Features & Columns

Silicon Alleys: The Best Goal

A celebrity athlete's unstoppable, defiant breakthrough moment, 40 years later Read More


Verse Chorus

That's proven true once again in the pandemic. Virtual poetry workshops sprang up in response to the physical and emotional confinement of Covid-19. The Hope Storytelling Project was one successful movement, founded during the early quarantine by two Harvard students who said they were inspired by the need "to share the therapeutic power of poetry" and "create a sense of solace and community." Vermont-based poet James Crews, co-host of an online webinar I've been attending, says that one reason poetry has provided solace this year is because it's a powerful medium for working through change. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: The Best Goal

Next week will see the 40th anniversary of a legendary goal George Best scored at Spartan Stadium when playing for the original San Jose Earthquakes in the old North American Soccer League. For decades now, journalists, biographers, commentators, coaches and fans around the world have discussed that goal, in which Best angrily went past half the Fort Lauderdale team all by himself on July 22, 1981. Millions have watched it on YouTube. I attended that game as a kid, and even I feel like I've watched it a million times. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 14, 2021

In his poem "Litany," Aries poet Billy Collins testifies that he is "the sound of rain on the roof." He also claims to be "the moon in the trees, the paper blowing down an alley, the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table, and the shooting star." He does make it clear, however, that he is not "the bread and the knife" on the table, nor the "crystal goblet and the wine." What about you, Aries? What are all the earthy and fiery phenomena that you are? Are you, as Billy Collins suggests, "the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun and the marsh birds suddenly in flight"? Now would be an excellent time to dream up your own version of such colorful biographical details. » Read More

Back to the Chateau

It's the same highway traversed by hippie mystics and dharma bums, the one Hunter S. Thompson cruised up and down on his beastly Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle during late nights of insomnia. The asphalt Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters traveled in their notorious psychedelic bus, dispensing alternate realities to unsuspecting normies with beatnik wisdom and LSD-laced Kool Aid. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Lucky 13

In San Jose's Northside Neighborhood, I traveled from Italy to Cambodia via Mexico, Vietnam and the Caribbean, all without leaving 13th Street. The stretch of road between Backesto Park and 101, exquisite in its timeworn charm, exudes more local pride and character than anything currently getting built downtown. There is no shiny glass, no cocktail hipsters and no real estate reporters anywhere. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 7, 2021

In a letter to Jean Paul Sartre, author Simone de Beauvoir described how she was dealing with a batch of challenging memories: "I'm reliving it street by street, hour by hour, with the mission of neutralizing it, and transforming it into an inoffensive past that I can keep in my heart without either disowning it or suffering from it." I LOVE this approach! It's replete with emotional intelligence. I recommend it to you now, since it's high time to wrangle and finagle with parts of your life story that need to be alchemically transformed and redeemed by your love and wisdom. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Edge East

From there, Metcalf veers northeast as it crosses 101, before climbing a steep grade into the hills past the motorcycle park where it then flows into San Felipe Road. At this point, by any definition, you're in the middle of nowhere. Google claims the intersection of Metcalf and San Felipe is located in "San Felipe, CA, 95138." Heading north from the hills, San Felipe evolves into a pleasant, woodsy, oak-lined road, although one known for numerous urban myths and hauntings. Don't drive this stretch at nighttime. It can get spooky. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 30, 2021

Columnist Linda Weltner says there's a dual purpose to cleaning your home, rearranging the furniture, adding new art to the walls and doting on your potted plants. Taking good care of your environment is a primary way of taking good care of yourself. She writes, "The home upon which we have lavished so much attention is the embodiment of our own self love." I invite you to make that your inspirational meditation for the next two weeks. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Second's Helping

A masterpiece of creative urban synergy is about to unfold inside the mammoth Second Street building formerly occupied by TechShop, Zanotto's Market and Allen's Furniture. CreaTV, Chopsticks Alley and WORKS/San Jose, separately and together, will soon collaborate to transform the space into something long overdue. Just navigating the empty interior, surrounded by exposed brick, steel beams, blue gaffer's tape and leftover hanging conduit, one can envision a better future, when arts and culture are valued by landlords. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 23, 2021

Author Albert Camus advised everyone to "steal some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self." That's excellent advice for you to heed in the coming days. The cosmos has authorized you to put yourself first and grab all the renewal you need. So please don't scrimp as you shower blessings on yourself. One possible way to accomplish this goal is to go on a long stroll or two. Camus says, "It doesn't have to be a walk during which you'll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter." But I think you are indeed likely to be visited by major epiphanies and fantastic new meanings. » Read More

Yard Times

Jo Lerma-Lopez grew up ten minutes away from the Pruneyard Shopping Center. As a kid, she remembers eating the cookies at Mrs. Fields and going to the movies there. When Jo and her husband John opened the second location of their successful restaurant Luna at the Pruneyard in 2019, she admits it wasn't as "bustling and vibrant" as it used to be. "But the bones of it, and the history, that's what attracted us to the Pruneyard," she says. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Daikon Pixels

With gentrification continuing to reshape Japantown, one of San Jose's most historic neighborhoods, a group of artists and historians pooled their resources to explore hidden histories via the use of augmented reality (AR) technology. When the opening reception unfolds this Saturday from 4-6pm at Art Object Gallery, the past will no longer be prologue. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 16, 2021

Aries playwright Tennessee Williams was honest about the trickery he engaged in as he composed his entertaining masterpieces. "I don't want realism," he exclaimed. "I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people." I fully support you, Aries, if you would like to make that your goal in the next three weeks. In my astrological opinion, you and the people in your life have more than a mild need for magic. Your ability to thrive depends on you all getting big doses of magic. » Read More

Making Moves

Last year, San Jose artist Ezra Mara had heart surgery to fix a birth defect. The day after she got out of the hospital, the shelter-in-place pandemic quarantine went into effect. The 59-year-old's process wasn't affected too much by the mandated seclusion. Her daily routine remained unchanged: spending most days working in her studio by herself. "It wasn't so difficult," she says. "I'm not a very social person, and the nature of my work [requires] me to be alone to do it." » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Sour Greats

Throughout 43 years of business, Barbara Lenhart never needed to promote the Sourdough Eatery on North First Street. She never placed an ad anywhere. Then came the lockdown. Even though the legendary San Jose deli only suffered a few days of closure, Lenhart decided to put extra signage out front to let people know she was still in business. She wanted her regular customers to know they could still peruse the museum-like interior and gaze at the glorious mishmash of oddities all over the walls of the ancient brick building. They could still sit outside in what's probably the best patio anywhere in these parts. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 9, 2021

Aries actor Leonard Nimoy became mega-famous playing the role of Spock, an alien from the planet Vulcan in the Star Trek franchise. He always enjoyed the role, but in 1975 he wrote an autobiography called I Am Not Spock. In it, he clarified how different he was from the character he performed. In 1995, Nimoy published a follow-up autobiography, I Am Spock, in which he described the ways in which he was similar to the fictional alien. In the spirit of Nimoy's expansive self-definition, Aries, and in accordance with current astrological potentials, I invite you to make it clear to people exactly who you are and who you aren't. » Read More

Risko is His Business

In fact, his "Billy Bad Ass" moniker was granted to him twice, coincidentally, by Ukranian dancers at "Kozak nights" in New York City, and his first boss at a Gold's Gym. "So it had to stick," he says. "It's catchy. People either laugh with me or laugh at me, but either way they're laughing." Prusinowski teaches Risko Kickboxing by night, classes which are slowly beginning to resume in-person after a year on Zoom. He's also the founder of the Bay Area's Zoloti Maky (Ukranian for golden poppies) dance group, leading classes and choreographing traditional Ukranian folk dances at Morgan Hill's Ballet Academy of Silicon Valley. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Blue Bascom

In San Jose, one can do the same thing with Bascom Ave. If Bascom was a river, it would be the Danube of San Jose. When considered along with the streets it eventually morphs into at both ends, Bascom is an iconic artery drawing from a syncretism of discarded history and culture. It is the crucible of Mittelsanjose. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 2, 2021

"There is ecstasy in paying attention," writes Aries author Anne Lamott. That's always true for everyone, but it's extra true for you Aries people. And it will be extra, ultra, especially true for you during the next 20 days. I hope you will dedicate yourself to celebrating and upgrading your perceptual abilities. I hope you will resolve to see and register everything just as it is in the present moment, fresh and unprecedented, not as it was in the past or will be in the future. For best results, banish all preconceptions that might interfere with your ability to notice what's raw and real. If you practice these high arts with exhilarating diligence, you will be rewarded with influxes of ecstasy. » Read More

Hot Summer Guide: Roaring Back

"I love it. It's like being home," says Conners, a high school drama, dance and yoga teacher at East Side College Prep. She's stopped at the bar in honor of the fast-approaching last day of school, and anxiously watches the Los Angeles Lakers edge out her beloved Golden State Warriors on the television. "I was lucky to be vaccinated early," she says. "I know that's not a fail safe, but it's great to be back and support Bev [Ventura, Caravan's manager and owner,] and see everyone. Plus, I don't have cable at home." » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Show and Tell

Every picture tells a story. I'm not talking about the Rod Stewart album; I'm talking about my best friend in college, Mike Andrade, who passed away 25 years ago. The official anniversary was a few months back, but when a certain photograph resurfaced, the memories came right along with it. Mike and I were denizens of the SJSU School of Music, first and foremost, but in my case, I spent much of the mid-'90s moonlighting, or daylighting, at the art department's CADRE Institute, as it was then called. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 26, 2021

"Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence," declares an Arab proverb. That's a high standard to aspire to. Even at our very best, when we're soaring with articulate vitality, it's hard to be more beautiful than silence for more than, say, 50 percent of the time. But here's a nice surprise: You could exceed that benchmark during the next three weeks. You're primed to be extra expressive and interesting. When you speak, you could be more beautiful than silence as much as 80 percent of the time. » Read More

Mexican Revolution

When San Jose State professor Carlos Sanchez first read the work of Mexican philosopher Jorge Portilla, he had an epiphany. "I realized that I had been robbed," Sanchez says. "Somehow, my education had failed me because I had never encountered this work in my life until that moment." At the time, Sanchez had just completed his PhD in philosophy, without once coming across the work of Portilla, or any philosophy from Mexico for that matter. Then, towards the end of his doctorate, buried in a little-discussed essay published around the turn of the millennium, he found a single reference to a 70-year-old book by Portilla, which described it as "in need of rescue." » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Sister Act

The history is not complicated. Sometime during 1986, San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery and Dublin Mayor Bertie Ahern had a pint that launched the relationship. From there, Silicon Valley companies eventually opened up shop in Ireland, exchanges unfolded and, to this day, the relationship is much deeper than most sister city partnerships in the U.S. Much of the story appears in Tim Pat Coogan's book, Wherever the Green is Worn. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 19, 2021

Aries playwright Samuel Beckett wrote the play Waiting for Godot. At one point in the tale, the character named Estragon suggests it might be possible, even desirable, to "dance first and think afterwards." In response, the character named Pozzo says, "By all means, nothing simpler. It's the natural order." With that in mind, and in accordance with astrological omens, I am going to encourage you to dance first and think afterwards as much as possible in the coming weeks. In my opinion, your ability to analyze and reason will thrive to the degree that you encourage your body to engage in enjoyable, free-form play. Your power to make good decisions will grow as you take really good care of your physical organism and give it an abundance of » Read More

Note to Cell

The problem is, it's not true. As Martin Cooper reveals in his new memoir Cutting the Cord: The Creator of the Cell Phone Speaks Out, cellular technology was actually being developed in the late '50s and through the '60s. By the time Star Trek debuted in 1966, Cooper and his team at Motorola were practically in the home stretch; in 1973, they debuted the first-ever handheld mobile telephone, the brick-like DynaTAC. Cooper himself made the first cell phone call on October 17, 1973--to his chief competitor at AT&T, with whom he'd been in a bit of a cellular space race, as revealed in the book. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Almost Famous

Punjab Cafe on Santa Clara Street can take credit for crystallizing the phenomenon of Raj De Niro. When the restaurant first opened, it was a narrow corridor with room for just a few tables. Then it expanded, taking over the space next door, as the owners turned the original corridor into a fledgling ice cream operation that never materialized, so that original space sat empty. I would waltz in for the lunch buffet on a regular basis, sometimes twice a week--so much that if the main floor was filled up, they would let me sit in the old narrow corridor next door, essentially storage space off limits for anyone else. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 12, 2021

"I love unmade beds," writes Gemini poet Shane Koyczan. "I love when people are drunk and crying and cannot be anything but honest. I love the look in people's eyes when they realize they're in love. I love the way people look when they first wake up and they've forgotten their surroundings. I love when people close their eyes and drift to somewhere in the clouds." In the coming days, Gemini, I encourage you to specialize in moments like those: when you and the people you're interested in are candid, unguarded, raw, vulnerable and primed to go deeper. In my opinion, your soul needs the surprising healing that will come from these experiences. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Dark Dispatch

The dark history of Cupertino has resurfaced thanks to author Bob Calhoun, whose new book cooks up a bouillabaisse of carnage. At least a few chapters of The Murders That Made Us: How Vigilantes, Hoodlums, Mob Bosses, Serial Killers, and Cult Leaders Built the San Francisco Bay Area (ECW Press, 2021), are dedicated to the South Bay. In one called "The Technological Divide," Calhoun recounts one of Cupertino's darkest moments, 10 years ago, when Steve Jobs passed away the same day Shareef Allman went on a shooting rampage at the Lehigh Permanente Quarry before taking cops on a manhunt through suburbia, only to off himself in nearby Sunnyvale. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 5, 2021

Created by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century, the Mona Lisa is one of the world's most famous paintings. It's hanging in the Louvre museum in Paris. In that same museum is a less-renowned version of the Mona Lisa. It depicts the same woman, but she's unclothed. Made by da Vinci's student, it was probably inspired by a now-lost nude Mona Lisa painted by the master himself. Renaissance artists commonly created "heavenly" and "vulgar" versions of the same subject. I suggest that in the coming weeks you opt for the "vulgar" Mona Lisa, not the "heavenly" one, as your metaphor of power. Favor what's earthy, raw and unadorned over what's spectacular, idealized and polished. » Read More