Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2002

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[whitespace] Editors Picks: Salon and Thanks For The Memories

5 Color Cowboy
Illustrated Man: It's a hip nun world, in David Choe's giant mural.

Best Mural in a Hair Salon

5 Color Cowboy
1445 The Alameda, San Jose 408.869.3542;

The story behind this mural is epic. Graf artist David Choe was in L.A. making ends meet, raising hell and doing amazing, unappreciated art. Then he got the call--he'd sold a pair of pieces (made on scrap lumber he had salvaged from a Hollywood back lot) for $23,000 and $40,000. Choe didn't have the bucks for shipping, so, planning to move to Oakland anyway, he packed up his flatbed truck, strapped the two art pieces down with rope and got the heck out of Hell-A. Somewhere between Magic Mountain and Gorman, he checked his rearview mirror and saw flailing rope. The pieces were gone. Disappeared. Evaporated in the musty night air. Then it began to rain. It took him weeks to get over the loss, but afterward he tore into his work with a new passion. Choe's surreal mural inside the 5 Color Cowboy hair salon memorializes the lost highway pieces. The scene, flecked with gold-paint detailing and quips, incorporates tricked-out robots, hippos, buildings, overpasses, angelic kids and Choe's trademark whales. It's a ridiculous journey by spray can as well as a breathtaking ash-risen phoenix.

Best Place to be Primped and Pampered

La Belle Day Spas & Salons
36 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto 650.326.8522
95 Town and Country Village, Palo Alto 650.327.6964

Walk into La Belle Day Spa and enter a parallel universe of privilege, luxury and indulgence, the air thick with perfumed scents and hushed tones. The cash register, however, keeps ka-chinging away. Apparently there's been no slowdown in the spa biz, even in depressed Silicon Valley. It can be very, very stressful when the portfolio tanks, no? La Belle Day Spa specializes in "vanity services"--high-end head-to-toe pampering in the European tradition. Choose from a whole menu of manicures, pedicures, exotic facials, body treatments, soothing massages (try the smooth, heated river stones), hairstyling, eyebrow design and makeup. These days, even men are splurging on sports pedicures, waxing and back buffing, and both sexes can partake in new clinical procedures such as Botox injections, micro-dermabrasion, laser hair removal and collagen-replacement therapy. Did we mention nutrition and diet counseling? Owner Bella Schneider also sells her own product line. Brazilian bikini waxes (Ouch! Run for the hills!) are all the rage, says La Belle marketing guru Michelle Muller--and check out their cellulite-blaster and other anti-aging treatments. A Day in Provence, one of the spa's "rejubilation" packages, starts with a grape-seed body scrub, followed by "envelopment" in warm therapeutic French clay, then a Champagne and Roses facial, topped off with a manicure and pedicure. Sound good? It takes five hours, and it'll only set you back $470.

Best $10 Massage That Doesn't Include Something 'Extra'

Milpitas College of Massage Therapy and Electrolysis
500 E. Calaveras Blvd., Ste. 333, Milpitas 408.946.9522

Spa services can be a drain on the wallet, relegating them to sporadic splurge status. At Milpitas College of Massage Therapy and Electrolysis, a person can get a 60-minute massage for $10. The catch is your massage therapist is a MCMTE student working toward his or her massage therapy certification. The atmosphere isn't all fanning leaves, aromatherapy and Yanni on the beatbox--it's fluorescent lighting, three massage tables next to each other, two in an adjacent room, and a TV showing instructional videotapes. Some of the students may be a little tentative, but a teacher is in the room to advise. The upside is a relaxed, supervised massage for the price of lunch. The college is open 10am-6pm and also twice a week at night. Call to make an appointment and ask to be a "practice body." Bring two twin sheets, a towel and $10--and giggle with good fortune.

Tireless contributors to this year's editor's picks included Corinne Asturias, Michael Gant, Allie Gottlieb, Todd Inoue, Gary Singh, Sarah Quelland, Loren Stein and Gordon Young

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From the October 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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