Blog Archives

November 26 – December 2, 2018

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Too easy to vote here?, Circle Church and property doomed. GREENSITE…on the city council election. KROHN…election issues, Measure M, neighbor vs. majority, new packed “emergency” council agenda. STEINBRUNER…Board of Supes except Leopold sell out to developers, Monterey Bay Economic Partnerships SECRET public policy, Soquel Creek selling sewage water and raising rates, PG&E doing more clear cutting. PATTON…on Indivisible’s  history. EAGAN…Subconscious Comic Classic and Deep Cover. JENSEN…is very busy. BRATTON…critiques Green Book and Creed II, UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…”Christmas” (part 1)

                                 

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PACIFIC AND COOPER STREETS. We can still appreciate the County Bank Building and the  I.D Bank Building. Now we see Regal Cinema, Palace Stationers, Peets Coffee, and The Sock Shop. I still don’t have a year for this photo. Can any car enthusiast clue me/us in?

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

WHEN A PIANO CONCERT GOES OFF KEY!
Frank “Sugar Chile Robinson” with Count Basie
The most unusual musical instruments of the world!

DATELINE November 26, 2018

PROBABLY ONLY IN SANTA CRUZ. There was so much well-deserved anguish, chest-beating, anger, sympathy and plain frustration over the evil voting restrictions that cost so many citizens their voting rights two weeks ago. Now in Santa Cruz we’re having to live with the gripes of how same-day registration and voting made it too easy to vote! We can only guess where those complaints are coming from.

ERRETT CIRCLE-CIRCLE CHURCH DEVELOPMENT NEWS! Rumors have been rife for a few years now about who’s going to develop the Circle Church land. Now we know. A public notice of a “Community Outreach Meeting for proposed development” was sent out last week. On Thursday November 29 at 7 p.m. in the Church’s Sanctuary Room, the Circle of Friends LLC Co-Housing group will present two options. The first is to build 12 single family lots there. We can bet those “family lots” will run in the millions. The second option is 10 family lots and a cluster of small townhouses — ie. 4 two bedroom homes, 2 one bedroom homes and 4 accessory dwelling units (ADU’s). The notice says that the City Planning Department prefers the second option. Check out the history of the Circles here http://www.mobileranger.com/santacruz/santa-cruzs-westside-going-in-circles-since-1890 . This will be a never-to-be forgotten test of the power of citizens, neighbors, and everyone who cares about the environment, history, tradition fighting against the City Planning Department. It’ll also test our City government, and show us where their loyalty, community spirit, and plans for the future truly are. Everyone who cares about this significant part of our city should be at that meeting this next Thursday.

From Sept 15 BrattonOnline

SQUARING THE CIRCLE (CHURCH). A long time and trusted friend sent this…Circular rumors have it that no permits have been issued, or even applied for, for development of the “Circle Church”. As of this week one of the owners Chris Drury the former pastor of the Circle Church is living in a mobile home on the premises. I believe London Nelson is so heavily booked that it’s almost impossible to rent space there. I’m wondering if there is any interest amongst the city council to purchase this property as a rented community center?  Can this subject be up for public hearing/vote?  I’m hearing that the entire structure may be demolished for so called co-housing. Very disturbing. Think we can start some movement in the city to have council purchase? I know it’s probably a long shot, but may be worth some effort.Of course you’ve heard about the same Chris Drury, now with a name change…hmmmmm, is leasing the former Logo’s to open another alcohol outlet called “faith on tap”. Another scam by this scumbag”.  

November 26, 2018

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR
Barring any last minute surprises, it appears that Justin Cummings and Drew Glover will join sitting council members Sandy Brown and Chris Krohn to form a new city council majority with a distinctly different philosophy from the current majority of Noroyan, Terrazas, Mathews, Watkins and Chase. That incumbent Noroyan failed to secure enough votes for a second council term indicates that the community is ready for a change.

I’ve been actively involved in city politics since the early days when Mike Rotkin and Bruce Van Allen successfully challenged the business/development council majority with what at the time was a new electoral strategy (campaign managers, direct mailers, walking precincts, get out the vote, door-hangers etc). For a while it seemed that neighborhood groups would have a voice as powerful as the business interests that had dominated city politics for decades. There were earlier council members who broke up the “good old boy” network. In the 1970’s, Virginia Sharp, Sally DiGirolamo and Bert Muhly brought environmental issues, neighborhood protection and historic preservation to the fore and were joined later by Carole DePalma, a strong voice for the environment, neighborhood protection and the main architect of our Heritage Tree Ordinance. Together with Gary Patton on the Board of Supervisors, followed by Mardi Wormhoudt, supported and motivated by a community of environmental activists, ordinances were passed to limit growth to a sustainable level, greenbelts obtained, massive developments halted, civic participation encouraged and for a while it seemed that Santa Cruz might really be a beacon of progressive thought and action.

Since that time, UCSC has grown from 5 to 19 thousand students, fuelling an affordable housing crisis. Via the Internet and slick marketing, Santa Cruz is now a year-round destination for global tourists. The push for economic development as an inherent good now holds sway over sustainable growth. Top city department heads are hired with the same pro-growth philosophy. Developers are granted immunity from providing even a gesture of below market rate housing. Our greenbelts are under threat as newbie mountain bike orgs push for greater access for their sport that not only damages the land but drives out passive uses such as walking and birding, all the while sneering at the aging environmental activists who saved these lands in the first place. Even our historical municipal wharf was put on the chopping block for monetary gain. Talk about time for a change!

I, and other die-hard neighborhood and environmental activists probably go to more city council meetings than most. We speak for our allotted two minutes (itself an erosion of public participation) then sit watching as the council majority ignores our input and consistently votes in favor of development. Not one of them has voted to save a heritage tree. Out of scale developments are never challenged. The impact of such developments on established neighborhoods never addressed. They rarely if ever challenge the recommendations of department heads. They seem more concerned about the needs of those who don’t yet live here but want to, as they smooth the way for the newcomers’ arrival.

Since the new council will not be seated until after the next council meeting there is unfortunately time for more damage from the current council majority. Put on a fast track by city planning staff, changes to the Accessory Dwelling Ordinance will have been voted on (November 27th meeting) by the time you are reading this. I have written at length on the negative impact of the proposed changes. Removing parking requirements; increasing size; reducing setbacks and the real slap in the face to neighborhood stability, changing the owner-occupancy requirements. In a town where absentee landlords hold 56% of the town’s housing stock, they have no incentive to temper the impact of two dwellings filled with partying students as they would if they lived in one of the dwellings. Staff well understood that a new council majority might not be enthusiastic about rezoning single- family neighborhoods into student dorms, hence the rush.

After that, the hope and expectation is that with a new majority cut from a different cloth, we will once again have decision makers who care more about those who live and work here, particularly the lower income and most vulnerable, than those who want to profit from over development and growth. That protecting our environment will mean more than a paragraph in a campaign brochure. That attracting tourists and ignoring residents is not the order of the day.  That perhaps a beautiful heritage tree can be protected. That public participation is encouraged and welcomed at council meetings rather than endured. And as always, no council member can be successful without an active, engaged public. That’s our job.

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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November 26, 2018

WHAT AN ELECTION! Take 1
It was a consequential campaign. From the very start back in February, many long-time observers of the Santa Cruz City Council were aware that the 2018 election might be a memorable one. With the state of national affairs what they were–Trumpism, Kavanaugh, and McConnell, (oh my!)–many locals who wished for better outcomes were ready to invest time and energy into local politics. After all, a severe housing crisis was helping fuel an even more severe homeless crisis and not getting involved was not an option.

It Was an Issues Election, Take 2
Although Measure M, which called for rent control, was a ballot initiative for the ages–providing iron-clad support for tenants, first–the Santa Cruz city council majority was also at stake. The council was experiencing a five-member, 12-year market-rate development-first ethos. It was a well-oiled vice grip manufactured by those with great means, and it resulted in that majority often turning a deaf ear to various segments of our community. Whether it was the hundreds who came out to council meetings in 2015 to protest the acquisition by the police of a Lenco BearCat Tank offered by the Department of Homeland Security, or protesters who railed against the non-acquisition of the Beach Flats Community Garden, there was a stark portrayal that things were not well in Surf City. Then, the community pushback on two projects at either end of Pacific Avenue comprising over 150 condos with little affordability seemed to go almost unnoticed by the developer class. (And now along comes Devcon’s 206-market rate apartment complex…stay tuned.) Earlier (2016) a former church site property, zoned for multi-family housing, was transformed into a play palace for the well-heeled traveler, now known as the Broadway Hyatt.

The Majority vs. the Neighbors
The current city council majority had also registered yays in the face of Westside neighborhood opposition in order to place a garish hotel on Mission near Swift Street without implementing any neighborhood suggestions; a cell tower on Meder Street was approved in the face of 20 neighbors present in council chambers; and Jump Bike racks were put in places they simply should not be. Combine that with an eastside uprising over all the council yes votes for market rate housing along the “corridors,” which produced few affordable units and set the stage for a robust and rigorous council campaign of issues over platitudes and hoped for leadership over policy rubber stamping. The campaign was informative and heated. It was about “housing, housing, housing.” Rent control was the obvious wedge issue, but the library-at-the-bottom-of-a-five-story-garage-on-top-of-the-Farmer’s Market was also center-stage. A 25% inclusionary ordinance to help yield more affordable rentals was suggested as was offering tenants priority over the university-inspired rental inspection ordinance.

The Denouement Aftermath
The votes are due to be certified on Dec. 6th. It appears that only the “provisional” ballots, some 6000 countywide, are yet to be counted. The National Conference of State Legislators defines a provisional ballot in the following way, “Provisional ballots ensure that voters are not excluded from the voting process due to an administrative error. They provide a fail-safe mechanism for voters who arrive at the polls on Election Day and whose eligibility to vote is uncertain.”

The current SC city council “winners” appear to be Justin Cummings, Donna Meyers, and Drew Glover should the current trend of voting returns continue until 12/6. The Good Times last week said that this candidate formation would likely hold. The Santa Cruz Sentinel also seemed to suggest the same this past Monday morning and three new faces would indeed appear soon at city hall. But ultimately it is the County Clerk, Gail Pellerin who will issue a final ballot summary and report. The Santa Cruz City Council will likely rubber stamp that count at its Dec. 11th meeting and then it will become real and a key historical moment all in the same time. As I said here last week, the people who supported Justin, Drew, and Measure M worked hard, overcame the moneyed interests, and should be proud of their work no matter the outcome, although cleaning up yard signs, paying off any last-minute loans, and cleaning up the campaign office is much easier when you win. Soon, it will be on to the process of healing some of our community’s open political wounds. I look forward to participating with the next city council in that process.


Two great candidates, tenacious campaigners, and good people.

City Council Agenda-packing
The city council agenda this week, and Dec. 11th, appear to be a developer-dream team wish list. Perhaps those free housing-marketeers are beginning to sweat with a new council coming soon, so let’s place whatever we can on the council agenda before January comes around. We’ve got Accessory Dwelling Units BIG ordinance changes; a SIX-year permits extension for the 32-condo project at 1800 Soquel Ave; a fake 15.5% (over two years) “rent control” ordinance; and the further evisceration of the 1980 Measure O ballot initiative, which mandated 15% of all housing development be “affordable.”

Happy Birthday Isabel!
My daughter Isabel was born 18 years ago this week and watching her grow and change, and change again has been one of the true joys of my life.

“We must end the absurdity of the United States having more people in jail than any other country on Earth. We have a racist criminal justice system that must be fundamentally transformed.” (Nov. 25)
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected the the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His current term ends in 2020.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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November 26

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS JUST SOLD OUT TO THE BIG DEVELOPERS
Thank you, Supervisor John Leopold for being the lone “NO” vote on last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor meeting when the County Zoning Code changes got approved to create extremely dense and tall development, possibly outside of the Urban Services Line, completely change the quality of life for rural and semi-rural neighborhoods.  The Public Hearing was well-attended by developers and others who will profit by these changes and inherent concessions, but only two or three members of the general public could take time off work to be present and testify.  
MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.   BUT JUST DO SOMETHING!

I have heard the Planning Department staff presentation on this topic a few times, going before the County Housing Advisory Commission and the Planning Commission.  Previous photos of large developments in other counties were exchanged for photos of quadruplexes in Santa Cruz City, but still did not include local affordable housing projects such as Aptos Blue or Canterbury Commons in Aptos.  Last Tuesday’s presentation omitted discussion of the developer incentives that will allow deferred payment of impact fees (money that funds infrastructure needs to handle impacts of the development) and building height and setback variances.  It will allow Ad Hoc planning policy that will allow developers to apply for extra-dense R-Combining Districts (30 units/acre) anywhere in the County to be approved by the Board of Supervisors without regard to infrastructure to support it.  It will grant developers major concessions allowed under Planned Unit Developments (PUD) yet not necessarily require the affordable units for which the concessions would be granted to actually all be built.

Supervisor Ryan Coonerty immediately made a motion to approve all proposed changes without the benefit of discussion by other Board members first.  Supervisor John Leopold asked if Mr. Coonerty would consider an amendment to his motion to include a requirement that such proposed dense development be limited to within 200′ of major transportation corridors? “NO” said Coonerty.

Supervisor Leopold said “I am not sure this gets us to our primary goal of increasing affordable housing in Santa Cruz County.  This will not generate that much more, and the rest will not be affordable by design.  Projects with 100% affordable housing make sense for these types of bonus incentives. IS THIS GOOD LAND USE PLANNING?  WHAT WILL OUR COMMUNITY LOOK LIKE?  We need to do this in concert with the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan to locate these developments along transportation corridors.  When the County required inclusionary 15% affordable units of developers, there were 500 units built.”     He further discussed the need to follow the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan, formed with public input (a bit rhetorical if you consider the Nissan car dealership debacle on 41st Avenue), but got no support for this action from other Supervisors.

Supervisor Greg Caput kept repeating that there is a crisis but wondered what the impacts of such dense development might be on public infrastructure.  “Are we looking at that?” he asked, noting there is nothing zoned for parks near dense developments.  “We’re in a crisis but we don’t want to run off and build without thinking about it.”  Oddly, he announced that he supported the proposed changes.

Supervisor Bruce McPherson also referred to the “Crisis”, but assured (maybe himself) “We’ll keep working on the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan, but let’s go with this.  I am happy to see such diverse stakeholders in support.”  Indeed, a diverse group of people who will profit were in support of the approvals.

Chairman Zach Friend glibly said “It is easy to create fear and be against change.  These are tired arguments that have been used for 30 years.”  What does this carpetbagger know? 

Sadly, the Board, with Supervisor Leopold’s lone dissenting vote, approved these major changes to our County Zoning Codes 13.01, 13.10, 17.10 and 17.12 with no amendments to address infrastructure or a public request of a continuance to allow for better general public vetting during an evening meeting.  In fact, the only evening meeting held to discuss these massive changes were conducted October 17 by Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, (a group of bankers and developers), not County Planning Department staff.  Take a look here

Contact your County Supervisor and ask for a public meeting to have these changes explained and discussed during an evening meeting, or attend constituent hours for any and all Supervisors.  We have just been sold out for developer profits, and will get very little affordable housing in exchange.  In my opinion, THAT is a crisis

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

Cheers, Becky

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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November 24, 2018 #328 / Indivisible

On Thanksgiving Day, I got an email letter from Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg. They are pictured to the right. Their letter is reproduced at the end of this blog posting. Levin and Greenberg are the Co-Directors of Indivisible, a group seeking to “remake our democracy.” Indivisible was formed in reaction to the election of President Donald J. Trump in 2016. I got to meet Leah and Ezra at a small fundraiser in Menlo Park, and was impressed. There is a very active Santa Cruz Indivisible group, one of thousands across the country. I am supporter of the Indivisible effort, and I certainly encourage others to join up and to contribute.

The entire letter from Levin and Greenberg tells a “Thanksgiving Day story,” and makes an appropriate follow-up to my last two blog postings, celebrating our national holiday. Here is the part of the Greenberg-Levin letter that particularly got my attention. Greenberg says, as she describes her Thanksgiving Day search for a name for the group, not yet formed:

I thought about the Pledge of Allegiance. I had an idea. I tried saying it out loud: “Indivisible.” It gave us both goosebumps. One Nation, Indivisible. It was more than a word — it was a promise. Because in this moment, with Trump poised to take power, when our democracy and our neighbors would be under attack, we would need to fight together, indivisible. That was the only way we’d make it through.

The fact is, our greatest political problem is that we all too often see ourselves only as “individuals,” omitting to note that we are not only individuals. We are “in this together.” It is only when we practice a politics that is premised on that truth that we will be able to realize our deepest aspirations, and to protect ourselves from the many dangers that threaten our future.

It could give us all goosebumps: “One Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Indivisibles,

This time two years ago, Ezra and I were in Austin for Thanksgiving, sitting at the kitchen table at his dad’s house.

We were still reeling from the election of Donald Trump, and looking for something — anything — that we could do to respond. The night before, we’d met up with a friend who told us about a Facebook resistance group she was managing and how they weren’t sure what to do to have an impact.

A light bulb went off.

We knew exactly how grassroots activists could have an impact — as former congressional staffers in the early Obama years, we’d seen the Tea Party organize a powerful resistance that nearly brought Congress to a halt. What if we took the lessons we’d learned from that era, reverse-engineered them, and wrote a simple guide to making Congress listen? And then we could just put it out into the world, so that any new activists who were getting organized could read it. Maybe a few folks would put it to good use.

As soon as we came up with the idea, we were obsessed. We started an outline that night and started drafting the guide the next morning. Ezra’s family kept trying to get us to leave our laptops and hang out — it was Thanksgiving! — but the project just consumed us. It was the only thing we wanted to do.

That day, we decided this guide needed a name. The Tea Party had had a name rooted in American history, one that captured the imagination. What was something comparable for us, something rooted in our values and our history?

Ezra and I came up with a lot of bad ideas that just didn’t fit. Great Society. Four Freedoms. Then I thought about the Pledge of Allegiance. I had an idea. I tried saying it out loud: “Indivisible.”

It gave us both goosebumps. One Nation, Indivisible. It was more than a word — it was a promise. Because in this moment, with Trump poised to take power, when our democracy and our neighbors would be under attack, we would need to fight together, indivisible. That was the only way we’d make it through.

A couple weeks later, Ezra tweeted out a link to the Google Doc: “Indivisible: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda.” Within an hour, the traffic on the doc was causing it to crash. And that very night, we started getting emails from folks all over the country who were angry and scared and organizing. People who would pick up the charge, start leading this movement, and help change the course of American history. People who would soon start calling the groups that they had formed “Indivisible” groups.

Yes, the Trump administration has been as damaging and cruel as we could possibly have imagined. But in response to something so incredibly evil, and dark, and corrupt, Indivisibles have responded with love, light, and determination.

This Thanksgiving, we’ve got so much to be thankful for. Two years in, we’re not just resisting hate, corruption and authoritarianism — we’re insisting on a better future for all of us. Two years in, we have this hope for the future thanks to this incredible family of Indivisibles across the country who are making that hope possible.

Thank you for banding together, indivisible, with us.

In solidarity,

Leah and Ezra

Co-Executive Directors

Gary Patton 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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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Love and Lust and subtle rage take the stage this week. See below a few pages.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s ” U.S. Prime ” 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.

MARK WAINER PHOTOGRAPHIC ART SHOW.
We have a rare chance to see some absolutely beautiful photography from Dr. Mark Wainer at the R. Blitzer gallery from December 7-through the 29th. The Gallery is in the old Wrigley Factory, which is technically at 2801 Mission Street. I’ve known Mark for years and have watched and marveled at the stunning changes in his work. See for yourselves atMarkWainer.com there aren’t many ways to describe what Mark captures in his photos. The Opening Reception is on First Friday December 7, 5-9 pm. Trust me it’s a rare chance!!!

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa says she’s as busy as all get out…and will get something out next week! In the meantime go to Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com ). Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

GREEN BOOK. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are getting extra-super praise for their roles in this almost-true story of a white chauffeur driving a black jazz pianist through the American south in 1962. I couldn’t buy the entire plot. Both Viggo and Mahershala play their roles way over the top…becoming caricatures. There isn’t a surprise, revelation, or any lesson to be learned from this movie. It’s a story we are all too familiar with. If Slumdog Millionaire got an Academy Award, this one could too. But not from me.

CREED II. Sylvester Stallone — now 72 years old — is back again with another Rocky sequel. Like just about every one of Stallone’s four Rocky or Adonis Creed movies…it’s totally predictable. But it’s also exciting. The added depth (if you can call it that) is that once again it’s America versus Russia — and it’s interesting to see Dolph Lundgren again, 30 years later, as Drago’s dad. You won’t fall asleep. It was 1976, and 42 years ago, when Stallone did his first Rocky movie.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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?

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!!!

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.

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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. Bookshop Santa Cruz’s traditional night featuring the top three winners of their Young Writers Contest in each age group. It’ll happen for the full hour on Nov. 27. Tandy Beal talks about her special performances on Dec. 4th. Then Carla Brennan shares news about her Insight Meditation workshops. December 11th has former mayor and political consultant Bruce Van Allen talking about that last election.

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

Fascinating, for 500 years now…

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. “CHRISTMAS”, part 1

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” Mary Ellen Chase  

“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously? “ Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin And Hobbes: Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Three


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! 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!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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