BRATTON…The Sentinel & Sandy Brown, Our attitudes on Homeless, Rent Control, Crossing picket lines, KZSC and PSA’s, Circle Church Property and development, KSCO and Trump Support, UCSC’s Alumni Letter. GREENSITE…on Who’s Behind UCSC’s Mega-Housing West Project. KROHN…Rent Control Debate, Class Warfare, Attack on Sandy Brown. STEINBRUNER…Ryan Coonerty and Zach Friend’s conflicts of interest, Aptos Village and soil questions, Nissan Dealership on May 22. PATTON…Social Media Issues. EAGAN…and Scabies Trump. DeCINZO…Droids and UCSC. JENSEN reviews RBG. BRATTON…critiques Racer and The Jailbird, RBG, and The Rider. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUESTS…QUOTES about “Volcanoes”.
FIVE VOLCANOES. Dreary ” voice over” on this but great filming.
JESSE FULLER AND HIS FOOTDELLA. I used to talk with and listen to Jesse in
his shoe shine shop on College Avenue in Oakland back around the early
’60’s. He was brilliant, shy, and talented beyond belief.
DATELINE May 14, 2015
SANDY BROWN, THE SENTINEL & ERIC GRODBERG. Sandy Brown sent BrattonOnline a couple of questions re the Sentinel & Grodberg’s attack. “(1) why would the Sentinel put a picture of a council member’s home on the front page because she voted in support of a measure that does not cover her? (2) Why would a guy who receives income from 26 renters in the city file a frivolous complaint that will do nothing but waste taxpayer (city and state) money? Answer: the Pacific Legal Foundation and the California Apartment Association”. A never ending stream of support for Sandy is flashing through the internet. We’re learning that Eric Grodberg is a landlord with 26 tenants. He’s already evicted some who support Rent Control. We learn too that Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter Jessica York has written really negative reports on Drew Glover, Rachel O’Malley, Chris Krohn and Sandy Brown before. Others asked why doesn’t The Sentinel print a photo of Grodberg’s house at 208 Trescony Street? Jeffrey Smedberg asked, “Let’s see: 10,791 city residents sign a petition to put rent control on the ballot; 1 landlord files a spurious conflict-of-interest complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission on a case they had previously cleared. Which does the Sentinel find newsworthy? Personally I’m also saddened by what I thought was a shift from the Sentinel’s historic prejudiced and one sided editorial position. When you want to get a sense of the Sentinel’s “other” — or is it their main readers’ opinions — read the “comments” to York’s biased attack. Shameful.
HOMELESS ATTITUDE AT HOME AND ELSEWHERE. We need to consider this! Santa Cruz is no different from most USA communities…they don’t like the homeless. They/we want them to disappear, vanish, just stay away and stop. At the very same time, and with the exact same breath, we send money, goods, food, anything possible to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela to aid and assist folks living there who need help. Why the difference in attitude: why are we so opposed to helping our struggling neighbors and locals…what’s that about? There are resident Hawaiians with so many of the same struggles — housing, drugs, employment, education, health — yet we manage to totally ignore them while we float, swim, and cavort on their land. How little we hear if anything about the financial scandal in The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, or what the latest news is about the huge development of the 13 telescope sites on their sacred land of Mauna Kea (read Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Meter_Telescope_protests ).
RENT CONTROL, THE NITPICKING AND FINAL SOLUTION. Regardless of The Sentinel’s obvious opposition to rent control, other folks seemed to have worked hard to find kinks and sections that may need examination. These can, and will be, dealt with as time goes on. This is the time and certainly the place for rent control. We’ve seen it work in 15 California cities that have rent control policies. Wikipedia says, “Fifteen cities are currently listed as rent controlled by the State of California: Yet three of these cities are not listed here, but further below: Campbell (does not have rent control per se, but offers a mediation service), Fremont (rejected rent control in 2017), and Thousand Oaks (has limited rent control: mostly just for mobile home parks). The remaining twelve: Berkeley, Beverly Hills, East Palo Alto, Hayward, Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Oakland, Palm Springs, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, West Hollywood. Alameda, Mountain View, Richmond. The present grand total is fifteen.
PICKET LINES. ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS. The recent UCSC picket lines brought up an interesting discussion point. A point that has in the past, and will in the foreseeable future, split otherwise “liberal-progressive” friends. “Will you cross a picket line, any picket line, for any reason…and have you done so in the past?” Ask your friends, see what happens.
KZSC AND PUBLIC SERVICE SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS. At the last KZSC staff meeting many of us spoke to the fact that KZSC isn’t getting enough dated Public Service Announcements — otherwise known as PSAs. Tell every well-intentioned nonprofit group you know of to go to the KZSC website, read the easy PSA rules, and send them in. They are free, and are read many, many times.
CIRCLE CHURCH AND DEVELOPMENT. Latest rumors have it that the former church property is only “in a holding pattern” for about a year. Lighthouse Realty, with its present connections to “the circle”, will then start with the long-intended development…probably high rise and high cost apartments/condos.
KSCO AND TRUMP SUPPORT QUESTION. In answer to many questions over the last few years…NO, I do not know why well-intentioned progressive locals would purposely produce programs that bring profits to a TRUMP-supported radio station. It wasn’t so long ago that folks like Mardi Wormhoudt and other notables refused to be involved with KSCO. What’s changed and why?
UCSC’S LETTER TO ALUMNI AND “SLANTED”? As if UCSC hasn’t done enough to bring distrust and outright anger against itself, they’ve now sent out a letter to select alumni asking for support and opinions over their proposed East Meadow and West Side housing developments. We’ll watch closely to see how the response is shared with the public. Watch too to see if they sent those letters to mostly or only new alumni who couldn’t possibly share the historical or traditional respect the campus environment means to all of us…just watch and wait.
TOM SCRIBNER REVISITED AGAIN. From out of nowhere Will Combs sent me a copy of the original poster which he drew for the concert to raise money to re-pay Marghe McMann for the bronze statue she made of Tom. Note the guest artists who were very happy to appear on Tom’s behalf. Will even got Tom’s lost knuckle on his left hand. The Concert was in 1978.
LESS IS MORE
Since a picture is worth a thousand words I’ll keep this brief as you ponder the before and after visuals of what is proposed for the west side of the UCSC campus. This, in addition to building on the pristine East Meadow.
If you have any place in your heart for the physical beauty of the campus lands, these images may leave you speechless. There is, however a lot to say about the developer, Capstone Management Partners.
UCSC is venturing for the first time into what is called a Public Private Partnership or P3 with the above developer. A February 15th City on A Hill article titled The Many Faces of Capstone gives an overview of some of the company’s alleged construction and labor violations. Capstone’s website already shows Student Housing West and the East Meadow family student housing/child care projects in its Portfolio so they must be optimistic that approval is a given. The many comments submitted on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project, including legal opinions citing CEQA violations and a strongly worded letter from 27 graduate student parents, protesting the privatizing of the child care facility under an entity named Bright Horizons, citing increased expense, lower quality teacher certification standards, and unsafe location on the East Meadow suggest that such optimism may be premature.
Capstone Development Partners LLC describes itself as a student housing real estate development Company. Their draw is that they take on the housing debt with tax-exempt financing, cover maintenance and management costs with an on-site management team, set the rents and reap profits from those rents and after 20 or so years, hand the housing back to the universities who take over the functions previously managed by Capstone. I’m no expert in such matters but numerous red flags went up the pole on this arrangement.
UC is a public educational institution and partnering with a private entity seems a violation of that tradition and mission. UC would argue that they are forced to look to the private sector as public funding has shrunk. Critics would argue that UC should spend its money on professors and students instead of ever-increasing upper management. (Student housing is not state supported. It has to be self-supporting.) Apart from that issue, many concerns remain. Capstone eventually hands the housing back to the university. Such an arrangement seems a disincentive for Capstone to properly maintain the housing. Not that UCSC is a model of care. That the once lovely two story Family Student Housing apartments built in the mid-sixties have been allowed to decay to the point of needing to be torn down (or so they say) is an indictment on UCSC, which boasts a Sustainability Office.
Then there is the issue of an on-site management team brought in from the outside by Capstone. According to their website, ” Campus Management Partners will work closely with residential life staff, campus safety, police, Environmental Health & Safety and others to provide for the safety and security of students.” This is a formula for disaster: a new layer of management to get lost in the maze of campus departments, rules, regulations, protocols or lack thereof. The Student Housing West complex (pictured) will contain 2,800 students. Nothing at UCSC comes close to that number of students living cheek by jowl. The ten colleges each house around 700 students max. To help make such living arrangements more human they each include dedicated student and professional staff with clear lines of communication and reporting responsibilities. Each has its own identity and physical space. And even with all that, mistakes are made and social conflicts arise. The college model, touted as a crown jewel of UCSC is here abandoned. One wonders if that choice was made by Capstone, which specializes in mega-student housing complexes or whether UCSC has forever lost its values or both.
As you contemplate the scale and visual impact of the proposed new student housing from the West entrance to campus, evaluate the words of the Chairman Emeritus of Capstone, Mike Mouron who says of their projects, “We cut the pattern to fit the cloth.”
|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.|
“People with advantages are loathe to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. They come readily to define themselves as inherently worthy of what they possess; they come to believe themselves ‘naturally’ elite; and, in fact, to imagine their possessions and their privileges as natural extensions of their own elite selves.”
? C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
THE RENT CONTROL DEBATE; CLASS WARFARE UNBOUND IN SANTA CRUZ
I’m convinced the city of Santa Cruz has to become a much bigger player in the housing market because the market is not serving the people. That “magic hand of capitalism,” as we know too well when left unattended, has allowed for fabulous profits in rentals and sales for a very few in this town. As the sociologist C. Wright Mills, and later G. William Domhoff, both describe in their work the notion of a ruling class elite, and the insular nature of such a class often leaves them with little empathy for the have-nots. (Yes, realtors, multiple parcel property owners, and developers are all directly and indirectly part of a Santa Cruz ruling class.) The rent control debate has shined some light on class difference in Surf City. As elucidated in Mills’, The Power Elite (1956: Oxford University Press). and Domhoff’s Who Rules America (1967: Prentice-Hall), not to mention the flotsam and jetsam lives of service provider jobs chronicled in Barbara Ehrenreich’s clear-eyed depiction of the working poor in Nickel and Dimed (2001: Metropolitan Books), the poor are often left unattended by the rich until it is too late. Of course, you might say those books are dated until a certain Thomas Picketty, the French economist comes along and puts it all together and says yes indeed, the rich are in fact getting richer and the poor, well, they’re getting poorer (Capital in the Twenty-first Century, Harvard University Press, 2014 (English version)). Picketty also comes down on the side of government stepping in to make things more equal. (Imagine that!) The Rev. William Barber of North Carolina is one of the bright lights of our generation and he focuses on what Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 sojourn to Memphis was all about: protesting low wages, high housing costs, and poor living conditions (The Third Reconstruction, Penguin-Random House, 2016). Reflecting back on Dr. King’s Memphis moments, it turns out much of our community is also siloed and in need of a wake-up call. The wealthy in Santa Cruz are having a difficult time getting in touch with the “rent burden” and pocketbook pain of everyday tenants. The wealthy and moderately wealthy in our town reside within particular bubbles. They tend to travel in the same social circles–Rotary breakfasts, Chamber of Commerce lunches, Downtown Association social outings– often attend similar religious institutions, and daily mingle at similar bars (not the Jury Room, Poet and Patriot, or Rush Inn) and restaurants (probably not Jack’s, Zachary’s, or the Bagelry). They by and large tend to stay mostly within their narrow class bounds. And with both rich and poor participating in this class segregation, along comes government to act as some sort of arbiter, a referee with a whistle, and impose a rent freeze, which not only acknowledges the fact we are in a housing crisis but also affects the profits of the ownership class.
Will Santa Cruz Residents Seize this Moment?
American history is littered with the wealthy’s tales of woe, brought to the attention of the government by the institutions they own: newspapers, TV stations, magazines, and now most significantly, large swaths of the internet. Most of that history sees “government authorities” facilitating the flow of capital for capitalists through government legislation. The economic crème de la crème come along and define “blight,” for example, (quaint cafes like Pergolesi? iconic venues such as the Rio Theatre (‘but we will save the marquee’ they exclaim)? and historic structures including the La Bahia?), and then they go about alleviating their defined pain of blight with an “urban renewal” plan through endless government PLANS: Beach and South of Laurel Plan, The Corridors Plan, and most recently, the Downtown Recovery Plan. So, the class on top keeps planning (Thatcher and Thompson, Jonathan Swift), and the developers keep developing (Swenson and Devcon). They get money not from the likes of Bay Federal or the Santa Cruz Credit Union, but through those same large banks (B of A, Wells Fargo, Citi Bank) that have been discredited by many of the national heroes that Santa Cruzans frequently turn to: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky; and also, the likes of Amy Goodman, Dan Ellsberg, and Bill McKibben who all three by the way will be in Santa Cruz this week. It does seem the rich in Santa Cruz are thinking big…500 hotel rooms (Hyatt, Marriot, La Bahia) here and 800 units of market-rate housing (current downtown plan) over there. And they are, from their perspective doing good (aka getting richer). We have a hot, hot housing market and “the market” says we have to raise the rents. Their same mindset seems to believe that corporations will save us too–Marriot, Hyatt, Five Guys, Habit Burger, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts (Dunkin Donuts?!?) have all been shepherded into SC under the auspices of the city’s own Economic Development Department. Oh, government facilitating the needs of capital…cha ching! Fast disappearing are the Logos, Tampicos, and Pergolesi’s, too funky the elite says. In with the new and out with the old has always been part of the Horatio Alger American mythology story, and it is generally the way of the wealthy in Santa Cruz too. But/And, then along comes a petition: Rent Control, and the government is asked to ‘hold it a darn second,’ stop for a moment facilitating the wants of the wealthy, and for a short time entertain the needs of tenants. A rent freeze is born.
THE SPURIOUS ATTACK ON COUNCILMEMBER SANDY BROWN
Sandy Brown, was attacked and ridiculously vilified by a Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter last week. (What was it she did? She rents from a landlord who supports rent control? Does the hedge fund have an agenda?) The article is full of innuendo and yet again sees the Santa Cruz Sentinel missing so many good stories. There was no story after the near 11,000 signatures were turned to the city clerk last Thursday, just a photo; no story about the many homeowners and landlords who actually support rent control; and of course, no story of the courageous UCSC students who worked tirelessly to gather signatures for the petition. You have to go to the exemplary student newspaper, City on a Hill, for this information. The attack on Sandy Brown cannot go on without the newspaper hearing from the public. Some may say; oh if we contact the paper doesn’t this just make the story keep going? To them I would say, 1) Sandy Brown is the perfect model for why we are struggling for rent control. She is someone who is fighting to stay in Santa Cruz, even as a member of the city council, and to demean and dismiss her own story is at the Sentinel’s peril, and we must point this out; and 2) this issue is not going to let up until November 6th, so we must push back every time any media outlet over steps the bounds of truth and ethics and attacks struggling activists for working to make their lives and this community better. This attack is not just about Ms. Brown, it is an attack on every one who was involved in the struggle to keep this town from being divided up by wealthy interests who do not have the whole of the community in mind. Please respond to these outrageous ploys by either writingor calling (831-423-4242) the Sentinel.
(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 email@example.com
CONFLICT OF INTEREST FOR COUNTY SUPERVISORS ZACH FRIEND AND RYAN COONERTY?
When County Supervisors Zach Friend and Ryan Coonerty make decisions about wireless technology expansion in the County with related law enforcement and County expenditures, they should really recuse themselves because both have potential conflicts of interest. Supervisor Zach Friend is listed as an Advisor for Yardarm Technology (a local company specializing in wireless gun technology) and accepts $10,000-$100,000 annually, he also accepts $10,000-$100,000 from an associated company named Gunnegate LLC, and also makes $10,000-$100,000 annually from stock in PredPol, a predictive policing software company. Supervisor Ryan Coonerty also accepts $2,000-$10,000 revenue annually from PredPol.
Both Supervisors regularly have approved County expenditures on additional wireless technology for law enforcement use, and have listened to citizen-financed appeals regarding wireless technology installations in their neighborhoods. This is a conflict of interest, but neither Supervisor has ever recused themselves from decision-making on these issues. Contact the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) with your complaint and hold these two elected officials accountable.
Back in October, 2015, the Santa Cruz Sentinel ran a front page article about possible conflict of interest regarding Phil Wowak, the newly-retired Santa Cruz County Sheriff, and Yardarm Technology, a local gun technology company. The article, written by Mr. Matt Drange of the Center for Investigative Reporting, focused on Phil Wowak, but mentioned that County Supervisor Zach Friend helped negotiate meetings with Warner and Pank lobbyists in Sacramento. That meeting, held April 21, 2014 in Sacramento, was all done on time paid for by taxpayers. Supervisor Zach Friend was and still still is being paid to ADVISE Yardarm Technology.
The Public Records Act request materials verified that Supervisor Zach Friend traveled on taxpayer time to Sacramento to conduct this business on behalf of Yardarm Technology. I will gladly supply you with a hard copy of his calendar and associated e-mail correspondence that I received.
Here is link to the better article by Matt Drange in his report, listing Zach Friend as a key negotiator
I hope to see you at the meeting to hold our elected officials accountable. Contact your Supervisor 454-2200 or e-mail him at:
John Leopold firstname.lastname@example.org (this project is in his district, so he will be the one calling the shots)
Greg Caput email@example.com
Ryan Coonerty firstname.lastname@example.org
Zach Friend email@example.com
Bruce McPherson firstname.lastname@example.org
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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com
The picture illustrates an article in The Wall Street Journal entitled, “When the Twitter Mob Came for Me.” The article was written by a conservative political commentator, Kevin D. Williamson, and bemoans the fact that Williamson was, as he sees it, hounded from his new job at The Atlantic by swarms of unfair and largely unjustified comments relating to one of his long ago statements that was taken out of context. He suggested (not seriously, he claims) that anyone involved in an abortion should be hanged until dead.
Another example of how an online “mob” might cause real grief, to real people, in the real world, is the story related by Jesselyn Cook, a Canadian-American journalist, who writes for HuffPost, and who seems to be of a more or less “progressive” persuasion, politically. Cook relates her experience with Facebook, not Twitter, and tells us about an online reaction to a picture, which made her look rather attractive, and an accompanying invitation to comment on whether she should be “smashed” or “passed.” Cook identifies the comments made in response to this invitation (completely unprovoked by anything she said or did) as “sexual harassment.” Her story is truly distressing.
If you click the links, you can get the details of both Cook’s and Williamson’s experiences. It appears to be pretty clear that neither Williamson nor Cook were treated fairly by the online commenters who attacked and demeaned them. Is there something we can, or should, be doing about that?
Basic tort law might well allow both Cook and Williamson successfully to sue those who harassed and demeaned them. Suing Facebook and Twitter directly, however, would not be a successful legal strategy, since such online platforms are legally shielded from liability for what persons who use these platforms say.
The situation is analogous to the problem that you or I would have if we attempted to sue the telephone company because someone harassed us over the telephone lines. You can’t successfully sue the telephone company for what someone says on the phone, and you can’t sue an online service provider for what people say as they use their online service. Click right here for an outline of defamation law and social media.
While the kind of attacks that Williamson and Cook suffered are genuinely distressing, and the power of social media to amplify such personal attacks is obvious, there isn’t any easy way to provide additional help for those who have been attacked online, though we do need to be working on the problem.
An article in The New York Times on April 22, 2018, indicates the horrors that can follow when untrue and inflammatory stories are disseminated on social media. Reporters Amanda Taub and Max Fisher document how inflammatory postings on Facebook led to arson and murder in Sri Lanka, stoking fires of ethnic cleansing. As The Times headline writer put it: “Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match.” A presidential adviser in Sri Lanka, commenting on the story told by Taub and Fisher, said it this way: “We don’t completely blame Facebook. The germs are ours, but Facebook is the wind, you know?”
Considering how quickly the winds of contagion and outrage can disseminate hatred online, in a way that causes real world consequences, from personal attacks to murder, this might be another good reason to live more of our lives offline.
In the real world, I mean!
Gary is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at email@example.com
CLASSICAL DeCINZO. Check out DeCinzo’s classic and foresighted “DROID COMPETITION” just a scroll below.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “National Health Alert #17 Scabies Trump” 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.
MUNCHING WITH MOZART. This free (FREE) concert series on May 17th (every third Thursday) Is titled “Music for Two Cellos“. Louella Hasbun and Roger Emanuels are the cellists.
They’ll play ;
- Adagio cantabile by François Francoeur (1698-1787)
- Suite for Two Cellos by David Popper (1843-1913)
- Estampas y Estampillas by Jaime Mendoza-Nava (1925-2005)
- Tangos by Carlos Gardel (1890-1935), arr. Diego Collatti
- El cant dels ocells (Song of the Birds), traditional Catalan song, arr. Pablo Casals (1876-1973).
It happens this Thursday, May 17 th 12:10 – 12:50 at the threatened and endangered Santa Cruz Public Library’s Downtown Branch – in the upstairs Meeting Room.
UCSC’S MIRIAM ELLIS AND HER 18th INTERNATIONAL PLAYHOUSE. The Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, and Cowell and Stevenson Colleges at UCSC will present the 18th season of the Miriam Ellis International Playhouse. In this unique multilingual program, students will be featured in fully-staged excerpts of short works in Punjabi, French, German, and Spanish, with English super-titles. There are exciting innovations in our program this year, with our first presentation of works in Punjabi, including a short play and poetry, directed by Arshinder Kaur, and excerpts from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, sung in German, directed by Sheila Willey, and performed by students of the University Opera Theater as a preview of their upcoming production of the opera, which will take place from May 31 to June 3 at the UCSC Music Center Recital Hall. Students of French will portray scenes from Marcel Pagnol’s Fanny, one of the plays in his trilogy about a group of serio-comic characters in Marseille, directed by Miriam Ellis and Renée Cailloux. Spanish will offer a contemporary comedy, Black and White, by Ignacio Dominis, directed by Carolina Castillo-Trelles. Which explores characters that live in two different worlds, separated by a line never to be crossed. Over the years, our multilingual theater presentations have attracted loyal audiences who look forward to hearing their native or acquired languages in this unusual format, and we cordially invite the community to attend. It’s at the Stevenson Event Center on the UCSC campus, it’s free…go here for details https://language.ucsc.edu. Everyone is invited. The four performances are; 05/17/2018 – 8:00pm , 05/18/2018 – 8:00pm 05/19/2018 – 8:00pm and 05/20/2018 – 8:00pm
LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Celebrate a real American superhero, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in RBG, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com ). Celebrate my Beast novel finally heading into the home stretch (only 2 more months to go!) with a cool new Beast of the Month illustration. And celebrate the life and legacy of James Aschbacher as more tributes roll in. Art Boy lives!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.
THE RIDER. This is an almost-true life story about a rodeo cowboy who got thrown, and thereafter has to live with a steel plate in his head. It’s heartfelt, homey and you probably have to like horses to truly enjoy it. It doesn’t bring out the intelligence, feeling, and knowledge of the hero, but it does contain his real-life father, and friends, acting at their best….which get in the way. It’s a feel good film, however, and worth seeing.
RBG. This nicely-done documentary tells us a lot more than has ever been made public before. Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG) is a surprisingly quiet, shy woman. It reminds us that Bill Clinton got her the job as Supreme Court Justice: oddly enough it does not remind us that Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Conner as the first woman to serve on the court. See this film. It’ll give you hope that you can fight against the odds.
TULLY. This isn’t a bad movie and the biggest problem with it is that we’ve all heard about how Charlize Theron gained 50 pounds to star in it. So all the way through the movie we keep thinking gee, she really gained 50 pounds instead of being concerned with the plot. The plot is motherhood and she’s the mother of three kids. Then the hired nanny “Tully” comes in and a whole new world opens up. It could have been a much better film but the plot dwindles off someplace…and you won’t be satisfied with the ending.
A QUIET PLACE. Whew!!! This earned 97 % on Rotten Tomatoes — and is a genuinely scary movie. It’s well-paced, with fine acting, and Emily Blunt does a perfect believable mother, guardian and victim role. It’s upstate New York sometime in the future, and aliens (much like the Shape of Water Thing with longer legs) have taken over. The monsters attack and kill anything they hear, so everybody has be deathly silent…which makes for great suspense and tension. The kid who plays the deaf child Regan is Millicent Simmonds: she’s genuinely deaf, and she’s fabulous. Go see this IF you love scary movies.
ISLE OF DOGS. This is Wes Anderson’s latest, and I didn’t like it any more than any of his other sideways attempts at new cinema statements. The Royal Tannenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel all not just bored me but left me mystified. Rushmore was a notch up. Isle of Dogs uses cute Japanese-themed names like Kobayashi, Atari, Watanabe, Yoko-ono, and the clever Major Domo. The very famous and excellent Hollywood persons who do the voices are near legendary, but Anderson’s attempt at cleverness, brilliance and just plain story telling once again leaves me very cold and bored.
BLACK PANTHER. Like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman created a lot of good will and empowered women Black Panther does the same for Blacks in America and around the rest of the world. Both are based on comics – DC and Marvel respectively – and are full of violence, killings and special effects. I’m finding it more and more difficult to see these action films with messages like revenge, torture, and blood and guts as having any semblance of cinematic art. Black Panther is science fiction, space travel and still the characters use spears and super hi tech weapons to kill each other. There are messages in this movie so I read…but I sensed nothing positive in it. Now I wonder since this has been such a blockbuster if we’ll see Mexican Panther, Chinese Panther, Croatian Panther? Got beat by …..
A WRINKLE IN TIME. WARNING …Looks like they’re bringing this one back !!! The much hyped adapting of this hugely popular children’s book by black woman director Ava DuVernay is a flop. Even with Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon and Zach Galifianakis it’s still a flop, and got a 42 on Rotten Tomatoes. Many women friends have told me Wrinkle was their favorite book when they were little. It’s so far out so otherworldly so fantastical it becomes unwakeable while you try to watch it. Think of time world-travel children’s classics like Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, ET, Fantasia and more. I saw it in 3D and it didn’t help, I couldn’t follow it…and there didn’t seem to be any reason to do so.
AVENGERS: AN INFINITY WAR. I am trying with enormous difficulty to like, enjoy understand Marvel Comics blockbusters. It is an entirely separate category of movies centering on comic books and graphic novels. I came of age reading Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel’s first issues in the early 40’s and still these movies go beyond my comprehension. They are the world’s number one money makers, The special effects, the blood, killings, raccoons piloting spaceships just fly beyond my senses. One critic stated that there are 73 main characters in this latest chapter. This is apparently a near perfect Marvel Comic blockbuster. You’re on your own here and it’s two and a half hours long.
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. May 15 has environmentalist Grey Hayes guesting the entire hour bringing us up to date on nature’s needs. On May 22 Wilma Marcus, George Lober and Rosie King will be reading and discussing poetry and discussing The Hummingbird Press Collective. C.L.U.E. (Coalition for Limiting University Expansion) co-chief John Aird will follow them and talk about UCSC growth, measure U and the June elections. The top winners from the annual Bookshop Santa Cruz Short Story Contest read their works on May 29. On June 12 Students from Maria Pirata’s UCSC class will report on the UC Strike. Then Lisa Sheridan and Robert Morgan talk about Soquel issues. June 19 has Lisa Robinson from the San Lorenzo Valley Museum describing their current exhibits and future plans. Jane Mio discusses our river system and what’s needed to protect it on June 26
OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here… http://www.radiofreeamerica.com/dj/bruce-bratton 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t say I never did anything to help you… 😀
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.
“Love, my territory of kisses and volcanoes.” Pablo Neruda
“It is spectacular to watch an erupting volcano; but it is even much more spectacular to watch the rise of a newly exploding revolutionary idea!” Mehmet Murat ildan
“I noticed that volcanoes, earthquakes and floods, though are not good events, they are better than the silence of good people when bad people take the podium. The latter are to an extent uncontrollable, but the former can be stopped.” Israelmore Ayivor
“All civilization has from time to time become a thin crust over a volcano of revolution”, Havelock Ellis
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