Blog Archives

May 2 – 8, 2018

Highlights this week:
BRATTON…Soquel and Nissan Development news, UCSC’s East Meadow update, Soquel’s beer and booze alley, Barbara Bush’s bad side, Goodbye and farewell to Jim Aschbacher GREENSITE… on PG&E tree massacre: the clock is running out. KROHN…takes a week off  SANDY BROWN…love letter and call to action. STEINBRUNER…more on Soquel and Nissan plans and plot?, housing crisis, raising property taxes, Measure U and UCSC growth, Midcounty water levels, Aptos Village and contaminated soils plus their water problems, Rancho Del Mar to gut Comerica Bank building and the 40 year old Aptos Cinema building, Santa Cruz and fire dangers…PATTON with Local newspaper and Local control…EAGAN and White House hiring …DeCINZO all about parenting…JENSEN rests awhile…BRATTON critiques Foxtrot, Lean on Pete, Avengers: An Infinity War…UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUESTS…QUOTES about The Pacific Ocean

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PACIFIC AVENUE AND SOQUEL CORNER. Circa 1920. That would be New Leaf Market right there in the middle and Forever 21 on the immediate left. You can see that the trolley rails are still in place. I wonder what the political pressure was like back then to rip out those rails?                                                    

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

MICHELLE WOLF’S COMPLETE JOKES AT THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH AND ELLEN DeGENERES.
KIM JONG UN’S BODYGUARDS RUN WITH THE BOSS.

DATELINE April 30, 2018
SOQUEL’S NISSAN DEALERSHIP NEWS. Nora Hochman called in to bring us all up to date regarding Don Groppetti’s maneuvering to open a Nissan Car Dealership in Soquel at the corner of 41st and Soquel. As Nora says it has 10 billion cars every day from 3pm to 5pm trying to avoid the even heavier traffic on Highway One. Groppetti has bought up all the properties at that corner…that includes the car wash, Kings Wallpaper and Paint, everything except one lot with a house that’s been vacant for 20 years. All of a sudden in a move that Soquel Neighbors say was too swift and too secret the Bored of Supervisors Red Tagged that property and now Groppetti is moving ahead with the Nissan Car lot swiftly. Nora also learned that Don Groppetti personally donated $25,000 to Congressman Devin Nunes. The Daily Beast online newspaper said of Nunes, “Devin Nunes Is the Emblematic Republican Hack of the Trump Era”. More than that five (5) members of Groppetti’s family in 2016 each donated $2700 to Carly Fiorina the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and former GOP presidential contender. What’s with our bored of supes giving this rightwinger guy such property when it could very well support all kinds of beneficial affordable housing ?? More on this issue..stay tuned, and read Becky Steinbruners column this week just a few turns below.

SAVING UCSC’S EAST MEADOW. Just before deadline (April 30) Jim Clifford sent this …

Dear Friends of the Meadow,
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.    Alumni Weekend, that is.  Lots of supportive honks from cars driving by our banners at Hagar and Coolidge (see picture below).  Then a walk, up Hagar along the East Meadow, where the red-wing blackbirds gamboled and sang.  Heartening and inspiring conversations with scores of concerned alumni, many of whom had not known about the plans to build on the meadow, showing how deep the care runs among those with long histories with UCSC and who identify with its core values.  And then there were the staff and administration.  They ranged from those who shared our passion and conviction, telling us that they wholly agreed with our position on the East Meadow and would do whatever they could sub rosa to help us, but also letting us know that they had been pressured by the higher ups to fall into line and voice no dissent (!), to those very higher-ups, who stonewalled us with the administration’s grim and inaccurate fall-back line: development of the East Meadow or no housing.  With some administrators it got even worse.   One higher administrator in University Relations (development) told us, in a tone dripping with condescension, that the anger and outrage among dissenting alumni and among those donors who have pledged to withhold donations would soon pass, and that things would quickly return to the status quo ante.  We got a strong impression that the administration was circling its wagons, tighter and tighter.   No dissent, no discussion.  Not exactly UCSC values.    

These are some of the reasons we’d like to encourage as big a turn-out as we can for the public meetings on the Draft Environmental Impact Report this week (see below for times).  Big numbers, strong and reasoned objections, and a focused message could give the administration a clear sense of the community’s position.  Your comments will need to be brief, and focused on the East Meadow.  We just don’t want the administration to be able to say “we consulted widely and found that the plan was generally welcomed”.  So please attend, and make your voices heard.   

Once gone, the meadow is gone forever”. 

Sincerely yours, 

Organizing Committee, East Meadow Action Committee, eastmeadowaction.org

Details:

Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 6:30-8:30 PM  
Louden Nelson Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz                                                

Thursday, May 3, 5-7 PM   
Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St. Santa Cruz

If you’d like to read or skim the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), PDF downloads are available on this page.

There is now an on-line method for CONTRIBUTIONS TO EMAC (East Meadow Action Committee)  in support of ongoing legal fees, which are considerable. We are working with an expert environmental lawyer to provide comment on the DEIR, in preparation for possible litigation, See contribution details on our website eastmeadowaction.org . End of EMAC news bulletin.

SOQUEL’S BEER ALLEY. Starting at Carpos Main Street in Soquel has become a lush lane for booze. Neighbors are up in arms over the amount of cars, noise and degradation that it’s become. One irate neighbor sent this…Item 1. 161091 
This is ostensibly for Beer Thirty to operate a restaurant and nursery on the Soquel Farmhouse property at 2590 South Main Street, behind Sunnyside Produce.  But their actual broader plan is for an outdoor beer garden and gaming area that triples the size of their current beer garden at 2540 South Main and will have a total outdoor operation of 5700 square feet! Previously, alcohol has never been permitted on this property.  If approved with their intended hours of operation from 7am to midnight, imagine: a major onslaught of increased traffic in and out of Soquel, intense noise levels from outdoor music and gaming until midnight, and inebriated behavior including likely driving under the influence. The challenges for the well established  Main Street businesses such as Carpo’s, Sunnyside, Fishlady, Michael’s, etc. and their customers will be horrendous in addition to the adverse impacts on the entire surrounding neighborhood with its homes, schools and churches.  There has been plenty of complaint from customers and owners of other businesses on Main Street about the inadequacy and unavailability of parking for these other businesses during the hours when Beer 30 is packed, and in evenings, the complaints have included public urination. The new adjacent location will multiply the problems while further violating the Soquel master plan and adding substantially to the worst traffic in the county! 

Another Soquel neighbor sent this…

This is the website to read the Planning Department Staff Report in advance of the May 4th meeting.

The Soquel Farmhouse people have told the Planning Department they held a community meeting to discuss their plans. In fact, what they held was a closed meeting of their friends and investors. When adjacent business owners attempted to attend, they were told they were “not on the list” and could not enter! But then they represented to Planning Department that it was an open meeting! The Beer 30/Soquel Farmhouse people have behaved like criminals in various negotiations to alleviate the parking problem. I doubt they will adhere to anything they are told to do or not do, since all agreements Beer 30 has made have been broken”. Another email stated

“This new proposed beer-garden location is adjacent to residences and small businesses, and quite close to schools and churches. Like Beer 30, it will be without adequate parking. It violates not only the County Code, but destroys the entire character of the neighborhood. Alcohol has never been served at this new location previously. If this proposed business — to be called ‘Soquel Farmhouse’ — is allowed to open, it will be a very poor planning decision. Lots of folks are worried. The worst traffic anywhere in the county is 3-6 pm any day M-F is in Soquel, caused by all the hundreds of people who try to bypass the Hwy 1 gridlock by driving surface streets through town, continuing onto Soquel Drive through Capitola and Soquel town. Imagine how Friday night bashes at the Soquel Farmhouse will immeasurably add to the congestion!Those are our neighbors talking …no matter where you live. What we can do is attend the Zoning Administrator Hearing on Friday May 4th at 9am in The Bored of Supervisors Chambers Room 525, at the County Government Center at 701 Ocean Street. 

Mention was made of this issue as SOQUEL UNDER SIEGE. Obviously, it’s best  to attend the meeting to get your opinion on record. Much more is at stake in Soquel Sustainability than 41st Avenue congestion! You can also write to Kathleen Molloy, Planning Director, and to First District Supervisor John Leopold, representing Soquel, and the entire Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Leopold, Friend, Caput, McPherson, Coonerty. County of Santa Cruz Planning Department 701 Ocean Street, 4th Floor, Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060

BARBARA BUSH REVISITED AGAIN. Reader Jeff Hay sent a link to Cindy Sheehans Soap Box. You remember Cindy Sheehan right? USA Today tells us…” Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan had a high profile during the George W. Bush years when her son, a 24-year-old Army specialist, died in a firefight in Iraq. Since then she has largely faded from view even as she has continued to oppose U.S. wars abroad under President Obama”. She titles her missile Sorry, Not Sorry: Open Letter to Babs Bush” (Ca 2005) by Cindy Sheehan. Go to her “Soapbox”  link http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/2018/04/sorry-not-sorry-open-letter-to-babs.html  to read it and lots more of her opinions…

So the wife of one war criminal and mother of others has died at the very ripe old age of 92–according to the establishment media and political oligarchy, we are supposed to be remembering a “plainspoken political icon” (LA Slimes, April 17, 2018) instead of the Wicked Witch of War Criminals. I think its incumbent upon us in the 99% to recall the devastating remarks she made on Good Morning America on the eve of the war that killed my son: “Why should we hear about body bags and death? It’s not relevant. Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

Or her callous disregard for Katrina refugees: 

Death does not confer respectability on such a privileged and cold-hearted life. She and her killer spouse reportedly played golf the day after their young daughter died from leukemia. This kind of behavior cannot be made up: It’s deplorable and reprehensible. Maybe the death of such a one should not be celebrated, but neither should we weep. The Bush’s wealth and the wealth of the other oligarchs can be proven to be ill-gotten by the exploitation of the rest of us and they should be resented, not worshiped.
The only reason I bring her death up now, is not for the one solitary death of one of the political oligarchy, but because of what she represents: the pinnacle of diseased capitalism and imperialism. Like the indigenous people of the USA said, “We kill one soldier, and 100 others arise.” The ideology of death and destruction that the life of Barbara Bush represented must be vigorously and militantly opposed, but first we have to be real and not pretend to be sad about something we are not, or should not waste our beautiful minds on”. 

JAMES ASCHBACHER’S FINAL PORTRAIT. James Aschbacher, Lisa Jensen and I shared dozens, maybe hundred’s of movie screenings together over the last 40 years. The last time was at the Nickelodeon the Friday before he died (April 20) watching Final Portrait. Jim and I also shared equal opinions that day on Kubrick’s “2001” as one of the best ever films. He’s gone now; the community has been deeply and equally kind and saddened by his loss. What he gave to all of us in terms of art was only surpassed by his wit, positive look at life and his love of Lisa. We’ll owe him forever.

LAST WEEK’S HISTORICAL PHOTO ADDITION. Rick Hyman wrote to let us know more about that photo taken from our wharf seashore area…The photo of the so called “Douglas House” was taken between and 1877 and 1882, not circa 1888. During this time the building in question was the Ocean View House owned by Thomas Varley Johnson. The photo shows a connection between the pictured Power Mill wharf at the foot of Main Street, which passed by the Ocean View House, and the Railroad Wharf. The connection was constructed in 1877 and taken down in 1882. The Powder Mill wharf was also taken down in late 1882 – thus, dating the photo. This building was remodeled in the mid-1880’s and then in 1890 integrated into the Sea Beach Hotel, as a new addition was constructed in front of it”. It’s always great to get “updates” on the photos. Thanks Rick.

April 30th 2018

DAVID & GOLIATH
There are two David and Goliath dramas playing right now in Santa Cruz: UCSC’s plans to cram ten thousand more students into an already overcrowded town and PG&E’s project to cut down thousands of heritage trees near its underground gas transmission lines under the dubious claim for public safety with nary a real-life problem child to present.  David is valiantly eying the stone in both. In one, the city is standing with David in the front lines against Goliath while in the other; the city is handing David’s stone to Goliath.

Understandably the city has to weigh its battles. PG&E is a formidable opponent but so is the UC system. There is little to lose in Measure U, the city’s ballot measure to gauge public sentiment regarding further UCSC growth.  A few cranky bigwigs and some tut-tuts at social functions but no potential lawsuits on the horizon. By contrast, to oppose PG&E and fight its bogus claim that it has the right to trample over CEQA and the local Heritage Tree Ordinance is to court costly legal challenges. So the city has chosen to play along with PG&E, accept its claim to be above environmental law and with cap in hand, has accepted the $10,000 as compensation for the impending heritage tree massacre, some of which has already transpired with much more to come.

Other cities were not so easily bought off.  They fought back. The cities of Concord, Dublin, El Cerrito, Pleasanton, Livermore, Walnut Creek and Town of Danville challenged the claim of PG&E that it could ignore local ordinances and CEQA as summarized in the following quote: “PG&E would have the cities completely disregard their long-standing policies and practices aimed at tree protection and maintenance. The citizens of the cities will not allow their public officials to blatantly shirk their duties as PG&E is asking them to do.” John Bakker, City Attorney, City of Dublin.

By contrast, the city of Santa Cruz with a reputation for environmental leadership not only did not formally challenge PG&E but also allowed the giant company to remove its item from the council agenda where this issue should have received public input and council deliberation. I was there. No one on council questioned that action or moved to have it re-appear at a future council meeting, which it didn’t. Rather, PG&E submitted a later letter to the city manager, ‘memoralizing” its plans for the project. That letter contains some sops to tree concerns most of which have not been honored. Last year, April 26th, the city arborist wrote to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) asking if it agreed with PG&E’s position on vegetation removal. CPUC did not respond until July 12th. Not surprisingly, it concurred with PG&E.

The largest number of the city’s heritage trees grows on private property. They are protected under the Heritage Tree Ordinance to the delight of some and the outrage of others. Chances are good that the trees are in the delighted camp. PG&E won’t disclose how many heritage trees on private property will face the axe. It may be hundreds or thousands. The young Araucaria or Monkey Puzzle tree pictured is one of them.

When 34 trees were suddenly cut down by PG&E without warning to the neighbors on Ocean Street Extension, neighbors took matters into their own hands since the city had tied its hands by accepting the $10,000 PG&E trade-off. Neighbors passed around the hat and hired local environmental firm, Wittwer and Parkin to write a legal opinion to the city. Their legal opinion mirrored that of other city’s attorneys: that PG&E is not above local HTO ordinances or CEQA and pending compliance with both, this unpopular and destructive project should immediately cease.

The letter was sent to the Mayor on April 5th. Curiously it was not immediately delivered to the city attorney but languished for a few days.The city attorney replied on April 12th with a request for more time to carefully review such an important letter. Tick tock…running out the clock. The statute of limitations to file a law suit is fast approaching.

With the city bedding down with Goliath, David needs a bigger stone. Money would buy a lawsuit. Public outrage has brought down bigger giants. It’s humbling that  cities that don’t enjoy our reputation for environmental action have so easily outranked us. Tick tock. No time to waste.


Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association  http://darksky.org    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

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We have a guest columnist, Santa Cruz City council member Sandy Brown. Chris Krohn is off this week.

April 30, 2018

A LOVE LETTER TO SANTA CRUZ, AND A CALL TO ACTION.

Dear BrattonOnline readers: First, thank you for staying tuned in to local politics! I imagine many of you are (like me) feeling as if we are living in the upside-down world so eloquently elucidated by Eduardo Galeano – a world full of injustices, crises, and contradictions. We think about the implications globally, nationally, regionally. And we work for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice wherever we see the need. At the same time we maintain these commitments at the local level. As a city council member, I rely on all of you to be engaged, to keep us honest when we are making critical policy decisions, to remind us of what matters. More on this to follow, after a brief bio.

I first came to Santa Cruz for a college visit, not long after after the Loma Prieta earthquake. The post-quake rains left downtown streets and buildings challenging to navigate. University guides did their best to convince us prospectives that this was the place to be. I did not need much convincing. Sitting, in a muddy median on Pacific Avenue in front of Zachary’s, I decided this was my home. I’ve become a community-labor activist, educator, researcher, agricultural practitioner, and now a policy maker. I credit the progressive community — union leaders, social service providers, environmental activists, and legislators — for allowing me the possibility to pursue all of these roads. At the same time, living here has been challenging. As a social justice activist, I’ve never earned much. I’ve been, and will always be, a renter. I’ve lived in garages (one a two car garage, with one bed and one car, seriously), attics, barns, living rooms, and tiny rooms. I want others who are committed to justice to be able to make the choices I’ve made, and still be able to live here.

These days it seems almost impossible. Almost every day, I talk to renters who don’t know how many months more they can make it. Recently I have helped too many friends pack their belongings into trucks to move elsewhere. On the city council, I have tried my level best to move an agenda that encourages but also requires the preservation and production of affordable housing. With all due respect to city staff, I do not believe that we must accept an “affordable by design” approach to new development or to legalizing units that have been removed from the market (largely as a result of the rental inspection ordinance). Developers should be required to provide twenty-five percent affordable units, either on-site or with an in-lieu fee formula that provides a meaningful investment for affordable projects; we must close the loophole that allows developers to collect ten years of rent before selling, without the affordable requirements required under the city law enacted by city voters almost four decades ago; we must find a way to protect renters from exorbitant rent increases and profit-motivated evictions; and we must pursue revenue measures based on progressive taxation. 

Okay, thanks for reading. It seems that my first attempt at journalism has resulted in a biopic-editorial. It’s because we have serious work to do. There’s so much to say about the library/parking garage, downtown development, ocean street extension, corridors, homeless services and right, and the list goes on. I hope you all will stay in touch about the issues that matter to you. We have to work for democracy in order for democracy to work 

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April 30,2018

IS THE NISSAN DEALERSHIP ON 41st AVENUE AND SOQUEL A DONE DEAL WITH THE COUNTY?
The County Planning Commission unanimously approved the Nissan Dealership even though they recognized that the traffic will become even worse at the already-busy 41st Avenue & Soquel Drive intersection, and the Interim Director of Public Works, Mr. Steve Wiesner, admitted the County has no money to install improvements to address the problem in the foreseeable future.  The Commission approved the “Statement of Over-Riding Conditions to allow the owner, Mr. Don Groppetti,  to just do whatever he wants to do, but made a recommendation that the Board of Supervisors do their best to find money to fix this intersection within the next three years.  Wow.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.   BUT JUST DO SOMETHING!

Because of another commitment that morning, I arrived too late to be able to testify.  Had I been able, I would have asked why, in the Findings and Statement of Over-Riding Consideration’s first paragraph of the Introduction, the language uses past-tense  but includes dates in the future?

Specifically, the last sentence of the first paragraph states:

“The Planning Commission held a public hearing on April 25, 2018 and prepared a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding certification of the final EIR and action on the project, and the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on May 22, 2018 and determined to certify the Final EIR and to approve the requested Project entitlements.”

A Commissioner that I asked about this issue said that is just how those reports are done, but can be changed later to reflect any diversions.  That just does not seem right to me because it makes the documentation seem skewed with intention of shoving the project through.  I suspect that is the intent.

Sadly, the Commission chose to focus on traffic rather than fulfilling public benefit of housing.  How can this happen after so much public input?  The Soquel residents were very clear in their statements to Supervisor John Leopold and then-Director of Public Works John Presleigh at a Soquel Village Traffic Discussion public meeting a couple of years ago that they did NOT want a traffic light at Soquel Drive and Robertson.  Supervisor Leopold stated:  “Okay, we have heard you loud and clear this evening.  There will be NO traffic light installed at Robertson.”  Yet now, adding a traffic light at the Robertson intersection is exactly what Public Works is recommending to mitigate the anticipated traffic problem exacerbated by the Nissan Dealership.  Will Supervisor Leopold support that?

I want to commend Commissioners Lazenby and Shepherd for really questioning the wisdom of adding an auto dealership that will exacerbate problems that are already near-gridlock.  I thought it was amazing that the project was approved, even though the interim-Director of County Public Works, Steve Wiesner, clarified that the mitigations will be paid for by the County taxpayers (it is not feasible for the developer to pay for them all), that the County currently has NO MONEY to do any such project, and that if the County had the money today, it would take three years to get a traffic light installed.  This all reminds me of the ramrod efforts the County used for the Aptos Village Project.

Is the Nissan Dealership a “Done Deal”?  The Board of Supervisors will consider the matter at their May 22 meeting…and of course, at 9am on a Tuesday morning, the working residents of Soquel will all be able to take time off their jobs to attend????

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

Cheers,

Becky Steinbruner

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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FROM GARY A. PATTON  From Gary’s “We Live In A Political World” website…
April 26, 2018
#116 / A Local Newspaper Against Local Control

The picture shows what might happen in Santa Cruz, California if a bill like SB 827 ever became law. This is the bill that would have stripped local communities of their ability to control building heights on any residential property within one-half mile of a transit center, or within one-quarter mile of a transit line that has peak hour service every fifteen minutes. As originally introduced, the bill would have granted developers the right to build to no less than eight-five (85) feet. One might think that a local community newspaper would be on the side of the local community, and in favor of preserving local control over important land use decisions. One might think that efforts by the state government to take that local control away would be denounced and opposed by the local press, since such land use decisions can profoundly affect our residential neighborhoods. 

Not in Santa Cruz!

On Sunday, April 22, 2018, the Santa Cruz Sentinel published an editorial bemoaning the fact that SB 827 had been defeated. Click the link to read what the Sentinel said.  One might also think that a locally elected City Council would have been zealous to protect its ability to make land use decisions on behalf of the local community, and would have resisted an effort at the state level to take such land use authority away.

Not in Santa Cruz!

When SB 827 was brought before the City Council at the request of Mayor David Terrazas, with a request from the Mayor that the Council oppose SB 827, the Council decided to “study” the bill before taking a position. 

My view? 

One of the most important reasons to have local government at all is to empower local officials to make the land use decisions that will shape the character and quality of the local community. Local officials can listen to local residents, and then act to make local land use decisions that reflect what the local community wants. If local officials don’t want to protect local control over the land use decisions that will shape the future of the community, if that isn’t one of their very highest priorities, then I suggest that they are in the wrong job!

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 gapatton@mac.com

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CLASSICAL DeCINZO. DeCinzo does a timely take on our youngsters. Scroll below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Signs of our Times” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog with the epic/near epic poem “To Summit Up”

ASSASSINS. From the March 21st Issue of BrattonOnline… ASSASSINS, THE MUSICAL…this week!!!  I love musicals, but only the really good ones. Most of my “good ones” have been written by Stephen Sondheim. Those certainly include Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum, Into The Woods, and Sunday In The Park With George. I’ve only seen one production of Assassins, a UCSC student production at Porter College many years ago. It’s so rarely produced that I wanted to urge musical fans and friends to get tickets as soon as they are available. Davis Banta is directing this production at The Mountain Community Theater (MCT) in Ben Lomond at the Park Hall May 4-June 2. The cast comprises both MCT favorites and newcomers to MCT, including Robert Gerbode as John Wilkes Booth, David Jackson as Giuseppe Zangara, Alexander Garrett as Charles Guiteau, Benjamin Canant as Samuel Byck, Brittney Mignano as Sara Jane Moore, Brennan Perry as Leon Czolgosz, John Wasielewski  as John Hinckley Jr., April Bennett as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, Sarah Kauffman as The Balladeer, and Mike Stark as The Proprietor.

If you’re wondering about timeliness, here are some excerpts from a recent review (2017) of assassins. “Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman examine the motivations of the men and women who have killed — or attempted to kill — United States Presidents throughout history. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley and others meet and interact in this revue-style musical. It has mad scenes, melodrama, minstrelsy and vaudeville. Wednesday night, when a character called the Balladeer sang the lyric “Every now and then, the country goes a little wrong,” applause stopped the show for perhaps 20 seconds”.

Still, when Giuseppe Zangara, who tried to kill Franklin D. Roosevelt, calls himself an “American nothing,” or when the nine assassins sing together about “another national anthem” that applies to the likes of them, you may feel, as I did, the rumblings of our unsettled country in your bones. “Assassins” is the report of that unsettlement, and the bang”. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets. A very rare opportunity.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. With the death of her husband James Aschbacher Lisa is taking it easy these days. Send her good wishes and check out her website at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( http://ljo-express.blogspot.com ). Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

FOXTROT. Is simply a wonderful film. It was Israel’s entry into the Oscar best foreign language race. Actually it is an Israeli War drama and it is almost a Greek Tragedy. It deals with death, pain, war, and about what holds a family together. You will not forget this film…it’s that great. Too many surprises and twists to talk about…just go see it. That’s if you like great films.

LEAN ON PETE. Charlie Plummer plays a teen ager who works very hard just to make it through some terribly hard times and I predict he’s going to be a major talent very soon. Set in Portland and continuing Eastward Charlie faces the law, family deaths, Chloe Sevigny  and Steve Zahn are in it too but they don’t get a chance to do their grand and usual acting skills. It’s slow at times but it also develops an achingly tough look at a kid facing the toughest decisions we ever face. Go see it.

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.

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

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.

READY PLAYER ONE. The last video game I remember playing was Atari’s “Pong” back in 1972 or 73 with Manny Santana and John Tuck in “The Med” (Mediterranean Restaurant), next door to Manuels Restaurant on Center Street in Aptos. Video games have evolved since, and this Spielberg  FX extravaganza is all about avatars, time travel, old timey movies, TV shows and memorabilia…and features so much space jumping and time warping that I lost interest after about 15 minutes. It was too much trouble, and besides that it’s set in Columbus, Ohio in 2045. A very large and long and dull film from a director who usually can focus more sharply.

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 …..

TRUTH OR DARE. The full title is Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, but why Blumhouse would want his name on it is beyond me. Blumhouse also directed “Get Out” so it would seem to matter somehow.. This earned a 15 on RT…so I’m not alone in warning you about this lame excuse for a horror-murder-teen thriller. Teens get offed by some quasi-religious demon while on a spring break — and the acting is just as bad as the plot.

BLOCKERS. It’s billed as a teenage sex comedy, and while it does have the raunchy, crotch, rectal, sex stuff… it’s got ZERO comedy. Lots of the audience howled at it, I was bored and disgusted at what passes for humor nowadays. It’s about parents trying to stop their three daughters from losing their virginity on prom night. Don’t go!!!

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UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer, (live only or archived for two weeks… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG. May 1st has Kathy Bisbee talking about Virtual Reality and its future. After which Valeria Esqueda and Sara Durghalli from UCSC’s Common Ground discuss some of their upcoming events.  May 8 has Julie Thayer relating issues and concerns about PG&E’s latest move against our trees. She’s followed by Jane Mio discussing our river system and what’s needed to protect it. May 12 is KZSC’s Pledge Drive and environmentalist Grey Hayes will guest the entire hour bringing us up to date on nature’s needs. Wilma Marcus, George Lober and Rosie King will be reading and discussing poetry on May 23. C.L.U.E. co-chief John Aird will follow them and talk about UCSC growth and the June elections. The top winners from the annual Bookshop Santa Cruz Short Story Contest read their works on May 29. OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go herehttp://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 bratton@cruzio.com

Who knew?!

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 9 years here’s a chronological list of some past broadcasts.  Such a wide range of folks such as  Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson, Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld, Rachel Goodman, George Newell, Tubten Pende, Gina Marie Hayes, Rebecca Ronay-Hazleton, Miriam Ellis, Deb Mc Arthur, The Great Morgani on Street performing, and Paul Whitworth on Krapps Last Tape. Jodi McGraw on Sandhills, Bruce Daniels on area water problems. Mike Pappas on the Olive Connection, Sandy Lydon on County History. Paul Johnston on political organizing, Rick Longinotti on De-Sal. Dan Haifley on Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Dan Harder on Santa Cruz City Museum. Sara Wilbourne on Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. Brian Spencer on SEE Theatre Co. Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro on MAH and Big Creek Pottery. Carolyn Burke on Edith Piaf. Peggy Dolgenos on Cruzio. Julie James on Jewel Theatre Company. Then there’s Pat Matejcek on environment, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack on the Universe plus Nina Simon from MAH, Rob Slawinski, Gary Bascou, Judge Paul Burdick, John Brown Childs, Ellen Kimmel, Don Williams, Kinan Valdez, Ellen Murtha, John Leopold, Karen Kefauver, Chip Lord, Judy Bouley, Rob Sean Wilson, Ann Simonton, Lori Rivera, Sayaka Yabuki, Chris Kinney, Celia and Peter Scott, Chris Krohn, David Swanger, Chelsea Juarez…and that’s just since January 2011.

QUOTES “PACIFIC OCEAN”

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Gandhi
“The Pacific is my home ocean; I knew it first, grew up on its shore, collected marine animals along the coast. I know its moods, its color, its nature.” John Steinbeck,
“It rolls the mid-most waters of the world, the Indian Ocean and Atlantic being just its arms.” Herman Melville,
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” John F. Kennedy
“Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation? Because they’ve spent time in and around the ocean, and they’ve personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue heart.” Sylvia Earle


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
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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BEST OF VINTAGE STEVEN DeCINZO.

Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

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