Blog Archives

November 19 – 25, 2018

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…reflections from Paradise, Claire Braz Valentine, Curtis Reliford and David Terrazas, Landmark /Amazon theatre sale update. GREENSITE…is traveling without computer access. Back next week. KROHN…vote counting, campaigning, chancellor choosing. STEINBRUNER…Board o’supes not funding County Fire Dept., Meas.G not funding County fire Dept., Lawlor’s 205 apartments at Pacific and Laurel to have no affordables, County purged Nissan emails, Habitat for Humanity and lack of plans, Madonna and Aptos Village. PATTON…Nationalized Politics. EAGAN…Subsconscious Comics and Deep Cover. JENSEN…about Suds and Can You Forgive Me? BRATTON…critiques Boy Erased, Widows, Overlord, Bohemian Rhapsody, Fantastic Beasts. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…on Thanksgiving.


KNIGHT’S OPERA HOUSE. Santa Cruz’s own opera house opened on November 23, 1877, at Union and Center Streets — probably about where the Art Center is now. Jack London and John L. Sullivan spoke here, and Ignacy Jan Paderewski gave a piano concert, too. The Opera House moved to Capitola in 1921, and burned down (or up) in 1961.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Presidential Turkey Pardoning

A COMPILATION OF WINS Not sure if these people are skilled, lucky, stupid, or all of the above…

DATELINE November 19,2018

GOOGLE PARADISE.. If you want an added thrill (not a good thrill) in addition to everything we read and hear about the desolation of Paradise, California, you can take a street view (from April 2018) all over town by going here.

CLAIRE BRAZ-VALENTINE NEEDS YOU! A very long-time Santa Cruzan, Claire’s an accomplished poet, playwright, children’s and adult fiction writer…and she lives/lived in Paradise. Her latest FB message is…My son Dan, my sister Linda and I have all lost our homes. We are desperately in need of a house to share with our two lap dogs. Thanks for all your good thoughts and prayers”. It was a beautiful house full of Valentine charm, I was there. Let Claire know how you can help her — just as soon as possible. Go to our Facebook page and comment on this post.

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS. Between Regal Cinema films on Saturday (Widows, Overlord), I talked to two extreme examples of Santa Cruzans. The first was our current and outgoing mayor, David Terrazas. Within 4 minutes, I was sitting next to Curtis Reliford on the bench by O’Neills — and we talked and talked and talked. Terrazas and I can never discuss anything meaningful: I tried telling him that his current city council was the worst I’ve ever experienced… and quickly we switched to movies. Curtis Reliford on the other hand told me how he’d taken his Peace Truck to Louisiana more than 30 times, plus Arizona, and many times to San Francisco. Curtis and his truck have never received any parking tickets, anywhere except here. The city of Santa Cruz has now issued him 20 tickets!!! He also told me that more legislation against the height of his Peace Truck has been “put on hold”. That’s why Terrazas and I can never talk about issues. If you’d like to help Curtis, go to his website, Follow Your Heart Action Network  or call him at 831-246-4240.

p.s. Read Becky Steinbruner’s take on Owen Lawlor’s Front and Pacific high rise behemoth and the no affordable units… just a few scrolls below.

LANDMARK THEATRE CHAIN NEWS FROM AUGUST. Joe Blackman sent me news last April about Landmark Theatre’s possible sale to Amazon. He sent this “news” to us last Thursday from August of this year.

Hollywood Turns Upside Down as Pending Landmark Theatres Sale Could Be the Tip of Upcoming Exhibition Changes. Are Landmark and Amazon joining forces? Stay tuned. It could be small stakes compared with other industry maneuvers ahead as the studios take on Silicon Valley. A number of speculative deals are floating in the Hollywood ether, as the industry moves away from studio dominance and toward Silicon Valley. Caught in that maw is Twentieth Century Fox’s sale to Disney and AT&T’s merger with Warner Bros. But eyes are also on the fate of the indie Landmark Theatres chain, which owner Mark Cuban has been eager to sell since April. Netflix has denied interest in buying the rock-and-mortar exhibitor, which makes sense, as theater distribution is not the streamer’s business model.

Then Joe B. sent this from Bloomberg News (also from last August)… Inc. is in the running to acquire Landmark Theaters, a move that would vault the e-commerce giant into the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, according to people familiar with the situation.

The company is vying with other suitors to acquire the business from Wagner/Cuban Cos., which is backed by billionaire Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The chain’s owners have been working with investment banker Stephens Inc. on a possible sale, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and talks could still fall apart.

November 19, 2018

Gillian is traveling without computer access. Back next week.

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



Vote-Counting Continues at 701 Ocean Street
There is relative quiet for now in Room 310, the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s office and official place of ballot counting. Unlike Florida’s Broward County’s embattled clerk, our clerk Gail Pellerin, is calm, efficient, on-task, and appears determined to get this vote count right even if her staff has to work 11 and 12-hour days. I’ve made repeated visits this past week to Room 310, including Sunday, and early this morning, Monday (11/19) . They are just wrapping up the “vote by mail” count and will soon begin opening the first-ever general election CVR’s, or “conditional voting registration” counting. This last category was created by the California state legislature to extend voting opportunities right through the 8pm hour of poll closures on Nov. 6th. It was done so that as many California voters who wished to vote could indeed cast a ballot. Over 2000 “same day voters” did actually take the legislature up on their latest drive to elicit input into the political system, and according to one county clerk employee, Santa Cruz ranked Sixth among the state’s 58 counties where same day registration took place. Los Angeles, being the largest county, is tops, but percentage-wise, Santa Cruz county may be the largest same day voting participant. Counting the same day ballots, as well as the 50% of vote by mails that come in during the last days of the campaign, is the reason why it takes weeks to come up with a final tally.

Growing Movement
I am proud of the hundreds who participated in the Justin Cummings, Drew Glover, Yes on M and Yes on Prop. 10 campaigns. It was a team effort. Win or lose I must say that the blood, sweat, and tears that began last February–gathering over 10,000 petition signatures–and continuing up until the polls closed at 8pm on election day was nothing short of Herculean. The engagement, debate, meeting stamina, and walking endurance places many of you in the civic-activist hall of fame. When over 100 show up on a sunny Sunday to knock on doors…well, that’s the kind of community I want to live in. When the votes are certified on December 6th by our County Clerk, all of you who participated in gathering signatures, walking and talking, and working on the amazing get out the vote effort that took place in the final frenetic days of the election have little to regret. When some volunteers could not show up, others did. When Lower Ocean was covered, volunteers would head over to Seabright or South of Laurel or up to campus. People were committed and flexible. Many moving parts yielded many moving people, cars, bikes, skateboards, and feet. Wow, is it really over? Who among us has not woken up recently wondering what neighborhood you would cover that day? Or wondered what happened to all those yard signs we put up? Did anyone dream of forgetting to vote and wake up in a cold sweat of at first… regret, and then relief that the election is actually over? Onward to victory!

Janet and me, at yet another food affair. For more info on UC spending see this article

Next UCSC Chancellor?
I was kind of blown away when I arrived at the UCSC campus’ Tierra Fresca restaurant last Friday. I thought I was coming to sit with a group of campus insiders to discuss what criteria might be used in selecting the next Chancellor. I passed several armed police before descending the stairway to an eatery that sits right above the College 9 and 10 student dining hall. I breezed into the room and casually passed a woman whose head was buried into her podium notes. As I strode past she looked up. It was former Homeland Security chief, former Arizona governor, and current UC President Janet Napolitano. I introduced myself, welcomed her to Santa Cruz, snapped a selfie and headed for table 8, which was already bedecked with plates of salmon sitting atop top an arugula salad. Clearly, this was not going to be provincial affair. We were immediately welcomed by Janet and asked to discuss two questions:

  1. What qualities would you want in the next Chancellor of UCSC? (Napolitano’s question) (btw, George Blumenthal is retiring)
  2. If we (the table, there were 9 tables of 6-8 participants each) were getting together in five years, how would you measure the success of the choice that was made? (consultant’s question)

We were then told to get to work in our table groups and assign someone to report back out to the entire nine tables what the group discussed. It was 12:10pm, we had until 1pm to chat. This all had to end by 1:30pm.

Political and Local Glitterati
It was a conversation that included County Supe John Leopold, state resources chief John Laird, Assemblymember Mark Stone, County Supe Bruce McPherson, SC city councilmember Cynthia Chase, former mayor Don Lane, and many others with great amounts of city and county experience. I noticed no current students were present and I would hope a separate set of these meetings could be arranged to hear their input…Here are my notes, which I presented to the larger group. Seems to me they pretty much sum up what other tables discussed and presented as well. At my table were McPherson, Chamber of Commerce exec. Casey Byers, former Asssemblymember and current UC Regent Charlene Zettel (first Republican Latina in state Assembly), search firm consultant David Bellshaw, and Donna Mekis former Pres. of UCSC alumni Council.It was a healthy, albeit polite discussion in which I tried to hammer home the messages I’ve received from the SC electorate and my experience from my day job on campus: 1) there’s some pretty ugly labor conditions on campus that have been going unaddressed, 2) UCSC students are at the root of housing crisis in town, 3) respect and stewardship for a healthy and thriving natural environment on-campus and off-campus is essential for the next chancellor to grasp, 4) the city council and UCSC have a long and inextricable bond and must figure out how to live together, and 5) campus growth affects almost every aspect of local government.

The Criteria Discussed in Selecting Next Chancellor

  • Build a strong campus-community, which means engaging in a city-county-UCSC dialogue;
  • Next Chancellor should be aware that they are coming into a heated atmosphere around the issue of campus growth and have something to add to the discussion;
  • This person should expect a certain culture of intimacy, and with that a culture that speaks up. In other words, guarded and thin-skinned chancellors need not apply!
  • Must possess a commitment (and track record?) to first generation students;
  • The perfect candidate should have a handle on the tech community and be willing to conduct outreach;
  • Next Chancellor should be someone who embraces the natural environment and understands how important that is to the UCSC and city community;
  • He or she should possess experience with labor relations and negotiating with unions;
  • We need someone who is “transparent” and “authentic,” meaning if the chancellor and faculty have a different viewpoint the faculty knows that the chancellor is being transparent and authentic with them and trust can be built that way;
  • Housing, housing, housing…we are in a community-wide housing crisis and the next Chancellor’s skillset ought to reflect some experience elsewhere in this regard;
  • She or he must be “fundraiser-in-chief;”
  • Chancellor candidate has to be experienced in dialogue with students…be “culturally competent” as well;
  • The Next head of this university has to be willing to live on campus (the outgoing Chancellor did not live in Santa Cruz);
  • There is a culture here that is sober, serious and questioning…it is perhaps characterized by the idea that “we are going to change the world,” and the ultimate candidate must embrace, or at least understand this concept;
  • Lots of people in Santa Cruz county go over the hill each day–33,000–the next Chancellor must be a leader on-campus, off-campus, and be willing to meet with the business community.
“If we transition to a renewable energy system, as we must, we can save money and create millions of jobs while leaving our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.” (Nov. 19)
(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

November 19

The smoke engulfing our area recently brings sadness to my soul, understanding that the smoke is not only from forests but also lives and Community livelihoods.  The stories I read about are so sad, and bring back memories of a similar, although smaller-scale, disaster in my immediate neighborhood five years ago, but luckily the Red Flag Conditions had changed just a couple of hours before the fire erupted.  That inferno claimed two homes and caused calamity that shook the soul of our community, but luckily did not explode into the Aptos Hills.
The other recent local fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains are a further wake-up call to us all.  The danger is not limited to just the wildland areas, as both the Santa Rosa Tubbs Fire and Butte County Camp Fire have shown us.  Why then, do Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Officer (CAO) continue to not fund the County Fire Department budget?  Right now, it is the County Fire Department providing the critical fire and medical response for rural Santa Cruz County residents because nearly all of the CalFire units are gone to fires in other areas of the State.

Last week, the County Fire Advisory Commission heard a proposal from Mr. Michael Beaton, Director of General Services, regarding a possible ballot measure next spring to increase County Service Area (CSA) 48 fees for all rural properties.  This is the primary revenue for County Fire Department’s budget.  Supervisors refuse to give any money from the General Fund, which is where the recenly-approved Measure G half-cent sales tax money will go. 

LET ME REPEAT THAT: NO MEASURE G MONEY WILL ACTUALLY FUND THE COUNTY FIRE BUDGET.  Supervisors lied to the voters on that ballot measure.

Supervisors also refuse to send any of the State Proposition 172 Public Safety money resulting from a statewide half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 1992 on the heels of a massive fire in Southern California.  Instead, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors allocates ZERO DOLLARS to County Fire Budget from this $17+ Million annual revenue stream.

County Fire Budget is $1.3-$1.5 Million in deficit.  Staffing levels on emergency response units is below State Fire Response recommendations.  Still, County Supervisors refuse to fund this critical emergency response that protects rural areas, and potentially the urban areas as well. 

WHY???  Write your Supervisor and ask!

Write your County Supervisor:

Also, Susan Galloway (ask her to make your correspondence public record on Board Agenda)

Call 831-454-2200.

FYI, Supervisors John Leopold and Bruce McPherson are meeting with County Fire Department Advisory Commissioners on December 3.

The Santa Cruz City Planning Commission approved an 85′ tall housing development at Pacific and Laurel that will have NO AFFORDABLE UNITS INCLUDED in the 205 rental untis proposed.  Wait a minute, how can that happen amidst the “Affordable Housing Crisis” the City and County have proclaimed???   The Commissioners swallowed the line that Devcon Construction Inc. fed them that including affordable housing would not be “feasibly sustained”.   The Pacific Front development also would not provide adequate parking for all those tenants and associated commercial needs, and would require at least 37 spaces to be shared with local retailers.

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

This Tuesday (11/20), the Board of Supervisors has a Consent Agenda Item #57 to approve an additional $71,759 supposedly for additional ADA access sidewalk ramps.  However, if you read the documentation, this is the twelfth change order for the Phase 1 Aptos Village Traffic Improvement Project that finished up (finally, nearly one year late) last summer.  There were no new sidewalk ramps added to the initial design, but low bidder John Madonna Construction (from San Luis Obispo) is charging the County taxpayers for three, as well as other markings and signs that all should have been considered in the initial bid proposal.

This company was awarded the bid during a second bidding process, after the initial bid by local Granite Construction was rejected by Public Works as the only bidder and too high.  Now, 12 change orders later, the Project is way over the initial contract bid amount by $664,118 and over the bid amount submitted by Granite.  That includes the $25,000 paid to train John Madonna Construction workers in proper hazardous materials handling, even though the company is certified for Hazardous Materials handling.  Now, the Board of Supervisors is being asked to approve $71,759 MORE?!  

Since when does the County issue blank checks to bidders and snub local contractors who know what they are doing?  Ask Public Works Director Matt Machado

County taxpayers funded a new traffic light at Trout Gulch and Soquel Drive in the Aptos Village area last year, and relocated the busy #71 Metro bus stop.  That new location was activated last week, and the traffic is already backing up behind the bus when it stops there but cannot exit the lane of traffic.  The former stop, central in the Village, did not present this problem.  This was all part of Phase 1 Traffic Improvement Project, costing taxpayers nearly $2 Million. 

Oddly, the CAO is recommending an additional $71,759 this Tuesday (11/20) for that Phase 1 Project, Item # 57 in the Consent Agenda.  Supposedly, the money is needed for a change order to include sidewalk ramps for ADA access, but there were no extra ramps built that were not initially identified on the plans. 

Here is what is included in the yet-to-come Phase 2 Aptos Creek Road traffic light improvements, according to the Public Works website

Aptos Village Improvements Phase II
Status: In Design

“Construct road and roadside improvements on Soquel Drive from Trout Gulch Road to Aptos Creek bridge to include: new traffic signal at Soquel Drive/Aptos Creek Road, new railroad crossing over Aptos Creek Road, sidewalk and bike lanes on Soquel Drive, new railroad crossing at new Parade Street”.


I find it disgusting that this Project received the HIGHEST level of grant funding for the 2018 Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission allocations for projects throughout the County (even more than Highway One Auxiliary Lanes!), approving another $1.9 MILLION for the Aptos Village Traffic Improvement Project

Contact Public Works Director Matt Machado if you have questions,

He is very responsive.  Attend the December 7 RTC Board meeting to weigh in with your thoughts on this use of taxpayer money.

Do note the  photo of the new County-installed sign on Aptos Creek Road directing eastbound traffic onto a private road, Aptos Village Way, that goes through the Aptos Village Project.  Not many people have been using this detour, maybe because the outlet onto Trout Gulch Road has a double yellow center line that makes left turns to the Post Office area illegal, and making a right turn to go toward Soquel Drive is quite dangerous.  Is the County liable for accidents that occur as a result of directing traffic over a private road?   Hmmm…ask Mr. Machado.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving, 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


November 17, 2018 #321 / Nationalized Politics

David Brooks has written a column about it, in The New York Times. Daniel J. Hopkins, who is a professor of political science at the University of Pennylvania, has written a whole book about it (see the picture above). 

You and I (I am betting you have had the same experience that I have) have been noticing our nationalized politics in the form of an email bombardment from every corner of America, as political candidates who undoubtedly do reflect our general political views send us heart-wrenching appeals for campaign contributions. 

These emailed appeals come to us despite the fact that we may never even have heard about these candidates, prior to receiving their emails, and despite the fact that they are seeking public office in states we may never have even visited.

Is the “nationalization” of our politics a good thing or a bad thing?  I haven’t read Hopkins’ book, so I don’t know his views. The title suggests that he is writing as an “observer,” more than anything else, reporting on a fact of our contemporary political life, rather than taking any specific position on whether this change in our politics is a good thing or a bad thing. 

Brooks definitely has a position, and he doesn’t like it. In fact, Brooks believes that the nationalizing of our political life is leading to the “unraveling” of the United States as a political community, dividing the nation into two distinct, different, and irreconcilable camps. The “Venn diagram is dead,” says Brooks. “There is no overlapping area.”

I tend to side with Brooks. I think my favorite political theorist, Hannah Arendt, would do so, too. Arendt celebrated the “federal” nature of American government, which sets up lots of competing centers of political power, making authoritarian and totalitarian central government less likely. California’s effort to fight the Trump initiatives on immigration and environmental policy are great examples of how our federal government is supposed to work. “Nationalized” government discards that conflict in an “all or none” fight for central political power. All political eyes focus on the federal government, the arena in which individual persons have the least likelihood to be able to influence political choices. 

Concern about the “nationalization” of our politics is not just a “modern” understanding, either. In a book review appearing in The New York Times on November 4, 2018, Jeff Shesol cites to Joseph J. Ellis, and his new book, American Dialogue: The Founders and Us, to remind us what James Madison thought: 

Along the way, as Ellis recounts, Madison was forced to part with his deeply held belief in federal supremacy and to embrace, instead, the blurrier concept of dual sovereignty — the idea of a nation caught, eternally, somewhere in the balance between state and federal authority. Madison came to see this tension as the genius of the Constitution.

Conclusion: there may be a reason to disregard those political pitches from North Dakota, Florida, Georgia, Texas and wherever. A nationalized politics is a surefire route to a more authoritarian and totalitarian future

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

Email Gary at


EAGAN’S  SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Go deep inside, and down a page or three, for another view of classic Subconscious Comics.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s ” How to Stop Voter Fraud” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “I’m taking a holiday break from the blog this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( ). But check out my reviews of Jewel Theatre Company’s tuneful ’60’s pop musical, Suds, and the Melissa McCarthy movie Can You Ever Forgive Me?, about a marginally-published author who, um, forges a new career in crime, in this week’s Good Times!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

BOY ERASED. The sad, many-leveled story of a gay teenager being sent to a sexual conversion center. If you now have, or ever have had any issues with sex, religion or parenthood then see this totally engrossing film. Russell Crowe is the preacher/car dealer dad. Nicole Kidman is the well-meaning Mom and Lucas Hedges is perfect as the conflicted son. RT Critics give it 85, normal people give it 77.

WIDOWS. If you blink you’ll miss Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson, but you’ll see a little of Colin Farrell in a very uneven mess about a bank robbery. Viola Davis is the star of this “heist” movie. She leads two other women in a foolish, trite, impossible robbery caper. It’s not only hard to believe in, or follow, it’s just a re-hash of a million heist films we’ve all seen before.

OVERLORD. You have to believe me when I tell you this is a movie about Paratroopers, D-Day, Nazi experiments and zombies…and it’s serious! It’s almost laughable (which is probably what is intended) but somehow Nazi experiments still aren’t funny to me. Forget it!!!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. I should note that I’m no fan of “Queen” the band, or of Freddie Mercury, their Mick Jagger-copying lead singer. Nonetheless this Hollywood-style movie is shallow, hammy, trite, and adds nothing to film, music, or history. It’s actually boring for much of its screen time of two hours and 15 minutes.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I really liked most of the Harry Potter movies, but this is a far cry from the happy, brilliant, colorful, playful fiction of J.K. Rowling’s books and movies. Johnny Depp is terrible in this mess, and Jude Law is somewhere in it too, but Eddie Redmayne does a yeoman’s job in the lead. It lacks all the magic, the fairytale, and the imaginative fun of other Rowling films.

WILDLIFE. With a 33 RT critics rating, 152 normal people rating — plus the astounding acting by Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal — you can’t go wrong. This is actor Paul Dano’s first director job, an award-winning film about a teenage boy in the 1960’s trying to make sense of his mom and dad’s near-crazed decisions and problems. It’s sad, tense, frustrating, and an excellent film…go for it. Not to be confused with Boy Erased! or Beautiful Boy!!!

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? A well-deserved 98 on RT! Melissa McCarthy plays real-life author Lee Israel, who, when she’s down on her luck, starts forging and selling fake letters from famous literary stars. McCarthy is better for my money at being straight than she is as a comic. An excellent movie, based on a book that Lee Israel wrote confessing the entire plot. Go see it…it’s why they make movies, and why we like to go see them.

FREE SOLO. A National Geographic documentary of young Alex Honnold free-climbing El Capitan in Yosemite. It is beautiful, terrifying, and the most tension you’ve ever felt from anything ever on screen. He climbs the three thousand-plus feet in a little over three hours. It’s a nearly perfectly-made film, on a topic you’ll never forget. See it on the big screen at the Del Mar…you won’t regret it, trust me!!! Oh yes 98 on RT!!.

BEAUTIFUL BOY. A long and drawn-out saga/story of a teen age boy Timothee Chalamet in his first real role. He becomes a crystal meth addict and his Dad — played by Steve Carell — goes the full distance as a parent trying to relate and help. The movie is as sad as real life when parents lose touch with their kids. The background music is way too loud, the acting is perfect, and it is a very sad, depressing film, without an ending that will leave you satisfied.

FIRST MAN. 88 on RT. Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong steals this saga about our landing on the moon in 1969. He’s nowhere near the type of human that Armstrong seemed to be, or must have been, to carry off this moon landing, marriage, fame, and some failures too. Claire Foy (The Queen) is wasted here as Neil’s wife. The movie is tense at times, nerve-wracking at others and is a full two hours and 18 minutes long. Armstrong died in 2012. It is such a tribute to our US space program, and such a hunk of our national pride, that it’s impossible not to enjoy. Go see it. Nope, they didn’t include the planting of the American flag.

A STAR IS BORN. Yes, the crowds are right: Lady Gaga is a genuine actor now. She takes almost all the movie away from Bradley Cooper. Cooper directed, financed most of it and plays and sings too. It’s a saga, a melodrama, and shares almost zero with any of the other 4 or 5 Star is Born flicks. Go see it, even if like me you’ve never seen or heard Lady Gaga before. According to Wikipedia… Lady Gaga is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986 in NYC)

MID 90’S. Comic Jonah Hill directed this mid 1990’s near-documentary of skateboarder teen agers coming of age in Los Angeles. My grandsons are going through the same period of life, and in the same area right now — but I could not sense what point or comment Jonah Hill was trying to make with this short (84 minutes) drama. The story seemed disjointed and pointless, but maybe that was the point?

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER WEB. I think Claire Foy is probably the best actor/actress in the business. She could have made Lisbeth Salander (“The Girl With The…”) unforgetable — but the script, the directing, and the characters all let her down. The other Lisabeth Sanlader films were well-done and incredibly exciting. This one is loaded with obscure references, dull explanations and few chase scenes. See it some other time.

SUSPIRIA. This re-make of a scary, bloody, slasher classic fails miserably. Tilda Swinton plays both a male and female role, but even that doesn’t make it worthwhile. It seems to last for 5 hours, much of the dialogue is hard to hear, the revised plot is next to impossible to follow and it’s just plain disappointing…don’t go. CLOSES Tuesday 11/20



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 20 has UCSC Professor Emeritus James Clifford bringing us up to date on The East Meadow development, followed by ex County Supervisor and land use attorney Gary Patton discussing the ongoing election results and other issues. Bookshop Santa Cruz’s traditional night featuring the winners of their Young Writers Contest happens Nov. 27. Tandy Beal talks about her special performances on Dec. 4th. Then Carla Brennan shares news about her Insight Meditation workshops. OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here You have to listen to about 4 minutes of that week’s KPFA news first, then Grapevine happens. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always and only at

PSA, here’s what to do with plastic bags!

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. “Thanksgiving”

“My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor”. Phyllis Diller
“Trump lies when confronted with the truth, since any crack in his narcissism might spread like an Ebola of the soul, and he would deflate like one of Macy’s balloons on the Friday after Thanksgiving”.  Richard Cohen  
“I’m not a sandwich store that only sells turkey sandwiches. I sell a lot of different things”. Lady Gaga

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