The Weekly baited me into telling them how I really feel. Surprise, surprise. I almost never do this: I would say this is the cultural equivalent of government surplus cheese. It’s nice that the police got paid some overtime, however, if the musicians did not. By the way, First Amendment permits all Palo Altans to gather, sing, play, make music or noise up to a certain decibel limit, every day, all day, with few exceptions. Other than using an amplifier during business hours, which might distract the guys managing billion dollar hedge funds nearby, that is, at Lytton Plaza. By the way, whatever happened to our summer music in the parks serie? We have such nice parks, we should make better use of them. I would book some reggae and samba bands, with decent sound systems, into Heritage Park, Cogswell Plaza and Johnson Park playing all day and into the night (9-ish) for two or three days, and that would be a World Music Fest. Oddly, as we walked back home, even after an enjoyable couple hours, we were relieved to escape the din — most of those people are not used to playing in the streets and had really crappy sound systems. Palo Alto Jazz Quintet at 456 University had my heart skipping a beat in anticipation that someone with a clue would unlock the gorgeous courtyard of the historic and beloved theatre but that is too hip for organizers. Even letting Umami put a couple tables out in the vacant sidewalk (where Waverly t-bones into Uni) would have been a nice little touch, but no, Alo the manager said the City nixed this idea. Rupa Marya, a Casti grad who leads a world music band, would gladly play this event if someone would raise even the tiniest honorarium – -she’s never played here. She was holding the date the first year of this event but organizers wanted to hold the line on only unpaid musicians, like in France.
I think there should be a class-action suit in which anyone who has signed up and played this event, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 or yesterday should be retroactively paid $75 per service for individuals and $150 per group, which is union minimum for musicians. Why should starving artists work for free to support the spoiled and overpaid and greedy downtown landlords? One of these days the citizens of Palo Alto, artists and otherwise, organized around a variety of overlapping agendas, will take back the streets quite spontaneously, and with better music and more dancing. Much more dancing. In terms of a suit, the City, Downtown Business Association, The Rec Foundation or even the organizer as an individual are likely enough, deep pocketed enough and culpable for such. Friends of Lytton Plaza not sure they actually exist but as individuals maybe you could tap them too. Or as my friend Corey Harris, the Genius Grant laureate, say: If you don’t keep your culture along come many vultures
That’s great that the Weekly photographer caught Dave Hydie at Lytton Plaza Sunday — he was not actually part of the official state-sponsored event but was merely holding his ground against the heathen incursion. He is the one I am alluding to who was banned from playing Lytton Plaza 9-to-6 weekdays so as not to bother the hedge fund manager in the loud-mouth developer’s building.