Features & Columns

Silicon Alleys: Shift Change

A stout building on Santa Clara Street holds several chapters of San Jose's past Read More

Features

Silicon Alleys: Shift Change

The first time I saw the ancient Lebanese city of Byblos was on the wall at 93 E. Santa Clara St. in downtown San Jose. That was 2002. Last week, when I returned to the same room, now a bar called 3rd & Bourbon, I saw elegant decor instead of the mural of Byblos. Instead of Middle Eastern music, Stevie Ray Vaughan cranked over the house system while the kitchen prepared for a night of burgers, pasta and specialty cocktails for customers in swank velvety booths. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 14, 2021

"Today I feel the whole world is a door," wrote poet Dennis Silk. In a similar spirit, 13th-century Zen master Wumen Huikai observed, "The whole world is a door of liberation, but people are unwilling to enter it." Now I'm here to tell you, Aries, that there will be times in the coming weeks when the whole world will feel like a door to you. And if you open it, you'll be led to potential opportunities for interesting changes that offer you liberation. This is a rare blessing. Please be sufficiently loose and alert and brave to take advantage. » Read More

Voices Carry

Recalling the early-aughts days of Gmail, at least some of Clubhouse's allure stems from this perceived exclusivity. No invitation? Join a waitlist, just like at an exclusive restaurant or nightclub. The purpose is to allow smaller groups of users to test it out and iron out kinks, sure, but it's also a classic psychological paradigm: If not everyone can have it, more will desire it. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Music Mile

All of that summoned the ghosts of Blossom Hill's past. Long before this particular stretch of San Jose became a wasteland of mattress retailers, several record stores ruled the landscape. In the '80s, LPs often went on sale for $5.88 at Record Factory, a place that also sold cassettes, magazines and just about everything else that doesn't exist anymore. How I still remember the $5.88 price tag I don't know, but Record Factory was on the south side of the street, in the same strip mall plaza as Toys 'R' Us, which is likewise dead in the water. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 7, 2021

Author Susan Sontag defined "mad people" as those who "stand alone and burn." She said she was drawn to them because they inspired her to do the same. What do you think she meant by the descriptor "stand alone and burn"? I suspect she was referring to strong-willed people devoted to cultivating the most passionate version of themselves, always in alignment with their deepest longings. She meant those who are willing to accept the consequences of such devotion, even if it means being misunderstood or alone. The coming weeks will be an interesting and educational time for you to experiment with being such a person. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Flower Buds

Willow Glen is the only place I can nibble on an $18 hamburger and connect to a matrix of history that includes Ken Kesey's lawyer, the Black Panthers, Neal Cassady and the Poppycock in Palo Alto. As I sat at Black Sheep Brasserie, I watched 60 years of counterculture history spiral out of the ether. First of all, I cannot dine at Black Sheep without thinking of Stevens Music, which occupied the same building decades ago. I first took keyboard lessons there in 1978. Gordon Stevens himself was not with me at the meal, but he played stand-up bass in the mural on the side of the building. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 31, 2021

Playwright August Strindberg (1849-1912) was a maverick innovator who loved to experiment with plot and language. One of his stories takes place in a dream and the hero is the Christ-like daughter of a Vedic god. He once said that he felt "an immense need to become a savage and create a new world." Given your current astrological potentials, Aries, I suspect that might be an apt motto for you right now. APRIL FOOL! I half-lied. There's no need for you to become a savage. In fact, it's better if you don't. But the coming weeks will definitely be a good time to start creating a new world. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: No Vacancy

Even before the Fairmont San Jose hotel went bankrupt a few weeks ago, I was already thinking about the memories. For most of my downtown San Jose life, I have either heard stories from the Fairmont or attended events on the property. I walked by the shuttered building recently, passing signage for the late Ed Mosher's former clothing store. The Grill was open for business, as was Bijan Bakery and Morton's Steakhouse, but with San Jose's first modern-era luxury hotel now kaput until new management takes over, I could not help but conjure up a matrix of experience. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 24, 2021

In the novel House of Leaves, the hero Johnny Truant describes his friend Lude as wanting "more money, better parties, and prettier girls." But Johnny wants something different. What is it? He says, "I'm not even sure what to call it except I know it feels roomy and it's drenched in sunlight and it's weightless and I know it's not cheap." In my opinion, that declaration is far too imprecise! He'll never get what he wants until he gets clearer about it. But his fantasy is a good start. It shows that he knows what the fulfillment of his yearning feels like. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Face Time

As former players, coaches, trainers, fans and employees begin to chime in with their memories of that season, I feel obligated to join the fray. 2001 was when I began covering the team, writing match reports for a now-defunct website called Slide Tackle Magazine. They loaned me a laptop and a voice recorder just to do the gig. I don't remember how it started, but I was there every game, back when CEFCU Stadium was still called Spartan Stadium, in the beautifully crumbling old press box, surrounded by heavyset sportswriters and visiting PR people in bad polos and '90s hairdos. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 17, 2021

Poet Ocean Vuong speaks of the Hawaiian word kipuka. It refers to a patch of earth that doesn't get covered with lava when an active volcano exudes its molten material. "Before the lava descended," Vuong writes, "that piece of land was insignificant, just another scrap in an endless mass of green." But now that piece of land is special, having endured. I encourage you to identify your metaphorical equivalent of kipuka, Aries. It's an excellent time to celebrate the power and luck and resilience that have enabled you to persevere. » Read More

Where the Legend Meets the Road

As a teenager in suburban Northern New Jersey in the late 1970s, I was desperate for significance, some sort of a sign that life wasn't just a cross between Friday Night Lights and The Stepford Wives. America, I believed, was bereft of meaningful tradition. Every "holiday" focused on consumerism and turning the wheel of capitalism one expensive inch at a time. I sought to experience something more meaningful, more transcendent, more damn fun. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Victory Lap

As former players, coaches, trainers, fans and employees begin to chime in with their memories of that season, I feel obligated to join the fray. 2001 was when I began covering the team, writing match reports for a now-defunct website called Slide Tackle Magazine. They loaned me a laptop and a voice recorder just to do the gig. I don't remember how it started, but I was there every game, back when CEFCU Stadium was still called Spartan Stadium, in the beautifully crumbling old press box, surrounded by heavyset sportswriters and visiting PR people in bad polos and '90s hairdos. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 10, 2021

Artist Richard Kehl tells this traditional Jewish story: God said to Abraham, "But for me, you would not be here." Abraham answered, "I know that Lord, but were I not here there would be no one to think about you." I'm bringing this tale to your attention, dear Aries, because I think the coming weeks will be a favorable time to summon a comparable cheekiness with authorities, including even the Divine Wow Herself. So I invite you to consider the possibility of being sassy, saucy and bold. Risk being an articulate maverick with a point of view that the honchos and experts should entertain. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Lost Temples

One of the most iconic big-box retail chains in Silicon Valley history called it quits for good last week. Fry's Electronics is no more. The writing had been on the wall for years. These days, too many people can order online and the candy racks were no longer a draw. One by one, Fry's locations began to fizzle out, with shelves emptying as the months unfolded. The cowgirl mannequins in Palo Alto bit the dust in 2019. Over in Campbell, King Tut and the people movers went under last November. Now the only Mayan temple in San Jose that sells washing machines will join them in the afterlife. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 3, 2021

In late April of 1969, Cambridgeshire, U.K., hosted the first-ever Thriplow Daffodil Weekend: a flower show highlighting 80 varieties of narcissus. In the intervening years, climate change has raised the average temperature 3.24 degrees Fahrenheit. So the flowers have been blooming progressively earlier each year, which has necessitated moving the festival back. The last pre-Covid show in 2019 was on March 23-24, a month earlier than the original. Let's use this as a metaphor for shifting conditions in your world. I invite you to take an inventory of how your environment has been changing, and what you could do to ensure you're adapting to new conditions. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Doobie Digs

The standard process, while requiring a degree of bureaucracy, is not that complicated. In most cases, the property owners get the ball rolling first. Then comes a public hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission, after which the commission forwards its recommendation to the City Council. The City Council will hold another public hearing to consider the proposed landmark. If that all happens after the world opens up again, everyone can show up and voice their support in person at the meetings. All should go well. » Read More