Blog Archives

November 15 – 21, 2017

Highlights this week:

PG&E and PUC are crooks, how to give your Doctor a check-up, Wallace Baine and the Sentinel, Leonard The Haberdasher,  Aldo Giacchino and some wisdom about our housing demand and Outside influences …Greensite: spotlight on and off UCSC…Krohn about more City Council meetings, UCSC student housing facts, City Water Facilities….Steinbruner about RTC and funding their projects, DeSal and who is Dudek, “Save Santa Cruz” meeting, Soquel gets more water hookups, Board Of Supervisors and their pay raise!!! Patton and Matsui family land gift in serious development question….DeCinzo and “Plane As Day”…Eagan divulges secret behind our gun laws….Munching With Mozart…Brecht’s Arturo Ui at UCSC…Jensen reviews Wonderstruck…I critique Novitiate, Murder on The Orient Express, and Wonderstruck…great Quotes about Forest Fires.

...

DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ circa 1894. The tracks shown here would be 100% effective and great if only THAT city council had left them in. The tracks were installed in 1891. It’s odd but Pacific Avenue looks narrower in this historic photo. As usual in these photos you can see the Town Clock atop the Odd Fellows Building just to the right of that five tiered phone pole.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

SANTA CRUZ’S MOBILE FUTURE? Daughter Jennifer sent this one. As she says, it’s interesting. Like maybe Mission Street between Chestnut and
Swift?
DRAINING THE SAN LORENZO RIVER. This sure is a long way from home, but what if they drained our San Lorenzo?
THE HYPERLOOP…ELON MUSK EXPLAINS IT. Again from daughter Jennifer this goes a long way of explaining what a hyperloop is…and we’ve all been
wondering, right?

Dateline November 13, 2017

THE EVILS OF PG&E plus PUC. I’m betting there’s few — if anyeven half-informed Californians who trust our Public Utilities Commission. It was formed in 1915, our governors appoint the board members, and we’ve watched as they give minor spankings to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) over flagrant and criminal deeds. This time PG&E is asking the PUC to make us customers pay higher monthly bills to cover the costs of the wine country fires that their equipment caused. We’ve heard and wondered and sworn at those board choices, and their business connections and credentials…and still state disasters continue, and virtually nothing is done about changing public utilities rules and laws. PG&E is again being allowed to string pole-to-pole wiring throughout timber country…and we are only now learning the true price to both the environment and humans from the wine country fires. Locally, (20 years ago) when I was president of the Rural Bonny Doon Association, PG&E  stated they were going to replace the rotting phone/electrical lines…we worked and swore at them to place the lines underground. It’s cheaper and obviously safer to have underground lines, because there’s a fraction of upkeep needed — and it removes the need for tree trimming. We put together petitions, letters, meetings…PG&E wouldn’t do it. They said it wouldn’t “pencil out”. As we see, that’s how the PUC has seen fit to allow them to get away with it all these years. We need a politician or two, or a majority, to “legalize” both PG&E and the PUC. Got any ideas? The Chronicle had an article stating some of the above gripes and further noted… “PG&E functions as an investor-owned business. Even though it is often termed a public utility, it is managed as a private enterprise and is not a government entity or public cooperative. PG&E has a market capitalization of about $29.37 billion”.

CHECKING YOUR DOCTOR’S RECORDS. I just learned that you can check your Doctor’s records for issues like malpractice. First, go here to the Medical Board of California…then on the lower left click on the “Quick Physicians Name Search”. You can go get their listed records…such as malpractice, court orders misdemeanors All my Docs passed 100%. I hope yours do too.

WALLACE BAINE AND DUNKIN DONUTS. All of us were negatively surprised I’m sure by  Wallace Baine announcing that he’s leaving the Santa Cruz Sentinel. All those decades, all those words and events. Not a lot of well known and well read names left at the old Sentinel, is there?  What everybody’s guessing at is where Wallace will go next? He said he’s not leaving the area…we should have a guessing contest. Look at the Sentinel lately. Note the front page photo covering the opening of Dunkin Donuts. Is that where Santa Cruz really has become? Front Page & Dunkin Donuts??? What kind of newspaper does that? Then there’s the almost confirmed rumors of terrible management change and more nutsy editorial decisions. I’d leave the Sentinel too if I were Wallace.

ALDO GIACCHINO ABOUT HOUSING. Last Sunday’s (11/12) Santa Cruz Sentinel had a column by long time friend Aldo Giacchino. It lays out the Santa Cruz housing problem better than anything I’ve seen or heard read it at least twice then get the City Council to commit it to memory. Sentinel credits say… Aldo Giacchino is a Santa Cruz resident, a retired city planner, and a retired health care facilities planner and business manager.

OUTSIDE SOURCES INFLUENCE OUR HOUSING DEMAND. By Aldo Giacchino

The community disquisition about housing that is currently underway has highlighted quite well the unavailability of low and moderate cost housing.

The misguided solution that has been put forth is that if we build a lot of new housing, prices/rents will come down. The city bureaucracy has jumped on this bandwagon, enthusiastically promoting higher densities and the construction of thousands of units in six- to seven story buildings. The city’s motivation, however, is stimulated mostly by the growing city deficit which is caused by somewhat static tax revenues while operating costs increase at a much faster pace. The single solution that council and staff are promoting is that the new housing will bring more net revenue. But this is a fallacy that requires some sober analysis.

Housing demand in Santa Cruz is generated, mostly, by outside sources such as students rotating through UCSC, young professionals from Silicon Valley seeking lower prices, and by second home part-timers from a wide area. Much of this demand is bolstered by the city’s appeal as a small coastal town and the quest for relief from an overly dense and overly expensive Silicon Valley. These factors are of such magnitude that there is no amount of housing density and market- rate construction increase that will reduce demand or prices. With what is going on in the densification of Silicon Valley, the demand spillover into Santa Cruz will continue, no matter how much we build. Another part of the overall demand is the local component of low and moderate income workers who are needed to provide services to us all. No amount of market-rate housing is going to help to these people: they need subsidized housing.

With such intense demand, the proposed “build baby, build” solution will be futile. It will not reduce housing costs and will adversely impact the livability rating of Santa Cruz.

The transportation, circulation and mobility infrastructure, which is already grossly inadequate, will be severely over capacity. Developers will be the only beneficiaries of such policy. The rest of us will get more gridlock and continuing rises in home prices and rents. The fact is that new housing does not generate enough municipal revenue to match the increased cost of extending services to the new housing. City expenditure growth is driven mostly by ever-rising employee costs (65 percent of all general fund expenditures), while growth in the primary revenue sources (real estate taxes and sales taxes) is severely restricted by Proposition 13 and by the switch to internet commerce.

For sure, new housing will increase tax revenue at first, as it comes on line, but the predominance of inelastic tax revenue sources cannot sustain the ever increasing municipal costs. There will be no net gain.

Different strategies are needed. Housing for low and moderate income workers requires local/ state subsidies and must have a mandatory requirement that each new market- rate housing development include 30 percent- 40 percent units for low and middle income workers. The city deficit problem requires expense reductions and also the increase of revenue sources to pay for the growing cost and quantity of city services.

Building more market rate housing will only increase the severity of the city’s financial problems and, through increased congestion, will certainly bring about a steep decline in the livable qualities of the city. As the business saying goes, when a product produces continuing net losses, you cannot make it up in volume.

Housing demand in Santa Cruz is generated, mostly, by outside sources such as students rotating through UCSC, young professionals from Silicon Valley seeking lower prices, and by second home part timers from a wide area.

Much of this demand is bolstered by the city’s appeal as a small coastal town and the quest for relief from an overly dense and overly expensive Silicon Valley.

WHO KNOWS LEONARD THE HABERDASHER? Long or old timers from Santa Cruz must remember Leonard and the Haberdashery he ran upstairs at the old Cooperhouse. That’s assuming you remember the Cooperhouse! A friend and I got to talking about those days and neither of us could remember Leonard’s last name…anybody in readerland remember his last name? email me as always at bratton@cruzio.com.

SHINING A LIGHT ON AND FROM THE HILL

The Associated Press continues its investigations into the UC President’s top- level interference into a confidential state audit of the Office, with the collusion of the UCSC Chancellor. Emails show that both the UC President and the UCSC Chancellor were not only aware of this interference but the latter also instrumental in ensuring the doctored surveys from UCSC were implemented as requested by the UC President’s Office. The revisions reversed criticisms to ensure the President’s office was shown in a favorable light. The chief of staff to the UC President has resigned “to pursue other opportunities on the east coast”, Napolitano (who was briefed on the revisions) has apologized and no heads have rolled at UCSC. While scandals, sexual and otherwise are daily fare, it’s tempting to shrug this one off as minor league, and move on. That would be a mistake. We should take this rare glimpse into the machinations of power at the esteemed city on a hill to criticize and mobilize rather than cower and accept that continued UCSC growth is inevitable. The Emperor, in this case the UC President and her cohort, the UCSC Chancellor have no clothes and it’s a prime time to stand up and demand they enact a moratorium on UCSC growth which is causing havoc to a small town with limited resources. Don’t buy the PR that they have an obligation to educate students and have no choice. There are always choices.  

When its student population was under 10,000 in the 1990’s, UCSC brought many positives to its host city of Santa Cruz. Since that time its student population has doubled along with associated bloated top administration and underpaid support staff. UCSC students, half of whom live off campus, comprise 30 per cent of city renters and overwhelm the city’s limited rental properties.  No amount of building can accommodate such numbers, whether on or off campus, without destroying the beauty and livability of both the campus and the town.

...

So far, the city and county elected leaders have been weak in response to their constituents’ growing recognition that enough is enough on the hill. Two letters of concern are insufficient. We need stronger leadership.

While a small light of press scrutiny has been shone on the abuse of power at UCSC and the President’s office, UCSC has turned a spotlight on the community: many spotlights to be accurate. Without a blink of concern for its impact on the town, UCSC has installed mobile night spotlights on the East Field for night Rugby. These glaring, unshielded lights pollute  the night sky and are the dominant lights from UCSC as seen from the wharf and from over 3 miles away on Highway 1 as the halo of white lights documented in the image on the right. Fiat Lux to be sure.

~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.

...
By: Chris Krohn    Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

THIS WEEK ON THE CITY COUNCIL:an insider’s report to more meetings

So, You Want Political?!
Wow, what a political week it was! You’d never know it by reading our print media, Santa Cruz Sentinel and Good Times, even though they both did yeoman’s work on reporting out about homeless-houseless sleeping in the San Lorenzo Park Benchlands. There are simply more news-worthy issues happening than they can currently cover. Both Jessica York [here] and Jondi Gumz [here] wrote insightful stories for the Sentinel on camping and UCSC students being evicted in Santa Cruz, respectively. The Good Times’ Andrea Patton got a cover story titled, “Homeless Camp in San Lorenz Park Stirs Controversy, Hope.” It was well-researched and contained some key information about the link between the dire housing and ongoing homeless-houseless conundrum in Surf City. But, in the recent past, say 1975-2005, there were at times three, or four weeklies, and the Sentinel had a whopping 15 or more reporters (now down to four, I hear).

Frankly, an awful lot of stuff does not get reported on in this city. Trees are indeed falling everywhere, and the forest is lacking journalism resources. Perhaps we are in transition to the Twitter-verse, Snapchat, and Facebook future, and it continues to be a continuing challenge to get the word out about what’s happening down at city hall. How are those supposedly in charge actually spending your $225 million dollars that passes as the city budget?

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings
I know, if you follow this column I’ve used that sub-head before, but this job is a lot about meetings and this week was no different. There were four in fact, at the University alone. All were about housing.

Unacceptable! Pave paradise and put up 79 condos with NO affordable ones. Not only is Swenson Builder about to do that, they now have completely taken the entire sidewalk on upper Cedar Street (across from Cafe Bene) and took out a #10 bus stop as well. I am still asking, what is the public benefit that the public is getting from this Swenson project on the site of the old Bookshop SC? Please don’t cut the Great Walnut Tree too…

First, the developers of UCSC’s Housing West, you know the 3000-bed project that’s actually 2300 beds when they put back all the beds that are now in study lounges, triples into quadruples and doubles into triples situations…yeah, that project. They invited students to “share” what they would like to see. There was a strong presence of Orwellian linguistic gymnastics at the meeting. “We are analyzing sustainability…integrating the project into the campus ethos (at 3000 beds!)…it will be seamless…a hub…and clusters…spaces that mimic the library…” Of course, they never once talked about the main topic on everyone’s mind: $$ HOW MUCH $$$?What I also saw was a developer hamstrung by a reduced building envelope—now only being able to build on the highly successful and popular “Family Student Housing” footprint, and trying really hard to come off as least corporate as possible. They even let out that they would be lowering the number of units for student families (bad idea!) from the current 199 units to 125. One current family housing invitee said to me afterwards, “Why would you ever take down perfectly good housing when we are in the middle of a housing crisis? It’s my home they are talking about.”

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

Bernie Tweet of the Week
“The Paradise Papers make clear that we need, in the United States and throughout the world, a tax system which is fair, progressive and transparent.” (Nov. 13)

~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).

...
By: Becky Steinbruner    Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

IS THE RTC FUNDING SOMETHING IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
The list of project applications to get a piece of the $22 Million Regional Transportation Commission grant pie is here (begins on page 51 with staff recommendations on page 57).

There are more applicants this year than last (the RTC only had $7 Million to give away.

Look at Project #6 where the RTC funds itself $409.000 for planning work even though the cost of their work is only $250,000.  But because the State allows staff to grab up to $409,000, they have recommended to themselves that they take the maximum allowed.  Don’t you wish you could decide such parameters of YOUR paycheck?  (Well, you do, if you are a County Supervisor…more on that later.)  Wow.

Look at Project #8 where the Highway One Auxiliary Lane between 41st Avenue and Soquel get $2 Million (staff recommendations state that the money has been held for that project since 2014…so why didn’t they get going with the project before the campaign for Measure D began?)  Hmmm…

Look at Project # 9  where the Highway One Auxiliary Lane between State Park Drive and Bay/Porter get proposed funding of $1,830,000 with more to come in from Measure D funding.  Did you see the November 2, 2017 Santa Cruz Sentinel report about this topic?  Here it is.

Take a look at Project #35.   I think it is interesting that the many of the projects submitted by both the Santa Cruz County and City  Public Works are virtually the same as last year.  Supervisor Zach Friend (who chairs the RTC this year) must be sad to see that for the second time, the RTC staff recommends $0 for improvements in his Seacliff neighborhood.  The RTC states that $850,000 has already been awarded to this project but that $1.69 Million is still needed.   I wonder where all the money is coming from to do all the work that is happening there?  Maybe it was Susan Maureillo’s County budget reward to him as she retired from County Administrative Officer in June in exchange for his District overlay restriction on outdoor cultivation of Cannabis?   I understand that her neighborhood had some big grows that smelled offensive to her.

THE BOARD ALSO APPROVED THEIR OWN PAY RAISE GUARANTEED FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.
Because I could not find a parking place at the County Building lot last Tuesday morning,  I arrived at the November 7 Board of Supervisor 9am meeting five minutes late.  Normally, the Pledge of Allegiance and the individual Supervisor comments on the Consent Agenda items takes about 10 minutes to get through, but I walked into the Chambers just as the Board was approving the Consent Agenda.  Supervisor Greg Caput voted “NO” on Item #9, an automatic pay raise for the Supervisors for the next four years.  I had intended to pull that item off the Consent agenda and demand public discussion about why the Supervisors can vote themselves a guarateed payraise without any public input on their performance?

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

A POSITIVE THING FOR SANTA CRUZ COUNTY RESIDENTS…..COMMUNITY BASED POWER
The Board of Supervisors (with wallets well-satiated) then approved selling $8 million in bonds to fund the fledgling Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP)project. This will bring on board 100% carbon-free electricity for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties acting jointly with 16 municipalities.  The MBCP will, according to a staff presentation, save Santa cruz County $28 million the first year of operation, thereby costing the County nothing effective the first year of operation. 

I heard a second presentation on the MBCP again that same evening at the Soquel Creek Water District 11/7/17 Board meeting.   You can watch both of those presentations on the Community Television “Government on Demand” website: http://www.communitytv.org/watch/government-demand/

JUST ONE LAST THING….PROBLEMS REMAIN AT APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT CONSTRUCTION SITE.
I attended the Aptos Chamber of Commerce breakfast last week, and learned that Barry Swenson Builder had treated the Chamber to a tour of the Project the previous Monday.  Some of those who had been on the tour joked publicly that “I want that 3rd floor office suite”.  The issue remains:  who will be able to afford any of those commercial and residential suites in the Aptos Village Project?  Do you think it will be the grocery clerks at New Leaf Market?  The Sereno Property Management Group is currently taking applications for the FIVE Measure J affordable residential units, which the County allowed Swenson to make smaller and with fewer bedrooms than HUD usually requires.  Nice concession to make it “pencil out”, don’t you think?   Will any local teachers or firefighters get a shot at these five units?  Hmmmm…..

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.

...
By: Gary Patton    Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com


#317 GIFT WITH A TWIST.
The Matsui family has given a gift that is reportedly worth $20 million to Hartnell College, which is located in Monterey County. Read all about it right here, in a story from the Monterey Herald. You can see the gift, outlined in yellow, in the picture above. The gift to Hartnell is 215 acres of prime Salinas Valley farmland. The estimated market value of the land, that $20 million figure, is based on the idea that the land will not continue to be farmland, but will be converted to development. 

Let’s assume that this gift is totally motivated by the charitable impulses of the Matsui family, which definitely has a record of charitable giving. The Matsui Family Foundation is dedicated to supporting education, so it does seem likely that this gift, too, has been motivated by the family’s charitable impulses. How could it be otherwise, you say? 

Well, if the Matsui family owns adjacent land, the development of the land they have now given to Hartnell would boost the value of their own, adjacent property. If that were true, and it would be easy enough to check this out, by consulting the Assessor’s records, the gift of this land to Hartnell would derive from a mixed motive. 

Schools and colleges are often used by wily landowners to “pioneer” a new area for sprawl. The Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, is supposed to stop sprawl, and LAFCO will ultimately decide whether or not to allow the annexation of this land to Salinas, leading to its subsequent development. LAFCO is a body that is composed of political officials, and LAFCO members would probably be swayed by an appeal from Hartnell, which could point to the public benefit of letting the college gain an annexation approval that would let it develop the land. Query whether a private landowner would get the same treatment. 

Without any reference, however, to what may have motivated the Matsui family’s gift, careful consideration should be given to whether or not this land should be annexed to Salinas for development. All involved in the future decisions that will determine the fate of this land (and that definitely includes Monterey County and Salinas voters) should think long and hard about what the annexation and development of the gifted land would mean for the future of the community. This gift comes with a twist!

If the land is allowed to be developed, that will mean more money to the landowner and the developer, and if the landowner is Hartnell College, that money will be used to support local education. That’s a plus! On the other hand, development of the land will also help undermine the long-term viability of the county’s biggest industry, agriculture, and will lead to more water supply/seawater intrusion problems, more air pollution, more traffic, and more demand on scarce public resources. 

LandWatch Monterey County, a nonprofit organization that is trying to preserve and protect the environment, and to support good land use policy, has noted that more Salinas sprawl is NOT a good thing for the long term future of Monterey County. 

Not for most of the public anyway, with landowners and developers  excepted!

~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 his blog at www.gapatton.net

...

CLASSICAL DeCINZO. DeCinzo “flies low” over San Jose…see downwards a few pages.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Gun Control” 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 Thursday, November 16 from 12:10-12:50 at the Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown Branch in the upstairs Meeting Room Carol Panofsky on  recorder and Ann Thiermann at the piano will play Sonata in G minor, op. 1, No. 2 by

George Frideric Handel. Then they’ll play Sonate F-Dur, TWV 41:F 2 by Georg Philipp Telemann. Following those two will be Sarabande from Partita BWV 1013 by none other than

Johann Sebastien Bach. The last piece will be  Sonata in G minor H.524.5 by good old Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. It’s free and get there early because there aren’t that many seats.

BERTHOLD BRECHT AT UCSC. The rarely performed “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”
Will be performed Friday, November 10, 2017 to Sunday, November 19, 2017 at the Mainstage Theater (UCSC). It’s being presented by: the Theater Arts Department. Their web page says…Bertolt Brecht’s witty satire, in which notorious gangster Arturo Ui bullies his way to dominance over 1930s Chicago, comes to the stage in this biting satire of Hitler’s rise to power. Drawing inspiration from classic Hollywood icons such as James Cagney, Paul Muni, and Edward G. Robinson, this comedy by Bertolt Brecht warns of what happens when a vain and violent fear monger is allowed to go unchecked. With a live band, projected film clips, and the witty language of Jennifer Wise’s fresh translation, faculty director Erik Pearson brings a modern twist to this timeless call for resistance.  November 10-19, 2017 Thursday-Saturday at 7:30PM Sundays at 3:00PM Talk-backs after both Saturday performances
General admissionTickets on sale at UCSCtickets.com. We talked about the play on Universal Grapevine. Brecht pretty much linked and compared Hitler with Al Capone. This production adds Donald Trump to that group. Don’t miss it.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “It’s not Hugo, but find out why I think Wonderstruck, the new movie based on another eccentric Brian Selznick book, still scores points for tolerance and visual style, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com/). Also, get in the seasonal spirit with my new favorite holiday movie trailer!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

NOVITIATE. Whether or not you view the Roman Catholic Church as favorable will make or break this film for you. It’s the saga of a 16 year old girl going through the nun’s training. It’s raw, beautifully filmed and Oscar winning acting performances, you’ll not forget this very serious near documentary. Cruel, brutal, psychologically scary, honest…what more can you ask for? Nunneries were so bad that the Vatican issued a change of rules in 1964 to stop the inhumanity that was rampant, 90,000 nuns left the church after that. Go see it quickly. 86 on RT.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Most mystery nuts claim this is Agatha Christie’s best mystery but this isn’t the best movie version the 1974 was better.  Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer are fine actors especially Michelle and they do their jobs in this new “Express”. However the cuts, flashbacks, photography, and not-tight directing by Kenneth Branagh who does the Poirot role just dull the trip. Remember the old one with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot and Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Richard Widmark, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Ingrid Bergman? That film just roared along the tracks and took us with it. Bergman won her third Oscar with her role in that version.

All that said, go see it! It’s fun and only a little dull in parts.

WONDERSTRUCK. I never read the book and after seeing this movie I never will read the book. It’s a confusing story of two kids one from 1927, one from 1977 running away from home and going to New York City. They come from bad homes, looking for a parent, and love, and there must be 100 time flips back and forth showing some mysterious connection. You’ll learn that connection at the end but it’s not worth it.

BLADERUNNER 2049. Denis Villeneuve directed this sequel with advice from Ridley Scott and it has many hidden plot lines from the original (try to see it before you see 2049)…it’s an unique addition to science fiction films. Dystopian is a very overused word describing a disaster based future. This film again has Los Angeles totally transfigured…and even darker and more devastated and bleak than the first one, was set in LA 2019. Ryan Gosling carries the entire story, with Robin Wright and Harrison Ford doing fine acting jobs too. I have rarely, if ever, seen or felt a theatre audience so still-so hypnotized-awed-puzzled-and silent as the one I joined last week. I’ve seen it 2 ½ times now… it needs two viewings on as large a screen as possible, because the photography is so impressive and important.

ITThis broke all box office records the weekend when IT opened…and IT should have. IT is a well made, very scary movie. Based on a Stephen King novel, IT is chapter one of a two-part nightmare/daydream that will grab you when you are least prepared to be scared. It has all the clichés…BUT it’s also got tension, mystery, and perfect timing along with excellent acting. Just go see IT — but only if you truly enjoy being scared. 86 on RT.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Billie Jean King plays against Bobby Riggs in this easy-going tennis and sex movie. Billie Jean has an internal battle with her own sex, which adds a deeper and more involved plot than the 1973 match which we’ve all been reading up on, or remember from those days. Emma Stone— reputedly the highest star in the world — acts perfectly with Steve Carrell, and the movie is a guaranteed hit with everybody. I didn’t recognize Sarah Silverman as the women’s coach because she wears sunglasses all through the movie. I liked Little Miss Sunshine better.

VICTORIA & ABDUL. Almost everyone knows that Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria in this cute, warm, cuddly feel-good movie. Eddie Izzard plays the Prince of Wales (Edward VII), but you won’t recognize him. I didn’t, and I’m a big fan of Izzard’s. Stephen Frears directed it. He did My Beautiful Launderette, Prick Up your Ears, Philomena and some more great films but this isn’t in that category. Aside from the cuteness, it ignores the cruelty of the British rule over India during the almost 30 years.

LUCKY. This is Harry Dean Stanton’s last film and he was 91 years old when they filmed it. He died in September. He also played and sang in Santa Cruz a few times too. This is a sad saga of an old man who never married, wandering around his desert town yakking and gossiping with his crony friends. He talks about death, tortoises, and the things you’d imagine a 91 year old would talk about. The cast includes Transcendental Meditation’s David Lynch, plus Ed Begley Jr., and Tom Skerritt. Probably no Academy Awards, but it’s a pleasant film. 98 on RT. ENDS 11/16

THE FLORIDA PROJECT. Willem Dafoe heads the cast of unknowns in this depressing almost-documentary of a six-year-old girl and her little friend’s sad lives, as they eke out an existence living in motels near Disneyland in Orlando. Their lives and the fragments of the other neighboring families are sad from start to the finish of this film. It’s a saga, and it’s well done, but for sure it’s a feel-bad film.

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER. Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell top the acting list but it’s Barry Keoghan as the driven, mysterious teen ager that you’ll remember long after you leave the theatre. This film is a deadly serious drama. Its mythical, symbolic, and deep. The director Yorgos Lanthimos also made Dogtooth and The Lobster films also starring Colin Farrell so that should give you an idea of how far out this one is. ENDS 11/16

LBJ. Not the greatest bio-pic ever filmed but eventually Woody Harrelson will grow on you

as LBJ really takes over as President and deals with Civil Rights, Viet Nam, and his many other accomplishments and defeats. Audiences switch back and forth from silly laughing at funny script lines to damn near crying when LBJ leaves the support of his southern cronies. Yes, JFK’s assassination is in there, so is Walter Cronkite’s announcement of JFK’s death. Go see it, and be prepared to have even more remorse over what’s happening at the White House this week. ENDS 11/16

KINGSMEN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. I wished I’d remembered that this second installment of an ongoing series comes from comic books. The entire movie looks like an animated cartoon. It’s violent, murderous, and plain goofy. Elton John plays himself, and there’s a warning right there. To watch such good actors as Julianne Moore, Halle Berry and especially Colin Firth jump around for their million dollar salaries is embarrassing.

SUBURBICON. I have not and will not see this movie. Never, ever have I read and received so many bad warnings about a cruddy movie. George Clooney directed it, Matt Damon has the top role, and Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 27. Julianne Moore and Oscar Issac are in it too. Never mind about the plot, too many friends and readers have warned me…and I’m passing the word on to you, DON’T GO!

...

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. November 14 is KZSCs PLEDGE DRIVE night and historian Ross Gibson will keep us up to date on what old news is new!  November 21 author and political scientist Jill Cody talks about her book, “America Abandoned”. Following Jill will be Rick Longinotti talking about libraries, highways, and plenty more hot issues. The top winners of the Bookshop Santa Cruz Young Writers contest read their works on November 28. December 5 has Michelle Williams exec. dir. of the Arts Council of Santa Cruz talking about their new events and looking forward to 2018. Then boat captain Jim Christmann shares some amazing tales from his nearby ocean adventures.Dec.12 has Chayla Fisher from UCSC’s Student Environmental Center discussing some serious campus issues, sucas the LRDP. AND ALSO…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

Good old days, indeed…

QUOTES. “FOREST FIRES”
“But clouds bellied out in the sultry heat, the sky cracked open with a crimson gash, spewed flame-and the ancient forest began to smoke. By morning there was a mass of booming, fiery tongues, a hissing, crashing, howling all around, half the sky black with smoke, and the bloodied sun just barely visible.

And what can little men do with their spades, ditches, and pails? The forest is no more, it was devoured by fire: stumps and ash. Perhaps illimitable fields will be plowed here one day, perhaps some new, unheard-of wheat will ripen here and men from Arkansas with shaven faces will weigh in their palms the heavy golden grain. Or perhaps a city will grow up-alive with ringing sound and motion, all stone and crystal and iron-and winged men will come here flying over seas and mountains from all ends of the world. But never again the forest, never again the blue winter silence and the golden silence of summer. And only the tellers of tales will speak in many-colored patterned words about what had been, about wolves and bears and stately green-coated century-old grandfathers, about old Russia; they will speak about all this to us who have seen it with our own eyes ten years – a hundred years! – ago, and to those others, the winged ones, who will come in a hundred years to listen and to marvel at it all as at a fairy tale. (“In Old Russia”)”
? Yevgeny Zamyatin, The Dragon: Fifteen Stories

She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful”, Neil Gaiman

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.

Posted in Weekly Articles | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.