Thursday, June 27, 2019

Resident Roundtable: Life and Work in San Jose

A new video has been published by San Jose OED that focuses on three different people working and living in San Jose. It's short, but is an interesting and realistic discussion nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Unemployment in San Jose Metro hits record low

According to the California Employment Development Department, unemployment in Santa Clara County has dropped to 2.1%. This is the lowest number on record, and that includes the .COM days in 1998-2000.

The six counties with the lowest unemployment in California are all here. San Mateo managed a jaw-dropping 1.7%, San Francisco was at 1.9%, Marin was at 1.9% Sonoma came in at 2.3%, and Napa rounds out the top 6 at 2.3%. This compares to a statewide unemployment rate of 3.5%.

This means that now is probably a great time to ask for a raise or evaluate all of your opportunities. It has become a strong employee's market with more available jobs than qualified applicants.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"Disenchanted" @ 3Below - A Musical Parody on Disney Princesses!

Courtesy image by 3Below Theaters & Lounge
Although I may not be an expert of the world of Disney, I have always been a fan of their stories including the timeless animated movies. Breaking down "The Princess Complex", the musical comedy Disenchanted brings the audience to laughter on the alternative true stories of the many princesses you've come to love including:
  • Belle from Beauty & the Beast
  • Hua Mulan from Mulan
  • Ariel from The Little Mermaid
  • Pocahontas from Pocahontas
  • Tiana from The Princess and the Frog
  • Rapunzel from Tangled
  • Jasmine from Aladdin
  • Cinderalla from Cinderella
  • Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) from Sleeping Beauty
The Princesses featured on Disenchanted at 3Below Theaters & Lounge  Pictured left to right: Mulan (played by Eimi Taormina), Sleeping Beauty (played by Natasha Drena), Tiana (played by Marissa Rudd), Snow White (played by Colette Froehlich), Cinderella (played by Theresa Swain), Ariel (played by Shannon Guggenheim)  Courtesy image by 3Below Theaters & Lounge
The Princesses featured on Disenchanted at 3Below Theaters & Lounge
Pictured left to right: Mulan (played by Eimi Taormina), Sleeping Beauty (played by Natasha Drena), Tiana (played by Marissa Rudd), Snow White (played by Colette Froehlich), Cinderella (played by Theresa Swain), Ariel (played by Shannon Guggenheim)
Courtesy image by 3Below Theaters & Lounge
Arriving to 3Below Theaters & Lounge, there were so many people in line who were eagerly waiting to see Disenchanted. Some audience members wore their tiaras or some type of Disney gear. Once I got to my seat, I had some time to admire their stage design and lighting while playing a guessing game on which princess is which silhouette on the wall.

The set of Disenchanted at 3Below Theaters & Lounge
The set of Disenchanted at 3Below Theaters & Lounge
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.
The program of Disenchanted at 3Below Theaters & Lounge
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.
Sporting their Mickey hats, the small band starts off the first number of the musical comedy led by the hostesses, Snow White (played by Colette Froehlich), Cinderella (played by Theresa Swain), and Sleeping Beauty (played by Natasha Drena).

One of my all-time favorite characters, Mulan (played by Eimi Taormina), shared her story on the fact that she may in fact be a lesbian! Marissa Rudd played one of the most underrated princesses, Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, who used her stature as a strong black woman stating one obvious truth: "Why’d it take ’em so long to give a sistah a song?"

However, one cast member that brought the audience members (including me) to passion, joy, and laughter was Shannon Guggenheim. In addition to being the show's choreographer, Shannon played Belle, Ariel, and Rapunzel. Although Shannon was able to exude Belle as clinically insane and why Ariel truly regrets having her own two feet, nothing can compare to her character as Rapunzel! With direct interaction with the audience members, Shannon's Rapunzel held her long hair while speaking to us with a strong German accent to literally whip us to sing "Not V'One Red Cent."

Unfortunately, one issue that I hope will be resolved in the future are the microphone issues. Ever since I saw their previous production of "A Spoonful of Sherman", it seems that the microphone did cut in and out for some of the musical numbers. Thankfully, it was not enough for me or for others to follow along with the stories, jokes, and singing from this cast.

The set of Disenchanted at 3Below Theaters & Lounge
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.
All in all, the musical comedy Enchanted was a very entertaining and funny show hitting the humorous layers of sexism, racism, and women empowerment.

Catch a good laugh now and until July 21, 2019 by catching a performance of Disenchanted playing Thursdays to Sundays at 3Below Theaters & Lounge. You may purchasing tickets online or at their box office at 288 South 2nd Street, San Jose, CA, (408) 404-7711. Discount tickets are available for students, seniors, military, and educators and parking validation is available at the upstairs parking garage. Please note that the show may not suitable for everyone and discretion is advised due to some language and sexual innuendos. As their advertisement would put it: the show is "not suitable for youth but perfect for parents' night out!" As one running joke from the show went, the princesses always had to "wait for their princes ... to come."

Written by John Huân Vũ.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Quick look inside the Valley Fair expansion

The Silicon Valley Business Journal has given us a sneak peak into Valley Fair's $1.1 billion remodel and expansion. The mall is growing from 1.5 million SQFT to 2.2 million, making it by far the largest mall in Northern  California and the 15th largest in the US (If you were to count stores at Santana Row it would be the largest).

The expansion will bring flagship stores for Apple and Bloomindale's as well as other premium brands such as Jimmmy Choo, John Varvatos, UNTUCKit, and Gorjana. Double Eagle Steakhouse, Shake Shack, Salt & Straw, and SomiSomi are some of the new eateries. 80% of the expansion is already pre-leased. If you are concerned about parking, they just added another 1,200 space garage and optimized the new front entrance for car sharing/pooling, bikes, and pedestrians in mind (finally).

By pushing the mall outwards towards Stevens Creek and adding an outdoor paseo, they are doing their best to better connect to Santana Row. Inside the more traditional mall area, they are using a lot of high-end materials and leveraging natural light thanks to massive skylights.

The expansion will have its grand opening early next year, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the 100 new stores did a soft opening before Christmas.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Grammy Award hits at Music in the Park this season

San Jose shows include The Delfonics June 21 and Ozomatli July 19

Rising stars Cuco and J Boog also headline San Jose Downtown Association-produced shows

SAN JOSE – Airfield Supply Co’s Music in the Park presented by Metro summer concert season at Plaza de Cesar Chavez opens with two Grammy Award winners:

·      June 21 – The Delfonics (soul and R&B)

·      July 19 – Ozomatli (Latin rock)

·      Aug. 2 – Cuco (Alternative Latin)

·      Aug. 23 – J Boog (reggae fused with R&B, hip-hop and rock)

Shows begin at 5:30 p.m. at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Tickets are $15 in advance for general admission, $35 for a VIP experience, $20 and $40, respectively day of the show and available at

The Delfonics:  Love songs and oldies from these Philly soul pioneers, headed by William “Poogie” Hart, including classics “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), which won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance, and “La La Means I Love You.”  The Delfonics inspired other ’70s groups such as the Spinners, and Stylistics.

Ozomatli:  Ozomatli brings their melting pot of global sounds and rhythms from LA to SJ, an intoxicating blend of Latin rock, funk, and hip-hop.  Ozo delighted Music in the Park audience two other times, in 2013 and 2016.  They have won Grammy Awards for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album twice for “Embrace the Chaos” and “Street Signs.”

Cuco:  Based in Los Angeles, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cuco exploded onto the scene via Twitter and social media, making music from his bedroom studio. His simple but catchy “Lo Que Siento” has more than 12 million streams combined on Spotify and Soundcloud.

J Boog:  Southern California native J Boog has built his musical career since his 2007 debut album “Hear Me Roar.”  His 2011 Backyard Boogie release expanded his following internationally, topping Billboard and iTunes charts in a number of countries. “Live Up!” earned him a Top 5 spot on the Reggae Albums charts in 2014.

San Jose Downtown Association has produced Music in the Park for 30 years.  Music in the Park sponsors for 2019 include:  Airfield Supply Co., Metro, Adobe Systems and Google.


About San Jose Downtown Association:  SJDA, a non-profit membership-based organization founded in 1986, represents business and property owners and works to enhance downtown’s vitality and livability.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Lyft Scooters have arrived in San Jose

Scooters have become a popular "last mile" or micromobility transportation option for helping get people from public transit to their final destination or just for cruising around Downtown San Jose. Last week, Lyft tossed their hat in the ring to compete with Lime and Byrd. Here are the main points you should know about the program:

  • San Jose is the first Bay Area city where Lyft is offering scooters
  • Scooters cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents for each minute you ride
  • With launch comes the unveiling of our Community Pass, allowing low-income San Jose residents  to ride for just $5/month.
  • Lyft’s scooters are part of the existing Lyft app that San Jose residents already know and love, and can be rented with just a few taps in the app. Riders are also able to reserve scooters ahead of time.
  • Lyft will also be providing trilingual on-scooter educational decals (English, Spanish, Vietnamese) along with Vietnamese translation of the San Jose microsite.

Below are quotes from Lyft, the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, and Councilmember Lan Diep.

Lyft: “We’re thrilled to bring Lyft Scooters to San Jose and provide a quick, affordable and sustainable way to move around - all within a single app,” said Jake Darby, Market Manager for Lyft Bikes & Scooters. “Lyft is committed to a future where cities are built around people instead of private cars — and Lyft scooters can play a key role in furthering this movement locally here in San Jose.”

Silicon Valley Bike Coalition: "Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition recognizes the enormous potential electric scooters have to improve mobility and accelerate our push for healthier communities,” said Shiloh Ballard, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. "We look forward to working alongside Lyft to support our overarching goals of making multi-modal options safe, accessible, convenient and fun."

Councilmember Lan Diep: “With today’s launch of Lyft scooters, San Jose residents will have an additional sustainable and affordable option for commuting across our city. I want to thank Lyft for working with the City of San Jose to better serve members of our Vietnamese community with trilingual in-app education and decals, and for offering its Community Pass to reach low-income residents across all neighborhoods."

The Lyft Scooter service area is below and for more information you can click here

Monday, June 17, 2019

"San Jose" - a beautiful new anthem for our city!

Grace Kelly is a 16-year-old singer-songwriter from Auckland that has been visiting San Jose since she was eight years old. Her father used to work in San Jose and live in Santana Row and she would visit him during her time off of school. She even bought her first electric guitar in San Jose.

Many of us that have been here for decades are jaded. Honestly, we have probably seen more downs than ups and more broken promises than success stories. However, the last decade has been quite good for San Jose and the song tells a story of a new generation of people that see San Jose for what it is today without the decades of bias.

Grace Kelly's "San Jose" is, without a doubt, the best song about San Jose since Dionne Warwick's "Do you Know the Way to San Jose" in 1968. Yes... that was 51 years ago. A lot has changed since then and I'm not sure the lyrics are entirely accurate anymore (read them here for your entertainment).

The new song is pop with a hint of Nashville. It's a little eclectic, kind of like San Jose. It's upbeat, catchy, and I seriously hope it makes it's way into mainstream music channels.

For the San Jose nerds out there, you'll find all sorts of scenes from San Jose in the official music video below, including:
  • Downtown San Jose
    • The Improv
    • St. Joseph's Cathedral
    • Transit Corridor
    • SJSU
    • Paseo de San Antonio
    • SAP Center
    • the Tech Interactive
    • SoFA
  • Santana Row
  • The San Jose Flea Market
  • Willow Glen
  • Japantown
  • East San Jose foothills
Please give it a watch and share with your friends.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"A Night in Napoli" at Trianon Theatre on June 16th

On June 16th, Italian-born President of the Jury, Antonio Pompa-Baldi will host an unforgettable opening concert, "A Night in Napoli" at the sublime Trianon Theatre in downtown San Jose. This will kick off the ONLY international piano competition in Northern California: The San Jose International Piano Competition. Thirty contestants, ages 18 to 32 will fly in from 13 countries to compete. Anyone, regardless of music interest, be it jazz, hip hop, rock, or blues to become inspired. 

The opening night will include Italian appetizers and entrees (from ten local Italian eateries!) and wine. Pompa-Baldi is SJIPC's Jury President and a Van Cliburn medalist. 

This is the 19th annual competition. SJIPC is a nonprofit that works all year guiding, educating, and providing one-on-one mentorship to young people and children of all ages to learn, appreciate, and strive in piano. Music-lovers can dive into 8 days of events, mixers, masterclasses, and competition rounds starting on June 16th and ending on June 23rd. 

Events, both paid and free, will be held in San Jose, CA at the historic Trianon Theater (its last year as a public space) and San Jose State University.The contestants and attendees will immerse themselves into a week of music, education, and community. Contestants practice 5 to 8 hours every day!  The mission of SJIPC for almost 20 years has been to provide excellence in education and performance while nurturing the love of classical music. Many go on to win awards all around the world or to prestigious piano careers. 

Our community will have access to a week of free and paid performances of the highest caliber, fun mixers, and an inspiring master class. This will be a rare a unique and unforgettable experience. Pompa-Baldi, who does not reside in California, will lead a not-to-be-missed Master Class on June 21st. 

Please support our local music arts by visiting for the schedule, tickets, and to learn of the the various ways you can become involved.

5 reasons to buy your ticket, attend free competition rounds or donate to SJIPC 

1. It is motivating and inspiring to go for your own dreams and challenge yourself when you see making a challenging dream their #1 priority. Seeing students in San Jose and from around the world dedicated, mind, body, and soul, to polishing a skill that takes a lifetime of patience, practice, and perseverance...encourages us to root for others AND ourselves.  

2. We believe our core job is to encourage children and young adults to be their best at every moment of performance or practice as they pursue excellence.  We are mentors to our students, guiding them one-on-one through frustration, setbacks, and mistakes, and cheering for them when they improve, gain confidence, and triumph. Whatever the chosen field, SJIPC contestants learn lifetime values that will nurture them in all areas of life. 

3. We provide opportunities for the community to experience the highest caliber of piano performance in public spaces, like libraries, where we have Competition winners perform for the public. We feel classical piano is for all. We don't forget the reactions on peoples' faces when they hear the sounds of the keys of a SJIPC winner. It is awe and joy. We believe in accessibility to the learning, appreciation, and joy of classical piano.

4. This success story. Six years ago, a young 14  year old teenager flew over from Vietnam to compete. We worked with the community to provide lodging for her and her mother that they could not afford. As she competed, it was made known she was self-taught, she had NO access to teachers.  SJIPC provided her with sponsored masterclasses from every jury member, and then we had her taken to one of the  best piano teachers in the world. This tutor was one of Rachmaninoff's only students. She returned to SJIPC and received an Honorable Mention. We smiled through tears as she received a coveted SJIPC competition prize of a scholarship to a summer piano festival in Europe. It was a life-changing transformation. She dared to dream and we helped make the dream a reality. 

5. We pride ourselves in a transparent, honest competition and we are committed to making sure our Jury and contestants adhere to fair competition values and practices. This is why we have one of the most respected piano competitions in the world. Need more reason? We help mold world-renowned pianists. The 2012 winner of SJIPC, won the Gold Medal in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition yesterday. This is the most prestigious piano competition in the world! 

-Anna Bagirov 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

June 2019 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The latest addition of Downtown Dimension is now live. Below is a summary of the content this month:

The June 2019 Downtown Dimension is now available at:
In this edition:
  • Immediate, short-term and long-term programs addressing homelessness are starting to emerge in San Jose. However, for every individual placed in housing, three more homeless people come to San Jose. Here's an update on homeless services.
  • Results of the Groundwerx survey are reported.  Property owners in general approve of Groundwerx programs, but factors out of Groundwerx control are keeping people from giving high marks to the state of downtown cleanliness.
  • Santa Clara County has released plans for the old hospital site on East Santa Clara Street.
  • Downtown properties continue to change ownership.
  • The 15th version of Downtown Doors has been posted on service doors and utility boxes around downtown.
  • Get ready for the start of Music in the Park on June 21, when The Delfonics come to Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Also for your information:

  • Live and Local SJ supports live music in the center city.
  • Traffic alerts keep up with lane and road closures and openings.
  • Maps of downtown commercial property availability and development proposals.
  • Boom City: SJDA's summary of new downtown building proposals and west side acquisitions, continues to be updated almost monthly...
Downtown Dimension is a leading source for information about downtown San Jose news, events and businesses.  Subscribe with a simple email to, subject line:  Subscribe.
Copyright © 2019 San Jose Downtown Association, All rights reserved. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

SJC is getting five new gates this month

SJC is one of the fastest growing airports in the country. In fact, this year we overtook Oakland to become the second busiest airport in the Bay Area. The downside to the rapid growth is that we are quickly running out of space. Fortunately, a $54 million airport expansion with five temporary gates will go live this month and increase capacity in Terminal B by 50%. A 6th gate will also be ready in November.

The new gates will let Southwest and Alaska airlines consolidate their operations to make it easier for connecting flights. It will also open up opportunities for expansion. For example, Delta is going to make San Jose a focus city and wants to more aggressively compete with Southwest and Alaska. Delta is planning to increase service at SJC by 23.1%, which means a lot more flights and better prices for San Joseans.

As exciting as this news is, it is only the beginning. Terminal B will eventually have a permanent 12-gate expansion (see diagram below) with new restaurants an shopping options. This would bring our total gate count to 40 and it could be built without disruptions to the temporary gates. This is still five to seven years away, but shows the airport still has a long way to go before hitting its potential.

Sources: SVBJ, Flight Global, thanks to Daniel Martinez for the tip regarding Delta!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

12th Annual SubZERO Festival June 7th & 8th

South FIRST FRIDAYS is hosting an art walk on steroids tomorrow--SubZERO. Over 100 artists, performers, and musicians are participating in the event. Dozens of local arts & crafts vendors will also be there and two stages will host nonstop live music. The event runs from 6pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday. Oh, and admission is free.

For more info, head over here. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Light Between Two Towers is getting recognized

The documentary film relating the San Jose Electric Light Tower and the Eiffel Tower has received its first two awards. It was recognized as an Official Selection for both the Rome Independent Prisma Awards and the Depth of Field International Film Festival. If you haven't seen the movie yet, we highly recommend doing so. You can watch The Light Between Two Towers over here. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Mamma Mia! @ The Stage

Donna and the Dynamos
Allison F. Rich (Tanya), Adrienne Herro (Donna), Jill Miller (Rosie)
Courtesy photograph provided by The Stage in San Jose.

As an ABBA fan, I knew that I wanted to see Mamma Mia! playing at The Stage in San Jose even if my friends may jokingly say, Here We Go Again! Upon seeing the Broadway tour production at the Center for Performing Arts and watching every movie of its franchise, I know that The Stage would give its own take allowing every audience member to love its song and story.

The set of Mamma Mia! at The Stage in San Jose.
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.
Sitting on the last row—also known as row 5—at The Stage, the simple stage was elegant on "an island sparkling in the iridescent blue of the Aegean in 1999." I was surrounded people from all ages from an elementary school daughter to two seniors going on their lovely date on a Sunday afternoon.

As the Overture starts, the five band orchestra is found playing at the center back part of the stage led by The Stage former cast member and now conductor, Martín Rojas Dietrich. Despite the small theater, the orchestra was able to deliver all the songs allowing an ABBA fan to feel the music resonating in their hearts.

Although I came in with high expectations, what really hit the musical out of the park were the three cast members that made Donna and the Dynamos (Donna, Tanya, and Rosie) including their delivery of the infamous song, "Dancing Queen."

Allison F. Rich, musical director and cast member, continues to deliver a solid performance as Tanya including her seductive flirtation with Pepper, played by Michael J. Wu, in "Does Your Mother Know." Jill Miller, who played Rosie, performed a great duet with Jeffrey Brian Adams, who played Bill, in "Take a Chance on Me" with a nod to some future BDSM.

Donna, played by Adrienne Herro
Courtesy photograph provided by The Stage in San Jose
Nevertheless, to round out the trio was a spectacular performance by Adrienne Herro who played Donna. From the first scene to the last, Adrienee Herro evoked Donna's character as a mother who is not only confused and frustrated but also loving and fun. The audience can relate to Adrienee Herro when she delivered her anguish in "The Winner Takes it All" for feeling cheated by Sam, played by Noel Anthony, to her elation in "Super Trouper." Personally, I can envision Adrienee Herro playing the character Diana in one of my personal favorite musicals, Next to Normal. She was a great actress!

I want to give a callout to the crew under Bethany Deal, Costume Designer, and Ge Jia, Costume Design Assistant, for creating the amazing costumes worn by Donna and the Dynamos along with the fathers (Harry, Bill, and Sam). Instead of doing the same costume style but with different colors, they used the same fabric and silver color but using different styles to represent each of the respective personalities. See the photograph of Donna and the Dynamos to understand why I loved their costumes. Heck, I'd love to buy any of the ones worn by the fathers!

Unfortunately, one of the things that made me really cringe throughout the show was when the ensemble and cast members were wearing masquerade masks. Although I could understand the significance to blend into the background, there are alternative ways such as the use of lighting, similar colored costumes, or maybe not even having them wear masquerade masks at all.

Despite my cringe, I was proud of the men who were willing to wear adorable flippers and go shirtless in "Lay All Your Love On Me" with Sky, played by Sam Saustine, and the boys, played by Michael J. Wu, Sean Okuniewicz, Vinh G. Nguyen, and James Zongus. Along with the girls played by Allison J. Parker, Brigitte Losey, Sarah Bylsma, Monica Moe, Brittney Monroe, and Tracey Shaw, the audience were engaged throughout the storyline including after the bows with some audience members standing (and dancing) to their final song!

It was a fun show and you can catch a performance playing from Wednesdays to Sundays now until July 7, 2019. You can purchase tickets online at The Stage website at 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. As a word of caution, this show may not be appropriate for everyone and discretion is strongly advised due to the some language, a lot of sexual innuendos, and taboo humor. I personally had some good laughs and I believe you will also too!

Written by John Huân Vu.