Signs of the times: Peet’s, Nirvana and Susan O’Malley

I’m rushing through this, mostly visual post:

Peet's facade on University Avenue, Palo Alto

Peet’s facade on University Avenue, Palo Alto

Although I sip on at least five brand name coffees and probably 10 physical locations, all within 5 miles of my abode, each month, totally about 20 trips to a coffee house, in lieu of office in home, and supplementing the public library, I am most partial to brand Peet’s. I like their coffee, backstory, wireless access (and the hour-limit actually saves me from falling down a rabbit-hole) and overall experience. But I was kinda trippin’ the other morning, on University, the 400 block, the redundancy of all the signage. I noted 11 different places with the logo on front of store, most obviously sign above door, two-sided shingle above door, and two-sided sandwich board on sidewalk. I would think the product is strong enough and there are enough repeat customers that we don’t need the flurry of signs.

here we are now, over-charge us

here we are now, over-charge us

FFurthr down the block, I was stopped by the Nirvana poster in the window of the sports gallery. Krist, Kurt and Foo flanked by Posey, Jackie Robinson and a Shark. Having recently been mulling over and posting some about my poster collection, I took it as an auspice that Nirvana had infiltrated the jock world. Purists might note the irony of the band showcasing at the New Music Seminar — sounds like something that the label would have had to convince the band to do, although I will have to consult my Gina Arnold or my Danny Goldberg to verify that. The poster says “early” or “vintage” or “rare” ephemera, which I guess says “collectible”.

But when I asked the clerks about the poster, they directed me to a wall at back of store with another half dozen supposed gems: for the Dead and Stones et all. I started to notice a little serial number in the bottom of each poster, including the Nirvana, you can see above, which scream REPRINT. There all about $90 each, including the frame, but I would pass and wait for something more authentic. I will edita to confirm whether these are all from Wolfgang’s Vault. The clerk says that the gallery sometimes does auctions at Slim’s.

Actually, according to Jon Parales, four months later, Nirvana playing New Music Seminar was keeping it real and supporting college radio for the band that was already multi-platinum for “Nevermind” and was releasing “In Utero”, duly noted. And despite my cup of Joe from Le Boulange today (top of Uni, local chain bought by EVIL CORP for millions), I did space on Dave Grohl ten minutes ago, above, but like the use of “Foo” as a placeholder, to stet.

susan o'malley good call

susan o’malley good call

Terry and I met Susan O’Malley at an event at Palo Alto Art Center, for the closing of the group show there that featured part of her “Community Advice” project. Susan interviewed 100 Palo Altans about life and attitude and then created 10 letter press pieces, some of which hung in the gallery, some sold in the gift shop, some still available on her website and others placed all over Palo Alto, most notably or noticeably on Embarcadero near the Art Center.

As someone who has spent numerous hours placing posters and notices on surfaces protected and unprotected, I couldn’t help rescuing the piece I saw taped to a newsrack on Cali Ave some months ago. I could tell from the chop that this was the work of an artist and not just some naive well-meaning person, or superior being from outer space, trying to reach us with a message. I also pulled off of Embarcadero and rescued another of these, before I did the math and realized it was an extension of a current exhibition, which I later viewed.

But I also had my own riff. I wanted to re-purpose the one about sleeping in the RV for the sake of raising consciousness about the current debate here about a subgroup of community members who indeed sleep in their cars, or RVs. I contacted Susan’s gallery, my friend and sometime collaborator Joey Piziale and asked him to ask Susan if we could re-run a batch of these and put them up especially near the areas with car-sleepers, like off El Camino, near College Terrace. I had been invited to go to a meeting that I think is ongoing on this issue, on campus, at the Episcopal Lutheran Church on Stanford Avenue; I thought they might like to see these posters.

I also wanted to modify and maybe reproduce the one that says “Do Not Lie” and change it to “Do Not Sit-Lie” which is the legal term for when a panhandler goes beyond his First Amendment rights to aggressively solicit or beg, whilst in the stationary position, on otherwise public and free property. I still may do that — create my own set of “Do Not Sit-Lie” xeroxes, after O’Malley.

Susan did not seem mad at me for threatening such a repurposement of her hard work. Meanwhile. one of our local rags mentions that in SF Tom Ammiano is behind a statewide measure that would rescind some local sit-lie bans.

Susan’s work reminds me also of course of Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer.

As a McLuhanist, I was into anything that is letterpress and tacked to a telephone poll, so retro, in this era of social media and all that. Medium is the message regardless of what the message actually says (which I thought some would think author is being ironic).

I think I have the actual poster documented on Susan’s site, on Cali Ave.

Reminds me that I mean to contact the Paly High young lady I saw present at PAPAC who had a sketch of a proposed mural that featured the Paly Viking mascot self-reflectively holding a spray can and stencil. I’d like to publish that work here. Her name and email address were on another site’s comments page.

Also, need to lament here the passing of Colby Posters in LA, from whom I ordered a Asylum Street Spankers poster circa 1999 and we also have from LACMA an “ACCEPT THE GOOD” part of the Third Drawer collaborative series. I did do a Blue Eyed Devils poster from the same letterpress group Susan used in Oakland about 10 years back.

The photo above is Terry decorating her studio with this O’Malley derived set sold at the event last week and pulled or scraped by a budding artist named Katherine B Nammacher.

That’s about one thousand words more than I thought I would get into today. Now to walk the Cocker and maybe go for a swim, leaving laundry, car wash and oil change for another day, if the good lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise. And, oh, yeah, enjoy your hair while you have it.

edit to add: regarding the Nirvana poster, I’ve found two different versions of the 1993 poster. The one in Palo Alto storefront is definitely a reprint, but probably not from Wolfgang’s Warehouse (which does offer reprints of a RHCP/Nirvana poster, prices ranging from $38 to $600 or some such. This thread had me following gigposters subsets for Nate Duval and Pat Hamou, and then reading about Pat Hamou two recent shows in Bay Area on Jewish gangsters, he’s painted. All roads lead to digression, in Plastic Alto. Today I am at Zoe Cafe, for the bagel, but might pop up at a Peet’s or that Peet’s, soon enough.

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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