Missing: A 151 year old bronze howitzer cannon filled with cement, last seen in St. James Park.
That’s right, the three-foot-long cannon bolted to the granite pedestal of President William McKinley’s statue in downtown San Jose has been stolen. It’s actually been gone for a little over a year, but you’ll be forgiven for not noticing it, as the last year has been a bit of a distraction.
Daniel Lazo, spokesperson for the San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, said the cannon went missing in late May or early June 2020 and the city filed a police report on the theft.
You will recall that this was around the same time that the protests against the murder of George Floyd filled the streets of downtown. No one is connecting the protests and the theft, but given the widespread anger directed at monuments nationwide that summer – mostly Confederate statues, but also those honoring Father Junipero Serra and Christopher Columbus, as well as the Thomas Fallon statue in San Jose – it wouldn’t. It would be a total shock if someone let go of the cannon during an attempted blow against the Patriarchy.
Or it could have been totally unrelated to the protests, which would actually be stranger – because who would? And, given the weight and size of the barrel, how did they win it? It’s not something you just slip into a backpack. (That’s not uncommon in San Jose, of course: The massive Orchard Supply Hardware arrow sign was “freed” from its perch off West San Carlos Street in 2018 and recovered a few months later after a police investigation. )
The gun also has a bit of history. President McKinley spoke at St. James Park in May 1901, five months before his assassination in Buffalo, NY. The Patriots of San Joseans raised $ 13,000 to commission the monument, created by San Francisco sculptor Rupert Schmid. It was installed at the end of 1902, the year inscribed on the pedestal, and consecrated in February 1903. The barrel does not appear in some of the earliest photographs, but appears to have been installed soon after. Many towns received weapons like the howitzer when they retired and displayed them in squares and civic buildings, so it would not have been unusual to place one with this statue.
According to a listing in the Smithsonian Institution’s Art Inventory Catalog, the inscription on the barrel indicated that it was a ship howitzer sunk at the US Naval Yard in Washington, DC in 1870. Known as Named “12 pounds” because of the weight of its projectile, the barrel itself weighs over 425 pounds. A city’s historical report on St. James Park indicates that the weapon was originally on the USS Kearsarge, a Civil War-era sloop that hunted Confederate ships in European waters.
An interesting footnote to its lore is that on Halloween day 1932, a trio of San Jose teenagers put an explosive charge through the barrel of the cannon and set it off like a prank, blowing up the windows. from the courthouse across the street and knocking over the gun. of his mounts. To avoid any duplication of performance, the barrel was filled with concrete.
And while this makes the gun safer for display, it has likely destroyed much of its historical value, which would be bad news for whoever has it. Only about 180 such howitzers were made and less than two dozen still exist. Two of them, in much better condition than the San Jose example, were auctioned off at Christie’s for $ 16,250 and $ 17,500 in 2017.
Yeah, I bet you go get it now.
MAKE THIS WOMAN A STAR: San Jose needed a good laugh, and we got a lot of it this weekend from comedian Anjelah Johnson, who was headlining seven sold-out shows at the San Jose Improv Thursday through Sunday. We walked in for the first of her two shows on Thursday night, and the San Jose native really brought the house down with lots of new material that touched on the on-site shelter, the Zoom label, and her recent part-time move to Nashville, as well as a few fan favorite tracks – all of which come with the signature her fans love.
While Johnson appeared on “MADtv” and had a Netflix special in 2015, you’d think a movie producer or TV director would have lined her up for a lead role already.
SAVE MUSIC: People are vaccinated and the weather is nice, so you would think it’s a good time to restart all outdoor events, right? Well, most of the summer fares we usually enjoy tend to be booked months in advance, and no one knew what summer would be like a few months ago (and with this increase in the Delta variant , who knows what will look like now). Jazz on the Plazz, the weekly summer musical series in Los Gatos, was one of the events that couldn’t really plan a season in person and had to cancel shows for the second year in a row.
But Los Gatos Music and Arts has hosted two “off the Plazz” Jazz events that will help the popular series survive. The first is a July 25 concert featuring Grammy Award-winning Tony Lindsay, along with Janice Maxie-Reid and Deszon Claiborne, at the Silver Mountain Winery in Los Gatos. The $ 120 ticket includes a wine tasting and tapas buffet before the 6 p.m. show.
And on September 26, Linda L. Lester will co-host Los Gatos Music and Arts’ annual fundraising gala featuring singer Kim Nalley in a special tribute to Billie Holliday. The 5pm show and party will take place at La Estancia, the Los Gatos home of Larry Arzie and David Stonesifer. Tickets for both events are available at www.jazzontheplazz.com.
HEARING AGAIN: Like many other venues, the Hammer Theater Center in downtown San Jose will welcome audiences again this month – but only the crowds in the auditorium will be live. That’s because the Hammer’s first events are the return of his popular live National Theater screenings, the July 22-25 kickoff with Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies,” followed by “The Curious Incident of the Dog in la nuit “(July 29 and August 1) and” Cyrano de Bergerac “(August 5 and 8), with James McAvoy. Get tickets and more details at hammertheater.com.