Features & Columns

Tide Turning for San Jose's Literary Scene

William Finnegan has had to balance his surfing passion and aversion to office politics to tell the stories that earned him a Pulitzer Read More

Features

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