Archive for the ‘Signs of a Downturn in Silicon Valley: Traffic and Andy Warhol’ Category

Signs of a Downturn in Silicon Valley: Traffic and Andy Warhol

February 4, 2009

Hey folks. Apologies for not posting over the last few days. I’ve been in Northern California since Monday, shuttling back and forth between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. I know the blog beast is hungry and must be fed.

A few quick observations and thoughts:

1. The recession is definitely having an impact on the Valley. I know this because I took a reading of one of my most reliable indicators of the area’s economic health: traffic patterns on Route 101.

Yesterday, I left Palo Alto at 5pm to head back to SF. I was dreading the ride home because typically, during this rush hour time, with numerous bottlenecks slowing traffic down to a crawl, it takes about 75 to 90 minutes to reach the city. But miraculously I cruised up the highway and made it to SF in just under an hour. Clearly, economic activity has dropped. And faster commutes is one of the silver linings.

2. Culture thrives during a downturn. Last night, I attended a film screening and music performance at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts called “13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.” The program featured 13 screen tests from Andy Warhol of various groupies and a few celebrities, including Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed and Nico.

Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, formerly of Luna and currently with Dean & Britta, performed music they composed for a selection of Warhol’s four-minute, silent film portraits.

The concert/performance sold out on a Tuesday night. I didn’t have a ticket but got one after they released a few tix before show time. One fun factoid: The image above is of Mary Woronov, a Factory girl who ended playing the principal in the cult classic movie Rock ‘N Roll High School!

It was a pretty cool performance. The music was great and provided a creative counterpoint to the film images appearing behind the musicians. I think the films show Warhol’s talent for making celebrities out of ordinary things and people. i.e. a Campbell’s soup can.

FYI: I am also gearing up for my big Stanford talk today. Hope to see you tonight!