Monday, February 05, 2007

Palo Alto

I used to live and work in Palo Alto.

I worked in the venture capital industry and learned to love road biking. I eventually got bored of the town, feeling it was so...homogenous. During my last few months working there, I took walks at lunch and found some interesting modern homes. I had to go to Palo Alto recently and took photos of a few of them.

Then I saw the home above, and was reminded of all that Palo Alto used to enclave for students & professors, beatniks, a folkie music scene and the 'official' birthplace of Silicon Valley.

A few tidbits:

* One of the Grateful Dead's earliest Palo Alto gigs, on Dec. 11, 1965, came seven days after they first performed as the Grateful Dead. Held in a metal warehouse on Homer Street, west of the railroad tracks, the event at the "Big Beat Club" was one of Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. Garcia was widely acknowledged to be among the best musicians in Palo Alto's folkie scene, which was a thriving one, due in large measure to the many clubs, coffee houses and other musician's hangouts in proximity to Stanford University. "There's this crowd of Beatniks down in Palo Alto called The Kepler's Crowd." Keplers has enough beatnik history to rival some of the best-known bookstores in San Francisco and Berkeley. In the early 60s, it was a literary scene. The hip scene was more into literature than any other one thing.

* Lindsay Buckingham was born in Palo Alto & met Stevie Nicks at Menlo Atherton High School.

* Joan Baez and Grace Slick were both class of 1958 at Palo Alto High School.

* 367 Addison Avenue - A simple garage is often called the "birthplace of Silicon Valley." Of course, in 1939, it was the first location where David Packard and William Hewlett worked to develop what would become the HP conglomerate.

* The Donnas were formed in Palo Alto.

* The Steves - Steve Jobs and Steve Young live in Palo Alto. Steve Jobs gave an excellent commencement speech at Stanford University in 1995.

* Stanford University, famous for such drop-outs as Tiger Woods, Steve Ballmer, John Steinbeck, and the founders of Yahoo! and Google.

* Eadweard Muybridge was commissioned by Leland Stanford to study the motion of horses. The study was done at Stanford's estate, before the property became Stanford University. With his groundbreaking technique of stop-action photography, they discovered that all four legs of a running horse were indeed off the ground at the same time. The technological advances from this experience led to the birth of the motion picture industry.

* Palo Alto is the first California Green Power Community Recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency. As of 12/19/06 nearly 4,300 households and 130 businesses have enrolled in the program.

* The pill and the computer mouse were invented in Palo Alto.

* Finally, if it weren't for Palo Alto, Jay and I may have never met. I worked at Sevin Rosen Funds, above the Palo Alto Bike shop, where Jay worked on Saturdays. I often brought the bike shop our leftover catering from our Partner lunches on Mondays. One Monday Jay was there subbing for someone, and I handed him the tray of food. I don't remember it, but he remembers. A few months later, I invited the bike shop to a blues show in San Francisco where my brother played, and the guys at the shop told Jay about it. We sat next to each other, talked and danced, and the rest is history.


Jess said...

This is one of the most outstanding blog entries I have ever read anywhere. I think it should win some kind of blog award for thoughtfulness and creativity. I am just blown away by this post. I learned so much from it and the house pics are amazing. Thank you Jamie!

Clare said...

You are the Grand Dame of Blogging.