Blog Archives

January 22 – 29, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON… abortions services now at UCSC, $5000,000 kickback to city rom Dream Inn Developers, big L.A. money developer buying into Circle Church. Church would be developers and landscape issues, Billionaires amongst us. GREENSITE…on rape. KROHN… MLK Weekend, Vietnam War memories, No Recall Report, Krohn Ballot Statement. STEINBRUNER…2 County candidates forums, Soquel Creek rates rising, no EIR with Soquel Creek, Rancho Del Mar and invading chain stores, Aptos Village plans and no feedback. PATTON…Trump- cause or effect? EAGAN…Sub Cons and Deep Cover JENSEN…Take Away Art To Go show. BRATTON…no new movies but many greats still showing. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…”DRONES”

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KNIGHT’S OPERA HOUSE. Union and Center Streets. This 800-seat venue cost $4,200 to build in 1877, and opened with a performance of “Bohemian Girl”. It lasted 44 years, until 1971, when it was hauled to Capitola on June 7,1961. The posters show John. L. Sullivan as an attraction.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

DATELINE January 20

ABORTION SERVICES AT UCSC. I was really surprised, moved, curious — but mostly surprised — to read Julian Barragan’s article in last week’s City on A Hill, titled “ABORTION SERVICES TO COME TO UC and CSU CAMPUSES”. It said: California is the first state in the nation to REQUIRE on-campus abortion medication services. On Jan 1, Governor Newsome signed a bill that says all California State University and UC campuses must provide students with access to abortion services. Before this, no public universities had student abortion services. The article goes on to state that abortion services are a constitutional right. Read all the details here. Was it just me or did everyone miss that powerful news?

$500,000 KICKBACK TO CITY FROM DREAM INN DEVELOPERS. Last Tuesday night on my Universal Grapevine radio program, Julie and Stu Phillips talked about the $500,000 “donation” to the city from the Ensemble developers IF their Dream Inn expansion was passed. Little note was made of this, and the question does nag…Is this any way for a city council to stay honest? What accounting will be made of the money? Who decides this? Will we see, or have we overlooked, other such donations from other developers…under other titles? Who’s looking into this?

CIRCLE CHURCH AND GOOD TIMES OPINION LAST WEEK. Sue Powell, one of the very energetic and driven leaders of the Circle Neighborhood, wrote this powerful letter to Good Times last week. “The current owners have abandoned landscape maintenance and have let the buildings fall into disrepair. This formerly vibrant and lively property has become neglected and underutilized. Neighbors and friends of the Circle Church want to protect the Church from demolition and support revitalization. We want to see the Circle Church return to its full glory as a thriving spiritual and community Center, the heart of the Circles Neighborhood, and a hub for classes, gatherings, and events. We have been active for over a year and have more than 1050 petition signatures and a large email list. 

We were especially concerned about the developers’ first historic report for the property. Guild’s article has incorrect information about the historic report. The developers’ historic report uses the California State document number of DPR523. The State did not prepare this report—the developers paid a consultant to prepare it. This first historic report was critiqued by members of the Santa Cruz City’s Historic Preservation Commission and found to be inadequate, incomplete, and full of errors. The developers were required to submit a second historic report.

The Santa Cruz City Council voted on December 10th to ask the HPC to review the second historic report at a Public Hearing on Thursday, January 30, 7pm, at the City Council Chambers (note re-scheduled date). The City Council has also asked the HPC to provide a recommendation as to whether the property merits designation as a Local Historic Landmark. We are convinced that the property will receive historic designation and will be spared from demolition.

Sue Powell | Circles Neighborhood

MORE ON GOOD TIMES & CIRCLE CHURCH. In that very same issue, Jennifer Smith wrote…Re: Circle Church. As a member of the Circle Women’s Coalition, a group that has come together to preserve and develop this property as a community center, I am aware that a very purchasing offer was made to the Circle of Friends. And they refused. Also of significance is the fact that a huge L.A. developer, Alex Hakakian is the major shareholder of this development. And that’s being buried in the greenwashing of this project. We all agree housing is an issue. But hitting a community for the financial benefit of a few very privileged people isn’t folksy. And neither is this project. There’ll be a Public Hearing – Historic Preservation Commission. Thursday, January 30th, 7 pm. City Council Chambers. The Circle neighborhood needs your support…don’t miss this meeting .

162 BILLIONAIRES HAVE THE WEALTH OF HALF OF HUMANITY In a stark reminder of gaping global inequality; a new report says 162 billionaires, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world. There are 2,153 billionaires globally, and, in 2019, they held more wealth combined than 4.6 billion people, according to the report. I found this on [HuffPost

January 20

RAPE: THE UPHILL BATTLE FOR JUSTICE.
Photos of Harvey Weinstein, grey, rumpled and hunched over his walker are pathetic. As in designed to evoke pathos. They are similar to images of Bill Cosby during his trial, blind with white cane, barely able to walk, supported by family and friends. Poor accused men! 

To bring any powerful man to justice is an uphill battle. Scores of women have to risk reputation, privacy and overt hostility to create a critical mass of credibility. The reporters bringing the stories forward have to be meticulous in their documentation.  And still, the scales of justice are weighted towards the powerful men, often through the patriarchal institutions that have to be navigated.

The recent story of sexual assault shared by Evelyn Yang, wife of Presidential candidate Andrew Yang is one example. She was pregnant with their first son in 2012 and under the care of OB/GYN Dr. Robert Hadden of Columbia University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital. Now there’s a few patriarchal institutions for you: ivy league university, church, medical establishment.

During her appointments, Dr. Hadden made inappropriate sexual innuendos, escalating with each visit and finally sexual assaulting her when she was 7 months pregnant. She, like so many victims of rape told no one, not even her husband.  In all there were 32 women who accused Hadden. He had been arrested in his office in 2012 on a woman’s charge that he sexually assaulted her but the arrest was voided. He went back to his job, examining women with no required aide in the room, which as Evelyn Yang shared, would have prevented him from sexually assaulting other patients including her.  Eventually multiple victims came forward and the case was taken up by Manhatten DA Cyrus Vance, the same DA who gave Jeffrey Epstein a light sentence. Despite the charges, which included a felony, the DA opted for a plea agreement allowing the good doctor to serve no prison time although he did have his license revoked. Take a moment to reflect on how much prison time a poor black man would serve for a fraction of similar crimes. Seems the Scales of Justice has taken her blindfold off.

I am not unsympathetic to the difficulty of achieving a conviction in a rape trial. Many times a DA opts for a lesser charge to get any conviction at all, especially if the accused is well off, white and professional or any one of such status symbols. If this were 1950 or even 1980 such miscarriage of justice would be the norm. However this is a new millennium and norms are changing as we saw in the Brock Turner/ Stanford case. Despite the fact the victim was severely intoxicated, a condition that in earlier decades would have earned her derision and instant sympathy for the male, comparatively little victim blaming ensued. Not that justice was done but public sympathy was in her court. I’m also aware of false reports, (which are not the norm) and how lives can be ruined by such accusations. There are black men who have served decades in prison on the false charge of rape or through the heavy hand of racist law enforcement professionals. This discrepancy only highlights the difficulty of bringing powerful men to justice for sexual assault when the institutions give them cover. 

Then there’s the President with multiple accusations of sexual harassment, sexual battery and sexual assault against him with his own corroboration for some of the charges on tape. While Weinstein and Cosby were on the way down when the charges were finally taken seriously, it seems the President is riding high, and so far, beyond the reach of justice. 

Perhaps the kernel of this story is the 6 years of silence within which Evelyn Yang endured the knowledge and bodily memory of what the doctor did to her. It takes thousands of women’s voices to break the code of silence. Even in bucolic Santa Cruz rape is silenced. Last year there were 29 rapes reported to SCPD. Did you ever read about a single one in the local press? Neither did I. Did you know that SCPD has changed its reporting methods on its website so that no information is available save quarterly total numbers of rape and percentage changes? Prior to that, there were monthly tallies, with numbers of arrests and disposition of cases. Just a small step backwards but all regressive journeys start with a single step.

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  http://darksky.org    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

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January 20
“Tonight, however, I wish not to speak to Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Martin Luther King Weekend in Santa Cruz
We tried our best to be our best this past Saturday. Hundreds marched down Pacific Avenue with the intended purpose of reaching the London Nelson Community Center where an array of talent was on display. Singer Tammi Brown brought the house down–twice–with her music, the last one being a Marvin Gaye song, What’s Going On?, which she sang acapella, oohh…With her on the stage were local luminaries, Pastor Deborah Johnson, Prof. David Anthony, SC Warriors coach Chris Weems, Mayor Justin Cummings, and NAACP president, Brenda Griffin. The packed auditorium ate it up as we were all trying to practice community, support diverse voices, and come together.

The unjust immoral war taking place in Vietnam, 
“…my conscience leaves me no other choice…”

Part of how I celebrate the life of King is to listen to my favorite speech, Why I Am Opposed to War in Vietnam. He gave this 40-minute address at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and again under the 1st Ave and 47th Street signs in NYC to a crowd of over 100,000. It was truly his break from any of the safe liberals who may have been on the fence in supporting him.  He said, I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America.  What he did best in this speech was to draw parallels between that war and the poverty and turbulence in many U.S. cities at the time. The Pentagon’s “vital interest” should not have been in Hanoi, but in Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. While I listened this time, I realized how long it takes to get to a place of peace. King offered us these words in April of 1967. The war did not end until January 27, 1973. Here is a recording of that speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyE4eo_leX8 

I also urge everyone to go and visit the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Your life will not be the same.

The No Recall Report
I have lived in Santa Cruz since the fall of 1983. In all that time, I have never had so many well-wishing residents approach me with condolences about being on the recall ballot, and then they muse out-loud words about being baffled as to why and how it got to the ballot, and lastly, the conversation usually ends with kind words of cheer to keep on fighting, that’s why we elected you, many say. I cherish these encounters and realize how blessed I am to live in this community where people think so deeply, and sincerely, about their political, spiritual, and social lives. I’ve written a ballot statement that will go out on February 3rd to all Santa Cruz registered voters. I truly believe this recall is about raising uncomfortable issues, perhaps not always in the most politic of ways, I can learn, concerning who gets to live in Santa Cruz. The last two elections have yielded new voices with potent views around how difficult it is to make it here in Surf City. The rents are too damn high and the salaries too damn low. I have always felt a responsibility to speak out, especially in support (council votes) of affordable housing because I like many in this community actually bought a three-bedroom house on Barson Street back in the day, 1991 in my case, and had a mortgage payment, under $2000 that was reasonable. It is my pursuit as a member of the city council in supporting affordable housing, services for the houseless, support for neighborhood preservation, and taking a firm stand against any UCSC growth that has led to this political recall. It is not about any abuses or illegal activities that I am aware. The recall is over political disagreements, and political disagreements are usually settled by the next election, not a $150,000 tax-payer funded recall vote.

My Ballot Statement
The City of Santa Cruz is swept up in a well-funded, multi-city, developer-backed campaign to remove elected leaders with records of standing up for tenants and neighborhoods. These interests are targeting me because I ask for expansive neighborhood input on development proposals, I fight for low-income housing, and I defend preservation of neighborhoods – including our urban tree canopy.

Resisting entrenched interests, the council majority elected in 2018 passed an ordinance that requires developers to provide 20% affordable units in new construction. We increased access to medical services for downtown residents. We passed a climate emergency declaration and secured support for tenant legal services. Our council majority created emergency shelter funding to support people seeking housing and employment, and I led the effort to increase the wages of the lowest-paid city workers.

What will the recall do to Santa Cruz? If voters do not take a stand, the pay-off for real estate and developer interests will be green-lighting high-density luxury development with few affordable units for working families, and our main library will be moved into a new, unwanted six-story garage, displacing our popular Farmer’s Market. My bottom line: Santa Cruz is not for sale! 

Please vote NO on both recalls.

stopsantacruzrecalls.org

“What Dr. King understood is that the only way you make real change—whether it is racial justice, social justice or economic justice—is when millions of people come together, stand up and fight back”.
(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 ckrohn@cruzio.com

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January 20

TWO CANDIDATE FORUMS NEXT WEEK
With ballots arriving in mailboxes in two weeks, the forums and discussions around many candidates and issues is steaming.  I am running for County Supervisor in the Second District against incumbent Zach Friend.  I hope that he is available for the two excellent candidate forums next week…reliable inside information is that he is flying all over the country.  Hmmm….  It would be nice if he stayed around and took care of local problems, don’t you think?

Mark your calendars for these great opportunities to learn more about candidates and issues:

1) Monday, January 27 at 6 pm, Corralitos Women’s Club (33 Browns Valley Road, Corralitos)  hosted by the Corralitos Women’s Club, and includes several candidate offices

2) Wednesday, January 29 at 6:30 pm,  Cabrillo College lecture hall 454   “Supervising Santa Cruz County”  hosted by the Santa Cruz Sentinel

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT RAISED RATES AGAIN!
If you are a Soquel Creek Water District customer, watch out for an even HIGHER water bill next month!  That’s because the rates went up another 9% on January 1, in order to pay for the expensive and potentially very risky plan to inject millions of gallons of treated sewage water into the aquifer that supplies drinking water for most of the MidCounty area.  The Board is considering a resolution on January 21 to agree to pay back a $36 million loan from the State for this Project, adding more debt burden for the ratepayers.

Write the Board and let them know what you think: Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors bod@soquelcreekwater.org 

They rarely answer, and the new policy shoves correspondence into a separate place on the website so that it is not included in agenda packets.  Nevertheless, they need to hear from you.

APPEAL OF PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT EIR IS UNDERWAY AND RECLASSIFIED
The Board of Soquel Creek Water District will also consider authorizing another $175,000 to pay Best, Best & Krieger attorneys to fight my request that the District just do a decent Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  My primary request is that there be full analysis of the Project Alternative of conjunctive use and cooperation with Santa Cruz City instead of dismissing it.  There are eight other violations alleged as causes of action named in the Petition for Writ of Mandate.  I am not asking for money…just a better level of environmental review that would probably show this expensive Project is unnecessary.

I have appealed the Order to Deny the Writ of Mandate.  I learned last week that the attorney from Best, Best & Krieger had incorrectly classified the case as “Limited” when it should have been classified as “Unlimited” by definition of being an environmental case, and therefore the appeal action is being transferred to the Sixth District Court of Appeals in San Jose.    

I really have to wonder about all that. The District hired Best, Best & Krieger because of their expertise in environmental law and has paid the firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the matter.  

On January 21, the Board will consider an additional $175,000 to fight the appeal.  All I want is for the District to do better environmental analysis and address the allegations of multiple violations of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) law, such as a Final Analysis of how injecting treated sewage water into the aquifer would affect the aquifer and the quality of water should something go wrong, and to also go back and provide proper notification to the local schools within 1/4 mile radius of the project to let know of the hazardous chemicals that would be stored on site.  The later was required to have been done in writing 30 days before the Board certified the EIR, but was not.  To a large extent, that is why the residents of Live Oak, where the District wants to build the Advanced Water Treatment Facility, knew nothing about the plan until the Board had already approved it.

You can read the report to the District Board on the cCae #19CV00181 and Appeal #19AP00031, and the Best, Best & Krieger plea for $175,000 in Agenda Item #6.4 (page 221) here 

WHY DOESN’T SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT APPLY FOR WATER RIGHTS?
I attended a State Water Board Workshop in Paso Robles on January 8 and learned that the laws regarding issuance of Water Rights changed in September, 2019, streamlining the process and reducing fees to apply.  Why isn’t Soquel Creek Water District pursuing this available water source that would not require such enormous energy demand and degrade the environment (causing their approval of a Statement of Overriding Consideration)? 

I was able to do some research on the State website and found the information 

Apparently, changes were approved in September, 2019 and include fee reductions of 25% and 75% for filing and processing for temporary water rights for surface water diversions and groundwater recharge.  The greatest change is that the Temporary Emergency Water Right Permits have been extended to last from 180 days to FIVE YEARS!

Also, the way that the State allows there to be a determination if there is enough water has changed and is based on taking stream flows over a 30 year period and setting the stream flow requirement for surface water diversions to the 90th percentile of that average.  Diversions would be limited to December through March, and could not exceed 20% of the total stream flow.

The State developed this Fact Sheet discussing “Beneficial Uses” and underground storage projects. 

I think this is exciting news.  I spoke with the State Water Resources Control Board attorney who worked on the new regulation.  Her name is Nicole Kuenzi.  She told me there was an excellent presentation about this given at the ACWA conference last fall.  I have looked for this presentation but I think it is available only to those who paid to attend.  I have written Ms. Kuenzi to ask for a link to the material.  The presentation given at yesterday’s SGMA Workshop will be available by the end of next week on the Waterboard website.

All of the Soquel Creek Water District Board members attended the ACWA conference, and their trip was paid for by the District ratepayers.  Perhaps they attended a different module of presentations, so I will bring this information that I learned yesterday to their attention at the next Board meeting, scheduled for January 21, 6pm. 

RANCHO DEL MAR SHOPPING CENTER UPDATE
Many are happy to see the empty stores in the newly-remodeled Rancho del Mar Shopping Center slowly filling.  Sadly, however, the TRC Retail owners have contracted with chainstores that will directly compete with the existing Ace Hardware and the Showtime Pizza locally-owned businesses.  Take a look at the roster

You can write the TRC Retail Project Manager, Mr. Scott Grady with your thoughts: Scott Grady   

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVE PHASE 2 FINAL MAP OF APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT WITHOUT ANY COMMENT
On Tuesday, January 14, the County Board of Supervisors approved the Aptos Village Project Phase 2 Final Map as part of the 58-item Consent Agenda.  Members of the public spoke during the allotted two minutes for general public comment on all Consent Agenda items, bringing critical information regarding the legal cloud existing. 

Supervisor Zach Friend made no comment at all about the issues, listed as Item #61 on the Consent Agenda.  Nor did he respond to my earlier written request that the item be pulled for better discussion.

Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.

NISENE MARKS STATE PARK CONTINUES TO HAVE PARKING AND ACCESS PROBLEMS
A resident of the Aptos Creek community has sent me information about the continual problem with insufficient parking now that the winter gate is closed, and thus causing visitors to park haphazardly along the road into the Park.  The road is full of potholes, making it nearly a slalom course, that is further exacerbated by poor parking jobs all along the way.  I have written Park Supervisor Mr. Chris Spohrer and asked for a meeting.  I encourage you to also  contact him and ask for a community meeting to help creatively problem-solve this issue so that visits to Nisene Marks State Park continue to be both safe and enjoyable. Chris Spohrer chris.spohrer@parks.ca.gov  

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. She’s running again right now!!!

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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January 17
#17 / Cause Or Effect?

One of the biggest divides in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is whether Donald Trump is a cause or a symptom of the current dysfunction in American politics. Joe Biden has argued the former — replace Trump and everything will go back to normal — while the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have based their campaigns on the need for “big, structural change.”

I am quoting from a book review written by Ari Berman. Berman’s review appeared in The New York Times Book Review on Sunday, December 22, 2019. It is titled, in the hard copy version, “How to Mend Our Broken Politics.” Berman reviews the following two books: They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy, by Lawrence Lessig, and The Great Democracy: How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America, by Ganesh Sitaraman.

So, what is the right answer? Is Trump the “cause,” or is his presidency an “effect” of what is wrong with politics in the United States of America? I tend to think that the Trump presidency is much more “effect” than “cause,” but the right answer is probably “both.” At any rate, what I noticed as I read Berman’s review was the way he describes the central thesis of the Lessig book. Lessig is definitely in the “effect” camp. Here is how Berman synopsizes what Lessig has to say:

“The crisis in America is not its president,” Lessig writes in his opening pages. “Its president is the consequence of a crisis much more fundamental.” That crisis is the state of democracy itself. 

You could fill an entire bookshelf with works about the crisis of democracy in the Trump era, but Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School, has been eloquently hammering this point longer than most. He isolates the problem with American democracy to one word: “unrepresentativeness.” Voter suppression undermines free and fair elections, gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their preferred electorate, the Senate and the Electoral College favor small states and swing states over the rest of the country and the post-Citizens United campaign-finance system gives a tiny handful of billionaires far more clout than the average small donor. “In every dimension, the core principle of a representative democracy has been compromised,” he writes (emphasis added).

I haven’t read either of the books reviewed by Berman, but I am prepared to agree with Lessig, based on the above description of his views. However, in thinking about how the compromise of our representative democracy has occurred, I want to suggest that “the fault,” as Cassius says to Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is “…in ourselves.” 

In a representative democracy, elected officials are supposed to represent the people who elect them, but it is the responsibility of the people to insist that they in fact do that. “We, the people,” in other words, are the source of the power wielded by our representatives, but we often act more like petitioners and protesters than like those who are actually in charge. Various structural reforms can help, but what is mainly necessary is that we decide that we are, and should be, “in charge” of our government. To make any such decision “real,” and not just “theoretical,” we must then spend the time and effort necessary to make sure that the people we elect do what we want. 

When the people act like “pussies,” it’s no wonder that our so-called “representatives” start representing themselves, not us! Trump’s ascendency comes right out of a deep-seated frustration that the government is beyond our control, when we know it should be doing what we want. Trump is an “effect.” 

President Trump is not, of course, the solution to the problem of our failing democratic institutions, and no other candidate will be, either. What might work is the so-called “political revolution” that Bernie Sanders talks about. Such a “revolution” would require that we, the people, reassert and effectuate, as a reality, our own primacy on the terrain of politics. 

Ojalá!

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 www.gapatton.net

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. More inside views of our little movers and shakers….scroll downwards.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s ” Socialized medicine” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog with his thoughts on Whatever!!!

JEWEL THEATRE. The real details to follow soon. “The Other Place” by Sharr White is the next production starting Jan. 22 through February 16. It’s about a woman scientist who deals with internal and external problems. Great reviews.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes, “It happens every January, the popular Art Exhibit: Take Aways; Art to Go opens this week at Pajaro Valley Arts in Watsonville. This annual show features the works of 70 local artists – including this year, a few last pieces by James Aschbacher – all priced at $300 or less! Read all about it – and find out why my Art Boy loved this show – this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo:expressblogspot.com)  Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

 

It’s January, one of the worst months of the year for films and I didn’t see any new ones!!

JOKER. I wrote this in October  2019…JOKER. Joaquin Phoenix should just be given the Oscar now, instead of all that fuss in January. Yes, this is the origin of why the Joker haunts Bruce Wayne (Batman) b ut it’s so much more than that. The film is deep, dark, brilliant, violent, clever, absorbing, haunting, and will move you into a different perspective. Forget the criticism about protesters; the Joker is insane and magnetic. See this film if you like films beyond what’s acceptable! It just became the biggest money-making attendance record R-rated film ever!!!.  Now (11/18) it’s taken in over 1 billion dollars. 

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 personal and public issues that become completely absorbing. Yes, child abuse is in there too. Just to watch these two master actors is a reminder of what and where good acting can take audiences. Go see it, but do hurry.

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.

1917Do not see this film if you expect to watch much of Benedict Cumberbatch. IF he’s in it more than 2 minutes I’ll eat my helmet!!! I also wouldn’t give this movie ANY ” best of” awards, and am surprised at what it’s won so far. It’s the story of two foot soldiers slogging through, under and around enemy lines to deliver an important life saving message. It’s an impressive hunk of movie making, and yet it won’t really draw you into the story. 89RT

JUST MERCY. A fine film starring Jamie Foxx, Michael Jordan, and an excellent role for Tim Blake Nelson. A true story about a guy (Foxx) being sentenced to the chair for a crime he didn’t do. This sounds like a dozen films we seen before BUT it’s better,  go see it. 99RT. 

 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.

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.

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.  Being such a cute movie… they actually changed the sex of the person accompanying Redmayne , it was really a male friend of his. 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.

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!!!

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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. .  Michel Singher conductor and artistic director of the Espressivo Orchestra talks about their concerts on Jan. 21 followed by Barry Scott from Coastal Rail Santa Cruz and the Rail Plus Trail benefits. Linda Berman Hall reveals secrets about The Santa Crux Baroque Festival’s  new season on Jan.28. Peter Klotz- Chamberlin from the Resource Center for Non Violence guests on February 4. After which Nancy Macy w Environmental Committee Chair of the Valley Womens Club talks about PG&E and other problems. Jean Brocklebank talks about our Santa Cruz Public library issues on Feb 11.

OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go herehttps://www.radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/kzsc   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 bratton@cruzio.com 

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. 

QUOTES. “DRONES”

In the Age of the Almighty Computer, drones are the perfect warriors. They kill without remorse, obey without kidding around, and they never reveal the names of their masters” Eduardo Galeano 

We have no regulation of drones in the United States in their commercial use. You can see drones someday hovering over the homes of Hollywood luminaries, violating privacy. This question has to be addressed. And we need rules of operation on the border, by police, by commercial use, and also by military and intelligence use”. Dianne Feinstein 

“They were drones, men costumed in independent thought who’d become slaves of party groupspeak”.  Jonathan Lethem, Dissident Gardens 


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!!

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com


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