Blog Archives

April 25 – May 1, 2018

Highlights this week:
BRATTON…about CLUE’s meeting to stop UCSC growth, UCSC’s cruel and vindictative 420 weed citations, KSQD meeting and progress, Netflix and the Del Mar and Nickelodeon. GREENSITE on UCSC future growth…KROHN and non-transparency and the City Council, council agenda questions, 6 foot height limit on Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz city budget questions, many meetings, Bernie Tweet…STEINBRUNER about SB623 and Bill Monning problem, toilet water and re-use for drinking it, Soquel and costly water consultants and why?, Seawater intrusion in Soquel, Aptos/Soquel’s new fire chief, County supes and expensive contractors…PATTON and racist views on Barbara Bush…EAGAN sees links between Cohen and Hannity…DeCINZO and coffee nerves …JENSEN and Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and Final Portrait…BRATTON critiques You Were Never Really Here, Final Portrait and almost everything else playing locally…UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE FUTURE GUESTS…QUOTES about “MAY”


THE DOUGLAS HOUSE NEAR THE BOARDWALK. Circa 1888. Near where the Sea Beach hotel was built later.                                                        

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Ralph Davila’s sense of togetherness is obvious. Take a look.

DATELINE April 23, 2018

STOP UNIVERSITY GROWTH. I asked  John Aird — chairman of C.L.U.E. — to give a report of last week’s meeting. He sent…

Last Thursday (4/19) in the face of UCSC planning underway in the context of an approximate target increase of 50% in student enrollment growth, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE) held a packed meeting of community members to brief them on the status of current university growth planning, and its implications for the Santa Cruz community. CLUE’s current leadership is Ted Benhari, Gary Patton, Reed Searle and me. As our campaign picks up, I expect that other key leaders will be added. There were probably 100 people in attendance.  Speakers included City Council Members Cynthia Mathews and Chis Krohn, County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, community leaders Ted Benhari, Gillian Greensite, Andy Shiffrin, and Gary Patton, and UCSC students Chayla Fisher and Maxine Jimenez and retired UCSC faculty member Jim Clifford. City Council member Cynthia Mathews said the Council opposed any more growth as “our housing is already a crisis now and adding any more students would make it a complete disaster”……….” For that reason, The Council put Measure U on the June Ballot to send a clear message to University leaders that Santa Cruz cannot support more growth”.

With traffic backed up and streets clogged, water security uncertain, and available affordable housing non-existent, Santa Cruz cannot absorb further university growth without suffering fundamental and permanent damage. The University has viable alternatives that should be pursued. Among those cited included concentrating more growth at its new Merced campus, opening one or more new campuses elsewhere, or regional exploration of potential development sites in Watsonville and/or on its university-owned land in Marina. This was the unanimous conclusion of all speakers. Those providing student and faculty perspectives also importantly added the fact that, with current inadequate class facilities and faculty to even support its current enrollment level, consideration of any further growth made even less sense.

Measure U has been placed on the June 5 election ballot to send an unequivocal message to UCSC locally and the President and Regents of the University system as a whole that enough is enough! Santa Cruz cannot absorb and will not accept any further growth. Vote YES for Measure U to make sure that message is heard loud and clear. What else can people do? Write letters to the editor to support Measure U and get friends and neighbors committed to voting “YES” on MEASURE U.

UCSC 420 CELEBRATION AND POLICE CITATIONS. Does anyone else wonder why — with all the negative community reactions to the ever-growing UCSC plots and plans —this year police issued so many citations to the 420 celebrants? I mean, this was the first year of legalized weed, and you’d think UCSC would relax a little, or even support students having harmless fun.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel report (4/21) stated. “This year’s crowd was about 30 percent the size of last year’s, when there were no citations issued for marijuana-related offenses, UC Santa Cruz police reported. UCSC Police Chief Nader Oweis said “dozens of citations” were issued Friday by a team of 100 officers from UC campuses statewide, local law enforcement agencies and California Highway Patrol. “We wrote citations for everything, from distracted driving and vehicle and pedestrian violations, to people smoking marijuana in public, smoking marijuana in a no-smoking zone, smoking marijuana within 1,000 feet of a day-care center, being under 21 and smoking marijuana,” Oweis said. Hundreds of vehicles went through a checkpoint at Empire Grade and Heller Drive on campus. Highway Patrol made four DUI arrests”.   

UNBELIEVABLE!! They actually brought in officers from UC campuses statewide…it makes one (or thousands) wonder just what the UC system is trying to do? Can they treat students any more cruelly? They already charge too high tuition, they have terrible living and study conditions… and still they support increasing marijuana citations. WHY?

KSQD UPDATE. I didn’t count the attendees last Thursday (4/19) at the KSQD meeting, but just about every chair was taken. They’ve had almost 90 program proposals so far and many more ideas were floated that day. That sounds great, but there’s at least 126 hours to fill in a broadcast week. They’ve also just about cemented in their new station location and are near completing the station antenna details. Some other big news is that they’ve acquired Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now broadcasts and also Thom Hartmann’s progressive radio program. It looks like it’ll be a few months yet before “Air-time” but it’s happening.

NETFLIX, LANDMARK, NICKLEDEON & THE DEL MAR. Last week someone wrote to the Sentinel asking Reed Hastings- Netflix CEO and Santa Cruz resident to please buy our Nickelodeon and Del Mar theatres, since Landmark is/was trying to sell their entire string of theatres. Lo and behold today’s (4/23) San Francisco Chronicle had an article titled … “And the theater goes to…Netflix? Maybe”. It stated… “Netflix, the global streaming giant that has dramatically changed the TV industry and clashed with movie theater owners, may be ready to move onto the big screen in a new and surprising way — by owning cinemas. The Los Gatos company has explored the idea of buying movie theaters in Los Angeles and New York that would allow it to screen its growing pipeline of feature films and documentaries, according to people familiar with the situation. Netflix executives considered acquiring Landmark Theatres, the circuit co-owned by Mark Cuban, but recently backed off the idea, said two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are private. One of the knowledgeable people said Netflix decided not to pursue a deal because executives believed the sale price was too high. Although no cinema deal has materialized, the idea of Netflix buying a theater chain would mark a new phase in the company’s rapid ascent to become one of the most powerful players in the entertainment industry”.

So that’s that…maybe. But Reed Hastings could just buy our two nicely successful theatres and continue what Bill and Nancy Raney and Jim Schwenterley started so many decades ago.

April 23, 2018

A number of people who attended the public meeting organized by CLUE (Coalition for Limiting University Expansion) asked that I share more widely the presentation I gave. Here it is:

I am an admirer of the UC system of higher education.  I worked at UCSC for 30 years and have a deep love for its natural lands, its students and its mission. My criticisms are directed at the Office of the President’s lack of planning for UC student growth, which has caused this crisis, and the Office of the President’s indifference to our town’s pleas for relief from the impacts of such growth, which is destroying the livability of our neighborhoods, impacting workers, families and students. My criticisms are also directed to the top administrators who lecture us about our lack of empathy for future students’ needs, as if their enticing low-income students to a town with the third highest rents in the country is not heartless, by definition.  

I started working at UCSC in 1979 as head of Rape Prevention Education. The population of Santa Cruz city was around 41,000 and the student population was around 6000 meaning 15% of the total population of the town was UCSC students. Similar to today, about half of the student body lived on campus and about half lived in town. That is, about 3 thousand students lived in town.

Today, 29% of the total population of the city is UCSC students. That is double the percentage from 40 years ago. And similarly, just over half of the students live in town.  But today that number is 9 thousand or 3 times as many as 40 years ago.

This massive student growth has had significant and negative impacts on our neighborhoods: traffic, crowding, scarcity of housing, no parking; noise; dislocation of lower income residents who cannot compete for rents with students, many of whom come from higher income families… we know these impacts only too well.  Some we may not know as well: during my 30 years at UCSC, I learned that students who are disciplined for alcohol abuse, racist or sexist behavior or other violations of student conduct invariably lose their on-campus housing privileges. In other words, they are sent to live…with us! I always thought that a pretty bad arrangement and said so.  Nonetheless it was and probably still is the practice, demonstrating a lack of regard for the city off the hill.

The most significant impact of UCSC growth is its role as the main driver of ever increasing rents and skyrocketing housing values, both of which are designated as local crises. To understand how this works, we need to heed the observations of a UCSC financial officer from long ago.

In the late 1980’s, Don Van Den Berg, the bursar (financial officer) of Crown College cautioned that every additional complex of student housing built on campus raised the rents for all on-campus students by about $100 a month. Across the board, since all students living on campus, shoulder the cost of on-campus housing. It is VERY expensive to build on campus for a variety of reasons, including soils and geology.  Since rents on campus are always higher than rents in town, downtown landlords adjust their rents accordingly. So more students on campus, more housing built, leading to higher rents on campus leading to higher rents off-campus. Student growth is a formula for ever- increasing rents on and off-campus, and if the number of students grows to the anticipated 28 thousand, today’s rents will seem low by comparison.  Some call for all additional students to be housed on campus. Even if that were possible, that will not solve the impact on our neighborhoods in terms of ever-increasing rents and housing costs that such growth will generate.

The ONLY solution is a cap on UCSC enrollment. I’d suggest 10 thousand, which would bring the ratio of town/gown back to 15% but that is a pipe dream.  At the very least, we need a rousing support for Measure U to send a message to the Office of the President that its lack of planning for student growth is not our town’s burden to bear!

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 23, 2018


The Oxford Dictionary says that obscurantism is “the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known.”It goes on to offer an example from the political realm on how to use the word, for example, “allegations in the Press about government obscurantism.” Well, my friends, if anyone has had the opportunity to peruse a copy of the twice-monthly (sometimes more) Santa Cruz city council agenda, then you understand a bit about how government can obscure the political matters at hand. My favorite of course, is when this phrase appears on the agenda: “Conference With Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation.” Some will argue this is done to be super-cautious and protect the public, but often it acts as a smokescreen. It might mean certain elements within local government may not be willing to show their hand just yet. Political obscurantism smacks of certain government officials thinking they know better than the public. In the extreme, Machiavelli and Mussolini have participated in political obscurantism, but perhaps it is most reflected in the work of conservative philosopher, Leo Strauss, when he talks about “exoteric” (or public) and “esoteric” (or secret) writing. Perhaps, to paraphrase a Strauss concept, city council agendas have in mind the right kind of audience and wish to put offthe wrong kind of audience. When government enters the realm of the esoteric, it can have negative consequences within the demos (Greek, for “the public” who make up a democracy).When we need government to present and interpret our own public realityinjust the right way, we’ve given up the opportunity for meaningful civic discourse(s). Seems to me city council agendas are structured to do just that.

This Past Week’s Council Agenda
Something is going on. Lots of money is being spent. Many unelected and high-salaried people are making tons of findings and judgements. But the city council agenda often contains only obscure references to the several local decisions that have either already been made (then even more obscure language is employed), or are about to be made. This past week was no different. There were the usual land giveaways in closed session, this time PG&E was to be the recipient of “easements” on Darwin Street, at 168 Frederick Street, and at 224 Market Street. Then there was the ever moving-target of Oral Communication, the time when the public gets to speak to the council and community on any item not on that week’s agenda (examples could be garbage truck is too loud, needles found in park, or people are sleeping next to my house, stuff like that.) It was item # 3. Seems like when city council voted to move “oral communication” to a new moving-target time slot of 5:30 pm from its former moving target time of 5pm on November 28, 2017, somebody forgot to make it official, so here it is back in its squishy form, with the actual start-time determined by the Mayor. It could be 5:30 pm or 5:45 pm or, 5:50 pm like it was two weeks ago, just never know. This comes after years and years of placing (celebrating!) it first on the 7pm agenda.In addition, there was another issue concerning the spending of $336,000 for a new traffic signal system at Bay and King Streets in order to add a left turn arrow. (Another Public Works project.) I don’t know about you, but there are far too many left turn arrows in this town that have motorists waiting and waiting for oncoming traffic that often does not come. I use the Bay and King intersection 5-6 times a week and have never had a problem turning left. Please let me know if you have. This seems like an enormous waste of money. It also included five street lights between King and Escalona, which could be a good thing, but no signal, please. But the winner this week for “obscurantism:” Item #16 “Construction Management Services – Request for Qualifications.” You have to get into the weeds to realize we are talking about $3.1 million is to be spent on “Segment 7, Phase 1” of the Rail-Trail project, and $4.3 million is to underground utilities on Riverside Avenue and add some “streetscape.”

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Curtis Reliford (left) kneeling on Pacific Avenue during the MLK march in February. It is time for us to not only pray now for Curtis, but to also act and save the Avenue for everyone in this community. The sign behind Curtis says what he’s about: “…to come together community.” You can find out more about his work and donate, and see his TEDx talk at:
Our political revolution means getting real progressives to run for office at every level, in every state, and in every county. When we stand together and fight, we can accomplish anything.” (Hey PEOPLE, this means for Santa Cruz city council too!) (April 19)
(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 23, 2018

Why is Senator Bill Monning attaching his proposed water tax and “pay to pollute” SB 623 to the State Budget as a hidden add-on trailer bill, rather than placing it before publicly-transparent legislative committee review process, as is normally required for new taxation measures? 

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the League of California Cities both oppose Senator Monning’s proposed SB 623 Water Tax, questioning the lack of public transparency and good government process.  Read the ACWA’s excellent summary of last month’s Budget Committee hearings in the Senate and Assembly.


The ACWA and others who testified before the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees recommended an alternative solution of using General Funds for this health and safety issue that affects citizens statewide.  That makes sense to me.

I think it is worth noting that the City of Watsonville,  the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Special Districts Association all testified in opposition to taxing all residents for their drinking water.   Watsonville and several other cities in these districts are disadvantaged communities.

It seems to me that the intention of this bill really is to fund consolidation of small mutually-owned water companies and possibly private well owners with nearby larger municipal water departments.  The law to do this was enacted two years ago, and now Senator Monning is helping to fund it with this tax on all residents, along with the dairy and fertilizer industries. It allows those industries to pass along to the consumers (again the residents) the costs associated with the tax.It places further burden on the water municipalities and special districts  (eg, Soquel Creek Water District and Central Water District) to collect tax, account for the collection and any applications for exemption,  and submit payments to the State.  Who will verify that those who apply for exemption actually qualify?  I would require County water administration to compile detailed lists of private well owners and small water companies to send to the State.  It would allow the groundwater polluting to continue by prohibiting the enforcement agencies from taking action until 2035, as long as the polluters are paying the tax but seal all records of these transactions and agreements from public review.

Does this seem like good governance to you?  Contact Senator Monning and let him know your thoughts.  His aide, Mr. Trevor Taylor, is the contact for this issue: Trevor Taylor

Many thanks to reader D.W. for passing along the information about public comment period available for the State Water Board’s “Proposed Framework for Regulating Potable ReUse” (aka drinking treated toilet water)

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Cheers, 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

Friday, April 20, 2018 #110 / An “Amazing,” Outlandish College President

Barbara Bush died. Many positive things were immediately said about her. In Fresno, California, however, an English professor at Fresno State University was much less positive. 

Randa Jarrar wrote on Twitter that Barbara Bush was a “generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal.”

This comment was, of course, not very nice. On the other hand, Barbara Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, did employ false information to justify and carry out a war in Iraq in which thousands of Americans and over 100,000 Iraqis were killed. 

Bush also employed torture against Islamic men whom he asserted were “terrorists.” The infamous Abu Ghraib torture facility was one of the facilities utilized by the Bush Administration, with torture both carried out and justified. Many alleged terrorists were never brought to trial, and no evidence was ever made public demonstrating that the allegations against them were true. Some of these alleged terrorists are still incarcerated in a United States prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. 

There is, in other words, what I think is a “fair argument” that George W. Bush could properly be called a “war criminal.” 

I am not sure exactly what Barbara Bush might have done to justify the “racist” label. However, it does seem to me that it is not outlandish that someone might claim that the former First Lady was racist. In fact, racism is pervasive, and appears almost everywhere in our society, and in almost all white people, to some degree, even in people who want to, and strive to, extirpate its traces.

So, Jarrar’s reference to Barbara Bush as a “racist” is not what I would call outlandish.What I would call outlandish is what the President of Fresno State University had to say about Jarrar. 

According to news accounts, University President Joseph Castro … called Jarrar’s comments disrespectful, claiming “they went beyond free speech.”

“Disrespectful” I will grant. But “beyond free speech?” What is that “amazing” College President talking about? 

In my opinion, Dr. Castro needs to take a brush up course in Constitutional Law. I happen to know that there is an excellent course available at UCSC. Maybe Dr. Castro should take a leave of absence from Fresno State, and enroll in the course that is offered here. 

Maybe, if he paid attention in class, Dr. Castro might even be able to pass the course. He sure couldn’t pass it now!

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. Check out DeCinzo’s very “expressive espresso concern” just a scroll below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Hannity & Cohen’s teamwork” 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 containing “WWUD” and other extraterrestial thoughts.

KZSC 50TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY. April 28. I don’t have many details but long time DJ’s, lots of entertainment and there’s an event in the quarry. A station email stated… 1. 50th anniversary/ Alumni Weekend- April 27th- 29th We are a little over a week away from our 50th anniversary celebration kicking off on Friday April 27th with alumni air checks, our 50th anniversary variety show on Saturday April 28th from 7-9pm at the Quarry Amphitheater, and Breakfast with Breakfast in Bed on Sunday April 29th at the College 9/10 dining hall. 

Here is the plan for the variety show on Saturday the 28th:

Zach Friend will be the Emcee 

  • Segment 1- the event will kick off with an acknowledgement of the native land we are on
  • Segment 2- The founders of KRUZ will come on stage and share stories of the origins of KZSC
  • Segment 3- “Celebrating our Mission” – members of Closet Free Radio, Turtle Island, Breakfast in Bed, and Wiki Wiki Wednesday will share stories of their time at KZSC 
  • Segment 4- Open Mic- any members of current and past KZSC will be welcome to sign up to tell stories and share memories of their time at KZSC.
  • Segment 5- KZSC Mini Doc screening 
  • Segment 6-Station manager Morgan Corona will give a speech about the progress of KZSC and their plans for the future  

San Francisco’s Del Sol Quartet performs the West Coast premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s String Quartet No. 2 and new music by local and international composers. The concert also features the premiere of professor Ben Leeds Carson’s “Modes (of Resistance)” plus music of Bernadette Speach (including “les ondes pour quatre”), the North American premiere of Michal Rataj’s piano quintet “Souveti-I” (“Long Sentence”). Saturday, April 28, 2018 – 7:30 pm in the Music Center Recital Hall (UCSC campus).The concert is free and open to the public.

SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL. April 29. Their fourth concert this season is titled,  “Trading Gifts –Iberia & the Arab World”. That means Spanish and Moorish music, from Martinetes to Sevillanas and Fandangos. Featuring classical preludes by the Tunisian master Jassar Haj Youssef (viola d’amore) and Algerian master Mustafa Skandrani (fortepiano) and a Rococo sonata by Domenico Scarlatti played on viola d’amore with harpsichord. The musicians are Leslie Hirsch, 7-string viola d’amore …Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord and fortepiano…
Carlitos de Santa Cruz, cante flamenco…and El Duquete, guitar. Better get tickets in advance, it takes forever to stand in line at the door. Sunday April 29, 2018 3:00 P.M. UCSC Music Recital Hall.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Time to get your Bard on! Pre-sale tickets to the upcoming 2018 season of Santa Cruz Shakespeare go on sale next week! Find out what SCS has in store for us this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( ). (Hint: it’s all about love!) Also, enjoy Geoffrey Rush rampaging around Paris as eccentric artist Alberto Giacometti in Final Portrait, reviewed in this week’s Good Times. Speaking of which, discover a rip-roaring historical novel that imagines the origin story of several Shakespearean plays (including this year’s featured SCS production of Romeo and Juliet), and take a look at my vintage Beast of the Month — from the Pre-Raphaelite school of design!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE. Joaquin Phoenix gives one of his best-ever performances is this very tight film. Scottish female director Lynne Ramsey has only made four films, and all are very uncompromising achievements. Phoenix is a veteran tortured by both war memories and childhood nightmares. The film is tight, violent, and breaks many, many film rules…go see it quickly…if you like innovative and new films.

FINAL PORTRAIT. Geoffrey Rush plays artist/sculptor Alberto Giacometti, and Armie Hammer is the guy who sits while his portrait is painted in 1964. Watching Giacometti struggle and sweat in an effort to live up to his fame is tiring. It’s like waiting for an egg to hatch, or better yet, waiting for a volcano to erupt. Armie Hammer does next to nothing in a movie that seems like it’s 90 hours long. It’s really only 90 minutes. Go warned, but go quickly. Closes Thursday April 26

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. Closes Thursday April 26

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 somehow.. 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.

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. Closes Thursday April 26

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. Closes Thursday April 26

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 PLAYER ONE. 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.

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 …..

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.

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.

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!!!



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. Candace Brown discusses the choosing of a new Parks and Recreation Director on April 24. Then Ken Koenig and Judy Allen from Santa Cruz Indivisible talk about canvassing to get out the vote. May 1st has Kathy Bisbee talking about Virtual Reality and Air Pollution. After which Valeria Esqueda and Sara Durghalli from UCSC’s Common Ground discuss some of their upcoming events.  May 8 is KZSC’s bi-annual Pledge Drive time. Julie Thayer relates issues and concerns about PG&E’s latest moves on May 12. Wilma Marcus, George Lober and Rosie King will be reading and discussing poetry on May 23. The top winners from the annual Bookshop Santa Cruz Short Story Contest read their works on May 29. 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

Dances from all over Africa

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.


“Make hay in May for you may never know what June is coming with and you may never know what July will present! When you see May, make hay!” Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
“Another May new buds and flowers shall bring: Ah! why has happiness no second Spring?” Charlotte Smith
“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” William Shakespeare

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Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

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