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.
We 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.
It 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.
SaberCats 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.
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 shop.find.love. 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.
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
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.
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.
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
Saturday, April 2 · 12:00pm – 8:00pm
San Jose, CA
151 W. Santa Clara Street
65 N. San Pedro Street
San Jose, CA http://www.sanjosemade.com/
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.
She 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.
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. Dont 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.
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
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.
This week you have two opportunities to help your neighbors in need while enjoying a delicious meal at a number of terrific Bay Area restaurants.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 dozens of restaurants are participating in the first annual Bay Area Dine Out. This benefits Meals on Wheels which serves meals to over 8,500 seniors throughout the entire region. Simply dine out at any of the restaurants and let them know you’re there for Dine Out, and they’ll donate part of the proceeds from your meal to this worthy cause.
The full list of restaurants grouped by county is on their website: http://dineoutnow.org/. Of course I know you are primarily interested in restaurants on El Camino Real, so I’ve taken the liberty of extracting the establishments that meet your discerning criteria.
Lizarran Tapas Restaurant | 7400 Monterey Street | Gilroy
Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria | 225 W. Santa Clara Street | San Jose
China Stix Restaurant | 2110 El Camino Real | Santa Clara
Country Inn Cafe | 2008 El Camino Real | Santa Clara
La Paloma Restaurant | 2280 El Camino Real | Santa Clara
Pizz’a Chicago Santa Clara | 1576 Halford Avenue | Santa Clara
Celias Mexican Restaurant | 3740 El Camino Real | Palo Alto
Hobees California Restaurants | 4224 El Camino Real | Palo Alto
Hobee’s California Restaurants | 67 Town & Country Village | Palo Alto
British Bankers Club | 1090 El Camino Real | Menlo Park
Cedro Ristorante Italiano | 1010 El Camino Real #140 | Menlo Park
Celias Mexican Restaurant | 1850 El Camino Real | Menlo Park
Oak City Bar and Grill | 1029 El Camino Real | Menlo Park
Round Table Pizza | 1225 El Camino Real | Menlo Park
Chantilly Restaurant | 3001 El Camino Real | Redwood City
John Bentleys Restaurant | 2915 El Camino Real | Redwood City
Maxs of Redwood City | 1001 El Camino Real | Redwood City
Mountain Mikes Pizza | 390 El Camino Real | Belmont
The American Bull Bar & Grill | 1819 El Camino Real | Burlingame
Celias Mexican Restaurant | 201 El Camino Real | San Bruno
If these don’t suit you, do peruse the full list for someplace that does. You can be excused this one time for patronizing eateries not on El Camino. It might be wise to call ahead for reservations.
If you’re in San Francisco, don’t eat too much on Tuesday because on Wednesday, November 10 you have the opportunity to do it again. An organization called Mission Graduates is putting on an event called Food for Thought at various restaurants in the Mission District. Proceeds from your meal will benefit the Mission Graduates program which works with kids from the Mission and prepares them for college. Demographically these kids are disadvantaged so this program provides crucial help for them to reach their goals through higher education. Thanks to the good folks at Stark Insider for alerting me to this event.
Find participating restaurants on Mission Graduates’ web site: http://www.missiongraduates.org/foodforthought/. Again let them know you’re there for Food for Thought. The restaurants are not all on Mission Street or Dolores or other streets that qualify as El Camino in San Francisco, but they’re close enough that again, I’ll grant you a free pass. Thinking about all these great restaurants has put me in a charitable mood.
Some great events coming up this weekend are listed below in geographical order. Be sure to check out the El Camino Calendars page for a list of venues which always have a variety of activities going on.
Festivities will take place before first home game on Oct. 16
The San Jose Sharks will kick off their first regular season home game against the Atlanta Thrashers with a pre-game street rally on Saturday, Oct. 16. The rally will be open to the public from 5-7 p.m. and will take place next to HP Pavilion on Autumn Street between Santa Clara Street and St. John Street.
Festivities for the Opening Night rally will include performances by a BMX stunt team, carnival games, music and a live DJ from Sound in Motion, giveaways, face painting, slap shot booth and more.
Sunday, October 17 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm
734 The Alameda
Experience Plant 51 living with an afternoon gathering in our expanded outdoor courtyard, along with some great food & drinks. Its your chance to see this vibrant community in person and get a sense of its incredible energy and character. http://plant51.com/
Hobee’s California Restaurants Please join us this Friday night (10/15) and help support Breast Cancer Connections. Simply enjoy a fabulous Hobeemade dinner at Los Gatos, Pruneyard, Palo Alto, Stanford or Sunnyvale and mention BCC. We’ll then contribute 20% of your bill to this vital charity. It’s easy to make a difference! http://hobees.com/ http://www.bcconnections.org/
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is on campus today and tomorrow! We will be livestreaming all of the speaking events, so you can follow the webcasts here: http://dalailama.stanford.edu/webcast/
Live Webcasts | Dalai Lama at Stanford
Schedule: Public Talk (Oct 14, 9:30 – 11 am PDT) | Rathbun Lecture (Oct 14, 2 – 3:30 pm PDT) | Conference (Oct 15, 9am – 4 pm PDT)
Now entering its 12th year in the Silicon Valley, the Light The Night Walk has been an inspirational evening of healing and hope for local patients and families affected by blood cancer.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Palo Alto High School
50 Embarcadero Road
Palo Alto, CA
Menlo Park plays host to the 14th Annual Sidewalk Fine Arts and Crafts Fall Fest Friday, October 15 through Sunday October 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This art-filled family event will give visitors the opportunity to browse and shop among the many one-of-a-kind creations perfect for home, office or gift giving displayed by a variety of talented artists.
A must to put on your calendar–THIS FRIDAY, October 15–LIVE MUSIC–Clint Baker’s Dixie Land Jazz celebrates 20 years at Borrones! Gaucho will be featuring singer Tamar Korn!! Both will take turns with sets from 6:00 pm-10:30 pm. This is going to be a memorable night!!! Dinner specials start at 5:00 pm.
On September 22, Metro, Silicon Valley’s weekly newspaper, put out their “Best of Silicon Valley” issue, 2010 edition. It contains the readers’ choices and editors’ picks of the best locations, goods, and services available in Santa Clara County and beyond. Of all the “Best of” lists out there, Metro’s is the one I’ve always valued the most partly because it always brings the wacky with unique categories like “Best Place to be a Scarecrow”and “Best Place to Buy an Accordian,” but mostly because it delivers. Some of my favorite joints in the South Bay proudly display coveted Metro “Best of” placards. They have weight with me, and they’ve earned my trust.
It’s no surprise Metro is so in tune with quality in the Valley. As it so happens this is their 25th annual list, a noteworthy milestone. They know what they’re doing and they do it well. You might even say too well: the sucker is pretty large. This year the printed list is 80 pages long. I scanned every page with glee but quickly realized what the problem was. They covered the entire Valley including, shockingly enough, businesses and locations that are not on El Camino Real. Yeah, I know, right? I understand their reasoning. Conceivably someone could find themselves on, say, San Carlos Street and they can’t easily get to El Camino and they desperately need to buy some sporty sunglasses. In such a scenario a two-dimensional “Best of” list could hypothetically be handy. All the same I took it upon myself to scour the list and extract for you the best of the “Best of,” the winners which are located on extended El Camino Real.
The list is below, presented not by category but in rough geographical order. Winners that are tagged with “#2” or “#3” came in second or third in the readers’ polling; otherwise they came in first or were simply awarded by the editors. This was a big copy-n-paste job so I apologize in advance for any errors I might have injected.
As I was putting this together I noticed that the list is heavily weighted towards Downtown San Jose. Then I remembered: Metro Silicon Valley is headquartered on El Camino, at 550 South First Street, in San Jose’s SoFA district. Now we know why the list is so good.
#3 Best Furniture Store
6881 Monterey Road, Gilroy
Tony Di Maggio’s Pizza
3852 Monterey Hwy., San Jose
#2 Best Motorcycle Shop
2897 Monterey Hwy., San Jose
#2 Best Alternative to Home Depot
1402 Monterey Hwy., San Jose
San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Best Art Gallery
560 S. First St., San Jose
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
#3 Best Art Museum
520 S. First St., San Jose
San Jose Stage Company
#2 Best Theater Company
490 S. First St., San Jose
Best Gallery for Weird Art #3 Best Art Gallery
451 S. First St., San Jose
I’ve been to WORKS three times in the past month, every two weeks, and each time the exhibit has been completely different. They turn this place over fast and frequently. I loved the most recent (OP)Space installation.
South First Billiards
Best Place to Play Pool
420 S. First St., San Jose
Miami Beach Club
#2 Best Latin/Salsa Club
417 S. First St., San Jose
#3 Best New Restaurant
399 S. First St., San Jose
This is high on my list of places to try, featuring lighter Southern fare.
Agenda’s Wednesday salsa night
#3 Best Latin/Salsa Club
399 S. First St., San Jose
#3 Best Big Dance Club
396 S. First St., San Jose
Cherri Lakey & Brian Eder
Best Cultural Guerillas
Anno Domini, 366 S. First St., San Jose
I was unaware until now that this pair deserves a lot of credit for the cool, creative vision which San Jose’s SoFA district has become recently.
#2 Best Gay or Lesbian Bar
349 S. First St., San Jose
Most Romantic Movie Watching Spot
345 S. First St., San Jose
Symphony Silicon Valley
Best Symphony/Classical Group
325 S. First St., San Jose, performances at the California Theatre
Best Moderately Priced Italian Food Best Late Night Eats Best Martinis
301 S. First St., San Jose
Four Points by Sheraton
#3 Best Boutique Hotel – San Jose/Los Gatos
211 S. First St., San Jose
Soula Power Yoga
Best Yoga Studio
200 S. First St. #70, San Jose
San Jose Taiko and the Bangerz
SoFA District, San Jose
So sad I missed this live. Check it out on YouTube.
Best Urban Uprising
Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose
Best Children’s Theater
271 S. Market St., San Jose, performances at Montgomery Theater
Best History/Specialty Museum
201 S. Market St., San Jose
Tech Museum Store
#3 Best Toy Store
201 S. Market St., San Jose
San Jose Museum of Art
Best Art Museum
110 S. Market St., San Jose
San Jose Museum of Art Museum Store
#2 Best Gift Store
110 S. Market St., San Jose
Dang, now my Christmas gift-buying secret is out!
McCormick and Schmick’s
#2 Best Seafood Restaurant #2 Best Happy Hour
170 S. Market St., San Jose
Best Hotel Best Luxury Hotel – San Jose/Los Gatos
170 S. Market St., San Jose
Fairmont Hotel Lobby Lounge
#3 Best Jazz/Blues Club #3 Best Hotel Bar
170 S. Market St., San Jose
The Grill on the Alley
#2 Best Martinis
172 S. Market St., San Jose
Music in the Park
Best Local Festival
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose
A couple years ago I took my son to Music in the Park to see his first live rock band, Smash Mouth. He’ll always cherish that night.
San Jose Jazz Festival
#2 Best Local Festival
Various venues, downtown San Jose
Best Official South Bay Cultural Treasure
Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival artistic director
I include her as an El Caminoan because the 2010 San Jose Mariachi Festival culminated at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, which I also count as El Camino. It’s a long story.
Bill’s Beer Steamed Hot Dogs
Best Bacon Hot Dogs
Market and Santa Clara streets, San Jose
Hammer & Lewis Fashions
Best Name for a Downtown Store
19 S. First St., San Jose
It’s a San Jose thing. You wouldn’t understand.
Best Vegetarian Overall #3 Best Asian Vegetarian
37 S. First St., San Jose
E&O Trading Company
Best Asian Fusion #2 Best Malaysian Restaurant
96 S. First St., San Jose
#2 Best Hair Salon – San Jose/Sunnyvale/Los Gatos
2 N. Market St. #100, San Jose
Best Deli/Sandwich Shop
2 North Market St., Suite 105, San Jose
717 E. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
1350 Grant Rd., Mountain View
Ballet San Jose
Best Dance Company
40 N. First St., San Jose
#3 Best Tapas/Small Plates
62 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
San Pedro Square Farmers Market
Best Farmers Market
San Pedro and Santa Clara streets, San Jose. Fridays, 10am-2pm
Best Irish Pub
25 N. San Pedro St., San Jose
#3 Best Local Burger Place
29 N. San Pedro St., San Jose
Best New Restaurant Best Dining Value Best Family Restaurant
31 N. Market St., San Jose
I’m not sure how this counts as new, but I don’t argue the other awards. Apparently they dropped the “Coop” from the name.
Satori Tea Company
Best Place for a Destroyed Nervous System
37 N. San Pedro St., San Jose
Britannia Arms, San Jose
Best British Pub #2 Best Sports Bar #2 Best Pre-Sharks Game Spot #2 Best Restaurant Patio #3 Best Happy Hour
173 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Metro readers really really like this place. Can you believe I’ve never been there?
Hotel De Anza
#3 Best Luxury Hotel – San Jose/Los Gatos
233 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Hedley Club Lounge (Hotel De Anza)
#2 Best Hotel Bar
233 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Best Chocolate Shop
840 The Alameda, San Jose
A surprise win, but well-deserved. It’s special to me because I stopped by Schurra’s for an ice cream cone the day I created this blog. Sadly Bill Mundy, former owner of Schurra’s and father of the current owner, passed away last month, another sad loss to The Alameda.
#3 Best Gay or Lesbian Bar
1010 The Alameda, San Jose
Recently I walked by this place, heard water running, and wondered what it was. Now I know.
Best Boutique-Gallery Crossover
1020 The Alameda, San Jose
The now classic “I heart SJ” tee shirts made them a lock for this prize. Congratulations to Mari and Mike, friends of AllCamino!
#2 Best Local Independent Bookstore
1066 The Alameda, San Jose
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Best Local Winery
1000 Lenzen Ave., San Jose
Also a great place to throw a party. We held my wife’s birthday party there a few years ago and it was a hit.
Tee Nee Thai
Best Thai Restaurant Beer and Wine List
1423 The Alameda, San Jose
Near and dear to me, the subject of my very first blog post.
#3 Best Organization Making a Difference
1691 The Alameda, San Jose
#2 Best Health Club
1717 The Alameda, San Jose
#2 Best College/Independent Radio Station 500 El Camino Real, #3207, Santa Clara
The Off Ramp
Best Bicycle Shop
2369 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
2320 El Camino Real, Mountain View
Funny how similar the two addresses are, but they’re nine miles apart. That’s El Camino!
Best Furniture Store
2645 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
Santa Clara Ballet
#3 Best Dance Company
3086 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
Best Alternative to Home Depot
3615 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
777 Sunnyvale Saratoga Road, Sunnyvale
Best Seafood Restaurant
3775 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
Saturday, October 2nd
17380 Monterey Road (corner of 2nd and Monterey)
The City of Morgan Hill is seeking community input on the redesign of Monterey Road between Dunne and Main Avenues, in downtown. A series of community meetings and open forums will be held to provide opportunities for input. With the communitys help, several alternatives will be developed to address community priorities for this important segment of road. http://www.morgan-hill.ca.gov/
JOIN US for the next South FIRST FRIDAYS art walk on OCT 1st, 2010!
8pm til LATE ART WALK venues are free and open to the public
SoFA District (So. First Street between San Carlos and E. Reed streets) http://southfirstfridays.com/
San Jose Museum of Art
110 South Market Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Free for college students, faculty, and staff. An exclusive after-hours event for a private viewing of the exhibitions, complemented by DJs, the chance to try your hand at an LED light project, and Treatbot, the karaoke ice-cream truck. http://www.sjmusart.org/
Hosted by the British Bankers Club
1090 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
October 3, 2010
4pm to 7pm
Special Fundraiser to support the 2011 Season
Eat, drink, and make merry with the creative minds behind the Los Gatos and Mid-Peninsula Shakespeare Festivals. Join us at the British Bankers Club for appetizers and sweets, surprising entertainment, silent auction, and some word (and sword) play to round out the evening. Huzzah! http://www.lgshakes.org/
Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. As I completed my reverse bus trip down El Camino Real earlier this month I tallied many chain stores like fast food restaurants and grocery stores as well as other categories like gas stations and bike shops. I also kept track of every El Camino Real bell. I tallied everything on the southbound trip, but I didn’t count them until now. Here are the totals for both the southbound trip and the northbound trip last November. I got some nice results.
* Under-counted due to inconsistent counting between trips
On every leg of the trip I only looked out the windows on the right side of the bus so I only saw one side of the road. The East Bay East column counts the businesses I passed heading north from San Jose to the Fremont BART station. It’s a short trip so the counts are low. I only made the trip in one direction so I only counted the east side of the road; I don’t have counts for the west side of the road at this time. The Peninsula East and West columns are for the long rides between San Jose and San Francisco. On the northbound trip I looked at the east side of the road, and southbound I looked west. The Peninsula Totals column is just that and does not include the East Bay counts. The main anomalies are bicycle shops and Midases because I didn’t count them consistently between the two trips so I know they are underrepresented in my table.
I’m delighted to see that bells are pretty much at the top of the list, outnumbered only by conglomerated gas stations regardless of brand. The original vision of the bell marker project in 1906 was to place them one mile apart on El Camino Real. It’s a 50-mile trip from San Jose to San Francisco and I counted 43 bells. There’s room for plenty more since I only saw one bell in San Francisco. It’s amazing how faithful Caltrans and the California Federation of Women’s Clubs have been to that original vision.
In the food department I’m surprised to see Subway at the top of the list with 13 stores though I shouldn’t be since they really do seem to be everywhere. I remarked on the northbound trip how there were 7 Taco Bells but only 1 McDonald’s. The southbound trip equalized the disparity with 4 Taco Bells but a whopping 9 McDonald’ses. Taco Bell still edges out McDonald’s with a total of 11 to 10, but that’s within the margin of error. The weird thing is how Taco Bell dominates the east side and McDonald’s dominates the west. The bell and the arch; the perfect symbols for the modern mission road.
My picks for which businesses to count were arbitrary. I don’t know why I didn’t count Starbucks; I regret the omission. On the southbound trip I wished I had been counting Walgreens and CVS drugstores because I saw a lot of them. Another unusually frequent chain was Holiday Inn Express. I think I saw half a dozen on the southbound trip alone. Car washes, car dealerships, hotels, and banks would also have been interesting to count.
The purpose of this is to embrace the vast stretches of El Camino which are zoned as commercial strip and celebrate the beauty in their homogeneity. They are home to pretty much every national and regional brand I can think of. Even so all these chain stores combined are a drop in the bucket. El Camino as I saw it is made up primarily of small businesses of every description from mom & pop dry cleaners to favorite local chain eateries. There are also homes, schools, municipal buildings, and open space. I can try to reduce this Royal Road to simple numbers, but the whole will always be greater than a count of its parts.
Street pianos have come to San Jose. Artist Luke Jerram has placed nineteen painted pianos outdoors in public spaces throughout downtown in an ongoing art installation called, “Play Me, I’m Yours.” They’re free for anyone to plop down and start playing. The idea is to spark conversation, community, and creativity in urban spaces where people gather but don’t connect. It was conceived in Birmingham, England in 2008 and has since toured cities around the world including Sao Paolo, Sydney, and New York. The pianos will be in San Jose from August 28 until September 22, 2010.
The San Jose appearance is part of the 2010 01SJ Biennial, an art event so grand I don’t know how to begin to describe it other than to say you won’t be able to swing a dead Cat-5 cable this weekend without hitting something artistic. 01SJ starts Thursday September 16 and runs through Sunday, September 19 in multiple venues throughout and around downtown, and even in other cities around the Bay.
I’ve played the piano ever since my parents put a Hamilton upright in my bedroom when I was six. I knew I couldn’t let these pianos come and go without tickling some ivory. Several of the pianos are on or near El Camino Real in San Jose:
On Saturday, September 11, after a full day of commemorating 9/11, enjoying the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival, shopping at C.J. Olson, visiting with friends, and eating dinner at Habana Cuba, I dragged my wife Paulette and her friend Melanie out to HP Pavilion where a street piano is nestled against one of the massive columns. HP Pavilion is on W. Santa Clara Street which is the part of El Camino between Plaza de César Chávez and The Alameda. I played a song called aptly, “El Camino Real.” See, I played “El Camino Real” on El Camino Real. Clever, right? And oh yes…I wore my excellent shirt of many missions. Too sexy.
The song was written by Jean and Justin Kramer to celebrate the road and is the official song of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs’ Adopt-a-Bell program. I found it last year published in the book California’s El Camino Real and Its Historic Bells by Max Kurillo and Erline M. Tuttle and I’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity to share it with you.
El Camino Real
by Jean & Justin Kramer
It began in Loreto, a long time ago
By the Gulf of California in Old Mexico.
Then north to San Diego and on to Monterey
And moving still forward to San Francisco Bay.
Now we find in Solano the end of the trail
And the beauty of the highway in vivid detail.
El Camino Real.
El Camino Real.
From Loreto to Solano
El Camino Real.
Copyright by Jean & Justin Kramer. All rights reserved.
You did not know El Camino had its own anthem, did you? Well now you do.
Paulette took a bunch of photos of me rehearsing, then shot videos of me playing. The first take was pretty good but the sound was poor. Also hilariously she shouted “Rolling!” at the start of the recording which technically was the correct thing to do but since I had no intention of trying to edit it out in post-production, we went again. She moved a little closer to try to improve the sound, and the second take was golden. Watch it below.
I played the song straight for the first two takes so in the spirit of spontaneity I tried a little improvised embellishment for the third take. You can find all three takes here. They’re all dark and noisy and imperfect, but it was a beautiful night and a fun experience.
After we were done, I made the rash decision to leave the sheet music for “El Camino Real” taped to the piano. A little act of subversive graffiti. I went back a couple days later to take daytime photos and the sheet was gone but I figure as long as one person saw it, learned something, and now associates HP Pavilion with El Camino, my goal was achieved. I made a little street art.