Best of Silicon Valley 2001

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The Best of Silicon Valley 2001

We Will Survive

Introduction by Richard von Busack

THERE ARE NO SECOND ACTS in American life, quipped F. Scott Fitzgerald, a man well on the way to a second act when he keeled over with a heart attack. In fact, these days a lucky man or woman can get more acts than an Italian opera.

Canny artists reinvent themselves with reprises, farewell tours and cameos. Posthumously, they turn up in TV commercials--like Fred Astaire plugging vacuum cleaners and Karloff the Uncanny shilling for Honey-Nut Cheerios. It's been said that everyone wants to be famous, but really, what we all desire is the bounce-back, the payback and the back at ya.

Everyone has survived something: that nasty incident with the dodge ball in the fourth grade; the loss of brain cells during some late-night revels that are none of the drug czar's business; a stock tip that went bad faster than last week's sushi.

So, in that indomitable spirit, we at Metro celebrate our favorite survivors:

Burning Man. A phoenixlike performer, rising anew from the ashes every year.

Railroads. Bouncing back in the visionary state of California after near extinction. Slow, expensive but deluxe, the Capitol Corridor is one civilized commute. Some of our great-grandchildren may also live long enough to see the BART extended to San Jose. Currently Valley Transit Authority is digging a light rail line on the perimeter of the valley. Yes, it's taking them longer to go one mile than it did to finish the entire Union Pacific railroad, but it's noble work.

Itchy and Scratchy. How do they survive?

Everlast, late of House of Pain. He survived a bad heart, bad tattoos and a really bad band.

Heirloom tomatoes (as seen this summer at UC Bay Area Research and Extension Center in Santa Clara). The UC gives and the UC takes away. First, they spend millions at Davis to develop a square love-apple with a rind like linoleum. Then they snap out of it and start saving Brandywines and Green Zebras and Cherokees. There's something bad about everything. Paradoxically, there's nothing bad about heirloom tomatoes.

The Crosley Radio Company is reissuing record players for sale at Restoration Hardware, engineered to play all three popular speeds: 33, 45 and 78 rpm. Thus the non-DJ-style record player has survived obsolescence to add swank to retro rumpus rooms everywhere.

America the Beautiful. According to The New York Times, a border-to-border range for American bison could once again be part of our landscape. Thousands of acres of the Great Plains are reverting to grass. Busted farms are retreating from the Dakotas, and, in turn, are sold to land trusts (financed by Ted Turner of all people, making amends for the "chop"). Bison don't require feedlots and don't muck up water, unlike cattle; they're cold-resistant, independent and make a very fine hamburger, as a Trader Joe's buff-burger will demonstrate. Those buffalo that don't end up doused with ketchup certainly will qualify as survivors.

Paul Harvey. And now, for the rest of the story: He's actually 328 years old. Good ... day?

The whole of the Silicon Valley, which has survived.

The worst public art this side of Romania.

A downtown permanently under construction, making San Jose, in essence, one big Winchester Mystery House.

World-class traffic jams, including four-hour-long "rush hours," often extended to five when some dunce in a big-rig zigs when he should have zagged.

A boom-and-bust economy, lately more like bust-and-bust, and then more bust on top of that.

Bill Clinton, bouncing back from all the scandals, including the heinous incident where he and Hilary murdered me and made it look like I committed suicide in Ft. Marcy Park, as they did previously with Vince Foster. (I got better--I'm a survivor!)

And let's reiterate--I'm a survivor. It's as if destiny were looking out for me. I mean, there I was, a toddler in Bay City, Mich., at almost exactly the same age and exactly the same time as Bay City toddler Madonna Ciccione--and one of us went on to worldwide infamy and the other to modest success as a singer.

As for my own survivor qualities, you could write a book: absentee father, acne, asthma, apnea (obstructive sleep), and that's just the A's! Not to mention bouts with of Suburb-Induced Ennui Syndrome (SIES), Unrecognized Artiste Depression (UAD), Real Estate Deficiency Condition (REDC). Wait, Dotson, where are you going? I've been bitten by fleas and bees, pismires and house cats, and yet still ... survive.

In that spirit, we've assembled a team of battered but unbowed experts to offer their expertise on how to weather the world as we know it--not to mention the advice we got from our annual Best-of ballots.

We shall survive putting this issue out--and hope you'll survive better for reading it.

Table of Contents

Readers Rule!
The Official Metro Readers' Survey Winners

Arts & Entertainment
Food & Drink
Goods & Services
Sports & Recreation
Valley Life

Special Features: Readers' Choice
Twisted Logic
Green Day
Belly Up
Griddle Me This
Pleasure Principle
Pile On
Bucking Trends
Music Mecca
Misery Loves Company

Editors' Picks
Editor's Short List
Hunting & Gathering
Our Island Home
Playing & Exploring
Foraging & Grazing
Tribal Rhythms

Best Ballots
Winning Entries by our Readers

Issue Coordinator: Kelly Luker

Contributors: Corinne Asturias, Davina Baum, Justin Berton, Eric Carlson, David Cohen, Jeff Kearns, Kelly Luker, Tom Pai, Dan Pulcrano, Sarah Quelland, Genevieve Roja, Traci Vogel, Richard von Busack, Christina Waters

Photographers: George Sakkestad, Christopher Gardner, Kyle Chesser, David Lepori, Eric A. Carlson

Design & Production: Shannon Stillman, Kara Brown, Nichole Pejack

Proofreader: Jeanne Schuster

Hair and Makeup: Jen Sliter--Donovan's Hair Studio; Jeannie Mai; Annie Ha

Models: J. Martin Nystad; Mimie--Halvorson Model Management; Anu--Halvorson Model Management; Vanessa Nozet

Location: Cevan Forristt

Rocks: Evergreen Supply

High Tech Gadgets: Computer Recycling Center

Python: The Reptile Ranch

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From the October 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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