Michael McFaul lecture for World Affairs Council in Atherton, Calif., September, 2014

McFaul is closer to getting Putin than I am to him in this photo. Getting meaning understanding.

McFaul is closer to getting Putin than I am to him in this photo. Getting meaning understanding.


Terry and I caught an excellent lecture by Michael McFaul, of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, for the World Affairs Council, at a private residence in Atherton, California, in September, 2014.

McFaul is a Rhodes Scholar and 1985 Stanford graduate, originally from Montana. There is a peculiar kindling effect in my mind apropos of Dr. McFaul in that I met him a couple times in 1982 and 1983, then with the successive press announcements (Rhodes, Hoover, Obama Security council, the ambassadorship) his name and story stuck with me. (I would estimate I keep little mental files and sometimes corresponding analogue or real-world files — clippings, ephemera, posters and notes — on at least 10,000 similar people, things, places and concepts; heck, the blog, 925 posts in, probably name-checks 1,000 or more).

McFaul is an impressive guy. The moderator said he liked but did not get to my question wondering about how being a music aficionado prepares the air for sorting thru the talk of demagogues, statesmen and shysters. (McFaul’s father is or was a music teacher and musician, clarinet? Actually today Beth Custer and I discussed trying to get her score of “My Grandfather” a Georgi

edit to add: regarding the Grateful Dead and professor ambassador McFaul, half of my ten previous postings about Michael have to do with our having attended a Dead Show, Greek Berkeley 1982. I sussed, while listening to the above pictured lecture that Julia Ioffe of Foreign Policy in a serious treatment of the man “The Undiplomat” unearthed that Michael says that freshman week of Stanford he met a guy with 100 Dead tapes and was fascinated by the abundance and enthusiasm not necessarily the music per se. Maybe we went over this in the car either to or fro, at the time; I cannot recall if I or he drove; probably me, especially if he hitch-hiked or walked to The Farm from Big Sky. He actually left almost immediately after the lecture and before the reception because he said it was his wife’s birthday celebration. I have some notes beyond the photo and the moldy fig recall.

When I called our mutual friend to tell her that I read or heard of McFaul being tapped by Obama, my friend said that her father had already given her the Head up.

For the record I saw about 10 Dead shows, and about half that many post-Jerry or related-events. I’m a pseudo-Dead-head. (Real Deadheads have seen 100 or more shows, and taped them). I’ve seen easily 1,000 other concerts; I’ve produced more than 200 shows, easily, rock, jazz and folk. Closer to 500? In 20 years; when I met Michael McFaul I never would have guessed that years later I’d be in the music biz. Or a politician.

BLUF: diplo talk for “bottom line up front”

Beth Custer and I hope to gift him a DVD of “My Grandmother” a Soviet-era banned film from Georgia (about bureaucracy) she wrote a new score for, and is playing New York coming up. We’d love to do a show for the Hoover scholars. Who knows, is there something in this cultural artifact that gives a McFaul some insight into the gestures of a Putin? Oblique strategy and long way home.

I hope to edita with more content of the actual lecture.

HOLY WILLIAM SAFIRE: I just search-injuned “michael mcfaul” and “bottom line up front” and it yields only seven (7) cites. Whoah! or Wah-hoo-wah.

and here as an outro is not Franklin’s Tower but trailer to “My Grandmother” in hopes of bringing world peace:

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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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