Features & Columns

Silicon Alleys: 'Noche de Poesia' Aims to Elevate Struggling Communities Through Poetry

The San Francisco poet Josia Luis Alderete helped inspire an East Side poetry night at ConXion Read More


Silicon Alleys: 'Noche de Poesia' Aims to Elevate Struggling Communities Through Poetry

As an organization, ConXion operates out of a nondescript building just across Coyote Creek from where The Jungle homeless encampment used to be. The surrounding environs include Happy Hollow and the historic Ashworth-Remillard House, where the roosters meander into the Walmart parking lot. Once inside ConXion, however, a vast array of activities become apparent, all relating to education, workforce, behavioral health and other social services for disconnected youth and adults. Murals adorn the walls. Day laborers arrive to learn computer skills, get food, or just hang out in a safe place while they look for work. Counselors, teachers and social workers tend to the needs of disenfranchised parents or kids embroiled in the child welfare » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Want the Truth So I Could Move On

There comes a time when you wish someone would treat you with a little more kindness, like by screaming out all the reasons you deserve to be left for dead and have your face eaten off by raccoons. Even more painful than being dumped by a friend is being dumped by a friend and having no idea why. Lingering questions we can't answer are mental weevils. Their fave food is our peace of mind, which they gnaw through at random moments. In scientific terms, psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that when we have unfinished business, the mind remains in a "state of tension" until we get closure. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 19, 2020

Do you feel ready to change your mind about an idea or belief or theory that has been losing its usefulness? Would you consider changing your relationship with a once-powerful influence that is becoming less crucial to your life-long goals? Is it possible you have outgrown one of your heroes or teachers? Do you wonder if maybe it's time for you to put less faith in a certain sacred cow or overvalued idol? According to my analysis of your astrological omens, you'll benefit from meditating on these questions during the coming weeks. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: South First Friday Strolls Showcase San Jose's Ever-Changing SoFA District

Perhaps the most noticeable addition to the environment is the hideous former Valley Title Building, the decades-long eyesore on the corner directly across First Street from Original Joe's. Ghosts of living, breathing people might be stalking the building. In 2006, it was lawyer central, for example. When Sam Liccardo first ran for City Council District 3 that year, he kept a campaign office upstairs. During that same era, Jenny Do ran a Viet-themed space on the second floor called The Green Rice Gallery--a precursor to all the ways in which the Viet arts community is now emerging. The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce occupied the ground level, back when Pat Dando ran the show. Every day I'd walk by and see a homeless drunk » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Shouldn't Have to Act Like a Debutante for a Guy to Ask Me Out

Women's emotions are their parental investment watchdogs, pushing them to make sure a man's willing and able to stick around and provide resources. Though some women can take an emotionally Teflon approach to casual sex, anthropologist John Marshall Townsend finds that for many, hooking up comes with some emotional reflux--even when a woman knows a one-nighter is all she wants from a guy. She'll boot some himbo out of bed only to get all angsty afterward, worrying that the guy she wants nothing more from doesn't want anything more from her. These differences in male and female mating selectivity showed up in a big way in a recent study looking at heterosexual Tinder users. Belgian econ doctoral candidate Brecht Neyt calculated the » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 12, 2020

Now that she's in her late forties, Aries comedian and actress Tig Notaro is wiser about love. Her increased capacity for romantic happiness has developed in part because she's been willing to change her attitudes. She says, "Instead of being someone who expects people to have all the strengths I think I need them to have, I resolved to try to become someone who focuses on the strengths they do have." In accordance with this Valentine's season's astrological omens, Aries, I invite you to meditate on how you might cultivate more of that aptitude yourself. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: New Ballet Moves From One Historic Site to Another

The old building was a legendary structure dating back to Prohibition. In one of the offices, a bookshelf hid a secret passageway. There was also a hidden wet bar, dumbwaiters and secret staircases that allowed patrons to sneak out the back whenever the cops raided the joint. Netflix even filmed a short documentary, Nocturne, that highlighted the peculiar angles and lighting situations in the building, all using some of the most high-tech cameras in the world. "I did love that about our old building," Rawson says. "It had a history. It had personality. Every other ballet school in the area is either in a mini-mall or a warehouse. It's converted. Every other school in Northern California is basically that. There are no ballet schools in » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Am I Such a Sucker for Guys Who Cheat on Me?

Laeng explains that this balancing of "similarity and dissimilarity" (which we do subconsciously) helps us avoid "inbreeding with close relatives," like siblings or first cousins. Inbreeding increases the chances that both partners would have the same nasty recessive genes for a disorder or disease. "Recessive" genes are true to label when they are paired with a dominant gene: They recede...slumping into the background, unemployed, inactive. But when two recessive genes for a condition are paired (like when close relatives with the same recessive gene make a baby), these genes become active--and so does the disorder or the disease. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 29, 2020

You now have the power to make connections that have not previously been possible. You can tap into an enhanced capacity to forge new alliances and strengthen your support system. I urge you to be on the lookout for a dynamic group effort you could join or a higher purpose you might align yourself with. If you're sufficiently alert, you may even find an opportunity to weave your fortunes together with a dynamic group effort that's in service to a higher purpose. » Read More

The Valley of Youth

Chip Walter's new book, Immortality, Inc.: Renegade Science, Silicon Valley Billions, and the Quest to Live Forever (National Geographic) is a deep dive into the very real efforts of Silicon Valley-funded scientists to develop therapies that might aid humans in living for hundreds of years and eventually in perpetuity. If Walter's book is right, humanity may soon strike a profound blow against an adversary that so far still has a perfect record. The same people who disrupted media, commerce, transportation, entertainment, relationships and countless other sectors are now poised to disrupt the Big Sleep. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Scott's Seafood Tries Its Luck at Location with High Turnover

But philosophically speaking, what if the curse went back even further? What's now the pedestrian alley, Paseo de San Antonio, used to be an actual street, San Antonio Street (see photo), that went from Plaza de Cesar Chavez all the way to SJSU. On the other side of campus, San Antonio Street has remained relatively unchanged for a century, but west of SJSU, things have been quite different. Fifty years ago, for example, one could find a curious place called Ho-Sale Gifts, plus a variety of shoe stores, jewelry shops, clothing boutiques and a slew of intriguing flophouses like the Curtis Hotel. In the immediate area, one could drink at the Gold Nugget Tavern, The Office Tavern or the Sapphire Lounge. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Do I Get My Roommate to Shut Up?

Assertiveness is best exercised as soon as you realize you want somebody to change their behavior. When you don't let your annoyance fester, you're more likely to have the composure to open with a little positivity, like saying to your roommate, "Hey, I really admire your openness about your life..." Yes, that's the sound of the truth being sacrificed on the altar out back, but it's for a good cause--making him feel appreciated rather than attacked. This sets him up to be more amenable to your request that follows: "When I come home, I need an hour or so without conversation so I can decompress." For best results, keep the next part of that silent: "Also so I can refrain from the temptation to bludgeon you with a potato and cut your vocal » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 29, 2020

My favorite ancient Greek philosopher was the rascal Diogenes. As a joke, he carried around a lantern during the daytime, proclaiming, "I am just looking for an honest man." When Alexander the Great, the most powerful man in the world, came to meet Diogenes while he was relaxing outside and asked him if he needed any favors done, he replied, "Yeah, stop blocking my sunlight." As for Plato, Diogenes complained that the famous philosopher talked too damn much and misinterpreted the teachings of Socrates. I encourage you to borrow some of Diogenes' attitude in the coming weeks. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, it'll be healing for you to experiment with being brassy, saucy and sassy. Emphasize what makes you most unique, » Read More

Winter Arts 2020

As the topography and demographics of Santa Clara County evolved, and as the world around the Bay Area changed, artists of all stripes responded, interpreting and framing that change through visual media and performing art. This season, museums and galleries all over the valley will host exhibitions that both look back at where we've come from, and look forward to where we may be going. The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University will explore the Persian and European art that emerged during the late Renaissance--as trade facilitated a cross-cultural exchange of ideas and customs. And Pace Gallery in Palo Alto has a free primer on one of the 20th century's most respected painters: "Seeing Picasso: Maker of the Modern." » Read More

Silicon Alleys: 'Buddhist Bible' Author Bridged East and West

If Dwight Goddard, the man whose book introduced Jack Kerouac to Buddhism, wound up in Los Gatos after his wife left him, then I just had to follow Rob Brezsny's astrological advice and track the guy down. No, Goddard is not alive. He passed away in 1939, but not before authoring the seminal 1932 book, A Buddhist Bible, the first anthology of Buddhist teachings in English. Just over 20 years later, Kerouac was staying at Neal Cassady's house in San Jose and discovered the book in the public library. In a now-famous story, Kerouac stole the library's copy of A Buddhist Bible and took it all over the US with him, scribbling down voluminous notes, leading to his embrace of the practice and forming the basis of several books, all of which » Read More

Advice Goddess: Girl Crush

This charisma skills set includes being gifted at talking, listening, connecting and reading the room. When charismatic people talk, they grab others' attention and emotions by being spontaneous and genuine. They're usually great listeners, making people feel heard and understood. And they tend to be powerful public speakers, converting masses of people into followers with their voice, words, and presence. Take Martin Luther King Jr. almost singing out, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." That idea gets its mojo sucked out if it's delivered by some nervous little pastor. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 22, 2020

Taurus-born Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a renowned German composer who lived most of his life in Germany and Austria. He became so famous and well-respected that England's Cambridge University offered him an honorary degree if he would visit the campus. But Brahms was too timid to risk crossing the English Channel by boat. (There were no airplanes and Chunnel in those days.) He declined the award. I beg you not to do anything even remotely like that in the coming weeks, Taurus. Please summon the gumption necessary to claim and gather in all you deserve. » Read More

A Printmaker's Journey

His prints have taken on a revered status, and his colorful works hang in such iconic venues as Bookshop Santa Cruz and David Kinch's Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos. Killion will teach a sold-out class on Japanese woodblock printing at the Palo Alto Art League this week. But for a better look at his methods, Chikaran Motomura's new documentary, Journey to Hokusai, follows Killion as he travels to Japan to hone his skills. Toting four wood panels he made at his California studio, Killion studies with Kyoto's Kenji Takenaka, a fifth-generation artist and one of the few remaining hand printers working in a 1,200 year old craft. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: De Saisset Opens Revamped 'California' Exhibit

On stage at the De Saisset Museum, a Jesuit priest drinks champagne with Ohlone tribal members. In the audience, I hit the caprese skewers. Dozens of others congregate to celebrate a new permanent history exhibition downstairs at the De Saisset, California Stories from Thamien to Santa Clara. Several years in the making, California Stories successfully updates and reimagines the dimly lit frumpy old Cali history exhibit that sat downstairs for a few generations. Now the exhibit dedicates much more space to Ohlone heritage, in addition to Mission period history, Californio lifestyles and events from the very beginning of Santa Clara College, as it was then called. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I Unreasonable, or is He Petty?

Yesterday, my roommate picked up some household supplies (toilet paper, sponges, etc.) and asked me to split the cost. I've bought plenty of household supplies in the two years we've lived together without ever asking for any money. It feels weird and cheap that he's suddenly doing this. Am I being unreasonable in feeling this way, or is he being seriously petty? » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 15, 2020

Comedian John Cleese has an insight I hope you'll consider. He says, "It's easier to do trivial things that are urgent than it is to do important things that are not urgent. It's also easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things that we're not so sure about." I hope you'll make this advice a priority in the coming weeks. You'll be wise to prioritize important tasks, even those that aren't urgent, as you de-emphasize trivial matters that tempt you to think they're crucial. Focus on big things that are challenging, rather than on little things that are a snap. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Jerry Hiura Generously Supported Local Arts Groups

A perfect example of the role Dr. Jerry played as a humble yet powerful networking machine emerged when he helped integrate Chopsticks Alley Art, a Vietnamese-centric arts operation, into the fabric of Japantown so that a landmark exhibit, Salt Stained, could take place at Ken Matsumoto's Art Object Gallery in 2018. After 40 years of the Vietnamese diaspora enduring in San Jose, it had never once collaborated with the Japanese American community. Trami Nguyen Cron, founder and executive artistic director of Chopsticks Alley Art, says she was previously unfamiliar with the arts community and social structure of Japantown, yet Dr. Jerry, who also became her dentist and one of her board members, functioned as a conduit to help the » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Are Women So Awful to One Another?

In short, if you're an ugly millionaire, it's best if you're a man. However, if you're a hot barista or pizza delivery person, you'll still get plenty of dates--if you're a woman. Because men evolved to prioritize physical appearance in mates, women will band together to punish other women for wearing revealing clothes or for being physically attractive. Women seem to recognize that other women do this. Research by social psychologist Jaimie Arona Krems suggests that women tend to dress defensively--wear less revealing clothes and dampen their attractiveness--when they'll be around other women who they aren't already friends with. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 8, 2020

Mystic poet Rumi told us the kind of person he was attracted to. "I want a trouble-maker for a lover," he wrote. "Blood spiller, blood drinker, a heart of flame, who quarrels with the sky and fights with fate, who burns like fire on the rushing sea." In response to that testimony, I say, "Boo! Ugh! Yuck!" I say "To hell with being in an intimate relationship with a trouble-maker who fights with fate and quarrels with the sky." I can't imagine any bond that would be more unpleasant and serve me worse. What about you, Cancerian? Do you find Rumi's definition glamorous and romantic? I hope not. If you do, I advise you to consider changing your mind. 2020 will be an excellent time to be precise in articulating the kinds of alliances that are » Read More

Roll, Bounce

A boy in a baggy purple shirt and white shorts who looks about 10 years old clambers his way up a ledge and peers down. It's a 15-foot drop to the padded floor below. He concentrates, focuses on his hours of training and jumps. In the air, his body corkscrews twice, spiraling along multiple axes. A full second passes before the thump on the mat, followed by a smattering of applause. Then, another kid makes the ascent. Sessions Academy of Motion is San Jose's only gym dedicated to parkour (also known as "freerunning") Today, they're holding a jam, a meet-up event for the Bay Area's aspiring traceurs--practitioners of the sport. About 50 youths from around the Bay Area have come to train with other members of their chosen community. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Anti-Man About Town Revisits the Highlights From a Year's Worth of Columns

To paraphrase Leonard Cohen, newspaper columns often begin with an appetite to discover my self-respect. To redeem the year. So the year does not go down in debt. They begin with that kind of appetite. So as we put an end to the 2019 Silicon Alleys campaign, it is once again time for the field commander to reflect on his most resonant columns of the previous year. This page in 2019 began and ended with a humbling combo of self-reflection and gratitude. I started the year off by contemplating all the crazed party houses from my college days and then finished the year with Kristi Yamaguchi. In the first case, I reiterated that all phenomena have arisen due to the coming together of previous phenomena. My past was not wasted. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Can I Keep My Daughter's Spirit From Being Squelched By Her Grandparents?

Their premature focus on your daughter's appearance probably comes from a similar place: "Can't start too early on thinking about how you present yourself!" Um, actually, you can. Research by experimental psychologist Rick M. Gardner found that girls as young as 6 had negative thoughts and feelings about their appearance. Because men evolved to prioritize physical attractiveness in a partner, women evolved to be sensitive about their looks and their placement on the prettiness totem pole. This can lead to crippling insecurity and body dysmorphia—unfortunate at any age, but especially at age 4. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 1, 2020

"We are all hostages of the joy of which we deprive ourselves," wrote poet Odysseus Elytis. Isn't that an astounding idea? That we refuse to allow ourselves to experience some of the bliss and pleasure we could easily have; and that we are immured inside that suppressed bliss and pleasure? I call on you, Aries, to rebel against this human tendency. As I see it, one of your main tasks in 2020 is to permit yourself to welcome more bliss, to aggressively seize more pleasure, and thereby free yourself from the rot of its nullification. » Read More

2019: That Friggin Year

Staying in bed all year is not an option for most of us, but if you felt like doing that in 2019, we get it. Recent decades have ended on more hopeful notes--the dotcom frenzy and the inauguration of Barack Obama defined the previous two years that ended with nine. Songs struck a more positive note as well. The end of 1999 brought us Rob Thomas' "Smooth" and ten years later "Boom Boom Pow" advised us that we were so 2000 and late--and to get on with "that future boom boom boom." What coal nugget landed in this year's stocking? The inescapable, twisted "Bad Guy," an ode to puffed-chest criminality embodied in the shameless name callers and ass slappers that seem to have infected everything from Hollywood's couches and presidential tweets to » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Kids Flock to Books-and-Blades Event with Kristi Yamaguchi

On a chilly downtown San Jose morning, Kristi Yamaguchi is reading from her children's book, Cara's Kindness, in front of the ice rink that bears her name. Several low-income students, first- and second-graders from the Hubbard Media Arts Academy in the Alum Rock Union School District, sit on metal benches in front of her. Each kid wears an inflatable hat that resembles an Alaska Airlines plane since that company helps support both the ice rink and the Hubbard Program, the latter of which happens in partnership with the San Jose Public Library Foundation. Vertical Alaska Airlines banners on stands flank the stage area where Kristi sits, as well as the back railing behind the seating area. The wind is kicking in big time. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Can I Get Her to Take Responsiblity for Her Dog?

My friend recently bought a $3,000 labradoodle but refuses to pay to get it trained. The dog is really badly behaved. Whenever I bring up the need for training, my friend gets very defensive and lashes out at me. Last time I visited her, the dog got into my bag and chewed through some seriously expensive skin care products I treated myself to. She acted like it wasn't an issue and even said it was my fault for leaving my bag on the floor! We've been friends for nearly 20 years, so it's a little complicated, but how can I let her know her actions feel inconsiderate and get her to take proper responsibility for her dog? » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 25, 2019

Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Denmark during World War II. In 1943, Hitler ordered all Danish Jews to be arrested—a first step in his plan to send them to concentration camps. But the Danish resistance movement leapt into action and smuggled virtually all of them to safety via fishing boats bound for Sweden. As a result, 8,000-plus Danish Jews survived the Holocaust. You may not have the opportunity to do anything quite as heroic in 2020, Aries. But I expect you will have chances to express a high order of practical idealism that could be among your noblest and most valiant efforts ever. Draw inspiration from the Danish resistance. » Read More