Archive for November, 2010

The People before El Camino

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

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I’ve already told you that I participated in Day One of the Shellmound Peace Walk on November 17, 2010, and pointed you to the article I wrote for Milpitas Patch. Here’s why I walked.

The Ohlone Indians lived around the Bay for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The Spanish missionaries arrived in the 17th century and once they baptized Indians, the missionaries treated them as property of Spain. They were confined to the mission compounds and forcibly brought back if they tried to escape. Revolts were answered by lethal retaliation. Physically they were worn down by imposed labor and sickened and killed by unfamiliar diseases. The old and the very young were particularly susceptible. There are reports of abuse of every nature. Their culture was erased.

When the mission era ended and California became an American state, the Indians were set free but their homes and way of life were gone. They suffered horrible persecution at the hands of Americans, from denial of civil rights to murder. Some went underground, pretending to be Mexican just to get by.

The Native Americans did what mankind does. They adapted and they survived. They kept their spiritual roots intact, never forgetting their languages, their songs, their medicines, and their values. In the 1960s and ’70s they reclaimed their identity, shouldered their history, and politically activated. They’re making tremendous strides but many still carry the social scars from the trauma they suffered starting with Spanish contact.

Meanwhile after reaping the benefits of the Gold Rush, agriculture, and the Industrial Revolution, Americans in California started to rediscover the state’s Spanish past. In 1884 Helen Hunt Jackson published her novel Ramona which romanticized the mission era and sparked a new expression of California identity: a western paradise on the Pacific coast infused with Mexican charm. The crumbling missions were literally revived and rebuilt and became cornerstones of communities and tourist draws. El Camino Real was reinvented as a continuous highway from San Diego to San Francisco. Most recently I caught the bug and climbed on board the nostalgia train. I celebrate El Camino, what it is today and what I think it will be. But I have to face its past, and that includes the pain of the Ohlone.

That’s why I went on the Shellmound Peace Walk, to experience the history firsthand. “El Camino” means “the road,” and a road is one of the fundamental ways a people leave their mark on the Earth. Walking a road means following the footsteps of those who went before. Where a bit of nature remained—the Alviso slough, Coyote Creek, the Diablo Mountain Range—I could see what earlier people saw and immerse myself in the immutable sense of place. The physical exertion of walking reminded me of my universal humanity, and sharpened my motivations as I reflected on the multitude of emotions that preceded me there: hope, fear, elation, sorrow. Walking with Indians, some of them descendants of Ohlones, was a gift. Talking with them connected me directly to the people of this land not just through earth, but through flesh, blood, and spirit. Walking with non-Indians bolstered my faith in friendship and fraternity. Injustice shared is peace conceived.

I will continue to celebrate El Camino Real. It has a story to tell and I will continue to listen and share what I hear. El Camino remembers the Ohlone. So do we all.

Cold Turkey, Hot Trot

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

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Paulette announced just a couple weeks ago that she was going to walk in this year’s Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk & 10K Run Downtown San Jose Thanksgiving Day. Not only was she going to walk, she was going to walk in costume. Not only was she going to walk in costume, she was was going to enter the costume contest. My initial reaction was, “Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?”

When we first got married, she would have been uncomfortable in that kind of limelight. Years ago she was mortified when I volunteered us for some audience participation at a Renaissance Festival.  Nowadays however she’s happy to take center stage. She even appeared in Intel’s “Jeffrey the Robot” Superbowl commercial. Did you see her? She was in the back, behind that tall guy.

Intel Commercial

IMG_2565She entered the Turkey Trot costume contest dressed as Snooki from MTV’s “Jersey Shore” reality show. Just to be clear, she has never seen the show (she says), I’ve never seen it, and I’m pretty sure if I ever saw it, I would disapprove. It is an awesome pouf wig though and Paulette’s from New Jersey so it’s funny. Plus she was eager to try out the new running skirt she won in a drawing from RunningSkirts.com. Unfortunately the weather dampened the full effect.

It was cold out there. Nearly freezing. We showed up outside HP Pavilion around 6:45AM Thanksgiving morning and it was about 34 degrees. I wasn’t walking; I was just there to cheer and take pictures so I had on four layers of clothing up top, snow pants down below, and ski socks. Paulette originally intended to walk in just the skirt, but when I showed her the forecast she wisely decided to pull some pants on underneath it.

There were some fantastic costumes out there. The two individual winners were a full-body handmade turkey costume and a Donald Duck costume. The group winners were a family dressed as characters from Snow White including a magic mirror in silver face paint. They all won plane tickets on Virgin Atlantic.

The 5K started around 8:15AM and Paulette achieved her goal of finishing the walk in under an hour. After she got warmed up and the feeling returned to her toes, she made great time. Again I’m taking her word for it since once she disappeared into the crowd, I never actually saw her cross the start or finish line on West Santa Clara Street so for all I know she hid her chip-tracking race bib somewhere in Donald Duck’s tail feathers while she cut through Arena Green. Seriously though, I’m quite proud of her and her determination that day. On top of all that she still managed to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal for us. What a star!

The race was a thorough success. It was the largest ever in its six-year history with 5,000 people in the 10K, and 10,000 people in the 5K. They broke their fundraising record, generating over $400,000 for Children’s Health Initiative, The Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, and Second Harvest Food Bank. It was a spectacular morning, sunny and clear, every runner an inspiration. The costumes were a fun touch. Sadly Snooki didn’t win, but she can hold her pouf high.

History Detectives, South City Edition

Friday, November 26th, 2010


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Prepare yourself for sheer hyperlocal awesomeness. El Camino High School and South San Francisco High School have been playing a cross-town rivalry football game annually for almost fifty years. They call it the Bell Game. South San Francisco Patch wrote a great article about this year’s game. It’s a fun read because in finest rivalry tradition, it was a nail-biter down to the finish. Patch published some terrific photos here. I left a comment on the article, asking why it’s called the Bell Game. I saw on a map that both schools are practically on El Camino Real, so I wondered if the name is a reference to the historic El Camino bell markers. South San Francisco Patch editor Drew Himmelstein replied that she wondered the same thing and promised to look into it.

And boy did she.

Read her full account here. Really. Go read it. I’ll wait.

 …

She made my day, going all out to get to the bottom of this story, enlisting the help of local historian Kathy Kay. Their ultimate findings were surprising, but not disappointing. Let’s just say with a knowing wink that I suspect there is more to the story than even the involved parties were aware of. El Camino Real loves its bells, and works in mysterious ways to get them.

Tukufu Zuberi - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009Drew’s efforts reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows, “History Detectives.” San Jose’s own Tukufu Zuberi would be proud. I just hoped Drew wore protective linen gloves as she was thumbing through those old yearbooks.

One (Shopping) Day at a Time

Friday, November 26th, 2010














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The Thanksgiving holiday weekend always fills me with some anxiety and dread. It’s not Thanksgiving that bothers me; I love Thanksgiving Day and the time spent with family and turkey and friends and pie and strangers and stuffing. It’s the incessant pressure to shop ’til I drop immediately after that stresses me out. I don’t begrudge our intrepid retailers the opportunity to sell me a good or service. I only resent the insistence that it happen right now.

A lot of it is my own inferiority complex. I’m a chronic procrastinator. (I intended to write this post last week.) I have been known to gleefully and frantically do the bulk of my holiday gift shopping  on Christmas Eve. So when I start seeing the ominous Black Friday notices in early November, it makes me feel bad that Halloween came and went and I didn’t even start making my lists and benchmarking pre-discount prices. Black Friday to me is all about preparation, and the day after Thanksgiving I am never prepared.

If Black Friday shopping is your thing, get out there and get your grind on. The universe of shops on El Camino Real is waiting for you. My father-in-law Harold often visits us from New Jersey for Thanksgiving and for many years he and my wife Paulette had a Black Friday tradition of heading out to Learning Express on El Camino in Sunnyvale to take care of the high-priority kids’ gifts. Sadly that store has closed and those same kids now have grown more interested in Game Stop and American Eagle.

Retail on El Camino is anchored by its regional malls. Great Mall in Milpitas opened at midnight Friday morning, luring shoppers with discounts up to 60% and a scratch-and-win gift card lottery. Stanford Shopping Center opened at 8:00AM and gave goodie bags of holiday loot to the first 250 shoppers to join their email list. The Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno opened at 6:00AM. They also have goodie bags—one lucky one of which is worth $500—and you’ll get a $15 gift card if you spend $150. Oddly Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo shows remarkable restraint. They don’t tweet, they don’t Facebook, and there’s precious little mention of Black Friday at all on their website. That’s just their style I guess.

There’s a whole lot of shopping to be done in the spaces between the malls. Every national chain store on El Camino, big box and otherwise, is vying for your business. There are too many to name. My email inbox is bursting with offers. Just swing a dead cat and you’ll save some money. Dead cats are 50% off at Necro-pet-a-porium today only, by the way, if you mention this ad.

Black Friday belongs to those who make the most noise and Cyber Monday is a clever recent nod to online shopping, but this year there’s a new named day on the fiscal calendar: Small Business Saturday. Pithy it ain’t, but its aims are noble: to call your attention to your local small businesses which depend on your patronage even more than the national chains. It’s a two-way benefit because small businesses are very efficient at re-investing money directly back into your local economy. They are a critical part of our economic recovery. November 27, 2010 is the first Small Business Saturday. It’s sponsored by American Express and if you register your Amex card at http://smallbusinesssaturday.com/Enroll, they’ll rebate you the first $25 you spend at eligible small businesses on Saturday. I don’t have a comprehensive list of participating shops on El Camino but two I know about for sure are:

Enjoy your shopping season, and may your discounts be deep. Just save some good merchandise for me. I’ll be out looking for it on my own Red Friday…December 24, 2010.

El Camino Calendar

Friday, November 26th, 2010

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It’s all about San Jose this weekend, which is fitting. When the weather turns cold I’m tempted to bundle up and stay close to home. Don’t forget to check out the El Camino Calendars page for a list of venues all up and down El Camino Real which always have a variety of activities going on.


Cold Turkey Black Friday

Friday, November 26 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm
SLG Art Boutiki
577 S. Market Street
San Jose, CA

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the malls flood with people in a desperate need to spend all of their money.

Well, get out of the malls and away from your family and come on downtown to the SLG Art Boutiki for our first ever
COLD TURKEY, BLACK FRIDAY event.
Facebook event
http://www.artboutiki.com/


Christmas in the Park Tree Lighting Ceremony

11/26 Friday
5:30pm

Thousands of people of all ages enjoy the Christmas in the Park Tree Lighting Ceremony in Cesar Chavez Park each year. It is the kickoff to this special time of year and to Christmas in the Park. You are invited to be a part of this beautiful tradition!

Cesar Chavez Park
South Market Street
San Jose 95113

http://christmasinthepark.com/
http://www.sanjose.org/event/christmas-in-the-park-tree-lighting-ceremony


Pop-Up Shop Opening

Bay Area Die Hards Mayberry Workshop
Die Hard Sports Apparel Pop-Up Shop
Opens 9AM Black Friday
151 Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA

POP-UP SHOP OPENING BLACK FRIDAY

You have heard right, we are opening a pop-up retail store in downtown San Jose at 151 W. Santa Clara Street, in the vacant restaurant formally occupied by Spiedo, next to San Pedro Square.

We will be opening at 9:00am on Black Friday and going into the evening so come on down, hang out and check out our exclusive offerings only available at the shop. Not only new shirts, but also some team themed scarves and beanies for braving the winter months in style. Throughout the day we have some fun things planned and more to be added this week.

http://shop.mayberryworkshop.com/
Event info


Pounding Pavement for Peace on Patch

Friday, November 19th, 2010

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So let me tell you about my Wednesday. I participated in the Shellmound Peace Walk, a ten-day walking tour around the Bay Area of sites  sacred to the Ohlone Indians. I walked the first day, from Alviso Marina, through Milpitas, all the way to Fremont: ten miles. On the way I tweeted to Adelaide Chen of Milpitas Patch, a hyperlocal news site, that we were coming through town. She actually came out and met us in San Jose and talked me into writing an article and providing photos for the site! So here it is, my journalistic debut. I will follow up soon with a more personal account of my experience and the great people I met. I have tons to talk about.


Native Americans Visit Elmwood to Remember Burial Site (in Milpitas Patch)

A group promoting awareness of ancestral burial sites walked from Alviso to Fremont on the first day of the Peace Walk.

By Bill Moore

(that’s me!)
Read more >


El Camino Calendar

Friday, November 19th, 2010

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A little something for everyone this weekend. Don’t forget to check out the El Camino Calendars page for a list of venues which always have a variety of activities going on.


REBEKAH CHILDREN’S SERVICES Festival of Trees-Christmas Carnival

When: November 19, 2010
Where: Morgan Hill Community & Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill CA 95037
Time: 6:00pm to Midnight
Cost: (RSVP) $85 per person
Event Hotline: (408) 846-2470
For more information or reservations visit us online at: www.rcskids.org

Rebekah Children’s Services 8th Annual Festival of Trees Christmas Carnival is the perfect start to your holiday season. The night will feature a Champagne reception, fabulous dinner, live and silent auctions, and wonderful holiday cheer!
Rebekah Children’s Services has served children throughout Santa Clara County for over 100 years. We are known as a caring and nurturing safe-haven for high-risk children as they attempt to overcome difficulties in their lives.
http://www.rcskids.org/
Google calendar event


Homegrown

Friday, November 19 · 6:00pm – 9:00pm
The Usuals
1020 The Alameda
San Jose, CA

Local artist, dNA, presents recent works in the Front Room. We are also featuring his most recent volume of Illuskrate: twenty-six pages of Ira & Drac and selected journal comics.

Join us in the Back Room for more art, food, music, and an awesome, hidden SJ-made trunk show!
http://shoptheusuals.com/?p=261
http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=111303338937090


Tree Decorating Holiday Event

Join us as we kick off the holiday season!
Friday, Nov 19 @ 7PM

The Center has been selected to join the 2010 San Jose Christmas in the Park Community Tree Decorating Program! In preparation for the above, we will be hosting a free holiday event on November 19th at 7pm. In addition to making tree decorations, we will have freshly baked cookies on hand for those who enjoy decorating (as well as eating) Thanksgiving and/or Christmas cookies. To top off the evening, David Harvey will be playing the piano to get us all in the holiday spirit. LGBT families are especially encouraged to join us in what promises to be a very festive occasion.
Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center
938 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126


Welcome Santa Claus

Saturday, November 20 · 12:00pm – 1:30pm
The Shops at Tanforan – Upper level by JCPenney

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane…to The Shops at Tanforan!

Join the Radio Disney Road Crew, as they help us welcome Santa from the North Pole. Also, you won’t want to miss checking out Santa in his Workshop where you can get your picture taken with him!

The Shops at Tanforan | 1150 El Camino Real | San Bruno, California 94066
http://www.theshopsattanforan.com/


Holiday Boutique

November 20th and 21st 10:00-4:00
Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose Annual Holiday Boutique and Drawing.
43326 Mission Blvd., Fremont.

Featuring the Dominican Sisters’ Famous Fruitcakes, baked goods, Mission and assorted flavored olive oils, handmade gifts, and raffle prizes.
http://www.msjdominicans.org/home.aspx


“Ode to Treatbot” Video

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

As promised here’s the video Paulette shot of me singing a tribute to Treatbot. Sorry it’s so dark, but at least the sound is pretty good.

Ryan of Treatbot recorded it too and uploaded it to Facebook. View his video here.

Enjoy!

Ode to Treatbot

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

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A lot of great things have happened on El Camino Real this year, but without a doubt one of the most innovative new additions is our friend Treatbot, the Karaoke-sporting local flavor ice cream truck from the future. They used Calvin’s on The Alameda as their commissary home base and brought their automatic joy to many great events on El Camino this past year like parties at Calvin’s and The Usuals, and South FIRST Fridays and other art events down in San Jose’s SoFA District. I’ve enjoyed chatting with owners Ryan and Christine and have really come to appreciate the imagination, drive, and hometown spirit they’ve brought to the streets of the Bay Area.

This past week Treatbot has been tweeting that Saturday, November 13 was going to be their last night of operation for 2010. I took that to mean they were going to hibernate over the winter, perhaps figuring that demand for sidewalk ice cream might decline as the days got colder. Understandable, but we would miss them. My wife and I made plans to see them off Saturday night at the San Jose Museum of Art, then I got a devilish idea.

Treatbot has an extensive Karaoke song collection. Recently they put a sign up in their window along the lines of:

Karaoke tip suggestion
Any song … $1
“My Way” … $20

I figured it was an inside joke, like the “No Stairway to Heaven” gag in “Wayne’s World.” Denied!

So my evil genius idea was that I would sing Frank Sinatra’s classic “My Way” for Treatbot Saturday night…with a twist. Here’s what I sang (and yes, I paid the $20):

Treatbot

And now, the end is near;
I go to buy your last unsold cone.
Alas. Until next year
I’ll have to eat that crap at Cold Stone*.

All through two thousand ten
This silver van hit ev’ry sweet spot.
For now, I say farewell.
I’ll miss you, Treatbot.

Mishaps, you’ve had a few,
But there is one I hate to mention.
That time your oil pan blew,
Transmission too, and smoked your engine.

But still you persevered
And even launched your little Streetbot.
But chalk does not taste good.
I’ll miss you, Treatbot.

Oh Treatbot yes! I scream for you!
Horchata rocks! And Ube doo bay doo!
But let there be no more debate.
The best of all is 408!
Down in San Jo’ I hope you know,
We’ll miss you, Treatbot.

And tunes. I’ve sung ‘em all.
“Dahil Sa Iyo” to “Cucaracha.”
And you, you had a ball
As long as it’s not Frank Sinatra.

A karaoke ice cream party truck;
I must admit, that was a neat thought.
You really got the scoop.
I’ll miss you, Treatbot.

Too bad for us we’re not insane
Enough to stand out eating ice cream in the rain.
So now you’ve gone to your cocoon
And you’ll emerge. I hope it’s soon.
Until you tweet, “Back on the street!”
I’ll miss you, Treatbot!

Yes, I’ll miss you, Treatbot.

Copyright 2010 by Bill Moore

I was up all night rewriting the words, but it was just a brainstorm that wouldn’t let go. I had no choice; once the idea was in my head I had to make it happen. I sang fueled completely by adrenalin…and a double-scoop of chocolate fantasy on a sugar cone. (They ran out of my favorite flavor, 408.) I’ll upload video as soon as I edit it to add the lyrics as subtitles.

As it turns out, Treatbot will still be around the South Bay this winter, but not exactly as we know it. Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe is taking it over. They’ve already given the van a Heavenly makeover and will be handing out snow cones and selling ski lift passes for the rest of the year. Treatbot will still be a party, just a party of a different flavor. Still I’m looking forward to their emergence in the Spring. Save a scoop of 408 for me.

* To my good friends at Cold Stone…just kidding! See you for my free scoop on my birthday!

Ridin’ on the Green Line

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

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Early November I started noticing something new on my street: Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s Route 66 is now being serviced by shiny new hybrid buses. They’re hard to miss with eye-catching “Hybrid” labels on the sides, a reworked VTA logo with a new green swoosh around it, and a big boxy hump on the roof.

I went to VTA’s web site to check them out and learned that VTA is purchasing a “fleet of 90 American-made, low-emission diesel electric hybrid buses.” The cool thing is they used federal stimulus money as well as California Prop 1B funds to buy buses that are built by a company nearby in Hayward, creating and preserving green jobs here in the Bay Area: your tax dollars at work. The new buses are 90 percent cleaner and emit 15 percent less greenhouse gas than the nineties-era all-combustion coaches they replace.

I love that Route 66 is the first to get these new buses. This route is the historic “El Camino de San Jose“  bus line, coming up through San Jose on Monterey Road from the south, continuing onto First Street through downtown, then cutting over to Oakland Road and Main Street in Milpitas. After a few twists it terminates at Dixon Landing and North Milpitas Boulevard, at the county line. This bus was the first one I took on both my epic bus trips up and down El Camino Real.

CIMG0680All the new hybrid buses I had seen were similar to the old diesel-only ones—white paint jobs with blue and red stripes down the side. Earlier this week though I was driving on Oakland Road and I saw something completely different: a hybrid bus with a brand new colorful full-body wrap! It was gorgeous, depicting a blue sky, a field of golden poppies, and native California wildlife. I desperately wanted to take a picture of it so I rashly made the decision to “follow that bus!” How hard could that be? It’s a bus that stops, right? It turns out I’m really bad at trying to front-tail a bus. I raced ahead of it (obeying all speed and traffic laws, of course) and pulled over to snap a shot of it, but I kept messing up the timing.CIMG0653 At one point I pulled way ahead of the bus into a parking lot and parked…behind a hedge. D’oh! After a couple more botched attempts I decided to go for the sure thing. I got behind it and followed it to the Great Mall where I know it waits for several minutes. Brilliant. Then I was separated from it by a red light. C’mon! C’mon! When I got to the mall it was still there. Awesome. Park, get out of the car, and bam, off it goes again. Augh!!! Back in the car, I tried to catch it at the Milpitas Library but failed to find a good ambush spot. Vroom, it’s gone. Sunnyvale biscuit! I’m no quitter. Undeterred I pulled ahead, determined to find a good spot, but I had a problem. I didn’t know the route past the library, and I didn’t have time to pull up the map on my smartphone. I literally had to sniff out the route, hopping from bus stop to bus stop. I felt like a caveman tracking a woolly mammoth (with fewer emissions). I lucked out and guessed correctly that it turns off Jacklin onto Escuela. I tried to trap it at the end of Escuela but again it eluded me because I couldn’t park close enough. By then I was literally shaking with frustration at the absurdity of it all so I just followed it until it finally came to rest at the end of the line. I parked in the Sunnyhills Apartment complex of all places. I had all the time in the world so I got my shots. Victory. I have no idea what the driver on break thought of the crazy guy stalking him from San Jose and taking tons of pictures of his bus, so I simply told him I was admiring the new paint job, and he understood that.

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I should mention that going southbound, Route 66 goes to South San Jose all the way to Santa Teresa and terminates at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center. The street it turns onto to get to the hospital is Camino Verde. “Green Road.” Kinda perfect.

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