Features & Columns

Backwater Arts Venue Celebrates 10 Years

Folk trio the Wild Reeds perform for a crowd of about 100 attendees at a recent Backwater Arts show Read More


Emily Chang's 'Brotopia'

It's the stuff of nerdy programmers' dreams: make enough money in Silicon Valley, and the invites to secret sex parties will roll in. The soirées are the 21st-century version of dotcom-era trips to Vegas, where you might see a polyamorous venture capitalist dressed like a bunny before he splits off to have druggy sex with a few women at once. The ratio of women to men is 2-to-1, the opposite of a typical tech sausagefest, and the molly takes many forms: mixed into a coconut, pressed into a Snapchat logo-shaped tablet, passed around in big plastic bags. The motto is "no voyeurism," so everyone basically has to participate, and what starts as a "cuddle puddle" often turns into a full-on orgy. » Read More

Backwater Arts Venue Celebrates 10 Years

Backwater Arts is appropriately named. To get there, one must venture down Senter Road, in this case at nighttime, surrounded by noir strip malls of seedy karaoke joints, beauty salons, laundromats, and a VietAir freight shipping facility before turning east down Quinn Avenue. From there, it's only a short stroll past rundown RVs, computer warehouses, trucking yards and a few characters dumping couches on the sidewalk before Quinn dead-ends at a two-story New England-style house built in 1877 and currently home to Backwater Arts. On a chilly night, local musician Ben Henderson and the amazing female folksy trio the Wild Reeds are gigging on a cool makeshift stage out back. I am among the first to show up. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Can Casual Sex be Emotionally Satisfying?

It's possible for a woman to have an orgasm from hookup sex--just as it's possible to spot a white rhino grazing on a roadway median in suburban Detroit. The reality is, hookups tend to work best if you are a man or a trailer. Research by sociologist Elizabeth A. Armstrong and her colleagues finds that for women, hookup sex is particularly problematic in the orgasm-dispensing department. In first-time hookups, women they surveyed reported orgasms only 11 percent of the time--compared with 67 percent of the time from sex in a relationship. However, the more times a woman had slept with her current hookup partner the more likely she was to finish with screams of ecstasy--and not the ones that stand in for "You 'bout done yet?" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 14, 2018

At 12,388 feet, Mount Fuji is Japan's highest peak. If you're in good shape, you can reach the top in seven hours. The return trip can be done in half the time--if you're cautious. The loose rocks on the steep trail are more likely to knock you off your feet on the way down than on the way up. I suspect this is an apt metaphor for you in the coming weeks, Aries. Your necessary descent may be deceptively challenging. So make haste slowly! Your power animals are the rabbit and the snail. » Read More

The Book of Love

From Harvey Weinstein's desperate email to his industry bros asking for a "second chance," to Kevin Spacey's tone-deaf, "I now choose to live as a gay man" deflection, to Louis C.K.'s insistence on using the word "dick" in his apology letter, it seems that just about every Hollywood hotshot called out for sexual assault, harassment and misconduct has missed the mark when attempting to make amends. But can we really blame these men? Well, yes. Of course we can. And we should--and will. But if the #MeToo movement is to amount to more than a collection of crushed careers and deflated male egos, our culture needs to undergo a larger paradigm shift. » Read More

Santa Clara County Anoints Mighty Mike Its Poet Laureate

Mighty Mike McGee and I are slouching around inside an undisclosed coffee shop, discussing the laundromats of downtown San Jose. We're rattling off the benefits of carrying our laundry to 11th and San Carlos, as opposed to Eighth and Empire streets. McGee is a fixture in coffee shops like Caffe Frascati, where he runs the weekly Live Lit event every Thursday, and where he also reads from children's books every Sunday morning. But as of this past Monday, McGee is the newly donned Santa Clara County poet laureate, and his biographical info is now permanently enshrined in a county Board of Supervisors meeting agenda packet. McGee has already paid his poetic dues on the streets of San Jose, and it's about to get better. » Read More

Advice Goddess: I'm So Tired of Texting

Back in, say, 539 B.C. in Sumer, if you wanted to tell somebody you were "laughing out loud," you'd have to dispatch your eunuch across town with the message on a cuneiform tablet. OK, so the "tablets" are way more tricked out these days, but oh, how far we haven't come. Texting can be a great way to get to know somebody--somebody who can't talk on the phone because they're hiding in a closet from kidnappers in a Liam Neeson movie. However, assuming neither of you is in immediate danger of being sold into sex slavery by the standard swarthy Hollywood terrorists, you should hold off on any text-athons until after you put in some solid face-to-face time. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 7, 2018

British athlete Liam Collins is an accomplished hurdler. In 2017, he won two medals at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in South Korea. Collins is also a stuntman and street performer who does shows in which he hurtles over barriers made of chainsaws and leaps blindfolded through flaming hoops. For the foreseeable future, you may have a dual capacity with some resemblances to his. You could reach a high point in expressing your skills in your chosen field, and also branch out into extraordinary or flamboyant variations on your specialty. » Read More

The Real Sarah Winchester

At night, lit up, it draws people driving past on Winchester Boulevard with its potential for horror. The guides put you in a susceptible frame of mind as you climb the strangely angled stairs and walk the dim corridors. Since the reclusive Sarah Winchester's demise of old age in 1922, the place has had an enthusiastically cultivated bad name. As early as 1939, the WPA Guide to California, an early tourism reference book, described the mansion as "the externalization of a psychopathic mind." » Read More

Finding Literary Inspiration at the Chiang Mai Writers Club

Last week, the anti-man-about-town returned to a literary vortex of major influence. Eight years ago in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I discovered a place on Rachadamnoen Road inside the central area of town. The Chiang Mai Writers Club and Wine Bar was right down the street from the Phra Singh Temple. Bob Tilley, a retired journalist from the UK, owned the place, along with his wife, Tong, and it functioned as the unofficial English-speaking foreign correspondents club of Chiang Mai. Every possible demographic of expat writer might be found inside. A lonesome traveling screenwriter might show up to get drunk in the corner, a journalist might pop in after filing a story, or someone may just be looking for other writers to drink with. The phrase, » Read More

Advice Goddess: Does This Sunspot Make Me Undateable?

I'm a single 33-year-old woman. Suddenly, after years of outdoor sports, I have a dime-sized dark brown sunspot on my face. It's not cancerous, and I'm having it lasered off. This will take a while. Though I cover it with makeup, I'm terribly self-conscious about it, and I don't want to date till it's removed. I know how visual men are, and I don't want a man to find out I have this thing and see me as unattractive. My friends say I'm being ridiculous. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 31, 2018

In all of history, humans have mined about 182,000 tons of gold. Best estimates suggest there are still 35 billion tons of gold buried in the earth, but the remaining riches will be more difficult to find and collect than what we've already gotten. We need better technology. If I had to say who would be the entrepreneurs and inventors best qualified to lead the quest, my choice would be members of the Aries tribe. For the foreseeable future, you people will have extra skill at excavating hidden treasure and gathering resources that are hard to access. » Read More

Winter Arts 2018

As January fades and days lengthen, Silicon Valley's artists stretch their creative muscles and splash color on winter's dull gray. Galleries and museums open new exhibitions, local stage companies pull back the curtain on debut performances and live music venues edge up the volume. With the year's longest nights behind us, it's time to heat up with thought-provoking visuals, compelling plays, kinetic dance and energetic live music. Read on for a cheat sheet to some of the South Bay's best art offerings this season. » Read More

Roadwork in Santa Clara Unearths Historic Railroad

When Christiane Clark stumbled upon the destruction of old wooden railway ties beneath Franklin Street in Santa Clara, she thought of Berlin. Leftovers from San Jose's old Peninsular Railway system aroused her passion for local history, so much that the intersection of Franklin and Lafayette made her think of the book-burning memorial in Berlin's Bebelplatz. Earlier this month, construction crews were working on the section of Franklin Street going eastward from Lafayette into Santa Clara University property. SCU recently purchased the street from the city in order to create a landscaped pedestrian lane that would accent some of the newer campus buildings. But as crews dug up the pavement, they discovered old wooden railway ties still » Read More

Advice Goddess: Should I Take Him Back?

We crave certainty, and we get freaked out by uncertainty. If we weren't like this, there would be no horror movies, because somebody would say, "Whoa...I hear this weird, unearthly growling in the basement," and their friend would say, "Yeah, whatever" and keep playing chess, and the monster would cry itself to sleep off camera. Interestingly, there are some lessons for dealing with potential romantic horror from actual horror fare. Evolutionary researcher Mathias Clasen, author of "Why Horror Seduces," believes that one reason we appreciate horror movies is that they allow us to have an intense scary experience under safe circumstances--basically acting as a sort of mental training to help us protect ourselves in dire situations. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 24, 2018

Anders Haugen competed for the U.S. as a ski jumper in the 1924 Winter Olympics. Although he was an accomplished athlete who had previously set a world record for distance, he won no medals at the games. But wait! Fifty years later, a sports historian discovered that there had a been a scoring mistake back in 1924. In fact, Haugen had done well enough to win the bronze medal. The mistake was rectified, and he finally got his long-postponed award. I foresee a comparable development happening in your life, Aries. Recognition or appreciation you deserved to have received some time ago will finally come your way. » Read More


The scenery changes as Market Street heads away from downtown San Jose's breweries, art galleries, luxury apartments and hotels--right before the Interstate 280 underpass. At Reed Street, the new luxury living space, The Pierce, sits on the northeast corner. On the northwest, the former Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot has been razed, and heavy machines shape the foundation of a forthcoming development. Then, the march of gentrification halts. For now. On the south side of West Reed Street, where Market merges with and becomes South First, an old, rundown two-story building is home to La Peóita Restaurant and the vestiges of a showroom for an artisan tile maker. » Read More

Exploring the Cultural Geography of San Jose's East Side

From the King Road side of Mexican Heritage Plaza, I look west down a side street and see the top of the Fairmont Hotel in the distance. I can also see the Marriott. This is how close East San Jose is to downtown. Geographically challenged people often think of the East Side as "out there" when it really isn't. Even worse, those who live throughout the rest of San Jose, many of whom haven't ventured east of 10th Street, mistake East San Jo for some guerrilla warfare barrio riddled with undesirables. "This is not the set of Colors, the movie," says Tamara Alvarado, executive director of the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza, as we walk south down King Road toward San Antonio Street. "If you go up into the hills, it's » Read More

Advice Goddess: I'm Still Not Sure Why He Dumped Me

This psychological spin cycle we go into is called "the Zeigarnik effect," after Russian psychiatrist Bluma Zeigarnik. In the 1920s, Zeigarnik observed that waiters at a busy Vienna restaurant were pretty remarkable at remembering food orders they had taken but had yet to deliver. However, once they'd brought the food to the patrons, they had little memory of what the orders were. Zeigarnik's research suggests that the mind remains in a "state of tension" until we complete whatever we've left incomplete. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 17, 2018

Many American women did not have the right to vote until Aug. 18, 1920. On that day, the Tennessee General Assembly became the 36th state legislature to approve the 19th Amendment, thus sealing the legal requirements to change the U.S. Constitution and ensure women's suffrage. The ballot in Tennessee was close. At the last minute, 24-year-old legislator Harry T. Burns changed his mind from no to yes, thanks to a letter from his mother, who asked him to "be a good boy" and vote in favor. I suspect that in the coming weeks, Aries, you will be in a pivotal position not unlike Burns'. Your decision could affect more people than you know. Be a good boy or good girl. » Read More

Trip to Irish Capital Spurs Ideas for San Jose

International travel tends to create a heightened sense of awareness, often leading to a productive reassessment of one's own landscape. In regards to Dublin, Ireland, one of San Jose's sister cities, a recent infiltration around New Year's conjured up cosmic comparisons to San Jose, one after the other. First of all, Dublin is home to the rock band U2, where singer Bono and guitarist The Edge bought The Clarence Hotel about 25 years ago, fully restoring the historic property to iconic status in the Dublin landscape. On New Year's Eve, Bono's son gigged in the bar next door, and afterward, the whole family along with lifelong friends went up to the penthouse and partied until the wee morning hours. I missed the episode by a few hours, but » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Miss Our Crazy Sex Marathons

The good news: You two are still like animals in bed. The bad news: They're roadkill. This is something to try to change, because sex seems to be a kind of gym for a healthy relationship. Clinical psychologist Anik Debrot and her colleagues note that beyond how sex "promotes a stronger and more positive connection" between partners, there's "strong support" in the research literature for a link between "an active and satisfying sexual life and individual well-being." Of course, it's possible that individuals who are happy get it on more often than those who hate their lives and each other. Also, having an orgasm tends to be more day-brightening than, say, having a flat tire. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 10, 2018

I'm happy to inform you that life is giving you permission to be extra demanding in the coming weeks--as long as you're not petty, brusque, or unreasonable. Here are a few examples that will pass the test: "I demand that you join me in getting drunk on the truth;" "I demand to receive rewards commensurate with my contributions;" "I demand that we collaborate to outsmart and escape the karmic conundrums we've gotten ourselves mixed up in." On the other hand, Aries, ultimatums like these are not admissible: "I demand treasure and tribute, you fools;" "I demand the right to cheat in order to get my way;" "I demand that the river flow backwards." » Read More

Marijuana Goes Legit in California: Now What?

Tim Blake, founder of the Emerald Cup, was an 18-year-old Soquel High student when he started dealing bud, just as the industry began to bloom in California. During the last bloody years of the Vietnam War, large quantities of hash from Asia, and pot via Oaxaca and South America, started pouring into cities along the West Coast. By the mid-'70s it was an organized marketplace, he says, with 100,000-pound loads arriving 10 to 15 times a year on freighters from as far as Thailand. Then came the '80s, bringing with them Ronald Reagan, cheap cocaine, DEA crackdowns and the war on drugs, creating high mandatory prison minimums for the possession and sale of a plant whose use can be traced back to the early hominids. » Read More

The Formative Years of a Liquor Store Clerk Just Passing Time

When someone asks me which part of San Jose I grew up in, I usually say the Cambrian area. But during a recent exchange, in one of those laugh-out-loud moments, I said the Cambrian era by accident. This was not a Freudian slip. It was a Jungian slip, instructing me to reinvestigate the locality and conjure up my shadow, to confront the darkness and rise above it. That said, I recently prowled around Cambrian last week and wound up at Cask n Flask Liquors at Leigh and Camden, a bastion of darkness, a place that employed yours truly, off and on, back when I was 17 and 18 years old. This was a therapeutic experience. » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Think People Hate Me Because I'm Pretty

Inner beauty, unfortunately, only turns heads of people with X-ray vision: "Excuse me, miss, but has anyone ever told you that you have a very pretty appendix?" Sadly, complaints about the difficulty of being eye candy in a world of eye kale tend not to engender much sympathy, and researchers haven't helped matters. There's a considerable pile of research that has found a "beauty premium" (especially for women)--a bias toward hiring and promoting the hotties of the workforce--and, depressingly, an "ugliness penalty" holding back the more Shrekalicious among us. But it turns out that the methodology behind this slew of findings, and the conclusion that simply having cheerleader good looks acts as a sort of express elevator for your career, » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 3, 2018

In 2018, your past will undergo transformation. Your memories will revise and rearrange themselves. Bygone events that seemed complete and definitive will shimmy and shift, requiring new interpretations. The stories you have always told about how you became who you are will have to be edited, perhaps even rewritten. While these overhauls may sometimes be disconcerting, they will ultimately be liberating. » Read More

Viet Thanh Nguyen Provided a Light of Truth in Dark 2017

When each year concludes, the anti-man-about-town usually feels obligated to yack about his most rewarding columns of the previous 12 months. This year, however, one particular column stands out far above the rest because the absurdity continues to unfold. Just a few weeks ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction maestro and former downtown San Jose denizen Viet Thanh Nguyen learned that his autobiographical short story set in San Jose, "War Years," would be censored from the Vietnamese translation of his collection, The Refugees. Apparently the apparatus of state power in Vietnam did not enjoy the anti-communist sentiments he employed in the narrative. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Co-Worker Coming On Too Strong

It's tempting to get everything out in the open right away: "I've run the numbers on your chances of having sex with me, and they're pretty close to the odds of your being crushed to death by a middle-aged dentist falling out of the sky." Informing a guy pronto that you aren't romantically interested in him--though in somewhat kinder language--would be the right thing to do if he were just some persistent Tinder date you wanted to unload forever. But you're hoping to have a continuing business relationship with this guy. So even if it were wildly obvious that he has the hots for you, the last thing you should do is mention that particular elephant in the room. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 27, 2017

Poet Diane Ackerman tells us that human tongues, lips, and genitals possess neural receptors that are ultra-responsive. Anatomists have given unsexy names to these bliss-generating parts of our bodies: Krause end bulbs, also known as bulboid corpuscles. (Couldn't they have called them "glimmering rapture hubs" or "magic buttons"?) In any case, these sweet spots enable us to experience surpassing pleasure. According to my understanding of the astrological omens for 2018, Cancerian, your personal complement of bulboid corpuscles will be even more sensitive than usual. Here's further good news: Your soul will also have a heightened capacity to receive and register delight. » Read More

The Bright Side

As contrived as the practice is, there is a reason we mark the beginning of a new year by promising to better ourselves. We humans are creatures of habit who take cues from the daily turning of the globe and the Earth's elliptical path around the sun. And in the non-stop hustle and bustle of daily life it's important to slow down and take stock of where we came from and where we're going--at least once every 365 days. In a valley where time seems to move faster than most other places, 2017 absolutely blew by. Still, in the past 12 months we've seen the South Bay swell with great new restaurants, improve its standing as an arts and entertainment destination and continue to develop as the global leader in tech. » Read More

David Bacon's Photo Exhibit Shows Migrant Workers' Humanity

Thirty-five years ago, David Bacon was fired from his job at National Semiconductor on Kifer Road for trying to organize a union, after which he was blacklisted in Silicon Valley. As a result, he dedicated the rest of his life to pro-labor activism, documentary photography and the plight of migrant farmworkers. Skip to the current day and Bacon's remarkable black-and-white images comprise a new show at History San Jose at Kelley Park. A bilingual and decidedly non-neutral exhibit, In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norte runs until next year, with Bacon arriving Jan. 14 for a lecture and book signing. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Co-Worker Coming On Too Strong

It's tempting to get everything out in the open right away: "I've run the numbers on your chances of having sex with me, and they're pretty close to the odds of your being crushed to death by a middle-aged dentist falling out of the sky." Informing a guy pronto that you aren't romantically interested in him--though in somewhat kinder language--would be the right thing to do if he were just some persistent Tinder date you wanted to unload forever. But you're hoping to have a continuing business relationship with this guy. So even if it were wildly obvious that he has the hots for you, the last thing you should do is mention that particular elephant in the room. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 20, 2017

Your life in the first half of 2018 will be like a psychological boot camp that's designed to beef up your emotional intelligence. Here's another way to visualize your oncoming adventures: They will constitute a friendly nudge from the cosmos, pushing you to be energetic and ingenious in creating the kind of partnerships you want for the rest of your long life. As you go through your interesting tests and riddles, be on the lookout for glimpses of what your daily experience could be like in five years if you begin now to deepen your commitment to love and collaboration. » Read More

Silicon Valley Author Andy Weir Builds on Success of 'The Martian' with 'Artemis'

Not every fan of The Martian loves Artemis, which surged to the top of the bestseller lists as soon as it was published in November, reaching No. 6 on the New York Times hardcover fiction list its first eligible week, and it might be a while before any undergraduate seminars focus on Weir's literary merits. He's not a once-in-a-generation literary talent like Jennifer Egan (Manhattan Beach), Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) or Nathan Hill (The Nix). Andy Weir is the One because he's given us a feel-good reminder of the power of the imagination, and he can inspire anyone and everyone to pursue their own writing, maybe even becoming rock-star huge. » Read More

Port of Mokha, Chromatic Partner ahead of Dave Eggers Book Release

In a Santa Clara strip mall, Mokhtar Alkhanshali is reciting mystic Sufi poetry about the virtues of caffeine. A capacity crowd at Chromatic Coffee on Stevens Creek Boulevard listens intently as Mokhtar, the only Yemeni-American coffee magnate ever to be profiled in a Dave Eggers book, talks about his company, Port of Mokha and specifically its new limited edition release of Al-Durrar from Yemen. He delivers a fantastic educational speech about coffee and its roots with the ancient Sufis. Chromatic is jammed to the gills, with many customers shelling out $42 for 6 ounces of roasted Yemeni coffee in custom-packaged units. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Does Love at First Sight Exist?

It's so special when a man tells a woman he's deeply in love with her--except when her response is "Excuse me, but have we met?" Love at first sight sounds so romantic. There are those couples who claim they had it--causing mass nausea at dinner parties when they look into each other's eyes and announce, "From the moment we saw each other, we just KNEW." Uh, did they? A Swiss psychology grad student, Florian Zsok, ran some experiments to see what love at first sight is actually made of. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 13, 2017

According to a Sufi aphorism, you can't be sure that you are in possession of the righteous truth unless a thousand people have called you a heretic. If that's accurate, you still have a ways to go before you can be certified. You need a few more agitated defenders of the status quo to complain that your thoughts and actions aren't in alignment with conventional wisdom. Go round them up! Ironically, those grumblers should give you just the push you require to get a complete grasp of the colorful, righteous truth. » Read More

Jessica Neideffer Takes Healing Principles of Sound to City Hall

On a cold evening in front of San Jose City Hall, Jessica Neideffer sits on a rug, playing a set of a crystal singing bowls. Next to her, on the sidewalk, people lie in sleeping bags to meditate on the sounds, which are based on Vedic healing principles and amplified by a microphone to help trigger the pre-programmed pulsing light patterns of the Sonic Runway art installation. Each bowl emits a different frequency, with Neideffer improvising to take others into deeper brain waves via sound. Neideffer regularly appears at several places around town, such as parks, yoga studios and her private practice, Agada Energy Healing, where she does Reiki sessions and maintains a solid book of clients. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I Coddling My Artist Boyfriend?

Ideally, when one partner is the sole breadwinner, the other is the stay-at-home parent to more than two rambunctious goldfish. Risk researcher and former derivatives trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb uses a term in his books: "skin in the game." That's what's missing when, say, a hedge fund honcho advises you to make some big-bucks investment. If he's guessed right, he'll share in your profits. However, any losses are all yours--as in, you'll find him up in his penthouse, not two cardboard boxes down from your new "home" on the corner. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 6, 2017

The members of the fungus family, like mushrooms and molds, lack chlorophyll, so they can't make food from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. To get the energy they need, they "eat" plants. That's lucky for us. The fungi keep the earth fresh. Without them to decompose fallen leaves, piles of compost would continue to accumulate forever. Some forests would be so choked with dead matter that they couldn't thrive. I invite you to take your inspiration from the heroic fungi, Taurus. Expedite the decay and dissolution of the worn-out and obsolete parts of your life. » Read More

CMT San Jose Takes Off the Kid Gloves

There are no windows in Kevin Hauge's office. Instead, brightly colored theatrical posters hang from the walls. The titles are instantly recognizable: Billy Elliot, White Christmas, The Lion King--each bill illuminated by grinning casts who have come and gone. The room reads more like an exhibit of local theater history than a workplace. "This kid on the end here," Hauge says, pausing at a poster of West Side Story from 2007. "He's one of the stars in Hamilton now." The young greaser in the photo is Ryan Vasquez, a CMT San Jose alum who recently passed through the Bay Area on a national tour of the hip-hop historical Broadway show that claimed almost every Tony Award in 2016. » Read More

Finding a Thread of Light in Memories of a Local 'Manson Family' Murderer

Like a lotus blooming from the mud, a seedy piece of Leigh High School history has illuminated the interconnectedness of humanity. Light has emerged from darkness. Via totally unintentional journalistic adventures in Facebook crowdsourcing, several longtime locals were reunited, even if just online. It all began with Charles Manson. Or, to be more precise, it began with one of his family members, Susan Atkins, who spent much of her childhood in San Jose's Cambrian Park before attending Leigh High School during the initial stages of that facility's existence in the early '60s. I have written about Atkins in this very space more than once, most recently citing passages from her book, Child of Satan, Child of God, in which she recalls growing » Read More

Advice Goddess: My High School Sweetheart Ain't So Sweet Anymore

You know you can count on him to "put a ring on it" when he sets his beer down without a coaster on your vintage lacquered Donghia side table. It actually isn't surprising that you've managed to maintain hope--even as your loverman stops just short of tackling you at weddings to keep you from catching the bouquet. Brain imaging studies by anthropologist Helen Fisher and her colleagues find that our love for another person is not merely a feeling. In fact, as she put it in a talk, love is "a motivation system; it's a drive; it's part of the reward system of the brain." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 29, 2017

I hope that everything doesn't come too easily for you in the coming weeks. I'm worried you will meet with no obstructions and face no challenges. And that wouldn't be good. It might weaken your willpower and cause your puzzle-solving skills to atrophy. Let me add a small caveat, however. It's also true that right about now you deserve a whoosh of slack. I'd love for you to be able to relax and enjoy your well-deserved rewards. But on the other hand, I know you will soon receive an opportunity to boost yourself up to an even higher level of excellence and accomplishment. I want to be sure that when it comes, you are at peak strength and alertness. » Read More

Metro's 2017 Gift Guide: Give Back to Get Back

As landfill and recycling centers between the Bay Area and the Amazon River choke on mountains of cardboard boxes covered in blue tape and reach-around arrows, we decided to give Jeff Bezos and his team the holiday off. Instead of taking the easy route of one click commerce and star ratings, our annual Give Guide focuses on the work of local entrepreneurs, artists and all-around good guys. From Silicon Valley streetwear and toy stores for accelerated tots to hemp-infused soap and scarves designed after ancient Japanese bondage techniques, it's time to think local and get a little weird this holiday season. » Read More

Heather David's Coffee Table Tome Plumbs the Kooky History of Golden State Motels

Heather David might know more about vibrating mattresses than anyone else in California. The proof lies in her new self-published book, Motel California: A Pictorial History of the Motel in the Golden State, in which she presents a fantastic taxonomy of kitsch, a hagiography of midcentury roadside motels in all their glory. Throughout 180 full-color pages, David elevates wacky motel architecture to historical status, replete with neon signage, pools and, of course, Magic Fingers vibrating bed technology. Like David's first book, Mid-Century by the Bay, this new zonked-out masterpiece is a hardbound coffee-table project chock-full of wacky ephemera from David's research over the last several years. It all began in the '20s, when developer » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Want to Sleep with My Dog

The problem you're experiencing in crating your dog at night comes out of doggy-human co-evolution. Anthrozoologist John W.S. Bradshaw explains that over generations, we humans bred dogs to be emotionally dependent on us. Not surprisingly, dogs miss their owners, sometimes desperately, when they are separated from them--and other dogs don't seem to fill the emotional void. In one of Bradshaw's studies of 40 Labrador retrievers and border collies he found that "well over 50 percent of the Labs and almost half of the collies showed some kind of separation distress" when left alone. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 22, 2017

In alignment with the current astrological omens, I have prepared your horoscope using five hand-plucked aphorisms by Aries poet Charles Bernstein. 1. "You never know what invention will look like or else it wouldn't be invention." 2. "So much depends on what you are expecting." 3. "What's missing from the bird's eye view is plain to see on the ground." 4. "The questioning of the beautiful is always at least as important as the establishment of the beautiful." 5. "Show me a man with two feet planted firmly on the ground and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants on." » Read More

Tide Turning for San Jose's Literary Scene

William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, showed up last week at Cafe Stritch to give an articulate, crafted presentation about his life and work, after which he conversed on stage with Steve Kettmann and signed books for quite some time. It was the type of event that yet brought a recurring question to mind: Why wasn't San Jose doing this 20 years ago? Presented by the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University, the event was the second time this semester, following Viet Thanh Nguyen's near-sold-out event at the Hammer Theatre Center, that the center took strides in bringing major literary events into the urban fabric of downtown San Jose, rather than confining authors to a library » Read More

Advice Goddess: Which Photo Should I Post on Dating Websites?

Being somewhat vain, I fear the candid camera. In fact, I not only favor the posed photo but tend to stick (rather aggressively) to a single pose--the one that doesn't make people wonder whether I eat oats out of a burlap bag. On online dating sites especially, appearance drives whom we choose or lose. Not surprisingly, marketing researcher Jonah Berger reports that "most online contexts," including dating sites, "are dominated by posed photos," as opposed to the candid kind--to the point where the main leisure activity in North America appears to be standing in a bathroom making duck lips for the camera. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 15, 2017

Adriana Martinez and Octavio Guillen got engaged to be married when they were both 15 years old. But they kept delaying a more complete unification for 67 years. At last, when they were 82, they celebrated their wedding and pledged their vows to each other. Are there comparable situations in your life, Aries? The coming months will be a favorable time to make deeper commitments. At least some of your reasons for harboring ambivalence will become irrelevant. You'll grow in your ability to thrive on the creative challenges that come from intriguing collaborations and highly focused togetherness. » Read More

When People Go Missing, Legal Limitations Make It Hard for Friends, Family to Find Them

Try as she might to mine her memory of that day, little stood out about the last meal Anneliese Scadden shared with her brother. Five Thanksgiving weekends ago, Scadden and her six siblings met at their parents' Morgan Hill home for their traditional potluck. Her younger brother, Karl Busch, a handyman by trade, wore his usual garb: frayed jeans, a baseball cap and goatee. He kept quiet, but seemed in good spirits despite a recent breakup. That night, or sometime soon after--it's unclear when, exactly--Busch took off with nothing but a knapsack and his white Ford Econoline. Few thought much of his departure at first, until a week passed. Then months. » Read More

Humanitarians Get Up Close and Personal at revamped Tech Awards

Last Saturday, the Tech Museum of Innovation officially rebranded its signature event, the Tech Awards, pivoting to a new concept called Tech for Global Good. Instead of a separate lavish gala banquet for hundreds of tuxedos and high rollers, the event now unfolds in museum spaces, giving attendees direct access to the award-winning laureates for extended periods of time. The awards also now dovetail with the museum's mission as a whole. High rollers were still present, but the tuxedos were not. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 8, 2017

Adriana Martinez and Octavio Guillen got engaged to be married when they were both 15 years old. But they kept delaying a more complete unification for 67 years. At last, when they were 82, they celebrated their wedding and pledged their vows to each other. Are there comparable situations in your life, Aries? The coming months will be a favorable time to make deeper commitments. At least some of your reasons for harboring ambivalence will become irrelevant. You'll grow in your ability to thrive on the creative challenges that come from intriguing collaborations and highly focused togetherness. » Read More

Future Brain: Stanford Explores New Frontiers of Interdependency between Computing, Human Mind

The problem with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them." Brian Eno, an experimental electronic musician, first uttered these words in 1995. Twenty years later, computer scientist Dr. Kwabena Boahen, a native of Ghana, repeated the mantra during a TED talk to help explain how his research seeks to make computers work more like our brains. After reading the quote, Boahen laughed, gathered himself and said, "Nobody was listening then, but now people are beginning to listen because there's a pressing technological problem that we face." » Read More

Pow! Wow! Brings Out San Jose's Happy Side

The kids have taken over Recycle Baookstore. Figuratively, of course. Thanks to local painters Ben Henderson and Lacey Bryant, a gigantic mural of kids on bicycles now stretches along the side of the Midtown bookstore in San Jose, the same structure that houses The Alameda ArtWorks. Each of the children have a happy expression on his or her face, and the bikes come in all shapes and sizes. The mural is HUGE. Artists needed a scissor lift to accomplish most of the work, and when I arrived to interrupt their work, a version of "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone softly emanated from a music player. The song seemed apt, as many of the children featured were born to local artists or community boosters. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Do I Get Rid of My Envy?

You see a friend achieving some success and you say, "So happy for you. Well-deserved!" It's a more polite way of saying, "I hope you are stricken with a rare, deadly form of full-body adult acne." We think of envy as an ugly, counterproductive emotion, but it's really just a tool, like a jackhammer or a blender. To understand this, it helps to understand that even emotions that make us feel crappy have a job to do--motivating us to act in ways that will help us survive and make a bunch of little buggers who'll totter off through the generations, passing on our genes. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 1, 2017

America's Civil War ended in 1865. A veteran from that conflict later produced a daughter, Irene Triplett, who is still alive today and collecting his pension. In the coming months, I foresee you being able to take advantage of a comparable phenomenon, although it may be more metaphorical. Blessings from bygone times, perhaps even from the distant past, will be available to you. But you'll have to be alert and know where to look. So now might be a good time to learn more about your ancestors, ruminate exuberantly about your own history, study the lives of your dead heroes, and maybe even tune in to your previous incarnations. » Read More

Mosaic of the South Bay Comes to Life at Sangam Arts Events

Vilas Nayak stands on an outdoor stage and paints a colorful image of the Hindu god Ganesha on a black canvas. Palm trees tower above him, jutting up into the nighttime sky. The stage is one component of a sprawling multilevel backyard landscape at a private Saratoga residence--a yard that looks more like a resort on the Riviera Maya.
Nayak wears leather pants while he works the canvas, exaggerating movements and painting strokes to the rhythms of a Bollywood tune blasting from the PA system. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Help Fix My Inconsiderate Significant Other

There are people who go all crazybiscuits if you don't immediately email them back--confusing the ability to reply nearly instantly with a mandate to do that. Still, there's a middle ground between frantically responding to every message and taking so long that somebody sends the cops around to peer in the windows for a body. When you're romantically involved with someone, it's kind of a problem if the most reliable thing about them is their unreliability. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 25, 2017

I share Vincent Van Gogh's belief that "the best way to know life is to love many things." But I also think that the next twelve months will be an inspiring time for you to be focused and single-minded in your involvement with love. That's why I encourage you to take an approach articulated by the Russian mystic Anne Sophie Swetchine: "To love deeply in one direction makes us more loving in all others." Halloween costume suggestion: a lover celebrating a sacred union to the love of your life, to God or Goddess, or to a symbol of your most sublime ideal. » Read More

Maurice Carrubba Reinvents the Valley's Iconic Eateries

Maurice Carrubba checks his fitted black tuxedo one last time before the doors of the GrandView Restaurant swing open. He glides through the dimly lit foyer as a grand piano in the corner plays "Hotel California," and he stops to speak with a hostess in a natty blue dress, before leaning over the polished wooden bar behind her to greet the barkeep with a tap on the shoulder and a few words of encouragement. He continues on his route. Moving through the restaurant, whose walls are lined with portraits of old-time Hollywood stars such as Sofia Loren, Sinatra and The Rat Pack, the affable Carrubba makes sure to greet every employee by name and with a handshake. After a quick check of the kitchen and its staff, he makes his way to the patio » Read More

San Jose's Diverse Muses Headline Poetry Festival

From day one, San Jose has channeled a diverse set of muses via the written word, which is why History San Jose at Kelley Park seems like a perfect destination for the third annual San Jose Poetry Festival this weekend. "The diversity of literary traditions [in San Jose] is remarkable," says Robert Pesich, president of Poetry Center San Jose. "You have writers writing in Vietnamese traditions, Chinese, Hindi, people from Mexico, El Salvador, all coming together at times to share their work at various events. There's a tremendous richness and we'd like to see that cultivated and advanced in the context of the festival." » Read More

Advice Goddess: My Older BFF Is Creeping

Welcome to the "never say never" school of hope. There are some asymmetries between men and women in the effort required to get some action out of the opposite sex. Some men will engineer elaborate plots to try to wear a woman's "nuh-uh, never gonna happen" into a "maybe just this once." A woman, on the other hand, doesn't have to plot. Assuming she's reasonably attractive, she can probably just make extended eye contact with a man while eating a banana. This difference reflects what evolutionary psychologist David Buss explains as men's and women's conflicting evolutionary goals. It's in a man's evolutionary interest to, as they say, shoot and scoot (possibly passing on his genes without putting out any further time, energy or resources). » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 18, 2017

Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats likes to play along with the music of nature. On one occasion he collaborated with Mandeville Creek in Montana. He listened and studied the melodies that emanated from its flowing current. Then he moved around some of the underwater rocks, subtly changing the creek's song. Your assignment, Aries, is to experiment with equally imaginative and exotic collaborations. The coming weeks will be a time when you can make beautiful music together with anyone or anything that tickles your imagination. » Read More

All Hail King Patrick

King Patrick Eugenio paces in the back of a rented Ryder truck, moving through a clot of other wrestlers. It's a quarter after four on a Sunday afternoon in downtown San Jose, and he's anxious. It's hot, almost unbearably so, but he focuses on what is to come. Most of the other wrestlers sitting in the truck are dressed in spandex leotards. King Patrick wears ripped fishnets and a battered skirt, sports a shock of long blue hair and has Japanese kabuki makeup smeared across his face. The other wrestlers have names like Scorpion, Guido or Bronson. Eugenio goes simply by KP, as if his character is nothing more than a distillation of himself. » Read More

All-Womxn's Showcase Empowers Female Artists in New Spaces

It was an ode to a friend," says Robertino Ragazza, recalling the first All-Womxn's Showcase. "She was an activist and an artist and she wanted to create a space for women. So the first show was actually on her birthday." Even though Ragazza's friend had long since passed away, her memory inspired him to curate an all-ladies performance night in her honor two years ago at Caffe Frascati. A full moon illuminated the evening while nearly a dozen women musicians took over the tiny stage by the front window to share their tunes. A few others hawked their creations outside. » Read More

Could Legalization Spell the End of Cannabis Culture?

A winemaker, sought-after vineyard manager, cannabis aficionado and Deadhead, Phil Coturri has loads of stories to tell about the cannabis industry's current upheaval. The founder and CEO of Sonoma's Enterprise Vineyard Management and the co-owner of Winery Sixteen 600, Coturri views wine and weed as compatible in the field and on the dining room table. He'd like to see more pairings of the two, and with food, as well. But perhaps more importantly, Coturri wants to warn us all of the dangers ahead for cannabis culture--before regulators destroy something that has been shaped by growers, smokers, farmers and aficionados during the past half century. » Read More

Little Italy Street Fest Brings Out Charming Side of San Jose

Krazy George surrounds me on the walls, as does a jersey of San Jose Earthquakes legend Chris Wondolowski. Photos of former Quakes heroes like George Best, Chris Dangerfield and Landon Donovan also grace the interior of Enoteca La Storia in downtown San Jose, so much that I can almost hear George's trademark gravelly voice and decades-old snare drum. That blasted thing has infiltrated my eardrums since 1977. Just a few weeks ago, La Storia opened its second location, directly across the street from Henry's Hi-Life. One section of the establishment also goes by Cafe Calcio. It's a soccer-themed bar, the only one of its kind ever in San Jose. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 4, 2017

Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats likes to play along with the music of nature. On one occasion he collaborated with Mandeville Creek in Montana. He listened and studied the melodies that emanated from its flowing current. Then he moved around some of the underwater rocks, subtly changing the creek's song. Your assignment, Aries, is to experiment with equally imaginative and exotic collaborations. The coming weeks will be a time when you can make beautiful music together with anyone or anything that tickles your imagination. » Read More