Features & Columns

'The Black Prince' and the Last Sikh King

'The Black Prince' brings attention to tragic story of Duleep Singh Read More

Features

Silicon Valley Beer Week 2017

Heinz Jones enjoys the simple things in life, or so it would seem. Maybe it's his red, foot-long beard. One gets the impression the former techie has found the keys to eternal contentment. And yet, as he discusses the genesis of Forager Tasting Room + Eatery, his eyes light up with a glint of ambition. He isn't so content after all. Forager is on a mission to revolutionize the local culinary and sips scene. Compared to other major metropolitan areas like Portland, Seattle and San Diego, San Jose and surrounding cities have relatively few options to find a locally brewed beer. Despite the fact that over a million people live here, San Jose is home to less than 10 of the 120 plus breweries in the Bay Area. And people are thirsty. » Read More

'The Black Prince' and the Last Sikh King

You don't have to be a forcibly exiled maharajah longing for his original country to identify with The Black Prince, a vivid historical film opening this weekend. Written and directed by Kavi Raz and based on the true story of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last king of Punjab before it was annexed by the British Empire, The Black Prince illuminates a tragic tale often hidden from the mainstream histories of South Asia. In 1843, at the age of 5, Duleep Singh ascended to the throne of Punjab, a.k.a. the Sikh Empire, and even survived an attempt on his life. Over the next few years, the British began to set their sights on Punjab, the last remaining piece of Northern India not under their subjugation. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Will the algorithm find me love?

Most people will tell you they want to be accepted for who they really are-yet those doing online dating rarely post profiles with stuff like "I like long walks on the beach, fine dining, and obscenely large breasts." In light of this, sites using these compatibility "algorithms" would seem to have some added value. However, according to a massive online dating analysis by social psychologist Eli Finkel and his colleagues, this algorithm stuff mainly seems to be a "science!"-flavored marketing ploy. The researchers explain that it's "virtually impossible" for sites to do what they promise with these algorithms: "match people who are uniquely suited to one another" and who are likely to have a "satisfying and lasting long-term relationship" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 19, 2017

It's a favorable time to strengthen your fundamentals and stabilize your foundation. I invite you to devote your finest intelligence and grittiest determination to this project. How? Draw deeply from your roots. Tap into the mother lode of inspiration that never fails you. Nurture the web of life that nurtures you. The cosmos will offer you lots of help and inspiration whenever you attend to these practical and sacred matters. Best-case scenario: You will bolster your personal power for many months to come. » Read More

Nathan Hill, author of 'The Nix,' Talks Writing in the Age of Trump

It's been building a while, the sense that the novel, far from being exiled indefinitely from the hurly-burly of relevance, was tacking back into the mix, recovered from the fashion consciousness of campus influence and other existential threats, ready to stand and be counted. Now, as we peer through the lurid gloom of life in the Trump era, it's clear that journalists and nonfiction writers, chained to the ascendancy of "facts" in an era when fewer and fewer of us really believe in them anymore, cannot compete with the power of a go-for-broke novelist with a light touch, an ear for comedy and human foible, and the sheer stamina and grit to cobble together a great yarn over years of effort. This is the era of writers like Nathan Hill, » Read More

East Side Art Project Celebrates Spirit of Mayfair Neighborhood

The kids are coming together out of local pride to make art and beautify the streets. Thanks to the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza and Somos Mayfair, a local community booster organization, the idea began when locals pounded the pavement to identify priorities in their neglected neighborhood. The need for public art, community beautification and the expression of identity became immediate concerns. All three of those key points are now coming to life through Voices of the Mayfair, a project in which the prototype signage might someday appear on the streets. Featuring bright, colorful imagery with personal statements or sayings painted by the artists, the vertical signs function as tools of personal empowerment. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Online Dating Works for Some People?

Annoyingly, though most of us have a sense of what context is, nobody's done a very good job of defining it. Not in the dictionary or in Researchville, where I found a herd of dueling definitions, all so unhelpfully worded that they seem to be in secret code. So here's my definition: Context is a combo platter of the particular situation at hand-like pro basketball, online dating, being a bad dancer, or being sexually attracted to woodchucks. Plus, the details relevant to it that affect how you understand or experience the situation. In the context of online dating, the relevant details include age, sex, the quality of the competition, and one's desired situation, as in: Do you just want casual sex, or are you holding out for something a » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 12, 2017

It's not your birthday, but I feel like you need to get presents. The astrological omens agree with me. In fact, they suggest you should show people this horoscope to motivate them to do the right thing and shower you with practical blessings. And why exactly do you need these rewards? Here's one reason: Now is a pivotal moment in the development of your own ability to give the unique gifts you have to give. If you receive tangible demonstrations that your contributions are appreciated, you'll be better able to rise to the next level of your generosity. » Read More

Is This Opera? Pop Culture Fuses with High Art

Alexandra Sessler wheels her electric piano into the guarded room. Security personnel at Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall are skeptical. She notices one of the guards shooting a funny look at her and collaborator Carlos Aguirre. They've come to talk to nearly two dozen of the detention facility's most serious offenders. About opera. It's far from the norm at the San Jose youth detention facility, where visitors usually deliver a scared-straight sermon about needing to shape up. Aguirre and Sessler visit these young men with a different message. Their aim is to introduce new modes of expression-writing and operatic singing. They'll do this using insights into rap, a musical form many of the youth are already familiar with. » Read More

Former College Campus Remade into 1440 Multiversity

As we traverse the landscape of 1440 Multiversity in Scott's Valley, Scott Kriens of Juniper Networks talks about 800,000 pounds of Sierra granite boulders that his team gathered to build a creek bed. Along the way, he points out Indonesian teakwood chairs, custom hand-fabricated steel railings, and wooden ceiling beams air-blasted with walnut shells. Built on a 75-acre spread formerly occupied by the abandoned Bethany Christian College, 1440 is a new learning destination, a place where numerous high-profile teachers are just now starting to book classes. People from all over the world show up to reevaluate their inner mechanisms. Named after the exact number of minutes in a day, 1440 Multiversity is already open, but construction is still » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Should I Get Over My Ex?

You wish him all the best, which is to say you hope a giant scorpion crawls out of the sand and bites his penis. It's understandable that you're feeling overdue for a little emotional fumigation. But consider that there's an upside to the downer emotions-and not just for the dry cleaner who's about to buy Crete after getting the mascara stains out of all your clothes. Though we tend to see our gloomier emotions, like sadness and anger, as "bad" and the "whoopee!" emotions, like joy and happiness, as "good," evolutionary psychologist and psychiatrist Randolph Nesse explains that emotions are neither good nor bad; they're "adaptive." They're basically office managers for our behavior, directing us to hop on opportunities and avoid threats » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 5, 2017

Unless you were raised by a pack of feral raccoons or a fundamentalist cult, now is a perfect time to dive in to your second childhood. Is there a toy you wanted as a kid but never got? Buy it for yourself now! What were the delicious foods you craved back then? Eat them! Where were the special places you loved? Go there, or to spots that remind you of them. Who were the people you were excited to be with? Talk with them. Actions like these will get you geared up for a full-scale immersion in innocent eagerness. And that would be just the right medicine for your soul. » Read More

The Laugh Track: Jeff Kramer's Longshot Bid to Bring Improv to Silicon Valley Pays Off

Astroturf covers the stage and a brick wall backdrops a rollicking physical spree of improvised activity. Two gangs, distinguishable only by their red and blue colors, have taken the role of life-sized puppets. Before them, a diverse and jam-packed crowd of students, musicians, doctors, professors, nerds, families and comedy fanatics are screaming directions. These people are playing their own role: a collective crowd-sourced plotline trigger. Video screens on each side of the stage note the score. The players, blue and red, are jumping on top of each other, waving their arms, offering a helping hand, doing anything they can to get their teammates to guess the right phrase. The match seems out of control until a ref blows his whistles over » Read More

Paramount Imports Stands the Test of Time, Internet, Corporatization

Tim Eglington doesn't remember when he first started working at Paramount Imports. It seems like one of those mystical passages of time with no end and no beginning. Within seconds, though, Stacy Sargent, the owner and decades-long manager of Paramount, jumps in the back to retrieve the answer: 1987. Eglington is one of many with decades of Paramount experience. The time component is crucial because once again, anniversaries are exploding out of nowhere. Exactly a month from now, Paramount will throw a huge party to celebrate its 50th year at 455 Meridian Ave. Forget the Summer of Love. This is the summer of Paramount Imports. Generations of outcasts cut their teeth at Paramount, myself included. It was the first place in the Bay Area to » Read More

Advice Goddess: Naughty Selfies and the Lingering Ex

Men aren't used to women being preoccupied with their girlparts. Even in Redneckville, you never see a woman hanging a rubber replica of hers off the back of her pickup. The truth is, not all women went for a look-see down there with a hand mirror at age 14. Recently, some women may have gotten inspired to do some camera-phone sightseeing thanks to the increased visibility of the ladygarden via free internet porn, the mainstreaming of the waxed-bald vulva, and giant ads for labiaplasty (aka a face-lift for your vagina). Though it's possible that your girlfriend is texting these to other guys, consider what anthropologist Donald Symons calls the human tendency "to imagine that other minds are much like our own." This can lead us to forget » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 28, 2017

One of the 21st century's most entertaining archaeological events was the discovery of King Richard III's bones. The English monarch died in 1485, but his burial site had long been a mystery. It wasn't an archaeologist who tracked down his remains, but a screenwriter named Philippa Langley. She did extensive historical research, narrowing down the possibilities to a car park in Leicester. As she wandered around there, she got a psychic impression at one point that she was walking directly over Richard's grave. Her feeling later turned out to be right. I suspect your near future will have resemblances to her adventure. You'll have success in a mode that's not your official area of expertise. Sharp analytical thinking will lead you to the » Read More

Nomadic Recycle Bookstore Reaches Unlikely 50th Anniversary

For the last 19 years, proprietor Eric Johnson has owned and operated the store, but when Joan and Pat Hayes first started the original business in 1967, they probably had no idea it would still exist 50 years later. Initially opening on South First Street, Recycle then moved to a location on San Fernando, where it became known for a distinguished and legendary basement. Old-timers still talk about that basement. Following the San Fernando location, the store eventually settled on Santa Clara Street for about 20 years, in the building now occupied by 2nd Story Bakeshop and Hibiscus Studio. By 1998, the store had begun to stagnate. The stock wasn't rotating like it used to and Joan Hayes began looking for a new buyer. Johnson took over the » Read More

Advice Goddess: Honesty Really the Best Policy?

Though it's hard to deny the existence of a 24-ton object hurtling toward us, seeing things accurately is not always the first order of the human perceptual system. In fact, evolutionary psychologist Martie Haselton explains that we seem to have evolved to make the least costly perceptual error in a situation-a subconscious calculation that sometimes leads to our over-perceiving or under-perceiving risks or opportunities. For example, in the physical risk domain, we are predisposed to over-perceive that stick in the rustling leaves as a snake because it's far more costly to die from a snake bite than to "die" of embarrassment when our peeps mock us for jumping out of our skin at a sinister-looking twig. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 21, 2017

There are places in the oceans where the sea floor cracks open and spreads apart from volcanic activity. This allows geothermally heated water to vent out from deep inside the earth. Scientists explored such a place in the otherwise frigid waters around Antarctica. They were elated to find a "riot of life" living there, including previously unknown species of crabs, starfish, sea anemones, and barnacles. Judging from the astrological omens, Aries, I suspect that you will soon enjoy a metaphorically comparable eruption of warm vitality from the unfathomable depths. Will you welcome and make use of these raw blessings even if they are unfamiliar and odd? » Read More

SiliGone Valley Podcast Documents Region's Disappearing History

Christopher Garcia is Silicon Valley's high-tech laureate of loss. Everything from his youth is being destroyed by progress in the valley, so he decided to start talking to other people about their losses as well. To a degree, Garcia is already a rogue historian of Silicon Valley's vanishing past. By day he works as a curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. On the side, he podcasts about wrestling history and art history. But like many valley natives of his generation, Garcia began to realize that most of the memorable places and buildings from his youth have disappeared. So it was time for another podcast. One aptly titled SiliGone Valley. For example, Garcia's birthplace, the old Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara, was » Read More

Advice Goddess: No Fake Boobs for This Guy

A woman doesn't need an Audi (or even a bus pass) to attract men. She just needs the features that men evolved to go all oglypants for-like youth, an hourglass bod, big eyes, full lips, and big bra puppies. Men aren't attracted to these features just becuz. Biological anthropologist Grazyna Jasienska finds that women with big (natural!) boobs have higher levels of the hormone estradiol, a form of estrogen that increases a woman's likelihood of conception. Women with both big boobs and a small waist have about 30 percent higher levels-which could mean they'd be about three times as likely to get pregnant as other women. So, big fake boobs are a form of mating forgery-like a box supposedly containing a high-def TV that actually contains a » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 14, 2017

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You have to admit that salt looks like sugar and sugar resembles salt. This isn't usually a major problem, though. Mistakenly sprinkling sugar on your food when you thought you were adding salt won't hurt you, nor will putting salt in your coffee when you assumed you were using sugar. But errors like these are inconvenient, and they can wreck a meal. You may want to apply this lesson as a metaphor in the coming days, Aries. Be alert for things that outwardly seem to be alike but actually have different tastes and effects. » Read More

Metro's 2017 Guide to Bars & Clubs

Silicon Valley is imbibing better than in times past, thanks to a host of new establishments and our region's early adoption of the craft drink revolution. Every spring for the past three decades, Metro's editorial team has treated the epicenter of global technology as its personal liquid theme park and faithfully reported the findings. It's a tough way to make a living. Local cocktail historians credit Cache Bouren with bringing the craft movement to town with Single Barrel in 2010, the speakeasy where patrons were admonished not to chew gum or speak loudly and forced to wait in line.Thankfully, Cache rebranded his bar as Haberdasher and toned down the attitude. Within a few years, Paper Plane, Orchard City Kitchen, The Table, Jack Rose » Read More

San Jose Bureaucracy Fumbles its Way into an Interesting Scene

A microism of San Jose history can be summed up in the following sequence of events: In order to remove hookers and homeless people from a tiny park, the city destroys one end of the park with military precision and replaces it with a sun-baked slab of colorless concrete, devoid of foliage and shade, to create an eyesore that no one would possibly use even if they wanted to navigate the hick-town bureaucracy of bloated permits. Once that idea predictably fails, the space sits empty for years on end. Then comes the next phase: An architect from a real city builds something on the slab of concrete, and then, after a few more years of meetings with public art bureaucrats, urban planners and construction companies, San Jose finally unveils a » Read More

Advice Goddess: Gay Man Seeks Masculine Straight Man

Like you, I happen to like men who look like their hobbies are chopping down trees and going to war with foreign powers. I am not attracted to femmy men in body glitter with My Little Pony haircuts. Luckily for me, the sort of people I am attracted to did not require me to come out to my parents ("Mom and Dad...I-I-I'm straight"), nor are my preferences considered reason for suspicion that I might be a self-loathing heterosexual. As for you, because of the ugly views and behaviors toward gays, sure, it's possible that your being attracted to straight men is some sort of internalized version of those camps for "praying away the gay." (If that seems to be a possibility, yes, you should look into that—perhaps with a therapist's help.) But » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 7, 2017

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you chose me as your relationship guide, I'd counsel you and your closest ally to be generous with each other; to look for the best in each other and praise each other's beauty and strength. If you asked me to help foster your collaborative zeal, I'd encourage you to build a shrine in honor of your bond—an altar that would invoke the blessings of deities, nature spirits, and the ancestors. If you hired me to advise you on how to keep the fires burning and the juices flowing between you two, I'd urge you to never compare your relationship to any other, but rather celebrate the fact that it's unlike any other in the history of the planet. » Read More

How the Valley Helped California Become the World's Surfing Capitol

By all accounts, the middle week of July in 1885 was a glorious one in the seaside community of Santa Cruz. Tourists from throughout the Santa Clara, Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys flocked to the beach via the narrow-gauge South Pacific Coast Railroad, with stops in San Jose and Los Gatos, to escape the interior's sweltering summer heat. The weather had been absolutely splendid during the week. The delightfully named Santa Cruz Daily Surf, edited by the talented A.A. Taylor, noted that the blanket of fog that traditionally cooled the Monterey Bay region had lifted well before noontime each day-leaving temperatures in the high 70s to mid-80s. It was a golden summer. In the early edition of the Surf on Monday, July 20, the newspaper » Read More

Tech Museum's New VR Exhibits Inspire Empathy

In the new exhibit Reboot Reality, The Tech Museum of Innovation harmonizes the polarities of material excess and homelessness. Located upstairs on the second level, the showcase partners with Silicon Valley heavyweights Adobe, HP, Stanford and Google on several different projects involving VR, augmented reality or mixed reality. The headlining experience comes in the form of Birdly, a one-of-a-kind VR flight simulator allowing users to fly through the skyline of Manhattan. It's not just a headset. The user straps into a birdlike set of wings and flaps his or her arms in various maneuvers, all to soar through the New York City skyline. » Read More

The Beauty of Boring: An Exhibit of Ordinary People in China

A few stories came out last week to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1987 film The River's Edge, based on a grotesque murder in Milpitas. The teenage killer left his victim's corpse in the woods for a few days, inviting his friends to come over and check it out. Only then was the crime finally reported. It was a horrific incident that unleashed a national media firestorm. When the film came out, it likewise shocked the country. The River's Edge opens with the killer sitting at the victim's body and then cuts to him and his pals trying to buy beer at a Stop 'n' Go convenience store, which were common in those days. Then we get an 80-minute window into the lives of alienated teenagers dealing with the fallout, a picture that successfully » Read More

We Love Summer: Summer Guide 2017

The white Chevy Biscayne rolled into Haight-Ashbury as the sun dimmed. The barefoot, flower-throwing hippies dancing in the streets jumped on the V8 engine's hood, the white monster that had pulled our Starcraft trailer clear across America on a liquid diet of 27-cent gas. The Doors' "Light My Fire" played every 60 minutes on the AM radio as it rose to the top of the charts. My sister and I huddled in back on that day in the summer of 1967, transfixed by the colorful images swirling around us at a street intersection that our mother had learned about from photos in Life magazine. When the California dream pulled us to Southern California a few years later, I headed to San Francisco to join what I expected would be a never-ending street » Read More

'The River's Edge' Anniversary Brings Back Teenage Wasteland Memories

A few stories came out last week to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1987 film The River's Edge, based on a grotesque murder in Milpitas. The teenage killer left his victim's corpse in the woods for a few days, inviting his friends to come over and check it out. Only then was the crime finally reported. It was a horrific incident that unleashed a national media firestorm. When the film came out, it likewise shocked the country. The River's Edge opens with the killer sitting at the victim's body and then cuts to him and his pals trying to buy beer at a Stop 'n' Go convenience store, which were common in those days. Then we get an 80-minute window into the lives of alienated teenagers dealing with the fallout, a picture that successfully » Read More

Sikh Foundation International Celebrates 50th Birthday

Ripple effects were felt worldwide, as the Sikh Foundation International-headquartered in Palo Alto-celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend in grand-scale fashion. A few hundred Sikhs from around the globe dropped serious cash for a gala that took over the Asian Art Museum on Friday, followed by a free two-day conference at Stanford's Li Ka Shing Center. Somehow, surrounded by Sikhs, I managed to avoid talking about religion for the whole weekend and only one person tried to arrange a marriage for me. But first of all, let me introduce Narinder Singh Kapany, more commonly known around the globe as Dr. Kapany, the father of fiber optics. Kapany started the Sikh Foundation exactly 50 years ago in 1967, and he's been collecting Sikh art » Read More

Former South Texas Walmart Shows Path to Library Enlightenment

On a recent rampage through McAllen, Texas, the anti-man-about-town did not expect to witness such a landmark, epic, unprecedented transformation of abandonment into something productive. To be more precise, an empty former Walmart was repurposed to become the largest one-story public library in the US. It opened six years ago, but the facility continues to evolve and blow minds, especially the mind of this columnist, who grew up in libraries and reaped their benefits at an early age. By the numbers, McAllen is a small city, just under 200,000, and only minutes from the Mexican border. Eighty percent of the residents identify as Hispanic. » Read More

A Tribute to Chuck Barris and a Band of Merry Pranksters

The former host of The Gong Show, Chuck Barris, passed away last month at the ripe old age of 87. His show pioneered the implementation of bad-on-purpose talent judged by drunk celebrities who gonged contestants they didn't like. In addition to The Gong Show, Barris can also be blamed for The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game, going back to the '60s, helping to invent what's now called reality TV decades before the term surfaced. Barris used game-show entertainment to embarrass his entire industry, illuminating the crass idiocy of American pop culture in the process. In that sense, he was the greatest genius in television history. In the late '80s, Barris sold his empire to Sony, making enough to live happily ever after, so he wrote a » Read More

Silicon Valley Comic Con Beams into Silicon Valley

When Steve Wozniak was working to launch last year's inaugural Silicon Valley Comic Con, the Apple co-founder and his partners considered San Francisco's Moscone Center. Ultimately, they decided against it. "No," Wozniak says, recalling his final answer. "We want to hold it in San Jose, because San Jose is more representative-over the last 50-60 years-of Silicon Valley." Born in San Jose, The Woz' roots run deep in the South Bay. He and his family live in Los Gatos, though he says he might move back to San Jose's Willow Glen someday. His early philanthropy to the city's performing arts groups was acknowledged in naming downtown's Woz Way after him. » Read More

San Jose Signs Project Honors Colorful Contributions of Neon

We've all seen them. The celebrated neon signs of San Jose. We're talking Stephen's Meat Products, Western Appliance, the Sands Motel and the Wing's restaurant sign in Japantown. Signs are essential elements in the collective story of this city. They are part of San Jose's consciousness. Thousands of natives have gushed endless praise for San Jose's old-school neon signage, with many people from out of town also showing up just to photograph the marquees. But with the majority finding solace in bland landscapes, generic signage and village after village of hideously uniform condos that no interesting person would possibly look at, someone is finally taking it upon herself to stop complaining and do something to raise awareness about San » Read More

50 Things You Need to Know about Marijuana in California

Ever since California legalized weed last year, we've smelled something special in the air. People are lighting up anytime, anywhere-at the bus stop and the coffee shop, during late-night shows and early morning walks on the trail. But as marijuana goes mainstream, there are still a number of questions. Like, is it really legal? Turns out that's still a bit of a trick question. We took it upon ourselves to get the skinny on some of the more complex quandries that recreational marijuana raises. We asked around in an effort to figure out everything from the difference between sativa and indica strains to where and when you can smoke pot legally. In the process we questioned a cop, the District Attorney's office, the bassist for a local » Read More

Sister City Partnership Sparks Fruitful Artistic, Cultural Collaborations

Last year saw the 30th anniversary of the relationship celebrated in grand-scale fashion when the San Jose-Dublin Sister City committee organized a large contingent of folks to be present in Dublin for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. I was already traveling in Europe, so I met up with everyone for a few days on my way back home. It was monumental, historical, and a downright inspiring time to be in Ireland. And when it comes to the Irish, a few weeks ago, San Jose once again hosted the lord mayor of Dublin for an annual visit. Every March, the lord mayor brings an entire contingent of people to visit with business, political and university folk to further cement various partnerships and swap ideas. What began with Tom McEnery » Read More

The Princess Spy: Noor Inayat Khan

Sufi mystics don't normally make good spooks. As such, Noor Inayat Khan was perhaps the worst possible candidate to spy for Britain in World War II. Her dad was a Sufi musician from India, a personal friend of Mahatma Gandhi and also the one who first introduced Sufism to the West. Her mom was an American from New Mexico. Noor was born in Moscow but grew up in Paris, where she wrote Buddhist fables for children in both English and French. A descendant of Indian royalty and deeply spiritual person, she refused to kill anyone or even tell a lie. None of which generally bodes well for a career in espionage. » Read More

LAST Festival, Paseo challenge help Hammer Theatre Reinvention

Two simultaneous matrices of creative endeavor take over Hammer Theatre and Paseo de San Antonio this weekend, both of which will be open to the public and completely free of charge. The fourth incarnation of the LAST Festival (Life, Art, Science, Tech) will unfold inside the theater, beginning with a reception Friday evening and continuing with media art installations and provocative panel discussions all Saturday. LAST Festival founder Piero Scaruffi-also an author, scientist and cultural historian-organized the panel sessions, while SJSU art professor and former ZERO1 Executive Director Joel Slayton curated the art installations. » Read More

The Best of Silicon Valley 2017

This issue celebrates the best of Silicon Valley-a product of American ingenuity, California sunshine and the world's most optimally diversified genome stew. Some of the world's smartest people live and work here, with the possible exception of the ones who oversee spillways at Anderson Dam. Immigrants got a bad rap last year when they were cast as job stealers and sex offenders, but evidence indicates otherwise. With 37 percent of the population here foreign-born, we have nearly treble the national rate, yet both our unemployment and crime rates are ridiculously low. (The Stanford trash dumpster rapist came from Oakwood, Ohio, not Sinaloa-on an athletic scholarship no less.) » Read More

History San Jose Exhumes Valley's Deadly Fashion Obsessions

If only cheetahs could talk. When curators and volunteers began rifling through History San Jose's textile collection and discovered a vintage coat made from slaughtered cheetahs, one thing led to another. Soon enough, out came an entire exhibit devoted to the darker aspects of San Jose's retail and fashion industry. Fashion to Die For: A Shopper's Dilemma is now open in the Pasetta House at History Park. The title of the exhibit conveys multiple layers of meaning. "To die for" is a common phrase when shoppers absolutely must have a particular item. If animals are gunned down in the wild to manufacture a coat, or if arsenic is used to make clothes, as it was a century ago, "To Die For" takes on a whole new meaning, as it does when » 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