SaberCats Strut

July 9th, 2011

You want to know what’s awesome? I’ll tell you what’s awesome. The San Jose SaberCats are awesome. That’s what’s awesome. I’ll tell you why.

The SaberCats are San Jose’s professional arena football team, and they play at HP Pavilion on Santa Clara Street which is El Camino Real to me. They’ve been in San Jose for over fifteen years but my family had never gone to a game, continually telling ourselves, “there’s always next season.” Sadly, two years ago “next season” never came as the league cancelled the entire 2009 season for economic reasons. The league relaunched in 2010 without the SaberCats, who didn’t re-incorporate until 2011. When we saw billboards announcing the return of the SaberCats, we didn’t hesitate. We bought tickets right away.

CIMG0156.jpgWe weren’t ready to commit to season tickets, but we took advantage of their convenient ten-pack deal which gave us a lot of flexibility on which games to attend and where to sit. Thanks to outstanding high-touch service from Jimmy Dilks, the SaberCats ticket manager, we ended up with tickets to seven home games this season, and have had a blast. It’s a fast-moving high-scoring sport, and the San Jose fans didn’t miss a step in showing their support for the team with ear-ringing cowbells, face-painted super fans, and costumes.

The first game was a surgical 76-48 dismantling of the Spokane Shock at the season opener March 11, 2011. Hilariously the opening kickoff bounced off the giant overhead scoreboard. Veteran quarterback Mark Grieb and standout wide receiver Nichiren Flowers and running back Chad “Tank” Cook showed that the SaberCats under returning coach and new owner Darren Arbet had lost none of the finesse that has earned the franchise three ArenaBowl championships. The SaberCats’ season roared to a strong 5-2 start but then key injuries contributed to a disheartening seven-game losing streak culminating in a tragically lopsided 82-21 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Gladiators. That was Game 14. We had tickets to Game 15 the following week at home against the Jacksonville Sharks. Jacksonville had the best record in the league and was looking to extend their league-record thirteen-game winning streak.

My son is a big fan of the SaberCats but even his faith was shaken. As we took our seats for the Jacksonville game on July 1, he told me, “This is going to be a bloodbath,” so certain was he of another SaberCats loss. I decided to play the die-hard for his benefit so I turned to him and said, “This is going to be glorious.” Mine was a classical gambit. If we lost, it would be no surprise and I would lose no face. But if somehow we won…glorious indeed.

We won.

DSC09524It was cosmically perfect. We had celebrated my son’s birthday at the SaberCats’ previous home game on May 28. He and eight of his buddies had the time of their lives and even won the Jumbotron chicken-dance contest, out-flapping and out-tailfeather-shaking all challengers at the Pavilion. The ‘Cats losing streak was only three games then and it looked like we had ended it when Grieb miraculously found receiver Ben Nelson in the end zone for what would have been the tying score as time expired, but there was a gut-punch of a flag on the play: offensive holding, no score, game over, SaberCats lost. That was the bitter taste we were all left with when the SaberCats left on a roadtrip for the entire month of June, losing every game. That July 1 game against high-flying Jacksonville was their first game back. We were there with three of my son’s buddies, all of whom were at that birthday loss. The stage was set. San Jose wanted redemption, and we got it.

CIMG0983.jpgSaberCats awesomeness extends off the field. The day after that epic win over Jacksonville, my son attended a free football clinic hosted by the SaberCats. He spent the day at their Sunnyvale practice facility running through drills and playing flag-football scrimmage matches with 20 other kids under the skilled tutelage of the SaberCats training staff. Throughout the day several of the SaberCats players dropped by to give some pointers, toss some balls, and clown around a bit. At the end of the day, Head Coach Darren Arbet addressed the kids and impressed upon them the importance of effort, discipline, and school. The generosity of the SaberCats organization towards these kids in the community was wonderful.

Tonight, July 9, is the final home game of the regular schedule. We’ll be there, ready to celebrate the SaberCats’ return season. It’s been a bumpy year and the SaberCats will have to be perfect for this and the remaining away games to keep their post-season hopes alive and get to a .500 record. Whatever happens, San Jose is proud of its hometown heroes. Besides, there’s always next season. And we can’t wait.

An El Camino Stretch

June 17th, 2011

Like any good blogger I have a news catcher that sends me alerts when stories crop up about my topic of choice, “El Camino.” Most stories are about our California road, but sometimes other subjects find my inbox, like this: starting Monday, June 20 a stretch of El Camino Real is going to be closed by construction crews for four months in the Bay Area. That’s the Galveston Bay Area. In Houston, TX. Sucks for them.

Occasionally I catch stories about the famed Chevrolet El Camino car/truck hybrid, usually sourced from car news and gossip site, and they’re typically pretty entertaining. Jalopnik loves them some ‘Mino and it shows. This week they posted an ad for a modified El Camino for sale in Detroit on Craig’s List, and it leaves me speechless. The owner stretched the truck bed, added another rear axle, and made various other cosmetic “enhancements.” Wow. Quite possibly the ugliest vehicle I have ever seen. Plus, he got the Ackermann geometry all wrong. I mean, geez.


I’m being unnecessarily mean. It may not look like much but I acknowledge it’s quite a feat of automotive engineering and craftsmanship and the owner claims it runs great, so kudos for that.

Kudos also to Jalopnik for dropping some real El Camino science in their writeup:

El Camino Real, or the Royal Road, refers to the 600-mile long padre path spanning San Diego to San Francisco, and interconnecting the California Missions. The builder of today’s Chevy El Camino with seis ruedas was obviously on a mission – a mission to make this the most El Camino-ist El Camino in the whole PBR-drinkin’ world.

True that.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Bear Flag Revolt

June 14th, 2011

This past weekend my wife and I skedaddled to Sonoma for a romantic getaway to celebrate our wedding anniversary. My first priority of course was to bask in her company and to enjoy the chic yet homey North Bay town. However, on the way up I confessed to Paulette that, you know, if on a stroll around the Plaza we just happened to stop by the mission for a minute and maybe take a quick look around, well, that would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? She said, “riiight.” Am I that transparent?


Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma is in fact a very special mission. It was the final mission established and the northernmost one in the chain. It was founded so late, 1823, that the missions weren’t even outposts of Spain anymore. By that time Mexico had declared its independence from the motherland and Alta California was Mexican territory. Sonoma is literally and historically where El Camino Real ends. There are historic El Camino Real bell markers on Broadway, SR-12, the road that leads right into the heart of town. CIMG0755Saturday, June 11 was International Yarn Bombing Day so the bell in the Plaza was charmingly bedecked with hand-knit California Poppies by a tagger who blogs at

I mentioned to Paulette that there were two things I wanted to explore while in Sonoma. The first was a question: how did the padres travel from San Francisco to Sonoma? There was no Golden Gate Bridge to span the mouth of the Bay and the tides there are too treacherous for easy crossing. As coincidence would have it, in our hotel room was the Spring, 2011 edition of Sonoma Magazine which was all about…water! In his article titled “Coming to Sonoma by Water,” Gerald Hill confirmed that Padre José Altamira deliberately sited the mission near Sonoma Creek so ships could sail passengers and cargo from San Francisco into San Pablo Bay up the slough to an embarcadero. “A bridge over the gate was more than a century away, roads were primitive and at times impassable, there was yet no railroad nearby, so in every real sense, the road to Sonoma was water.” El Camino de Agua?

CIMG0802The second thing I wanted to explore was the famous Bear Flag Revolt monument in the Plaza. There, in a coincidence beyond coincidence, we hit pay dirt. That very Sunday, June 12, happened to be the day Sonoma was holding their annual Bear Flag Revolt Celebration. We couldn’t have picked a better time to visit.

The Bear Flag Revolt is a quirky chapter in California history. In 1846 Alta California was still Mexico but it hosted numerous settlers from the United States. Relations between the Mexican government and the Americans were strained over issues of land claims, property ownership, and religion. The recent struggles in Texas were fresh in minds of the gringos who remembered all too well the Alamo. On June 14, 1846—165 years ago today—thirty-three armed Americans stormed Sonoma, took the local Mexican commander Mariano Vallejo prisoner, and pronounced themselves free of Mexican rule. They weren’t authorized to do this in the name of the United States, so they declared California to be a new democratic republic. They raised in the Plaza a hand-painted flag of their own design featuring a lone star in Texas’ honor, a grizzly bear, and the words, “California Republic.” That flag is the basis of the modern California flag flown today. The revolt lasted 25 days after which the U.S. Army arrived and raised the Stars and Stripes. Unbeknownst to the Osos (“bears” in Spanish), the United States had already formally declared war on Mexico and California was on the verge of changing hands yet again.

Happily the brief Sonoma revolt was bloodless; no one on either side was harmed. General Vallejo did catch malaria in captivity but he eventually recovered. History looks fondly on the Bear Flag incident, I think because there is something half-baked and frankly whiskey-soaked about the whole affair. It is after all in the heart of wine country. The revolutionaries were audacious but ultimately successful, and I imagine they fancied themselves Western sons of the Founding Fathers as they played their parts in the unfurling of Manifest Destiny.

So now, every year (off and on) the Native Sons of the Golden West Sonoma Parlor #111 commemorate the Bear Flag Revolt with a festival in the Plaza, traditionally with barbecued chicken dinners. After a whirlwind tour of the mission, Paulette and I stood in the shade around the amphitheater and watched the citizens reenact the revolt with a costumed, scripted play. Well, most of it was scripted. The locals in cowboy hats who portrayed the uprising mob mostly ad-libbed, punctuating dialogue with hearty “Hyahs!” as they fired blanks into the air from their period replica firearms. All the participants clearly enjoyed themselves and so did we.




The Morning After Maker Faire

May 29th, 2011


The headline on San Mateo Patch read “Meet Your Maker at the Maker Faire.” I don’t know if it was intentional or not but the irony in that line was sublime. My family and I and thousands of others were in fact at Maker Faire at the stroke of 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2011, the hour when the Rapture was predicted to occur and the destruction of the Earth guaranteed. The moment basically when humanity was indeed to meet its Maker. I am happy to report there was no global cataclysm (though there was a magnitude 3.6 earthquake in Hercules an hour later) but I will tell you this. Had civilization as we know it fallen that day, I can’t think of a better place to be than at Maker Faire.

CIMG0470Much has been written about Maker Faire, the annual expo put on at the San Mateo County Event Center May 21-22 this year by Make Magazine to celebrate handmade crafts, do-it-yourself spirit, and infectious eccentricity. We were there courtesy of and of which my good friend Ken Denmead is Editor and Publisher.  They are blogs for and by geeky parents about the ways they share their techie/sci-fi interests with their kids. (I aspire to be a geek one day, but today I only rank “nerd.”) It was my family’s third time going to Maker Faire. This year we helped the GeekMoms and GeekDads by volunteering at their booth, showing off fun musical toys and tee-shirts from My favorite was the Otamatone, a note-shaped puppet that sings when you squeeze it. Many passersby didn’t quite know what to make of it but I got pretty good at playing the theme to Star Trek on it and the keening synth hook from MC Breed’s “Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin’.”

CIMG0481The alleged Armageddon was treated with general amusement by the denizens of the booth. The kids monitored their watches and occasionally shouted out the remaining time: “Forty-two minutes until the End of the World!” Together we counted down the final 10 seconds and at the stroke of 6:00 PM PDT Ken dropped a test tube full of Mentos into a two-liter bottle of Diet Pepsi, causing a spout of soda to erupt 20 feet in the air in a physical reaction well-known and much-loved by geeks and children everywhere. And that was it. No catastrophe, no second coming, no nothing. One GeekDad hilariously summed it up: “Worst…Rapture…ever!”

CIMG0465As I said though, had this been an actual Apocalypse, San Mateo Expo Center may well have represented mankind’s last best hope for survival because there were thousands of people there who knew how to make things. Useful things. At their disposal were contraptions and tools and raw materials. We had engineers, knitters, artists, and chefs. We had solar cells, compost containers, organic vegetables, and kits to make your own chewing gum. Should the End Times have also spawned a savage zombie horde, we could have defended ourselves with flame throwers, laser-cut trebuchets, a remote-controlled navy, and Victorian jet packs. I have no doubt that Maker Faire would have become a near-mythical outpost, a destination for the last Californians to seek out for salvation, and El Camino Real would have become the pilgrim road that brought them there. Someone get me Hollywood’s phone number; I have a screenplay idea to pitch to them.

In all seriousness I don’t like to make light of the failed Rapture predictions. I gave them no credence and they didn’t fit into my core beliefs about the destiny of mankind, but recent world events have brought us true disasters and unfathomable human and ecological suffering. Reflection on the end of existence on Earth did not inspire levity in me. That being said, I do consider humor to be a force of nature and there was so much wit and waggishness at Maker Faire intermingled with imagination and creativity, it forced me to view my most dreaded doomsday notions in a brighter light that put them in perspective. Everywhere at the Faire I saw faith, hope, and generosity of God-given talent in abundance. I did not meet my Maker, but I became reacquainted with the wonder of Creation.


(Disclosure: Ken gave us free passes to Maker Faire and kindly treated us to dinner afterwards with the GeekDads and GeekMoms.)

Lost in Los Altos

May 17th, 2011

Do you know what’s embarrassing? Getting lost on El Camino Real. I don’t mean “lost” in the poetic sense, as in getting so enraptured by the sights and wonders that I lose all sense of time. I mean “lost” as in not having a perfectly clear notion of either where I am, where my destination is, or the precise relationship between the two. “How could you possibly get lost on El Camino?” you protest. “It’s a street, a one-dimensional line!” This is true, but after 200 years the road has developed a few idiosyncrasies which can snare the unwitting traveler. One of them is the city of Los Altos.

Border Road

The first tricky thing about Los Altos is something that residents know but it took me a while to figure out: Los Altos does not cross El Camino Real. The city flows down from the hills but in its northernmost section it abuts El Camino. That means if you’re driving down El Camino, Los Altos exists only on one side of the street. El Camino borders Los Altos for about a mile and a half.

This is unusual. As far as I can determine, there’s only one other city in the Bay Area that touches but does not cross El Camino: Hillsborough, and that’s only for about two blocks.

Tri-City Area

CIMG0382Los Altos doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For that mile and a half stretch of El Camino, the other side of the street is either Palo Alto or Mountain View. There is a spot on El Camino between Del Medio and Los Altos avenues where Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Mountain View all meet in a single point. No wonder it’s easy to lose track of where you are! The border between Mountain View and Palo Alto is marked only by the fence, bush, and break in the low wall in this photograph. Really they are the property line between the Country Inn Motel (Palo Alto) and The Hotel Aria (Mountain View), which used to be a Holiday Inn. Cryptically there is a signpost right here pointing to Los Altos (Avenue, that is) which takes on new significance.

Numbers Game

Granted, maybe it doesn’t really matter to you what city you’re in unless you’re challenging the jurisdiction of the speeding ticket you just received from the other city’s Police Department. What really matters is the street address right? Well that’s where things get really crazy. Take a trip with me.

Say you’re on El Camino in Palo Alto, heading south. As you cross Arastradero Road you’re on the 4200 block of El Camino with even addresses on your right and odd addresses on your left. The addresses increase as you go. As we all know, one of the cornerstones of modern civilization is that even and odd addresses are on opposite sides of the street, and that street addresses are ordered monotonically. You pass the Crowne Plaza Cabaña Hotel at 4290 ECR which is the last Palo Alto address on that side. You cross Adobe Creek and your side of the street is now Los Altos, though the other side of El Camino is still Palo Alto. Still with me? Fear not because the addresses still make sense. Both sides are now the 4300 block; the Motel 6 Palo Alto on your left is 4301 and the Courtyard Los Altos on your right is 4320. (There are a lot of hotels here.) You roll on and cross Los Altos Avenue. You’re still in Los Altos on your side but as we said, soon the other side turns into Mountain View. Your side is the 4400 block but the other side, the Mountain View side, is suddenly 2700! What?! That’s right, the addresses take a quantum leap on that Palo Alto/Mountain View side of the street.

Remember that the border between Palo Alto and Mountain View lies between the Country Inn Motel and The Hotel Aria. They are neighbors, but here are their addresses:
CIMG0381 CIMG0379

4345 El Camino in Palo Alto, 2700 El Camino in Mountain View, literally next door to each other. Not only  do the numbers jump, but the Palo Alto addresses are odd and the Mountain View addresses are now even. The Los Altos addresses on your side are also even. This is madness! But wait, there’s more. As you keep driving, your Los Altos addresses continue to increase, but your Mountain View addresses get smaller! They run in opposite directions. You get to the end of Los Altos and cross over into all-Mountain View a little past Rengstorff Ave. On your side the last Los Altos address is 5150 El Camino Real and their neighbor in Mountain View is 2065. Even addresses become odd. The 5100s become 2000s. Enough said.

CIMG0389 CIMG0385

This address nonsense used to trip me up from time to time. Back in the old days before online maps and GPS units, I would look up a business in the phone book (remember those?). Maybe I was going to El Torito at 4470 El Camino Real, Los Altos. (Don’t bother looking for it now; it’s gone.) If I made the mistake of approaching through Mountain View, the addresses around me would be no help at all—somewhere in the 2000s when I’m looking for 4470, and odd when I’m looking for even. This confusion is part of the reason I started I felt a need to understand these addresses and help my fellow sufferers. Don’t even get me started on West El Camino, East El Camino, South El Camino, and North El Camino.

Reading Signs

It’s not all bad. Even without wireless navigation technology there are plenty of hints to keep you oriented. There are well-placed “city limits” signs, and the light posts have handy civic banners hanging from them. Los Altos Patch Editor L.A. Chung pointed out a useful trick. Los Altos city street signs are brown and Mountain View signs are blue. I figured out on my own that Palo Alto signs are white, but the Palo Alto trash cans are blue.
CIMG0386 CIMG0398 CIMG0377 CIMG0374  CIMG0375 CIMG0378 CIMG0349

I still get lost on El Camino every now and then which is especially humiliating since I have this blog and all. Technology helps but I can’t always rely on it, so I’m learning that a little knowledge and good ol’ powers of observation go a long way. And if those fail me there’s always the last option of a desperate man: stopping to ask for directions.

Patch a Match, Natch

May 15th, 2011 Screen Grab with Missions
I first heard of from Ryan Sebastian of Treatbot. A few months back we were chatting at a South FIRST Fridays event and he told me Treatbot had been interviewed by Adelaide Chen of Milpitas Patch, and that Mayra Flores de Marcotte was preparing to launch a new Campbell Patch. I knew Mayra’s handmade Kerfufle jewelry and her husband Josh’s Lost San Jose photography from exhibits at The Usuals. Treatbot…South FIRST Fridays…The Usuals…these are all luminous bodies in the AllCamino firmament, so let’s say came to me well-recommended by these indirect El Camino connections.

I immediately checked it out and learned is a slick, coordinated, AOL-owned network of hyperlocal news sites about communities across the country. Several are in California so I subscribed to all the Bay Area Patches for cities that lie on El Camino Real or have mission connections. I figured this would be an excellent way to catch news stories about the road. My current, growing list of Patches to follow is:

Back in November, as I was embarking on the the Shellmound Peace Walk through Milpitas, I contacted Adelaide in the spirit of networking and to my surprise got signed on as a freelance contributor. Since then she has given me the opportunity to write three articles for Patch—my first experience in journalism. It was a blast writing with a professional voice and (full disclosure) it was quite cool to be paid for those pieces.

Recently, however, she let me know that all Patches are adding a new feature: blogs. They are offering space for bloggers to write in their own voices about local topics they are passionate about. Patch bloggers don’t get paid, but they gain expanded exposure to a wider audience while retaining independence and ownership over the content. I knew right away this was a natural fit for me. Freedom!

I contacted the various Patch editors and so far the response has been quite positive. This is new for everyone so I’m still figuring out how it will work, but here’s the vision. will continue to exist independently exactly as it does today; I’ll still do what I do. But if I write a post that might interest a particular Patch’s readers, I may cross-post to that Patch’s blog. Or I might write a standalone piece at Patch and just link to it here.

I’m taking baby steps now. I  just published my first Patch blog at Los Altos Patch. The editor there, L.A. Chung, was the first to activate my Patch blog and she’s been very supportive and helpful so to her go the spoils. Click the link to read it:

An El Camino Real Journey

By Bill Moore | May 10, 2011
El Camino Real is an important part of California history and Bay Area life. is a blog that celebrates the past, present and future of The Royal Road.

It’s a fairly generic piece. My intention is to use it as an introduction on every Patch. See, I can do that. Freedom!

bell_scuDo you like my profile photo there? It took me many takes and half an hour to get it right. It’s a trick-shot self-portrait and all I had as a guide was the little mirror on the back of my cameraphone. It was a lot harder than I expected and I got some funny looks from drivers whizzing by on El Camino. Can you locate that bell?

I think this Patch relationship will be a lot of fun. The symbolism is irresistable. AllCamino is the virtual link among the various Patches, just as El Camino Real is the concrete link that joins the real cities. These Patches are stitched together by a common thread that together make up the fabric of Northern California. Um, too much? Sorry about that.

I love the breathless tone of press releases—they’re invariably so thrilled!—and I always wanted to write one, so here we go:

Today is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Blogger Bill Moore says, “This is the dawn of a new era of Bay Area hyperlocal storytelling. AllCamino and Patch create unique synergy and an enhanced value proposition for our combined readership along the El Camino Real information superhighway.” Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and recent addition to the AOL family, remarks, “We are thrilled to roll out one of the most exciting offshoots of our turbo-charged web presence. This week we launch a great new chapter for”

That’s a real quote from Arianna, by the way, just not about me specifically. A real journalist wouldn’t take a quote out of context like that, but hey I’m a blogger. Freedom!

El Camino Calendar

May 6th, 2011

It’s been a minute since the last El Camino Calendar. Sorry about the hiatus but I’ve been so busy lately I could hardly see straight. There’s so much awesomeness going on this weekend though, it has shocked me out of inactivity. I’m baaack!

Morgan Hill No Bull BBQ Cook-Off

Saturday May 7 2011
10 am to 6 pm
Morgan Hill Community Center

17000 Monterey Rd. Morgan Hill, CA 95037

The public is more than welcome at the Morgan Hill No Bull BBQ Cook-off. You’ll enjoy great music, vendor offerings, and of course the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the most dynamic gatherings of BBQ Pitmasters on the West Coast.


Friday May 6, 2011

JOIN US for the next South FIRST FRIDAYS art walk on MAY 6th!
7pm ’til 11pm — ART WALK venues are free and open to the public

SJ Eats

Saturday, May 7th, 2011
Peralta Adobe
175 W. Saint John
San Jose, CA

Some of the best food trucks and carts across the Bay come to Downtown San Jose. Silog plates, short rib burritos, samosas, lobster rolls, horchata ice cream and more. Free admission.

Stanford Powwow

May 6-8, 2011

Welcome to the Stanford Powwow. Come visit us on Stanford campus May 6-8, 2011. The Stanford Powwow is held every Mother’s Day Weekend in the Eucalyptus Grove on Stanford campus.

Open to the Public | Rain or Shine.

Donation for admission

Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 8, 2011 all day

Technically this happens everywhere, not just on El Camino Real.

SJ Homegrown

April 1st, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011 is a big day in Downtown San Jose. Two of AllCamino’s favorite entrepreneurs, The Usuals and Treatbot, have conjoined to turn San Pedro Square into a serious San Jose fab fest. They’ve organized a pair of events called San Jose Made and SJ Eats. San Jose Made is a wares faire featuring locally produced apparel, accessories, and other items. SJ Eats is a gathering of my new favorite thing: gourmet food trucks.

This is the second San Jose Made event. The first took place at the Mayberry Workshop Pop-Up shop on Santa Clara Street on January 29, 2011. It was a collaboration among The Usuals’ Mari and Mike Millares and the Bay Area Die-Hard Mayberry family. Regrettably I had to miss that one because I was up at MacWorld in San Francisco. I plan to attend this one though.  As before they’ve invited a bunch of vendors who will be selling cool stuff: t-shirts, jewelry, portable electronics, a real variety. Find the full list on the San Jose Made web site. I know a few of them from The Usuals and other places, folks like Cukui, Kerfufle, and Mayberry Workshop. Others are new to me but have cool names like Bad Ass Chica, Booger Kids, and There’s a baker coming called The Hole Cake who sells candy-coated bite-sized cake pops on sticks. I’m there.

This is the first ever SJ Eats and it’s taking place in the historic Fallon House parking lot at N. Almaden Ave and W. St. John St. I’m really excited for this. I’ve been waiting for a gourmet food truck caravan to roll into San Jose since I started frequenting them individually last year. Ryan Sebastian, the Treatbot dynamo, has pulled this together. The event will have two shifts, lunch and dinner, and will feature local trucks and some well-known heavy hitters from other cities. Here’s the lineup:

Lunch (11:30 AM to 3:30 PM)

  • Babaloo – Fresh and healthy Cuban cuisine, based in Carmel. Haven’t tried them, but I’ve yet to see a food truck with a liquor license so I suspect they won’t have Mojitos on the menu.
  • Bill’s Beer Steamed Hot Dog Cart – San Jose doggie wagon, but new to me. Sounds like they take frankfurter abuse to new heights. I am intrigued.
  • Chairman Bao – From San Francisco, really outstanding Chinese-fusion buns. Try the duck. You won’t be disappointed. I once drove an hour just to get them.
  • Hapa SF – Filipino truck, also from SF. I sampled their lumpia at Edgewood Eats and they were great, but I think it’s just the tip of their culinary iceberg.
  • Kara’s Cupcakes – Local gal bakes good. This pint-sized truck is as cute as the half-pint confections they’re famous for.
  • Louisiana Territory – One of my South Bay favorites. It’s always a good time when Cherie and the LaT rolls. You can’t go wrong with their menu but my pick is the popcorn shrimp po’ boy with a bread pudding chaser.
  • MoBowl – Oh MoBowl, so clever, so delicious. San Jose’s own Chef Andrew is seriously pumped up to represent the 408 against all comers. Their five-spice pulled pork packs a punch, but their new barbecue chicken bun is looking at you, @ChairmanTruck!
  • MoGo BBQ – The Godfadda of mobile eats around these parts. Their Korean tacos and burritos are an homage to the genesis of the genre. I’m partial to their chicken and pork. My biggest beef is they can get a little slow sometimes. I hope they bring their “A” game.
  • Sam’s Chowdermobile – All the way from Half Moon Bay, what they do to a lobster roll is obscene. Obscene, I say! I imagine the arguments in their kitchen: “Scotty, I need more butter on this sandwich!” “But Sir, ye canna break the laws of fezzix!”
  • Treatbot – Ice cream. Karaoke. Reppin’ San Jose’s East Side. Your host for the evening. Perfection.

But wait! There’s more! Half of the trucks are staying but some new ones are rotating in for the second seating.

Dinner (5:00 PM to 9:00 PM)

  • Bill’s Beer Steamed Hot Dog Cart
  • Chairman Bao
  • Curry Up Now – This Peninsula-based Indian truck has been around for a long time but ironically I’ve never tried them. They even do a regular rotation on El Camino Real. They’re bucking the trend and opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in San Mateo soon.
  • Little Green Cyclo – Street-style Vietnamese grub. I’ve been watching them for a while but haven’t connected yet.
  • MoGo BBQ
  • Roli Roti – Not a Scooby Doo interjection, a rotisserie chicken truck that’s been delighting farmers’ markets for years. I’ve heard great things about them and hope to sample their wares.
  • TacGos – Haven’t tried them but tasty Mexican always sounds good to me. Their motto is, “Fresh, fast, affordable & around the corner!” and that is so true. I mean literally, their business address is right around the corner from my house.
  • The Wow – San Jose newcomer slings silogs: Filipino rice plates. The chicken silog and corned beef silog are my favorite. I have it on good authority this is straight up home-cooking…chicken-and-rice for the soul. Don’t miss their fried banana rolls.
  • Treatbot

What I love about these twin events is that they are bottling the abundant raw creativity and talent in the South Bay food and fashion scenes, and unleashing them in unused spaces. This is all happening in San Pedro Square which is bustling nicely and very hip on its own. Still I think the influx of commercial energy that is coming to the vacant shells that were Spiedo and Tied House will be transformative. This is a formula that begs to be repeated. The beauty is this guerrilla art-ification can happen anywhere. But only in San Jose.

San Jose Made

San Jose Made LogoVendor Faire
Saturday, April 2 · 12:00pm – 8:00pm
San Jose, CA
151 W. Santa Clara Street
65 N. San Pedro Street
San Jose, CA

SJ Eats

SJ Eats LogoA Moveable Feast
Saturday, April 2 · 11:30am – 9:00pm
Fallon House Parking Lot
Almaden Av and Saint John St
San Jose, CA

Baby Bell

March 22nd, 2011

The other day I was watching a video on CNET about AT&T trying to acquire T-Mobile. The video is hosted by CBS’ Kara Tsuboi reporting from Downtown San Francisco. At one point she explains that many stores will probably close as a result of the merger, for example redundant stores which are located near each other. To illustrate the point she stands on a corner that has a T-Mobile store across the street from an AT&T store. So what does all this have to do with El Camino? As the camera zooms in on AT&T, the storefront is obscured by an El Camino Real bell!


My jaw dropped. I had no idea there was a bell Downtown San Francisco. The only one I had seen in the city is at Mission Dolores. I didn’t recognize the corner but fortunately the street address of the store is clearly visible so it was easy to figure out the bell is at 3rd and Market. Here’s the odd thing: on Google Street View, the bell is not there. Maybe it’s brand new?

View Larger Map

Nope, I found this article which states that bell was erected in December, 2009. There’s more to the story. The first El Camino Real bell was installed in Los Angeles in 1906, but the thirteenth was located a few years later here at 3rd and Mission in San Francisco. At some point the bell disappeared but in 2009 Caltrans found and restored one of the original 100-year-old bells and installed it in the same spot.

Last year I decided that Mission Street in Downtown San Francisco counts as El Camino Real, so I can’t say why the bell is a couple blocks over on Market. My guess is the bell was placed here in 1909 because of its proximity to Lotta’s Fountain which held a special significance to the city as a meeting place after the still-fresh 1906 earthquake and fire. The city commemorates the earthquake here every year on its anniversary, April 18.

It’s surprising that Google Street View for that intersection hasn’t been updated in over a year. The next time I’m in the area I’ll definitely take some pictures. However I must credit CNET with the scoop.

Watch the full video at CNET:

Leave Milpitas…Alone!

February 20th, 2011

Rooster T. Feathers is the award-winning comedy club on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. It’s been there for 30 years. I used to go quite a bit and always had a great time there, but for some reason I hadn’t been in over ten years. It’s been obvious that Rooster’s deserves some time and space in this blog because it’s one of the exceptionally unique venues on El Camino. Happily this month brings not one, but two opportunities to make that happen.

CIMG0091From out of the blue a friend, Charles Ellis, sent me an invitation on Facebook to attend his stand-up comedy debut at Rooster’s on Wednesday, February 16. His comic aspirations were news to me; I knew him because he was my barber. This was just the kick I needed to get back to Rooster’s. Most Wednesdays they hold a New Talent Showcase, voted Best Open Mic Night in the 2010 Metro Newspaper Reader’s Poll. I headed over after work and ordered a Calistoga sparkling water and some chips and salsa to satisfy my two-item minimum.

My friend assumed the stage name “Charles Goodnight” and appeared in a lineup of over a dozen funnymen (and woman) ranging from rank rookies to seasoned pros. Charles did a good job for his first time out, striking an edgy attitude and delivering a mostly improvised stream-of-consciousness set about observations and personal topics. He radiated a lot of confidence and presence and got a positive response from the audience which was supportive of everybody. My constructive criticism to him afterwards is that the routine lacked a steady flow of coherent content; he would start a thought then abandon it. I recommended he keep wood-shedding, writing material ahead of time and sticking to it. He shared with me his plans to keep doing comedy, so I think preparation and practice is his key to continued growth and success.

Leaving MilpitasThat was February 16. Exactly one week later, February 23—three days away as I write this—there’s another show at Rooster’s I look forward to seeing. Local DJ and comic Sandy Stec is headlining there, performing for the first time a one-woman show startlingly called, “Leaving Milpitas.”  Her story is compelling. A couple years ago a relationship went sour and ended up driving her so deep into debt she had to move back in with her parents in Milpitas, where she grew up. She feels stuck now, not fully living her adult life and longing for her own space. This is an inner purgatory she’s trapped in but she is using the city of Milpitas as an allegory for her torment. Her new blog,, is a tongue-in-cheek account of her gripes. She set a goal to save up $10,000 towards moving out by May 26, 2011, her 30th birthday.


Stec has released some Leaving Milpitas web videos which are very funny, and has developed the standup routine she’s debuting Wednesday. I’m looking forward to the show but I’m nervous too.  I’m afraid I might get defensive. In her videos she pokes fun of Milpitas’ shortcomings—the famous smell, the lack of night life, and general status as the butt of much Bay Area teasing. I don’t live in Milpitas but I work there and spend a lot of time there and even blog about it, so I’ve grown to identify with the city quite a bit. At last week’s show at Rooster’s the headliner coincidentally happened to poke fun at both Milpitas and Hayward (where I tweened and teened) and managed to tick me off. Up your nose, Jack; it’s an East Bay thang, you wouldn’t understand. The difference though is that that guy was from San Francisco, an outsider. Sandy’s an insider so when she laments that Kohl’s is the only place open late enough for her and her girlfriends to hang out, I know it’s coming from a loving place.

It promises to be a memorable show. Tina Allen Gallo is hosting and Joe Klocek is featured. You should call or visit the Rooster T. Feathers web site for tickets before they sell out. Expect a lively caravan of friends, family, and fans to trek down SR-237 from Milpitas to El Camino Real Wednesday night. Milpitians will be in the house, ready to support their own and able to take a joke.  We know Milpitas is a great place to live, and when Sandy reaches her goal and moves out it will still be a great place for her to visit.

Sandy Stec: Leaving Milpitas

Wednesday Feb 23, 2011 8:00 PM
With Special Guest Joe Klocek from Comedy Central and Tina Allen Gallo
Reserved Seating $12.00
Rooster T. Feathers
157 W. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Info & Reservation Line: (408) 736-0921