Blog Archives

May 9 – 15, 2018

Highlights this week:
BRATTON…Kathy Bisbee and Donald Trump and Google, WILPF and Nancy Abbey tribute, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and housing, Nickelodeon and Del Mar status, The Oakland Song and NPR, PG&E tree removal exposed and protested. GREENSITE…on Student Housing West. KROHN…Rent control petition reaches goal, UCSC growth, housing problem, UCSC Strike.  STEINBRUNER…County Housing Advisory Commission’s many issues, County zoning questions.PATTON…Inside the Democratic Party. EAGAN…The Tunnel of Peace”. DeCINZO…shocked by PG&E again! JENSEN…and her thoughts about James Aschbacher. BRATTON…critiques Tully, Godard Mon Amour, Itzhak…UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUESTS…QUOTES…about The White House.

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CARL’S FLYING A GRAND OPENING…June 7, 1957 (King and Mission Streets) . Too bad we can’t see the per gallon gas prices on the pumps…but maybe it’s better this way. The station didn’t last too long. Now it’s The Five Gables Dentistry offices.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

CEDAR GEIGER SENDS VOLCANO VIEWS FROM HOME.
RAQUEL WELCH MEETS JANIS JOPLIN.
GEORGE HARRISON TALKS ABOUT PAUL AND YOKO.

DATELINE May 7, 2018

NICKELODEON AND DEL MAR NOT SOLD…YET! Many folks have been asking me about the future of the Nickelodeon and the Del Mar theatres. I’ve checked everywhere including the local management staff and Landmark reports in the financial websites and no action of any interest in buying Mark Cuban’s Landmark chain has been reported. I’ll sure keep you as up to date as possible.

KATHY BISBEE & DONALD TRUMP. Kathy Bisbee formerly of Calpirg at UCSC, Santa Cruz Action Network, Cruzio, and Santa Cruz Community Television was visiting last week. Shes’ now the executive director of The Brookline Interactive Group and co-founder of the Public VR lab. She’s all about Virtual Reality headsets and showing the world reality reasons why the environment needs protecting. She’s also getting married in September. Oner of the most interesting and surprising (to me) items she told me was that if loyal left wing progressives look up say “Donald Trump” on Google they get sent immediately to sites and sources completely different from what Trump supporters get from Google. When you think about it that sort of “fact or news searching” definitely keeps both sides in opposition. It’s like if we only had Fox News as a source.

MORE FROM KATHY BISBEE. Kathy Bisbee and I also got talking about generations…and about differences between those generations. She gave me some interesting data on the labeling and statistics of generations.

For example;

Generation Z current 1995-2012
Generation Y  Millennials 1977-1994
Zennials 1966-1976
Baby Boomers  2nd 1955-1965
Baby Boomers  1st 1946-1954
Split Generation Post War cohort 1928-1945

For much more and the source for all of above go here

WILPF SALUTES NANCY ABBEY. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is creating a much deserved celebration of Nancy Abbey’s activist work on Sunday, May 20 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Resource Center for Non Violence, 612 Ocean Avenue, Santa Cruz. You can hear Nancy talk with Bruce Van Allen and other activists about their goals and the progress so far. Then there will be light snacks and shmoozing”.

HOUSING FOR THE CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. They’ve announced the 2018 season and we know it will be an incredible array of talent and music. All the concerts will be at the Civic Auditorium starting Saturday, July 28 through Sunday August 12. Go here to get all the details   cabrillomusic.org

Hundreds of locals faithfully and freely attend the orchestra rehearsals. Those too are on the website. There are many free music events, children’s events, and public attractions. Aside from volunteering as ushers and food facilitators another one of the most sincere, touching community minded aspects of the Festival is that the musicians and composers who come here from all over the world get housed in local residents homes that are near the Civic. Families share the camaraderie the music and the friendship with these Festival people. If you  live near the Civic and have space just before and during the Festival go here   or call 831 326-6966.

THE OAKLAND SONG AND NPR. By accident I came across a link to the NPR interview I did a few years ago (2014) about the song our “Goodtime Washboard 3″ trio wrote. We had great fun and tremendous results from it. An album on Fantasy Records, national tv on Bing Crosby‘s tv show, “Hungry i” , “Purple Onion” gigs and lots more. Here’s a link to it…

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ ALLOWING PG&E DEADLY TREE REMOVAL…WHY?

May 07, 2018

Julie Thayer is as she says, “a concerned citizen, living along the pipeline…” I asked her to tell us what she’s learned about PG&E’s tree removal plot and plan that is affecting so many of us. She wrote…

“In Santa Cruz, do you live or spend time near Ocean View Park in Seabright, or Frederick St. Park near the harbor?  Do you like to walk the dog through the Jessie St. Marsh? What about biking along the upper San Lorenzo River trail?  Or any number of streets throughout Santa Cruz (7th Ave, Berkeley Way, Clinton St, Melrose Ave, Seaside St, to name a few…).  

Well, the view in Santa Cruz is changing, and not for the better.  PG&E has a Pipeline Pathways project to clear-cut trees and vegetation along their main gas pipeline, and that includes hundreds of trees throughout the city of Santa Cruz.  They have already started – removing 50 trees along Ocean St. near Graham Hill Rd (along the Memorial Park Cemetery and beyond). There is also a huge bare patch further up Graham Hill Rd. across from Henry Cowell State Park.

Unfortunately, cutting trees does not increase gas pipeline safety, based on federal code, what PG&E itself has stated in correspondence with various residents and groups recently, or even according to PG&E’s own studies!   Our pipelines have actually been performing fine according to PG&E’s own current reports, with numerous trees growing above or near them.  

The County of Santa Cruz, as well as 16 other municipalities in California, have recognized this and challenged PG&E’s authority both directly and in court.  Indeed, it turns out that federal and state ordinances do NOT require tree removal along pipelines; they defer to local ordinances such as the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a statute that requires avoidance or satisfactory mitigation of significant environmental impacts.  Removing hundreds of trees in a city, in addition to thousands to tens of thousands of trees statewide, qualifies as a “significant impact”.   

The measly $10,000 that PG&E paid to the tree fund in Santa Cruz is not even close to a “satisfactory mitigation of environmental impacts,” as measured by carbon offsets, shade, fruit, aesthetics, quality of life, wildlife and bird habitat, etc., provided by the trees slated to be axed.  This amount is especially meager given that the city of Lafayette received $272,000 for a smaller number of trees… Why the discrepancy? Think of what the city of Santa Cruz could do with such funds!

PG&E’s reasoning for removing trees seems to pivot on several points related to improving public perception, but not necessarily increasing safety!  After PG&E’s massive illegal and deadly lack of response to the tragic San Bruno pipeline rupture in 2010, PG&E was fined $1.6 billion in 2015. More than half of that penalty — $850 million — was ordered to go to gas transmission pipeline safety infrastructure improvements.

So PGE is creating a public illusion that they are “doing something” to increase public safety by removing trees, when in fact the opposite is likely true.   There is no evidence that trees are damaging pipelines, but lots of evidence that trees provide soil stability and decrease erosion, which especially important for underground pipelines in sloping regions during heavy rains or in areas prone to earthquakes, as ours is.  Removing trees therefore is actually likely to decrease safety!

So why remove trees?  Well, this may keep public focus away from what PG&E is NOT doing.  And it can also work to save PG&E money.  What better way than to use actions from the $850 million penalty towards saving PG&E money in the future, to recoup their loss from the fine.  In other words, PG&E is not fully implementing true improvements with new, safer technology, but instead sticking with old unreliable methods. Internal inspecting, pressure testing, replacing lines, installing new safety shutoff valves, etc., are all required but would be very expensive to implement over PG&E’s entire pipeline.  PG&E is still using what is called direct assessment, an outdated faulty method that led to the San Bruno disaster in the first place.

PG&E will also save money with this initiative by never incurring any more costs for tree maintenance.  Ever notice how often electrical lines run above underground gas lines? Tree removal will also allow for continuing PG&E’s aerial surveys which are obscured by trees; a type of direct assessment – easy but unreliable.

Furthermore, cutting trees will help with PG&E not having to shut off gas and relight pilots.  PG&E has stated that trees inhibit emergency access to pipelines when they try to fix leaks without shutting off the gas.  What?! Any fire captain will tell you that this is prohibited – PG&E must shut off gas lines before fire crews will allow any activity in an area with a breached gas line.  Indeed, this is dangerous and illegal under federal regulations, but it saves PG&E the large expense of deploying a gas shut-off and then relighting all the pilot lights in a community afterwards.  

Finally, clear-cut access across their whole pipeline makes access more convenient in the future.  Not safer without all those trees, mind you, but definitely more convenient for PG&E.

PG&E, DON’T PUT YOUR PROFIT OVER OUR SAFETY!

The County has invoked relevant federal and state code and is not allowing PG&E to remove any more trees.   Why is the City allowing it?  The Mayor and City Council need to hear from you (citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com).  This is not necessary!  Trees are vital to our beautiful city.  And in fact, tree removal will serve to make pipeline conditions more dangerous.  

May 7th 2018

HELL ON HELLER DRIVE.

An audible collective gasp greeted the artist’s rendition of the ten story buildings proposed for the UCSC campus as part of their Student Housing West Project, which includes a last minute tacked on plan to also build on the sacred East Meadow. The conference room at the Hotel Paradox was full for this last public meeting before the May 11th deadline for comments on the draft EIR ((Environmental Impact Report.) UCSC ran a tight meeting with ample time for Q&A from the floor and public comment at the mic. The line to speak was long. Faculty, students, community members all except two, vehemently opposed the Plan, especially the plan to build on the pristine East Meadow.

The Dream Inn is 10 stories tall. Imagine multiple Dream Inns, fronted by multiple 8-story buildings with multiple 5-story buildings in front of those crammed into a small site that currently is occupied by Family Student Housing (FSH) a 199 two-story apartment complex nestled in the trees and housing approximately 400 students and their children. The new high-rise buildings are expected to house 2,852 upper division and graduate students with FSH torn down and rebuilt with child care on the East Meadow (site pictured in photo), albeit with 50 fewer apartments (go figure).

Most speakers weren’t against student housing per se. They spoke against the East Meadow site specifically and cited acceptable alternatives in the dEIR. I took a different approach. The numbers don’t add up. The impetus for this building frenzy was UC President Janet Napolitano’s edict for a UC System-wide Initiative for 14000 new beds to be built. Easy math. With ten campuses, our share should be 1400 new beds, less than half the 3000 in the Plan. That’s with all things being equal which they are not. Merced with 7000 students could absorb more growth. Other campuses don’t have the constraints we have with geology, geography, water, traffic and housing costs. Our share should be lower, in fact just sufficient to alleviate current overcrowding, spare the meadow and keep a renovated FSH plus child-care in its current location. That figure is around 900 new beds, according to UCSC.

Other contradictions jumped out. According to the UCSC presenter, growth under the 2005 LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) has led to a “substantial demand for new housing”. Yet according to the court required annual meetings since that time, UCSC says it has met its housing obligations under the CSA (Comprehensive Settlement Agreement). Except for some lounge and dorm conversions, which could be relieved with 900 additional beds, UCSC says it is on target with its housing supply…unless it continues to grow.  And that is what this is about. Ruining the beauty, the nature, the capacity, the sustainability of the campus and the town for further growth.

Words to mislead us into accepting their premises abound. They claim that with 3000 new beds on campus, more students will live on campus, freeing up the town’s short housing supply.  If UCSC grows towards its new target of 28000, yes more students will live on campus and more students will live in town but the percentages won’t change. They can’t force upper division and graduate students to live on campus. And if too many decide to outbid local families for off-campus housing, or decide those spiffy new apartments at 555 Pacific or the 80 foot tall buildings proposed for downtown are just the ideal place to live, then their absence on campus will lead to lower total on campus occupancy rates, which will cause per student rents to rise to cover the debt and off campus rents will rise accordingly. Under current conditions, UCSC growth is itself a formula for increased rents and housing costs off and on campus.

When the presenter used the word “affordable housing” in the context of Student Housing West I asked her what she meant by that term.  Under this new public/private partnership, the developer is given a fixed sum of money and has to build within that limit. Plus economies of scale with such density and they predict that future rents will stay at today’s on campus rates. Forgetting for a moment that today’s on campus rates are not affordable (except for FSH due to a long ago rent strike that I helped organize) there seems to be amnesia around the complexities of building on campus with its maze of underground caves, difficult soils and unexpected habitat issues. And if the pot of money is too small, what corners will be cut in this new megaplex of housing?

If we are worth our salt, we will expose this growth wolf in sheep’s clothing; push back and demand that UC go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan for higher education that avoids making students and Santa Cruz residents its sacrificial lamb. Measure U is a start.

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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May 7, 2018

‘ACTIVIST BUZZ”

Rent Control on Fire

There it was in this past Monday’s (5/7) Santa Cruz Sentinel, the headline read, “Santa Cruz rent control campaign hits signature goal.” Over 9,000 signatures were collected locally, and according to someone who logs and checks all those petitions, an additional 1000-2000 were also collected, but couldn’t be included because they were from voters in Watsonville, Live Oak, Aptos, and even Scotts Valley. So, rent control fever appears to be alive in the entire county! Or is it? We all know that signing a petition to get something on the ballot before the voters is perhaps more about supporting the concept of “direct democracy” than necessarily what’s written on the petition. We can still support democracy by petition and be opposed to the issue when we’re in the voting booth, can’t we? This rent control petition has grabbed  the real estate community by the lapels, and that group is somewhat shaken now. If the petition is approved, we then have the opportunity for a real community-wide dialogue about our housing crisis. I believe most people in this community want such a discussion…and most I’ve talked to also want some immediate ACTION too.


Movement for Housing Justice proponents gathered last Sunday evening to celebrate the monumental accomplishment of gathering 9,500 Santa Cruz city voter signatures. Now, how many will be valid? They need just over 5700 to qualify for the November ballot.

Talk of Substitute Initiative

But wait?!? Several emergency meetings and late night discussions were held recently among members of the Movement for Housing Justice (MHJ) over possible changes in the initiative. Petition circulators were being sensitive to problems brought forward by tenants, landlords, and homeowners about how the current rent control ballot initiative might be tweaked to satisfy more people. MHJ was seeking more community-wide agreement. Of course, the original petition authors cannot change the petition language itself, which likely 10,000 city residents will have signed when, and if, they turn them in. But, the Santa Cruz City Council could put forward a substitute initiative, one crafted by members of the Movement for Housing Justice and incorporating certain changes in language, ones that came up again and again in front door and shopping center discussions between signers and gatherers. My experience with the MHJ group is that they want as many Santa Cruzans to come out of this process as content as possible, while still staying true to their actual goal of bringing some justice for renters that certain landlords can live with in this crazy Santa Cruz housing market. So, the changes that are being looked at have to do with relocation assistance, eviction policies, and rent board salaries as I understand. A deal may be in the works, but I’m not sure anyone should hold their breath. I would indeed guess that some form of rent control will be before the voters this November.

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“If we are going to turn this country around politically, we need to do well in states like Pennsylvania.” (May 6, Bernie on endorsing a slate of candidates in PA)
(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 ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 7, 2018

A PLACE TO LIVE BUT NO QUALITY OF LIFE

The County Housing Advisory Commission met last Wednesday evening (5/02) to hear recommendations from local developers and real estate brokers about how they want to see the County become densely-developed and resemble San Jose.  The Commission approved the recommendations to create density bonuses to developers that will allow perhaps double the density per acreage, allow developers to pay impact fees after the subdivisions are occupied, reduce public input and notification (because that just slows things down, according to Housing Planner Julie Conway), and to build mixed-use subdivisions with less commercial and landscaped space.  The Board of Supervisors will consider the matter on June 12.

I arrived at the hearing late due to work commitments, but observed a camera operator there.  It was KION television.  Reporter Zach Fuentes turned the camera off and went to the back of the room as I got to the podium to testify.  Neither he nor Christopher Salas from KSBW was interested in speaking with me afterward, either.

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

I spoke about these changes drastically altering the quality of life for the area residents, the disconnect between intensifying land use policy without having the infrastructure to support it (Transporation?  Water? Hello?)  and the fact that the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan, which was developed with significant public input, has been shelved for lack of the proper and required environmental review.  I spoke about the recent Board of Supervisor approval of revised Housing Element ordinance that REMOVED ALL REFERENCE TO “MEASURE J“, which required at least 15% of new development to be affordable housing, limited the Urban Services Line for dense development, and preserved prime agricultural land.  I spoke about how the measures before the Commission were in fact a cherry-picked version of the county Planning Department’s Code Modernization efforts that were unveiled May 19, 2015 to the Board of Supervisors, but again, have been shelved because the Planning Department just cannot get the necessary and required environmental review done.  “What will become of the quality of life for Santa Cruz residents, and for those who come here to enjoy the beauty?” I asked.

An Aptos resident and Soquel Village business owner spoke about how the large dense developments are never fully disclosed to the public who will be affected, because there are never any models of the projects shown to people at community meetings.  “Now you’re talking about reducing the level of community notice and involvement even further, and that really worries me.  Look at what has happened with the Aptos Village Project.  Nobody ever dreamed it would be as massive as it is.  The same happened in my backyard with a development that I was assured was going to not impact me but now I have a really tall subdivision looking into my home.  I have no privacy.”

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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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May 2, 2018

#123 / Ready, Fire, Aim

I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat. 

The quotation above is attributed to Will Rogers, and since I do want to talk about the Democratic Party today, it seems appropriate. 

I don’t know who first came up with the rephrasing of the traditional firing squad command that I have used as a title for today’s blog posting, but that rephrased command seemed appropriate for today’s discussion, and very much consistent with Will Rogers’ evaluation of the Democratic Party.

I am also not sure who first used the expression “a circular firing squad” to describe a rather common phenomenon. Again, the illustration above seemed appropriate for today’s discussion. The online word site, Wiktionary, provides no guidance on the question of who first used the expression, but it does define the expression as follows: “Circular Firing Squad – A political party or other group experiencing considerable disarray because the members are engaging in internal disputes and mutual recrimination.”  

Wiktionary, please let me introduce you to my friend, Will Rogers, and to the leadership of the Democratic National Committee!

What prompts today’s posting on the current state of the Democratic Party? Several things. 

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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. De Cinzo’s classic proves that PG&E hasn’t changed much in all these decades. Scroll below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Tunnel Of Peace”  down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog with his “President Idiot” screed.

SIN SISTERS BURLESQUE’S 7TH  YEAR ANNIVERSARY. BrattonOnline webwoman Gunilla Leavitt sent the following.. We (Gunilla, Thomas, Brian and Jeff) religiously attend Sin Sisters Burlesque at Kuumbwa Jazz Center every month. They are a woman-owned, woman-produced, all-inclusive organization, and this next show is their 7 year anniversary. 84 shows, and thousands of dollars given back to the community (they donate 100% of their tips to various local charities – backpacks for kids, Planned Parenthood, you name it). This month, we’re going to celebrate my birthday, which is on Wednesday, May 9. The big show is on Saturday May 12 at Kuumbwa! We’d love to see you, please coma and say hi! If we don’t support local artists and entertainment, we won’t have any :/  Here’s the facebook event page, you can get your tickets online from there.

ASSASSINS. (From the March 21st and April 30 Issues 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. Lisa writes this week: “Friends, it’d hard to believe that Death could sneak up on someone as full of life and fun as joy as James Aschbacher. But please join me this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com ) in celebrating the huge spirit, gregarious sense of fun, and inspiring artistic legacy of my own Art Boy.” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

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.

ITZHAK. This is a documentary about Itzhak Perlman the world’s most famous living  concert violinist. It’s about his birth and upbringing in Israel and about a lot of his Jewish culture and religion. You’ll hear plenty of frustrating short excerpts of his mastery of the classics. It proves too that he’s a very nice guy who has lived with polio and crutches and a wheelchair ever since he was a kid. Go quickly…ENDS THURSDAY MAY 10.

GODARD MON AMOUR. You need to be a genuine foreign film enthusiast to get even half of the very French jokes about Jean Luc-Godard. French humor is now and always has been very different from America’s. They love Jerry Lewis for example. Godard directed some cinema classics such as Breathless, Contempt, and La Chinose. (but NOT Hiroshima Mon Amour!). He had many quirky shifts in his head and his career and this film makes them booth funny and sad.  ENDS THURSDAY MAY 10

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. ENDS THURSDAY MAY 10.

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. ENDS THURSDAY MAY 10.

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. ENDS THURSDAY MAY 10.

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 Manuel’s 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 …..

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.

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.Due to the UC Strike May 8 has a re-play of the April 24 broadcast with Candace Brown discussing the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Dept position and Gayle Yamaguchi-Gleason and Mary Lou Holleman from Santa Cruz Indivisible. 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 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

I think this is my favorite Randy Rainbow so far. He’s brilliant 🙂

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. ” The White House”

“There’s nothing like white trash at the White House”. Dolly Parton
“The White House is the finest prison in the world”. Harry S Truman
“A white boy that makes C’s in college can make it to the White House”. Chris Rock
“Kennedy invited us into the White House-the first time in the history of the White House picketers had been invited inside. This made front page headlines”.Peter Coyote
“A funny thing happened to me on the way to the White House”.Adlai Stevenson


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
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

BEST OF VINTAGE STEVEN DeCINZO.

Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

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