Blog Archives

April 16 – 22, 2018

Highlights this week:
BRATTON about stopping UCSC Growth meeting, stopping the Nissan Dealership in Soquel, moving city offices to the present library site, what “420” celebration?, Frankenstein’s 200th Celebration…GREENSITE on council decision for West Cliff path e-bike project…KROHN Google buses, UCSC growth issues, Density Bonuses, some original poetry, jump bikes, fiber optic cables, BearCat tank usage, more meetings…STEINBRUNER drinking recycled toilet water, Rancho Del Mar update and important meeting, Aptos Village insults, available water for Santa Cruz?…PATTON and UCSC Student Housing West…EAGAN and Brain Aneurism Trump…DeCINZO and classic Coonerty…Munching with Mozart…Santa Cruz Chamber players…JENSEN keeps writing and editing…Bratton critiques Beirut, Finding Your Feet, Truth or Dare, Rampage…UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUESTS…QUOTES about BOOKS.


THE BOARDWALK’S PLEASURE PIER. Circa September 1953. The pier was built in 1904 and named the “Electric Pier”. It was taken down in 1964, at the same time they filled in the plunge baths inside the Boardwalk’s Casino.                                                        

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

RAISING THOSE BABIES. These are not the best of moments, but they’re funny.

DATELINE April 16, 2018

STOPPING UCSC GROWTH MEETING. The Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (C.L.U.E.) has planned an important meeting for this Thursday, April 19. It’s all about stopping UCSC from adding 12,500 new students. If you care about the future of Santa Cruz — and maintaining any sense of the unique community we still have — it’s a meeting you shouldn’t miss. Gary Patton, in his article printed below in BrattonOnline, talks about UCSC growth and says, “If the University President is proposing to build 14,000 beds in the entire UC system, and UCSC is going to furnish 3,000 of those beds, then the President of the University is suggesting that the UCSC campus provide 21% of the new beds. Well, is there something wrong with that? I think maybe there is!”  The CLUE press release states:

“The University of California, Santa Cruz is proposing to increase enrollment to 28,000 students by 2040, an increase of 8,500 students from the 19,500 limit allowed by 2020 under a lawsuit settlement in 2008. Including the additional faculty and staff needed to serve these students, and their families, the total of new residents will come to about 12,500, roughly equal to the population of Scotts Valley”.

Can our area handle an increase of that many people? We already have a serious shortage of housing, let alone affordable housing; our roads and streets are regularly jammed with traffic; and our water supply is challenged.

On June 5, Santa Cruz voters will be asked to decide whether they think the present enrollment cap of 19,500 students should remain in effect. While the ballot measure, known as Measure U, is not legally binding on UCSC, it is hoped the voters will send a strong message to the university that its impact on the town is already at — or beyond — the city’s ability to handle without critical problems.

In support of Measure U, and to organize ongoing opposition to more UCSC growth, CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (which successfully fought to limit UCSC growth 10 years ago) is holding a meeting at the Santa Cruz Police Station Community Room, 155 Center Street, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Speakers will include County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, City Councilmembers Cynthia Mathews and Chris Krohn, Save Santa Cruz leader and former County Supervisor Gary PattonTed Benhari and John Aird of CLUE, Sierra Club Chair Gillian Greensite, UCSC Professor Emeritus Jim Clifford of the East Meadow Action Committee, and Supervisor Coonerty aide and UCSC Environmental Studies lecturer Andy Schiffrin.

Measure U was placed on the ballot by the Santa Cruz City Council. Both the Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors have approved a resolution urging the university to limit enrollment to the current 19,500 limit, which UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal has flatly rejected.

UCSC’s past growth has already had an impact on the quality of education at the college. Students are jammed into every available space, seats in classes and at the libraries are scarce, and transportation delays often prevent students from getting to classes on time. To house new students, UCSC has embarked on a construction plan that includes a highly controversial development on the East Meadow, which many consider a violation of the vision of UCSC’s founding fathers, who sought to minimize the impact of buildings.

If UCSC does indeed grow to 28,000 students, a nearly 50% increase, it will very likely require construction of some 4.5 million square feet of new buildings (dormitories, classrooms, laboratories, libraries, etc.), equal to about 37 Costco Warehouses stores! This would be, by far, the largest construction project in the history of Santa Cruz.

It’s time to say: while we appreciate all that UCSC has brought to Santa Cruz, enough is enough!

The eager and very active Sustainable Soquel group sent an urgent announcement. It states… “Everything about this Auto Dealership Project is Wrong! It has been proposed for the worst-rated intersection for traffic in the county, and rushed and promoted by the CAO’s office and Planning Department. Unlike most cities, our county has no prepared transport truck route requirements, no “on” or “off” street loading requirements, and no delivery time requirement or test drive route requirements.

Trucks in this center lane location exacerbate the unsafe and unbearable traffic jams EVERY DAY!!!!! This project ignores the “guiding principles and Strategies” of the County Sustainable Plan recommendations, which supports local business and mixed use designs to improve and benefit our local community’s way of life. Say NO to changing the zoning from C-2 mixed use Commercial to C-4 Service Commercial industrial.

Your voice and presence is critically needed. Please attend the Planning Commission Hearing on

April 25th meeting  at 9:00 A.M. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at 701 Ocean Street, Room 525. It’s urgent that you come in person, or send your comments to:  

Planning Commissioners: Dann, Shaffer Freitas, Guth, Lazenby, Shepherd

Through staff:

And to: Todd Sexauer, Environmental Coordinator,

and send those comments to Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Leopold, Friend, Caput, McPherson, Coonerty

County of Santa Cruz Planning Department
701 Ocean Street, 4th Floor
Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060

Here’s a Link to the Final Environmental Impact Report

Sustainable Plan: Santa Cruz County Planning Department

CITY OFFICES IN THE LIBRARY? An important factor in the Santa Cruz City Staff’s urgent plot to spend that money to build a new library with the five story parking lot above it is that City Manager Martin Bernal has said many times — but not too publicly — that the city wants to move some old and some new offices into the present library space. We need to remember that.

420 CELEBRATION…OUTDATED? Has it dawned on everybody now that weed is legal that the annual huge smoke-in held at UCSC’s west meadow will be sorta anti-climactic? We should take bets on the total number of attendees, compared to other years.

FRANKENSTEIN AT THE MAH!!! This is the 200th anniversary celebration of Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein. There are celebrations up at Stanford and around the world this week, pointing out the importance of the book. Cabrilho College’s Honor Transfer program is presenting a free celebration this Wednesday, at the Museum Of Art and History. There will be “lighting” talks by five Cabrilho faculty members. Topics include; What does it mean to be human, How does technology define us? How do women resist marginalization? and lots more. The Celebration goes from 5-6:30 p.m. and then folks can walk over to the Nickelodeon where they’ve set up a special screening of National Theatre Live’s production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch at 7 p.m.

April 16 2018


Despite considerable public opposition and concerns, the city council voted unanimously to approve the installation of the final group of 27 electric bike stations, including those proposed for West Cliff Drive path. Those who spoke and wrote to council were not opposed to the bike-share program per se. They were opposed to locating several hubs along the heavily travelled West Cliff Drive path. The majority of speakers cited safety concerns on this already crowded path with walkers, dogs, Segways, bikes, strollers, skate-boarders et al. Also raised was the visual impact of 14 bright orange bikes plus 6- foot signage between the path and the ocean, a violation of the city ordinance, which prohibits the erection of such signage. An idea of what to expect is contained in the simulated photo.  

Despite my 35 years attending city council meetings, it still takes me by surprise when council regards the public as second cousin to city staff. It’s not an equal playing field by any means. Staff is well paid for developing projects. They work full-time, collect data that support the project, ignore data that doesn’t and spend months creating attractive presentations to showcase for the policy makers. Meanwhile the public gets to hear about the project a few days ahead of its presentation, if they are paying attention. Increasingly council looks to staff for answers rather than engaging with their fellow council members in robust debate. A council meeting in my mind, should be a place where the public’s input is primary and the policy-makers’ decisions reflect that input. True, sometimes the public is misinformed or the deck is stacked with well-organized interest groups and council has the authority to ignore both. But it is clear to anyone who follows city council that the role of staff has become far more influential. Absent a huge turnout, the public is routinely ignored or at best, thrown a few crumbs. For this issue, even the crumbs were swept off the table for the final vote of approval.

Council members Krohn, Brown and Noroyan tried to get support for sending the West Cliff path stations back to the Public Works/ Transportation Commission to explore alternative sites such as along Delaware, or near the proposed Rail/Trail  making it a less impactful choice. They found no support from Terrazas, Watkins, Mathews and Chase. Mathews waffled but eventually supported the West Cliff path stations as, ” making the visitor experience more intimate.” She supported her position by noting that it’s a long way from Lighthouse Point to Natural Bridges and visitors may not want to walk that far, so riding a bike might just make it more pleasing. How can that hypothetical scenario be given more weight than the lived experience of local elderly regular walkers on West cliff path who shared they no longer feel comfortable or safe on such walks?

It remains to be seen how locals will regard this orange intrusion into their territory. No doubt we are a tourist destination and there is no longer a tourist season: it’s a year-round onslaught. Staff’s branding of West Cliff Drive as a “facility” reveals how far they have shifted from simple appreciation for this natural treasure to a commercial model. Still, it’s hard to predict what gets under the skin of locals. When a minor relocation further inland of West Cliff Drive near Lighthouse Point was proposed by an early city council, surfers who had never ever been to a meeting flooded council with massive protests and the idea was eventually dropped. Even a solitary Queen Palm planted at Lighthouse Point a few years ago angered some local sufficiently that it was ripped out and flung over the cliff.

Since commonsense, available alternatives and expressed concerns failed to sway staff or council, one can assume there’s another agenda in the wings. It is conceivable that this project is intended to congest West Cliff path sufficiently to create the conditions for staff to propose closing one lane of West Cliff Drive and making it one way. Such a proposal would ensure that the lower Westside neighborhoods would become throughways for massive amounts of coastal traffic, ending the relative calm and safety of these neighborhoods. This has been tried before. Opposition was swift and effective. Council can ignore the few of us who attend meetings; they can let staff run the show but they should be prepared for the massive opposition such a scheme would incite. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.

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.

April 16, 2018


Google Buses, UCSC Growth, and Density Bonuses, Oh My!
I’ve been trying to piece together this crazy time we are living in. Because of the dizzying pace of TrumpvilleComey book, Syria bombing, the constant Whitehouse staff turnover, environmental deregulation on every front, and the debilitating effect Trump Tweeting has on the nation—I begin to shut down and go into a kind of hyper local mode. Affordable housing, rent control, UCSC growth, putting libraries in garages, homeless camps, Google-Apple buses on Pacific Avenue, building on the East Meadow of campus, and real estate vultures using rent control to scare people into selling…all that somehow seems tamer, and immensely more interesting than the D.C. scene. I also keep wondering about the Federal government’s overreach and the coming battles over cannabis, sanctuary cities, climate disturbance and off-shore oil drilling. Is Trump pushing California towards even more progressive stances? Santa Cruz too.

Density Bonuses and a Map
The Density Bonus issue, along with the potential passage of SB827, will likely impact Santa Cruz in ways that create more expensive housing, tax our water infrastructure even more, and make it ever harder to pick up kids at 3 o’clock and take them to their baseball games, dance rehearsals, or piano lessons…Go to and follow one of my constituents suggestions: “Zoom in on Santa Cruz and you will see the area..both sides of the River…past Ocean and most of Downtown and Ocean…and this density…does not guarantee affordable housing…the equation for 35% density, so if 20 units – 2 low-income…and they add 7 units of bonus so [the yield is] 27 market-rate and 2 low-income.  That is far less than half of our previous 15% inclusionary model.”  Beware of the state wrapping shiny housing mandates using colorful developer paper and ribbons.


Are all these issues related? Are we living out a kind of “House That Jack Built” reality in Surf City? You remember the poem:

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

Important Dates on How to Stay Woke
April 19–If you are OPPOSED to any more UCSC growth you want to be in the house on Thursday, 7pm, Police Community Room. It will be a forum to make the case why 19,500 students are our city limit and no more! Ryan Coonerty, Gary Patton, Gillian Greensite, and Cynthia Mathews will all be presenting their views on UCSC growth. Don’t miss this one.

April 18People’s Democratic Club (PDC) endorsement forum for the June 5th election will take place starting at 6:30pm this Thurs. at the Democratic HQ in the Galleria Building on Front Street, downtown.

April 21NAACP hosts Amos Brown at their annual Gala event at the Dream Inn, Sat., 5-8pm. You do not want to miss this one either. Former San Francisco supervisor and civil rights activist icon Amos Brown is the real deal!

May 1–This is one of those meetings that slips through the cracks because the Warriors are on, or the school play is happening, or the book you’re writing needs attention…At 7pm on Tuesday, May 1st, the Santa Cruz City Council will be discussing the downtown growth plan. Just so we are clear, many things are on the table: the library-garage project; proposals for 800 units of housing development in and around the Metro center; the future of the old library building (if it in fact moves into the bottom of a gleaming 5-story parking structure!?!); the proposed new site of the downtown Farmer’s Market; and development of the parking lot next to the red church between Center and Cedar streets. That’s a lot!

“I want to thank the teachers across the country who are saying loudly and clearly that taking care of our kids and schools is more important than giving tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations.” (April 3, 2018)
(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).

Email Chris at

April 16, 2018

Soquel Creek Water District insists on moving forward on the “preferred project” to spend $70 Million on the PureWater Soquel Project to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer that supplies drinking water for the MidCounty area (La Selva Beach to Live Oak).  But the Santa Cruz Sentinel featured an interesting article about the area’s diminished threat of sea water intrusion due to over pumping because the groundwater levels have actually risen. 

Here is the link to that good article

Yet, a recent study done by the Danish company Ramboll for the MidCounty Groundwater Agency indicated that the seawater threat to destroy the drinking water supply is imminent, with salt water detected at the shoreline in most of the MidCounty area.  Soquel Creek Water District staff has stated that when that condition occurs, the salt water will be into the production wells that supply drinking water within two years.  The Ramboll study gave a snapshot of what the situation was last August, but did not incorporate the results of similar studies in the area conducted in 2014 by Stanford University’s Dr. Rosemary Knight.  Instead, the report used a theoretical computer model produced by Oakland-based HydroMetrics, funded mainly by Soquel Creek Water District but with recent financial support from the MidCounty Groundwater Agency.

Visit the MidCounty Groundwater Agency representatives this Thursday, April 19 at the Community Foundation (across from the Rancho del Mar/Safeway center in Aptos) from 10am-noon and ask your questions.  Unlike the Board meetings, citizens can engage in meaningful discussion and get some answers.


Here is the link to the Soquel Creek Water District Board Agenda for Tuesday, April 17, where the Board will consider (Item 6.3) approval of an amended contract with the engineering firm working on the $70 Million treated sewage water injection project, PureWater Soquel

The Aptos Times reported that Supervisor Zach Friend, along with Mr. Scott Grady, Rancho del Mar Center Project Manager from TRC Retail, will be at the Rio Sands in Aptos this Wednesday, April 18, to update the public on the Project.   It is actually the quarterly meeting for the Rio del Mar Improvement Association, but is advertised as open to the public.  The meeting begins at 6:30pm, but I suggest you arrive by 6pm to get a seat (and parking place) at what is sure to be standing-room only attendance.

I applaud this public meeting happening, but I really have to wonder why it is at the Rio Sands, with a relatively small room capacity, when last year’s public meeting on the issue drew about 300 interested people? 

Here is the link to the Aptos Times article   

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Becky Steinbruner

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

April 14, 2018 #104 / Student Housing West

I live in Santa Cruz, California, which boasts, among other things, a University of California campus. The Santa Cruz campus is popularly known as UCSC, and is pictured above. It is quite beautiful.

The University has announced plans to add 10,000 students to the local campus. Given the fact that the community is already facing extremely congested traffic conditions, a massive affordable housing crisis, and very significant water security issues, this announcement has not met with a favorable response from almost anyone. Nonetheless, the announcement has been issued by the University, following the D.A.D. principle explained in yesterday’s blog posting. The first two steps have already been taken: “D” (decide), and “A” (announce). The University is now in “D” (defend) mode. Official University spokespeople say there is simply no choice! 

Of course, in all human affairs, there is always a choice. But choosing something different from what the University has announced would require the University to change its plans. What a horror even to contemplate that!

In related news, the University has made another announcement, too, once again employing that tried and true D.A.D. formula:

UC Santa Cruz is undertaking a major housing initiative. The Student Housing West project is part of President Napolitano’s system-wide initiative to build 14,000 beds across the UC by 2020. The UCSC initiative was announced in December 2016.

The new housing development builds upon prior studies and demand analyses conducted in 2014 and 2015. Units will be built for upper division undergraduates, graduate students, and students with families. The project will deliver 3,000 beds to campus by 2022.

Not mentioned in this announcement is the fact that the proposal would require the current campus Long Range Development Plan to be amended, since the current plan puts a premium on the preservation of the beauty of the campus’ natural lands. The beautiful meadows shown in the photo above are considered sacred by present and past students. Those 10,000 proposed future students, presumably, wouldn’t realize that something had been lost if the meadows were filled in with a rather undistinguished, condominium-type housing development. 

People interested in commenting on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the “Student Housing West” proposal, as it is officially denominated, have until May 11, 2018 to get their comments in. The two-volume, 1,100-page Draft EIR can be located by clicking this link

I am thinking that I might comment, and here is one comment that immediately comes to mind, reading the announcement issued by the University, which is partially quoted above.

If the University President is proposing to build 14,000 beds in the entire UC system, and UCSC is going to furnish 3,000 of those beds, then the President of the University is suggesting that the UCSC campus provide 21% of the new beds. 

Well, is there something wrong with that? I think maybe there is! 

The UCSC campus has an approximate enrollment of 19,000 students at the current time. The entire UC system has approximately 273,000 students. In other words, UCSC accounts for approximately 7% of total student enrollment, but the President of the University is proposing to put 21% of the new housing at UCSC. 

It sounds to me like the University needs to start considering alternatives that will relocate that proposed new housing proportionate to the actual student census, which would mean that it should be spread around ALL of the various UC campuses, proportionately, instead of trying to force UCSC to pick up a disproportionately large share of new housing and student growth.

Oh, but that would mean the University would have to change its plans!


Gary 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


CLASSICAL DeCINZO. From the classic DeCinzo files… “an historic Coonerty”  Don’t miss it!!! Scroll below for it.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Tim Eagan’s ” National Health Alert #16 Brain Aneurism Trump”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.

MUNCHING WITH MOZART. This is a series of free monthly concerts at the Central Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. This concert presents music for two pianists with guest soprano, Sheila Wiley. Hear art songs by Schubert, Brahms, R. Straus, as well as music from Oklahoma. Also piano duets by Kurtág, Inghelbrecht, and Leó Weiner. The pianists are Irene Herrmann and Mickey McGushin. This FREE concert is April 19, from 12:10 to 1:00 at the Central Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library, 224 Church Street, Santa Cruz.(in the meeting room upstairs) For more information, email Carol Panofsky at

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. “The Variety Of Three” is the title of their last concert of the season. There’ll be musics by Beethoven, Piazolla, Gliere and Arensky. Ivan Rosenblum, Shannon Delaney, and Kristin Garbeff will perform. The concerts are Saturday April 21 at 7:30 and Sunday April 22 at 3 p.m. As usual the venue is Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos (near the CHP Headquarters).

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa is writing , editing, musing , proofing and reading and will have new stuff next week. Go to her site at Lisa Jensen Online Express (” Lisa has been writing film, theatre reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

BEIRUT. Jon Hamm, star of the near-legendary tv series Mad Men, is an incredibly powerful screen presence. In Beirut he gets a chance to act a role with gravity. Coupled with Rosamund Pike, they make this extremely complex political spy plot very worthwhile watching. If you understand the tensions and history behind what was happening in Lebanon in 1982, you’ll be way ahead. Muslims, The PLO, Israelis, secret agents, Arabs, kidnappings and snipers are the ingredients of this fast-paced thriller… Go prepared.

FINDING YOUR FEET. A GENUINE British comedy, which means a different bunch of reasons to laugh. It’s fast, it’s touching, and it has Imelda Staunton and Timothy Spall in the lead roles. The plot is old and overused and the actors are going through old-age issues, including divorce, fidelity, and facing the future. Corny but fun, go for it. CLOSES Thursday, April 19

TRUTH OR DARE. The full title is Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, but why Blumhouse would want his name on it is beyond me. Blumhouse also directed “Get Out” so it would seem to matter. This earned a 15 on RT…so I’m not alone in warning you about this lame excuse for a horror-murder-teen thriller. Teens get offed by some quasi-religious demon while on a spring break — and the acting is just as bad as the plot.

RAMPAGE. Dwayne Johnson — known as “the Rock” in his wrestling days —definitely has screen presence, and he’s perfect for these numbskull King Kong rip-off movies. The low point is when the giant ape gives Dwayne the middle finger a few times, and near the ending even sinks so low as to laugh and give him the finger-fuck sign. It’s that kind of mentality throughout the entire flick. Don’t even rent it.

A QUIET PLACE. Whew!!! This earned 97 % on Rotten Tomatoes — and is a genuinely scary movie. It’s well-paced, with fine acting, and Emily Blunt does a perfect believable mother, guardian and victim role. It’s upstate New York sometime in the future, and aliens (much like the Shape of Water Thing with longer legs) have taken over. The monsters attack and kill anything they hear, so everybody has be deathly silent…which makes for great suspense and tension. The kid who plays the deaf child Regan is Millicent Simmonds: she’s genuinely deaf, and she’s fabulous. Go see this IF you love scary movies.

CHAPPAQUIDDICK. I didn’t remember that Chappaquiddick was in Martha’s Vineyard. This docu-drama (half true and half BS) is only worth seeing if you remember who Mary Jo Kopechne was, or Robert McNamara or Ted Sorensen. Many of us old-timers look at the Ted Kennedy involvement in Mary Jo’s drowning as another unsolved murder mystery. This film does NOT provide a single new fact or angle to that infamous near-presidential saga — it’s also a very slow, with no notable actors or acting, except Bruce Dern as Joe Kennedy senior.

BLOCKERS.It’s billed as a teenage sex comedy, and while it does have the raunchy, crotch, rectal, sex stuff… it’s got ZERO comedy. Lots of the audience howled at it, I was bored and disgusted at what passes for humor nowadays. It’s about parents trying to stop their three daughters from losing their virginity on prom night. Don’t go!!!

LEAN INTO THE WIND. Andy Goldsworthy’s saga. I had forgotten just how influential Andy Goldsworthy’s message to humanity was, and will continue to be long after we’ve all left. Much like Christo and Jean Claude (“Running Fence”, “The Gates” in NYC) these artists/sculptors force us to appreciate the earth we live on…and in. Like his “Rivers and Tides” documentary from 2003, this movie was filmed in San Francisco and a dozen otherplaces where Goldsworthy has and continues to build and sculpt beautiful and thoughtful designs from the very ground we appear to be destroying more and more rapidly. See this film…I guarantee you’ll love our earth even more than you do now.HURRY!!! It closes Thursday April 10.

THE DEATH OF STALIN. This would-be comedy is much like “Veep” — the TV series based on inside White House “secret” humor. They are similar because both are directed by the same guy. The problem is that we (or I especially) don’t know anything about the Russian government under Stalin. In addition it’s based on a graphic novel. If you know the roles Khrushchev or Malenkov played, or just who Beria supported, you’ll be way ahead and might even laugh. It’s a bitter, biting, mean type of humor and not my style.

ISLE OF DOGS. This is Wes Anderson’s latest, and I didn’t like it any more than any of his other sideways attempts at new cinema statements. The Royal Tannenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel all not just bored me but left me mystified. Rushmore was a notch up. Isle of Dogs uses cute Japanese-themed names like Kobayashi, Atari, Watanabe, Yoko-ono, and the clever Major Domo. The very famous and excellent Hollywood persons who do the voices are near legendary, but Anderson’s attempt at cleverness, brilliance and just plain story telling once again leaves me very cold and bored.

READY PLAYERONE. The last video game I remember playing was Atari’s “Pong” back in 1972 or 73 with Manny Santana and John Tuck in “The Med” (Mediterranean Restaurant), next door to Manuels Restaurant on Center Street in Aptos. Video games have evolved since, and this Spielberg  FX extravaganza is all about avatars, time travel, old timey movies, TV shows and memorabilia…and features so much space jumping and time warping that I lost interest after about 15 minutes. It was too much trouble, and besides that it’s set in Columbus, Ohio in 2045. A very large and long and dull film from a director who usually can focus more sharply.

UNSANE.Real film followers know what to expect when it’s a Steven Soderbergh film, and Unsane is one of his best works. Claire Foy (star of The Queen) is the tortured lead and Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project and Higher Ground) is her stalker/torturer. It’s the scary, numbing story of a woman who is troubled psychologically to begin with,and then makes the scary mistake of signing documents that she didn’t read. That possibility alone should scare and wake all of us. Soderbergh shot the entire film on an iPhone, edited it at night and in 10-12 days had it finished. That he has the courage and talent to go against the billion dollar corporate films being produced today is extraordinary. A unique film, as are most of Soderbergh’s creations…it’s not easy to watch, and the acting is near-perfect. Full& happy disclosure, I sat with Joshua Leonard’s parents, who are old friends, who left their Watsonville home for Santa Cruz’s Del Mar theatre to see his newest. Go for it!!!

LOVE, SIMON. This is a very light, music background, story of a teen age boy coming out as gay. It contains drama, real pain, peer and penis envy and it’s still “lighter than heir”.(Pun intended). No stars involved, but it’s a nice movie.

ANNIHILATION. This is the Natalie Portman science fiction thriller that got an 87 on RT. If you pay close attention there is quite a moral, philosophic base to the plot. Like one line I can’t forget…”all humans self destruct either by suicide, drinking or smoking”. The same director did “Ex Machina” so you can tell he’s got something to say. But it’s way too hard to follow. There’s a sort of foggy, swirly, shimmer wall and people go through the wall. The dead come back to life, time goes back on itself, and on and on. Maybe if you really concentrate and stay awake you’ll get some kind of profound meaning from Annihilation…I’m not sure.

BLACK PANTHER. Like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman created a lot of good will and empowered women Black Panther does the same for Blacks in America and around the rest of the world. Both are based on comics – DC and Marvel respectively – and are full of violence, killings and special effects. I’m finding it more and more difficult to see these action films with messages like revenge, torture, and blood and guts as having any semblance of cinematic art. Black Panther is science fiction, space travel and still the characters use spears and super hi tech weapons to kill each other. There are messages in this movie so I read…but I sensed nothing positive in it. Now I wonder since this has been such a blockbuster if we’ll see Mexican Panther, Chinese Panther, Croatian Panther? Got beat by …..

TOMB RAIDER 2018. Angelina Jolie (Oscar winner and ultra conservative actor Jon Voight’s daughter) starred in the first two Tomb Raider films, in 2001 and 2003. Now, with a 50 RT score Alicia Vikander, Dominic West and Kristin ScottThomas (in a very small role) have tried to bring back that comic book-type spectacle. It’s 98% special effects, and centers on a search for some mythical spirit power…I think. Sleep overtook me, at about 11:30 am on a Saturday morning. Tomb Raider was once a video game, if that gives you any more clues whether or not you’d like it.

A WRINKLE IN TIME. The much hyped adapting of this hugely popular children’s book by black woman director Ava DuVernay is a flop. Even with Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon and Zach Galifianakis it’s still a flop, and got a 42 on Rotten Tomatoes. Many women friends have told me Wrinkle was their favorite book when they were little. It’s so far out so otherworldly so fantastical it becomes unwakeable while you try to watch it. Think of time world-travel children’s classics like Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, ET, Fantasia and more. I saw it in 3D and it didn’t help, I couldn’t follow it…and there didn’t seem to be any reason to do so.



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. . On April 17 Davis Banta director of Assassins at Mountain Community Theatre talks about the Sondheim musical. Then Jeffrey Smedberg and Amanda Altice from The Reel Work Film Festival reveal this year’s festival films. Candace Brown discusses the choosing of a new Parks and Recreation Director on April 24. May 1st has Kathy Bisbee talking about Virtual Reality and Air Pollution. May 8 is KZSC’s bi-annual Pledge Drive time. 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

Get ready for some laughs…

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.

“So many books, so little time.” Frank Zappa
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”   Groucho Marx,
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Jorge Luis Borges
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx

COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Click and enter the box in the upper right hand corner of each Column. 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!) Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email:
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @


Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

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