Bird omens auger well for The Varsity Theatre 456

still capture of pigeons from Jim Jarmusch "Ghost Dog" (1999)

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“).

snipe campaign handbill or broadside for The Last Picture Waltz initiative

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 :).

I was the source in stories by Gennady Sheyner and Diana Samuels.

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.)

– – – – – – – – – – –  – –

*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.

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, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
This entry was posted in art, austistic, film, jazz, Plato's Republic and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Bird omens auger well for The Varsity Theatre 456

  1. Mark Weiss says:

    bill workman on 1995: it’s weird that it was slugged “keenan-teen-center”???

  2. mark weiss says:

    more auspicious news: nate chinen coverage of jeff bridges music but mention of his role in The Last Picture Show movie:

  3. markweiss says:

    due to a construct in my mind I also think of John McCrea of Cake and “Mr. Mastodon”:

  4. markweiss86 says:

    I posted on Palo Alto Weekly on response to related issue, “Development Center Staff could grow” by G. Sheyner:

    I have a completely opposite take on this. Rather than expanding the development center I recommend shrinking it or disbanding it entirely. Although it is cash-flow positive, and on paper the city shows revenues of, they say $8 million, what it really is is the taxpayers subsidizing a special interest in the form of the commercial real estate developers. Those guys make profits in the tens of millions or hundreds of millions versus the one or two million positive cash flow attributed to our budget. The changes suggested, indeed the formation of the center, is geared to serve the industry not the citizens. The greed of the industry is dissatisfied and wants more more more.

    What percentage of staff time there is spent on commercial projects versus home projects?
    What percentage of that income?

    The term “Palo Alto Process” as a pejorative is propaganda put out by these same special interests, the real estate interests, to lambast the very idea of governance and is a smokescreen.

    Meanwhile anything of value to residents is given lip-service and back-burner treatment compared to the commercial real estate cartel. It is most distinct in the way the Big Three are treated — preferentially — and how they seem to control council and direct staff. Also, I’ve heard that there seems to be a suspicious imbalance in the way that bonuses are awarded — to build beyond code — in that when certain people apply they are more likely to be applied than when others are.

    The general issues of whether we have lost control of our governance and staff due to the phenomenon of the Big Three Developers is never actually covered by the local press. Hardly, they are organs for their views. Even though the Palo Alto Weekly is in business with a big developer, at 450 Cambridge, it would still be in their best interests to cover this issue, rather than risk being dismissed as like the other two rags.

    Or prove me wrong here. (And I think the matter of The Varsity is perfect case in point — and I watched their proposal being given the silver platter treatment last week at The Development Center, as citizens did indeed wait their turn. Apparently you can make an appointment to not wait, or some people can).

  5. Pingback: Mark Weiss blog posts re The Varsity Theatre | Plastic Alto with Mark Weiss

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