Plastic saxophone at Perry Lane

He had hi-fi speakers up on the roof of the house and suddenly out here in God’s great green mountain ozone erupts a manic spade blowing on a plastic saxophone, namely an Ornette Coleman record. It’s a slightly weird path here that the tree loggers take: nutty mobiles hanging from the low branches and a lot of wild paintings nailed up on the tree trunks. Then a huge tree with a hollow base, and inside it, glinting in the greeny dark, here is a tin horse with the tin bent so tht the grotesque little animal is keeled over, kneeling, in bad shape.

The terrain Kesey was most interested in, in fact, was inside the house. The house was made of logs, but it was more like a lodge than a cabin. The main room had big French doors, for a picture-window effect, and exposed beams and a big stone fireplace at one end. Kesey had all sorts of recording apparatus around, tape recorders, motion-picture cameras and projectors, and Sandy helped add still more, some fairly sophisticated relay systems and the like. Often the Perry Lane people would drive over — although no one had moved to La Honda so far. Ed MClanahan, Bob Stone, Vic Lowell, Chloe Scott, Jane Burton, Roy Seburn. Occasionally Kesey’s brother Chuck and his cousin Dale would come down from Oregon. They both resembled Kesey but were smaller. Chuck was a bright quiet man. Casual and down-home. Dale was powerfully built and more completely down-home than either. Kesey was trying to develop various forms of spontaneous expression. They would do something like…all lie on the floor and start rapping back and forth and Kesey puts a tape-recorder microphone up each sleeve and passes his hands through the air and over their heads, like a sorcerer making signs, and their voices cut in and out as the microphones sail over. Sometimes the results were pretty-  –well, freaking gibberish to normal human ears, and most likely. Or, to the receptive standard intellectual who has heard about the 1913 Armory Show and Erik Satie and Edgard Varese and John Cage it might sound…sort of avant-garde, you know. But in fact, like everything else here, it grows out of …the experience, with LSD.  The whole other world that LSD opened your mind to existed only in the moment itself – Now – and in any attempt to plan, compose, orchestrate, write a script, only locked you out of the moment, back in the world of conditioning and training where the brain was a reducing valve…

Furthur Tripping on the little black pebbles

Steve Cohen reading through his or the Tom Wolfe library and texting me updates and excerpts and PDFs of excerpts.

Joe Zirker was reading me in real time and when Terry and I would say him time to time he would make a point of saying he liked a post. Generally there are few subscribers and readers find the Plastic Alto version of things in pretty random ways.

There is a man I admire, old enough to be my father and in fact the father of another man I admire, one of my main sources during the period (now apparantly passed into history) when I would follow and try to comment on Palo Alto politics and policy, who said he thought the title Plastic Alto was insulting or too harsh. Either he didn’t know of the musical reference or didn’t think it was a good enough excuse.

The title of this post or maybe the working title is actually incorrect in that this chapter “The Rusky-Dusky Neon Dust” actually refers to the time after Ken Kesey left Perry Lane and moved to La Honda. I’m on page 60, of Tom Wolfe’s 1968 work of non-fiction or new journalism The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test, Farrar Straus and Giroux in New York, although parts of several chapters of this book appeared in the World Journal Tribune’s Sunday Magazine, New York that’s the name of the magazine New York, which is also where this book was published. I bought an early hard-cover or cloth edition for fairly price mark, probably at Bell’s Books, in Palo Alto, likely on my birthday, maybe in 2014 or 2015. There’s an ex libris with a name and another similar name written in pen; not sure whether to search-injun them or even mention it.

Terry suggested I write a blog post. Radio silence for quite a spell in recent times. Was debating whether to reference that fact or not.

Too solipsistic already. Not really writing about Palo Alto, Menlo Park, La Honda, Oak Creek, Perry Lane, Western San Mateo County, the central coast, the Pacific Coast, the 1960s or jazz. Mostly so far writing about myself and my blog, Plastic Alto. I penciled in three hours to my busy schedule. Then I am off to Munich or Leipzig or Bayern v. Leipzig via the magic of these boxes and buses. It’s almost thematic in that what gave me the idea of Plastic Alto as a pun on Palo Alto is the construction of the soccer fields at the corner of Page Mill and El Camino Real; they are or were – in fact they were rebuilt recently after about 10 years — made of synthetic turf. I was tripping more or less or at least noticing and trying hard to have a unique thought about the little black pebbles that give the turf its realistic play. They slow the ball down. When the ball lands, after a long kick, it shoots a bunch of the black rubber balls into the air. So the field by my own logic is plastic but it features rubber balls. I thought it was interesting to try to watch or imagine watching a soccer game not as 22 men and women running around kicking a ball and such but as the black rubber balls dancing along above or below the horizon and sea of green plastic. From there for whatever reason I thought it would be interesting to produce a jazz concert there,  on the new soccer field. Just for the parallax effect or change of pace of using the field in a unique way, to change the way people see or perceive the field. Something about Ornette Coleman and his semi-famous acrylic saxophone, a plastic alto, precipitated between or among my synapses and I briefly fantasized about raising the money to have the legendary musician play here. Several years after that — and come to think of it, maybe at the urging of the not-afore-mentioned son of a sage and source – -he’s actually a musician, whoever he was he let us change lanes, so to speak, he convinced me to drive on the write, I started a blog and took this name. And somewhere around there I did work in jazz, producing small concerts and managing some musicians and groups. So the idea of an extended rumination that bridges or stretches from current jazz musicians to local policy seemed to almost work. If you give it about 1,500 fits and starts and a half million words, maybe you start to recognize it. Some posts are maybe just a headline or a thought, say 20 words and probably a visual. This one is close to 1,200 words but so far no links or visuals. There is a 20,000 word essay on the history of jazz here, something about time travel in the title. Although it’s really more like 10,000 words if you actually edit it. Generally my philosophy on blogs versus publishing is that these are rough drafts. Rough on the reader, I admit. For me the writer, and maybe the other billion or so bloggers out there, it is meditative if not influential or productive per se. In previous lives I wrote more productively, for some newspapers or ad agencies. Or destructively if you think of it as trees killed for the cause or something. And I’m not sure if I formally swore off formal style, or just dove in skinny dip like into the stream of today’s stylists. But it caught my eye that there was an Ornette reference early on in The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test. Ornette did not actually as far as I can tell do a concert in La Honda or for Ken Kesey and his pals or the Merry Pranksters, only that Tom Wolfe is pretty confident that you could hear his music playing from a machine if you hang out near Kesey’s abode or did in those days –when “the new thing” was actually new. (There’s also even earlier a Shig Murao reference; it calls him a “panjandrum” which itself is an obscure literary reference (and maybe a better obscure reference for a Palo Alto policy/arts blog — certainly a better name than Svi-ambh-ba_PA, which was an Anish Kapoor reference that i used for another blog and political campaign.

There’s an ethnic slur in the excerpt which is troubling enough that I should comment upon. It’s used several times so far. It refers to the fact that Ornette Coleman’s fore bearers probably came to this country from a more recent sojourn in Africa. He is or was black or African-American and maybe at some points of his life was a Negro. This particular term to me connotes playing cards, one of the four suits, black. It reminds me — because it’s topical or because that’s the way my mind and not yours works — that when I started to read One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest somewhat recently I was put off by the racist references to the staff at the hospital. On the other hand, I have a fairly consistent pattern of recommending and defending the Mark Twain classic “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn despite the fact that Jim is actually called N-word Jim. Huck loved Jim, is my defense. My ancestors, by the way, also came from Africa, or so I was told, although somewhere along the way, from what I can put together, they wandered to the Middle East, then to Spain, then to Russia and Germany and then to the U.S. in the 1880s. People sometimes guess by looking at me that that’s part of my family history, or they like to lump me together with others who make this claim. Fewer people say “You do or do not look like me, but if we go back far enough in time, we all look alike, or if you look down on us from far enough in space we all look the same.” Nobody says that.

Jerry Q pointed out that I was using old data and there are now 7.1 Billion of us not 6 billion like I’ve been saying for many years. I have 7.1 Billion — that’s seven billions and 100 millions — of brothers and sisters and nephews and aunties and cousins now. Sometimes I think we are all one being and are just being taught for whatever reason to think of ourselves as individuals. (I think in the East they are more open to the thought; the individuation is a Western construct; and it’s a long way from Ornette’s Grafton but Edie Brickell has a line about maybe cereal box philosophy or a smile on a dog; I ain’t deep I’m barely well-read and I repeat myself but there are still a couple idea bouncing around, like them black pebbles on the green sea, and I mean to catch a few and line them up, for you, if you check back here. Seven point four rather. Up from 3.2 when I entered the picture.

check back to see the list below grow to 20 links: 1) link from “if you look down on us from far enough in space” to “blue marble” from 1972 on wikipedia which is also a Stewart Brand reference and he is also in the Wolfe book and the phrase or question “why don’t we see a photograph of the whole earth from space” he started asking and buttoning in 1966 and was also a prankster and maybe heard ornette’s plastic — so the concept is not to illustrate this per se but to but up 20 links and then as an addendum or footnote list them here;  2) David Remnick on Ornette’s funeral in the New Yorker, but you can only read the first bit unless you are a subscriber. I presume I already linked previously to the New York Times obituary; at “ornette coleman” first reference; 3) Robert Stone, the novelist and like Kesey but not Tom Wolfe a Wallace Stegner fellow, although Wolfe did spend time at Stanford researching I am Charlotte Simmons, I presume is here Bob Stone, not to be confused with bobbing pebbles of black rubber; I link to his 2015 obit in the Times by Bruce Weber although somewhere in there, just now and a couple times previous I was sussing Stone and “jerusalem syndrome” which is a theme in his book “Damascus Gate” and is a disorder or so we are told in which people visit that city and think they are getting special instructions from a divine being or the divine being. As compared to Palo Alto syndrome in which tens of thousands of young people move here and believe they will quickly become billionaires, (as distinct from a guy who turns 30 and thinks salvation for himself and the planet is hiring 500 rock and jazz musicians over six years. I was gonna add this above but the reference to the plastic instrument or saxophone or alto is about modernity, say from about 1959 onward roughly simultaneous with the more ubiquitous cultural reference “silicon” I am saying that we hear about “silicon” and its conducting or semi-conducting properties and all that follows from that but we also are influenced and moved and shaped by “plastic”. Not in all bad ways. Plasticity is modernity and moldability and ubiquity and adaptability not phony or inert; it is not a slur. 4) I am late for my ‘trane to Munich but I had to log back in to add this link to Blair Tindall because now she’s famous for the adaptation of her book about classical music lifestyles  “Mozart in The Jungle” but while she was at Stanford apparently getting a degree in journalism she also researched and wrote for the Palo Alto Weekly a long article in 2000 about Psychedelic Palo Alto, including Victor Lovell (and Winter Dellanbach of Struggle Mountain and now Buena Vista fame). If I read this before I didn’t think twice about the byline, Tindall. Not sure what adding Blair Tindall to the tags does but tag you’re it. And Victor Lovell is sometimes called “Lowell”. Oh, well.

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The Last Californian

more to come

essence by leasuzuki

Essence Goldman in yesterday’s Chron, photo by Lea Suzuki

adobe mountainview

Old Adobe Building, historic site, near corner of Alma and Castro, or Central and Moffeit, near Jackson and Stierlin as crow flies or my dogs walk; available for rental, which makes me want to book music by Adobe Abode or Voodoo Fix.

 

markblinkcolbert2016

Mark Hoppus of blink 182, on Colbert Show, to promote the cd “California” but in 1997 he emulated Gasper de Portola driving from San Diego to Palo Alto to play The Cubberley Sessions, on Earth Day.

 

indigenous mural 275 moffett near jackson mv

Mural with indigenous theme I noticed yesterday while walking from the Vietnamese sandwich shop on Bailey near Safeway back to Chevy Cruz parked near Dana Street Roasting, also was on cover 3 of the Post recently, I think

 

edwardcurtissanI

Edward Curtis print of a San Ildefonso woman, second floor of Stanford Hospital, courtesy of Bings.

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Jazz beats on KCSM

https://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Canto-Various-Artists/dp/B001PMRKDW

Just now jazz in this afternoon the dj back-announced two tracks I half-heard that she said have a loose Beat theme. One was Roy Glenn reading from a Philip Whalen poem, from an album, I soon suss, called “Jazz Canto Vol. 1”. The second is from a Kenny Dorham album recorded in 1961 at the SF Jazz Workshop called “Inta Something” a track “The San Francisco Beat” which you can also find as a bonus track on a more recent set called “Matador”.

I would listen again or read the Philip Whalen by way of Roy Glenn.

But I would quibble with or point out that it is a pun or trope and maybe a put-down when even contemperanous to the very brief “Beat scene” and recorded in SF they title a track the SF beat — they are referring to beat meaning rhythm or timing or melody of the pulse per se and not the “beat” sense of exhaustion or “beatitude”, I don’t think. Or, like wow man i am splitting hairs.

That plus the paper says that a smart lady named Michelle Kraus pulled papers but did not file for Palo Alto City Council, and I learned recently, and mentioned to her that I hope she injects some of her experience working with or for Allen Ginsberg into her campaign. Maybe I should, between now and local election day, do a “what would Ginsberg” do review on the local race. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by the developers. Moloch! Moloch! Moloch!

Back to the music, I found links to the two tracks I heard:

this

edit to add: there’s also Tom Parkinson, “A Casebook on the Beat” I’ve written about previously, and here I found his New York Times obit, 71, from 1992 and he’s also in the Berkeley poetry installation in the sidewalk near Freight and Salvage, Berkeley Rep; he’s the guy who was the target of a murder attempt from a right-wing-nut-job, around that time. And Steve Lacy, the Beat Suite, from the late 1990s — adding to the scene or extending it. And Shig Murao, who lived in Palo Alto and has a shrine of sorts at Bell’s Books. And I am carrying in my cellphone a citation of Lew Welch’s Palo Alto address on Fulton, if memory serves. I did a presentation of the history of jazz here, in Palo Alto and have threatened to do something on the even more obscure “Beat History of Palo Alto”.

I’m beat.

But

You don’t have to finish your work

But you can’t quit either.

2. A reviewer mentioned, in his Amazon piece, that the Jazz Cantos performers were affiliated with early Pacifica Jazz label –its on Red Cherry the reissue from 2009 or so; whereas the Dorham piece and set is on Pacifica Jazz label proper, unless that’s redundant.

3. On KCSM it’s Jayn Pettingil and the track is “Big High For Somebody”, the Roy Glenn Philip Whalen.

4. Poetry foundation write-up on Philip Whalen says he’s more zen than beat.

5. Blink-182 on Colbert last night — to come: it’s punk not beat, although vaguely nihilist the new song, on “California”

6. New York Times, Steven Korff, a former punk drummer, and his exemplary collection of japanese contemporary ceramics — bowls not sculpture “Up To His Neck In His Obsession” by Robin Pogrebin who is Yale 1987. And this is becoming a rain basin of arts ideas. There’s also a draft in here — plastic alto, itself an ornette reference — about George Packer and “be kind rewind” which is a reaction to “The Unwinding”.

7. weird dust-up on PAW about Cory Wohlbach right of center young Palo Alto council member and the redeeming true fact that he played trombone in the Gunn jazz group, I learn from my own voluminous files. A Mr. GJ, of Palo Alto, since 1961, trolled me then we somehow hooked up by phone and became pals. But I complaintiffed that I am the only one deleted and censored on PAW who posts under his own name. This:

Well, actually Mr. Johnson, Cory is an excellent musician, and in fact I saw him play, some years ago, with the illustrious Gunn jazz band. It’s a metaphor. “Woodshedding” in jazz parlance means “practice.” I stand by my comment.

My father passed away about a year ago, thanks for asking. His obituary appears in these pages.

I knew your twins sons, slightly, back in the day. I’ve been to your house. (Near Ross and Louis, right?) Normally I appreciate your sage opinions on these forums.

The vote was 8 to 1 with Cory Wohlbach the lone dissenter. I made a music-based simile, which relies on the fact that while at Gunn, Cory played in the trombone section. I was alluding to the sound of one voice in contrast to the other eight. Why is that controversial?

I am the only person in Palo Alto who posts under his own name and is consistently censored by the Weekly.

The Weekly should do some woodshedding!

How do you get to 450 Cambridge? Practic, Plactich, #@^iceplick

and and: heard from Gary Meyer founder of Landmark Films and should link to his wordpress essay on old theaters but instead will post a screen shot of my log-roll:

kudos to garywhich made me day

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That was me wearing Kent Lockhart’s 1981 Gunn basketball jersey on the treadmill at Palo Alto Y, in January, 2016, for about 15 minutes

weisslockharttotem2016

Mark Weiss, Gunn 1982, #13, wearing #25 i.e. Kent Lockhart, Gunn 1981, Utep 1985 and first team All Australia 1990, in 2016, photo by Steve Staiger, PAHA

Hans Delannoy, approaching 500 career wins, coaching boys and girls in Palo Alto and San Ramon / Danville / Dublin, called and asked me to research the exact number of those came in 1973, at Cubberley. I went to Steve Staiger’s office the next day and consulted the Totem, the school yearbook, with limited success. For yucks, or hermetic reasons, or as a profound tribute, I squeezed into Kent’s game-worn jersey, #25, which he had sent me in 2007, when we were organizing a tribute to Danny McCallister.

I explained to Steve who Kent was, for the sake of history.

(I think I once argued, here there or in the aether, that 3137 Greer, with the rock garden built by Kent Lockhart and Marlinda Fitzgerald, should be an historic site).

 

On the way back from Cubberley / PAHA Guy Miller Archives, I popped in at the Ross Road Y, still wearing the Lockhart jersey, and climbed on the stair-master, elliptical trainer. I was wondering if anyone would notice the jersey, remember Kent, and ask me what was I doing. (Meanwhile, or previously, this blog, Plastic Alto, had become the best source of info on Kent’s amazing career in basketball and art). This was January. After a few minutes, yet before breaking a sweat, I felt silly and moved on.

Just yesterday, as in eight months later, I saw Katie Foy, of the famous Foy family, and she asked me if I was the guy in the Lockhart jersey she saw that day. Katie was a cheerleader at Gunn and Cubberley, while I was at the end of the bench for varsity in 25-3.

So thereby proving Chaos Theory. Not that nobody noticed but it’s hard to tell.

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Is Buena Vista ‘gone with the wind’?

gone
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.)
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/07/01/why-we-should-keep-reading-gone-with-the-wind/
  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

jazzshows-mbw

 

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.

colleensocialmedia

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’”.

 

Notes:

  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:
    ledandbarack

    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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