Features & Columns

Poet, Translator Sholeh Wolpe Gives Epic
Persian Allegory New Life

Sholeh Wolpe removed gender pronouns from her new translation of 'The Conference of the Birds' Read More


Poet, Translator Sholeh Wolpe Gives Epic Persian Allegory New Life

Sholeh Wolpe uses poetry to unite east and west. A few years ago, the Iranian-American poet and translator came to San Jose State University and gave a talk on Attar, the legendary Sufi mystic writer from whom Rumi acquired his entire shtick. Attar's epic allegorical poem, The Conference of the Birds, had only been translated in a scholarly fashion, so Wolpe decided to translate a few passages into poetic English for her presentation at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Main Library. The experience moved her so much that she later wound up pursuing and getting a contract to translate the entire book, which just came out from W.W. Norton. Wolpe returned to San Jose State last week as part of her book launch enterprise. Once again, San Jose serves » Read More

Still No Answers

Mong-Van Fousek hobbled into San Jose City Hall with all she has left in the world: a backpack and canvas tote full of clothes, toiletries and a few snacks. "I can't leave it at the shelter," she said, "or someone might take it." The 71-year-old widow lost everything else in the flood that devastated several neighborhoods along Coyote Creek over two days in late February. But she didn't come to complain at Thursday's public hearing, the first since the disaster. After two weeks of enduring cramped quarters at the Seven Trees Community Center shelter, Fousek said, she simply wants to know when she can go back to her apartment in Rock Springs. » Read More

Sikh Culture Celebrated in Exhibit Coinciding with Events

Headquartered in Palo Alto, the Sikh Foundation International will soon be celebrating its 50th anniversary. A "golden gala" will take place May 5 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco to coincide with an exhibit, "Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs," which just opened last week. Several distinguished guests will attend, including Navtej Sarna, India's current ambassador to the U.S., who just happens to be an author, a traveler, a columnist and a Leonard Cohen fan. What a combination. Following the gala dinner, over the weekend of May 6-7, an elaborate conference will take place at Stanford University. » Read More

The Resistance Is Fertile in Silicon Valley

Benny O'hara flips through a stack of drawings on tracing paper and produces a recent piece: a protest sign on a wooden stake, surrounded by lilies. The time for peace, it seems, has come to an end. An artist at Death Before Dishonor tattoo parlor in downtown San Jose, O'Hara, who uses they/them pronouns, has received numerous requests for political ink in the last few months. Feminist tattoos like clothes hangers and burned bras, anti-fascist tattoos and trans-pride art. "Lots of people are wanting to have that conversation starter readily available and put it all out there," O'Hara says. "If you care about something and you want to be expressing it to as many people as possible, a tattoo is a much bigger commitment than a T-shirt." » Read More

Discovering the Virtues of VR Porn at Cinequest

The 2017 incarnation of Cinequest continues through this weekend. So far, the anti-man-about-town is both inspired and disgruntled: inspired because of all the glorious unknown discoveries and eclectic characters Cinequest usually supplies are in full force; disgruntled because a huge portion of the festival is in Redwood City, due to the demise of Camera 12. Opening night saw director Mark Pellington present his new dark comedy, The Last Word, in which abrasive advertising tycoon Harriet Lauler (Shirley MacLaine) railroads Anne (Amanda Seyfried), a young aspiring newspaper staffer, by having her write Harriet's obituary before she even dies. In a down-to-earth interview after the film, Pellington, also one of the most celebrated music » Read More

Kim Addonizio Brings Intense New Poetry Collection to San Jose

Acclaimed poet, writer and articulator of the blues Kim Addonizio fortifies the classical poetic canon with glorious fusions of sacred and profane in her latest volume, Mortal Trash. Heraclitean Fire, internet dating, antidepressant medications and crappy ex-lovers appear and disappear, one after the other. She employs prosody and parody, elegy and eulogy, with equal intensity. For this reason, Addonizio's appearance 4-5pm Friday in the Steinbeck Center, on the fifth floor of San Jose State University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, should make for a gala hoedown spectacular, free to the public. There will be a special cocktail hour and reading and conversation. » Read More

The Cinequest Issue

From George Lucas' pioneering special effects studio, Industrial Light & Magic, to Steve Jobs' wild personal gamble, Pixar, the Bay Area has long been home to powerhouses in movie and TV production. But for all the incredible work done in the region, Los Angeles has remained the film capital of the world-while Silicon Valley has served only as a consultancy outpost for the big Hollywood studios. That is poised to change as more filmmakers adopt virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to tell stories, according to Halfdan Hussey, CEO and co-founder of Cinequest, which this year is expanding its mission statement and rebranding itself as the Cinequest Film & VR Festival. » Read More

Maitri Celebrates Progress in Confronting Domestic Abuse

This Saturday, Maitri celebrates 26 years operating as a free, confidential nonprofit organization that helps South Asian families deal with domestic violence, emotional abuse, human trafficking and other forms of family conflict. Unaffiliated with any cultural, social or religious organization, Maitri provides advice, legal help, transportation and even, in some cases, transitional housing for those who feel threatened in their own homes and in their closest relationships. In a way, Maitri functions as a liaison between local South Asian women in need and the mainstream American support system that may initially seem too distant for these women to approach. » Read More

Silicon Valley Comedy Scene Boosted by Open Mic Nights

Frankie Marcos' standup debut was a bomb not of his making. His co-worker, a chef, had told him it was open mic night at a bar in San Francisco. Marcos, like many beginners, decided to give it a shot because he had a rep as the funny guy at work. Why not try standup? He arrived at the bar anxious and proceeded to get buzzed. Just before his set was scheduled to start, Marcos looked around and realized there wasn't much of an audience and not a microphone to be seen. He asked his co-worker what was going on. "It's just you," the chef replied, turning to the entire bar to announce: "All right! It's time for some comedy!" » Read More

Power to the Pupil

This week I come to you from Terminal B, Gate 18, in the Power Suite. It is here, at Mineta San Jose International Airport, where 26 works of art by local high school students are now on display for those who can make it past security. The Power Suite is a 2,500-square-foot hold-room of sorts, seating about 100 passengers, a place where domestic and international travelers can plug in their devices at numerous spaces. But now, thanks to "Artspiration," a movement developed by administrators, teachers, parents, artists and community leaders to finally re-introduce the arts into teenagers' educational lives, the Power Suite has come to life via the artwork of 26 high school students from across the valley. The pieces are split between » Read More

Bay Area Wedding Singers Share Their Secrets

From truck drivers to X-ray diagnosticians, automation threatens millions of American jobs. We have traded face-to-face, human interactions for economic efficiency in almost all fields. But some things must remain sacred-and funky. While DJs and (shudder) playlists further encroach upon the most hallowed day in many romantic relationships-the wedding day-a relic from the past has maintained a unique nuptial niche. We're talking, of course, about wedding singers. Today's incarnations are nothing like Adam Sandler's crass burnout. They vary from traditionalists to award-winning singer-songwriters to gaudy '80s cover bands, but the very best perform a range that rivals any DJ-but with more oomph than could ever be extracted from a canned set. » Read More

San Jose's Little Italy Has Big New Plans

Wine, pizza, soccer and abandoned bakeries just go together in Little Italy. That's why several folks have conspired for years to transform one of San Jose's original 19th century Italian neighborhoods into a miniature Little Italy of the current day. Not much exists yet, but thanks to the efforts of a whole lot of Italian-Americans, some rip-roaring progress is starting to happen. The original Italian neighborhood is now the stretch of St. John Street just west of the hideous Highway 87 overpass, right where Henry's Hi-Life now sits. As recently as 100 years ago this was the intersection of San Augustine and Pleasant streets. » Read More

Santa Cruz Mountains Manhunt Evokes Travel Book Memories

Memories come from the strangest places. The recent image of a bank robber fleeing into the Santa Cruz Mountains and the subsequent police manhunt drove me to remember when I first became interested in exploring that same terrain. As a little kid in the mid-1970s, one of the first travel books I flipped through was a mammoth hardback coffee-table tome called Back Roads of California by Earl Hollander. Everyone's parents seemed to own the book, featuring Hollander's relaxed, genteel pen-and-ink drawings of various locales from the mountain side roads of California, "beyond the subdivisions" as one page quipped. » Read More

Winter Arts 2017

By some estimates, the recent storms have pushed California out of its years-long drought and into one of the wettest winters on record. But while atmospheric rivers have washed out roads and tested our will to venture outdoors, the weather hasn't daunted Silicon Valley creators, nor will it prevent visits by some of the hottest tickets of 2017. Cirque du Soleil is back. The French-Canadian psychedelic circus is throwing up its big tent in San Jose. The current touring show, Luzia, draws inspiration from the scenery, weather and culture of Mexico. » Read More

Lively Weeks of Arts Blends San Jose's Cultural Brew

What began with a one-day Vietnamese journey to San Jose City Hall will continue this weekend, as numerous local arts organizations join together, throw parties, raise funds and make their city a better place to live. The entire week already feels inspiring, so a round-up column becomes necessary. On Friday, Jan. 20, "The Journey of Tao: A Year-End Celebration of Vietnamese-American Artists" took over the City Hall Rotunda, showcasing numerous local and internationally renowned visual artists, both young and old. As with many Vietnamese events, color reigned supreme. Organized by Jenny Do, who once operated the Vietnamese-themed Green Rice Gallery in downtown San Jose, the one-day exhibit celebrated Tao, the popular Vietnamese deity whose » Read More

A Dose of Sunshine

Cookbooks crowd the lower tier of the bookcase. Above it, colored bowls and greeting cards line the top shelf, along with a solitary, empty Mason jar. There's a handwritten note in black ink taped to the side of the vessel. A small heart punctuates the phrase, "Self-loathing jar." Sitting at a long kitchen table made of blond wood and galvanized steel, author Ayelet Waldman waits for the electric kettle to boil as she completes an online purchase in preparation for the Jan. 21 Women's March on Washington. She makes two cups of tea-one for herself and one for her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon, who is sitting in the living room of their Berkeley home, diligently setting up the new flatscreen TV they've just » Read More

Alternative Arts Space WORKS/San Jose Celebrates 40th Anniversary

This year marks the 40th anniversary for WORKS/San Jose gallery, an all-volunteer alternative arts space. Entrenched in the eastern side of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, the gallery celebrates a long, twisted history of continuous relocation woes after moving through six downtown locations in four decades. A microcosm of San Jose's urban redevelopment saga, the WORKS story is a unique testament to how the alternative arts can survive endless cycles of creation and destruction at the hands of greedy real estate operatives and the city planners that love them. It isn't quite David versus Goliath, but it's close. » Read More

Pulitzer Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen Puts San Jose in Literary Spotlight

Viet Thanh Nguyen is the V.S. Naipaul of San Jose's underbelly. Or maybe the Vietnamese Nelson Algren of Santa Clara Street. His short story "War Years" conjures up exactly the right inner and outer conflicts that characterize the East-West clash of San Jose's most prominent thoroughfare. San Jose is on the literary map once again. But first some background. Twenty-five years ago, when I'd regularly haunt the notorious Charlie's Liquors at Fourth and Santa Clara streets, right where City Hall now sits, I'd gaze in everyday wonderment at the glorious downmarket legends across the street: Lenny's Cocktails, the Quality Cafe, and New Saigon Market. » Read More

Vegan Chef Miyoko Schinner to Cater SJ Woman's Club Meetup

Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash might be coming to 11th and Santa Clara streets in downtown San Jose. On Jan. 26, the San Jose Woman's Club, in partnership with South Bay Vegan Drinks, will stage a rip-roaring fundraiser for the Rancho Compasion animal sanctuary. Unfolding at the club's historic building at 75 S. 11th St., the event will feature a menu of food and drinks prepared by renowned vegan chef Miyoko Schinner, along with a silent auction to bid on food, dinner, local gifts and theater packages. The menu will feature Miyoko's award-winning cheeses (including her Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash) and several other dishes. Everything will be 100 percent vegan. » Read More

Reminiscences on a Rough 2016 and Good Times to Come

At least in the crowds I infiltrate, 2016 was considered a miserable year. I don't mean politics. I mean in terms of death and destruction. We lost too many heroes-Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen, just to name but a few, and lesser-known heroes seemingly expiring every other day throughout the year. All in all, it makes me realize how lucky I am to still be writing this column, which has now reached approximately 613 installments in a row. Over the past year, yet another zonked bouillabaisse of material spilled into this space. » Read More

A.D.M. Cooper: San Jose's First Bohemian Rock Star

In 1909, East San Jose was a separate town from San Jose proper. What's now the intersection of 21st and San Antonio was the intersection of Jones and Franklin, just a few blocks east of Coyote Creek. At this corner, the Egyptian-style studio of San Jose's most famous painter, Astley D.M. Cooper, came to life. Born in St. Louis in 1856, Cooper arrived in East San Jose in 1886, and then spent the rest of his life here, before dying in 1924 at the age of 68. Throughout nearly four decades in San Jose, Cooper blossomed into the young town's bon vivant and possibly its first-ever bohemian rock-star artist, working with a variety of subjects. His heroic portrayals of indigenous peoples, frontier life and the diminishing buffalo population » Read More

Remembering the Punk Ingenuity that Made SoFA District Great

This is also my view of downtown San Jose, where, in the SoFA District, decades of creation and destruction reverberate to the current day. Businesses or buildings die right alongside others just beginning, seemingly merging the district's physical and temporal aspects. Djinns are a city's ghosts and when I see the brick building at 399 S. First St. gearing up to serve fish taco plates, I cannot help but recall when that building was Marsugi's, the best corner rock & roll dive San Jose ever had. At Marsugi's, one watched bands like Nirvana or Faith no More in front of 30 people, back when those bands were relatively unknown. However, on one particular night at Marsugi's, things got a little fishy. At the time, we were a group of four SJSU » Read More

Ray Ashley Dedicated Life to Supporting South Bay Artists

The San Jose arts community has lost one of its most legendary benefactors. As a collector, Ray Ashley probably owned more pieces of art than anyone in San Jose history. A disabled Vietnam veteran, Ashley was a fixture at gallery auctions for decades. He'd show up at venues like MACLA, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, or WORKS, decked out in groovy paint-splattered attire, only to outbid much higher-rolling people. Everyone either knew him or at least saw him at a gallery somewhere. Ashley believed in supporting local artists and he gave everyone a chance. » Read More

Irish Revolutionary, Hired Gun Receives 100-Year Memorial

About two dozen people recently gathered at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery to stage a memorial for Irish revolutionary and legend Michael "Mick" McDonnell. Nearly 100 years ago, McDonnell was the first leader of "The Squad," a.k.a. "The Twelve Apostles," the assassination unit employed by Michael Collins during the Irish War of Independence. » Read More

Metro's 2016 Give Guide: Gifts that Pay It Forward

We've all been on the receiving end of a self-serving gift. It could be the husband who gives an iPad when we really wanted a Brazilian blowout. Or it could be the wife who gets a couples vacation to a seaside B&B when all we asked for was a Fitbit (you know, to track all the steps we're not taking). This holiday season we figured it's time to stop worrying just about ourselves and consider not only what we want but what could also benefit others. Our 2016 Gift Guide includes off-the-grid presents that fall into three categories: gifts that makes people healthier, support local ag and the environment, and boost businesses that pay it forward by donating proceeds and time to the community. A few of them even accomplish all three. So, » Read More

Annual Tech Awards inspire Yet Again in Troublesome Times

It's safe to assume that hundreds of people left the 16th annual Tech Awards motivated to use technology for the greater global good. In these dark times, the event was a rock-solid reminder that hope is not an illusion. As such, the Tech Awards gala tends to be one of the more uplifting events of Silicon Valley, highlighting and supporting individuals who work in various international humanitarian projects. People who understand the global picture. People doing their part to fight world poverty, improve the global environment, empower the underprivileged and make the planet healthier. Laureates receive unrestricted prizes-usually $50,000-for their work in health projects, world hunger, sustainable energy, economic development, education » Read More

Getting Blazed: California Wildfires Rage in New Ecosystem

On a late September afternoon, residents as far flung as San Jose, Morgan Hill and Santa Cruz watched in collective horror as a thin smoke plume at the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains became an ominous mushroom cloud that was visible for miles. For two weeks, the mountain peak looked like an erupting volcano as the Loma fire burned 4,474 acres and destroyed 12 homes and 16 other buildings. Hundreds were evacuated. At its height, more than 2,000 personnel battled the fire day and night, from the air and on land. The Loma fire was contained on Oct. 10, but firefighters remained at the scene for another several days, finishing repairs. Not including damages to property and infrastructure, more than $17.8 million was spent to control it, » Read More

Artist-Partners Document Actually Epic Road Trip in 'Silver Ochre'

Two artists and partners just spent the last seven months traveling around the country to collect material for a documentary about artists engaging themselves in socio-political-communal action. They've already operated in a nomadic fashion for years, but this time around, Thollem McDonas and Angela Villa traveled to all 48 contiguous states, performing along the way, and gathering source footage for a related live show debuting at WORKS/San Jose this Saturday. Featuring McDonas on a smoking Waldorf Blofeld synthesizer and Villa's digital video talents, Silver Ochre takes its name from a harmonization of opposites. The ochre pigment used in paleolithic cave paintings meets the silver screen. Old meets new. Intimacy meets distance. » Read More

New Ballet School Rises from Ashes at Reinvented Hammer 2.0

Last spring, after Silicon Valley Ballet circled the drain for the final time, Dalia Rawson got to thinking. As director of the ballet's training school, which likewise collapsed with the pro company, she realized the need for a new endeavor, a new professional ballet training program with a focus on dancer health and child development. Hence, the New Ballet School was born, using primarily the same team that ran the old school for many years. Staff had to volunteer at first. Families and students had paid tuition through the summer and those funds were lost due to the financial ruin of the professional company. But now that the New Ballet School is out of the starting gate, the company is poised to present a totally reimagined version of » Read More

Puff, Puff Passed: What to Know About Legal Pot in California

Pollsters were right about Proposition 64. Two decades after legalizing medicinal cannabis, California voters on Tuesday approved its recreational use. The initiative, which garnered 55.6 percent of the vote by press time, was one of nine weed-related measures throughout the nation and one of three to pass recreational use. "This is a titanic shift in U.S. drug policy," San Jose-based pot lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai said. "I think it will help get rid of those last vestiges of stigma attached to medical marijuana, or marijuana in general." Most Americans say they're already on board with lifting the prohibition on recreational use. » Read More

Reconceived Dadaglobe Project Picks Up Where Tristan Tzara Left Off

Whenever I hit the road, synchronicities unfold on multiple levels. Last spring, for example, the anti-man-about-town infiltrated Zurich to experience the centenary of the Dada art movement, an international web of radical creative perspectives that forever altered the courses of 20th-century art. Following in the footsteps of anti-establishment heroes via interviews, museum exhibits, street tours and historical research was a form of creative genealogy. Now, as you read this, certain individuals and vibes from that trip are arriving in San Francisco for the Dada World Fair, organized by City Lights Bookstore, now through Nov. 13. Talk about everything coming full circle. » Read More

Photo Challenge 'This IS San Jose' Extols City's Diverse Identity

Here's an idea: If there's one topic to unite everyone in San Jose, it's that 100 percent of us are sick and tired of talking about San Jose's identity. Every year it comes up, with people having the same exact conversation. The way I see it, there is no such thing as any singular San Jose identity-never has been, never will be-so it's a pointless, drab, ho-hum conversation. This area explodes with a zillion identities. The multiplicity and schizophrenia should be celebrated. End of discussion. Forever. Can we just get on with more stimulating conversation? Please? I'm only frothing about this because a heroic individual, Charles DiLisio, wants to rightfully lionize the multiplicities of San Jose via photography and photography contests. » Read More

Punk Rock Fanzine 'Eat Poop' Returns to Grimy Downtown Roots

If people in this city can wax nostalgic about canneries and orchards, I have the right to fondly recall the grand old days of a punk rock magazine called Eat Poop. Now, just so you'll read further, let me explain a few things. I'm probably giving way too much credit by calling it a "magazine," when in reality Eat Poop was a fanzine. But it was one that featured artwork, poetry, music reviews and everything that zines tend to do. Back in the early '90s, as the original SoFA District era raged with punk, metal, college-radio rock, cheap beer and way too many stoner bands, a thunderous punk scenester named Nathan Nothin' regularly cranked out issues of Eat Poop from his place near Fifth and St. James. To my knowledge, it was the only San » Read More

No Turning Back from On-Demand Food Delivery Revolution

Chef David Kinch has spearheaded one of the most successful restaurants in the world in his 3 Michelin Star restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos, so the idea of customers walking up to a hostess stand, perusing the menu and ordering takeout would seem more than a bit presumptuous. Once-in-a-lifetime fine dining experiences don't exactly do to-go. But Kinch has an impressive array of less expensive restaurants that cater to a more economically eclectic crowd. His fame-and undeniably inventive, delicious cuisine-has been enough to keep the 60 or so seats of his latest venture, The Bywater, filled during dinner service seven days a week. Despite the apparent rush of customers to the New Orleans-inspired eatery, also located in Los Gatos, The » Read More

San Jose, SJSU Partnership Revives Hammer Theatre

Last week in downtown San Jose, the C2SV conference intertwined with a nexus of activity that blurred the boundaries between arts, design and urban planning, along with the ever-evolving ways in which San Jose State University (SJSU) and the city government are getting back together again. First, the SoFA Design Crawl brought out at least a few hundred SJSU students to South First Street. In addition, regulars and non-regulars got a unique chance to see several design businesses like Whipsaw, Decca Design and Elemental8 all showcase their current projects. Everyone walks by these buildings, yet no one knows about the innovation transpiring inside them, so it was a fantastic idea for everyone involved. Entirely new demographics of people » Read More

Can Cannabis Treat Type 2 Diabetes, Munchies?

My Google alerts recently put me on to something intriguing. The combination of CBD and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) looks to have significant therapeutic potential in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. While this was news to me, scientific studies concerning THCV and Type 2 diabetes have been making scientific news for at least three years. What is THCV? Simply put, THCV is what chemists call the propyl variant of THC. To quote a Leafly article, "THCV is similar to THC in molecular structure and psychoactive properties, but it provides a variety of pronounced and altogether different effects." While THCV is psychoactive, it's a shorter, more intense high than THC. THC is a few hours at the amusement park; THCV is an hour on the roller » Read More

SoFA District's Future in the Balance

For once, artists and real estate developers just might come to a meeting of the minds. As grotesquely expensive housing begins to leach onto the SoFA District in downtown San Jose, where many have labored for a quarter-century to make the neighborhood artsy and interesting, here comes a slew of events to see how stakeholders might possibly find common ground. As part of C2SV, San Jose's three-day music and tech-industry powwow, MACLA will host a rocking Cultural District Forum at 10am Thursday, Oct. 6. Later that evening, the second annual siteSoFA Design Crawl will unfold, with more than a dozen designers, architects and other creative agencies opening up their offices to showcase current projects. Both events are free of charge. (Full » Read More

Small-Time Growers Face Big Issues

Due to major changes in the law, everyone in the cannabis industry will soon have to make a choice: get licensed, go (or stay) black market or quit. As an attorney, I cannot, and will not, recommend anything other than full compliance with state and local law for those who want to be involved. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that many of those who opt to get licensed will still get squeezed out of the industry. There are two main ways that I see this happening. First, I don't think the average person realizes the storm of bureaucracy that is approaching. The industry is about to go from basically unregulated to highly regulated. Costs are about to go up. Way up. Margins will drop considerably. This is inevitable. » Read More

Chaos in the Valley

Nothing can stop them. The gates of business schools yawn open every summer and disgorge new legions of MBAs, coming to make their bones in the valley. The rents and property values pierce the skies and reach the orbit of Saturn. Once a refuge for endangered creatures of all sizes, San Francisco is today a bleached coral reef. Fresh indentured slaves arrive from Uttar Pradesh by the planeload, clutching visas that evaporate at the mere frown of a supervisor. The roads back up to Vacaville. The crux, perhaps: the insanely great iHorror Apple-caused traffic snarl at 237 and 880 in Milpitas. This reliable jam is so dreadful that it cannot be described in the tongues of men, but only in the shrieks of an electrocuted cockatoo. And we learn, » Read More

Serendipity Abounds at Vancouver Placemaking Conference

When the anti-man-about-town invades British Columbia, or anywhere in Canada, serendipitous events often emerge. Previous examples are out there, if readers require proof. In the most recent case, I was already scheduled to take the new Air Canada flight from San Jose to Vancouver, when Ed Solis of the San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services told me his crew was going to be in Vancouver the same exact stretch of three days, presenting at the Pro Bike/Pro Walk/Pro Place conference. As North America's most popular walking, biking and placemaking powwow, the conference was slotted to attract more than 1,000 people involved in active transportation issues: city planners, transportation engineers, public health » Read More

Supersizing the Moon

Amnesia is baked into our economy's dependence on planned obsolescence. Once last year's suite of electronic devices makes one trip around the sun, a new fleet of shinier gizmos is ushered in. As the years go by, information gets trapped by the medium that was previously in vogue. VCRs break down, CD players fade into obscurity, and those little ear buds with the white cord no longer plug into your handset. VHS tapes and compact discs become artifacts housed in the basement archives of museums. This can happen even when the information is of monumental historical significance. The single most titanic deed of the 1960s-the first human landing on the Moon, followed by the safe retrieval of the voyagers-was counterpointed later by » Read More

Electronica Trailblazer Don Buchla Leaves Legacy of Sound

Don Buchla, the legendary modular synthesizer pioneer, passed away last week at the age of 79. Anyone currently playing a synthesizer, tweaking electronics for sound generation or making any sort of modern-day electronic keyboard music has Buchla to thank, at least partly. While Bob Moog was the first one to officially release a modular synthesizer as a commercial product, Buchla was probably the first one to envision modules with the intention of assembling them together into a live performance instrument. As an engineer and a musician, Buchla was a daring, ornery innovator with a keen sense of what avant-garde musicians, composers and performers might want. His modular electronic music systems forever changed the way sound is created and » Read More

Cannabinoids Save the Day

The first time I smoked pot was in Eric Schroeder's garage in Fullerton, 1969. The high was different than now. Much more visceral. Fast forward 10 years. Sonoma State. Consuming the occasional edible. Getting a little uncomfortable. Forgetting I had graduated and attended another two years. I'm free to go? Fast forward 10 or 20 years. Pot definitely changed. Consuming pot had become an ordeal. Who the hell kidnapped the jovial Panama Red? This was knife-wielding-son-of-Chucky-with-spooky-soundtrack pot. Paranoia. So I joined a country club and started drinking beer. In 2008, my breathing faltered, and my words were getting choked off, like in the movies where someone is being strangled. Ak, lek argghh. You're cho-choking me. Fortunately, » Read More

Car and Driverless: Rollout of Autonomous Vehicles Presents Existential Questions

After touring an exhibition put on by Yanfeng, the world's largest auto interior company, I hailed an Uber driver who happened to be on his first day of work. Six fares in and loving it, he sparked up the customary chit-chat, asking what I'd been doing. I stuttered. I didn't want to deflate his excitement. I'd just seen the future, and it didn't include him. Yanfeng's showroom prototype sported a soon-to-be omnipresent feature that will replace virtually any vehicle service that requires an actual driver. But, more cheerily, it'll also reduce traffic, pollution and death, plus save trillions of dollars. The revolutionary feature? A steering wheel that nestles into the dash during autonomous mode. » Read More

Street Party Viva CalleSJ Returns for Second Year

This Sunday, the second annual Viva CalleSJ will successfully shut down six miles of San Jose streets, closing them off to automobile traffic for a free, open-streets adventure of the highest order. This is not a race, a protest or a riot. The goal is to create a temporary autonomous zone where anyone can ride bicycles, walk, skate, scamper, saunter, play music, do yoga, sell art, dance, or explore the urban fabric however they want. Most creative or curious people understand that the least interesting way to experience San Jose is from a car, so Viva CalleSJ is a fantastic idea. » Read More

Saratoga's Historic Japanese Garden Celebrates Special Milestones

In some cases anniversaries last three years. Hakone Estate & Gardens in Saratoga emerged a century ago-give or take a year-and the legendary Japanese-style oasis now finds itself right smack in the middle of its centenary. The celebration began in 2015 and continues through 2017. On the 18th of September, a grand gala unfolds on the property for $200 per person. Unlike the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park or the Friendship Garden in Kelley Park, Hakone was originally constructed as a private estate. Philanthropists Isabel and Oliver Stine attended the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and became so obsessed with Japanese concepts that they decided to buy vacation property outside of Saratoga and build » Read More

Elephant in the Valley: Silicon Valley Study Exposes Tech Misogyny

By the time Hillary Mickell started the recipe sharing site Foodily, she'd been working in tech for quite some time. She'd held senior marketing positions at giants including Yahoo, where she climbed the ladder, balancing her career against having two kids. She received her share of offhand comments about how raising children would kill her career. She watched the man hired to fill in for her while she was on maternity leave cozy up to her boss, and wondered if, perhaps, her job was in jeopardy. Still, she thought the culture was fairly inclusive. The chief marketing officer was a woman, and the environment supported female leadership. Mickell successfully split a senior director position in marketing with another woman, Andrea Cutright. » Read More

Joel Selvin's New Book Re-Explores Altamont Tragedy, Rock Egos

In Joel Selvin's new book, Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day, the veteran music journalist effectively dismantles common narratives behind the infamous December 1969 free concert at Altamont Speedway, where Hells Angels were paid $500 in beer to act as security and wound up beating people with pool cues. One of the Angels knifed and killed a person, Meredith Hunter, although he was eventually acquitted. The version of the story put forth by the film Gimme Shelter conveniently absolved the Stones, but not their manager, while also unequivocally blaming the Hells Angels and leaving everything else to chance. Over the decades, this narrative became the accepted version of the events. » Read More

Law Enforcement Caught Targeting Pot-State License Plates

Drives from pot-friendly West Coast states have long complained of "license plate profiling," claiming state troopers more interested in drug interdiction than traffic safety perch like vultures along the nation's east-west interstate highways. Since Colorado blossomed as a medical marijuana state around 2008 (and ever more so since it legalized weed in 2012), drivers bearing the state's license plates have been complaining of getting the same treatment. The practice is so common and well-known along the I-80 corridor in Nebraska that Omaha lawyers advertise about it. Now, one Colorado driver has managed to get something done about it. Peter Vasquez sued a pair of Kansas Highway Patrol officers over a stop and search on I-70 that turned » Read More

Fall Arts 2016

Every year, as the long days of summer slowly fade into cooler autumn evenings, the artists come out. They come with their paint brushes in hand and guitars slung over their shoulders; those wordsmiths and poets preferring the cover of darkness, hover over their writing pads and laptops; gallery curators prepare new exhibitions and stage directors prepare to unveil the first production of the new season. There is so much going on in the Silicon Valley art world this fall-some of it familiar, some of it rather new. Just as the sunny season gives way to shorter days and longer nights, there is a change afoot in the South Bay's art scene. In decades past, five big arts groups dominated the Silicon Valley culture scene. » Read More

Tech Bros Forget Beat Generation's Imprint

Last week, I slithered back into the Beat Museum in San Francisco, arriving by sheer chance. Turns out the museum is currently angling to raise a cool few million so it can buy a new facility up the street. Within minutes, director Jerry Cimino and I found ourselves venting-er, contemplating-the current generations of tech in San Jose, San Francisco and everywhere between, especially how they seem clueless to the counterculture history of these parts. "Silicon Valley, as we know it today, wouldn't exist without The Beat Generation," Cimino said. "In many ways, Beat Generation values became Bay Area values. One of the reasons so many young people want to live here is because the Bay Area is the leading edge and the Beats made it hip." » Read More

Feds Continue Schedule I Absurdity with Pot

Schedule I drugs+ are scary stuff. They're substances the DEA has determined "have no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse." Like heroin or Quaaludes or MDMA. Heroin is implicated in thousands of fatal drug overdoses every year. Nobody does 'ludes anymore. MDMA isn't addictive or nearly as deadly as heroin, but a few dozen people die under its influence every year. The DEA just this month reaffirmed its position that another widely used substance is too dangerous to be placed anywhere but Schedule I: marijuana. This is not the place for a comprehensive critique of the DEA's ability to properly schedule-or more properly, deschedule-marijuana, but here we have a story that illustrates the relative dangers of marijuana » Read More

Exclusive: National Book Award Winner William T. Vollmann Offers Sneak Peak of Upcoming Novel

At this time the young man named Matthew discovered a certain kind of sunshine unlike Sacramento's, which to say fiercer and more withering, one of time's best weapons for degrading newsprint yellowish-orange and wrinkling people before their time; once upon a certain August which measured somewhere below far and gone in his ephemeral existence he had been hitchhiking south from Susanville and was set down in Redding where he waited five midday-girdling hours at an on-ramp whose dusty blackberry brambles were actually dripping with melted black sun-made jellies; but in the strange cool May of this current year as he hitchhiked north toward Redding the sunshine had shifted to an opposite otherness from Sacramento's, being somehow greener in » Read More

2016 San Jose Summer Jazz Fest Covers the Bases-Except One

While musicians, jazz fans, and wristbands of all sorts filled downtown, a grand surprise unfolded inside Camera 12 Cinemas. The 2015 film, Song of Lahore, about a group of traditional Pakistani musicians who travel to New York City to perform with Wynton Marsalis, screened to a crowd of eight people that included the filmmaker. Thousands of festival attendees crawling all over the neighborhood might not have known about the film since it was only mentioned on the jazz festival website and not on the printed schedules. There was no signage for the film anywhere, not even in the theater. » Read More

Obama's Drug War Pardons Running Short on Time

"The power to grant pardons and commutations ... embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws," the president said. Those whose sentences were commuted will walk out of prison Dec. 1. Obama has now commuted the sentences of 562 men and women sentenced under harsh federal drug laws, including 197 people doing life for drug offenses. That's more commutations than the last nine presidents combined. But it's not close to the number whose sentences Obama could commute under a program announced in 2014 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Cole. They called on nonviolent federal drug war » Read More

Annual Rahsaanathon Celebration Leaves Indelible Mark

The fourth annual tribute to the late Rahsaan Roland Kirk ignited and united Cafe Stritch last week. Adepts from across the country flew in for the revelry, and Rahsaan's music once again captured the few hundred combined patrons and freeloading journalists who were lucky enough to witness the masterful repertoire of jazz instrumentation, bluesy overtones and extended techniques for wind and brass. Forget everything you learned about circular breathing and multiphonics. These cats were off the charts. In one sense, though, the ripple effects of Rahsaan's genius flowered before the gigs even started. Adam Kahan's documentary, The Case of the Three Sided Dream, screened at Camera 3 and then spilled kitty-corner across the parking lot to the » Read More

A Statistical Analysis of Cities that Love Pot Most

Where do people like to smoke pot the most? Thanks to government statistics, we have an answer. In a new report based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number crunchers at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have disaggregated the marijuana-use data, providing a means of getting down to pot-smoking frequency at the local level. Researchers found that 7.73 percent of Americans age 12 and older reported using marijuana at least once a month. Similar reports based on the data have allowed us to determine the top 10 marijuana-using states, but this time around researchers divided each state into a number of "sub-state" areas. The sub-state regions include some that have high marijuana-use » Read More

San Jose's Soccer Fandom Grows after MLS All-Star Week

Over five days, the Major League Soccer All-Star game and accompanying festivities took over the San Jose landscape in a multitude of ways. In addition to the main event, other components included concerts, live TV broadcasts and local community service work, all of which provided potential insight into how the game and fan base continue to grow in San Jose. During the match pitting the MLS All-stars against Arsenal, one of England's most storied clubs, 20-year-old Chuba Akpom scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the final minutes. He was one of many younger players manager Arsene Wenger chose in order to test his club's mettle. This made for intriguing comparisons to the MLS All-stars, which included a handful of European players who'd » Read More

Study: Pot Is a Nicer Drug than Booze

Pot hears are mellow, drunks can be mean. That's the common wisdom, and now, thanks to a group of researchers from the Netherlands, it has some scientific validation. In a just-published study in the journal Psychopharmacology, they found that-doh!-people on booze act out, while people on pot peacefully space out. "The results in the present study support the hypothesis that acute alcohol intoxication increases feelings of aggression and that acute cannabis intoxication reduces feelings of aggression," the researchers concluded. The study itself sounds like fun. In a random, controlled trial, the researchers recruited 21 heavy pot smokers (at least three times a week), 20 heavy drinkers (at least three drinks a day for men, two for women), » Read More

Silicon Valley's Melting Pot Creates Mixed Bag of Expectations

Anti-man-about-town paid for his lunch at a fantastic Indian buffet on Castro Street in Mountain View. The woman at the cashier, noticing my last name on the debit card receipt, spoke Hindi to me. When I didn't answer, she said: "You don't speak Hindi?" I said no. She gave me a flabbergasted look and said, "Nothing? Not at all?" To which I replied: "Look. Two buildings down is where Slayer played 28 years ago. And Exodus. And Death Angel. And bands like D.R.I. and Verbal Abuse. Each of which probably involved me, as a teenager, drinking an entire bottle of Night Train in the back parking lot and then relieving myself on the back of this very building in which we now stand. » Read More

Trump VP Hates Weed, Loves Big Tobacco

Donald Trump's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate means the Republican presidential nominee stands by a man who is the very embodiment of last century's "tough on drugs" prohibitionist attitude. Pence's anti-drug reform stances are part and parcel of his overall social conservative, Tea Party positions. He has also been a strong opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights, and a strong supporter of "religious freedom." Indiana has tough marijuana laws, with possession of even the smallest amount of pot resulting in up to six months in county jail. » Read More

MLS All-Star Game Shows San Jose the Love

Major league soccer will commandeer downtown San Jose over the next week in preparation for its annual All-Star Game. Concerts, fan gatherings, interactive exhibits, outdoor games and numerous other events will lead up to Thursday's match, which pits the best of MLS against Arsenal FC, one of the most storied clubs of all time and one that counts Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols among its lifelong fans. As the host city, San Jose Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear will lead the MLS All-Stars, a team of 20 players he chose from across the league. As of Sunday, the final game day roster will include international stars David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Didier Drogba, as well as Americans Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski, the latter a » Read More

Did Pot Dealers Start Western Civilization?

Ever since Herodotus, we've known that the nomadic pastoralists of Asia Minor, the Scythians, burned marijuana as part of religious rituals and ceremonies. Now comes new evidence that human commerce with pot extends back even further, and could have even helped stimulate the rise of Western civilization. At the end of the last Ice Age, roughly 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, people on both sides of the Eurasian land mass independently discovered and made use of marijuana, according to research published in the academic journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. That same research links an upsurge in marijuana use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the beginning of the Bronze Age, some 5,000 years ago. » Read More

BYOB: Stanford Professor's New Book Predicts the 'End of Sex'

Unconditional love. A rekindling of purpose. A true understanding of what it means to be patient. These are the kinds of stale and embarrassing tropes trotted out in every self-help book and daytime TV segment ever produced on "The Joys of Parenting." Please. Spare us the cheesy listicles enumerating the priceless lessons kids can teach us. Parents don't get into the game of childrearing to reconnect with a lost sense of child-like wonder-that's what LSD is for. In the real world, mothers and fathers spend thousands of dollars on soon-to-be-outgrown athletic equipment, burning through paychecks and free time to ferry their precious little princes and princesses to expensive rehearsals and far-flung recitals. In this way, parents foist » Read More

NUMU Show Highlights Femininist Pioneer Anne Brigman

Born near Honolulu in 1869, Anne Brigman photographed nude women merging with nature in mystical, atmospheric settings. In her images, women are not posing for the male gaze. Instead, their unaffected female forms tend to fuse with trees, hillsides and cliffs in dramatic fashion, almost representing archetypes rather than humans. By focusing on the female body amid rugged landscapes along the California coast or the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Brigman developed new ways of exploring feminine identity. She achieved early success as a Pictorialist, infiltrating the Camera Club of San Francisco and the Photo-Secession group, led by Alfred Stieglitz in New York. Her photographs were poetic, pioneering and pagan. Even better, she spent her teenage » Read More

Democrats Do Right by Cannabis

Meeting in Orlando on Saturday, ahead of the Democratic National Convention later this month, the party's platform-drafting committee dropped a moderate marijuana plank it had adopted days earlier. In its place the committee drafted language calling for rescheduling pot-currently Schedule 1-and creating "a reasoned pathway to future legalization." Bernie Sanders supporters had been pushing for firm legalization language, but were turned back last week and didn't have any new language going into the platform committee meeting. But on Saturday afternoon, the committee addressed an amendment that would have removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, as Sanders supporters had earlier sought, with Sanders delegate David King » Read More

SJSU Professors Explore Identities in 'Migratory Cultures'

Over the course of 20 years teaching art at San Jose State University, Robin Lasser recognized a common theme in many of her students' work: that of a third space between their native identity and their American identity. In order to develop her empathy and understanding for her students, she began to envision a project that empowered people with a platform to tell their stories and contemplate their creative explorations of betweenness. Along with SJSU Art Department professor Craig Hobbs, the two artists composed a large-scale video work, Migratory Cultures: Mapping the Distance from Me to You, an interdisciplinary transmedia story of sorts. Just after sunset on July 21, a projection will be shown on the outside of the San Jose Museum of » Read More

Cannabis Measure Heads to Ballot

California joins Maine and Nevada among states that have qualified marijuana-legalization initiatives for the fall ballot. In two more states-Arizona and Massachusetts-legalization campaigns are overcoming final hurdles and are almost certain to join them. But an effort in Michigan faces an uphill battle. Pot is already legal in four states, voted in by residents in Colorado and Washington in 2012, and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. Washington, D.C., approved possession and cultivation, but not a legal marijuana market, that same year. Seeing more states go green in 2016 is one thing, but California is the Big Enchilada. With a population of 38 million, its market is more than twice the size of all the legal pot states combined, and it » Read More

Humorous Novel 'VietnamEazy' Explores Culture, Cooking

"I started the whole VietnamEazy concept because of my husband. His disdain for the strong smell of fish sauce often led me to substitute salt to satisfy his taste." These are the words of Kieu, the main character in Trami Nguyen Cron's debut novel, VietnamEazy. The only San Jose's Parks & Rec department volunteer to write a novel about a TV cooking show, Cron hails from Saigon via France, Dallas and Salt Lake City. What a combination. The book centers on Kieu, a Vietnamese-American woman trying to win a TV cooking show by introducing the general masses to the multisensory allure of Vietnamese food. Her husband is emotionally distant, apathetic, badly withdrawn and lacks any desire to appreciate the talents and passions of his wife. He'd » Read More

Prince Ea Urges President Obama to Legalize Marijuana

Prince Ea-hip-hop artist, activist and founder of Make "SMART" Cool-has just released a remake of his brilliant music video urging President Obama to end our country's disastrous war on marijuana. The 10-minute video (tinyurl.com/hqsg4l3) is both a history lesson and an advocacy tool to expand people's minds and make them laugh at the same time-all while making a personal and persuasive plea to Obama. Prince Ea delves into the history of how marijuana became illegal (lies, racism and political opportunism) and the arbitrary distinctions between legal and illegal drugs. He also lays out the harm of drug prohibition (violence, organized crime and mass incarceration) and the benefits of regulation (taxes, safety and control). » Read More

Bruni Teams Up with SJ Summer Jazz Fest

Finally, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest has teamed up with the most cosmic jazz painter to ever to spend a substantial amount of time in this area. As was unveiled yesterday, Bruni Sablan-the enigmatic, esoteric legend known by just her first name-painted the thematic material for this year's festival, which happens in August. Along with other instrumentation, the painting features an abstract trombone mimicking the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest logo. A swirling piano keyboard accompanies a stand-up bass against a background that almost looks park-like. Could this be Plaza de Cesar Chavez in the background? I know not. Abstract movement, however jazz-like, connects the instruments together against a whimsical purple background that will eventually » Read More

Cannabis Growers Test Feed Cannabis to Livestock

As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, growers are finding more novel uses for the plant. We've seen edibles of all stripes, oils and tinctures, cannabis beers and spirits, super-potent THC oils, and more. We've even seen stems and leaves used as pig feed. Whether pot as hog slop-or any other animal feed, for that matter-has a future remains to be seen. Susannah Gross, who farms north of Seattle, supplemented the diet of four pigs with plant leavings courtesy of medical marijuana grower Matt McAlman during the last four months of the animals' lives, and she said they ended up 20 to 30 pounds heavier than other pigs from the same litter that didn't get the "special" feed. "They were eating more, as you can imagine," she said. » Read More

New Vineyards, Resorts Threaten Napa Valley's Water Supply

In the winter of 2015, a Hong Kong real estate conglomerate purchased the Calistoga Hills Resort, at the northern end of the Napa Valley, for nearly $80 million. Today, mature oaks and conifers cover the 88-acre property, which flanks the eastern slope of the Mayacamas Mountains. But soon, 8,000 trees will be cut, making way for 110 hotel rooms, 20 luxury homes, 13 estate lots and a restaurant. Room rates will reportedly start at $1,000 a night and the grounds will include amenities like a pool, spas, outdoor showers and individual plunge pools outside select guest rooms. Following the sale, one of the most expensive in the nation based on the number of rooms planned, commercial broker James Escarzega told a Bay Area real estate journal » Read More

Crowded Cannabis Industry Leads to Innovation

Cannabis cultivators, dispensaries and patients have long faced raids and incarceration for growing, distributing and consuming the plant. The constant fear of police, property loss and expensive legal defense costs have created generations of cultivators who invest the bare minimum into materials and infrastructure. Cheap equipment, unlicensed contractors and lack of code-enforcement guidelines create ideal conditions for fire hazards and excessive waste. But with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015 (MMRSA), the confidence level has increased for cannabis operators, investors, local government and businesses throughout California. Entrepreneurs and big corporations alike are flocking from around the globe to invest in » Read More

Historic San Jose Woman's Club Gets 3D Modeling

In a neighborhood characterized by stray drunks with open cans of Old English, the San Jose Woman's Club building is a true gem. A gorgeous Mission Revival-style building on South 11th Street, the club rents out spacious areas for numerous events, banquets and concerts, in addition to hosting the club's regular activities. Inside, one finds a wealth of original stylings dating back to the 1920s: antique furniture, original Albert Solon tile work, wrought iron fixtures, sliding doors, heating coils, railings, door hardware, custom glass pocket doors and a sprung wood dance floor. When I arrive, Brian Miller, another true gem, is toiling away outside, taping paper targets all along the perimeter of the building in preparation for 3-D » Read More

Silicon Valley Bars and Clubs 2016

The Revolt against mass production and cheap ingredients that transformed American cuisine has now rolled through every category of liquid beverage. Coffee is sourced to a farm and roasted by an iconic, regionally branded vendor. Beer has been liberated from six-pack rings, and more restaurants each year have steel tanks and brewmasters. Bartenders open their shifts by staging botanicals and carving up citrus. The kitchen and bar have merged as artisanal vegetables make their way into the lounge and jammy fruit preparations emerge from the burners. The centerpiece of the new cocktail culture is arguably bitters, an early 19th Century staple that has embedded itself in the digital age. Angostura bitters, of course, never went away, and are » Read More

MLK Library Exhibit Speculates on Beethoven's Mystery Lover

Who was Ludwig van Beethoven's immortal beloved? From now until Sept. 10, visitors to the MLK Main Library can vote on it. Think it was Josephine von Deym? Or perhaps Antonie Brentano or Bettina von Arnim? Tear off the raffle ticket designated for the particular woman and deposit it into the receptacle. Visitors can even write in candidates if they want. Kim Kardashian probably wouldn't mind a few ballots. Thanks to the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, located on the fifth floor of the library, the exhibit Beethoven in Love presents a wealth of text, photos and displays, all centering around the ancient mystery of just who Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved" really was, and if she ever even existed. Researchers, scholars, » Read More

Cannabis Growers Control Their Destiny in Economic Boom

Cannabis famers in California have the opportunity to work together, build cooperative brands and secure a competitive position in the newly developing market. But the longer they wait, the more leverage they lose in securing their value, as corporate competitors emerge. As with any industrial boom there are businesses preparing to introduce boutique products and novel marketing techniques. Unfortunately, some people want a piece of the action however they can get it, from selling snake oil products to skimming off the top. Green rush fever is propelling the cannabis industry into an age of innovation, while simultaneously dividing the regulated market community and creating an avenue for black market operators. » Read More

QT Luong's Stunning Tribute to America's National Parks

From the craggy peak of Denali to the humid marshes of the Everglades, and from the lush greenery of Acadia to the parched alkali plains of Death Valley, the National Park System comprises 84 million acres of land and 4.5 million acres of lakes, ocean and reservoirs. First established in 1916 and expanded over the last century, there are now 59 National Parks-and San Jose resident QT Luong has photographed every single one. The National Parks Service will celebrate its centennial on Aug. 25. In commemoration of the milestone, the United States Postal Service is releasing a series of National Park stamps-one of which features a picture, taken by Luong, of the Little Missouri River bending through the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National » Read More

Beauty of Books the Focus of 3 New SJICA Exhibitions

Not many galleries can open three shows at once, but this weekend the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art will do just that, unleashing three exhibitions that highlight the creative use of paper and books. Time-tested techniques of photography, collage, assemblage, textile work, sculpture, ready-mades and more will persuade gallery participants to rethink their relationships to these media. The three shows, along with 46 others, may even set a record for the most artists ever simultaneously exhibiting at SJICA. We will have to wait and see. In any event, attendees will explore deep below the surface of everyday objects. Two shows-NextNewPaper and This is Not a Book: Chapter 2-will take over the main galleries. In the first case, 19 Bay » Read More

Time for Smart Medical Marijuana Growth

Times are changing for cannabis cultivators across the state. To meet the rigorous demands of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), set to take effect in just 18 months, growers who want to be compliant are having to develop new business models, apply for new permits and hire attorneys and business consultants. Many operators are also evaluating their dwindling return on investment. "The cost of operations for indoor cultivation is starting to outweigh the revenue," says Adam, a Sonoma County cultivator for 15 years who didn't want to use his full name. "The price per pound has been steadily declining over the past 10 years." In Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal, prices are dropping for wholesale » Read More

A Visit to Authors' Graves Leads Anti-Man to Next Chapter

On a soul-searching expedition in Switzerland, the anti-man-about-town found himself at the gravesites of two literary giants: James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges. In Zurich and Geneva, respectively, I made desperate pacts with them, just as I had done with Hermann Hesse on my last trip to Switzerland. This time, Zurich was immersed in the 100th anniversary of Dada, while Geneva unfurled itself as an international nexus of peacemaking. Both environments were fertile ground to make psychic accords with Joyce and Borges. Baptized in Zurich, Dada was a transnational web of radical creative perspectives that forever altered the course of 20th century art and the avant-garde. Back in 1916, as the butchery of World War I and the ensuant zoological » Read More

Religious Dogma Has Obscured the Benefits of Cannabis

Media increasingly report accounts of people using cannabis as medicine for a wide variety of ailments: stress relief, insomnia, PTSD, nausea, appetite and more. But this is nothing new. Humans have a long history of eating, cultivating and ritualistically enjoying this plant. Evidence of medical applications can be traced back 5,000 years to Chinese emperor and herbalist Chen Nung, who bandaged battle wounds with cannabis leaves. In 1977, astronomer Carl Sagan mused in The Dragons of Eden that perhaps cannabis was the world's first agricultural crop: "It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization." » Read More

Summer Guide 2016

So many perks to this place we call home. We're just a short drive from beautiful beaches, awe-inspiring hikes and world-class wine producers. The food is stellar and the nightlife is eclectic. The South Bay continues to breed world-class artists and musicians-and the region's cultural venues regularly host thought-provoking speakers, inspiring exhibitions, top-notch theater and rocking live music. As the El Nino winter gives way to sunnier skies, it's time to take advantage of all the amazing diversions at our fingertips. Check out a new band or enjoy one of your all-time favorite performers, explore nearby trails, recline on the sand, saddle up for equestrian excursion, sample locally produced pinot, ponder the human condition at a local » Read More

Bad Guys, Good Guys, Everything in between at J-Town FilmFest

It's the only scene on earth where Korean bromantics, Hmong gangs, World War II incarceration survivors and Olympic athletes all share the spotlight. Unfolding this weekend, the second-annual Japantown Film Festival has increased from seven films last year to a dozen this time around. Run by volunteers, this year's event highlights films by Asian and Pacific Islander American filmmakers. A trailer for each film is available on the website and, in most cases, the director will even appear after the screening for a short conversation. The 80-minute documentary Top Spin, for example, illuminates the journey of local Olympians and table tennis stars Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang, as well as their teammate Michael Landers. All three teenagers » Read More

Fighting for Veteran Access to Marijuana after the Fight

In a nation with one of the largest military budgets and strongest fighting forces in the world, we still somehow struggle to provide quality care for our veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs prohibits doctors from making recommendations for medical marijuana, even if state law allows such medicine and even if the ailments were created out of military service, such as PTSD, anxiety, insomnia or chronic pain. Contradictorily, the VA acknowledges that some veterans may find the use of cannabis to be helpful; however, it claims there's a lack of evidence and continues to hobble doctors and patients from having honest conversations about marijuana as a treatment. In fact, the VA even regards cannabis use as a disorder itself, referring » Read More

Patients with Depression, PTSD Tout Magnetic Helmet Treatment

For as long as he can remember, Steve Chappell felt isolated from the world. Even among friends, there seemed some chasm separating him from meaningful human connection. The despair manifested in his body, pulsing into excruciating headaches that made it feel like his eyes would pop out. From the time he was a child, he struggled to get out of bed. 'It's almost like I needed a training manual to be myself,' he says, 'but I didn't have one.' Depression might have run in his family, but Chappell-an only child raised by a single, widowed mother-lacked a frame of reference. It took years of hospital visits before a doctor diagnosed him with a major depressive disorder, giving him a name for what ailed him. But it also marked the beginning of a » Read More

Federal Approval Brings MDMA From Club to Clinic

For a proper psychedelic trip, the late ethnobotanist Terence McKenna famously prescribed what he called 'the heroic dose' of magic mushrooms: 'Five dried grams and silent darkness.' Josh Tiefer gobbled up a gram less, but on an empty stomach and a broken heart. Rather than darkness, he opted for a late-night showing of The Last Samurai. He was 24 at the time, battling the depressive fallout of a breakup and newly obsessed with McKenna's gospel of chemically induced enlightenment. In the theater, the psilocybin began to cast its hallucinogenic spell. 'Something happened,' Tiefer recalls, 'because I was like, 'This movie's getting pretty good.' Motion trails and vibrant colors overwhelmed his vision. But the euphoria gave way to a » Read More

Music, Dance, Fashion Take Stage at Ao Dai Festival

Casual observers might know the ao dai as a traditional long gown worn by Vietnamese women, but it's much more than just attire. The ao dai symbolizes many things: liberation, struggle, empowerment and obstacles overcome. Its history goes far outside the scope of this page, but one can go as far to say it's now a symbol of national pride and serious inspiration for artists, painters, photographers, poets and newspaper columnists. The 2016 incarnation of the Ao Dai Festival erupts Sunday, both inside and outside the Fairmont San Jose. An elaborate multi-dimensional ceremony in the Circle of Palms area kicks off the evening, followed by the ticketed event, an even more elaborate dinner and fashion show inside the hotel ballroom. » Read More

Concert Quarantine

As far as professional musical tours go, it was a quick jaunt. In between main-stage sets at Coachella, M83, the French electronic group responsible for the smash hit 'Midnight City,' trucked up to Oakland to play The Fox Theater, headed back down to the Southern California desert for a second Coachella set the following Friday, and returned north once more for a show at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. M83's Oakland gig was part of what SFGate dubbed 'San Franchella'-a slate of Bay Area shows by artists also playing the iconic, two-weekend music festival in Indio, Calif. Readers were provided with a Google map of all the shows, the bulk of which could be seen blooming out of the center of San Francisco, with only a smattering in Oakland and a » Read More

Juan Felipe Herrera Leads 'Legacy of Poetry Day' in San Jose

The state's largest group poetry event will unfold Thursday, May 5, both inside and outside of the Hammer Theater Center. U.S. Poet Laureate and San Jose legend Juan Felipe Herrera will preside over the entire gala hoedown spectacular. Even though Legacy of Poetry Day features a few dozen poets unleashing their stuff-students, faculty, staff, plus former and current civic laureates-the party won't be limited to just poetry. To begin with, short readings from San Jose State University (SJSU) peeps and community poets will unfold outside the theater from 5 to 7pm. The next hour will feature a glorious theatrical march of the highest order: Pachanga on the Paseo: A Roving Spectacle of Public Art. It probably won't fit into any singular » Read More

A Battle for the Soul of Silicon Valley's Oldest African-American Church

From the dawn of organized faith, infighting has divided flocks and spawned sectarian spinoffs. These bouts generally remained private, resolved by religious mediation or denominational tribunals. But churchgoers frustrated by regulatory leniency over religious institutions have increasingly turned to the enforcement power of the secular justice system. Now more than ever, clerical disputes over fraud, property and misconduct to play out in American courts. These conflicts have raised recondite questions about church-state separation. To what extent should the First Amendment's religious liberty clause exempt faith-based groups from civil law? How, if at all, are lawsuits involving religious groups constitutionally distinct from their » Read More

Cultures, Anniversaries Converge in Dublin Sister City Trip

Ireland is a mystical country, so it seemed apropos to experience last weekend's USA-Ireland Sister Cities Summit as a mystical convergence on multiple levels. Thanks to the San Jose-Dublin Sister City Committee, and especially Tim Quigley, a grand-scale embroidering of trajectories all came together in a tapestry of citizen diplomacy, person-to-person and community-to-community connections in business, arts, economics and more. To begin with, the event celebrated numerous historic milestones all at the same time. Locally, Dublin and San Jose are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their sister city relationship, founded in 1986. Globally, Sister Cities International, the worldwide citizen diplomacy movement President Eisenhower launched » Read More

South Bay Restaurants Ride Transparent Food Prep Wave

When Johnny Nguyen and his uncles opened their flagship Poki Bowl off of Almaden Expressway last summer, the Hawaiian staple of deconstructed sushi in a bowl was still a bit hard to find in the mainland. But poke-pronounced PO-kay and translated to 'chunks' -has since surged in popularity as dozens of restaurants across the South Bay began offering their spin on the dish. Meanwhile, customer expectations to wield more control over their food have dramatically shifted the culinary landscape. Call it transparent food prep, the Chipotle effect or the watch-it-made movement. Thanks to the popularity of the pseudo-Mexican chain's assembly line ordering-and the subsequent realization that there are more places to eat than Chipotle-customers of » Read More

SJSU's Literary Mosaic, Reed Magazine, Celebrates Issue 69

Reed Magazine, the literary journal of San Jose State University, will release its 69th annual issue next month with a gala hoedown spectacular at Books, Inc. in Mountain View. However, that number of 69 is a bit misleading. The journal can actually trace its bloodline all the way back to the school's very beginnings in 1867, when the first issue of the Acorn was published by English Department students of the California State Normal School, the institute that eventually became San Jose State University. As such, Reed is the oldest journal west of the Mississippi. Professor Cathleen Miller teaches two semesters, fall and spring, in which students put the magazine together. » Read More

Dan Lyons' New Book, 'Disrupted,' Deep Fries Silicon Valley Bro Culture

We'll get to the goofiness of a grown man giving a teddy bear a seat at a billion-dollar company's board room table, or the work parties that resulted in office sex, lobby vomit and a janitor's workstation lit aflame, or the FBI investigation into HubSpot, the 'inbound marketing' cult that briefly employed author Dan Lyons and may have broken laws in attempting to stop his book from being published. But first a disclosure: reading Disrupted: My Misadventures in the Startup Bubble will take any early- to mid- to any stage-career journalist down an existential suck hole. Lyons' new memoir about the bro-ification of Silicon Valley tech startup culture, and the bubble in which it now exists, hugs the line between comedy and tragedy by being » Read More

NVIDIA Conference Explores Future of Driverless Racecars

Deep learning flooded the San Jose McEnery Convention Center last week, when NVIDIA staged its biggest-ever GPU Technology Conference. Thousands of graphics developers stuffed the building and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang spent more than two hours keynoting announcements. As usual, conventions and trade shows bring more people downtown than anything the Super Bowl devised. In fact, some of the Virtual Reality and/or GPU-based technology employed by the NFL appeared in various sessions and hands-on labs. At the show, VR was one of the main themes underlying everything, along with autonomous vehicles, drones, AI and deep learning. Paradigm shifts are afoot. » Read More

The Untold Story of How California Women Broke Body Art Boundaries

In the order she got them, Amy Cohen has: a drawing by Leonard Cohen, a bouquet of flowers, a lantern, a ship bursting from a bottle, an hourglass and a wreath-'originally designed for the mannequin in the exhibit,' she says, hinting at what visitors to the McKay Gallery in History San Jose will see, should they visit the new exhibit, 'Tattooed and Tenacious: Inked Women in California History.' Cohen, the exhibit's curator, got the idea from her own body art, and also from her line of work. She holds a degree in Museum Studies, and in 2014 she found herself working at Hayward Area Historical Society with an un-inked colleague, curator and archivist Diane Curry. 'We would talk about tattoos a lot,' Cohen says, recalling her time at the » Read More

Somini Sengupta's Book Captures Vast Change for India's Youth

Thirty years after Somini Sengupta left India as a child, she returned to work as the New Delhi Bureau Chief for the New York Times. She was the first reporter of Indian descent ever assigned to the post and, in the process, Sengupta discovered a brilliant way to rediscover her own roots while documenting the future of Indian kids and their predicaments at the same time. The result is a fantastic new book, The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young, in which Sengupta weaves the results of her own journey, both personal and journalistic, into the trajectories of seven different Indian youth cases, creating a tapestry with the author/journalist as the observer/participant. » Read More

The Best of Silicon Valley 2016

Silicon Valley's chatter about sending a human to Mars reached a fevered pitch in 2015 with the cinematic release of Andy Weir's The Martian. The same year, another rocket-shaped innovation took the valley by storm when it landed on Palo Alto's University Avenue. We are talking, of course, about the sushi burrito. The crunchy, high-protein and cleverly-branded Sushirrito fused two dominant California cultures with food tech to create a lunchtime phenomenon. Sidewalks were roped off and cut into concrete turf traditionally reserved for people camping out for a just-released iPhone. We expect these kinds of changes in a region that put supercomputers in our pockets and brought waffles to our toasters. » Read More