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Name:Michael Patrick
Location:San Jose, California, United States

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Sunday, September 5


Shining New Downtown

As of last winter, two things in particular would catch my eye when I'd look out my kitchen window at night here on S 2nd Street in San Jose: the illuminated top of the Convention Center Marriott and the electrified letters of the Hyatt Sainte Claire sign. Now my view over the buildings across the street has two additions that reflect very positive changes in Downtown San Jose: the vertical Studio Theater neon sign and the glittery California Theater sign. The former was relighted when the Glo club opened last spring; now, with Glo, Elixir, Pete Escovedo et al, S 1st Street has barely a nightclub space left unfilled. But if dining, dancing, drinking, and hookah smoking were not enough, along comes opera. Just up the block, behind the flashing, flickering marquee and vertical sign (reinstalled only the week before last to cap off the theater's restoration), Figaro will get married every night for two weeks starting September 18 (correction: not quite every night). From a distance, the scene almost resembles the old photographs of Downtown San Jose when it was the most prominent, bustling regional center besides San Francisco and Oakland. Let's hope the theater becomes a popular attraction.

November update: It's impressive to see what kinds of famous people have shown up in this "Shining New Downtown." For example, a few weeks ago I saw on the California Theater marquee something like "Apple Special Event." I thought Apple had booked the theater for some special company thing, like the time my then-employer Radio Shack reserved a movie theater to hold a pep rally for a new Sprint promotion, for which Radio Shack was a participant. I forgot that this was Apple, this was Silicon Valley, and the theater was one of the "gems" of the "Capital of Silicon Valley." It turns out the first- and third-most famous Irish pop stars, Bono and the Edge from U2, appeared at the California Theater to promote the special U2 iPod and, most importantly, their new album. I learned about that from the Metro newspaper, which I read on the bus after walking past the theater as I do every work day (which just shows how out-of-the-loop I am).

On a similar note, Prince held a post-show party (scroll to the bottom of the article) at Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Club, a couple of blocks from my house. The public party was shut down at 2 a.m., which, if you hang out in SoFA (South First Area) or read the Metro often, you know is the official club closing time, when the city sics the police on the party goers--closed-off streets and all. But a private party continued for a few more hours.

Here's the club, and a few more few more pictures of SoFA and elsewhere in Downtown, as provided by Y Productions.