John Vanderslice live in Palo Alto

    • John Vanderslice live in Palo Alto: or, life among Palo Alto’s hipster spooks
    • Today at 3:06 PM

To
    • jv@tinytelephone.com

 

  • earwopa@yahoo.com

 

In olden days, Palo Alto rocked, outside, at the inside, or thru the silmariion looking glass

In olden days, Palo Alto rocked, outside, at the inside, or thru the silmariion looking glass

Hey, John.
I saw a flyer advertising a John Vanderslice show in Palo Alto, for Thursday June, 19, 2014 as in this Thursday. I saw the flyer on the window at what used to be sort of a venue. For years Mark Dickow the founder and owner of first Zebra and then Jungle Copy would occasionally push back a bunch of expensive equipment, for printing and copying, and then let a variety of local bands play free all ages shows in his space, on High Street, near what years ago was a venue, now long-gone, way before my time — and I am sort of a historian of the Palo Alto music scene — I had a quasi-residency at the Palo Alto History Archives, researching based on their files mostly, what became a 20,000 word treatise on Jazz History, there was a site on High Street where for example Vince Guaraldi (“Linus and Lucy”) had a residency, Outside at the Inside or something like that – I can link to it later, for veracity’s sake. So when I say a flyer it is probably the only flyer,

Pay no attention to the man behind the glass, unless you speak Elfish

Pay no attention to the man behind the glass, unless you speak Elfish

at what is now Palantir’s special lunch annex — I think, like a lot of their things, like their whole thing they have a pseudo-Tolkien vibe going on. Maybe they call it the Hobbitron or something. I booked a band called the Butchies into there once, out of respect, for free although I paid them a guarantee. As a promotion for Earthwise Productions my concert company. I was trying to think if they have a Tiny Telephone or JV connection, without looking it up, what I call consulting the search-injuns. There is some North Carolina connection to the now gone Butchies —maybe distro by Red Eye or more than that, on their label, whereas what I was thinking, for lack of an actual connection to you, I think I have not Six Degrees (which was a pretty good local label, world music, or trance, and or still is, is or was in Dog Patch) of Separation but 2. My Vanderslice number is 2. I think of John Vanderslice or Tiny Telephone as doing a lot of work for Merge Records, and I did a fair amount of work with Merge Records (well, not compared to you). Merge being from Carrboro — used to above Carrboro Mill but I think, — not having been down there in some years — I was last there I think it was 2002 or 2003 a blues band I was managing had a jones for Jimbo Mathus ex-of the Squirrel Nut Zippers (which is actually a Mammoth Band, dang — I hope I ate screwing the pooch here) and we all flew down to Efland North Carolina it was actually a property owned by the family of Jimbo’s then wife Katharine Whalen. To record. Ok, so Archers of Loaf, actually from there but not really Merge and I don’t think TT either, ok Superchunk, superchunkmbwSpoon Imperial Teen bands like that I sometimes lassoed into playing a former high school auditorium called Cubberley Community Center for shows, mostly in the 1990s, or 1994-2001 more specifically, like an average of 2 a month for six years maybe 150 total. And I do have an old bands rolodex ok I’m lying its more like a peechee folder flatter than a rolodex that lists an old John Vanderslice number that may still be current — I do recall scouting or reading about MK Ultra and maybe discussing my series with him or you or them and I would guess Tiny Telephone bands had played shows at Cubberley or other places, that’s why I am claiming a Vanderslice 2 number. Maybe a 3.There’s about five or six places downtown Palo Alto that I had put on little shows at over the years that are now gone, really gone and most likely converted from some sort of public amenity or public house like a bar or a club into office space, most office high tech but also real estate. Office space here can bring about three or four times what normal people and especially the arts or culture could pay in rent. There’s also a historic and beloved Theatre, the Varsity or New Varsity here that most people think of for movies but in actuality had seveal lives and connections to live music, like Social Distortion once played there, and Bill Evans jazz played there and virtually all the Windham Hill jazz acts and guitar weirdos like Michael Hedges, Stanley Jordan, Alex Degrassi all played there, in the courtyard like it was their home base. The Varsity is dark on the first floor and the courtyard chained up although if you are a tech investor, like Peter Thiel or something, you might be pleased to know that Samsung (the Korean I think big tech and electronics company) has what their landlord is proudly called “creative office space” they call it an Incubator or Accelearator and enter thru the rear, from a parking lot around back, near where teenagers and punks would spray paint grafiitti — and this is well before David Choe or Dabs and Milo — and smoke pot, even Michael Hedges and Hershel Yatovitz, from a local band signed briefly to Geffen Black Lab and fka Durham “Wash it Away” would smoke pot together after gigging or busking all day at,for Hedges, the Varsity and for H-man (or HY, to your JV) at Gaylords an ice cream parlor. Hershel is now, for about 15 holding down sideman gig with Chris Isaak, but I digress. A lot of people hoped and still hold out hope that the Varsity would come back, as a music venue – -it might fit about 600 and be like a Yoshi’s or Freight and Salvage or City Winery or The Independent or even that new non profit rock place set to open at The University Theatre in Berkeley. There’s actually no live music in Palo Alto these days, except of course what I take to be a private function for Palantir who think they own this place and not just the real esate — and ironically enough as I walked past the lone John Vanderslice flyer andn turned the corner to the main Palantir hobbit hatch or what not — it has a Philz which is open to the public and has wireless although I am certainly assuming they are scanning my email even as I write it and assessing my value to the new big day coming (not a Yo La Tengo reference clearly) republic — zilch, like in Jack London’s “Iron Heel” — I poke my head in literally to a food truck that was not actually selling food but cutting heads — onsite hair cuts dot come or something — and this indie chick with tats and all was indeed cutting some guys hair and another pseudo-hipster flipping thru either Juxtapoze or a manga version of Ayn Rand anthem — and she says “Do you have an appointment? Are you from Palantir?” and I go “No, I’m from PALO ALTO” and beat (not, or maybe is, a Keroac reference to the extent that the early poets and them did feel slightly, as I do in this very moment, beat down and marginalized) my retreat, to write this — well, its shaped like a letter or email message and in fact is on a screen of my new spiffy device my GF bought me, for my yikes 50th — I had for years prided myself as the last Palo Altan without a computer I would check email at the public library, about four blocks from here, even for the first 500 or so posts of my wordpress blog, now up to about 700 — funny thing as I am

i saw the best minds of my generation captured by orcs

i saw the best minds of my generation captured by orcs

tying this all together my one mole inside Palantir actually sits down next to me, young dude plays bass some times in the plaza — the one that otherwise bans, counter to the First Amendment, amplifiers — long story — and reintroduces himself or each other and I tell him I recall him as loving crossword puzzles – he had hipped me something I was curious about about the graffiti artist they had hired to do the interior — I almost or maybe did once write that up under a headline “Palo Alto’s hipster Spooks” on account of all their defense work. It still bemuses me, all this change, or is indeed mk-ultra? And not a change per se just a deeper penetration, so to spook. That’s funny cause I also live very near where the Acid Tests took place, Perry Lane it was called although I never heard about it until much later.I was wondering if indeed it was a private function strictly or might they open the doors to the public or let you have a guest list. (not that I have done anything to earn such a sorting, other than having chutzpah to ask about it, or having booked some mostly unrelated bands, a whiles back). I am wondering, partly as a Situationist mocking part out of respect of standing on the sidewalk outside the former Zebra Copy and trying to at least watch the JV show — like the scene in Round Midnight and I actually do do this sometime — you can sometime hear a show clear out to the street, depending on what type of glass is used in the club design, or how much class, or even how hot the evening is and what doors and windows are open. I distinctly remember having heard about Cake but before having seen them they had a sold out co-bill with Dick Dale (they shared an agent) and standing on 11th street getting a sense of who they must be. Also, I tend to figure if you go to even a sold out show, assuming you don’t have to inconvenience yourself too much to get there — and I live or my lady does only a few blocks from downtown Palo Alto — sometimes something does happen and you actually get in. I snuck into a Mary Chapin Carpenter show at Slims in 1992 because the power went out, the whole block and in the chaos I faked the doorman into thinking I had a handstamp. This was well before we all carried GPS and there was facial recognition and all that.

2.
edit to add or Part 2:This is perhaps an odd juxtaposition but as I re-read a note I actually did sent just now to John Vanderslice I was thinking also of something I wrote five years ago about the first Palo Alto World Music Day, in 2009, when I told the organizer and the then-Mayor of Palo Alto that in terms of artist relations they were being a little heavy handed, and that to not pay the musicians and then ask them to give the Police a copy of their drivers’ licenses and correspond thru Deanna Whoever the Compliance Officer was a mistake — and indeed some people, even with the new rules, dropped out. I said “Are you putting on a concert or running a dragnet?”I was connecting that thought — it is both paranoid and not just Orwellian but Philip K. Dick-like — that someone might pretend to put on a concert but was only trying to lure in likely suspects, those with guitars and ideas — like Scanners Darkly or something — to what I came to connecting my Mary Chapin Carpenter story to something about Palantir, what they actually do, as if we knew. I was implying that even if I snuck into the John Vanderslice show here Thursday night they could probably tell, by reading my cellphone or it’s GPS or who knows what, or by facial recognition software, exactly who I was and who I was not.John Vanderslice, for any of his fans who might see this, someday or this week or so, is playing a house concert in SF, a KC Turner production and also some kind of festival in Davis. Believe me it has occurred to me that maybe time is to move to Davis and give up Palo Alto. I also said something like, somewhere else, do you think the Ohlone tried to file an appeal with the Spanish or The Church, in 1769?Keep on rocking in the free world

To
  • Palo Alto World Music Day
  • Peter Drekmeier (then mayor of Palo Alto)
I’m a little afraid that this is still a little heavy-handed and not in the spirit of the event. Remedy: can we get something on the books about Palo Alto offering “busking licenses” to street musicians? Ie can we write a new law? Not in time for this event, but maybe to encourage street musicians in the future?Here’s a good article on Wiki about “busking”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busking I’m totally serious. To me this is about the First Amendment. We have the right to Free Speech. We have the right to Assembly. Personally, I believe the Arts — music, visual arts, literature — are essential to Democracy.
This still looks more like a Dragnet than an Arts event.
Can we just give Claude the names of people who want to sell their cds and therefore be protected from the Enforcement of the Peddlers Laws? These people are doing Palo Alto a favor, an in kind donation of their time and their craft, and we are treating them like potential criminals…If you are paying a musician $500 or more and need to inform the IRS then you get get their Social Security number — this is pretty close to contempt or harrassment. I feel pretty strongly about privacy rights, as well.Mark Weiss—
On Thu, 5/28/09, Palo Alto World Music Day <info@pamusicday.org> wrote:> From: Palo Alto World Music Day <info@pamusicday.org>
> Subject: Good News on Selling CDs at Palo Alto World Music Day!
> To: info@pamusicday.org
> Date: Thursday, May 28, 2009, 1:38 PM
> Dear Musician,
>
>
>
> Several of you have expressed an interest in selling CDs at
> Palo Alto
> World Music Day on June 21st.  I am very happy to report
> that,
> following discussions I had with the Palo Alto Police
> Department, they
> have agreed to waive the application fee ($133) and also
> simplify the
> application process for those of you who want to sell CDs,
> or other
> merchandise related to your musical group, specifically at
> Palo Alto
> World Music Day.
>
>
>
> If you are interested, here is what you need to do:
>
>
>
> 1.    Print and fill the attached one page application
> form
>
> 2.    Make a legible photocopy of your driver license
>
> 3.    E-mail a scan of these two pages (if you have a
> scanner), or fax
> them, or mail them, or drop them in person.  Please make
> sure you
> indicate that your application is related to Palo Alto
> World Music
> Day.
>
>
>
> Here is the contact information for sending your
> application:
>
>
>
> Deanna Eclavea
>
> Code Enforcement Officer
>
> Palo Alto Police Department
>
> 275 Forest Avenue
>
> Palo Alto, CA 94301
>
> Direct: (650) 329-2147
>
> Fax: (650) 326-8819
>
> Email: deanna.eclavea@cityofpaloalto.org
>
>
>
> Deanna will then issue you a “Solicitation Permit”.
>
>
>
>
>
> Best regards,
>
>
>
> Claude Ezran
>
> Palo Alto World Music Day
>
> http://www.pamusicday.org
>3.and briefly gained some national media attention for the single “Bill Gates Must Die” after concocting a hoax in which Microsoft supposedly threatened legal action over the song; Vanderslice then however had trouble manufacturing the CD because the artwork resembled that of a Windows installation disc, and at least one manufacturer was wary of legal action.[8] During the controversy, he was interviewed bySpinWired, and the San Francisco Chronicle.[8]Negativland, Call Your AgentThe last time we heard from John Vanderslice, he was trying to hoodwink a lot of people into thinking his song “Bill Gates Must Die” had genuinely angered the legal folks at Microsoft. Last week, however, Vanderslice’s Microsoft fixation ran him into a genuine roadblock. He wanted to press a few promotional copies of his first post-MK Ultra effort, Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, which includes the Gates track, and enlisted the services of Los Altos-based CD manufacturer Media Technology Services to do it. MTS, however, declined the job. According to Parvis Ghajar, sales associate at the company, the decision wasn’t a matter of censorship of the song, or even the song at all. The problem was the cover art Vanderslice submitted, which spoofs Microsoft logos and imagery. “By looking at [the CD], it implied that it was by Microsoft, and we didn’t want to have Microsoft come after this,” says Ghajar. A sympathetic Vanderslice has taken his business elsewhere; those curious about what the fuss is all about can find “Bill Gates Must Die” on Fortune Records‘ new local music compilation Fortune Cookies.(I am pretty darn certain that if I dig thru the boxes at my storage locker, under M for MK-Ultra I will have a bio and maybe a cover letter from John Vanderslice about playing the first round of Earthwise’s Palo Alto Soundcheck at Cubberley. I have a funny sinking feeling that if there was a cassette, it got dumped in my recent cultural cleansing exercise. Likewise I fret that I probably sold for less than 10 cents to Rasputin my copy of the Fortune Records compilation that had “Bill Gates Must Die”. Some lucky crate digger will find it, do noubt!)

Join me free Palo Altans, noses stuck to Windows, on High, to feel, see, hear or be John Vanderslice, live in Palo Alto:

4.

edit to add: I did attend the John Vanderslice show, a private function at a high tech start up, that I believe to be a type of defense contractor. John had read the note I had posted above, and was charmed enough or felt guilty about my pathetic state and arranged with the Event Ops person that I might be admitted as his guest, Terry too. The security people gave me quite the third degree, including asking if I was a U.S. citizen, before giving me a guest badge that they claimed would only let me in if that contact person walked me past the security at the venue. Not sure what to make of the whole thing. I respect Vanderslice’s work enough that I did submit to all that. Terry spent most of the show searching on her I-Phone info on our host, the start-up, including that their CEO is profiled in Forbes, and on Charlie Rose. I hope to write more later on JV’s music per se. He said he is building a new studio in Oakland. He acknowledged the quandary about playing a private function versus a nightclub gig. I also have a stack of his music to woodshed with. The event did include: two small bags of cheese chips, one small cup of ice cream, a ginger ale, a bag of sea salt chips, one bottle regional micro beer in bottle and a packet of little sticks covered in chocolate. Afterwards, John discussed the counterculture, 1964 to 2012, with an emphasis on San Francisco 1994. He sang “Look for America”, a cover, which seems appropriate even so many years later. We met a kid named Matt who was offered a job as a programmer, and also admitted to med school in New York. Good luck to Matt with his decision.

Dork that I am, or as Dar would say, as cool as I am, I absconded with the set list, John’s lyrics cheat-sheet for that Simon Garfunkel cover and the actual flyer, pictured above, that provoked all three thousand words here and my 2.5 hours as ONE OF THEM, “Palo Alto’s Hipster spooks”.

edit to add, August and everything after: Compare this project, the private lunch room for Palentir on High Street, that I lucked into one event there, with the proposal by SAP to take over the historic and beloved Varsity Theatre allegedly for a public use where you and I can eat there as much as we can stomach, for a fee, pay as you go, and their guys and gals pay in scrip or blood or whatnot, and it will have an interior stage, they call it capacity 100 (I was saying  600 for the whole place, as run, for example by Another Planet or Golden Voice). I am going to contact them and, as someone having produced 200 or more events here, offer to co-produce with them there. Meanwhile, I have an ongoing dialogue with the doorman or security chief of the Palantir HobbitHole, a thoughtful dude named B_.

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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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