By Gene Mahoney
The First Festival of French Classical Music took place on June 20th and 21st in Mountain View. For future performances (and news about Bay Area French culture) visit the website for Alliance Francaise Silicon Valley at www.afscv.org
In late May/early June, Evan Margolin's Salsa Crazy had its 20 year anniversary bash at Cafe Cocomo. If you want to learn about anything salsa-related in San Francisco check out www.salsacrazy.com
Terry Disley Quartet: The “Jazzcracker Suite”, Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, 12/7 (Pearl Harbor Day).
That last calender item really hits home, as Prentice (“Pete”) Douglas, the founder of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, passed away on July 12, 2014 at the age of 85. And anyone who's ever met Pete can tell you he was a VERY young 85.
The first time I met Pete was probably in the fall of 2001. The Herald's entertainment editor, Kimberlye Gold, and moi were depressed and not knowing what to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We saw a place overlooking the beach that appeared to be a house. Or maybe it was a bar. Or maybe it was both. We asked a guy on the front deck what kind of place this was and he said it was a place where people just “hung out” and didn't discuss business.
As it turns out, the guy was Pete, who bought his home overlooking the Pacific in the 1950s and has had a series of jazz and classical concerts there ever since. Never a fan of Rock 'N Roll, he once referred to Elvis Presley as the beginning of the end of Western Civilization.
Your less-than-humble abode was one of the best things about the Bay Area, Pete.
And now, a new series about my life as a member of 24 Hour Fitness, that we call...
The two locations I generally work out at are the ones in San Mateo and Mountain View, and I give them high marks. I have to give the slight edge to the Mountain View location, though - as there is always a cheerful person greeting you at the front desk. San Mateo has a good batting average, but Mountain View is batting 1,000. In all fairness to San Mateo, I've noticed that if there were ever employees behind the desk who didn't greet you when you walked in (staring down at their iPhones or generally just possessing some hip-hop “I'm too cool to smile” vibe) they were gone pretty quickly. Either that or they had their attitudes adjusted. Good work, management.
And if it was management at the San Mateo location that got rid of customers who brought their radios into the shower and subjected us to their godawful music – way to go! Actually, I think I only saw that happen twice and the problem seemed to be resolved rather promptly.
My experience in the Larkspur 24 Hour Fitness has been satisfactory. Except for when a fellow member who was a little taller, a little bigger, and a little younger (okay, a lot younger) than me started playing music on his mobile device at the sink. So I kept turning on the hand dryer to drown it out. He looked a little puzzled that I kept turning on the dryer while I shaved, brushed my teeth, put on my contact lenses, etc. - all activities that don't require a hand dryer.
And kudos to the San Carlos location. That place has really improved. Just a couple of years ago a lot of the staff would look at you sideways and laugh if you asked them a question. The scene there wasn't much better than the prison yard at San Quentin. But it's really turned itself around with perky greeters at the front desk and a much friendlier overall feel to it. More power to you guys.
One more item about 24 Hour Fitness: Who says the Herald has no influence anymore? Here's what was written in the Fall 2013 issue:
This is to the older gentleman who “works out” at the San Mateo 24 Hour Fitness by sitting on the bench, reading the newspaper, and maybe lifting a bench press once an hour. If you want to read a newspaper, do it at home or in a cafe, not in the bench press area. Others would like to use the equipment. Good day, sir.
Well, since that was published, I haven't seen the guy at the gym. Maybe he was so humiliated he ended his membership.
Now that he's gone, I feel a little sorry for the old boy. Did I embarrass him in front of the whole gym? I didn't mean to. I just wanted him to stop using the bench press as a library.
Hey, buddy – if you're reading this, come on back. It's okay.
Actually, stay away. No offense. I wish you all the best, but work out at home. You'll enjoy it more. So will I.
Journalism can affect change. The Washington Post may have taken down a U.S. President over Watergate, but the San Francisco Herald got a guy to quit 24 Hour Fitness.
See you next time with another exciting episode of “24”.
The “Bathroom Out of Order” sign is still up at Stars gas station on Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco. Man, how long has that sign been up for? When are they going to fix that thing?
I ran into former KGO radio legend Ray Taliaferro a few months ago in North Beach. I saw a guy who looked like him, yelled his name, and he approached and shook my hand. I asked what he was up to since the mass firing of talent at the once proud talk station, and he replied that he was working on some documentaries in Los Angeles. I was going to let it go at that, but I just had to say it: “Ray, I disagree with just about everything you say, but good luck.” His smile disappeared and he uttered, “Uh... yeah” before walking off. I must have irritated him because I got “Uh.... yeah.” I didn't get his famous “Hmmm... Yes!” in that Paul Robeson imitating Ed McMahon delivery. Man, I remember waking up in the middle of the night, turning on the radio, flicking around the dial, and hearing Ray drone on and on. Now I know what Hell is like, I would think to myself. I told our own Ace Backwords about my brief encounter with Ray and he said I should have asked him how Bernie Ward was doing.
And now, a new feature for this column (don't worry – it's of higher quality than the one where I complain about people at the gym). It's a quarterly update on particular urban legends, hoaxes, myths, outright lies, etc. We'll start with this one...
Orson Welles' “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast didn't cause mass hysteria across America.
You've probably heard the one about how people in the 1930s heard the radio play (presented in the form of a newscast) and actually believed that Martians were taking over New Jersey (insert joke here).
As it turns out, the broadcast had very low ratings and hardly anyone thought an alien attack was occurring. Some newspapers wildly exaggerated and fabricated the story to discredit radio - the emerging industry that they were competing against. (They should have tried discrediting the Internet, too.)
Personally, I always found this one a little hard to believe. But people love stories about how stupid other people are, because it makes them feel more intelligent.
A good article to read about this has the straightforward title of “The Myth of the War of the Worlds Panic”. It's written by Jefferson Pooley and Michael J. Socolow, and can be found on Slate.com.
John Milton, a former professor at Foothill Junior College in Los Altos, recently died of bladder cancer at age 72. (Yes, he shared the same name with the famous philosopher.)
I used to talk with John every time I saw him at a cafe. About half our exchanges were pleasant – the other half were vicious disagreements about politics, as John was a proud communist in the way that only a tenured, high-salaried college professor in a filthy-rich capitalist community could be.
Sad to say, our last interaction was especially unpleasant, and I spent some days since then thinking up intellectual arguments I could present to him in a sneering, condescending, Christopher Hitchens-fashion to really piss him off.
I used to run into him around Palo Alto (with his trademark cowboy hat and boots on) but for a few months he was MIA. I heard he was sick, so I wasn't surprised of his passing. And I'm not happy about it. I feel bad. I wish I got to see him one last time in a more pleasant encounter. You know why Joseph Campbell said he wasn't a fan of the afterlife – because it diminishes the need to make amends with people here. We weren't really close. He may not have even liked me. But still...
John Milton taught literature and claimed that William Shakespeare was his favorite writer. Which was somewhat brave in a way, as most of his peers would feel obliged to name someone a lot more obscure.
So, John, this if for you...
From Henry IV, Part II (c. 1597 – 99), act II, scene II, line 25:
“A man can die but once; we owe God a death.”
Oh wait. Some publishers have it as “A man can die but once; we owe God and death.”
I wish that John Milton guy was still around. He'd know which was right.###
Now on SanFranciscoHerald.Net:
A Swift Kick...
By Mr. Fabulous
The Society Page
By Gene Mahoney
(Homicide: Life on the Street, '80s one-semi-hit-wonder band Dominatrix, Ferry Aid, Cinequest, Stanford Repertory Theater.)
By Kimberlye Gold
(Marty Balin, Jemima Kirke, Joan Osborne, ULUV Music Day, Rosemary Conte.)
By Ace Backwords
Good Clean Fun
“A Series of Annoying Events”
By Gene Mahoney