Is Buena Vista ‘gone with the wind’?

Driving past the landmark Stanford Theatre, and noting the upcoming marquee news of the cinematic classic, I am moved to compare the famous Margaret Mitchell-based movie to the situation here and now about Buena Vista mobile home park.

How would watching the movie “Gone With The Wind” shape perception of the local land-use and policy issue regarding the future of the Palo Alto mobile home park?

The latest news is that the county-based Housing Authority might use eminent domain to save the park as a source of affordable housing, for the 117 families and 400 residents there.

Meanwhile, a federal judge threw out the case by right wing property advocates challenging the legitimacy of the local policy that protects mobile home residents and would enforce an $8 million fee on the closure of the park.

My first thought is that the 1960s era local laws that protected the rights of the mobile home residents may be archaic to the extent that there is not an obvious consensus that a local Democracy should protect the least among us. That is, did the Palo Alto of 2014 (when I ran for office and spoke out, and wrote, in favor of government intervention, on behalf of resident, including possible condemnation) change so much since the laws were written that we do not really mean to enforce this? So, in effect the idea of a Democracy that would protect this community is, like the antebellum South, gone, a thing of the past, archaic?

Am I therefore saying that the speaker for the current owners is like Rhett Butler? (i.e., materialistic, opportunistic).

Does that make Winter Dellanbach (leader of the community support for BV) Scarlett O’Hara? (or is she the Olivia DeHaviland character — the Stanford Theatre notes that July 1, 2016 is Olivia’s 100th birthday).

Or is Joe Simitian Rhett Butler, i.e. the hero of this story?

I’ve seen the movie — always thought it was too long, or glad for the intermission. I can’t say I quite get it. We think of the Confederacy as representing obsolete or undesirable values (slavery, for one) yet we admire the principles of the residents of Tara?

I don’t strictly mean to compare the BV residents to the ante-bellum underclass.

I think it would be interesting if there was some kind of romantic intrigue between the young-ish leader of the ownership group (i.e. the son) and the young-ish female speaker for the residents — but I don’t think that is happening. (I do always scoff at the use of the word “family” to describe the ownership group when my research shows that as of 2010 or so a corporation or LLC bought out the so-called family owners).

D.P. of the local biased rag wrote a crappy editorial against the promise of eminent domain which makes me want to say “D.P.” back: due process.

I recommend we all flock to Stanford Theatre to see “Gone with the Wind” if only for the insight into this important policy issue (and for subsidized pop corn: or is my notion a Let-Them-Eat-Pop-Corn kind of thing?)

  1. Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post, from July, 2015 on why contemporary audiences might not appreciate this classic of cinema, (or why, conceivably, Black Lives Matter might actually protest our local screenings. Maybe my idea not so hot.)
  3. As I am questioning self here — is this post a bad idea? — I am starting to think of the number of times I wondered if Stanford Theatre deliberately picks a movie as some kind of inside joke, usually of a rightwing variety. Film patron David Packard is rather conservative. I’ve never seen people raise the question publicly as to whether he is propagandizing with some of his movies. My thrust here is to ask whether the arts can provide insight into policy. And more people think “classic” rather than “racist” with this movie.
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A quantum decoherence of jazz shows

On a Tuesday, from 9:59 a.m. to 11:14, at Coupa Cafe, Palo Alto



Twenty years ago, or so, I produced a music series A Quantum Decoherence of Jazz shows. The series (not a festival) comprised five shows and ten acts. The acts, in order of billing were: Charlie Hunter Quartet, Will Bernard Quartet, Broun Fellinis, Anibade, Galactic, Stephen Kent, Eda Maxym and Friends (Members of Trance Mission and Beasts of Paradise), Toledo, Action Plus, Mingus Amungus, and Dave Ellis Quartet.  I made a poster for the event — my concept, graphic design by Michele Nelson. Yes, that’s an appropriated photo of Stephen Hawking, the physicist.

That run of shows was part of a six-year tenure, 1994-2001, during which my small company, Earthwise Productions of Palo Alto, brought roughly 150 similar events to Cubberley, the former high school turned community center. The series was eclectic, but was mainly rock. Charlie Hunter more than any other artist encouraged me to continue to book jazz shows there; he said it was a listening room and not a bar; he felt a connection to his fans there. Charlie appeared in five different shows, in five different configurations: trio, quartet, quintet, Pound for Pound and T.J. Kirk (in fact, the only joint appearance of CHT and T.J. Kirk, in September, 1995 — and the first actual sellout of the 300-capacity room).

This series in some ways was an elaboration of my relationship with Charlie, if you look at it as building four other shows (and booking 10 other acts) around his availability as an anchor. Also, the summer before, 1996, I produced a run of shows, not quite a thematic series, and a poster called “Warm Weather Series” that included an appearance by Medeski Martin and Wood. The MMW was a huge hit, in that it sold clean — there were really no walk-ups, or, rather, we turned away 50 people — and the band seemed in rare form. The weekend that MMW appeared, we also booked dates with Cake and AFI.

Galactic was added to the Broun Fellinis bill. The agent, either Mike Luba on referal from Adam Shipley  was adding to an anchor in SF on likely their first Bay Area tour. The were definitely paid support money not headliner money, even on this scale, although they did have core followers (there was an after-party on Olive Street, in one of those live-work lofts, off El Camino). Anibade was the showcase for Ledisi Young, that Ledisi, who later moved to New York, first for Broadway (“Caroline or Change”, I saw) and then for Verve and eventual Best New Artist nom, for soul or funk rather than jazz, and a career. I remember I got her autograph on one of those little paper belts that wrap a stack of 20s. The jazz series was eclectic, pushing towards funk and world music rather than just the Charlie Hunter – Broun Fellinis axis that was my introduction to the scene (Elbo Room, Up and Down Club, Prawn Song records, Ubiquity and the like). Later, and partly thru Charlie and his team my jazz tastes broadened to include, at shows: Bill Frisell, Danilo Perez, Steve Lacy, Leon Parker, Oliver Lake, Taylor Eigsti and others.

The poster lists four sponsors who paid a tiny percentage of the risk. Gerald Brett, an arts commissioner and father of a teenager, arranged for for those and was supportive of the initiative during its ebb and flow. Tickets were sold via “Drapers, Groovesmith and CD Land” all casualties of the gentrification of Palo Alto retail, or displacement of retail by tech workers.

The shows had a uniform price of $12, in an era when my typical event was $8 to $10. In reality, I might have charged $20 or so in order to re-coup. A subsidy of Earthwise in those days was me living with my parents and getting free office space and rooming. Earthwise continues into its 20th year and includes an artist management legacy although it is relatively inactive compared to the Cubberley days. My tax return from 2015 I filed last month included income versus expenses Schedule C for two events. Potentially I would someday re-focus on something as intense as The Cub, but more realistically that boat has sailed. I was indie (and jazzy) in the nineties; today I am somewhere looking for, but certainly not hiring and hipping people to the Galbraithian “countervailing power” to restore a Democracy. Writing about music and culture (and my own footprints, from years ago) is less satisfying than producing concerts.

The peculiar name came from an article I saw in the New York Times about a purported breakthrough in our understanding of science. My lay understanding (I’m also a former ad agency copywriter) means that just as you cannot predict exactly where a particle is (or is that Heisenberg?), you might be surprised to find, on a given night, that if you walk into a music venue (or defunct high school auditorium) amazing music. I guess by extension, but to a smaller likelihood, non-zero, if you read about “a quantum decoherence of jazz shows” in Palo Alto and Cubberley, on a social media page or forum, it does indeed increase your likelihood of hearing this music. (or is that Sapir-Worf?). I hope it does.

When I saw the biopic about Steve Jobs and Apple it suddenly occurred to me the possibility that either he or one of his key people might have attended one or more of the Cubberley shows and had an “aha moment” of his own about how the proliferation of computers could bring a quantum change in how consumers experience music. The way I, with a certain amount of time and money, more than talent, could personalize my playlist, and share it, could, due to Moore’s Law and all be a type of model of how to shift that company from business machines (competing IBM) to music (competing with Sony and then Universal). There was definitely a handful of hipster VCs who I met at the Cub and signed my mailing list. Which is ironic if part of my motivation (or delusion) was to counter industrial advances with direct experiences. The Cubberley Sessions could have been a model for the IPOD in the way that a Turing computer predicted and “precursed” various advances in computer science and industry. I thought of this when Jobs and his daughter were on the rooftop, in the parking lot. In the movie.


By the way I recently destroyed all the extant and overrun copies of that poster, minus 40 or so that I am putting into sets. I have 60 lots of 40 copies each, destined to be reconfigured as 40 sets of 60. I hope to sell 20 and gift 20 to museums and archives. Meanwhile, they are in my storage space. Or, cyber space.

Steve Cohen sent me a screen capture of a social media page which covered Palo Alto cultural history from Dave Brubeck at the Bandbox to someone’s curation of my poster, which spurs this recollection. Elsewhere in Plastic Alto (which is itself an Ornette Coleman reference) I have a long (rambling) history of jazz here and or a poster gallery, either of which could have been the source of the social media recent cite. (Unless Colleen S was one of the nearly 1,000 who attended one of those shows and saved the poster!)

It occurs to me that a quantum decoherence of jazz shows could comprise five dates in 1997 and several more,for instance, in 2017, twenty years later. Stay tuned. Or, as Royal Stokes might sign, “keep swingin’”.



  1. Here is a lift from Palo Alto Weekly’s short preview of the Charlie Hunter show, probably by Jim Harrington:  Jazzin’ up Jamaica There have been country versions of Beatles’ classics, punk renditions of folk tunes and symphonic takes on top-selling rock records. So perhaps it’s time for a jazz recording of one of Bob Marley’s great reggae works.Popular eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter has done his jazz thing with Marley’s 1974 classic “Natty Dread,” which contains the reggae standard “No Woman, No Cry.” But Hunter and his quartet do more than just re-record the album, they translate it. “No Woman, No Cry” is rendered as a ballad with Hunter’s guitar taking the lead. “Dem Belly Full (But We Hungry)” is infused with Latin rhythms; “Natty Dread” gains a New Orleans groove; and the new version of “Bend Down Low” has been called a gospel-speed metal romp.The Charlie Hunter Quartet cruises into Cubberley Community Center Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, on Friday, March 28, as part of Earthwise Production’s “A Quantum Decoherence of Jazz Shows” series. The Will Bernard Quartet opens. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $12. For more information, call 949-4507. The leading online retailer notes that “Natty Dread” came out that same week, March, 1997 such that the Cubberley show might have been one of the or the very first live performance of these songs as a set. Years later I had the Marley version on continuous play but at the time of the very enjoyable jazz show, I would not have recognized the melodies. Geoffrey Himes notes that Charlie’s arrangement of “No Woman, No Cry’ has an allusion to “Tennessee Waltz” which to me is like Charlie’s take on James Brown / Rahsaan Kirk / Monk, or, and my stage manager Dave Womack emphasized this in our contemporaenous discussions, although it might have been in his writings, Charlie, as part of T.J. Kirk at Cubberley, two years before, as part of an encore, ripped thru a guitar solo that quoted several famous rock solos or heads. I spent 3 more minutes sampling from this cd and hope to find it in my archive (which is still not quite seeing it live, but not a chore a bore or like having your teeth drilled).
  2. To the extent that this article is partly in response to a social media forum about Dave Brubeck in 1950 compared to this series in 1997, I should probably point out that Mingus Amungus is or was a Charles Mingus tribute project whereas I don’t think Mingus himself played in Palo Alto. The Mingus Big Band authorized tribute and repertoire project, managed by Mingus’ widow Sue Mingus, including a version with actual Mingus contemporary and bandmate Jack Walrath — my friend and one-time client — did play at Stanford a couple times in recent years. And, Monk himself in his heyday did play Paly High, thanks to the young Danny Scher, quite famously. Compared to T.J.Kirk, at Cubberley, Earthwise but not in the Quantum Decoherence. Get it? Elsewhere I write that I met Danny Scher while putting up this poster. He had read about or heard about the series. I have a recent picture of Danny I could insert here.
  3. This might be it, the New York Times, Feb. 18, 1997, George Johnson: Only when the electron is measured, or somehow disturbed by the outside world, does the superposition break down: the particle crystallizes from the quantum haze and becomes fixed in space and time. It is this process, called quantum decoherence, that gives rise to the everyday world in which things can be in only one place at a time. Which to me at the time might have sounded like how to book bands. This 1
  4. This is a little bit silly but here are crib notes from nearly 20 years later of these 10 acts in the decoherence: Charlie Hunter, 8-string guitar wizard, performing as a quartet which I think means reeds were Kenny Brooks and Calder Spanier; Will Bernard Quartet, another guitar based jazz group, and I met Will thru Charlie, as they were recommended to open for MMW the previous summer;  Broun Fellinis, led by David Boyce, and played Cubberley three times; Anibade, recommended by agent Yavette Holt, shortly before Ledisi went solo;  Galactic, from New Orleans, and now they usually play the Fillmore or Warfield; Stephen Kent, Eda Maxym and Friends (Members of Trance Mission and Beasts of Paradise) — digiridoo based group, and I do recall some of Kent’s Palo Alto students showed up; Toledo, featuring Toledo Diamond, from the same LA-based label as Broun Fellinis (Moonshine), he was sort of like a cross between Tom Waits and Prince, with super-sexy backing singers; Action Plus, led by Joe Gore, another guitar hero, more of a lounge act or novelty act; Mingus Amungus(led by Miles Perkins), and Dave Ellis Quartet, who I met originally thru his early work with Charlie, not to be confused with David SQWRM Ellis who later did Charlie’s album art or his brother John Ellis, who briefly was in Galactic before several albums with Charlie. Dave Ellis brother of Zoe Ellis. Joe Gore not to be confused with mystery writer Joe Gores, although I always thought they should collaborate, and Joe Gore should do a noir soundtrack, based on a Gores story. I think Dave Ellis appeared in both bands, his combo and Mingus Amungus, maybe just on baritone sax, or I recall Miles Perkins saying he was going to ask Dave Ellis to bring his baritone sax.
  5. Actually it might be fun to reprise the Toledo Show b/w Action Plus or Toledo Diamond either backed with or paired with Joe Gore to produce something new and noir-ish in that the LA Times says that Toledo channels Raymond Chandler (i.e. “The Big Sleep” and “The Long Goodbye”) while just by the freak association of the names Joe Gore could or should do Joe Gores. Maybe I could find a way to do a tribute to by own father, Paul Weiss (1924-2015, as in I’m still in mourning) “Long Goodbye for PEW” using this thread and here we have the perfect difference between being a concert promoter and merely a blogger: does mentioning ideas actually help actualize them or just lets the air out of them? The LA Times: Backed by a jazz-accented quartet, Toledo speaks, cackles and howls his words into an ancient microphone. The spirit of Raymond Chandler pervades the cozy room as Toledo takes his audience–which frequently includes the likes of Johnny Depp and Snoop Doggy Dogg–on a journey through seedy hellholes, drug dens and damaged love affairs. 
  6. The Toledo Show is now called one of the longest running and best kept secrets in LA, and is playing this Sunday, 5/29/16 at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica. In this screen capture, we presume the hand and not the nipple is Toledo:
  7. toledoLedisi who now has six studio albums, 374,000 twitter followers and has appeared she says and I believe her nine times at the White House; Ledisi Anibade Young i.e. her band name was also her middle name; I briefly had her cell number:

    Ledisi whose road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue included a stop at 4000 Middlefield

    Likewise if I cornered Joe Gore somewhere and reintroduced myself he would likely remember Cubberley, but not that it was part of a series (or the decoherence part, although he is quite technical) — he may have also played the room with Steven Yerkey. He’s not really considered a jazz guy, just a guitar god. In his words:

    First: My attitude about guitar changed. I’d witnessed musicians without a shred of conventional skill creating sounds that left me breathless. I’d heard players with more ability than most of us could acquire in ten lifetimes disgorge dismal puke. I stopped caring about things I couldn’t do and embraced my quirks. I realized that playing expressively was more important than playing “well.” Second: I started getting invited to play on cool records. First, Big City’s old roadie, Les Claypool of Primus, recommended me to Tom Waits, and I went on to contribute to seven of Tom’s albums. I worked on two PJ Harvey albums and toured with Polly’s band for a year. I got to work with Jon Hassell, Lisa Germano, Stephen Yerkey, Meat Beat Manifesto, and the late Kathy Acker. I was signed to Rykodisc as a member of the quasi-jazz band Oranj Symphonette and made two Action Plus albums with my most frequent collaborator: Elise Malmberg (a.k.a. “wife”). Eventually I quit my grueling day job. I think Elise was known as “Ursula” when in character as the “action” part of Action Plus.

  8. This doesn’t go here at all, but I cannot resist. It’s a true story. I got to cut and paste it somewhere, lest it gets scrubbed from the world’s knowledge base: Leni Stern, doing a mixer for the Jewish Bulletin, at Crown Plaza Palo Alto, $15 less a discount if you are a Jewish single and you place a personals ad, presented by Earthwise Productions:
    Friday, December 3, 1999
    Guitarist to jazz up singles party

    by German guitarist Leni Stern will perform with her quartet Wednesday evening at a Chanukah Schmooze at the Crowne Plaza Cabana, 4, The event, which begins at 7 p.m. with entertainment at 8, is sponsored by the Jewish Bulletin and Earthwise Productions.

    That includes Stern’s childhood — she grew up a few miles from what remains of the Dachau concentration camp — and her successful battle with breast cancer some years ago.

    Stern is actually best known as a jazz musician. She is a three-time winner of the Gibson Award for best female jazz guitarist. She once aspired to a career in the theater. However, “the guitar was always my first love, and I didn’t want to just play a little.”

    The recording artist has just released her 10th CD, “Recollection,” which features a collaboration with David Sanborn.

    She left her homeland in 1977 to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and relocated to New York in 1980.

    Jazz critic Bill Milkowski wrote in the liner notes for her “Recollections” that “as her muse continues to take her farther afield from jazz, she has come to express herself more genuinely and deeply.”

    But “I’m still a jazz musician,” she told Boston Globe writer Bob Blumenthal, who called her “one of jazz’s most lyrical and distinctive guitarists.” She added: “Or maybe now something of a rock musician.”

    She will be accompanied at the Schmooze by drummer Kenny Wolleson, saxophonist Dave Binney and bassist Don Falzone. Tickets to the event are $15, with discounts for those who place personals in the Bulletin’s “Such a Match” section.

    Mark Weiss of Earthwise Productions said his intent is to build community using music.

    “It’s a Jewish-themed holiday event, but it’s open to music lovers of all backgrounds,” he said.

    For information, call (650) 949-4507 or (415) 263-7200. Oy. This was a two-part experiment in using the Cabana Room of the hotel, near the pool, about 150 capacity but these events drew slightly less. The other show was Joey Baron band. At the Leni Stern event, all the Jewish single girls were hitting on the sound man, Mark Svein, the Norwegian-American co-worker of Andy Heller of LDR Sound, he reported.

    9. There is a new Stephen Hawking series about science and I watched and taped two episodes this week.

    10. Joe Gore the producer, writer and guitarist, with or without Toledo Diamond the choreographer and bandleader in LA, what about not film noir and pulp fiction but literary influenced, circling back to a further not-actualized concept, a musical adaptation of the Wallace Stegner short story “Pop Goes the Weasel” (which makes reference to a fairly odd and mysterious bit of music and verse history). The Stegner story was 1930s Los Angeles, race and class issues. Gore meanwhile has a book about the music industry. In a parallel universe, we can already see and hear all of the above. By the way, didn’t Joe Gore play with The Eels? (The Eels, bandleader narrates a film on parallel universe theory)

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‘Red Poet’ doc about SF’s Jack Hirschman, who briefly taught at Dartmouth in 1961-1962

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Hope Austin by STEVEJC


That’s what it says, Hope Austin By STEVEJC

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Kudos to Kobi, but it was Michael Wang of Paly who unearthed the David Starr Jordan concern

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 5.02.08 PM

Michael Wang of the Campanile raised the yellow flag about Jordan in 2012

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Felix Gonzalez-Torres pieces at Stanford until March 21 or so

Terry and I went by Stanford’s Cantor Museum to see the student-curated, 50-piece show. One of the most memorable works, new to me but she had seen before, was by Felix Gonzalez- Torres (1957-1995), “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A”(1991 — on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of the Stones). You are invited to take a piece of candy from the colorful pile that started at 175 pounds. I’m tempted to check back and see how the piece is progressing.

The show also includes work by Kara Walker and Glen Ligon. I wrote about this previously, comparing some of my concert posters to a “wanted” poster that referenced Angela Davis. (not to be confused with Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance). Nine posts back.

Here is the updated photo, from late February (I would estimate the piece is down to about 100 pounds):


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The tough, the strong

gunn dunk

Gunn’s hoops fate might hang on the severity of the ankle sprain suffered by previously gravity-defying, if Icarus-recalling, Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich (Photo by Butch Garcia, I believe, and hence it becomes true)

For certain members of the Gunn student body and community, the pulse must quicken with anticipation this week and perhaps for the next 12 days, a rarified situation created by Gunn’s selection to the Central Coast Section basketball tournament. The Titan hoopsters earned the second seed of Division II on the strength of a 17-2 campaign and an elusive Santa Clara Valley De Anza title, only the fourth in school history, and first since 2009.

Gunn plays Saturday (Feb. 27) at a neutral site with one eye on St. Ignatius (14-10) in the other side of the draw, for section-division laurels. See here for the complete bracket and keep reading for additional Plastic Alto commentary (basically, I lament in nostalgia for the days of a unified CCS rather than a watered-down six-layered tiramisu, and other semi-connected ramblings, hanging together if by the most frayed of nets). Not to overlook the first two games of the playoff action, but the real drama would come if Gunn advances to the finals against Catholic league stalwart St. Ignatius of San Francisco (which plays in the Central Coast Section and not in the City per se due to the oddity of their league, which roughly follows the path of the missionaries, established nearly 250 years ago). When Gunn upset St. Ignatius in the 1980 tournament, Chuck Hildebrand of the Times Tribune noted that kids were chanting “Saint Gunn! Saint Gunn!” as if we had beatified Henry M. Gunn, or that was the spoils of our success, sainthood. Not sure how many people will note that since SI beat Gunn in the 1981 finals, a Titan victory of that stripe would settle that ancient score, near enough. (Jerry Chang has posted the tape of that classic tilt, here).


Kent Lockhart and Danny Brown of Gunn take it to SI, in a packed Maples, before time ran out on the hometown boys

If you are jonesing for high school hoops your best bet might be Santa Clara High School gym (where I had my career best, in 1981) to see Half Moon Bay, Palma, Bellarmine and Serra square off in first round Friday of the open division, teams perhaps fated to face St. Francis of Mountain View, who went undefeated in the tough Catholic League. If you are a roundball nut job, go to Inglewood Tuesday to see Chino Hills, of the famous Ball brothers (literally), recent topic in the New York Times. (and the story rang a bell not a ball for me in that I saw, on tv, Chino nipped by San Ramon Valley in the state championships last year). On one hand basketball is purely a set of actions and feats confined to a 32-minute interval yet it’s also true enough that today’s players are actors in a broader movement that encompasses the past, and their forebearers; they are fulfilling the archtypes (in a Joseph Campbell sense) that were also embodied by their brethren and fathers from prior years and connecting them to the past. (Matt Passell, for one, was captain for the 1980 champions and is now father to a current champion, sophomore varsity player Josh, of Gunn)

How I got here — 17 steps or 2,607 words

  1. John Reid and the staff of the Daily news (people who bought out the people who bought out San Jose Mercury) rank the top eight prep basketball teams, on the eve of the section tournament selections, and Gunn appears at #4. The group can be split into two camps, private schools (St. Francis, Serra, Sacred Heart, Pinewood, Kings Academy) and public (Menlo-Atherton, Gunn, Palo Alto). In 2009, when Gunn won league for the first time in 28 years, Gunn and Paly were the only two public schools in the top ten. Beyond sports rankings, there is a more general “privatization” of schools here, playing out over four or five decades, as even George Packer (Gunn ’73) has noted. I’m not a gambler, but I pay taxes (and rent).
  2. weissphotogunn2015

    I caught several games of the 20-4 team but have stayed away this year, so far

  3. I text-messaged a bunch of people Friday that at 16-2 this year, coupled with an impressive 20-4 the previous year (albeit in the lower El Camino Division) Gunn 2014-2016 eclipses by a mere percentage point the 47-8 mark during the Hans Delannoy / Kent Lockhart era, 1980 and 1981 SCVAL champs. This year’s guys will have to win out to finish ahead of the 85.5 clip.
  4. In John Reid’s article on Gunn clinching league on a home Wednesday against Los Altos three ideas stuck with me. First, that coach Brandynn Williams, himself a 1999 Paly grad and Diepenbrock acolyte said it was the first championship since 1981, somehow forgetting that skein was broken by Chris Redfield’s lads. Two, that Gunn star Alex Gil-Fernandez (who a year ago I had dubbed “Al Palo Alto” like “El Palo Alto”, the tree) said he wanted to go up against St. Francis and Serra in the “Open Division” top 8, that he showed no fear. And three it was noted that Gunn clinched in a nearly empty gym. This post was precipitated as both a discussion of the game and the coverage of the game, the meta-issue. meaning that if it wins out it is arguably only number #25 after the 8 teams in Open and 12 teams, including Paly and Wilcox, in Division I. Gunn plays next Saturday against likely either Westmont or Leigh.brandynnwilliamsgunnhoopscoach2015
  5. Mitch Stephens in the Chron, on 2/23, points out that 81 boys teams made CCS; I counted 84, and there are 110 total teams, according to MaxPreps rankings. Willow Glen at 6-18 made CCS on the strength of going 5-5 in non-league play, if strength is the word for that.
  6. The Gunn Oracle, student newspaper and wordpress blog has scant coverage of the team, continuing a pattern of cluelessness I had seen in a few previous checks. (They had an article about the best guacamole to serve at a Super Bowl party but no coverage of Varsity football; previously the only coveage was about Sarah Zhang crashing the boys club as a 135-lb placekicker; Gunn finished 0-10 and ranked in the bottom five in the entire U.S. according to MaxPreps, #14558 of 14,563 or so — a story in itself) I noticed in a winter sports round up two fairly weak stories, with parallel construction. First, Tim Sun (himself, incidentally, a member of the basketball team) said that the 1-10 soccer team was having a “tough” season. Then, TK, writing about the hoops standouts, said that they were having a “strong” season. A more clever and more literate headliner might have ran the whole thing with a Hemingwayesque reference: The Quick and The Dead*.
  7. My understanding is that Gunn has a bye until Saturday, Feb. 27 where they will play, as a #2 seed in the Divison I playoff, the winner of the Tk-TK game. (TK is the top seed in that round — i.e. they were rated roughly #10 in the CCS or with a CCS win would finish roughly ninth; for comparison sake, the 25-3 Titans of 1980-1981, i.e. my team, were ranked #1 in a unified CCS for much of the season, and #2 in the state divison II, but lost by two to St. Ignatius in the CCS final; years later, the Perricone/Brennan guys lost to Mitty in the Division I final — Gunn has never won a CCS hoops title, not even since the watered down six-layered format. I would say they have a fighting chance, if they are “the tough (and), the strong”.
  8. For various reasons, beyond “the Quick and the Dead” I am wanting to re-read “The Old Man and The Sea” for the central image of trying to hang on to something  and not let the sharks chomp away at you.
  9. * I’m leaving my mistake. It’s a biblical reference and then a pop-pseudo-literary, the latter of which is what I was reaching for. “Quick” in this archaic use means living rather than fast, and dead is dead. It original in First Peter (?) meant that God or Jesus will judge everyone on their deeds, the living and the dead. No Hemingway, but books by Louis L’Amour and Ellery Queen. The wiki article notes it comes up in stories about gunfighters (there’s also something about Grand Prix racers) Also, Stacy Keach narrated a film called “The Quick and The Dead” and played Hemingway in a mini-series if that explains my conflation of those concepts. (A previous version of this was headlined “The strong, the tough (the pseudo erudite)” — too much humblebrag)

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
1 Peter 4:3–5

My personal opinion is to worry about the idolatries….
8. Alex Dersh of Gunn High The Oracle:
The boys are off to a strong season, winning their first two tournaments and proving its mettle with a victory over rival Palo Alto.
Tim Sun, same source:
After losing their six top goal scorers, boys’ soccer struggled through a tough season. Many athletes went down with injuries as the season progressed and at one point the boys played without their entire starting defensive back line. (According to the MaxPreps site, Gunn finished 1-13-2 and 1-5-2 in league; the previous year, with Guy Kasznik and others, it went to CCS playoffs)
9. Alex Maltz, son of my classmates Matt Maltz and Jamie Sparaco, won league wrestling title at 285 pounds. Kudos! He was named Palo Alto Weekly athlete of the week.
10. As in the nature of the internet (and nothing to do with me), I fell down a rabbit hole and found myself reading a gratuitous set of confessions and plaintiff wails, and then had to stop myself from inspecting a recent grad’s social media posts. I worry that beyond there being no interest in sports writing per se that the advisor of the Oracle is afraid to critique the student work at all. Strikes me as lazy and indulgent rather than contemporary and multi-genre. The Palo Alto High journalism department seems to have maintained its historic high standards. (And they were the ones who launched the David Star Jordan discussion, or their Michael Wang did, in 2013).
11. I cannot recall if I got this from a comedian or a news source, but people are saying that now the word “literally” means both “literally” in the form of a strict use and its opposite “figuratively”, and there is no synonym for the first and historical use, and some believe this is the beginning of the end for sentient apes and its our symbols.
12. Although I was taught, at Dartmouth in the 1980s, that language is evolving and the best dictionaries are descriptive and not prescriptive, they catch what is and not what should be or was, I am sticking with my Webster’s Ninth and claiming that man’s use of the tongue peaked in 1985 and is now in a stage of de-evolution (devo). Also, I cannot recall the exact details but somewhere shortly after Webster’s Tenth came out I wrote the dictionary’s editors having found an error or incompleteness, something that was missing in terms of a cross-reference, having to do with Pinyin versus the other format of how Westerners hear Chinese (“Beijing” versus “Peking”) and they wrote me back to say that I was the first person to notice the mistake, but it had already been corrected for the new edition).
13. I ran into Tommy Jordan today and recommended to him David Shields “Reality Hunger” which came up because I want to read Tom’s music community memoir, and Tom admitted he’d have a hard time sticking to the truth. Shields talks of truth in every good fiction and the inevitable lie or at least composition in the act straight telling and retrieving memories.
14. I read Don Delillo “White Noise” which I keep thinking of as “airborne toxic event”; I had to fight to finish it, staying strong and tough. Makes me want to read William Shirer, the nightmare years. Or as Jayne Ann Phillips of the Times said, or either the book or basketball: The he-man against the elements, the outlaw, the superhero exist only as myths in the modern world; we are nature’s elements, a technologically oriented people nonetheless caught in the sieve of history. And please do not confuse or conflate “White Noise” with “The White Shadow”.
15. Thinking about but not writing about Harry Hillman who boycotted the 1936 Olympics and turned down the chance to be assistant coach to Lawson Robertson, and Cromwell of USC took the job instead, and shafted Marty Glickman and Stoller, so Jessie Owens got 4 not 3 medals, and there is a new movie “Race” about such, or a version of such. There’s a guy at Berkeley who wrote a book on this general topic, was referenced in a documentary that was broadcast in the wake of the Hollywood pic, “The Nazi Games” David Lodge Cary or something.(David Clay Large)
16. I guess this is a safe place to literally bury Victor Frost but I made myself more than chuckle trying to write a joke about how at his bedside were found two books, one by Schrodinger and one by not Thoreau and a note that was addressed to the Palo Alto City attorney suggesting that if she is reading this, he likely one last time violated the “sit-lie” ban.
17. According to Brian Swimme, the universe is a story more than or as much as a place, and according to Doppler, it is expanding and ever-changing. Mix that with Heisenberg Uncertainty principle and Sapir-Whorf and saying something is true is close enough to being true.


He had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky.. 

17.5 if a general theme here, besides being a hot rambling mess, is change then I will briefly update to reference a series of thoughts I wrote and or had deleted from other sites about money from Abu Dhabi pouring in to Silicon Valley real estate, specifically at a large apartment complex near the Palo Alto – East Palo Alto and how in the future that compound, the former Whiskey Gulch now Four Seasons and office park, Downtown and maybe Sand Hill Road could declare their independence and then unification for something called Middle East Palo Alto. Or Middle Earth Palo Alto. Abu Dhabi is the second city, after Dubai, in United Arab Emirates. Its sovereign fund meaninng royal family is said to be investing here, and have to file, it seems, some type of SEC filings, once can suss out.  I gather they are investing in soccer more than hoops.
18. Oh Lord, my God, I pray that these things never end, nonetheless. I distinctly remember Hal Riney the ad guru stating at a forum that pretty soon nostalgia is going to bite us on the butt. Which is something like Wallace Stegner line that writers of short stories are spending their principle and not their dividends. Principled stance, that.


this took my entire morning,  minus a few minutes catching up with Tom Jordan, who snuck a shot (camera, err, phone) of yours truly:


Mark Weiss by Tom Jordan, winter, 2016

and1: John McPhee on Bill Bradley:

When you have played basketball for a while, you don’t need to look at the basket when you are in close like this,” he said, throwing it over his shoulder again and right through the hoop. “You develop a sense of where you are.” Go, Titans!

andand: John Reid of the Merc, a former Awalt player and coach, has a nice feature on Gunn’s Alex Gil-Fernandez, as a preview to Saturday’s game, against Leigh. Coach Brandynn unconsciously (we presume) picks up on my theme: What separates the guys who are really great is heart and toughness. Alex is one of the toughest guys with a huge heart. Then, when you add his skill set and athleticism, that makes him special. Curiously, Reid’s lead mentions that a favorite book of Gil is “A Rainbow of Gangs,” by UC Irvine social ecologist James Diego Vigil. I would have liked to see how this claim connects to the other claims in the story, or is it just a coded way to emphasize the Gils’ ethnicity? The headline says that Alex is “among the best ever at Gunn” but the article does not compare him or mention Kent Lockhart or Peter Jordan. It also misses my point here, the potential for a SI rematch; Reid mentions the 1981 defeat but does not notice that SI is in the same draw, as the top seed to Gunn’s second. “The Second Seed is the Word of God”.Quiza, quiza, quiza.

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