The SAP Labs HANAhaus cafe and Blue Bottle coffee at 456 University, The Varsity, that Chop Keenan assured me, as Gennady notes, would “rock” opens next week, Tuesday March 17, 2015 and so we can give it until Labor Day to see whether he is right. If it sucks, I am saying condemn the building, and just as we are putting $8 M from public coffers into Buena Vista for affordable housing, we can do something similar to, as our Comp Plan stipulates, enact some of our human services policies and programs downtown, at 456.
Meanwhile Chop told me the other day things are going well over at Hamilton and High. He says its his biggest local build since the Wells Fargo Building Hamilton and Waverley. When the High Street thingy was announced, and it seemed, to normal people’s standards, to be under parked, I suggested via a local popular online forum that the tenant could be a clown college, because clowns are known for extreme carpooling.
Also: I mean to circulate under the organized resistance movement that there is a rumor that if and when permits are issued for Downtown North and Professorville neighborhoods (and I am forgetting the acronym, DPP?) city manager Jim Keene plans to privatize and outsource enforcement, and I am opposed to that.
edit to add, the big day: I noted that the door, from the parking lot, says Open Daily 7am-10pm and the door was unlocked, it being nearly 8 a.m. let myself in, snapped a quick photo of the grand hall and was chased out lock distance like by people doing their own photo shoot other side of room. I guess I am excited. Straightening my files the other day, I found about 50 extant TLPW456 flyers I made in 2011, I may hand out a few, today, for yucks. I hope this works: I’ve been fantasizing about inviting such-and-such act to come play here, but I am doubtful. And I’m even more doubtful about the repercussion: let Chop have it? Have what? But so far it does not look that different than it did with the pop up novelty shop.
And I wonder about the glass door and doorframe blocking one-eighth of the courtyard, or bridging the chain barrier — strange outcome. Does it even pass fire code? If you gather 300 people or whatever, and they need to exit in a hurry, they squeeze thru the doorway?
and1: if they have invited Eugene Robinson to the opening, to sing, I’ll kiss Chop’s shoe:
andand: ok, just for yucks, I am reprinting here one of my essays on “Save The Varsity” or “Save The Varsity Part 2” or TLPW The Last Picture Waltz 456:
I dubbed my initiative to affect the future of 456 University, The Varsity Theatre site, “The Last Picture Waltz”. I am referencing the Larry McMurtry book, “The Last Picture Show” and the Martin Scorsese concert film “The Last Waltz.” I’m suggesting not that the theatre should permanently go back to its intended purpose but only that the cultural community have the opportunity for a last kiss goodbye there, maybe 50 shows a year for the next 10 years.
Most of my efforts on this project involve contacting people in the music business to see if there is a qualified operator who wants to try to get the lease on the historic theatre. I am also trying to talk to council to see if there is anything that government could or should do to lend a hand, invisible or not. I did have a meeting with Tom Ferhrenbach*, Palo Alto’s economic development director, to try to sway him to this cause. Plus I mention this to every third person I meet, and have made business cards specific to this project, and some handbills (TLPW 456 they read, in “Palo Alto green” — the “Color of Palo Alto“).
Plus my writings, here, at “Plastic Alto” at Patch Palo Alto, and commenting where applicable on other sites. I was on Fox 2 morning news.
I am having fun with this. And I enjoy flipping through various media and texts for insight and inspiration. Not sure what the story of “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai” does for me here, but I wanted to print this still-capture of the pigeon-training sequence to link to my discussion of “bird omenology” on Patch.
In a previous post there, I suggested citizens address council on this topic during oral communications. (The Varsity, not birds :).
Obscure movies, acronyms, numerology — 4 5 6 is a reference to Chinese dominoes — I think there is still some method to my madness. Or as Brian Eno would say, as part of his famous “Oblique Strategies:” Be extravagant. I’ve got my mojo working, as Muddy would say. (Plus I laid a Teddy Ruxpin medal on Edgar Allen Poe’s grave in Baltimore, and a Satchmo coin in New Orleans, at Marie Laveau’s alter: I’m calling in some favors from 12 Galaxies, you could say.)
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*Here is the link to Fehrenbach’s preliminary report on the topic which one local paper paraphrased as saying the theatre proposal was a non-starter. In my meeting with him, he seemed to have changed his mind and vowed to look into this properly. I think the entire matter is a fascinating case study on the nature of power, property and community.
Somebody made this short film of Bob Pritchett singing and playing the blues harp, in the foyer of the Varsity Theatre. (In its heyday, that courtyard featured regular concerts by Tuck and Patti, Michael Hedges and more. See Randy Lutge’s archive of about 400 shows, there and in the main room). Pritchett was in the Gunn High School Hall of Fame, played college football and had a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys. He was my coach for Frosh-Soph basketball at Gunn in 1978-1979. You can maybe hear him here still lamenting getting edged out of the league championship that last game at Paly.
andandand031715: under the Merc’s AP Brandon Bailey version of this I go:
Better would have been to buy the venue and partner either Goldenvoice (the Warfield) or Live Nation (the Fillmore) to present nationally touring music acts here and let the would-be Zuckerbergs shmooze backstage while the rest of us pay retail and just gawk. Meanwhile Bob Pritchett my old coach is dead.