Cat Power w Cynthia Dall

There’s an article from a recent The New Yorker about Cat Power Chan Marshall. I clipped it out and filed it, between the pages of a library book I found, in SF, near the art institute — 800 Chestnut — about the Beats — Waldman.  I once saw Cat Power at Bottom of the Hill, SF, circa 1999. I took as my guest Ms. Rachel Metz, then a high school senior, who I knew as a musician (The Babysitters Club with Matt Salzman and Jessie Oppenheimer, artwork by Ami Brett, based on something something — I had their sticker on my truck) and sister of my interns Adam Metz and Noah Metz. Ok, that is a bit weird so far in a piece called “Cat Power w Cynthia Dall” so far I have more about the Metz’s than Cat or Cindy. Rachel went on to be a journalist first at Daily Cal then Palo Alto Weekly then The New York Times as a stringer specializing in WeeGee-esque pop-ups about grizzly Brooklyn murders, and now covering tech for somebody important. She had a friend namd Snow or Rain, or her mother did — Frosty — who had a daughter who I suggested should be the Milli Vanilli of Brainiacs Daughter. But I digress. Anyhow, Rachel must have found Chan inspiring. The Babysitters Club meanwhile were one of only six high school acts I booked into the Cubberley sessions. Rachel’s band opened for Van Gogh’s Daughter on a four band bill, 2-show residency for VG that was called Twin Harmonic Pop Festival (as a riff on the then fledgling Noise Pop simultaneous) and the show or set was also the West Coast debut of Spoon — who in truth were booked into Noise Pop as the anchor. They had a song named “Surfing Sperm” — from the sperm’s perspective, not in the “sperm-sorter” sense of that Stanford feminist biologist monkey-breeding expert. I remember that Rachel’s mother , Robin, was a bit concerned, even though Rachel was fairly mature and sensible and she had met me numerous times – -and I was trustworthy and mature, I was 35 to her 17 or 18 — totally platonic or mentor mentee — her brother Adam actually listed me as a reference or mentor, on his website bio. Anyhow, Robin said to Rachel that if she got off the train from Palo Alto to 4th and Townsend and did not see me waiting as promised (I was coming from another meeting, and was driving both ways), that she should get right back on the train to Palo Alto, which I thought was funny. Still do: I trust you, daughter, soon off to Berkeley and Brooklyn grizzly murders — and now, mazel tov, motherhood — to go to a rock concert with a 35-year old at a grimy club, until 1 a.m. on a school night, but NOT to find your own way to club from train via bus, taxi (this was obviously before Lyft) or walking. Well, I guess she was worried about the ending. The way home.

Speaking of Bottom of the Hill, that is where, several years before, around 1994, I met Cynthia Dall. It was a Sunday or Saturday afternoon show, some indie darling — Rope? — and I met her at the bar. It was a little funny to me in that after we started chatting she was a little coy about giving me the name of the band she was in. Or affiliated with. I guess she was a little uncomfortable with fame — not that her project was that well-known. Remarkable, but not gush-able. (that’s a thing). But she was sweet. And maybe we traded numbers or agreed to meet at another upcoming show. I think earlier or above or below I spoke of a “Bananafish” scene — not the Salinger book or story but a zine referencing it, run by Chaz — I’m forgetting his last name, that I thought of as being related to The Thinking Fellers, Barbara Manning SF Seals and the like – -in fact it or he got started at Chico State. Ironically, his college roommate apparently i learned later was Thompson, who ended up as a Sony Rep for a while — Ironic in the sense that the bands Chaz, his friends played in or admired were pretty far from Sony – -which was like Marry Me Jane at the time — I worked with — played a show case. Red-head, Amanda? — did all the music for an indie or pseudo-indie movie. While Bananafish music was more like The  Julie Theory which i think was a movie featuring local bands, sort of our version of Austin Linklater “Slackers”. Danny Plotnick, Steel Belted Romeos, Steel Pole Bathtub. There’s a continuum if not a cross-hybrid.

Anyways, Cynthia Dall had a release on Drag City that had japanesma cover and literally no name. It was self-titled and anonymous rather than epynonomous. Drag City #67 or something. She also had a solo track on Smog Burning Kingdom. So smog aka Bill Callahan was partnered in life and sometimes music with Cyndy or Cynthia. (Not that I had heard of smog either). Tom Thompson, above.

My best story about this crew was running into Chaz and that cute couple — she was jewish and a photographer, Gail – they came to a lot of my shows — on Haight or Fell or something, not doing anything terribly directed or intentional — story of my life — and they invited me along to whereve they were going, I think on foot maybe by quick Muni trip. And it turned out to be a flat, near the Haight and there were not more than a dozen people milling around and, for me, making small talk and reintroductions  — I’m Mark from Palo Alto, I do all ages shows, and read Bananafish — and in walks Bill Callahan and they yell “surprise” and pull out a cake and he turns bright red and they sing and he turns white. And Chaz said either to me or sotte voce to the group that the entire reason to throw a birthday party for Bill Callahan pka smog is that they knew it would embarrass the heck out of him. Anyways I probably met her 10 times or fewer but thought she was a doll and bought her cd at Aquarius Records and likely still have it.

I don’t know how Cynthia Dall died exactly. I’m certain I’ve mentioned it here.

If I read the the article I will probably double my knowledge of Cat Power. I also have archived but not yet watched a bit on Colbert with recent current Chan. “The Weight: Cat Power details the melancholy of letting go” by Amanda Petrusich. I’ll read that next.

(I almost tagged this to bottom of a story about Beats, or Beats women — and hope to circle back to a new post about such in a minute: the indie musicians of the 1990s are like the Beats of 1958-1962; what if Coen Brothers did a story in that era like “Inside Llewing Davis” but from a more female perspective?.

Also: I bought a painting or marker drawing in a cheap frame at a bric-a-brac store next to Wow Hall in Eugene in 2017 or 2016 –when Terry TMW had an art show we drove to an installed in Seattle – of Chan Marshall for $200 from a local artist and then donated it either to Stanford Cantor or Connie Wolfe personally, although she claims that either she never got it has since lost it. (They cashed the $100 donation I stapled to it, at least).

This is a digression from Chan and Cyndy (and Rachel) and music to art (via the painting of Cat Power by a female artist I must add) but I once also tried to donate a cute little Laddie John Dill I bought from Paula Kirkeby for $300 to Cantor because I ran into a development dude — Japanese name — while we both were admiring jaws agape the installation of Mrs. Fisher’s cortensteel Richard Serra — and mentioned it to him then sent him a note about such — Anderson Collection has a life-size world-class Laddie John Dill and I just thought Cantor would want one, too. Matt Gonzalez, who I just mentioned earlier today is in my Columbia Lions pantheon — he’s an artist and collector and managed to successfully donate a Weeks — a strong Weeks, mind you – -to Cantor. Unless they were just humoring him because he’s Matt Gonzalez and an alumnus.

Charles Arnoldi had a daughter at Stanford, Terry and I met him in Rancho Mirage at Imago a few years back and I recall eavesdropping on a conversation about a collector who bought a major, roomsized carved relief but had to give it back when he could not keep up the payments. Or maybe Arnoldi was singing, “learning to prey”.

I presume this is real, I saw it on the internet:



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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