27 plus 456 equals 404 in Palo Alto

As posted on Palo Alto Weekly site, in response to their downright journalistic report on the general stinkiness of the Arrillaga Office Towers project:

Also, as the Weekly reported at the time, Steve Emslie and Tom Fehrenbach of City staff were asked by City Manager to research finding a performing arts tenant for 456 University Avenue and instead basically kicked the ball out of bounds — now it looks like they did so to protect the competing idea of a performance space at 27 University. Or the matter should be looked at more closely.

Who do they work for, the public or the developers?

(Also, when I say we pay Tommy “$60,000” I think his actual take from us is more like $150k.)

Web Link

Jim Keane meanwhile, on the subject of The Varsity’s viability, said he saw the merit in it due to the fact that when he was in Berkeley Freight and Salvage raised $16 million to build a downtown arts venue – -I suggested them as a precedent and F&S’s Steve Baker was on the list of people who Fehrenbach was supposed to poll or attract.

Many people’s first reaction to the “theater proposal” at 27 immediately responded by saying “the Varsity is a better idea”.

Also I am fairly tempted to reprint the original version of my Plastic Alto report from March, 2012 in which I state that council member Patrick Burt sounded like John Arrillaga’s puppet when he claimed that “we are taking the lead here” regarding 27 University. I ran into Pat at Printer’s Cafe later that week and and he basically tried to intimidate me into changing my tone on this subject. I did redact the piece slightly when Terry and I got seated at a table with the Burts on St. Patrick’s Day, at Vino Locale, and it’s true that I forced Pat into shaking my hand three or four times during the recent campaign — I got 4,316 votes to his 9,000 — but I stand by my contention that he is more self-serving than a leader per se. Plus the way he trumpets Vascular Access Technologies like its this really big thing when it is just he and three co-workers in a set of offices that is mostly shrinks — they probably salivate at the site of him, or chuckle. Pat Burt told me , the day that five of us candidates showed up to be vetted by Mario Dianda of the News, that he attended the Bridge School Concert and I used that as an opening to re-visit 456 and he said “I” did this or that – meaning he and not being inclusive or acknowledging that I had put in a lot of energy on that issue plus, with 18 years in the music biz, as Earthwise Productions, even as a small fish, do have some insight that could help a community effort to bring nationally touring acts in music to downtown Palo Alto. He sucks from others like a vampire bat rather than trying to incorporate, be inclusive or God forbid symbioticize like the rhino and the tweeter.  Pat said he liked Jack White but had never heard of the White Stripes and had certainly probably never slept on Dave Kaplan’s couch when Easy Action was a small agency and White Stripes were among his relatively unknown first clients, as I had. Kaplan, now an uber-agent at New York office of The Agency Group, was flat-mate with in the Mission with Chris Lehman, whose Heavy Into Jeff and Magnified were mainstays of the Cubberley Sessions and Palo Palooza; Kaplan, who I later visited in New York — but I stayed at Gramercy Park — was the booker for Kilowatt when it featured live shows.

It is fair comment, well within Sullivan v. New York Times and practically a civic duty to point out that Pat Burt is more of a bully than a leader; he is self-serving and self-satisfied, although I do find him sometimes likeable nonetheless. “Pat my Burt in  2012” was my mock-campaign slogan for him . That or “I’m Flabbergaseous”. Yeah, I did that: when Adam Swart for the Palo Alto Patch asked me what I thought of Cali Ave I took the opportunity to cryptically swipe at (but not Swipes at) Mr. Bu*t by saying only that the recent events were “flabbergastuous.”

Not that it would be Easy Action to get Jack White to stump for 456 University but there is more in heaven and earth, clearly, than is dreamt of in your philosophy, Patricio.  If he Patrick finds his way here, with a little nudging, he would be the 25 millionth person to catch a clue thereby ( I could amend to “27 + 456 = 404 plus 7 nation”, and forgiving the Broadway Danny Roseism or “tom cruise isn’t but his agent is”-ness of the distinction between hanging with Jack White and sleeping once on his agent’s couch):

edit to add: later that day, while Terry has my car and is holiday or pre-holiday shopping, I have her computer and am hunkered down at Peets at San Antonio where Ashley kindly gave me my 50 cents off for buying the KFOG Peets sampler – I left the coupon on the bureau at Terry’s but she gave me benefit of the doubt because I sang a passable version of Foster The People “outrun my gun” acoustic version on the cd. Meanwhile, Tim who mixed my chocolate, said he thought Jack White was passe, but dug the Neil. He said his lady is in a cover band called The Bang and they recommend at the DuNord a Long Beach band on Dangerbird Sunday The Fling. Hard to keep au courant.

speaking of the  press, which was where I arrived here, I also want to laud Scott Herhold of the Merc for his recent coverage of Arrillaga Project, which he says calls for “control alt delete”. Bob Moss sent a link to Scott’s coverage to council. Pinging back to my controversial and burt-dander-in-an-uproaring commentary from March, here is an excerpt from my treatise:

2) What communication or contact or instructions did you have or get from John Arrillaga about this project, prior to your public from dias statements Monday?

So, whether or not Burt per se communicated with Arrillaga — Gennady Sheyner’s recent article articulates for example that Karen Holman expressed some misgivings about the extensive secretive communications going on — I was spot on to suggest there was something in their tone — council, including Patrick’s — that does not pass the sniff test. It’s not about Pat Burt as much as the general malaise in Palo Alto self-governance. But I have to let it out, that I also wanted to make some mock campaign posters for him, substituting the asterisk * for the “a” in his first name and the “r” in this last name, interlocking like a crossword puzzle; it would have served as a Kurt Vonnegut tribute, the way he signed his autograph with an asterisk.  Also there’s what I would term a goofy-scary photo of Bu*t, apparently demonstrating the high tech apparatus he now Chief Executive Officers over; it makes him look like a character out of a Adam Johnson novel, and not someone I want talking to my doctor or surgeon. For a while I was always picturing him with a helmet, like B.D. Dowling.

My other thought about 27 University is that visitors from the future will confuse Portola and the giant twin pines with Arrillaga and the giant office towers. I wish he’d put more energy into the 75th anniversary of “Guernica”. Stop reading here if you are a Euclidian but fact-checking the previous paragraph I will now have to beeline to my parents’ attic to see if my shoebox of 1974 Topps football indeed includes the former Yale star, a true Patriot, even sans helmet. See this film.


Albert Camus, reprinted in the June, 2012 Harper’s, which I read last week while pedaling a stationary bike at the Oak Creek exercise room — talk about existentialism — says that using irony rather than straight diction makes you five times more likely to get by the censors.

edit to add, kickoff time Sunday: kudos to Elaine Meyer for rallying the troops “No on 27” for Monday’s council meeting. She says wear red to show that you are seeing red. I would: dress like Jack and Meg (above) in red with white stripes.

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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1 Response to 27 plus 456 equals 404 in Palo Alto

  1. and in a related matter:
    Posted by Mark Weiss , a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 12 minutes ago

    I’m wondering about the significance of Gennady Sheyner cleaning up Chop Keenan’s quote slightly in graph #22. I heard him say “rule and regs” as in a jargon version of “rules and regulations”, what GS reported. I replayed the speech on my “tivo” because I was struck by the developer’s colorful language, replete with so many metaphors, the familiarity and casualness of it, like he was talking to his own staff, or they had been through this over and over again, and not in a public hearing.

    Maybe it’s a red herring, or it could be a tell. But it begs the question of how else the Weekly cleans up this somewhat complicated scenario so as to not make the developers look like the gluttons and philistines they seem to be.

    Report Objectionable Content
    Posted by Mark Weiss , a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 0 minutes ago

    Also I completely agree with the report card posted above, adding that Scharff was interesting in that he sort of turned the tide after Holman and Schmid were so adamantly rebuffed by Klein, Sid, Nancy and Gail. Scharff pulled out a JJ. Hunsecker “don’t kid a kidder” in that he said, as a developer himself, he knows that Keenan has plenty of wiggle room at this point and does not have that strong an argument about the rules changing. Yeh gets a “B” for “brilliant” in that he effectively kicked the can past his lame duck tenure to the next council so as to not have the taste of this sordid affair in his mouth so to speak — and now I am talking like Chop by my mixed metaphors, the difference being of course I am not speaking in public for the record merely posting at 1 a.m.

    I wish Allen Drury were alive to see this drama!!

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