Does your flivver quiver?

“Flivver” is an archaic term for a car.

Leland Levy is a former mayor who still carries a lot of water here, through Friends of Lytton Plaza, Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission and more. He is also, I have mentioned a couple times, as asides, a pretty good ping pong player.

Whether they know him or not, many people by now have heard him do song parodies at public functions and sometimes “on the record”, during meetings and hearings.

He is sometimes mischaracterized, in my view, as Palo Alto “poet laureate” — I distinguish between parody and poetry. And I actually advocate for a poet laureate being named here (and California’s poet laureate, Al Young, lived here, with an office or studio in the Nevada Building).

I met Le Levy at a memorial of a family friend, at our mutual place of worship, so feel some kinship with him, despite oftentimes feeling we are on opposite sides of a political aisle. When the Rotary club helped install a monument to Neighbors Abroad, I approached Levy — who had just revised a Broadway tune well before my time — that I could work with him to produce a set of pro-Palo Alto parodies of current songs (Nirvana, which is actually 20 years old, for instance) he said “that would be cute“. Which I took as a “dis”.

Here is an article on Levy and his work, in a musical vein, promoting IBRIC which I highlight because I am curious about this group, how it was formed, its methodology and what it is trying to accomplish, beyond building a new police headquarters, which I tend to believe is unneccesary (although I have only skimmed their documents). Officially IBRIC is 16 leading citizens working in the public interest. Here is more info, from Palo Alto Weekly, January, 2012:
SING, SING A SONG … Palo Alto’s elected leaders know all too well that it’s not easy to get city residents excited about a topic as broad and vague as “infrastructure.” To liven things up, former Mayor Leland Levy serenaded the council this week with a song about the subject — a subject that he and 16 of his colleagues on the city’s Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission (IBRC) have been studying for more than a year. Levy’s repertoire of politically laced musical parodies now includes close to 20 songs, including nearly forgotten masterpieces such as “Seventy-Six Folks” (based on the “Music Man” classic “Seventy-Six Trombones” and dealing with the council’s budget-setting process), “Discussing Sand Hill” (based on Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill”) and “Oh, Beautiful For Byron Sher,” a patriotic homage to the former mayor, state assemblyman and senator. Levy’s latest hit, “IBRC,” draws inspiration from the Village People’s “YMCA” and includes the following lyrics: “Young man, when you drive down the block/ is your auto in perpetual shock/ does your chassis tend to rumble and rock/ does your flivver quiver? And your/ daughter, is she living her dream/ playing soccer for her neighborhood team/ though conditions on the field are the extreme?/ What the way to make things better…/ Well, just you leave it to the I-B-R-C/ You can believe it that the I-B-R-C/ Have all talked the talk/ over each sidewalk/ every park, each plaza and tree/ Have been inspected by the I-B-R-C/ all flaws detected by the I-B-R-C.” The song served as a preamble to the council’s first discussion of the city’s infrastructure, and it won a few fans on the council. Councilman Larry Klein proclaimed Levy the city’s “Cole Porter” while Councilman Greg Schmid concluded the meeting by rising from his seat and, in true Village People style, pantomiming with his arms “I-B-R-C.”

The original song is from 1978, featuring Victor Willis lead vocals and co-writer. I would imagine there are books on the song and its various parodies and tributes. Here is the original video:

and here is Yankees’ ground crew working it into their act:

I believe KZSU sometimes plays cuts, coming out of the Vince Larkin council broadcasts of a Leland Levy production circa 1985 or so or Palo Alto songs. I caught something about City Hall having floors that nobody occupies or knows why.

Which reminds me: I did once post a parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” about Lytton Plaza debate. And I am working up the nerve to post a parody of an old Randy Newman chestnut about developers and residents. If I was all in, or had millions and billions to make off this, I would actually record these things for digital distribution (which is a separate project that what I can imagine working with Le Levy on).


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
This entry was posted in development, influences and inspirations, media coverage, Public Art, residentialists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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