Big ups for Lisa Brown’s ‘vagina’


I am here to offer big ups to Michigan representative Lisa Brown for her “vagina.” Brown_072606_110I heard this on NPR. A politician in the midwest got in trouble for saying something to the effect of “thank you for your interest in my vagina”. They were talking about health care, women’s health, birth control or some such. The commentator on NPR his name was Nunnberg or something; they said his up and coming issue is called “Ascent of the A-word”.

The story also referenced the Yalies who don’t know their heads from their Aesops’s when it comes to PC language and hazing; “no means yes, yes means something we cannot mention, even in plastic alto land.” A nuisance about language.

The reporter also mentioned a Rachel Gerstein which reminds me that I know a Gerstein (but not in the biblical sense, only the platonic sense, or as if I was Bill Clinton and she was my intern; well, that’s not true either, Gerstein wore the pants in our relationship. We were 19; ok, she was Bill and I was Hillary or something. I digress. I forget the details).

Somewhere in here, apropos of politics, as I am an advocate for, as prophylactic protection against bad government and lack of abstinance when it comes to the huge erections of the developers, of our Sesquicentennial, the Palo Alto at 150 or Palo Alto@150, which is coming very slowly and really drawing it out for 2042 or so, the previous NPR “piece” — can I say “piece” here? — it was quite a piece — was about Richard Adler, who wrote both “Pajama Game” which I’ve never seen, nor had I heard “Hernando’s Hideaway” or what not until ten minutes ago, but I did catch “Damn Yankees” recently on dvd and noticed not “You Gotta Have Heart” which I immediately started re-writing in my head for residentialist local propaganda interests, like Le Levy, as “You Gotta Have Parking” that is if you are going to build office space for the next big IPO here you gotta have parking for your dudes, so they don’t leave their Ford Ficus in front of our house University North on streetcleaning days.  I mean to suss out the Adler Chicago Sesquicential songs. I noticed and mentioned previously that “Damn Yankees” is the source for a Woody Allen joke about someone yelling “slide” in a private moment and not meaning baseball.

I wrote to Leah Garchik not too long ago about how the society columnist for local rag mentined Eve Ensler at Castilleja but couldn’t bring herself to.. she would not mention Ensler’s most famous thingy…”The Harbougina Monologues”. Ensler has a new piece at Berkeley Rep.

I was going to write not about Lisa Brown, the “strong voice for Oakland, Mich. County”  but Tig Notaro who is written up in the Times today; I know because I invested $2.50 into the thing. The headline is “You Will Not Believe How Long This Takes” by Jason Zinoman and has to do with her constantly revising a work of progress about her stalking Taylor Dayne. I’m gonna not just link to it or cut it out and stick it in my stack of 1,000 other things to read and file but use it as actual inspiration for improving my Jim Harbaugh monologue (the one I so cleverly alluded to above, which is influenced by Ensler “The Vagina Monologues”). I was losing hope on my Harbaugh hater trick. Although I did run it by at least two known talent entities, Joe Sib and Rinde Eckert.

Not to digress –although I live for digressions — hopefully more like Leonard Bloom nine days late than your average loony talking into his invisible cellphone on the street — but I met the artist Owen Smith and had noticed him a few weeks back regarding his literary referencing public transit murals — people reading either Dashiell Hammett or Jack London in transit, and the characters and scenarios creep charmingly off the pages and into the picture; I mentioned to Owen Smith that Rinde Eckert is doing a new work (his new thingy) based on “Call of the Wild” — maybe little interloper that I am

edit to add, nine minutes later — Due to the vagaries – -can I say “vagaries” here? — of the system at the Palo Alto public libraries, I got logged off mid-sentence. Anyways, maybe Rinde can hire Owen to do backdrops the way SF Opera apparently has had Jun Kaneko put his touch on their magic flute.  He at least gave them head, as I described above.

Rachel Gerstein may or may not have been namechecked by Geoffrey Nunberg in his piece. Rachel is a former Palo Altan — post-doc work at Stanford, works at UMass — and is smart and feministic so would probably have a lot to add to the discussion of Lisa Brown’s “vagina” or Nunberg or Plastic Alto. Her sister was my classmate at Dartmouth; we met freshman fall at Daily D, briefly dated, were platonic friends for ten or more years thereafter and I last saw her at my 25th reunion in June 2o11, Charlotte Gerstein. Another Gerstein sib works or worked “long time” for Joe Lieberman.

Way off topic but I noticed that the name “Fay Zenoff” popped up in my “dashboard” here at wordpress. I had not written about Fay Zenoff but someone seeking to read about her or perhaps Fay herself wandered out of bonds here; I had written about seeing Queen in 1976 or so with Andy Zenoff AND about having a former client named Lisa Fay Beatty and semi-omniscent search-injun wrongly put the idea in my head that I should venture that former pre-teen kid sister of my best friend from 7th and 8th grades is now divorced mother of two with an MBA living and Marin and running healing heart seminars, and looking curiously or alluringly like her mother Nancy or Nisha Zenoff did, when the Zenoffs first moved to Callado Lane in Atherton with that big black pool and tennis court. So little Fay now has offspring older than we were back then.

I was going to also write about someone I have never met, the venture capitalist (with 17,000 social media followers, to my 20,000 total readers here so far at Plastic Alto) by name of Hornik, who’s teenager rented out GAMH and hired some regional bands for a benefit event called It Gets Indie. I noticed in his blog that he claims to sit on Splunk Board or something with Nick Sturiale and says he has known Nick for more than a decade. Nick Sturiale my Gunn classmate and former Los Altos Hills Senior Little League Expos teammate who hated the clarinet such that he would put off practicing until 15 minutes before you and he were due to go to the movies or Old Mill Mall; “ear training” for him at the time meant his mom dragging him by ears back to his bedroom to practice while chum or chums sat in the next room staring at the ceiling or flipping thru magazines. The same charming search-injuns have another Nick Sturiale as music director for a burlesque act in Frisco circa 1930’s; Nick’s brother Grant Sturiale is a Broadway music honcho meanwhiles. The promoting prowess of Hornik the junior reminds of Danny Scher who was said to hustle paid gigs at pizza parlor for a combo of jazz musicians including himself when they were in 8th grade, according to my dentist here. Danny Scher who also got Thelonious Monk to play at Paly, and got Journey to play the Tri-School Formal when his kid brother was a sophomore.

Revising big ups to Lisa Brown, Rachel Gerstein, Geoff Nunberg, Nick Sturiale, Fay Zenoff, Andy Zenoff, the Hornik’s whom I have never met, Eve Ensler, Tig Notaro and my nemesis Jim Harbaugh, who will, mark my words, someday quit pro football not for care racing but to play handdrums in a world music group, not unlike the Kyle McLachan Mayor character in “Portlandia”.

Or as the late George Carlin would say: Lisa, you cannot even say “teats” unless your on at 5 in the morning and your guest is a cow.

edit to add, later that same library visit: I wanted to add the link to the actual Times story that re-routed my day — and I had 20 items on a to do list — before I re-routed again to discuss the V-word. This. But then I also clicked thru to youtube were 32,000 of us have heard the Tig Notaro actual riff on Taylor Dayne, which takes about 12 minutes in this format. Ok, I think this changes my life in general and in particular about my work in progress monologue on Jim Harbaugh, the football coach. Accepting the fact that is is real standup, joke, laughs, jokes, building, et cetera, and mine is a post-modern experimental piece where I perform it differently each time, improvising and ask the audience not to laugh for at least two hours after leaving. I will have to read a little deeper into the times piece. Did I mention that the online version has a title referencing “repetition” whereas the print version I bought for two-and-a-half zuzim references duration over repetition? Or maybe I should re-mouth the Harbaugh piece about how I keep bumping into him and offering the same but mundane sincere compliment? Like, “Excuse me, I just wanted to say I like your speaking voice — have you considered voiceover work? Aren’t you from Paly?”

In my to-do list I had promised myself that indeed, whether I stick with the improv thing or not, I will someday, maybe today or this week, write an actual 20,000 words or so on Harbaugh. Also, I envision the punch-line or the payoff as the audience all yelling out in unison – with a neon scoreboard cuing them — HIKE THE FUCKING BALL, HARBAUGH. That is, if I can say “gerund obscene” here, or at the Philz open mics.

It’s hard.

Or if you want to go deeper into Lisa Brown’s “vagina” problem you can climb onto the Huffington Post.

This is like a drum solo that doesn’t know when to quit but I am recalling that the day I visited Don Lucoff in his Philly area home office I took the bus from Center City, got there early and scored a copy of Richard Alder’s biography from the local library surplus sale — although at the time I didn’t know the song, “Heart” or “You Gotta Have Heart” which I guess also gave us title of baseball in Japan book “You gotta have wa”.

And from the Wesleyan sight about Rinde Eckert’s upcoming workshop there and his new piece The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy:

Rinde Eckert, a celebrated playwright, is currently in residency at Wesleyan as part of the Creative Campus Initiative in conjunction with the Theater Department. Eckert is developing a new play that will be performed with Wesleyan students on November 15-17, 2012. The project is currently titled The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy – a man raised by wolves finds himself toward the end of his life at the top of the food chain, powerful and erudite, but longing for a return to the wilderness of the wolf he once was. How does one recover one’s original, less conditioned or acculturated self? What is gained in the effort? What is lost in translation? When one’s axiomatic habits of mind cease to be useful, how does one circumvent them, reinvent oneself as less neurotic, more the author of ones actions than the prisoner of one’s fears and unconscious longings? Does the epistemology of the animal offer us a nonlinguistic model of any practical use to our quest for an authentic present? Our language gets us in deep trouble and elevates us at the same time. Should I be howling now?

Right arrow into not Ginzburg but Smith: see especially, for currency, number 6 of pieces 8.

edit to add, almost two years later: the internal infernal WordPress feature recommended that neophyte “Plastic Alto” readers check this post out, after reading something about Archers of Loaf and the Foothill College’s teachers flawed memoir of my role in her class, but what I noticed is that it does not or I did not note a “category” so I log on here to check the boxes (!) “sex” (meaning feminism) and “Plato’s Republic” (meaning government or policy), but I also notice Tig Notaro and fact that she appeared at Stanford a few weeks ago but I saw the flyer too late and am losing a step. I had pretty much abandoned the Harbaugh tribute excepting fact that Ann Killion had a rant claiming “his act has worn thin” which I wanted to note and respond to, plus the fact that Steve Cohen and I sat within spitting distance of Jim Harbaugh at Stanford-Utah basketball game and that Our Boy Jim was there with his four-year-old daughter from his second and current marriage and had trained her to wave a pom-pon non-stop     until start of fourth quarter and that visiting high school girls basketball teams wanted to pose with him en masse. Weird (and I probably should not comment, and had refrained until just now, and bury this, sort of. There is also something about Harbaugh doing push-ups at Marine World in Vallejo Six Flags with a female walrus, that a couple electronic news outlets recast. Big ups for Six Flags) -30-

edita  againa: an earlier version of this from the addition of today, March 18, 2014, or two years after the original post, used the word “long-time” but then I felt bad about it and deleted it. I read thru numerous entries on the leading search engine to see if a subset of readers would chose the wrong reference and connotation and let it ride so to speak but even though only two people had possibly seen this in the couple hours since I published, I decided to delete. I briefly thought of an entry just on the various uses that come up; there’s about five songs, including one from the band Boston. Also, it definitely occurs to me that this is the roughest topic I’ve written and to the extent that I for example loosely advised the parent or parents of a young female artist, I would not have wanted to read this first about my work. In general, I side with Representative Brown and admire her courage, even if I am sort of making fun of her. Maybe I was exposed to early to George Carlin and his use of double entendre, something about his “thrust” for decency.

edita, for the very last time: ok, if someone is actually reading this super-closely, he or she may be confused about saying I had deleted a term “long-time” because a subset of hypothetical readers might project onto my usage an unfortunate potential connotation; the term does appear in the original post about a Joe Lieberman staffer I once met — I deleted it from a version of this apropos of the football player.

edit to add, two years, two months later, campaign 2014: as fate would have it, I wandered into a Old Palo Alto fundraiser for Democrat Mark Schauer, who is leading according to polls in his effort to become the next governor of Michigan, and the tie-in here is that he chose Lisa Brown as his running mate (for Lt. Governor). Meanwhile I am running for Palo Alto City Council (and met Mark while waiting my turn, at a panel of environmentalists — I had walked 1.4 miles there but arrived two hours early and something sent me towards Schauer, as strange as that sounds. I asked a couple questions, based on Reich and Packer, and actually left wanting to work for Mark Schauer in Michigan should he prevail while I falter (or not make as much dramatic progress as I have since 2009, to increase at this rate). I am hoping to break away from Palo Alto to catch up to Schauer and Perkins (his treasurer, also on this junket) in Detroit and maybe Ann Arbor, in October. We also have a plan for me to write a white paper on luring artists to Detroit, or arts funding as stimulus spending. More to come. Mark reminds me of Buddy Teevans, the Dartmouth coach and former QB. Mark went to A College in Michigan, with advanced degrees from Western Michagan and MSU Sparta. I sent the previous version of above to him, but truthfully, maybe I could have crafted a tighter version. Michael Moore (“Roger and Me”) did a benefit for him.

Dahlia Lithwick oozes some rather pungent prose about the need to regulate the use of the word “vagina”: v

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
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