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March 28-April 3, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Dude, We're Gettin' The Band Back Together

When a coma patient so much as bats an eyelash, hopes for a speedy recovery soar. That might explain why, when our music editor got an invitation to South Bay Live, a forum aimed at healing what ails Silicon Valley's music scene, he laughed and cried hysterically, hugged a passing intern and sat rocking in a chair for hours mumbling something about "just like South by Southwest." Hope arrived on the wings of an invitation sent by Chris Esparza, a promoter, restaurateur and former club owner, describing a gathering of "the region's key stakeholders in the live music scene" and promised perspectives from all sides of the live music issue. Sweet! Even Councilman Sam Liccardo showed up for the first 20 minutes before running off to another meeting—but not before Esparza, co-host Tim Littlefield (who co-owned the SoFa Lounge with Mike Borkenhagen) and four other members of the working group explained their agenda to a group of 50-plus "stakeholders" eager to get the party in San Jose restarted. Rather than degenerating into a rerun of the bitchfest that's been going on for years, the dialogue was interesting and often insightful. KSJS's Chef Ramon used the memorable metaphor that Austin, Texas, is like the cool mom who understands her kids and gives them more freedom to do what they like to do, attracting all the neighborhood kids to hang out there, whereas San Jose is like the strict dad from whom the kids can't wait to move away. The issues raised were numerous and complex—or were they? Actually, many of them were solved by our trusted friend Capt Obvious, an imaginary expert on matters of obviousness, who attended the meeting in disguise and made the following snap judgment: "Obviously, entertainment permits should be issued more often, and with fewer restrictions. End the city's resistance to 18-and-over clubs, and let the others sell drinks, whether or not people want them with food. Sorry, but adults must be allowed to buy, sell and consume alcohol to and with one another. Prohibition ended a long time ago." Meanwhile, a real person, San Jose Jazz Society executive director Geoff Roach offered to throw the weight of his organization behind South Bay Live if it develops an actionable plan within the next couple of months. That's a short time frame in which to vent frustrations, brainstorm ideas, formulate a plan and nurture a consensus among key stakeholders, government officials and police. The next meeting is on April 12 at City Hall. For those about to rock, we salute you.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

The initiative to add the California State University moniker to San Jose State University failed last week after 75 percent of students voted it down in no uncertain terms. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the only way rebranding could have gotten any traction was if it were championed by the school's finance department as part of an effort to boost flagging enrollment. Instead, it was pushed by a student who belatedly noticed that he wouldn't be able to type "CSU" onto his résumé without having some 'splaining to do. Still, it shouldn't be out of bounds to think that the name "San Jose State University" can be improved upon. Redubbing it a "California State Institution" would get the attention of crime junkies by the use of its nickname, CSI: San Jose. In terms of something that everyone wants to get into, a name like The Kingdom of Heaven: SJSU might inspire more applicants, and without all the weird cult associations that weigh down the similar Heaven's Gate: SJSU. But this whole name change issue began because alumni wanted something impressive for their résumé s, which is why we are leaning toward I Went To A Kick-Ass School And Am The Smartest, Most Qualified, Disarmingly Affable And All-Around Best Candidate For This Job: San Jose' or IWTAKASAATSMQDAAAABCFTJSJ, for short. We'll work the sweatshirt issue out later.

Assault on Doormat 13

Major media outlets reported that San Jose police went on a sweep to round up suspected graffiti vandals on March 20, but one report in particular caught our eye: KCBS reported that members of the San Jose Police Department "descend[ed] on houses with battering rams and guns drawn." The station quoted officer Mario Recinos as saying: "Tagging isn't just an eyesore, it also creates an impression the area has a problem with crime." Hey, you know what else creates an impression the area has a problem with crime? When police storm into homes with battering rams and guns. However, one of the officers on duty for Tuesday's crackdown, SJPD's Erik Hove, told Fly that KCBS' report was an exaggeration. "We just did a series of searches on known graffiti vandals," he said. "We were executing a search warrant at one house where there had been prior violence. That's when the [KCBS] reporter happened to see us." Hove noted that graffiti is sometimes connected with gang violence, and that, if you watch Channel 5's video coverage, officers politely knock on a graffiti suspect's front door and wipe their feet. Mike Colgan, the KCBS reporter who submitted the story, wasn't available for comment.

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