Earthwise three-part series at Palo Alto Art Center, July-August 2021 VS Woodstock 99 documentary on HBO in NYT

I am a little self-conscious putting on a concert or a concert series for the first time in 15 months. So when I watch this documentary discussed by Elisabeth Vincentelli in today’s Times– her headline is “three days of violence, misogyny and four dollar water” I hope to avoid the pitfalls that live events can have.

As with most post-mortems, “Woodstock 99” tries to figure out how it all went wrong, and comes up with a deadly combination of factors: a merciless environment, thoughtless programming (three female acts did not counterbalance seas of aggro headliners like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Korn and Metallica) and botched logistics. The issue of water bottles costing $4 comes up a lot. This was “somewhat on the high side,” says John Scher, one of the promoters, before coolly adding, “If you’re going to go to a festival, you bring money with you — this was not a poor man’s festival.”

Later on, Scher, who emerges as the embodiment of cynical corporate villainy, argues that the women facing a barrage of verbal and physical abuse were “at least partially to blame for that” because they “were running around naked,” and accuses the media, notably MTV News, of making Woodstock 99 look bad. Even now, he just can’t give up on his delusion of the festival being a success. (I programmed my machine to tape this Sunday evening).



I met a guy named Hasad at the Lavay Smith show at Stanford and he said that he grew up in Palo Alto and attended some of my first shows, my heyday, the Cubberley Sessions at the old high school. He said he remembers that Frightwig opened for Archers of Loaf. I added the detail that it was so rainy that night, March, 1995, which is 27 years ago, that the Guadelupe Creek flooded in San Jose, forcing a Sharks game to be cancelled, yet Archers of Loaf rolled in none the worse, driving up from LA (driving out from Ashville or Chapel Hill, North Carolina). What I didn’t get into, with Hasad, at Lavay, is that Frightwig was on the bill because it featured my friend Mia Levin, who had gone to Gunn with me, 15 years before that, and Terman junior high. A chance meeting with Mia and her daughter Lalique at Brainwash – the combination laundrymat and coffee bar, in SoMA — is part of the inspiration for Earthwise Productions. Mia played my first show, with Mudwimin, in fall, 1994. I did not imagine that concerts and music would be the organizing principle for my life. I had been freelancing as an advertising writer. My education was preperatory to a career as a journalist. I guess writing this blog – -this is post number 3,066 — is related to my self-concept as a writer, that I nurtured, in various ways from age 16 to 30, then repressed or had no outlet, then outletted a bit starting about 10 years ago – you can see that traces of all that in the margins here. 


So there’s a little bit of Mia — and Lalique – and that moment at Brainwash – – Mia was chasing her daughter — in the upcoming shows. (By the way, that’s a line lifted from Adam Duritz – “there a little bit of Maria in all my songs” — and I think I knew Maria in those days, or I found a grafitto about Maria on the sidewalks of North Beach and connected it to someone at the ad agency, but not to Adam hypothetically until much later).  Chaos played a role in founding Earthwise, before intent. But not the violent chaos depicted in the Woodstock 99 film — I previewed it, in a way, with the link to the Limp Bizkit video. Or I wouldn’t think so. When Davey Havok and AFI played the Cub, it was off the hook and there was a bit of violence and a heaping spoonful of chaos but we got lucky, and no one was hurt seriously. I remember someone showing me a welt on their leg or arm. And I do think it odd that Davey Havok seems not quite contrite discussing with a friend, and the camera, the incident in Toronto where he told the crowd to attack a bouncer. 


In Alicia Henry “Analogous III” (2020) acrylic, thread, yarn, dyed leather, an accumulation of cut-out leather faces creates a convergence of witnesses — (although I almost read that as “whiteness” – -since my name is Weiss and I both “know” and “white”) — a crowd of spectators whose expressions vary as viewers pass by. I counted the number of pieces in the installations in the show. There was one that was about 100 and the other about 200. In sum, there will be fewer people as audience members at my three-part concert series than there are pieces in the corresponding show, “The Black Index” – – in theory we can establish a one-to-one partnership between each person who attends the music and if they later or before go into the show and choose a piece. Each face maintains an individual presence, while taking its place as part of the collective. In the form of a monumental procession– a ritual that may be celebratory or mournful — the faces in (this show or this work – the actual word is too difficult to type just now — and my brain flashes to my junior high typing instructor Mel Froli who might be appalled at how degraded my skills are, all my bad habits) suggests a concentration of different experiences. For Henry, the spectrum of emotions they display reflects the complicated often contradictory ways in which we communicate with one another. She invites each viewer to share in the experience of community for a moment in time.

I mean to edit here to add some info about Alicia Henry. Yet I also want to riff a bit about Sloane or Emma Sloane, who has a dual self-portrait in the Palo Alto art center that does not reference race per se, as “The Black Index” does unless her whiteness is part of her statement. I met Sloan or Sloane — not sure about the “e” — at the courtyard of a cafe the other day – -she was actually seated next to Anna Wilson of the Stanford champions basketball team, who I resisted greeting, although I had met her before. I said “Are you a photographer” and Sloane or Sloan said “Yes”. And then I said “I saw your work on the cover of the Palo Alto Weekly, plus at the Art Center, plus posted it on my blog”. Sloan said next year Sloan will attend CalArts to further Sloan’s development and growth as an artist. Sloane went to Gunn and her parents (Mark and Lisa maybe?) went to Paly. Sloan was wearing a Giants cap, as I was, although in this moment I am wearing a NILES PIE CO. hat which unknown to any one I’ve met wearing it is my way of signaling alliance with women or feminists. Terry had gone to the Niles Pie company which is in Fremont actually the day of the women’s march, the day of the pussy hats, if you excuse the digression. Henry would indicate gender while “Sloane” or “Sloane” would cloak gender, relative to Sloane’s given name. I am also re-reading “Borges and I” sometimes known as “Borges Y Yo” which I read in Spanish at Dartmouth, with Maya Wiley


The participants in my music series include: Scott Amendola, Philip Greenlief, Motoko Honda, Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea, Miguel or Michael Govea, David James, Beth Custer, Alan Williams and maybe four others. There is a slim possibility that others will come by to play the piano or someone mentioned bringing a djembe drum. There will be about three hours of music, although on another level as I am open from 10 to 5 each day there may be, arguably or in a John Cage sense as much as 21 hours of programmed or deliberate sound or lack of someone else’s controlled sound or intentions. And besides “The Black Index’ there is the photo exhibit (with the dual Sloane self-portraits) and a sideshow my Lava Thomas who is also in The Black Index, plus potentially art students making art in the courtyard, plus Blessing Hancock et al wordy sculptures. Plus sort of a soundtrack that plays only intermittently in the show itself. Plus there are two Joseph Zirker works — monotypes I think — in the auditorium that likely do not reference race but might– plus rumor has it that a cluster of the artists from The Black Index and the curator and Karen Kienzle of the museum will be at the show for a closing part from 3 to 5 on August 14 – -not sure how that fact will influence the exact timing of David James demjams in the auditorium. Also Cecilia’s show – as La Doña or La Doña Y Sus Cuates or Su Cuates is sold out but may therefore spill out onto the sidewalk or parking lot even of 1313 Newell at Embarcadero. There is a wait list at EventBrite and I believe Karla Kane of the PAW is writing something about it or this (as compared to Sheryl Nonnenberg of Menlo Park previewing the show itself).

I sent Philip, Motoko and Scott a couple shots of the show from yesterday but do not know if that gesture influences the outcome on July 31, which is 7 days or 168 hours or so from now.  

I am thinking of the actual names of those happy versus sad masks that symbolize theatre. Boots and Sachem or something. They were wearing socks made of sacks? There is some continuum or comparison between Alicia Henry’s leather faces, the coronovirus masks (for example, my collection by either Marine Layer which I call Marin Layer, Keen or Kara Maria) and those Boots and Sachems or whatever. And I am packing so to speak some blue handbills designed by Yuriko who I met at La Doña’s party for her mural.

And I might as well mention that Cleveland baseball team is now renamed for a piece of public art, Guardians of Traffic. I said in the Times that maybe the Chicago will be dubbed Cloud Gates and my Giants will be THE RESILIENTS or THE CUPID’S SPANS. 

And I have or had a broadside that honored Jack Hirschman that mentioned Prince Hal and I was unsure if that meant Shakespeare or Detroit Tigers. Or Prince from Twin Cities: at times I had thought I might title this series LAST JAM FOR PURPLE PAM.



and1: as I finish this at Coupa, my typical perch, there is a guy at a nearby table with a t-shirt that reads LEGACY OF THE BEAST WORLD TOUR. It’s for an Iron Maiden tour, and a video game release, and played Oakland Arena in September, 2019. 

andand: I thought it slightly ironic that Lily Janiak in the Chron pans the latest from San Francisco Mime Troupe — calling it didactic and formulaic. Do you know how hard it is to write a new agit prop comedia del arte piece every year? And do you know that the Chronicle is not even the Examiner anymore, Lily? Doubly ironic that it appears juxtaposed to an article on Bob Weir – with a photo of Bob that is 8 years old. Although I like that his band includes Mads Tolling, Greg Leisz and Sheldon Brown


I had been telling people that I was going to sit out until 2022 but then I went to Stern Grove to see Ledisi plus the openers The Seshen and La Doña and decided to move faster than that. And we are going back to Stern Grove tomorrow to see Penelope Houston who played the Cubberley Sessions and John Doe who also did so. This still is from a German broadcast, and its “Glad I’m A Girl”:

Alicia Henry, like myself, is from Illinois; she lives and works in Nashville and has a big art show in London right now, plus gallery rep at Carl Hammer in Chicago; Alice Clark Brown, 68, was from Chicago and worked with the circus; swing dancers at the Lavay Smith show at Frost Amphitheatre last week; eighteen hundred drones formed a globe of light at Tokyo Olympic opening yesterday and reminds me of the Earthwise logo yet hits me like an old sci fi movie where we are invaded by giant Rat People from another dimension here to eat our bread; and stepping to that step, little clawed feet or not, there is a bakery somewhat near Terry’s studio called The Midwife and the Baker; Baker is a family name; two Olympians, which may or may not refernce race, but they are both wearing black; its fun to have two more weeks to talk about La Doña and to revisit “The Black Index”. 

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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