AOL/Patch.com May 2, 2011
Aaron nice meeting you.
I had to search-injun the facts to confirm my statement that the Palo Alto Times (Peninsula Times-Tribune), founded in 1894 and shuttered in 1993, employed at its peak more than 100 people (it actually employed 280 at the time of the closure, including the staff of its nine community weeklies). During a break from the severe winter of Hanover, New Hampshire, during my sophomore year, 1984, I was an editorial intern there, at the PTT. Because Dartmouth had no journalism program per se, I was named a public policy student fellow of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College to qualify for the six-week unpaid stint, covering mostly sports and local government (for example, when Santa Clara City Council bought Marriot’s Great America to prevent developer Caz Szlendak from building office towers on the amusement park site). At the completion of my term, I was hired for four more weeks, by Ward Winslow and Thad Spinola, at $100 per week. All told, I have probably 30 bylined stories in the Times Tribune morgue, wherever that may be.
Here is a link to the New York Times story I mentioned, by Miguel Helft.
They should “edit to add” to include Patch as the fourth member of the Fourth Estate here. Good luck (although to me, AOL still means “Archers of Loaf” the indie rock band I presented here in 1995 and 1998, at Cubberley Community center).
Regarding my blog, it recently passed the century mark in terms of having 100 or more posts. The term “Plastic Alto” is not a slur on my home town; it does not reference any perceived “shallowness” or “fakeness” here. It references modernity and polymer chemistry and Alexander Parkes and Dustin Hoffman’s career advice from Mr. McGuire in “The Graduate” (1967). In 1959, jazz musician Ornette Coleman embarked on what became a new thing, in jazz, employing unique sonic modalities and also but not incidentally a white acrylic (plastic) Grafton (alto) saxophone. I am writing about current events and cultural trends while trying to fit them into a fifty-year context that roughly coincides with the more commonly discussed era of the element silicon. I might have called this “The Post Sputnik” for its similar chronological framing.
But heretofore I have less than 100 readers per post and claim to use this device as a workbook wherein I take note of things (especially with my crappy cell phone camera) that I might actually work on or explore later. As I said, this morning, at Coupa Café, I still wonder how to balance this urge to write about things (especially music and art) with my duties and aptitude to help actual artists and musicians as manager or promoter. But it is also true (and I share this fact, and self-concept with my one-time employer, who said this in interviews if not to me directly, I cannot recall, Jeff Goodby the San Francisco advertising executive, of “Got milk?” fame) that all my professional careers have been shaped and informed by my initial journalism training. The primary purpose of “Plastic Alto” the blog is to draw clients to my management practice; I had previously felt that vis a vis my more successful music biz peers, I wrote good memo, but to no apparent advantage or gain.
So if you would like to link to me or somehow use my writings for the greater good of Patch.com (Palo Alto), you have my permission. I would say that heretofore there are only a subset of columns that are on local issues per se. One, on the Nathan Oliveira tribute, I showed you. The second would be a fantastical coverage I wrote about a recent set of public hearings involving a large telecommunications firm (I left unnamed) in which I focused on (and parodied?) what I felt was a sense of arrogance or corporate entitlement (that I felt would make Daniel Webster regret 1819). Third I offer for your inspection a proposal to name a public park here in honor of arguably our top high school basketball player, all time, (along with Palo Alto High’s Jim Loscutoff and Jeremy Lin), Kent Lockhart, of Gunn High, my former teammate.
I remember the day that Palo Alto Weekly founding editor Tim Clark came to my Gunn Oracle journalism class, in 1979, seeking stringers his start-up. (although I was already working for a higher per-story rate than what he was offering for something called The Peninsula Ad-visor, based in San Mateo). As I stated, I track journalism here closely and find fault in the journalism spectrum of all three of your local competitors in terms of their emphasis and bias towards a particular special interest. Although I feel that, as a Luddite, the value of semiconductors and computer proliferation is over-stated, over-hyped (and its detriments severly under-reported, in the Sonoma State Journalism project sense), I would support your endeavor as a journalistic check check check on the other three.
So let me know what else you might need if you are serious about using me and “Plastic Alto” thus (unpaid, so that I might or we each might grow our audiences, at will, for now). For a while now, among at least 100 or more contemplated if not actualized local initiatives I have imagined or articulated, I have wondered about starting my own publication (i.e., on fibers, not merely electronic). “Plastic Alto” was one possible title. I also thought of “PATurbed” (a play on the name of our former Mayor Pat Burt). If it is not too confusing, or too likely to incur the wrath or your parent company, now I also like “PA(tch)” which references “Palo Alto” and, if not Ornette Coleman then Danish-Congolese jazz musician John Tchicai, (and also, secondarily, the rock band !!! which is pronounced “chick chick chick” or “ckk ckk ckk” if not “tch tch tch” then pretty fckkn close!!!). But for now, I think “Plastic Alto” linked to Patch is a bona fide synergy. I think therefore I am (linked?).
“Plastic Alto” blog
Mark Weiss has written for The Peninsula Times Tribune, The Worcester Telegram and The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. Mark’s concert company Earthwise Productions has presented more than 200 concerts here, besides his running of an artist management practice. Mark ran for Palo Alto City Council in 2009, and is a graduate of Gunn High School and Dartmouth College. He promises to have AOL — Archers of Loaf, that is —
re-form and perform for his campaign if he runs for Council again:
PO Box 60786
Palo Alto, CA 94306