Jim Harbaugh and Steve Jenkins, circa 1981, fighting over the last maple bar

I just realized that two of the most difficult and fascinating people I have met, Steve Jenkins the rock band leader and Jim Harbaugh the football coach and quarterback, may actually know each other, from Paly High in either 1980, 1981 or 1982. Steve Jenkins is a Gunn guy but in his searching days he bounced from Paly to Gunn a little. So conceivably, and this would have been great to see, they may have met, maybe in line at the Palo Alto High snack bar, nearly coming to blows over the last maple bar.

And Steve is a fairly large guy now, probably larger than me, but for a while he was super skinny and in fact his nickname was “Sticks” and not just because he was a drummer. His brother, George, and they are somewhere between 10 months and 30 months apart although one is an ’81 from Gunn and the other ’83, was always large for his age, a lineman for Gunn and frankly, kind of telling, a bully. Chris Kelley, Andy Zenoff and I approached he, Scott Sekamura and a couple others, freshman fall, 1978 and asked to try their chaw and George looked and me and said “I want to see this wuss throw up”. I think it was “WB” which was flavord or strong and gave you a buzz, the first 20 times you used it, and I never got there, probably between Copenhagen and all others dipped less than 10 times total. But certainly did not throw up, George Jenkins. (George is now a crew coach for ladies crew, at USC or something like that; 3EB Third Eye Blind got a few early breaks on account of George was in a frat with Adam Duritz and UC Davis not Berkeley, before AD transferred to his home team).

This post is occasioned because I wanted to write something about the fate of “The Harbaugina Monologues” in context of Jim being fired by the 49ers, but today’s papers say he is being offered $48 million – a lot more that Steve Jenkins makes — to coach Michigan. Yikes.

There was a moral hazard in that my Harbaugh-hater acts hinges on the tension of being a Stanford and 49ers fan yet hating, since 1980, Jim. If he were merely drummed out of organized athletics, I could not continue the act which would be like kicking a dead horse. And actually my denouement has him realizing wandering off path and deciding to correct or stimulate growth by quitting football cold turnkey and either playing hand drums for a world music group or maybe like Kyle McClachan in “Portlandia” bass guitar in a reggae group. To work on his lower chakras.

But on the other hand, well yes I can target a guy who is the most overpaid person in the University system in the world, the excess of big time athletics and all that. Hell, yes. And isn’t Michigan — and by the way my own mother is a Wolverine — that’s not something a nice Jewish boy is apt to say, and she is no Dragon Mom in the Chua sense either — one of those cases where the money guys have inundated the board of regents and people are starting to notice? UVA definitely and was in the NYT. But I think Michigan, too. And yeah, I still ask about Snyder v. Schauer.

So her at “a place for peace hope and community” Cafe Zoe the music system, which I checked and is now Sirius XM I caught the familiar riff of “Doot Doot Doot” and that was an internal name at one point for the riff, by Herman Anthony Zen Chun and Steve Jenkins, although Zen sold off his rights at least twice it is commonly known — Zen, when Steve and he were in first Puck and Natty then Puck and Zen but not his solo work, the one I worked with called Zenbox — who wrote the million or multi-million dollar simple riff, and maybe Velvet Underground signifier – “doot, doot, doot; doo, doo doot doo” and oddly the Foo Fighters apparently wanted to be Doo Fighters but their spellcheck program would not let them. I jumped up from my perch hunched over the magic Plastic Alto box and retreated to back of venue to stand by the speakers and also a screen which confirmed an alternate take and in fact a cover, of “Semi-Charmed Kind of Life” by Imagine Dragons.

Imagine dragons? Let’s imagine Jim Harbaugh and Steve Jenkins in a food fight.

and1: and this is bit of a tangent, but despite the fact that Harry Connick did a segment for a national sports network about the fact that Peyton and Eli Manning played for Cardinal Newman of New Orleans and the producers found a photo of Harry as a freshman in high school that Connick transferred out of Newman after freshman year because he was bullied there, the skinny little arts guy (piano prodigy, son of the District Attorney or not) in a jock school. And I know this because my freshman roommate played football for Newman as well. And turned me on the Nevilles.

continuation: I was rocking it 510 style yesterday, off to Freight and Salvage to see Pasatono Orquesta de Oaxaca, but stopped into a hip little record store and gallery and actually asked about doing either “The Harbaugina Monologue” on the strength of Jim Harbaugh the Raider rumors or “Beat Hotel Room 32 Reads Howl” on the strength of them having done an in-store with a LA-based band The Molochs.

bonus track: The people at the Freight said yes I could do stand-up not music at their open mic or hoots on Tuesday next the 23 of December, for perhaps the last edition of The Harbaugina Monologue, but if they are wrong I will default to “Men of Dartmouth” acapella or “Season in the Suns” by Terry Jack, and I did pull out of my hat with one of the Cafe Zoe regs that Michigan is better off with Rick Leach not Our boy Jim in the way that I claim Stanford in 2002 should have tapped John Paye as they did in 1982. But I called John Paye “sweet kid” which in this context is a slag. John Paye is or was a sportsman, while Jim Harbaugh for better or worse is a competitor. I have half a mind to ring him right now.

Edit to add a couple years later that is to say December 2019 nearly 40 years later :  I had a beer at Zotts with a group included Earl Hanson the legendary Paly coach which I guess had me thinking again about Harbaugh.  I still think it’s an interesting concept the ambivalence about being a Niners fan but having long-standing not really a grudge but just a distaste plus he’s such a character.

I also tend to emphasize over the years that he was a three sport star and not merely a football player.  But in his favor according to John Paye,  Who I always hold up to Jim and say John was as good an athlete and could’ve made a great coach for the alma mater – – in the way I always play up my classmate and friend but never teammate the former gunn quarterback Chris Strausser who is now the offense of line coach for the Colts and there for makes maybe 1/6 what JH makes still pretty good —  paye had the last word on my research in that he says that Jim was always very nice to John’s son  and that Jim’s wife helped with John’s benefit for his mother.  Incidentally John Ralston passed and Chris said some nice things about him and then John said he didn’t ever work with him but he gave me his father’s number his father apparently played for Ralston although I never followed up on that thread.

sort of tangential but in today’s end-of-the-year Chronicles sports it had Menlo girls state championship as a highlight of the year first search in 28 years and I am meaning to send a belated congrats to Coach John Paye .

And this is weird and if you were my stocker this is too much info but I am going to watch a random high school basketball game El Camino high school versus Piedmont Hills and visit the toy store Talbots going out of biz


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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