By Paul Bendix
Menlo GoodbyeUploaded: Apr 13, 2015
When your wife asks, without an ounce of irony, what to do with medicine that expired in 1986...you know you are really moving. Thing is, in 1986 Menlo Park already had been my home for five years. I came here, as so many do, for work. Commuting from San Francisco had proved impossible after nine months. Someone knew of a quiet ground-floor apartment in Menlo Park. I knew nothing of Menlo Park, but then as now, housing drives many decisions.
For someone used to city life, this seemed an oddly suburban place. Still, there was an excellent bookstore. One could get reasonable fish and chips here, get a convivial hamburger there. And enjoy quite a number of movies. In addition to the late Park Theatre, with its memorable neon, what is now Left Bank housed an informal, second-run cinema. The latter served up last year's movie hits to an audience in beanbag chairs. The 1980s was a more relaxed era, less economically pressured and, it must be said, less pretentious.
Moving is hard. Not only because one has to let go of over-the-counter medicines that have let go of their biochemistry...but because there is so much unfinished.
Some unfinished things are pleasantly evolving. Take Music at Menlo. For 10 years our burg has, in effect, been the summer home of Lincoln Center's chamber series. The July-August concerts, a wheelchair ride from home, have ranged from thrilling to edifying. I recognize and enjoy more chamber works now. It's amazing to have this festival in town. It's startling to visit the UK...and hear the concerts broadcast on BBC radio.
As for our Performing Arts Center, M@M's main concert venue...the civic theater has enormous potential. The acoustics are remarkable. With professional management...yes, it's expensive...the PAC could host more wonderful events.
I fully expect Menlo Park to be arguing about modernizing its 19th century railroad crossings well into the 22nd century. The 8:39 express that took me to San Francisco this very morning was standing room only, of course. The hundreds of commuters jamming the platform at Fourth & King are emblematic of boom times. How Menlo Park adjusts to these times...well, I'll hear about it from the other end of the line.