Blog Archives

January 16 – 22, 2018

Highlights this week:
Where’s the Revolution, UCSC Students as Immigrants, No on Nissan, Public Cannabis meeting…Greensite on further growth at UCSC…Krohn on MLK March and UCSC Moratorium…Steinbruner and Nisene Marks parking, Nissan EIR on Feb12, Redman-Hirahara and Merriman Houses, Aptos Fire chief news, Soquel Creek and Aptos Village water issue…Patton and 25th amendment and impeachment…DeCinzo and early immigrant problems…Eagan and a national health alert…Munching With Mozart…New Music Works…Radical Mindfulness Class…Jensen and Call Me By Your Name…I critique The Post and Call Me By Your Name…Universal Grapevine guest list….Quotes about MUD.

61 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK ON PACIFIC AVENUE. This is a March Of Dimes Promotion happening at J.J. Newberrys (later Woolworths) store at the corner of Pacific and Walnut streets on January 17,1957. You can see the Bank of America (New Leaf now) right at the corner, and we can almost read the marquee of the Del Mar theatre through the store windows. If you squint carefully you can see quite a few young girls in the group along with the boys.                                       

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

TOMMY SMOTHERS IMITATING JOHNNY CARSON. Just for old timers, who remember these guys.

Bee Gees accompany some North Korean marching and North Korea needs some humor!!!

DATELINE January 15, 2018

WHERE’S THE REVOLUTION? Doesn’t it seem to you, as much as it does to me, that with all the NATIONAL support, fire, eagerness and need to demonstrate, march, and protest in infinite ways… that all we really lack is a leader, to get almost all Americans to really revolt? More than just waiting for the local elections, more than knitting and picking and choosing our local candidates, but aactually revolt…as in REVOLUTION ?

UCSC STUDENTS-OUR IMMIGRANTS! What’s terribly wrong with our reaction to the news that UCSC is estimating 10,000 new students in 22 years? We should be, and mostly are overjoyed that young people are jamming our colleges. It says so much positive good for their hopes and plans and also so much bad about our colleges and our community’s lack of plans and faulty policies. More details follow further down in both Gillian Greensite’s and Chris Krohn’s articles.

Bob Morgan is a very community-involved guy. Bob is a former high school English teacher and K-12 principal. He’s active in Climate Action and local transportation issues. Plus he’s also active with Campaign for Sensible Transportation, and now Sustainable Soquel. He emailed to say… “A looming disaster in progress, the 29,000 square foot aesthetic nightmare of a NISSAN car dealership at the corner of 41st and Soquel Dr., is an enormous mistake. This is the proposed site for the OUT OF TOWN (from VISALIA) NISSAN DEALERSHIP OWNER DON GROPETTI’S ITALIAN CREAM-—HIS MAMMOTH NEW AUTO DEALERSHIP. Don Gropetti doesn’t care if he’s from Visalia and helped to make congestion and greenhouse gas emissions worse in the once beautiful San Joaquin Valley with his FIVE auto dealerships, because he now calls his palazzo on Carmel’s 17 Mile Drive home. Oh, that fresh Pacific Ocean air! No worries about his newest venture: it completely DISREGARDS the wishes of the community, so caringly (and dutifully) crafted during community workshops in Soquel. These “community input” sessions that brought out so many car dealership issues and were designed to put together Santa Cruz County’s Planning staff’s “SANTA CRUZ COUNTY SUSTAINABLE PLAN”, now are being laughed at by that same County Planning Department. Re-zone? Change the General Plan?, Ignore the Sustainable Plan?, make a more industrially intense use of the land?  No problem, says the County.

Some of the workshop’s lofty tenets were that we need to build community, create connections among residents, and guide our community development with a VISION of mixed retail and housing, walkability and bike-riding along safe roads on a scale suitable for Soquel. I guess former County Economic Developer, BARBARA MASON, and replacement ANDY CONSTABLE, a former real estate developer from San Jose, now living here (new Central Coast residents love being FROM San Jose and Visalia), landed a big county catch — helping to justify Constable’s yearly $250,000 salary and benefits package. So, Soquel Village neighbors will just have to deal with being a regional destination hub for automobile buyers who will come and go, leaving locals in the dust and exhaust, fighting more traffic, noise and glaring LEDs while they stare at the homogenized behemoth at the gateway to their village, and wonder what could have been. What about all that “community input” to create the Santa Cruz County Sustainable Plan? So much for “sustaining” the unique community zeitgeist of Soquel. Heck, soon enough we might even look like Visalia and San Jose — seen one auto dealership, seen ’em all. The project has some ways to go before final Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors’ approval, so we can still RESIST this mistake by telling our County Board of Supervisors, NO. Instead, respect the community-generated Santa Cruz County Sustainable Plan and keep our trust. Trust in community needs to be the Supervisors’ mantra. (Are you listening, John Leopold?) Email, write or call your County Supervisor if you care what happens to our community. It’s a bad idea for Soquel. It’s time to BOYCOTT NISSAN. Say NO to Auto Row!”

CANNABIS MEETING FOR EVERYONE. Jim Coffis, the deputy director of Green Trade which is “a coalition of Cannabis Businesses” sent this press release Monday Jan. 15…

A public meeting on the future of cannabis in the County of Santa Cruz will be held Wednesday evening, January 24, at the Resource Center for Nonviolence, 612 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz beginning at 7 pm. Hosted by a coalition of cannabis advocates, representing consumers, patients, caregivers, environmentalists, small growers and others involved in the local cannabis trade, the meeting is open to the public. The imminent release of the million dollar, year long, Environmental Impact Report on commercial cannabis is expected to renew the debate on the shape of local regulations. The Board of Supervisors is expected to take up the issue in early February.

Learn about your existing rights, current and proposed state and local regulations, and the economic viability and impact of cannabis in our community. Hear about the short and long-term future and how it will affect access, availability, cost, production and the environment.

Advocates supporting improved access to medical and adult use products and licenses; best farming practices; environmental improvement and social justice will share their insights.  

Experts will be on hand for one on one advice on the regulatory process, consumer rights, and best practices. Leaders and luminaries from the local cannabis community will speak on the current state of affairs and the next steps that need to be taken. All interested stakeholders are invited to explore available options to ensure the preservation of our unique and rich cannabis heritage in this new era of legalization”.

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.

Dateline (January 15, 2018)

As locals opened their newspapers on January 13th I imagined a collective community gasp of dismay at the headline: UCSC plans for sizeable growth.”  The impacts of current UCSC growth on its host town of Santa Cruz are as obvious as a poke in the eye and no less painful: escalating rents; local families outbid by groups of students and gridlock traffic. On campus, the negative impacts from UCSC growth are also painful: escalating rents; shortage of bed space; overcrowded classrooms, buses, facilities and resources. Only those at the top isolated in their ivory tower would fail to conclude that further increases in student enrollment are unsustainable, for the town, for the students and for the unique natural environment of the Cowell Ranch, site of UCSC, itself.

In response to the impacts of the current level of student enrollment, the Chancellor retorted: “the notion that we’re going to cap enrollment and live with a capped enrollment is simply not realistic in the world we live in.”  A “pipe dream.” While I have long admired the current chancellor, that is until he falsified a state audit at the request of UC president Napolitano, I found his comment dismissive at best. Or maybe we do live in distinctly different realities. Ours is one of financial uncertainty, ever -rising rents, dislocated low wage, local workers, traffic nightmares and strained resources. His is one of expanding graduate programs and a larger UCSC as a prominent research institution.  This departure from the original vision for UCSC as a predominantly undergraduate campus no doubt has its cheerleaders. At some point however the rubber hits the road and the chancellor’s reality has to grapple with finite limits and real life impacts of such growth.

A familiar refrain to justify continued growth at UCSC is that demand for a UC education is growing. This is true and has been for the last two decades. It is also why a new campus was funded and built as UC Merced. The University of California is a system of ten campuses and a student is guaranteed a first class education at each and every campus. Commonsense dictates that if growth at one campus is negatively impacting the finite resources of its host community then further growth could and should be directed towards a campus whose enrollment is under 7,000 students. Arguments that students would prefer to live in Santa Cruz rather than Merced are outweighed not only by the exorbitant rents in Santa Cruz but also because we are beyond carrying capacity on every meaningful measure of quality of life. You notice that UC Merced is rarely raised in discussions about UCSC growth impacts.  The reason for that omission has less to do with concerns about student preferences for the coast and more about faculty and department jostling for greater resources and power, in my opinion. In other words, concern about growth impacts on our town doesn’t enter the picture. Nor, apparently does concern for the natural environment of this former Cowell Ranch. The proposal to locate the proposed 3000 beds (2100 are new, 900 are to relieve current overcrowded dorms) on the meadow at the corner of Hagar and Coolidge Drives may not arouse concern for those who see just acreage to build on, but for those who know the invaluable and unique natural environment that encompasses UCSC and which is a treasure for study, research and preservation, it is a sad departure from the founding values and vision for UCSC. Nor will such public/private building on campus lower rents for students on or off campus, let alone non-student residents in town since ten thousand more students on campus means five thousand of them will be living off-campus. If you think things are bad now…just wait. But waiting is what we cannot afford to do.

Our elected representatives at the city, county and state level must make it clear to the Regents and the Office of the President that a cap on enrollment at UCSC is critical for our survival as a community. And for those elected who have a conflict of interest because of ties to UCSC, remember which end of the hill you were elected to represent”.

(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

Dateline January 15.2018

2 TWO Photos of the week.

Cooper Street closed for the large march on MLK Day! Over 2000 marched.

Super community activist, Ernestina Saldana holds her “Bell of Freedom” award, given to her this past Sunday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Justly and richly deserved. Si se puede!

January 15 2018

The notion that we’re going to cap enrollment and live with a capped enrollment is simply not realistic in the world we live in,” (UCSC Chancellor George) Blumenthal said at a news meeting Thursday. “I think it’s a pipe dream, because the demand for the UC education is increasing by leaps and bounds.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1-12-18

We call it a moratorium, you call it a cap, let’s call the whole thing off!

UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal named the elephant in the room last week and yes, it’s a 10,000-pound one! In a community of 60,000, ten thousand more students are really a lot. You heard right, Blumenthal’s opening salvo at our UCSC-city community is a Long-Range Development Plan that will add a whopping 10,000 additional bodies to Santa Cruz and grow the university to 28,000. Will Santa Cruz become a university with a city somewhere on the campus? Will campus growth effectively create a Town dressed up and encased in a towering Gown? Twenty-eight thousand is a figure not even envisioned by the most dreamy and visionary planners way back in the day.

The 28,000 number seems to have been thrown out by an ambivalent bureaucracy that is playing perhaps an unwitting part in the deterioration of a once great coastal town. UC Administrators on the hill are either afraid to tell their bosses in Oakland the hard truth that there is no more room at the inn, or are they just resigned to a different truth that California students must go somewhere so why not here? Perhaps, this figure is an early trial balloon, put out by the administration to see how much pushback there might be by townies, student activists, county supervisors, and city councilmembers? No one I know does not want all California children to experience a UC education, but this UC city is maxed out. There are nine other campuses and the state legislature ought to be planning for even more. The city of Santa Cruz, given its size, resources, and carrying capacity has reached its limit. No más after 19,500.

T-W-E-N-T-Y E-I-G-H-T  T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D Students?
I’m a member of CAG, the Community Advisory Group of 22 that was set up by the university to advise on the 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) process. The LRDP is the university’s “general plan” document and its already begun in earnest some two years before it is due to be submitted to the UC Regents. Chancellor Blumenthal and his assistant, Executive Vice Chancellor, Marlene Tromp who is mostly responsible for the UCSC budget, spoke to our group last Friday and dropped the bombshell: T-W-E-N-T-Y-E-I-G-H-T  T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D. It was not received well by most of the CAG. Although the Chancellor offered an olive branch when he said, “This needs to be a meaningful group (CAG) that provides meaningful input,” and then proceeded to pan the 2005 UCSC administration for not asking for enough community involvement back then. Blumenthal said, “I was struck by how little input there was from the community, it showed a lack of sensitivity on the part of campus.” Strong sentiments. I’m glad he wants to know our perspective, but those present wondered in various ways if things would be any different this time around, and if our community input would actually be taken seriously. After Blumenthal and Tromp left the room the CAG members were directed to pair up “with someone you don’t know,” and discuss our “core concerns” and be ready to report back to the group what those concerns are. We were limited to three. I immediately sought out someone who I thought might be my political opposite and there across the room was the former Sentinel editor, California secretary of state, assembly member, and current member of the Santa Cruz board of supervisors, Bruce McPherson. Turns out he and I share some similar concerns about university growth. We both liked it that the “U” wanted the community engaged in the LRDP process, but we were surprised by the 10,000-growth figure and wondered if it was simply a negotiating tool. Both of us agreed we want to see what resources UC will contribute to support these students before they arrive to our community. Financial resources that would cover their growth in the areas of housing, transportation, and water McPherson said. Moving around the large set of tables that formed a horseshoe at the Museum of Art and History downtown, each CAG member stated their “core concerns,” and they didn’t sound too supportive of growing the university more. I note a few of those concerns here:

Ted Benhari of Bonny Doon and the Committee to Limit University Growth (CLUE) said his concerns were the “quality of life impacts on the community and maintaining the urban services line…” Bill Tysseling, retired and the former Exec. Dir. of Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce said, “Funding of infrastructure, and an eastern access [road] has to occur or we have to keep everyone on campus.”Cynthia Mathews, Santa Cruz city councilmember noted that “UCSC will completely dominate…basically you will have a company town. We need to avoid a monoculture.”John Aird, Healthcare Executive and CLUE member was emphatic, “Fifty-percent growth is flat-out unacceptable.”Andy Schiffrin an Aide in Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s office and also a Santa Cruz political observer for over 40 years said, “Input is meaningless without accountability…it would take a legislative solution…it’s a political problem that we have…”Robert Orrizzi said the university must “stop growth until beds are on-line because the currently planned 3000 beds will not be going in until 2020, so don’t grow anymore until those are in place.”

“An LRDP is like a city’s general plan. It designates areas of campus for certain types of use: open space, for example, or housing. It does not mandate growth.” (my emphasis)

–Chancellor George Blumenthal, Jan. 12, 2018

Pipe Dreams Revisited: “Ain’t no power like the power of the people and the power of the people don’t stop!

The community is calling for a moratorium on student growth until city services can catch up in the areas of housing, traffic, and water infrastructure. A five-year moratorium sounds about right. Blumenthal was quoted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel last week calling a cap on enrollment “a pipe dream.” Well, since we have a lot of dreamers in this town, we get called a lot of names. Pipe dreams are something we know about. Stopping a good-ole-boy convention hotel on Lighthouse Field was once considered a pipe dream; voters dreamed of approving the purchase of greenbelt lands–a choice of taxing ourselves to buy open space was pipe dreamy; stopping developers from building 10,000 homes on Wilder Ranch was at first an activist pipe dream; preserving the Beach Flats Community Garden for the community is still in the “pipe dream” stages, a work in progress. And of course, there was everybody’s favorite little pipe dream that would just not go away, the legalization of first, medical marijuana and now complete legalization. Some pipe dreams just will not die. This community’s been known to dream big. One might also ask which is the bigger pipe dream, a moratorium on accepting more students beyond the current cap of 19,500, or allowing ten thousand additional bodies to migrate here from all parts of California and beyond, to an already crowded Surf City? Will they be told there is no more housing here? Hey Regents, game on.

Bernie Tweet of the Week;
“Republicans in Congress must now summon the courage to stand up to the racist ramblings of our “stable genius” president. Democratic and Republican senators must continue efforts to produce a bi-partisan Dream Act to be voted on by the Senate as part of the overall budget deal.” (Jan. 12)

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

On January 10, County Planner Randall Adams quietly approved the massive building design and use changes for Phase 2 of the Aptos Village Project that will, if built, create a San Jose-like character at the very entrance to Nisene Marks State Park and further aggravate existing near-gridlock traffic.  The modifications allow three-story structures throughout in Buildings 1,2,8,9,10 located behind the Aptos Station commercial area.   I only learned that it had been approved when I had time to visit the Planning Department Records Room January 11 (Thursday) just before the 4pm closing to the public.  Last week when I visited there, no Aptos Village Project records were available to review except the proposed Phase 2 modifications…but nothing else with which to compare them in order to determine the exact nature of the proposed modifications. 

How can the public comment on modifications when it is not clear exactly how the Project is being modified?  I wrote Assistant Planning Director, Wanda Williams (you may recall that Planning Director Kathy Previsich has recused herself from involvement because she and her husband have financially benefitted from the Project) and Project Planner Randall Adams to ask, but neither replied.  Neither replied to my question about how the general public can review the material if unable to visit the Planning Department Records Room during the limited hours it is open to the public. I figured out on my own that if one visits the County Planning Department website, click on the left hand menu bar “Pending Projects”, click on “Level 4 Discretionary Projects” and then search for Application #171292 and click on the application number, the material is there.  Here is the link to what comes up.

In order to compare those plans with what PREVIOUS Discretionary Approvals have morphed the Project, one must find the materials for Application # 151005, which massively changed the layout of the Project and may have changed some of the building designs, too.  That is what Randall Adams approved in 2015 that changed the layout of the new Aptos Village Way internal street and necessitated dividing Building 6 into two buildings 6A and 6B to flank the new road at Trout Gulch, moved the Soquel Creek Water District’s new Granite Way Well site location to the corner of Trout Gulch Road /Cathedral Drive (where the clay layer is so deep that production will be minimal), reduced the size of the County Park Parcel (which allowed the County to waive the $1000/bedroom park developer fees for the 144 bedrooms), added an additional 6 residential units but did not increase the number of affordable units, reduced the number of parking spaces near the County Park Parcel (the Planner recommended just adding more to the on-street parking along Aptos Creek Road),  and other massive changes that PROBABLY CONSTITUTED A NEW PROJECT. 

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

Mark your calendar for this “State of the Groundwater” educational event sponsored by Santa Cruz County Local Area Formation Commission Office (LAFCO).  It will be held at New Brighton Middle School in Capitola, 6pm-8pm, with a keynote speaker from the State Dept. of Water Resources featured along with representatives of all local water agencies. 

It is unknown if the public will be given any time for PUBLIC question and answer, or whether people will be directed (as was the case at the last similar event) to tables of interest.  I hope the people will be able to ask questions publicly because last time, when the second option occurred, the place became so chaotic you had to shout to be heard when asking a question at one of the informational tables.  I expect we will hear glowing reports from Soquel Creek Water District about their “preferred project” PureWater Soquel and plans to inject treated sewage water into the area’s groundwater supply….against public protest.  How can this District boast of “Transparency Awards”???

I hope to see you there…I’ll be handing out information about the “Water for Santa Cruz” group who seeks to find a solution to the area’s water distribution issues that won’t risk health and safety problems and that ratepayers can afford.
Happy Martin Luther King Day….we will continue to uphold and continue to fight for that Dream


#14/ Before It’s Too Late?

Dateline January 14, 2018

Just How Stupid Is Trump?” That’s the title of an opinion piece published on January 8, 2018, by Robert Reich. Reich served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, and is now employed by the University of California. He is, besides holding down his university position, a prominent political pundit. Reich doesn’t think that President Trump is necessarily stupid, but he does think that our president poses “a clear and present danger to America and the world.” 

Reich concludes his article by saying:

The 25th Amendment must be invoked before it’s too late.

The 25th Amendment is pretty complicated. Click the link if you would like a briefing on how it works. My own sense is that neither the 25th Amendment nor an impeachment of the president is going to rescue the nation (and the world). This is also the conclusion of The New York Times editorial board. On January 10th, quite possibly in direct response to what Reich said, The Times ran an editorial with the following title: “Is Mr. Trump Nuts?” 

Is he “nuts,” or is he “stupid,” and what should we do about it? The Times evaluates both impeachment and the use of the 25th Amendment, and comes to the following conclusion, which I believe is right on target:

The best solution is the simplest: Vote, and organize others to register and to vote. If you believe Donald Trump represents a danger to the country and the world, you can take action to rein in his power. In November, you can help elect members of Congress who will fight Mr. Trump’s most dangerous behaviors. If that fails, there’s always 2020.

The fact that we have placed a highly unsuitable person in charge of the Executive Branch of our government does not mean that we our normal governmental processes are no longer functional. In fact, they are!


CLASSICAL DeCINZO. The more than omniscient DeCinzo gives us an inside view of Immigrant issues…see below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “National Health Alert#13” 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 provocative “Roll of The Dice” in his Eaganblog.

The MWM concert series presents The Wild Coast Brass. The Wild Coast Brass features  Kevin Jordan, Trumpet-Charles Old, Trumpet- Ruth Jordan, Horn-Steve Mortensen, Trombone and  James Paoletti onTuba. They’ll play Arthur Frackenpohl’s Brass Quintet, Don Sweete’s Mouse and the Elephant (Trumpet/Tuba Duet), J. S. Bach’s Fugue XI, WTC I (Low Brass Trio)  from Well-Tempered Brass Quintet, Anthony Plog’s Trio for Brass (Trumpet/Horn/Trombone),Traditional pieceThe Water is Wide, then Jose Carli’s Estampas and closing with Kevin McKee’s Escape. The concert is free and happens Thursday, January 18th 12:10 – 12:50 Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown Branch – Upstairs Meeting Room.

For 39 years The New Music Works has created some of the most new music of our time.  Now they say, “Nocturnal sonic emissions arising from next door-to-abroad, by living, tax-paying composers! A powerhouse line-up including four world premieres and a special line-up of guest artists.”  Performing on Feb. 3rd will be Sheila Willey, soprano, UCSC Guitar Ensemble, NewMusicWorks Ensemble, Philip Collins, conductor, Barry Phillips Ostinato for Elly (2016) clarinet, bassoon trumpet, trombone, marimba, piano, violin, double bass and Michael McGushin  A Queer Alphabet, (2017)  text by Gertrude Stein, (world premiere)s  soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, cello, double bass, harp, piano, percussion Heila Willey.

At 6 p.m. there’ll be a 45-minute Panel Discussion involving all seven of the evening’s featured composers.  

Buy Your Tickets Now! Sponsored by the Cabrillo College Music Department it happens SATuRdAy, FEbRuARy 3, 7:30Pm
barbara Samper Recital Hall
cabrillo college, Aptos, cA

Carla Brennan has studied and taught Mindfulness for decades. I’ve been attending her weekly sessions and her classes for a few years…and If you’ve wondered about Mindfulness or need to know more Carla says;” Radical mindfulness is the practice of being unconditionally present to life as it arises, to completely be here now. Rather than living with true wakefulness and awareness, most of us are engaged in an endless struggle to control and limit our experience. We resist feeling our basic aliveness and contract around patterns of fear and confusion. Our meditation practice may become yet another attempt to control what we feel. We discover that beyond this futile struggle is an untapped capacity for clear knowing and compassion” Her 5 week one night per week class is titled…” Radical Mindfulness: The Art of Being Alive”
5-week class, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28 Wednesdays, 6:30 -8:30, 920F 41st Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062  Registration required. Space is limited. Please only register if you can attend at least 4 of the 5 classes. To register, go to EVENTBRITE. More information

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “The awards season kicks off with a few front-running Oscar contenders, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( Also, please share your thoughts on authors rating their own books on Goodreads (useful or shameless?), and check out this week’s Good Times for my review of the sensual coming-of-age drama, Call Me By Your Name.” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. No matter where you’re at sexually, this film deals beautifully with a young 17 year old boy in Italy working his way through his sexual coming of age. Armie Hammer plays the 30 year old scholarly hunk who visits the kid’s parents. You remember Armie Hammer, heir to the Armand Hammer oil fortune, and who played The Lone Ranger to Johnny Depp’s Tonto (2013)!!!

THE POST. This is Steven Spielberg’s answer to the Trump administration’s corruption and misuse of presidential power. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks rip up the acting, as we expect them to do. It’s the story of the — then little — Washington Post trying to catch up to The New York Times, printing Daniel Elsberg’s Vietnam exposure papers. It makes easy parallels to Nixon and Trump’s dictatorships. It also makes great pitches for freedom of the press…and what we need to do to keep that freedom alive…especially now. Go see it, bring your friends. But truthfully, it’s not as interesting or revealing as the MSNBC documentary two weeks ago… “The Most Dangerous Man In America” — which is the same story from Elsberg’s view.

LADY BIRD. This film restored my faith in great films! RT gives it 100% and it’s the highest rated film in RT’s history!!! Greta Gerwig directed  Saorise Ronan and others in this sincere, well thought out movie. A teen aged daughter and her Mom have a terrible, never ending battle over clothes, religion, dating, sex, college and everything. It all happens in Sacramento in about 2003 , which is somehow appropriate. It’s sensitive, subtle, and surprising. Gerwig breaks many directing rules and creates new plot possibilities. Go see this film. Ps….as I’ve told many folks, it’s definitely  not about Lady Bird Johnson!!!

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. First, please note the 95 RT rating. When you have Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell working in a film directed by an Oscar winning director you almost can’t miss. It is definitely a dark comedy. The plot contains murder, rape, loyalty, cancer, and some absolutely brilliant acting. Go see it, and force all your friends to see it too.

DARKEST HOUR. Gary Oldman takes the role of Winston Churchill to new heights…and depths. Its world War II history and it’s the background story of what Churchill had to endure when he first took office as Prime Minister. He deserves the Oscar like few stars ever have. The story is absorbing, educational, and it makes you wonder why the USA doesn’t have someone like Churchill to handle Trump like Churchill handled Hitler and Mussolini.

THE SHAPE OF WATER. A 93 on RT and that means something! Sally Hawkins plays a beautiful mute working in a lab who cares for, and falls in love with a mysterious water creature. It’s a fable, a fairy story, and reminds us of the black and white fantasy films from the 40’s and 50’s. It’s vital to know that it’s directed by Guillermo Del Toro who also did Pan’s Labyrinth  and Hellboy. It is such an enormous change from every other film we’ve seen in years that its’ worth going just for the fun of it.

MOLLY’S GAME. This is an unusual “true” film about a once Olympic ski champion who becomes the owner/manager of zillion dollar poker games. Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba play the top roles and good old Kevin Costner has a bit part as Jessica’s father. It’s a fancy film with plenty of cinema tricks to keep us interested, and the acting’s ok too. But think twice before going, especially if you’re trying to give up movies for the New Year.

I TONYA. A very dark, depressing movie about some very depressed people. It’s got loud rock period music as the film score which almost qualifies it as a fun comedy but you’ll be able to count your laughs. Somewhere in the movie somebody says Americans love to hate or love their current sport stars…and its sure true here. Allison Janney plays Tonya’s seriously disturbed mother and deserves some award this Award season…but not for this one. Warning IF you do got you’ll leave wondering why you cared about Nancy Kerrigan or Tonya Harding.

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD. This movie will forever change your reaction to the Getty Museum in Malibu…trust me. And, you’ve probably read that this movie was completely finished with Kevin Spacey in the lead role of J. Paul Getty, then with Spacey’s sex problems looming so large they completely re-filmed the part and replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer. Ridley Scott directed it, and of course he directed Alien, The Martian, Into The Storm and other big box office hits. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg are the other stars. It’s a cruel, nearly true story about how J.Paul wouldn’t give Italian kidnappers any ransom money when they kidnapped his grandson. I felt far removed from the film, and never identified with anyone in the plot. It was cold, well filmed, and credibly acted but it never drew me into feeling anything for anyone involved.

COCO. A genuine Pixar animated cartoon. And, the animation is amazingly three –dimensional. The plot is totally focused on the very rich and traditional Mexican culture. Day of the Dead, plenty of food, religion, music, and only a little boring after the first half hour. It’s completely original, you’ve never seen anything like this before, its way more creative and developed than what we usually think of as a Disney Cartoon. Go see it.

THE DISASTER ARTIST. A curious movie, a very curious movie about the making of what has become known by critics and the public as the worst movie ever filmed. That movie is “The Room“. James Franco and his brother Dave Franco are the leads. Zac Efron and Seth Rogen are in it too but there are not that many laughs. If you’re not careful you’ll start pitying just about everyone in the film for being so desperate just to make a movie. I began to like or appreciate it about 20 minutes before it ended. The closing credits are a must watch to be believed item.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Yes, 93 on RT and I thought it was a complete fake of a billion dollar move machine. I’ll always remember going to our Soquel Drive in (just a little stoned) and being completely taken into outer space with Star Wars 1. It had humor, empathy, great imagination, tension and a story you could care about. The franchise now stages monotonous, uncaring, space attacks and wars so numerous that you can’t remember who is on who’s side…and you don’t care much either. There’s the Dark Side, the Resistance, Adam Driver, R2D2, a very dull Carrie Fisher, an aging Mark Hamil as Luke Skywalker and those endless space battles that take up probably 33 1/3 of the movie. A great disappointment…go at your own peril, and its 2 ½ hours extra long.

DOWNSIZING.Matt Damon plays a guy who for might be considered an environmental move agrees to be reduced to about 5 inches tall and go live in a Truman’s Show type world with other shrinkees. It’s cute, pointless, and feel good. No genuine issues or meanings are dealt with ‘ Nasty ol’ Christoph Waltz plays his usual smirking, almost nazi-like character and Kristen Wiig plays Damon’s wife until she decides NOT to get shrunk. Save your money, subscribe to Netflix and watch Black Mirror instead.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. This is Hugh Jackman trying his best to bring life to the bio of P.T.Barnum. Jackman is an excellent dancer, singer and showman but this movie just doesn’t have the heart or solidity that a good film should have. The music is just more copying of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s gooey showbiz. It’s shallow, trite, and repetitious to a fault. Don’t bother seeing it.



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. We learn about the problems of the proposed Nissan Dealership in Soquel from Bob Morgan and Lisa Sheridan and how many of the citizens are opposed to it. Then activist, conservationist, columnist Gillian Greensite talks about local politics. Dr. Carlos Arcangeli, noted Urologist, bring us up to date on those problems on Jan.23. He’s followed by  UCSC Professor emeritus Ralph Abraham talking about his newest book, “Hip Santa Cruz Vol. 2” about that scene with articles by local veterans. Then on January 30 UCSC Music prof. Linda Burman Hall talks about the 45th annual Santa Cruz Baroque Festival opening February 10. 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

This speaks for itself, I think 🙂

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.

“Every struggle is like mud – there are always some lotus seeds waiting to sprout”, Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power
“Maturity is when you no longer get the urge to make snow angels in mud season”, Josh Stern,
“Spend your time with the people who talk about the stars because to whichever place you put your mind in, you will move to that place! Stars pull you to the stars; mud pulls you to the mud!” Mehmet Murat ildan
“You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it“, Denzel Washington
“He who slings mud generally loses ground”. Adlai E. Stevenson
“They teach anything in universities today. You can major in mud pies”.  Orson Welles
“I could have ended the war in a month. I could have made North Vietnam look like a mud puddle”. Barry Goldwater

COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Click and enter the box in the upper right hand corner of each Column. You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!) Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

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