March 7-13, 2007

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Silicon Alleys - Gary Singh

Silicon Alleys

Looking Back Down The Alleys

By Gary Singh

AS OF next month, it will be two years that my warped yield has inseminated this column, and since there's no reason not to celebrate anniversaries early, I feel compelled to revisit some of my favorites and the madcap scenarios surrounding them. When Silicon Alleys first dive-bombed upon this place, I barked about San Jose's identity complex and all the meaningless statistics that it rattles off about itself. A reader then wrote in and said that every city named after a Catholic saint is a violation of the separation of church and state, so we should change the names of San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara and San Diego to something else. I knew immediately that this would be a fun column to write.

Since then, there have been many spectacles, some from the septic tank and others from above ground. In one column, I facetiously compared myself to Norman Mailer solely because we share the same birthday and we're both intentionally self-absorbed blowhards. A reader who didn't get the humor wrote in and said that as soon as I get some talent, then I'll be the next Norman Mailer.

I wrote a piece called "Hitting Rock Bottom" which again lamented San Jose's lack of identity, and I connected it up with a Henry Miller tirade about wanting to live a thousand lives in one, which is my dilemma as well. A few hate letters came flying in, but a graphic design student at SJSU took the whole text and based a 26-page full-color project on it, called San Jose Illustrated, which documented all the graffiti in San Jose, all the empty office space and all the failed retail downtown.

When soccer legend George Best died, I stormed into the office on the day after Thanksgiving and jammed out an obituary, recalling the times when he was here. That article will be included in a U.K.-based book titled George Best: A Celebration, which hits the shelves in September.

Also, I went to Vancouver, Nashville and the Czech Republic and forged bizarre connections to San Jo. With two guys originally from San Jose, I sat in a literary cafe in Prague, one of the most historical and magical cities on earth, and all we did was complain about San Jose. Christ, I could have just stayed home and done that. It was pathetic.

And then there was the Heathers article about the female drinking club. Oh dear. Of all my time in this business, nothing I've written has ever set off more drama, confusion, misinterpretations and downright insanity than that article, thus making it one of my favorite columns of all time. While dealing with the fallout over that one, I just wanted to sing John Lennon's "Imagine," changing the opening lyrics to "Imagine there's no Heathers/It's easy if you try ..." With that completely stuck in my head, I spent two weeks overanalyzing the whole thing. It was like a David Lynch flick in the sense that every time I reread it, another interpretation emerged. You can ask 100 different people how they interpreted that one, and you'll probably get 300 different responses. Like a lot of these columns, you have to chomp through it like it's haiku poetry: The meaning is just suggested. The rest is up to you. And sure, that particular one was risquÈ as all bloody hell, but anyone who knows me knows that I like to take risks and I like to involve other people in those risks. To my knowledge, I've never lost a friend over it—which is what I feared was going to happen with that article, but thankfully it didn't. People still occasionally walk up to me on the streets and ask about that piece.

So the ride is nowhere near over. Silicon Alleys will continue to rock on.

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