What I want and what I got

What looks to be a reader of the Palo Alto Weekly and potentially a supporter of fellow Palo Alto City Council candidate Lydia Kuo — he posts anonymously or under the name “another res” — directs a question to me about my intentions or my philosophy, aspiring to rise or evolve from mere activist and “engaged citizen” to leadership per se:

Mark Weiss,

“I don’t want anything from anybody, that has been a hallmark of my campaign”
(he is quoting from my post, under the article about Lydia — as is the nature of the internet the commentary digressed from the topic per se and took on its own life)

You must want something, or why enter an election, even if “all” you wanted was what is best for something, that’s still something. You seem to want to be heard at least.

What I meant by “I don’t want anything from anybody” or what I mean by that is that in 2012, and likely to continue, I ran for Council a) without accepting campaign contributions and b) literally not asking anyone for anything. I did not ask for endorsements; I did not ask to meet with mentor or people I admire for advice or inspiration. As an experiment I tried to go thru the entire campaign period, roughly four months, responding to queries and unsolicited advice, but not initiating, not asking. I had exactly one meeting with a known-community leader, because he called me and invited me over to talk about my campaign and offer suggestions.

I did meet with outgoing Mayor Yiaway Yeh once during campaign but did not talk about the election; we have three or four ongoing dialogues and projects to update; I even told him that I didn’t want to talk about the election.

When the campaign was over Yiaway texted me and congratulated me for the outcome — 4,300 votes, which I considered a success, and still do. And he noted that my tactics and philosophies were “awesome”. (I think, my virtue of being 15 years younger than me, he uses the word “awesome” more than I would; I call this “awesome-creep”).

In 2009 I had exactly four meetings: with Peter Drekmeier, Matt Gonzalez (the SF Supervisor, and mayoral candidate, by phone), Quentin Kopp (former SF supe, and state rep) and Sid Espinosa.

I am working on my policy on endorsements. It definitely registers when people I know and respect say they support my candidacy or they voted for me and will vote for me.

I’m not a horse-trader, although I realize “game-theory” and comprimise is a huge part of politics.

I guess I might have said “I don’t want anything from anybody else” but I substituted precision for a slang directness.

I waited until three weeks into the campaign season, and roughly six months after the earliest announcements, to see if there would arise a pack of people I respect, to continue the “residentialist push-back”, but I don’t see it. I am not impressed, overall, with the quality of candidates.

So, yeah, I want Palo Alto to continue to be a great place to live, for me this has been my community for about 40 years, on and off, but I am concerned about our future. I’m concerned about our country, our Democracy.

Perhaps there is something self-serving about wanting to be leadership per se, and a bit of ego, but I think my actions are reasonably altruistic and sincere.

As Hillel said:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

I found it fun to run in 2009 and 2012. Serious fun, but fun. I think I learned a lot. I found it challenging and enthralling. I will get something out of this, come what may. That’s a little selfish, but a defensible position.

Emma Goldman is the source of the idea that she wants to be a part of a revolution that she can dance to.

As I work in the music business, and have a blog mostly about arts and culture — the term “Plastic Alto” references the acrylic saxophone of jazz artist Ornette Coleman — I often sign off or “outro” a blog post with a song. This is “What I Got” by Brad Nowell of Sublime. (Never worked with him, but was once asked to host at Cubberley a benefit concert for his widow and child – which became moot and unnecessary when this song came out and the album sold millions, five-times platinum, five million units sold):

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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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