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Palo Alto Odyssey

Something different! This page will contain various episodes of the Daily Post (Palo Alto CA) series entitled "Palo Alto Odyssey". The series is, in fact, a partially fictionalized novel taken from actual news events and happenings in Palo Alto. There are 24 total episodes which will deal with the tumultuous changes that PA and the Mid Penisula are undergoing right now. Old familiar landmarks are giving way to new glass box buildings. Housing prices are through the roof and new residents are pushing out the old ones. Middle class families are struggling to stay in town, but many are not able to. The pressure is geting to everyone, especially the young. The Post hopes that this serialized novel, in the spirit of Pickwick Papers and Tales of the City, will create a platform of what's happening currently in Palo Alto and to do it a thought provoking way. Each episode will be short (not more than 500 words) Enjoy!

This is a direct link to the website of the Series' Author, John Angell Grant: 

http://www.johnangellgrant.com/palo-alto-serialized-novel/

 

3) A chance meeting has sad ending 
Daily Post (Palo Alto, CA)Published: September 10, 2015

MIRANDA sat on her University Avenue bench and looked at the disheveled street person in front of her. It

was her brother’s old friend Eddie, who had once been a vibrant Stanford student, a lively storyteller, an accomplished blue grass musician; and one of her brother’s best friends since they met in second grade at Addison School. Drugs and alcohol had brought him down.

Miranda remembered the wild days of her teen years; and how she had looked up to Eddie as a friend of her older brother; one of the fierce boys that she revered. She thought of her own days flying close to the flame.

“What have you been up to?” Miranda asked.

“Not much,” said Eddie. “The usual.” He massaged his long red beard with both hands.

“How’s your mom,” asked Miranda. “Is she still with us?”

Eddie’s mother had been a CPA. His dad was a barber on University Avenue, in the barbershop under the President Hotel.

“Yup,” said Eddie. “Mom is still with us. I stay with her sometimes, when I’m not living down by the creek. She’s going strong. She will probably outlive me. Come over and visit us. She would be glad to see you.”

“I’d like to do that,” said Miranda.

“I heard your mom passed,” Eddie continued.

“Yes,” Miranda said. “That’s partly why I’m back in town. I’m going to sell the old house.”

“Is that where you’re staying?” asked Eddie.

“It is,” said Miranda.

“I spent a lot of time in that place with Tom,” said Eddie. “We began a lot of our escapades in that house. Buying 40s and then going on to the campus to hang out.”

“I remember,” said Miranda. The pain of her brother’s alcoholic death two decades earlier hit her anew.

“Coming back to Palo Alto, I feel like I’ve fallen in a time warp,” she continued.

“Everything has changed.”

“Yes, “said Eddie. “But also nothing has changed.”

“You’re still a philosopher, Eddie,” she said.

He smiled. His cell phone rang. “Got to go, Miranda,” said Eddie. “Business calls. See you round.”

“It’s great to see you, Eddie,” she replied. Miranda suddenly felt sad.

“You, too, Miranda,” said Eddie. “I was just thinking about you this morning. And here you materialize on the street. Funny how that works. Know what I mean?”

“Sure,” said Miranda.

“I carry you in my heart, Miranda,” said Eddie. “If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.”

“I will,” said Miranda.

Eddie ambled down the street. Miranda watched him go. She felt lucky to be alive. But she also felt like crying. 

 



2) Homeless guy has a familiar face 
Daily Post (Palo Alto, CA)Published: September 9, 2015
MIRANDA was sitting on a bench on University Avenue, reading the local newspaper, catching up on how things had changed in Palo Alto since she was a girl growing up in this small, quiet university town. A homeless guy suddenly materialized in front of her.

“Hi, Miranda,” he said.

Miranda looked up, startled. The disheveled man had a long red beard. He was shabbily dressed, in torn and stained clothes. He did not smell good. But as Miranda looked more closely, she felt that the man was familiar. With a shock, she realized that it was Eddie, her brother’s friend from elementary school.

“Eddie?” Miranda asked.

“That’s me,” said Eddie, a big grin on his face.

“Oh, my gosh,” exclaimed Miranda. She did not know what to say. She remembered her brother’s story that Eddie had taken 50 hits of acid one night as a sophomore at Stanford and, in her brother Tom’s words, “had never made it back.”

“Wow, how long has it been?” she finally asked.

“How long?” repeated Eddie, “Time, what does time mean? Time is a human construct, a function of the rational mind. And the rational mind itself is a mere evolutionary construct. Like a piece of clothing, or a hat. If you look at the evolution of life, going back to the first cell; and put that cell at one end of the scale; and then if you put humans today at the other end of the scale; to make a continuum; and then scale it all MIRANDAas a 24-hour period; it turns out that human reason evolved only in the last few seconds. Know what I mean?”

Miranda didn’t know what he meant.

“And it’s with that tool of reason that we have constructed the notion of time,” continued Eddie. “It’s in our imaginations. None of the other animals use it. So, how have you been?”

“I’ve been well,” said Miranda. “How have you been?”

“Oh, you know,” said, Eddie. “Up and down. Some days better than others.”

Eddie’s cell phone rang. He took it out of his shirt pocket.

“Dude, I’m in a meeting,” he said into the phone. “I’ll call you back.”

“Do you have a dollar?” Eddie asked Miranda.

“I do,” said Miranda. She gave him a twenty, and then wondered immediately if that was a mistake. If he would spend it on drugs or alcohol.

“Sweet,” said Eddie. “You always were a good person, Miranda.” He stuck the twenty in his back pocket. 

1) Returning to a different Palo Alto 
Daily Post (Palo Alto, CA)Published: September 8, 2015
MIRANDA was back in Palo Alto for the first time in years. It was the town she had grown up in, and it had changed considerably. As she walked down University Avenue, Miranda remembered an episode from The Twilight Zone, in which a man commuted home routinely from work one afternoon, only to find his small residential town had gone through a time warp and changed. There were houses where there had been empty lots; some shops he knew well had vanished, replaced by unfamiliar buildings.

Miranda had the same feeling, as she walked down University Avenue.

The old Varsity Theater, where she’d seen so many movies, had turned into a high-tech coffee shop where you could rent a room with a white board and wifiand convene your business brainstorming meetings; so you didn’t need to have your own office anymore, if you were seeding a start-up idea with no funding, out of your studio apartment.

A few doors down Miranda saw a tea shop, where there used to be a bar, and where she’d heard Jerry Garcia play banjo in his folk music days, long before the Grateful Dead.

Miranda walked into the tea shop and up the side stairs to the balcony, where Jerry had sat and played his banjo. She remembered the crowd, and she remembered the times.

Walking down University Avenue, she could see in her memory the old stationery and hardware stores of the past, replaced now by upscale eateries. She imagined the shops from then, and the businesses from now, superimposed over each other; and she meditated on the passage of time.

Life was short; things changed quickly. When you were living in an area, those changes were gradual, and you didn’t see them. When you returned from afar, after a passage of time, the changes were striking.

She picked up the local newspaper and sat down on a bench, reading that even those fancy new upscale retail businesses were now being squeezed off of University Avenue, in reaction to the demand for start-up office space. Unless the city council stepped in and intervened, those businesses would be gone, since the demand for start-up office space in Palo Alto had risen so high.

“Hi, Miranda,” said a voice.

There was a homeless-looking guy, standing in front of her. He looked familiar.

In a shock, Miranda realized it was Eddie, her brother’s friend from elementary school. Eddie was dressed shabbily; in torn and stained clothes. He had a long red beard.

More tomorrow.