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Photograph by Eric Carlson

Notes From the Underbelly

Scrambled in Silicon Valley

By Eric A. Carlson


"Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth."
--Franklin D. Roosevelt

COLUMBUS BETTER watch his back--again. A recent Mercury News article (Dec. 22) relates that Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss proposes replacing Columbus Day with Cesar Chavez Day. "On this particular coast, it doesn't seem to have great relevance," said Liz. Well, no disrespect to Liz and her fellow supervisors, but I suspect there are a lot of people--on this particular coast--who consider the discovery of America to be relevant and see Columbus as a great man who put life and limb on the line by undertaking world-changing voyages of discovery. The forced cramming of Cesar Chavez into Columbus Day, like the ubiquitous renaming of the San Jose Arena, is a ghastly reminder of a world gone stark mad.

Liz's holiday-swapping plot, in tow with Supervisor Blanca Alvarado's call to arms for mass fealty to Cesar, may have been inspired by an episode of Seinfeld where Frank Costanza becomes disillusioned with Christmas and supplants that holiday with one of his own contrivance, Festivus: the festival for the rest-iv-us. Festivus is distinguished by the Airing of Grievances (between family members) followed by Feats of Strength (also between family members) and replaces the Christmas tree with an undecorated aluminum pole. See what fun it is to make up one's own holidays?

Also perplexing is the misuse of the term "Silicon Valley." A recent Leigh Weimers column reported that Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group (SVMG), chided Dan Orloff (San Jose public relations person) when Dan said he had a problem with SVMG's assertion that all of San Mateo County was part of Silicon Valley. Daly City didn't seem to be in a valley, said Dan, who is correct. A perusal of the origin of the term and a reference to unbiased definitions of "Silicon Valley" indicate that none of San Mateo County is in Silicon Valley--no matter how many Radio Shacks and Electronics Arts towers clog the landscape. The term "Silicon Valley" first appeared in print in 1971 in an article written by Don Hoefler for Electronic News, a weekly tabloid. The term was used to describe "the congeries of electronics firms mushrooming in Santa Clara County." It is documented. Corroboration is found in the official Moon Handbook: Silicon Valley, by Martin Cheek: "The region is contained entirely within Santa Clara County, extending south from the bay about 50 miles." Martin further defines "Silicon Valley" as being all in Santa Clara Valley, with the exception of Menlo Park. This topic should now be as clear as an azure lake, as the deepest sky of blue. Assertions to the contrary are balderdash and marketing fizzle. You stick to your guns, Dan.

On another tangent, a recent visit to Vahl's on a sleepy Saturday afternoon found Frank Rebozzi engaged in a desultory and possibly hopeless quest at the video golf game trying to break the foreboding record held by his brother Paul--10 under par on the nine-hole course. Paul was tending bar and seeking ways to amuse himself. "Hey, Eric, why don't you do a column on the Casanova of Alviso?" I knew whom Paul was speaking of, and his comment illustrates perfectly the dangers of living in a small community like Alviso, where dating more than one woman in the space of a year is likely to engender a reputation as a Man About Town or Romeo of the Slough. This kind of reputation encourages those not engaged in two-dames-a-year-existences to concoct deviltry upon their love-lucky friends. I would, of course, not stoop to such a level. (My journalistic integrity must always remain intact, though I confess I was recently bought with a single world-class Puerto Rican cigar. We all have our weaknesses.)

Final note: Are you one of the damned, as am I, that can dress up nice but retain the table manners of a hooligan? At a joint so elite it doesn't have a name, I managed to slop a glass of Chris Schumb's 1986 Gravelly Meadow onto the deck, smashing fine crystal in the process. When I am back in the chips, I will make it up to him.


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From the January 1-8, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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