers, all of whom have ties to Santa Cruz and the SF Bay Area. Henry Mollicone’s heaven-inspired work for violin and piano was written in remembrance of his dear friend. John Wineglass’ piano trio explores new soundscapes with haunting melodies as it depicts the last days of Diana, Princess of Wales. Last on the program is Emily Wong’s jazz-influenced tribute to the victims of September 11th. Their concerts are at Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos (Off Highway 1 at Freedom Blvd.) 

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: ” ‘Tis the season when we get all nostalgic about the year that’s just ended. I beg to differ. Fast away the old year passes, and it couldn’t happen soon enough for me! Find out why, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( ). What kind of a year did you have?” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.


THE TWO POPES. Anthony Hopkins plays Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Based on a terribly troubled time in the Catholic Church namely 2005 these two leaders argue and discuss their personal and public issues that become completely absorbing. Yes, child abuse is in there too. Just to watch these tow master actors is a reminder of what and where good acting can take audiences. Go see it, but do hurry.

LITTLE WOMEN. Another movie version of the classic Louisa May Alcott book. Greta Gerwig was the new director and she cut up the timeline, added some modern dialogue in spots and it’s well worth seeing. Saoirse Ronan heads the cast with Emma Watson and Laura Dern filling in the family members. 95 on RT. CLOSES THURSDAY JANUARY 9 

UNCUT GEMS. 92 RT. Adam Sandler is amazingly perfect in this role of a New York City Jeweler/ gambler who risks his family and his own life to make a quick (two days) bundle of money on a gem sale. You will never forget Sandler in this film. Exciting, tense, and believable. Don’t miss it. Sandler’s acting talent is surprising, especially when we have become so used to his comedy roles.

MARRIAGE STORY. A fine and well acted film about a show biz couple, their children , divorce, and some odd choices by Scarlett Johansson the wife to Adam Driver’s husband. Laura Dern does her best role in decades. Alan Alda and Ray Liotta have some small scenes. You are guaranteed to relive some of your own poor choices in your marriage too! 84 audience score on RT.A Netflix production.

AERONAUTS. Felicity Jones plays a very cute and Disney like character matching Eddie Redmayne’s equally sweet and nerdy partner in this supposedly true story of an early hot air balloon ascension in Britain’s Victorian age in 1862. It’s cute, some funny parts a bit scary due to heights of the balloon It’s on Amazon.

STAR WARS. THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. 54 RT. George Lucas’ Star Wars empire started 42 years ago with wildly clever and intelligent twists and an absolutely brilliant story line. We watched politely while some sad sequels stained our screens, now thanks to Disney buying and producing this concluding finale we have an ending to the saga that isn’t worth your time or expectations. Trite, predictable, and sad to see our old heroes and heroines suffer with a plot as dull and unrewarding as this one. You have to go if you’ve seen more than one of the series…just don’t expect to be satisfied with the conclusion.

RICHARD JEWELL. Once again right wing conservative Clint Eastwood directs a film with his usual hidden political statements. This time it’s based on a true story about a security guard who discovers a bomb hidden in an Atlanta park in 1996. The FBI decides that the guard planted the bomb himself. Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates do super jobs in the totally exciting movie. Eastwood twisted the story to have reporter Olivia Wilde swap sex for a tip from FBI guy Jon Hamm. It wasn’t true and folks are really upset that Eastwood made up this indignity. And it’s an exciting movie….go anyways. 96 audience score on RT. 73 RT from critics. CLOSES THURSDAY JANUARY 9.

A HIDDEN LIFE. If and that’s a big IF you are a Terrence Malick fan you’ll love this masterpiece that he directed. Malick directed Paradise, Amazing Grace, The Tree of life, The Knight of Cups, The New World and other lengthy cinematic statements. Hidden Life is almost exact;ly 3 hours long. It’s totally beautiful and is about a family man who refuses to enter the German army during WWII. I tried to like it, but Malick takes so much screen time to get his complex internal messages out I lose contact. I predict that future generations will “discover” Malick’s films and give them the attention he’s not getting from us.

HONEY BOY. This is Shia LaBeouf’s movie. Not only does he star, but he wrote the screenplay and plays his own father’s role. It’s about LaBeouf’s life in show biz and the bad and good influence his dad had, and has, on him. Very few, if any, laughs — but a well done search into what fame and no fortune can do to you. Go for it!

DARK WATERS. You’ll never look at your Teflon or DuPont products the same way after seeing this fine film. Mark Ruffalo plays the real-life attorney who finally wins his case against DuPont, with the political and financial odds stacked 100% in favor of DuPont, the world’s largest chemical company. Just in case you want to stop supporting DuPont, stop using Kevlar, Styrofoam, Corian, Dow Corning, Great Stuff, Prima Green and many more names you can find on their website.

JOJO RABBIT. Centered on Nazi Germany, this is very rare political comedy with funny scenes. A little boy has Adolf Hitler as an invisible buddy. Scarlett Johansson plays the little boy’s mom, and does one of very finest acting jobs, ever. Hitler and the screwed up political/ military scene will make you think of Trump and our own screwed up political/ military scene. A wonderful and rare film, do not miss it!! 

PARASITE. South Korean director Bong Joon-ho outdid his other international screen successes with Parasite. Wikipedia calls it a dark comedy thriller and so do I. It’s winning awards everywhere and deserves them all. There’s brain surgery, murder, basement dwellers, numerous surprises, even some shocks and well worth your seeing it ASAP.

CATS. Hard to believe this insanity of a movie is from a book by T.S. Eliot. It’s even more difficult to acknowledge the amazing stage history of the musical. Judy Dench, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and dozens more stars wore whiskers; and danced and made fools of themselves only for millions of dollars in salaries. Andrew Lloyd Webber himself refuses to talk about this flop. It got an 18 RT. As a play it has also been playing on stages around the world for 40 years!!! They spent $95 million dollars to make this movie. I wouldn’t see it if I were you. When D.B. and I saw it we were the only two people in the theatre.!!!



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. January 7 Kara Guzman and Stephen Baxter from Santa Cruz Local open the show. Then Tandy Beal and Jon Scoville talk about “Scoville Units”. Peter Klotz-Chamberlin from The Resource Center for Non Violence guests on Jan. 14. Michel Singher conductor of the Espressivo Orchestra talks about their concerts on Jan. 21. 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 

Sin Sisters Burlesque! Come check it out this weekend – always on the second Saturday of every month. This is a burlesque show that has graced the stage in Santa Cruz monthly for going on 9 years!

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. 


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead 

“Begin anywhere.” – John Cage 

“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” – Vern McLellan

COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

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82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
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