Blog Archives

December 22, 2015 – January 4, 2016

SANTA’S VILLAGE May 9, 1959. Youngsters won’t be impressed, but that’s Liberace’s brother George in the plaid jacket. He played the violin. That’s the late magician “Hocus Pocus” not dressed in his usual clown outfit, but as Santa. I don’t know who the geeky looking guy in the short pants and bow tie with his hand on George’s shoulder is…does anybody?

Ps. Next week I’m taking my usual vacation to Mar Vista by the ocean and Victorville by the something else. Happy Holidays and stay in touch.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE December 21, 2015

LOST WORLD 1966. I’ve always thought our Scotts Valley grafted and mutiliated tree collection was called “Tree Circus” or “Trees of Mystery”. This footage shows vintage signs stating it’s Lost World. So where were the plaster dinosaurs and T. Rexes that once stuck out above the trees …and what was that place called?

MORE LOST WORLD. This vintage video shows Santa’s Village, Trees of Mystery, and Roaring Camp. Plus some dinosaurs!!

TOURIST TRAPPING. Monterey and Carmel have always beaten Santa Cruz in terms of the number and quality of tourists they draw. Their tourists stay overnight in comparison to our annual 3,500,000 Boardwalk tourists who come here from the valley and go home that same day. This morning’s S.F. Chronicle (12/21/15) had a long article titled, “Shuttered Santa Cruz ghost of Christmas past draws faithful flock”. It was all about our Scotts Valley Santa’s Village.

The village opened in 1957 it was sold in 1966 and again in 1977 according to The Chron and struggled a few more years and closed forever. The Highway 17 “Santa’s Village Road” off-ramp sign is still there today. Monterey’s Aquarium draws almost 2 million tourists annually if you’re counting, and they also have The Cannery. It seems our side of the Bay has always tried to bring in the tourist bucks. Consider Roaring Camp and The Mystery Spot, both still open and successful. There’s also the various attractions that have folded at the summit of Highway 17. Then of course we have to factor in the number of tourists (parents, friends, etc.) that UCSC attracts each year.

UCSC CHANCELLOR GEORGE BLUMENTHAL & UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. The chancellor was amazingly candid during his U. Grapevine interview last Tuesday (12/15). He talked and easily gave us much background on such “hot issues” as The Highway 6 and their suspension, Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s exit from the Glen, problems with housing students, the development of “North Campus“and water, the influence of Silicon Valley, the colleges and themes and changes in the last 50 years…and theoretically astro-physically speaking, about the changing distance between the earth and moon!! Tune in Tuesday Dec. 29 they’ll be re-playing it (7-8 p.m.) while I’m on vacation or go to if you want to hear it right now.

LANDMARK THEATRE NEWS. If you want to keep in touch with all the films and all the screen times at our three local Landmark theatres (Nicklelodeon, Del Mar, and Aptos Cinemas) you really should subscribe to the Landmark Newsletter. It will also list telecasts by the National Theatre Live, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Opera House, and the Globe Onscreen screenings of live performances. Go here to link up…

SIDEWALK CAFÉ IDEA! Do we want more tourists traipsing around? Judi Grunstra sent this idea: Parked Bench.



I’d like to end the year on a more personal note than is usual. Writing a weekly critical perspective on local politics for BrattonOnline is rewarding for me and I hope for some of you too. In a recent conversation with a close friend, I wondered aloud if I was coming across as a ruthless critic of everything existing? Not that I’d mind that reputation too much, although personal stereotypes can be exploited to weaken the message. And even in 2015, women are still given less slack to be outspoken and direct, compared to their male counterparts. While I have no plans to be less critical in the new year, so long as the powers that be keep providing excellent targets, I’d like to share a little of the context for my thinking and writing.

I arrived in Santa Cruz from Australia in 1975. Assured that Santa Cruz was a small town, I was already complaining that small towns don’t have freeways as we drove up Highway 17, not yet accustomed to the fact that freeways were the norm in the US. Although I love the excitement of a big city, my heart and contentment are rural. I’ve always loved big trees, the sound of the wind roaring through their canopies, their beauty, from massive trunks to the tiniest of leaves, taking in and storing carbon dioxide and giving us oxygen; what a gift! That they were worshipped by cultures far more tuned to nature than our nature-dominating world is a real tug for me. When I moved to the lower Westside in 1979, beautiful big trees were a common feature of the neighborhoods. One by one they were cut down, usually for no better reason than a dislike for big trees on the part of new homeowners and absentee landowners. As I learned the ropes of city politics, along with like-minded neighbors, I tried to save some of these trees. Through this process I learned that the deck is stacked. Staff reports are written not to present the facts but to favor one party, usually the one with influence and money. It is a subtle form of corruption. I doubt money changes hands. Of course I am an optimist. Councils come and go and most praise staff, rarely do they challenge the bias, either from too much work to do or because they agree with the agenda. This situation is not unique to Santa Cruz. We live in a commodified world. “Tech the Halls” and “Happy Honda Days” seep into our consciousness and replace old time greetings. Hotels are imposed on neighborhoods. Density and infilling masquerade as “affordable” housing. Economic development is courted at a time when we need to be living within our dwindling supply of natural resources. I understand why many prefer to opt out of politics although for me it is the stuff of life. And there are successes. We did just prevail in the lawsuit, Save Our Big Trees v. City of Santa Cruz. And committed activists defeated the city’s effort to impose a desalination plant on our community. Reasons for celebration! Happy New Year to all!

(Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, 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).

PATTON’S LAND USE REPORT. Gary’s newly condensed KUSP report contains …

When the public invests huge amounts of money in providing new infrastructure, it properly expects that this new infrastructure will be used to its capacity. If a new highway is created, for example, often costing hundreds of millions of dollars, the public should expect that the new facilities will be used. That does turn out to be the case, too. When a highway is widened, or a new highway is constructed, traffic patterns change, and “induced demand” calls people onto the new highway that wouldn’t have gone there before. Congestion relief is often (in fact usually) very temporary. Again, that only makes sense. When the public spends lots of money for a new highway or a highway widening project, it will end up using that new capacity.

This is holiday time, and one of the big ones, but what’s the land use connection? I could talk about the affordable housing situation in Judea, two thousand years ago, and opine that maybe not much has changed, but let me tie, instead, to a more modern reflection on the Christmas Holiday. Let’s contemplate Scrooge, in Dickens’ wonderful tale, “A Christmas Carol.”

This year, in the land use arena, Scrooge is being played by the University of California at Santa Cruz, which has kicked Santa Cruz Shakespeare out of its traditional venue at “the Glen,” located on the UCSC campus. Because the University has decided that there is “no room in the Glen” for Santa Cruz Shakespeare, this beloved theatre group is having to search for new lodgings.

And behold, they have found a possible home, and are proposing to hold summer performances in DeLaveaga Park, located above the Prospect Heights area in the City of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Shakespeare has proposed a project consisting of a Design Permit, Slope Variance, and Watercourse Development Permit to construct an outdoor theatre that can accommodate an audience of 483 persons. Nearby residents are not, necessarily, thrilled. If you want to get involved, I have links to more information at Comments on the proposed Negative Declaration must be filed by January 12th.

Read the complete scripts of the above at Gary Patton’s KUSP Land Use site . Gary is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney who represents indivuduals and community groups on land use and environmenatl issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. Gary has his own website, Two Worlds/365” –

CLASSICAL DeCINZO. DeCinzo’s take on tightening air flight security…see below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. From deep in Tim Eagan’s super classic Subsconscious Comics comes this week’s season saga…scroll down.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “A couple of splendidly nuanced performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander highlight The Danish Girl, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.


YOUTH. Do go prepared for a meditation on old age, death, love, marriage, fame, and acting.
It’s impressionistic, symbolic, intellectual, dream-like…and not easy to follow. Michael Caine shows how much better an actor he is than co-star Harvey Keitel, and It’s also an excellent film. If you saw “The Great Beauty” a few years ago by the same director, Paolo Sorrentino you’ll have a clue about his approach to life and aging. “Youth” doesn’t compare with “The Great Beauty”, which was/is a masterpiece.

THE DANISH GIRL. Eddie Redmayne as one of the world’s first transgendered males is of course the main attraction. But Alicia Vikander as his wife and main support, actually does a better job of acting. The script stalls and sleeps part way through, and the pacing is eccentric but you’ll watch it all the way just to see how it ends. Redmayne (who is 33) won an Oscar nomination for his body-bending role as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” last year, is being touted for it again this year. Remember him in “My Week with Marilyn”? He’s an excellent actor and will probably play a tree or a screwdriver or a python next, but I’m not betting on him winning anything for this film.

SISTERS. This is an almost perfect example of a trash movie. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey outdo each other with crotch, sex, poop, pee jokes that aren’t funny. It’s a shame to see these obviously brilliant, smart, tasteful women sink so low that they have to take roles in movies this low class. Don’t go and don’t let anyone you care for go either.


BROOKLYN. Whew…I knew I loved this film now I see that Rotten Tomatoes gives it 100% Saoirse Ronan plays the lead Irish (very Irish) girl who comes to New York City in the 1950’s. She adjusts then falls in love with an Italian (very Italian) young man. That seems to be ok but she has to return to Ireland on a visit and falls in love with a young Irish (very) young man. It’s not too funny, it’s deep, profound, wrenching and perfect acting. You could easily loose your heart in this film. See it, if you like wonderful films. It also stars (in a smaller role) Jessica Pare who you’ll for sure remember as Megan Draper, Don Draper’s dark- haired sexy wife in Mad Men.

SPOTLIGHT. Lots of Oscar buzz around this excellent film. When you have a cast like Mark Ruffalo, Michale Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci and Live Schreiber and a plot involving the Roman Catholic church’s child molesting priests and the “official cover-up” you got a winner. It’s shocking, even though you think you know all there is to know. When you add in the current troubles the Vatican is having…you’ve got a very sick institution. It’s newspaper business at its best. It’s also reporting such as no newspaper can afford today…you’ll see how important that is/was. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 97%!!!

TRUMBO. Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, John Goodman and even Elle Fanning all work nicely together to make this Hollywood Black List- anti HUAC extravaganza. It’s fun seeing look alikes for John Wayne, Edward G. Robinson, and Kirk Douglas. There’s no mention of Walt Disney’s part, or Adolph Menjou, or Alvah Bessie and Sterling Hayden (both of whom had children living in Santa Cruz) and how Hayden regretted turning stoolie. It is a very complex and sad story. It’s very much worth seeing historically and politically but not so much cinematically.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA. It’s about this whale, sort of an early Jaws, look- alike movie. Supposedly it’s like a prequel to Moby Dick. It’s got some great scenes and interesting moments but it isn’t put together in any logical or interesting way. You can skip this one too.


KZSC 88.1 FM or live online at


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. December 22 has Amy White ex. dir. of Landwatch Monterey talking about all the land use projects they have in the works. After Amy, Michel Singher talks about the Espressivo Orchestra Concert happening on Jan. 7th. I’m on vacation Dec. 29. Then on Jan. 5th Alexandra Kennedy talks about life and suicide. She’s followed by author, physicist, quantum realist, Nick Herbert. On January 12 actors Scott Kravitz and Mar Nae Taylor discuss this years “8 x 10’s @ 8″ plays playing Jan. 8- Feb. 7, they’re followed by Cesario Ruiz telling us all about “My Mom’s Mole’ ” his new culinary start-up. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always at

NEW UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVE FEATURE. Stuff changes at KZSC a lot. If you missed 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.

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, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson-Darrow, 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.


“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph,”Shirley Temple Black. “You know, in a way, ‘Dear Santa Claus’ is rather stuffy… Perhaps something a little more intimate would be better… Something just a shade more friendly…How about ‘Dear Fatty’?”Charles M. Schulz. “The three phases of Santa belief: (1) Santa is real. (2) Santa isn’t real.(3) Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, Alton Thompson . “The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live,”George Carlin.


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Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

Posted in Weekly Articles | Comments Off on December 22, 2015 – January 4, 2016

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