Archive for July, 2008

Catching his neighbors on film

Joe Claus
Joe Claus has been working on a project called My Neighbors since last year, documenting with photographs the small business owners who make San Jose’s downtown unique.

Joe started his project because he’s a San Jose native, from a family that’s been in the area since the 1820’s. In 2007, he was completing an SJSU degree in industrial design and photography, and he decided to use his skills to give something back to his hometown. He felt that “Big business really tears up small businesses” and that if the community doesn’t support its small businesses, it loses a vital element.

He began taking portraits of small business owners at the entrances of their businesses. His camera is a Hasselblad medium-format camera, the kind traditionally used by portrait photographers for the incredibly sharp prints that can be made from its relatively large negatives. He loves the hands-on process of film photography, and he started out developing and printing the photos himself, but he now uses a professional lab for printing.

Joe says that at first he was turned down by as many as 80% of the business owners he approached, but now he’s usually able to make contact with a potential subject through another person he’s already photographed, and he now has much better success in convincing the business owners to participate. He says that his early efforts to convince people to be photographed, including a 45 minute conversation with one particular owner, also helped him to understand his own motivations and goals for the project.

The project is now just over 100 photos of local business owners. Joe took about 80 of these pictures in the past 6 months, despite having only one free day per week to devote to his project. He had originally planned to move away from San Jose after graduating from SJSU, but he’s stayed here, living near downtown and commuting to Santa Cruz for work, to be able to continue the My Neighbors project. He has no plans to wrap up the project in the near future: “I just want to keep going,” he says.

White Tower on 280?

While driving south on 280 between 85 and Apple’s main campus I noticed a humongous white plastic looking object on the left side of the freeway. What could it be? — A utility pole? A transmission tower? Would it soon be seeking signs from Martians?

This is what I have discovered:

Once upon a time, (two decades ago) the city of Cupertino was busy getting ready to connect Mary Ave. This would be accomplished with a car overpass spanning 280. Earthen ramps were readied on both sides. Then the city began to hear that the residents living near Stevens Creek were raising concerns. What impact would the traffic have on their neighborhood? The work was halted.

Fast-forward to 2008 and we find that the city of Cupertino is once again attempting to traverse 280. This time it will be with a Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge. For reference: walkers and bicyclists will be able to move from the area of De Anza College to Homestead High School with ease.

Moffett Field’s Hangar One – Oh Yes!

The Navy just announced that they would not demolish the historic Bay Area landmark. The toxic siding will be removed leaving only the steel shell intact.

A special thanks to the ‘Save Hangar One Committee‘.

Hangar One

Northside flea market this Saturday

Flea Sign
The Northside Neighborhood Association will host its annual flea market in Backesto Park this Saturday, August 2. Backesto Park is located at the corner of 13th and Jackson Streets just northeast of downtown. In past years, the Northiside flea has kept the spirit of a classic flea market or community yard sale, featuring mostly used and recycled goods, not cut-rate new stuff.

The market is open from 8 to 4 and admission is free for shoppers. Proceeds from the vendors’ fees benefit the Northside Neighborhood Association, San Jose’s oldest neighborhood association.

I learned a few things about San Jose today…

I was walking around Downtown San Jose for no particular reason and learned a handful of interesting things.

San Jose History San Jose is the home to the the world’s first radio broadcast station! Charles Herrold did broadcasts of music and news. Originally station FN, KCBS’ history can be traced back to this historic accomplishment.Now the location of the Knight-Ridder building, the broadcasts were done from the Garden City Bank. This plaque stands testament to San Jose’s past.
San Jose History The building housing the Black Sea Gallery was the home to San Jose’s Woolworth’s. What’s left is the tile from the original entryway — one graces the front of the shop’s windows, the other is near the doorway.
San Jose History The Peralta Adobe was not built by Peralta, but by Manuel Gonzalez before 1800. Manuel Gonzalez was an Apache Indian who accompanied the DeAnza Expedition in 1775. The building is named after Luis Maria Peralta, however both are founders of the original Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe.I wonder why it wasn’t called the Gonzalez Adobe :)

Introducing The Hub


If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

San Jose Group

Shane From Oklahoma is in Town

While at SJC I could not help but notice this young man. So that he could get up to speed on local dress, customs, and what’s happening – I gave him a ‘San Jose Metblogs’ card.

Peggy Fleming

Peggy FlemingHappy Birthday Peggy Fleming, born July 27, 1948 in San Jose.

Ms. Fleming, a figure skater, was the only American to win a gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. Her energy and unique style left a lasting impression on all who watched her performances, especially the free-skating program.

After the Olympics, she starred in five television specials, toured the U.S. as a special guest star in the Ice Follies ice show, and has been a commentator on figure skating for ABC Sports for over 20 years.

Fleming and her husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins, own and operate Fleming Jenkins Vineyards & Winery in Los Gatos. Profits from a Rosé go towards charities that support breast cancer research; she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. The Fleming Jenkins Vineyards & Winery Tasting Room is located at 45 West Main Street in downtown Los Gatos.

Photo courtesy Peggy Fleming Website

Urgent: 100+ Cats Need Rescue

Everyone, if you have a spare bathroom, garage, bedroom, etc. and you can foster a cat or two or three, please send an email to as soon as possible.

Animal Control was called to a home in Morgan Hill where there are around 100 cats/kittens. All are healthy and happy but need a place to stay immediately. The cats will be taken from the home this coming week, and have no where to go. If Town Cats can’t find room for them all, I don’t know what will happen.

If you can’t foster, Town Cats still needs help at their already very full shelter. Please visit for more information.

San Jose City Council Wants a Salary Increase

I recently paid $150.00 for a business license (taxi) but, until I sent in an additional $22.00, the city held it hostage! The city needs my help with the budget deficit, but they are unwilling to help me out with the cost of gas.

Because everything in the city seems to be going up, except my taximeter, it only makes sense that the San Jose City Council members would like to see their salaries go up too. Their request may be on the November ballot.


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