Monday, October 18, 2021

October 2021 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The OCTOBER 2021 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.
 
This month's newsletter highlights:  
  • The next step to our economic recovery -- big events extending to weekdays
  • The return to the stage has not been easy.  Lisa Mallette of City Lights Theatre Co. explains.
  • The Colbeck brothers of San Jose get inside a 19th Century home where their mother was born.  Google has plans to save the house by moving it to the Creekside Walk section of its Downtown West development.
  • The fourth version of SJdowntown.com is launched and active. Take a look.
  • Groundwerx' Employee of the Month Joel Ramirez loves his job, downtown and his Groundwerx family.
  • New businesses include Gameshop Downstairs, Cash Bar and Punch King Fit.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

September 2021 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The SEPTEMBER 2021 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.
 
This month's newsletter highlights:  
  • SJDA provides an overview of how it has responded to the Stabilization Plan released in August 2020 and meant to navigate the COVID crisis into economic recovery.
    Deemed most essential to recovery: Continued clean and safe services and the renewal of the Property Owners Business Improvement District.
  • In August, SJDA hired a new Business resiliency Manager, Omar Torres, who will assist businesses with their economic recoveries.
  • Groundwerx' Employee of the Month is Angelina Lopez.
  • New businesses include Western International Securities, Rec Room, and Health Carbon
  • An 87-unit affordable housing project breaks ground at Almaden Boulevard and Balbach Street.
  • Newly named Barack Obama Boulevard will be part of Downtown West, surrounded by SAP Center, Diridon Station and Los Gatos Creek.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Theater is back with "The Great Leap" @ The San Jose Stage Company

The program cover of The Great Leap at The San Jose Stage Company

Program cover of The Great Leap at The San Jose Stage Company.

Manford (James Aaron Oh) making a basketball shot as
Wen Chang (Alex Hsu), Connie (Monica Ho), and
Saul (Tim Kniffin) watches at a distance on the court.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.
Randall King, the Artistic Director of The San Jose Stage Company, announced that "theater is back!" Yes it is and what a surreal feeling when I realized that the last time I saw a show at The San Jose Stage Company was the musical Chicago in February 2020. Oh, how great it feels to be back in the theater again ... safely!

Kicking off their 39th Season "Resilience" is Lauren Yee's play The Great Leap. Following four characters, an American basketball team travels to Beijing for a "friendship match" in 1989. There is much more to this "friendship" than meets the eye: a deep, yet strained, relationship between the two countries bringing the characters into a collision course. The most common line that shows how deep this "friendship" really goes: "no Chinese team will ever beat an American team."

The set of The Great Leap at The San Jose Stage Company.
Photograph courtesy of John Huân Vu.
On a beautiful and minimal stage centering around a basketball court, we follow two storylines eighteen years apart. This split timeline highlights two major points in our history: renewed relations between the United States and China and the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, China.

In the past timeline of 1971, we meet the American University of San Francisco basketball coach Saul (played by Tim Kniffin) who convinces a Chinese translator, Wen Chang (played by Alex Hsu), to a "friendship match" that will be played 18 years later in 1989. While in the present timeline of 1989, we follow 17-year-old Chinese-American Manford (played by James Aaron Oh) who pesters coach Saul to play in the "friendship match" against Beijing University. We also meet Connie (played by Monica Ho) who is a university student and is Manford's loving "cousin".

Saul (Tim Kniffin) and Wen Chang (Alex Hsu)
converses on the basketball court in 1971.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.

Without sharing the details of the story, each of the actors bring a unique dichotomy to their characters delivering comedic relief towards a dramatic, unexpected, and satisfying climax!

When we first meet Saul in 1971, he is an ambitious and confident coach but now struggles personally and professionally in 1989. Ironically, Wen became the opposite of Saul where Wen was a "nobody" in China in 1971 and is now one of the more influential citizens in the country in 1989. Although Manford started out very obnoxious and arrogant, you come to love him when you realize this kid never gives up - especially if it's for the right reason. Lastly, Connie is an extravagant and straight-to-the-point girl but works to embody that family love that was truly missing from Manford's life.

Manford (James Aaron Oh) confronted by his "cousin"
Connie (Monica Ho) on why he's not at school.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.
Personally, I was very impressed by Tim Kniffin where his body language spoke as loud as his words. As for Alex Hsu, it was personally so great to see him back on stage after last seeing him a decade ago fabulously acting in the musical Tales of the City at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Although I can't play basketball (or any sports) for the life of me, I really appreciate seeing that James Aaron Oh took the time to study up the sport so he can deliver a solid performance on stage. Lastly, the range that Monica Ho delivers during this play foreshadows that she's an actress I'd be on the lookout for in future performances.

Overall, the show delivers a great story through the impressive dramatic and comedic performances of the actors to show that indeed, "theater is back!" Please note that heavy language is used and may not be suitable for all audience members.

Wen Chang (Alex Hsu) facing the tanks at Tiananmen Square.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.
Catch a performance from Wednesdays through Sundays now until October 24, 2021. You can purchase tickets online at The San Jose Stage Company website at www.thestage.org or at their box office at 490 South First Street, San Jose, CA 95113, (408) 283-7141. Discount tickets are available for students and seniors. To ensure the health and safety of the cast, staff, and those attending, please note that you must adhere to their safety protocols which also includes a proof of vaccination.

Written by John Huân Vu, edited by Greg Ripa.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

SoFA Street Fair

The SoFA Street Fair FALL EDITION is Sunday September 26, 20212-8pm. After 2 years of virtual and hybrid events to keep the music playing, we are finally back LIVE on First Street, with the best local music and performance our San Jose scene has to offer. This event continues to be FREE, and ALL AGES are welcome. There are 8 outdoor stages and 66 live acts performing - all within 2 blocks. Rock bands, Alt bands, Punk bands, Latin bands, Jazz Bands, Singers, Comics, Wrestlers, and Burlesque Performers. There’s a little something for everyone. https://sofafall2021.sched.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Topgolf opens first Silicon Valley location in San Jose

North San Jose and Alviso are quiet parts of San Jose. There is honestly not much to do in terms of entertainment. Fortunately a new major amenity arrived a few months ago, Topgolf. It's part driving range, part Dave & Busters, and part gastropub.

The San Jose location is the first in the Bay Area as well as only the second location in all of Northern California. It is also one of only 4 flagship venues. To give you an idea of how popular these are, the Topgolf in Austin sells more alcohol than any other venue in Austin. The San Jose location is three stories with large bars and restaurants on each one.

The driving range aspect is more of a video game than anything else. Each golf ball has a microchip that lets it be tracked and the computer scores you based on your level of accuracy. There are also tons of games with different rules that you can play with your companions.

The food was surprisingly solid for a big chain. The burgers and fried mac & cheese were delicious. Service was a bit slow, but they were completely slammed when I went (on a Monday).

If you want to play, I would recommend getting a reservation since standby times can stretch to 4 hours or beyond. Parking is free, convenient, and they have a large number of free EV chargers as a bonus. It's also a great location for corporate events and parties. I experienced one firsthand and it was a blast.

For more info and to make reservations, head over here.



Tuesday, September 7, 2021

San Jose is the ultimate electric car hotspot

In order to move the needle on climate change, one of the key transitions we have to make is to move towards sustainable transportation. Fortunately electrics cars are also usually fast and fun to drive, providing further motivation to make the switch. 

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that San Jose is the top metro driving the EV industry. It seems like every other car on the roads is a Tesla, but several new compelling EVs are also hitting the road these days.

Despite being the 10th largest city in the country, San Jose has the 3rd highest number of EVs of any city in the US irrespective of population. It also has 2.4 charging stations for every 1,000 homes, versus the national average of 0.3 stations.

A common complaint for renters interested in EVs is that there are no charging stations at their apartments. In San Jose 12.3% of all rentals actually have stations, which is by far the most of any city. Not to mention most grocery stores and shopping centers have multiple stations, with some places like Santana Row having hundreds of chargers (have a look at the 4th floor of the parking structure on Winchester Blvd).

San Francisco came in as the 2nd best metro for EVs followed by Seattle and LA. For the full article to see all of the criteria used for the study, click here.



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Content Pick-Up Party 12.4 "Profiles"

San Jose's premier art & culture magazine is resuming their "pick-up parties" with issue 13.4 on September 3rd--conveniently coinciding with the First Friday Art Walk. You can pick up your latest issue at Parque de Los Pobladores between 6pm-8pm and then check out the galleries and restaurants of SoFA. They'll even have live music, visual art, and mini auto show. What sort of magazine does that for their subscribers?

Speaking of which, if you're not already a subscriber you can learn more about the magazine over here.


In partnership with First Friday Art Walk - Content Magazine celebrates the release of issue 13.4 "Profiles" at Parque de Los Pobladores.

About this event

Join Content Magazine for the first outdoor Pick-Up Party of 2021 on Friday, September 3rd from 6:00-8:00pm in partnership with First Friday Art Walk.

This Pick-Up Party celebrates the release of Issue 13.4 "Profiles."

Featuring:

Low Conspiracy | Warren Chang | San Jose Foos | Annmariz | Aulala Design | 2021 West Valley Fashion Designers | Kaylee Dougherty | Barely Funktional | HeadHunter Crew | FlipSide Lovers | Francisco J Zarate | Google Downtown West | Needle to the Groove Album Picks

Connect with one another in this open outdoor setting and experience a blend of music by Barely Funktional and FlipSide Lovers, along with special guest performances, and visual art by Warren Chang, Francisco J Zarate, Jackelin Solorio, and more. Plus a special visit by Low Conspiracy Car Club.

It is a packed two hour event. We hope you will join us and stay and explore First Friday Art Walk. Open from 5-10pm.

We have missed you and cannot wait to see you!!

This event is made possible by Heritage Bank.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sundays in the Park with Arts: Hamiltunes

Every Sunday, St. James Park will host FREE performances by our talented arts organizations in the area. Viva Parks Downtown and Filco Events have come together to present this great series called "Sundays in the Park with ARTS" and it runs all the way until October 24th.

Each week, the event will run from 2-5pm on the grass in front of the Corinthian Building at St. James and Third. A professional stage, sound, and production system will be there each week. It's recommended that attendees bring chairs, a picnic basket, and blankets.

This week's event on August 29th features the San Jose Popup Choir leading the audience in HAMILTUNES -- the official public sing-along to the Broadway musical. SJ Popup Choir is the only officially licensed presenter of HAMILTUNES in the bay area, so it's one event you won't want to miss if you're a fan of the smash-hit musical. You'll be able to access all of the lyrics on your phone. Again, it's from 2-5pm this Sunday at Saint James Park.