Nancy Shepherd declares “No Yawping Zone”!

Nancy Shepherd declares a "No Yawping Zone"

She said “Yoo Hoo”

Palo Alto City Council member Nancy Shepherd’s curious declaration Monday (actually, it was 1:05 Tuesday morning) that only people with millions of dollars should be allowed to speak out regarding the future of The Varsity Theatre caught me off guard, and woke me out of my stupor. At the end of a long seven-hour meeting, during announcements, she expressed her concern about the recent flurry of chirps, tweets, yawps and utterances by all the people like yours truly concerned about plans to turn the beloved downtown movie house and concert venue into office space. She seemed to direct City Manager Jim Keene to issue an edict asking for a cessation to all the letters, blog posts, speakers, pamphleting and the taking to the streets. She sounded more like Bashir or Mubarak than Daniel Webster.
“I’ve noticed that regarding the Varsity Theatre a number of community stakeholders and activists are urging government to intervene, to try to change the future of the Varsity Theatre, and this concerns me. I don’t think we are allowed to” I heard her say (about four times, thanks to the DVR function on our virtual monopoly media hookup; you can watch for yourself thanks to Media Center here). Her line of rhetoric seemed to be suggesting that unless people like me — and there were 8, 000 of us last time, in 1996 — have a $20 million line of credit pre-approved, that we shouldn’t speak our minds about the obvious public benefit, relative to office space, of a national-caliber concert promoter taking the lease or deed on 456 University. My take is the opposite: unless the owner makes it clear there is a distinct window of opportunity, no viable entity — Yoshi’s, Live Nation, Another Planet, Nederlander, nor my cousin Vic and I and all our friends — would submit a plan. So I therefore believe our local leadership should take the initiative here and work with the owner — a very well-known guy; he seems to be in daily or weekly contact with all nine council members, and probably has been since the days when members of Journey strolled Cubberley, or at least since Steve Jenkins was known  as Sticks, for his drumwork, at Gunn and Paly. His friend also said last night to Council that he is Palo Alto’s “Parking Czar”. Well then call me Rasputin’s. I called Rasputin’s once in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know. (This was in Tuscaloosa).

Nancy Shepherd’s logic is flawed but,  worse, rather than admit she merely disagrees with what might turn out to be a huge army of motivated and organized zealots, or that she is afraid to face the dude, in her pajamas, pink tights or otherwise, she seemed to be claiming, with her “not allowed” language, that we were asking her to break a law. Or her jaw, or a tusk, you know the Fleetwood Mac version with the USC band.

Further she seemed to be concerned, in the question part of her little moment, to be asking how much it was costing the tax payers to have Tom Fehrenbach, our $60k business flack,  research this. Jim Keene, in what has got to be one of the year’s best backhanded compliments, said not much, that Tommy had not been giving it the old Spartan try, in the Lorenzo White or Bubba Smith or even Dave Rayner sense. By my count, or what he told me, he had talked to three people in five weeks; my list is up to about 130, as I noted here previously (and I do this as a volunteer, because I care passionately about the arts, and our community, as an act of conscience because I love democracy, and hate what I fear might come in its wake, or in a vacuum of apathy; I also re-read Thoreau “Civil Disobedience” in which although he says “what governs least governs best” –which is something perhaps Nancy Shepherd wished she had said, at 1:05 a.m. But HDT  also said that perhaps his elected officials should resign if they were not up to snuff to get America back on track –and that was the 1850s, only 75 years or so after Washington and Jefferson set perhaps an unsustainable standard).
Jim Keene reassured Shepherd, in that dude-where’s-my-car- 1 a.m way that Fehrenbach was not actually doing much on the matter, but said he would at Council direction find a vehicle (what, a tank?) to help suppress any further public comment, hopefully before the Oct. 5 HRB hearing, or that’s what I heard. He actually said something about “realistic” although I heard phantasmagoria. Or zebras when I should have said elephants.

edit to add, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 23 hours later: I want to thank my old Gunn Oracle colleague Greg Zlotnick, a former elected official, a writer and lawyer, for encouraging me to rein in some of the more sophomoric reactions I had to our Miss Nancy. I picked the headline and the word “yawp” or “yawping” because “Horton Hears a Who” was discussed at the live version of our social media group earlier yesterday at Coupa. As a fan of the language, English that is,  I was intrigued that we may be confusing a Glenn Beckism with a Seussism. (And my fellow activist Miriam Frank, a new mom, said she will re-check her Seuss and report back pronto. Seuss may have “yop” for “yawp” although Whitman might have “yawp” to boot). But for me and my concert promoter and former ad guy brain, more John Cage than Bill Gates, “back to Beatnick”, I somehow landed on the song and the video “Yoo Hoo” by Imperial Teen.  While not literally true, it is metaphorically apt: imagine Nancy Shepherd (played by Rose McGowan/”Courtney”) gagging the citizens (played by Will Schwartz, who is also tied wrists to bedposts) with a jawbreaker, then doing a little victory dance. The “ha-ha-ha-huh?” and “She said yoo-hoo” bits add to the image. I sent the first version of this to Jone Stebbins who replied that Nancy, or my version of her, was “a piece of work” I tell you what, if this goes through, and the Varsity lifts its curtain, I will atone for being tough on Nancy here by treating her to hair by Jone Stebbins, or at least I will offer it. And I hope she is flattered and not shocked by Rose/”Courtney” and all the “big shot rock stars” invoked herein.

Aram James suggested I re-read Sullivan v. New York Times and write to City Attorney Don Larkin to interpret Nancy’s idea or guide what Jim might do.

I left voice mail for home phones of Matt Nathanson and Penelope Houston, the management of Brett Dennen, John Mayer’s one-time tour accountant and Frank Portman, and hit by email Ian MacKaye, Ian Brennan, Mac McCaughan and Vienna Teng. (which sounds like a bad joke, worse than Nancy’s gaffe, about three Scots and a lady who walked into a nightclub and…)

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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21 Responses to Nancy Shepherd declares “No Yawping Zone”!

    • markweiss86 says:

      Here is where we can view Nancy Shepherd’s comments, at the end of the meeting, under “G”, at the bottom, at about 1:35 to 1:40:

    • markweiss86 says:

      to rec commissioner Paul Loesh:

      Wow I am amazed at how active this thread is, Paul!

      I was just going to say that Bob Dylan to me is a man who makes his living or puts his life force into going town to town channeling the muse and interpreting for us, mainly through performance at this point rather than composition, what the world is all about, in reverant though probably secular or at least ecumenical terms, in his case more Judeo-Christian (and not Muslim or Sufi, like the comparable Cat Stevens fka pka that is, for example). I am saying little Robbie from shul is a living breathing growing thing and not actually a mediated version or info put down in 1965 or whatever, the performance, what you say you heard.

      I am suggesting that if citizens like yourself, leaders, thinkers, provacateurs, in a good way, get behind the proposal to re-light, re-kindle if you will, the historic and beloved Varsity Theatre, we could probably get Bob Dylan to come here and play. And what amount of healing or inspiration might that proffer? I saw Bob at the Regency theatre in Sf and then approached Greg Perloff, the man who produced the show, and asked him how serious he was, according to his former assistant, to bring The Cubberley Theater into their purview, of Another Planet Entertainment. More realistically, but still fairly metaphysically mystical even, missed your call, he said, or a calling, Perloff was contacted by City Staff about The Varsity.

      The answer my friend is blowing in the wind but lets not let Council or staff or the landlord blow it by putting in office space. Let’s do something.

    • markweiss says:

      this is weird even by my standards but someone posted on NPR today about The Wrecks (about Riot Girls) and when I fact-checked that Lynn Perko of Imperial Teen (the tall one with gorgeous hair — the drummer — as opposed to the more curvy one with beautiful hair on bass, our Miss Jone Stebbins — I notice that Lynn E. Perko now Truell was born in, you got it, Palo Alto. Lynn, may I have the honor of thereby inducting you into the Palo Alto Rock and Roll Archive!!! I yoo hoo. I yoo hoo. I yoo hoo. Everybody:

  1. “the people who are complaining here are not even millionaires themselves so really should not butt in”

    Did she really say this? If so, she should be removed from office immediately.

  2. Tasha says:

    “I don’t think we are allowed to do anything useful or helpful or popular or of a overriding public benefit here, because the theatre is owned by a very wealthy individual who endorsed my campaign and it is his property.”
    oh, I didn’t read the small print- elected officials represent the interests of their wealthiest endorsers.
    Who rewrote the constitution?
    Elected officials should have to take an intensive course on the Declaration of Independence every few years…

    • markweiss says:

      Nancy made her little speech, and then posed it as a question to Keene, who seemed to be humoring her — I hope — by suggesting that she had already answered her own question. Then Pat Burt made a little joke — ha, ha, ha huh — which is actually a lyric to the Imperial Teen song –about the fact that at 1 in the morning who is actually still listening. Then Sid Espinosa, rather than chastizing her — clarified for Jim’s sake I guess that not so much she was observing that all of our involvement was in her or their estimation futile — and possibly “not allowed” — but that she was asking how staff could make this more well-known. Then Jim said — again, hopefully merely being polite, or politic — said a) Fehrenbach was not doing all that much — which frankly is best for all sides — but that he would look into what else he could do, to express her point of view. Which is of course consistent with the very biased “non-starter” document and spin (by Steve Emslie, in the Daily Post, July 29 or so).
      I texted Nancy twenty minutes later — after I replayed the segment on my DVD capture three or four times — it will be on the City’s website soon enough, part of her permanent record — and said she did a “disservice.” I texted Burt to say indeed some of us are still watching and listening (and tweeting, and yawping). I texted Sid and YY to say that it was a disservice and a disgrace. Sid texted back to say something in her defense, very rose colored pollyanna and politic response.

      I am going to try Nancy by phone later this a.m. to see if I can still take her up on her offer to meet me for coffee; we spoke after HRB last week.

      This is not a verbatim transcript but I will stand by it. If she wants to publish the actual transcript, great. And any further explication, even better.

      Also, I have been meaning to reach my friend Ben Clements, a Dartmouth classmate, who was Governor Duval Patrick’s chief legislative aid for a few years. I chose the word “intervene” ironically enough because Duval’s book is for sale at Borders and I flipped through it and he said he “intervened” in the case of workers versus a hotel.

      Nancy does not have to agree with us, obviously and yes government or this group of elected officials — she got about 7,000 votes — can do or say nothing, but to say that “we are not allowed” to act, lead, or intervene is not only incorrect false misleading and a disservice but does indeed have a stifling affect on public discourse and is a disgrace.

      Meanwhile, although I am conflating Glenn Beck (I found out, later) and “Horton Hears a Who” and now Imperial Teen — who did indeed play Cubberley and their song “Yoo Hoo” was featured in “Jawbreaker” which also featured The Donnas — and I love the fact that Jone’s hair and Lynn Perko’s hair kinda looks like Nancy’s — and maybe some of them played The Varsity back in the day — and in fact I did once make a mock-campaign poster for Nancy using a drawing of Janis Joplin — we are friends. And somehow I like whatever the semiotics of Will and Rose cavorting around here.
      I stand by my post. I say “yoo hoo.”
      I am sending this to Jone.

  3. markweiss says:

    This promo film for “Jawbreaker” features Palo Alto’s the Donnas (at about 2:14 to 2:20) as well as Pam Grier, Carol Kane, William Kate and Rose McGowan — maybe some of them will stump for The Varsity:

    • Mark Weiss says:

      I saw the movie in theatres partly because it featured The Donnas digetically but also for the role of Imperial Teen’s music. I love the video, obviously. But I might just have to watch it again, an act of indulgence, to see what else, like a magic 8-ball jawbreaker, could it tell us here.
      I found this line (actually spoken by Courtney/Rose but sounding more like a kingpin to a figurehead:
      “Rule, bitch, but don’t forget who made you!”

      • Mark Weiss says:

        “guilty pleasure” was the phrase I could not find at 8:05 last night. Also: “diegetic” for “digetic” — it means the Donnas appeared in the film, whereas only the music of Imperial Teen did; the songs of theirs (two?) were “non-diegetic”.

        also: Dave Rayner (not “david raynor”) is an NFL kicker, and like Tom Fehrenbach both attended MSU, probably overlapping; Rayner has appeared in 51 NFL games, for six different teams, and scored 55 FGS, at about a 75 percent clip, which is sub-par by their standards. He’s made 10 tackles. He is fairly large for a kicker, no Garo Yepremian; I will have to ask Zlotnick about this. In 8th grade, at Terman, Zlotnick was the second biggest kid on the team, and played tight end and was a favorite target of Nick Sturiale or Andy Koijane, and had a couple fly patterns for tds. I was a tackle on running downs — I wore #28, was about 5’8′ and 135 lbs — but reported eligible and passing downs and was probably the fourth favorite target; and sadly, and I mentioned this at the candidates forum there, in 2009, I caught what would been the game winning score on the last play of the game, Terman v. Wilbur (later JLS), but was ruled out of the back of the end zone. My parents sent me to Dick Gould’s Stanford tennis camp if I agreed to not play frosh-soph football for Gunn. Rayner’s then-girlfriend, Dr. Cooker Perkins, was doing a post-doc at Stanford during his senior year and would watch every game televised at The Old Pro on Pepper and I used to sit with her, and actually did some research on NFL kickers wondering about being Dave’s agent. I thought about trying to meet up with him in Hawaii (Spartans vs. Rainbows) but did not; I only saw him live once, at East-West Shrine but did not try to contact him. I was curious about the mindset of a kicker and how to stay focused, if undrafted. Is it like being Stew between XXXXXX and “Passing Strange”? (Rayner was drafted). Cooker is now at Pepperdine, I search-injuned. She was a Spartan lady soccer player. Search “rayner” at “Plastic Alto” and you will see me congratulating him for a game-winning kick in Detroit and me recalling not “Paper Tiger” by George Plimpton or Alan Alda but Theophillus Bill Brown and his football series.
        (So the Nancy Shepherd as Rose McGowan is in good company).

  4. markweiss says:

    Nancy Shepherd did reply to my text, at 8:43 this morning:

    Not so (I had called her statement a “disservice”). Since this is not public property U need a financial scenario to move this forward. I think Tommy is working hard to do this but ur group needs to be financially responsible with the land owner. Council cannot intervene with that. I am told that Chop is willing to meet a group with any viable offer. I hope one comes forward.

    What Sid said, verbatim, at 1:38 last night, was:
    I don’t believe that she was trying to be malicious. She just wants to raise the issue about the realities of private property.

    Pat Burt did not respond (I called his comments “sarcastic” and “a public disservice.” Although we have spoken once or twice on the phone, in 2009, he has never acknowledged the three or four times I tried to text him. Some people don’t use that feature of their phones, so I have no idea if he has ever read my text messages or this one. I had coffee with Mr. Burt and met him for the first time in August of 2009 after Quentin Kopp told Burt at a High Speed Rail regional meeting that he had a friend running for council and Burt said, according to Senate Judge Kopp, “I’ve never heard of him”. I called the publicly published contact number for Burt and said “Quentin Kopp says we should get to know each other” and he later confirmed our meeting by cell, so I saved the number. He dialed my number a couple days ago, but it seems only to figure out who was texting him. He didn’t leave a message and did not answer when I tried again.

    Yiaway Yeh and I have traded texts — and he met with myself and two others — about the future of music and Lytton Plaza, but he has not responded to any of my messages or calls or my letter to council on Varsity Theatre. I also texted him to offer an idea about a kora player for his wedding — Yiaway and his wife to be met in Africa during Peace Corps.

    I described above being rebuffed by Larry Klein while trying to ask him about this, running into him at Hamilton and Bryant.

    I applied for the Planning Commission so will get 15 minutes before the nine council members to discuss those issues, some time in next three weeks I would think. I previously, Feb., 2010, applied for Library Commission.

    I still feel that the contextual background here is that large land owners and developers get special access and special treatment from Council and citizens and residents do not. I heard things last night regarding “parking” that fit into that view. For example, that Professorville residents have been trying since 2007 to get traction re people parking on their streets yet “the parking commission” and “the parking czar” (they self-proclaimed themselves unironically) says residents statements jeopardize their businesses and prospective tenants. Jim Baer said that downtown has 4 million square feet and 60 percent of that is owned by only 10 entities or individuals — I think he was bragging not complaining of such. (vs. “the Big Three”??)

    Maybe we can spin off “downtown” the way Monaco is separate from France — that might solve 90 percent of all our problems. Terry and I having watched a 1994 movie about King George going cuckoo, there was a word that started with “P” and was the technical term for something that makes the urine go purple and indicates “madness” and if I find the term I will suggest that as the name of their proposed entity. Or my proposed entity. We can secede, if we cannot buy them out.

  5. markweiss says:

    I recommend Porphyria as the new name for a proposed spin off of downtown Palo Alto comprising the 4,000,000 square feet owned by Mrrs. Keenan, Baer, Rapp and 7 others. Just as we have a 763 member PADBID (“pad” “bid”?), who would be their loyal subjects or serfs; just as we had “the Farm” and Mayfield, and Barron Park, East Palo Alto, et cetera. Just as Stanford approved a $5 billion hospital “renewal” and got Steve Young to stump for them. Just as former mayors Beecham and McCown stump for them, or pimp. Maybe Porphyria and Stanford can merge and be “Cardinal/Purple Urine Mania for Money is What We Stand For”.

    Or maybe we can buy 456 University by eminent domain and turn that into new City Hall, or Council Chambers.

    Or maybe Ms. Shepherd is right and people like me should not be “allowed” to express our ideas, our needs, our grievances, our huddled masses yearning to be free.

    She said “yoo hoo” I yoo hoo.
    (I think the more people of a certain demographic speak in cryptic pop culture references and “sarc 1” the more the establishment or political fossils will realize they are out of touch. Like who is “Nevermind” with all this (20 million copies) of “Smells LIke Thoits Plaza” speaking of mad urine stench).

  6. Becky Rogers says:

    UNbelievable! YAWP! YOP! YAP! YIP *AND* YOO HOO!!!! I most certainly WILL “butt in”!! I, for one, am perfectly aware that the Varsity building is private property & that the owner, Mr. Charles Keenan, will respond only to money – seemingly not unlike Ms. Nancy Shepherd herself (who, by the way was elected to office by a smaller number of people than originally signed a petition to save The New Varsity). I am not asking for City Council to step in & illegally slow the process for Mr. Keenan’s plans to be approved. I AM asking that City Council NOT grease the wheels for large landowners & millionaires while simultaneously attempting to squash the voices of the very people who got them where they are & whom they have pledged to serve.
    So far, I have simply been engaging in dialogue to let my intentions to REVIVE THE NEW VARSITY be known, but if they want a fight, they WILL get one. The people WILL be heard.

    Say it with me – YAWP, YOP, YAP, YIP and YOO HOO!!

    • Mark Weiss says:

      Well said by our Miss Becky. I am still waiting to hear back from Miriam as she and her three year old fact-check whether it is “yop”, “yap” “yip” or what.

      I am having more phantasmagoric images: I am picturing crowds of our supporters singing the refrain from “Yoo Hoo:”

      I YOO HOO I YOO HOO I YOO HOO. (first part or section)
      SHE SAID ‘YOO HOO’ (second part or section)

      Eventually we will be able to drawn them out with such a ruckus.

      Maybe we can get Jone, Lynn, Roddy and Will to play here again, maybe at your event.
      I wonder if Lynn, who was in a punk band called the Wrecks, or Roddy, in the early days of Faith No More, ever played The Varsity. Jone said not but that she had played The Varsity in other cities.

  7. Tasha Brooks says:

    Last thing I ever penned (note statute of limitations and besides I was a minor) upon the back alley’s new coats of mauve included a nice quote from Code Of Honor “…so stop the governments armies and dissarm all police. Our only chance for freedom is through honesty and peace. Take control of yourself…NOW”
    Which was followed by my last and perhaps most far seeing statement:
    “WE will be back, Fuckers!”

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