Features & Columns

The Black & Brown Settles Into Its New Digs

The Black & Brown consignment shop has relocated from The Alameda
to a historic building on West San Carlos Street. 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

Inside San Quentin

We're at the end of the tour, and nobody has the key to get into the lethal-injection chamber. That seems a little ironic in the moment. It has been a long day at San Quentin State Prison for reporters and corrections staff alike. The four-hour media tour of the death row facilities has gone on for six, and along the way, all day, there have been skeleton-type keys opening big metal-and-concrete doors, numerous ID checks, sign-ins and sign-outs at the three facilities that house the nation's largest population of the condemned. And now here we are, about 20 members of the media and a handful of San Quentin prison officials, including warden Ronald Davis, milling around outside the door to the never-used lethal injection chamber. Waiting. » Read More

Mike McGee's Studio Bongiorno Pulls Poetry Out Of Raw Truth

The stories and poetry of Mike McGee are like laughing yoga therapy for the terminally awkward. Several years ago, after he'd already won slam poetry contests on national and international stages, he released In Search of Midnight. Inside this tome we get graveyard shifts at suburban super-drugstores, love poems, humility, childhood, travel and much more. It's a loud, boisterous celebration of life that pours out of the pages. McGee journeys around the continent on a regular basis, and upon resurfacing in his native San Jose a year ago he wound up gigging in Santa Clara. » Read More

Gilroy's Strange Bid To Become Silicon Valley's Next Bedroom Community

Jeff Martin remembers being sent 35 years ago, when he was in his mid 20s, to plant trees on land his father purchased with hopes of developing a semiconductor era-style technology park. Although Silicon Valley's industrial expansion never made it to the farms 30 miles south of San Jose, the 400-plus acre legacy his father handed him proved a powerful draw, pulling him away from other parts of the Bay Area where he plied his trade as a landscape architect. Ten years ago he planted olive trees on 30 acres in San Martin, just up the road. Five years ago, he bottled his first pressing. » Read More