Features & Columns

Cultures, Anniversaries Converge
in Dublin Sister City Trip

San Jose's vice mayor, Rose Herrera, took part in a lively panel for
the San Jose-Dublin Sister City program. Read More

Features

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

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

Cultures, Anniversaries Converge in Dublin Sister City Trip

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

South Bay Restaurants Ride Transparent Food Prep Wave

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

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

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

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

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

NVIDIA Conference Explores Future of Driverless Racecars

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

The Untold Story of How California Women Broke Body Art Boundaries

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

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

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

The Best of Silicon Valley 2016

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

How Nike's Dreadful Marketing Delayed Soccer Mania in San Jose

Saturday night, the San Jose Earthquakes game against D.C. United will officially commemorate the 20th anniversary of Major League Soccer's inaugural match, which erupted April 6, 1996 in San Jose. In that first game 20 years ago, San Jose defeated D.C. in front of 31,683 fans at Spartan Stadium. At the time, it was the largest attendance for any sporting event in San Jose history. With that match, the San Jose soccer bloodline began its MLS era as the San Jose Clash, thanks to the marketing bozos at Nike, who also inflicted upon the team hideously embarrassing jerseys and a nonsensical logo, which had nothing to do with San Jose and made no sense to any soccer-minded person anywhere in the world. » Read More

SXSW: The Festival that Ate Austin & Took a Bite out of Silicon Valley

The morning run to Austin is full as usual on the second Thursday in March, and just about everyone is immersed in their devices. The millennial in the window seat talks to his Netflix colleague about his impending 30th birthday. Midway through the flight, I paged through Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling's new Transreal Cyberpunk anthology. I noticed that my two seatmates had picked up books and gone analog as well, a fitting prologue to the digital days ahead. South by Southwest, which also turns 30 this year, remains an idiosyncratic and improbable event. Two years ago, mass surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden's virtual interview was the most-talked-about appearance. A couple of years before, Bruce Springsteen. This year it's » Read More

PTSD Art Exhibit Explores Breadth of Our Trauma

A grainy untitled photograph by Marcy Stoeven depicts an abandoned apartment. Broken glass, a destroyed fridge and scattered plaster comprise the subject matter. In the text panel, Stoeven writes that her PTSD came from domestic violence, resulting in a sense of isolation. She often can't get out of bed or pay attention to anyone's stories. She wants to connect, but doesn't know how. Steven's photo is only one of several artworks, all part of PTSD Nation: Art and Poetry From War, Gun Violence and Domestic Abuse, currently occupying the Jennifer & Philip DiNapoli Gallery on the second floor of the MLK Main Library until April 28. Through dozens of visual works, writings and stories, the exhibit rams it home that PTSD is not even remotely » Read More

Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016

Leveraging his fortune and influence, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is bringing a San Diego-style comic convention to the San Jose area. True, the first-ever "Silicon Valley Comic Con" isn't exactly new. It is, in fact, the buying, rebranding and supersizing of the long standing Big Wow! Comicfest. However, with The Woz's backing, the event is growing and packing some serious star power. It's a chance to share drawings, confer with the lions of the business and grip 'n' grin with celebs, some of whom cost a significant sum of money to grip. With the exception of Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, nearly everyone who knows how to fly a starship will be in San Jose this weekend. » Read More

Legends Join Forces for Stirring 'Border Cantos' Opener

Richard Misrach spent years depicting the isolated, haunting landscapes of the U.S.-Mexico border areas via large-scale photographs. Guillermo Galindo builds musical instruments from debris left behind by migrants at the border. This Thursday, the photographer will join the composer and instrument builder as they both talk about their joint show, Border Cantos, at the San Jose Museum of Art. The opening reception was one of the most enchanting events I've ever seen at the San Jose Museum of Art. Galindo and Misrach addressed the crowd, as did downtown San Jose Councilman Raul Peralez, who, in particular, delivered a poignant, heartfelt, intellectual speech about immigration and how the arts bring people together in San Jose. » Read More

Guild Save the Queen: Beekeepers Fight to Save Local Hives

Ian Coulson runs his bare fingers along the open gaps of the hive's frames. "Good beekeepers don't need gloves," he says. He pries one frame out of the hive and lifts it up to the light. Coulson, the co-founder of the Santa Cruz Bee Guild, is showing me his beehives. There aren't as many as I'd expect. A third of his bees died last year, he tells me. Empty hive boxes lay in the tall grass around his hillside home high in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Not long ago, this would have alarmed local beekeepers-many on the coast rely on Coulson for advice when they suspect trouble at their own hives. But today, the news causes less of a stir. Beekeepers have been reporting alarming mass die-offs of their hives for more than a decade. In that time, » Read More

San Jose Chamber Orchestra Celebrates with 25th Anniversary Concerts

An old wise guy from the East once said, and I'm paraphrasing, nothing in the past is ever wasted or squandered. It's all just one big stew that prepares you for what's currently unfolding. For example, don't think your college life was thrown away like last week's newspaper, just because you didn't use your degree for anything. As you evolve, it will all come back into your life somehow. With that in my mind, the San Jose Chamber Orchestra presents its official 25th anniversary concerts this Saturday and Sunday at Le Petit Trianon Theatre. The program features world-beating premieres by retired and/or former San Jose State University School of Music faculty. » Read More

Political NASCAR: A Republican Millionaire's Plan to Shame the State Legislature into Reform

Eighteen life-size politicians have assembled in San Jose on the first day of the state's Democratic Party convention, and they all look stupid. Their suits and skirts and pantsuits have been flattened and covered from neck to toe in corporate and union logos. One elected official stands not far off but apart from the group, and he looks genuinely mystified by the scene of cardboard cutouts. Rich Gordon, an assemblyman representing Palo Alto, Mountain View and other parts of the peninsula, has stumbled upon a protest against the influence of money on state politics. Before he can shrug and make his way into the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, however, another man races toward him with a small group of photographers in tow. » Read More

CreaTV Awards Go Back to The Jungle

The folks at CreaTV are doing something a tad bit different for this year's CreaTiVe Awards. The ceremony usually unfolds at the California Theatre, but for 2016 the annual gala will erupt at Club Auto Sport. Each year, CreaTV's signature awards event, now called the Creatives, doles out accolades to individuals, community access programs, filmmakers, student projects and more. Member-based, CreaTV is a nonprofit community access TV outlet, media center and public educational nexus that manages the public TV and Internet channels for the city of San Jose. They've collaborated with numerous organizations and institutions across the whole town. They've supplied multimedia equipment to schools and spearheaded programs. They're all over the » Read More

Cinequest Guide 2016

Blinding, the incredible whiteness of the movie scene today; dumbfounding, the despair of seeing the way the Motion Picture Academy shunned minorities in 2016, causing the #OscarSoWhite boycott: among the nominees, no Ryan Coogler, no Michael B. Jordan and no Tessa Thompson for Creed; no Idris Elba or Cary Fukunaga for Beasts of No Nation; no Samuel L. Jackson for Hateful 8. One of the two main functions of Cinequest 26 is to spread out opportunities and celebrate storytelling. The fest opens with an early rally in Palo Alto, where James Franco, one of the most famous actors to come from the Valley, discusses the craft of spinning a yarn at a "Storytelling Reimagined Conclave." The author, actor, producer and director will speak with Susan » Read More

Earthquakes' Clash with Cosmos Recalls Memories of Pele

An historical showdown will yet again unfold this weekend in the form of a preseason matchup at Avaya Stadium, where the San Jose Earthquakes take on the current incarnation of the New York Cosmos. The clubs have not faced each other in 32 years. The Cosmos play in the current incarnation of the North American Soccer League (NASL), technically a "division-two status" league, but that designation is misleading and often used in a dismissive manner. The Quakes play in Major League Soccer (MLS), officially the nation's first-division status league, which wouldn't normally pit them against the Cosmos in regular league play, but since there's so much history between the two clubs they agreed to face off for the first time since 1984. Back in » Read More

Disappearance of California's Wild Salmon Threatens State's Ecosystem

For more than 14,000 years, humans have had a close relationship with wild salmon. Along the Pacific Coast, natives harvested thousands of adult salmon each fall from their spawning grounds in local rivers and streams, a catch that nutritiously fed their families throughout the year. While many cultures in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska are still deeply wedded to the salmon resource, California's grasp has grown increasingly slippery, with only a small percentage of its historical natural breeding population remaining. California's salmon legacy goes far beyond its estimated $1.4 billion fishery: the fish also provide a vital transfer of nutrients and energy from the ocean back to the freshwater ecosystems where they were born. » Read More

Rockbar Theater Calls It Quits at Iconic Old-Boys-Club Venue

Last weekend, the Rockbar Theater threw its final rock shows after a short run. For just over a year, the chateau-style venue, formerly Garden City Casino, booked some major gigs and showed serious potential. But news broke a few weeks ago that interlopers have purchased the whole parcel of land. Located at Saratoga and Stevens Creek, plans intend to fabricate something as artificial as Santana Row. So Rockbar, in the meantime, has decided to bail for Reno, the "Biggest Little City in the World." On Saturday, the anti-man-about-town invaded the scene and couldn't help but contemplate the histories of that land parcel, and the various ways in which the creation and destruction of music has characterized the entire plaza. » Read More

Winter Arts 2016

In Silicon Valley, innovation is part of our DNA. That goes for the latest unicorn startup, as well as the neighborhood black-box theater. In the coming months, as temperatures rise and flowers bloom, artists all over the South Bay will try new things. Jose Manuel Carren-o, Silicon Valley Ballet's artistic director, debuts Director's Choice-a suite of bleeding-edge ballet and modern dance pieces. Playwright and filmmaker Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit, La Bamba) holds the world premiere of his new play, Valley of the Heart, at The Stage in San Jose. And the Cinequest film festival celebrates 26 years of cinephilia by honoring Palo Alto's own James Franco. These exciting events are just three of the many local cultural offerings you'll find in this » Read More

The Black & Brown Settles Into Its New Digs

The two-story building at 751 West San Carlos St. used to be a convenience store, a boarding house and a brothel. So says Monisha as she shows me around the new locale for Black & Brown, her popular buy-and-sell vintage clothing boutique. Due to real estate greed, the store had to leave its former spot on The Alameda. Now, as we traipse up a few stairs, across old-school wooden flooring and into different rooms, the new space is emerging. A better picture becomes apparent. Featuring 4,800 square feet, the historic building is ripe for a new era. Men's clothing will now occupy the upper floor, while women's goods will fill the downstairs area. As we walk around, I can see where temporary walls have been removed. » Read More

The Dodgy Politics Behind the Stadium Deal

Julio Fuentes lost his cool during the holiday break. While other city officials were off for vacation, and fewer still went through the motions at work in the closing days of 2015, the city manager of Santa Clara threw a tantrum. He cleaned off his desk and stripped his office's walls of photos, according to sources at City Hall, and a paper shredder's gears could be heard in the long corridor that bisects the municipal headquarter's east wing. These were not the actions of a man getting a jump on his spring cleaning as much as an outburst by the city's highest paid employee. He was letting his colleagues know that he'd had it. In October, the City Council authorized a pay increase for the city attorney, but not for Fuentes, who in the » Read More

San Jose's Connection to Ireland Has Roots Deeper Than 'Sister City'

San Jose's connection to Dublin is quite a rocking story, going back to the administration of former mayor Tom McEnery during the '80s. Soon after becoming mayor, McEnery lobbied the city of Dublin to become one of San Jose's sister cities, but no one in Ireland had heard of San Jose. The task proved daunting. Eventually, McEnery rang up Tim Pat Coogan, a legendary Irish journalist, historian and author of numerous books. Coogan relayed McEnery's request to Charles Haughey, then the Irish Taoiseach (pronounced tee-shook). From there, the proverbial ball began to roll and in 1986 the sister city relationship went legit. Silicon Valley companies eventually opened up shop in Ireland, exchanges were forged, and to this day the relationship is » Read More

How Satan Became the New Face of Secularism

Sunday evening, the Lord's Day, at Flames: a few lost souls wander around the San Jose diner trying to find a ruck of Satanists. They're late, sidetracked by a bunch of leather-vested bikers who rented the banquet room for a holiday party. After a couple wrong turns and awkward exchanges, the stragglers arrive. One of them, a young man—crimson hoodie, red hair, flushed cheeks—sidles into a seat and lets out a relieved sigh. 'Who else thought those bikers were Satanists?" he asks. "I thought Satanists wore black.' Jedidiah Schadenfreude, a dyed-in-the-wool Satanist whose burly build occasionally gets him mistaken for a Hell's Angel, chuckles. » Read More

Stanford Hosts Event to Bring Exposure to Partition

In 1947, the British partitioned South Asia into the separate nation states of India and Pakistan, unleashing what was likely the biggest mass migration in human history. The results were horrific. Approximately 10 million people were forced to leave their ancestral territories on a moment's notice. Families split up. Wealthy people lost everything. As refugees traveled back and forth between the two countries, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims committed massacres against each other. An estimated one million people lost their lives. Aside from exacerbating religious-based distrust in that part of the world, the Partition of 1947 is often understood as having significance equal to the Holocaust or the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet it » Read More

The Myth of Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Obscures Real Issues

East Bay rapper Joshua 'Five Hunnet' Durham had a busy August. He forced an underage runaway girl into paid sex with him and others, according to law enforcement, keeping her addled with a drug cocktail of weed, cocaine and meth. He advertised her services on social media next to boasts about opening for hip-hop mega-couple Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj, a show that would be stopped after a pepper spray fight between fans. Sex trafficking, Durham's alleged crime, has become a major focus of Bay Area law enforcement agencies in recent months. They've been especially fretful leading up to Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in February. The marquee event and human trafficking are connected by widespread predictions that hordes of cash-flush » Read More

San Jose's Organic Business Sanctuary: Park Avenue

Reading about Sufi mystics in the crumbling relics of Delhi, India, triggered me to think of Park Avenue in San Jose. To be more specific, while ingesting City of Djinns by William Dalrymple, which is about his years in Delhi, certain passages hit close to home. In the prologue, for example, he confesses that the ruins of Delhi are what fascinated him. No matter how often planners colluded to create new colonies of gleaming concrete, crumbling towers, old mosques, abandoned ruins or ancient tombs would suddenly appear, intruding on the city blocks, the golf courses and the roundabouts. Even though much of the old city from centuries or even decades ago had been destroyed by violence, with many people forced away after Partition, old » Read More