Archive for May, 2010

Saint James Historic District tour

The tour was led by neighborhood leader Frank Penrose.

The Saint James Historic District hosted a walking tour this morning, highlighting historic buildings, the work of the new local neighborhood association, and some great food at nearby Morocco’s Restaurant. Neighborhood advocate Frank Penrose (probably also an officer in the neighborhood association, but unfortunately I missed the introductions at the start of the tour) led the tour around Saint James Park.

The tour featured two churches, the first of which was the abandoned Church of Christ Scientist on the north side of the park. The church is under renovation by developer Barry Swenson, who is also planning new buildings for other areas of the church property. The tour group was let into the building, despite the lack of lighting, and the weakness of the floors — hopefully Swenson’s legal advisers won’t find out about this — and we got to see the state of the renovation work in the fantastic old building.

Interior of the Church of Christ Scientist building.

We also visited Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, the oldest continuously active church building in San Jose. Dean David Bird took the morning away from watching rugby to give a brief history of the church, which dates to 1863. A carillonist was also on hand to play the church bells, one of only three carillons in northern California. If you haven’t heard these played before, take a break in Saint James Park at 3 pm on Monday afternoon for a special 1 hour Memorial Day carillon concert.

Aside from historical architecture, another theme of the tour was efforts to revive the local neighborhood association, catering to residents in the high-rise condo complexes of the area. The organization is has only restarted recently after an earlier neighborhood association disbanded in 2009. The high density housing in this neighborhood means the local concerns are slightly different from those of other nearby historic neighborhoods like Horace Mann and Hensley. The main focus of the revived group seems to be ensuring local residents have a voice in upcoming development decisions for their neighborhood (such as an expansion of the Superior Court complex to the west of the park) and in maintaining the historic and walkable, resident-friendly aspects of their neighborhood.

Carillonist at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

The tour ended at the nearby Morocco’s restaurant, where we were met with beet salad, lentil salad, and cous-cous, not to mention wine and sangria. Morocco’s will be taking part in the Dine Downtown restaurant festival next week, as well as the associated City Bites street dining fair this Wednesday at lunchtime, so there’s a great opportunity coming up to sample their authentic Moroccan cuisine.

Frank Penrose told me the neighborhood group plans to host more tours, and they hope to visit other sights, like abandoned jail cells in the basement of a certain local pub, on future tours. Have a lookout at their website for future tour dates.

Live Music Tonight!

While everyone else is crowding the beaches and roughing it in campsites, you can have some fun right here in San Jose this Memorial Day weekend! As the sun sets on a gorgeous day, head on over to the SLG Art Boutiki for great live local music by Mike Bacon, Troubadour, Lakes, and the Hurricane Roses. Admission is $6 and the show starts at 7:30. Enjoy the artsy SoFA District; you’ll always see something new!

Food on Wheels in the South Bay

You know when you were little and you’d hear familiar music outside and realize OMG THE ICE CREAM MAN! There was someone in a truck out there bringing food to you! Then of course, you might also be familiar with the oodles of “taco trucks” – they’re nothing new. But for some time now a new flavor of food trucks have been popping up. Trucks that bring you Korean BBQ, Ice Cream and Karaoke, Lobster Rolls, and Cupcakes.


YES. The world is a lovely place. Let me share a few yummy truck-filled treats with you and where and when you can experience them for yourselves:


TreatbotI had never heard of them until last Friday. My friend Jessica told me that there’d be an “ice cream karaoke truck” at the SJ Bike Party pre-party in the SoFA district and that was enough for me to be intrigued. Did you have to sing for your ice cream? No. But if you did, and you got over 95 points – your ice cream was free. Sweet deal – but hard to achieve. The level is set on hard for everyone – so you’ve got a challenge! It was fun listening to people sing, my favorite was the rendition of New Kids On The Block’s “Hangin’ Tough”. The truck has a karaoke machine on the side complete with a fancy light to make you feel like you’re ON STAGE. Sort of, but it’s something! They also have unique flavors like “Mexican Chocolate” (there’s a little spice to it, it was quite tasty!), Macapuno (coconut), Green Tea, Eastside Horchata, and my favorite (for now) Banana Almond Fudge – just to name a few. Get your ice cream in a cone or cup OR if you’re feeling extra cheeky, sandwiched between cookies (Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, or Chocolate Chocolate Chip.)

Treatbot Karaoke Ice Cream truck
June 3rd, Music in the Park, Plaza de Cesar Chavez / June 4th SubZERO Festival, SoFA District / June 21-26 Left Coast Live, Downtown San Jose

MoGo Korean BBQ Taco Truck

MoGo MenuSo I have to admit, I’m pretty new to Korean food. This coming from someone who had two best friends in Jr/High school that were in fact, Korean. I just didn’t really dive into the food. Anyway – again, SJ Bike Party pre-party and I was again informed by my friend that this food truck was going to be there. This is where we decided to get dinner that night, from the truck with the tasty meaty smells coming from it. They had tacos and burritos filled with either chicken, pork, tofu, or short ribs. The burritos had kimchi fried rice and a spicy chipotle sauce. But that’s not all! In addition to that, they had a quesadilla option (cheese, spicy pork, tofu, or kimchi). I think their most unique items had to be the Sliders, Bay Area Dog, and Dirty Dog. The Sliders were filled with short rib meat, spam, jack and cheddar cheese. They had the yummy spicy chipotle sauce as well. The Bay Area Dog and Dirty Dog are similar, both have kimchi, jack and cheddar cheese and the chipotle sauce – but the Dirty Dog is wrapped in BACON.

MoGo Korean BBQ Taco Truck
Twitter: @mogobbq
Facebook: MoGo BBQ
No future listings on their site, but follow their Twitter or Facebook page and you’ll be updated day-of and maybe they’ll be near you!

Cupkates and KaraVan (Kara’s Cupcakes)

Cupcakes on wheels! More admitting on my part – I’ve only tasted cupcakes from Kara’s Cupcakes. They’re good – I remember the lemon one being pretty lemon-y. How’s that for a description? I’m a little biased when it comes to cupcakes because I love to make them myself – it’s one of my “things”. I’ve made all sorts of wacky flavors… but this isn’t about me. It’s about food on wheels. And there’s a way you can get your cupcake fix. Cupkates flavors: Salted Caramel, Strawberry Swirl, Twinkie, and Lemon Raspberry all sound super tasty. Kara’s Cupcake flavors: Sweet S’mores, Kara’s Karrot, Banana, Raspberry Dazzle, and Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Ganache to name a few.

Twitter: @cupkatestruck
Facebook: Cupkates Truck
Looks like a lot of Oakland/Berkeley area listings; tomorrow 5/28 they’ll be in Emeryville (64th / Hollis at 12pm)

Kara’s Cupcakes (and KaraVan)
Twitter: @karascupcakes
Facebook: Kara’s Cupcakes
Gimmie!: Nothing noted soon in our area, but keep watch on Twitter/Facebook. Also you can always stop by their Santana Row location to get your cupcake fix!

Sam’s Chowdermobile

Alright everyone, if you weren’t hungry by now – this might just do it for you. First, lets say you are a lobster lover. Well, actually even if you’re just so-so this might change your mind. Sam’s Chowder House, located in Half Moon Bay, is home to the famous Maine Lobster Roll (voted one of the top five “Best Sandwiches in America” by NBC’s The Today Show) Thick juicy chunks of lobster, soaked in butter in a toasted bun. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Seriously, you have to try it. And thankfully – Sam’s now has a mobile unit! I found out today, thanks to Mercury News article about it, and frankly it inspired this whole post. They offer other tasty food, but it’s the roll that will win your heart.

Sam’s Chowdermobile
Twitter: @chowdermobile
Facebook: Sam’s ChowderMobile
June 10th and 24th, 11:30-1:30p, 111 Market / St James

Sweet Mango Replaces Siam Square

Long-time Willow Glen restaurant Siam Square Thai Cuisine is being transformed this week into Sweet Mango. Siam Square’s retiring owners recently sold the place to Cindy Liu who is remodeling now. Cindy told me to look for Sweet Mango’s opening next week. The new restaurant will offer a menu of Chinese and Burmese dishes. She said that if you enjoy the food at Green Elephant Gourmet restaurant in Palo Alto, you will like Sweet Mango.  Check it out soon at 1040 Willow Street, San Jose, 408-293-2268


View Larger Map
Image Copyright 2010 Katy Dickinson

Music in the Park on the way

The lineup for the 2010 season of Downtown San Jose’s Music in the Park concert season is out, and looking good. One highlight: next week at the first show of the season, the first act will be a local act chosen by voters at the My Music in the Park contest. There’s one day left to check out the bands at the contest webpage and cast your vote

The series is as heavy into ska and reggae this year as it has been for the last few years, with Skatalites June 17, The English Beat on July 1, Don Carlos on July 15, Eek-a-Mouse August 12, and Pato Banton in the final show on August 26. If you’re not that into reggae, there’s local latin jazz favorite Pete Escovedo on July 29 or classic rockers like the BoDeans (June 24) or Y&T (August 19), as well as a few other acts to check out — get all the details from the Music in the Park web page.

As in years past, these concerts will be held in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, and start at 5:30 pm each Thursday afternoon.

Plants vs. Zombies

The best $2.99 I ever spent was on my iPhone version of Plants vs. Zombies.  This is a game which requires you (the suburban homeowner) to defend your back yard, pool, and eventually the roof from invading zombies of increasingly bizarre aspect and powers.  Your defense is garden plants: peashooters, sunflowers, cherry bombs, wall-nuts, potato mines, and other creative variations.

What does that have to do with San Jose?  At this time of year after the unusual amount of rain, it is easy to view my Willow Glen backyard as a battlefield with the plants (and me) vs. the snails and weeds.  My Matilija poppies, which are now extending their huge fried egg flowers enthusiastically into the branches of the almond tree, easily seem as odd as some of the plants in the game. The Nasturtiums are spreading as wide horizontally as the poppies are shooting upward. And my Aloe flowers look like orange explosions floating above the spiky plants below.

My daughter Jessica wrote a zombies blog a few months ago which referred to a 4/13/2009 New York Times editorial by Adam Cohen which says: “Monster stories are a projection of our collective anxieties — and that may explain why in the current economic downturn, zombies are starting to catch up with the long-fashionable vampire. … Zombie stories often end with a hearty band retreating to a small, secure space — a cabin or a shopping mall — and fighting for survival.”

When I clear my garden of weeds and snails, and when I clear my electronic roof of zombies, I feel like a heroic defender. Very satisfying.

Matilija poppies




Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

Belle Yang Book Signing

Artist and author Belle Yang presents her newest work, the graphic novel Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale at upcoming book signings.

Born in Taiwan, Belle Yang spent part of her childhood in Japan. At age seven, she immigrated to the United States with her family. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz. She currently resides in Carmel.

From the Publisher: In Forget Sorrow, Belle weaves a story within a story as she sets her personal journey of self-discovery against her ancestral history—an epic drama of folly and betrayal, integrity and endurance during times of hunger, war, and Communist oppression. Recounting the lives and choices of her grandfather, his brothers, and her King Lear–like great-grandfather, Belle at last finds healing—and the strength to honor both her father and herself.

Book signing and talk on the graphic novel process:

San Jose Public Library East Carnegie Branch
1102 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

National Steinbeck Center

One Main Street, Salinas
Thursday, May 27, 2010

6:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Capitola Book Cafe

1475 41st Avenue, Capitola
Thursday, June 10, 2010

7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Atlantis Fantasyworld

1020 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM


What happened?

They lost to a better team.

We now follow off-season trades/signings.

Then we start all over again in October.


Music Madness: Bike Pre-Party photos


Bikers preparing to start tonight's San Jose Bike Party

Wild bikes are part of the fun.

Doctor Nurse started things off with some tunes.

A Star Party

Jim Van Nuland telling David Pratt a fascinating space fact?

All philosophy is based on two things only: curiosity and poor eyesight … The trouble is we want to know more than we can see.
–Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1686)

In “A Tear At The Edge of Creation”, the author, Marcelo Gleiser questions the limitations of the Big Bang model. Gleiser’s research of the early Universe leads him to believe that intelligent life is nothing more than an accident.

It’s a matter of chance that the Earth works as a home for life. It only happens that the Earth is the proper distance from the sun at the precise angle, with a magnetic field, the right chemicals, water, and a moon. Rather than Adam and Eve, Gleiser sees Frankenstein and his bride (whose DNA was born in a puddle which was hit by the electric charge of lightning). Nature is alive due to imperfect chance and mutation. There is no grand plan for us and therefore no answer to our “Why is there life?”

Reading “A Tear At The Edge of Creation”, pondering the beginning of life and the expansion of the universe, made me think of  a group called the San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA). I hadn’t been to one of their ‘star parties’ in about 20 years. It was great to see familiar faces and the big telescopes set up ready for viewing. In speaking with Rich Neuschaefer, the president of the club, I found out that there are about 300 members, but the public is always welcome to the activities.

SJAA site
Public Star Party
Tonight – May 21
Houge Park – Directions
9:15 PM – 12 PM

See the Moon, Venus, Saturn and more for Free.

A must read – Star Party Etiquette

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.