I am running, if you define running as walking around, shooting photos and then writing about that or those

Within an hour of visiting Donna Grider, the Palo Alto City Clerk, to “pull papers”, two reporters called to confirm if I was indeed running.

I called back Breena Kerr of the Post and asked if I could add another point. I said that I disagreed with the stance of her publisher Dave Price regarding the enforcement of a City Ordinance regarding whether restaurants on University Avenue could use the sidewalks for al fresco dining. He said, a few weeks back, that enforcement of that ordinance would be like putting a boot to the neck of small business.

I told Breena on the other hand that the lack of enforcement would be like a subsidy of the landlord. “Wouldn’t it be a subsidy of the business — aren’t they the ones who, via enforcement, would be responsible for any punitive measures?” Good question. I had, do note, lauded her for an article she had written recently about CPI the metal-coating business and the concern among residents of Barron Park, specifically on Chimalus Street, about the possible release of toxins.

I realized later that I was perhaps playing with fire to directly contradict a stance of her publisher — who I take as a Libertarian, and to bring up a point that, in truth, I don’t know the ins and outs of (other than the fact that I do eat at some of these restaurants and had read the article on the issue, if not, to my knowledge a staff report on the topic).

As remedy, I decided to take a little stroll, shoot some pictures and maybe interact with John Q and Jane Q, Public that is.

Rachel Burke and Daniel Summer-Hays were sitting in a portico of Patxi’s Pizza, on Emerson. This, I thought, was the perfect compromise between indoor and out. They graciously complied with my request to document their evening, and we chatted a bit about the difference or similarities between development here compared to Mountain View.

rachelDanielPatxiI admit that I am an atypical political candidate, a strange mix, if this is evidence, of Christopher Alexander’s “A Pattern Language” and Sherwood Anderson, “Winesburg, Ohio”‘s George Willard (which I read in 1984, as an undergraduate English major at Dartmouth, and I hope to re-read this summer).

I am not going to mention any other of the restaurants by name. I am not going to be the whistle-blower. I just noted the types of reactions to the temptation to eat out of doors, or al fresco. I will, since I brought it up, re-read the press coverage of the recent discussion and maybe staff report if I can find that simple enough. People I spoke to, as I wandered, were more in favor of being able to eat out door than concerned that the public space might be privatized. My concern is within context of a larger issue of overdevelopment in terms of adding office space at the expense of what could be a public amenity such as a restaurant. I did sneak a shot of the famous dive bar turned headquarters for something that at this point is better known by its squiggle than its actual name.

I've tried this one, but I sat indoors

I’ve tried this one, but I sat indoors

This one, quite popular, always a line, has a ledge facing the street and recently added tables, including one in front of their neighbor:

casi casi

casi casi

I categorically would avoid this place

I categorically would avoid this place

I rarely if ever eat at this place, maybe never. I would sooner, if I ordered there, take my meal to Lytton Plaza, which is open to everyone and not just the adjacent pizza parlor (which I frequent).

i'm a sucker for baklava

i’m a sucker for baklava

Although it was sooner than the evening rush, this ledge looked like a decent place to wait your turn:

ledgeI actually took 20 pictures, and have uploaded them from Android to Laptop, and may get around to an addendum here; but meanwhile think about buy, borrowing or reading my two main sources here:

It’s a bit of a red herring but I am also strangely inspired by an article in The New York Times, from 2007 but new to me, by filmmaker Errol Morris, comparing two similar photographs from the nineteenth century. I like the way he thinks.

edit to add: Elena Kadvany of Palo Alto Weekly, on May 2 of this year, reported on this issue and got 53 comments. I don’t recall how much more recently the Post and or Dave Price’s comment was, but I think I saved the tear sheet. It’s not a huge issue, other than it traces the outlines of mega-trends like Downtown v. Residents or the encroachment of a business mindset into the public sector.

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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One Response to I am running, if you define running as walking around, shooting photos and then writing about that or those

  1. Pingback: Don’t get your Dauber down | Plastic Alto with Mark Weiss

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