Features & Columns

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 Read More

Features

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