the Changing Face of Fairmont Hotel

Even as San Jose stays sheltered and quite everywhere you look construction is taking place – in door and out. Remember those torn cloth seats and lackluster decor of the lounge at the Fairmont? Well – no more. Shazzam – what once was shabby is now chic and sophisticated. The transformation continues but check out the latest installment of photos.

San Jose’s Changing Face – SJSU Graduate Tower Picstory

Everywhere you turn new buildings are springing up and still others are in announcement stage – fenced off with a white poster describing what’s to come. Over the last two years, the now nearly complete San Jose State University Graduate Tower replaced what used to be a McDonald’s – and a rather seedy looking one at that. Here’s a photo-history of its construction.

Breaking Ground for SJSU Grad Tower

SJSU Grad Tower – First Few Floors

Grad Tower Floors 5-7

Grad Tower Construction – Half way there

Grad Tower – All Floor Complete

Grad Tower – Cute Bears in Trees

San Jose Diary | Feb 23 2020

SanJose Diary – Star date: 022320201718

This city is getting ready to change forever. And the pace of change is speeding up big time.

Cranes. Everywhere are cranes. Cranes on 4th and Santa Clara, cranes near Wholefoods, cranes hanging over Hwy 87 on San Fernando where Adobe builds a headquarters anew and cranes down Market Street enroute to Target as condominiums continue to spread.

This city is changing and it’s changing fast. The cranes on San Carlos between 2nd and 3rd are now almost gone as the new Student Grad Housing Center nears completion. It looks like the street level will house some retail stores. I hope so. Yet another cranes pops up just a few blocks down at the main entrance of SJSU where the new science building is already fully framed – taking up some hillside skyline on the southeast side if you have an opportunity to look out that way from an elevated vantage point like MLK library’s upper floors.

Only another few blocks away across Cesar Chavez – down Park a block or so west from the Tech Museum, yet another pair of cranes do the ‘praying mantis’ dance at the corner of Park & Almaden. It’s nice to see a duo of cranes groove to the sound of steel rising and cement pouring and trucks backing up. The homeless under the 87 bridge won’t be able to stay there long. What was a town of tents and sleeping bags is just a gaggle of hanging-oners. I have mixed feelings about it. And if you walk from the Diridon train station to the river and cut south you can see the remnants of what some city-planner supposedly had in mind decades ago before some economic calamity hit the city – they say it was in the 60s when the whole white flight thing took place (note to self – read up on that) – there’s an idea of a nice promenade along the banks of the river with open areas for snacking or conversing, a bike path and natural rock laden amphitheater like areas. You could see it winding its way from beyond Discovery Museum, thru downtown, paralleling Market Street and snaking its way towards the new Target Center. It’s broken up in so many places it’s unfriendly to bike riding as the path just disappears in choice locations as does the walking path, but the idea is clear and seems poised to re-root. For now though, it’s strewn with a few tents here and there, scattered belonging, trash, trampled vegetation, an absconded Lyft bike and various pieces of junk. Nobody but the fatest bike riders and Adobe staff after work under guard of police chaperones dares walk thru there.

And the cranes are expected to continue populating the skyline. Everywhere there’s a fence it’s accompanied with a large rectangular white with black print public notice publicizing a redevelopment project – a shiny sleek new office building here, promenade and condos there, apartment building and more shops somewhere else. And an URL is listed to get more info.

I’m flying out today and couldn’t help but feel the promise while driving up Coleman and looking back (I was in the passenger seat) at the longer sleeker San Jose Skyline – what a gorgeous view! It didn’t look so much so a Podunk town anymore like it did when I arrived over 2 decades ago. And in front sat the Avaya soccer stadium – also fairly new – and the shops where the Smoking Pig anchors more shopping. Smoking Pig is one of the best BBQ places in town hands down. I used to rank it second to Little Mae’s (I think that’s what it was called) shack a little further down. Sadly, it closed recently. It was a high-tech worker alter to great simple BBQ in an unassuming – well – shack during lunch hour.

Newness can be seen at the airport as well. There’s a new set of Southwest gates – numbered in the 30s – that extend to your left where there was once just a wall coming out of security. The original airport – a small shelter that shouted to passengers that had arrived in this small po-dunk town that it was required passengers walk across the tarmac to get to the luggage area. I think there were gates for maybe 20 planes back then. It wasn’t called Mineta International back then either – I’m thinking circa 1994. Now the low-fuss walkway for the 30s gates seems to reach back in that direction but not completely reaching it yet.

There’s not much to shop at on the walkway – you have the Hudson News and a couple little stops. Flames greets you as you enter the walkway.

Halfway down as I approached gate 33, I did see something very techy and very Silicon Valley – although I’ve seen similar things in Austin and read about them in other airports and as standalone shops in San Francisco. There was a robot glass-encased barista – kind of like a small version of the robotic arms you see building cars in a factory in some car commercial. You type your order on a keypad, swipe your card and Shazam! it gets to work, pulling a plastic tumbler from a stack, twirling it like it was Tom Cruise behind the bar, filling it with coffee or beer and serving it behind a glass door that reminds you of food being served in the mess hall of the Starship Enterprise as it slides up for the patron to reach in. It was neat. I took pictures. Up in the city, similar establishments do the same serving up salads and sandwiches and even burger I think. Dorothy – we ain’t in Kansas anymore.

Kirk out.

Random comments and thoughts from the San Jose Jazz Fest on Friday

1. Yeah too funny there’s not a single event you go to where they don’t play the cha-cha song during intermission while you wait for the band to get on stage. “Everybody clap your hands … slide to the left… slide to the right… one hop two times.” Or whatever.

2. Wow!! Family Stone just brought it. I mean they were just polished and kicking it from the very start. Sometimes you can get a little suspect with a band that’s been around for as many decades as they’ve been but they’re just as good as they ever were if not better and I’m tempted to YouTube or even Spotify some of their music. EVERYDAY PEOPLE was so refreshing. Makes you stop and think we don’t create music like this anymore at least I don’t know where I would find a song like that anywhere today. The bass line on THANK YOU is meditative.

DANCE TO THE MUSIC was ‘a fast ball right in the strike zone!!’

SUMMER DAYS brought a rush of childhood summer days and a fresh recall of the 60s and 70s that’s hard to express to a millennial. You just gotta love a great horn section and good arrangements. Although nobody beats Donald Fagen and Steely Dan long fade outs that groove like a Friday night on roller skates.

3. Having a concert in the middle of a park downtown really changes the experience especially watching everybody bob up-and-down on green grass with trees around them and then buildings around them makes you feel like you’re jammin in your basement with several thousand people. It’s kind a cool and it’s definitely different.

4. I think this is what I was imagining when I wanted to be in a band and I was 14. This is the kind of feelings and experience – I mean, yah… at least I think so.

5. I didn’t know that the San Jose Jazz Fest started out on one stage in 1990, 2 days eight acts, that’s it! And now it’s 14 stages over the course of three days – who knew?

6. En Vogue – OK but they didn’t perform as well as Family Stone. It’s funny, often at these events the marquee bands don’t hit the mark as well as other bands you would think would have a less professional performance. That was the case with Toni Toney Tone last year. The front of house mix was overloaded and the on screen special videos were more distracting than contributing. Overall … ‘Menh.’

7. It was psychologically hard to shift from 80s soul pop to New Orleans soulful jazz but we tried and it was worth it. David L Harris is straight up upright bass, drums, keys and a trombone. He’s continuously learning about what it means to be human he says and it shows even though he looks like he could still be in college. A worthy performance – but this wine needs some time in the cellar and then I’ll get to brag about how I saw him in a crowd of just 100 folks in an intimate setting. We left early he plays trombone better than he sings but a definite tip of the hat to him and his band.

8. I tried some barbecue ribs from an outfit called Lord of the Ribs … get it? like Lord of the rings. Never heard of them before but pretty darn good ribs …. may be as good as the Smoking Pig …maybe not quite…. but maybe… but the barbecue sauce was really awesome. They only cater and that’s probably why I never heard of them before but they are based here in Santa Clara so that was a pleasant surprise – definitely worth trying out if you ever get a chance.

9. Standing in line brings out the animal instincts in everyone and the concept of fairness grabs the attention whenever anyone makes a surprise move and disturbs the line waiting process. The person I can’t stand the most is the sidler who stands right next to you. Letting go of the self is the only way to stay sane. I don’t deal well with flaring tempers. I would never survive the Serengeti. Thankfully San Jose is not like that on regular days.

10. Sometimes people clap too much. Sometimes I think the best performances and the best venues should just not allow clapping at all and just let the music playing go on in silence with know audience interaction … kind a like a double sided album on a record player. But that’s just me.

11. Other times the sheer energy of a performance compels applause- that’s what happened at Cafe Stritch. If E=MC squared, the whole room was squared tonight- at least when the band kicked off. Who is this young powerhouse of a band? Sam Miller and the Congregation. Dammmn! From Los Angeles. Young but play like 60 year old veterans on Red Bull and Goose.

But they also play skits and funny bits – almost variety show-ish.

After awhile it became a little too much tongue-n-cheek. Talented group though. You just started to wonder if Bozo the clown would pop out of a box or something what with all the practiced jokes by the leader who is also the drummer. So you can’t be a serious jerk like me desperately waiting for a meaning-of-life tune that transports you somewhere you remember but never knew in that way before. Like Bobby Hutchinson or something.

We ended up leaving after 3 songs. It was like better-than-cheap champagne – a quick high that’s exhilarating followed by an equally quick dull let down, made only worse by a linebacker who decided to stand right in front of me without even asking or looking around-completely self-absorbed. That killed it. The someone started cat calling from the crowd and the mood seemed to suggest if people were a little drunker there’s no telling how the night would end. I think everyone was slap happy by the end of the night. All in all not a bad kick-off day but (Sly) & the Family Stone stole the show – totally worth the price of admission.

San Jose 2019 Summer Jazz Festival Is Here

Super excited about the San Jose Summer Jazz Festival starting tomorrow Friday August 09, 2019. Taking over venues all over downtown, the fest goes on for 3 days and promises to be fun and mind blowing.

It’s amazing how many bay area folk are unaware of this blockbuster bevy of talent. The caliber and number of artists available in a classically low-key community San Jose environment never fails to inspire and please. Feet tapping, head bopping, face smiling, skip scopping (i made up that last word). Our team will post live or near-live coverage here and on the CG Twitter feed.

To the Jazz Cave!

Local Theatre Delivers Live Variety Swing Show in Downtown San Jose


brown and black gramophone
Photo by Skitterphoto on

You can live in San Jose for years and still end up discovering cool entertainment tucked away in the oddest places. Discoveries like these bring depth to the local entertainment pool that is often viewed as limited.

Uptown Holiday Swing at The Tabard Theatre Company is exactly such a live event. The 2 hour show was engaging, surprising, and heart-warming. Thinking of the Lawrence Welk Variety TV Show (YouTube it is ur a millennial) with a bar, a younger set of female hosts, a mostly all brass band and a show dedicated to the art of tap dancing and Holiday themes – and that pretty much captures what the evening was like. It was magical.

Tabard Theatre Co_3 Girls Mic

Some highlights include:

  • There was a mixture of classic tunes – slow, fast and in between
  • Dancing was done as a group, individually and also in pairs
  • There was plenty of ‘just-music’ time and the audience was encouraged to dance on the dance floor which had ample room
  • A quick dance tutorial was provided before the show – instruction was so easy a five-year old could follow
  • Fun alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink with fresh deliciously iced cookie and other treats were available
  • The audience was a mixture of seasoned and young professionals
  • Performers came from Chicago, New Jersey, Minnesota and Redwood City to name a few locales
  • The tap dancing was good
  • The swing brass band was every bit professional even if the room was a bit lively
  • Seating was ample, roomy and comfortable
  • Everyone left feeling like the season was really off to a good start.

Here are the Details:

  1. The Tabard Theatre is located at 29 North San Pedro Street in Downtown San Jose
  2. It’s tucked away down an alley boarded on the side by construction plywood. Why? because a new building is being constructed.
  3. As a reference point, you’ll find it past the Mexican restaurant but before the District restaurant

The Tabard Theatre holds a number of plays and interactive music entertainment events throughout the year. If you’re a locale or a visitor looking for something new,different and fun – check it out.