Features & Columns

Rising Interest

A modest proposal to enhance everything that makes San Jose more interesting rather than less
MAKE MINE RINK: Skating star Kristi Yamaguchi is doing her part to liven up San Jose. Photograph by Dana Glover

NOW THAT the annual Turkey-Stuffing-and-Dallas-Cowboys holiday is over, I feel compelled to explore what the holiday is really supposed to be about: gratitude and thanks.

In my immediate playing field, I am grateful for anyone or anything that makes San Jose a more interesting place. I say this because, these days, there exist many people, places and events that do not make San Jose more interesting—rather, they make San Jose less interesting. Most people, I'm guessing, might not even care if San Jose becomes a more interesting place. But I do.

Obviously, this is a matter of opinion, but I'll provide an example. Last week saw the grand opening of this year's Downtown Ice, the unique outdoor skating rink under the palm trees, in front of the San Jose Museum of Art. This year's sponsors are Kristi Yamaguchi and Hawaiian Airlines—a pretty remarkable duo. Honestly speaking, these types of relationships make San Jose more interesting.

Kristi grand-marshaled the San Jose Holiday Parade last year and fell in love with the outdoor ice rink. As a result, she brought in her Always Dream Foundation to help support the whole thing for 2010, which, subsequently, brought in Hawaiian Airlines as another sponsor. Founded in 1929, Hawaiian Airlines already has an 81-year history of safe aviation, and on Hawaiian one can already fly direct to Honolulu from San Jose. That fact alone makes San Jose interesting.

For the grand opening last week, Kristi addressed the audience, wowed the TV crews and even took to the ice a few times for everyone to witness. She is the consummate non-rock-star type of celebrity athlete. People lined up to take photographs with her, while she chatted and hung out with whoever wanted hang out.

It's not often one can skulk around a neighborhood and suddenly see Kristi Yamaguchi skating underneath a circle of palm trees. It looked perfect: Hawaiian Airlines logos everywhere and a live Hawaiian band playing in the background. The Downtown Association even issued flower leis to every single one of us in attendance. No one was spared. All in all, it would be a travesty of justice if Downtown Ice eventually goes away or gets canceled due to lack of funding.

Now, for some serious fun, I can envision a brand-new game show, "Make San Jose Interesting," and it would debut on CreaTV, which, by the way, is an institution already making San Jose more interesting on a daily basis. The show will include an MC and three panelists. The MC will unveil a photo of a San Jose person, place or event on a giant screen, and the panelists will slam their hands down on the appropriate buzzers, voting on whether that person, place or event makes San Jose more interesting or less interesting.

You can easily see how it would go down: Japantown? More interesting! Walmart? Less interesting! South First Fridays? More interesting! Olive Garden? Less interesting! That guy who plays flute in front of the Camera 12 Theaters? More interesting! Barry Swenson? Well ...Etc., etc. In fact, I can see quite a few scenarios emerging for that game show, if it actually happens. I think it should. Volunteers who want to make San Jose interesting can call CreaTV at 408.295.8815.

An even better holiday idea: By now, many have seen the "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" stickers, since they've been around for years. It's a movement, a philosophy and a way of life. People just love the Dickensian circus on the streets of that city, and they want to keep it weird. I suggest we make similar stickers that say, "Make San Jose Interesting." I can envision someday seeing those stickers all over San Jose. It reminds me of the Situationist propaganda slogan: "We demand games with great seriousness."

So, to all San Joseans out there, I challenge you to look in the mirror and ask yourself a few questions. Are you making San Jose more interesting? Or are you making it less interesting? Do you care?

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