Jack Van Zandt

Jack Van Zandt

Posts by Jack Van Zandt

Everyday San Jose

Young Bay Area artist Wayne Jiang was born in Guangzhou, China, and came to the United States at age 15. He earned his degree in illustration at SJSU and works as a fine artist and graphic designer. He now lives in Pacifica, but his period of residence in San Jose has resulted in a group of loving images of the city that are now on display at the Leonard and David McKay Gallery at Pasetta House in History Park.

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Joan Baez Begins Weekend Mexican Heritage Festival Events

Having Joan Baez open the series of high-profile weekend concerts might seem an odd choice at first, but it turns out to have been a brilliant programming decision. Her bicultural background (her physicist father Albert Baez was from Puebla, Mexico), local residence and iconic stature as an international political activist and singer certainly provide her with the credentials to fit the festival opener role. However, the great service she performed for the festival as a whole in her concert was to strategically place the traditions of Spanish-language songs (from Mexico, Spain, Chile and other Latin American countries) firmly within the context of her explorations of the “Great American Songbook,” thus affirming her own dual cultural background while illustrating and informing the intellectual and philosophical cultural crossroads the festival has become. 

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Linda Ronstadt to Give Free Concert

It has been announced that 2009 San Jose Mariachi and Mexican Heritage Festival Artistic Director Linda Ronstadt will be singing with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano in Cesar Chavez Plaza around 5 p.m. this Sunday evening, September 27, to close the annual, all-day Feria del Mariachi.

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San Jose Mexican Heritage Festival 2009 Is Making Connections

If there is one word to describe the theme of this year’s San Jose Mariachi and Mexican Heritage Festival, it has to be “connectivity,” and not just because the festival has landed T-Mobile as its title sponsor. At this week’s press conference for the lead-up to the festival that takes place Sept. 20-27, the word “connection” and its derivatives were uttered multiple times by all three participants: festival CEO Marcela Davison Aviles, artistic director Linda Ronstadt and headline performer for the Sept. 25 concert, Joan Baez.

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Good News: The 2009 San Jose Mariachi and Mexican Heritage Festival

I walked into the press conference announcing the lineup of this year’s San Jose Mariachi and Mexican Heritage Festival wondering how it would be possible to match last year’s excellent presentations. I needn’t have worried about it. Festival director and Mexican Heritage CEO Marcela Davison Aviles and the festival’s artistic director, Linda Ronstadt, have managed to exceed even the highest of expectations created by the 2008 festival.


Farewell and Good Luck

For more than three years, I have had the pleasure of being the editor of San Jose Inside. It has been a lot of fun and I have learned much about myself and our community and fellow citizens. That’s why today is a sad day for me as it will be the last time I will write as a regular contributor to the site. Alas, I must give up the editorship of SJI to make more time for other projects.


Life on the Home Front

New History San Jose Exhibit Portrays Santa Clara County’s World War II

Those of us younger than 60 usually think of World War II in terms of our fathers or grandfathers battling enemies in far-off Pacific island jungles and snow-covered European fields, or through iconic images of Iwo Jima, D-Day and the atomic bomb. We often forget that the last formally declared U.S. war also absorbed the entire population of our country in a massive coordinated effort to defeat ideologically driven enemies that really did threaten our very existence as a nation. A fascinating new History San Jose (HSJ) exhibition in the Pacific Hotel Gallery at History Park in Kelley Park shows how Santa Clara County, on the western domestic front of the war, played a significant part in that effort and how the war affected the everyday lives of people in the valley.

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Thanksgiving and the Ray of Light

Food for Thought

While you would be forgiven for thinking the national situation is looking pretty dark on Thanksgiving Day 2008, consider the bleak view President Lincoln must have had from the White House when he declared the national holiday on October 3, 1863.

After a period where it looked like the Union would not be spared, Lincoln finally had a few victories to celebrate, but at a terrible price. A year before, the worst single battle casualties in American history had been suffered at Antietam. The Union forces prevailed and Lee’s army was pushed out of Maryland. It gave Lincoln the strength and political will to issue the Emancipation Proclamation the following week on September 22, 1862.

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California’s Abused Referendum Process

Food for Thought

If there is one important lesson to be learned from the last election it is that the referendum process in California is broken and being abused. There is something wrong when any individual or group with unlimited funds to flood the airwaves with propaganda and the malls and grocery store parking lots of the state with petition signature gatherers paid on commission can attempt to either legislate morality based on religion or enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayers. More to the point, many such measures violate both the spirit and letter of the fundamental documents of our democracy, the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, as well as the structure and process of government in a federal republic. Let’s take three cases in point.


Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

Food for Thought

Now that the excitement, tears, and post-election euphoria of the presidential election has receded, the headlines have returned to the country’s very serious economic woes, and the news gets worse by the day. It is becoming more evident that the “top-down” bailout of Wall Street pushed by the Bush Administration is not working at the current funding level and the lame duck and his banking-insider treasury secretary will soon be asking for more. Already, AIG—whose executives continue to enjoy lavish getaways, now at the public’s expense—got yet another nearly $40 billion in the past few days. The corporate capitalists that control our government who constantly whine about “socialism” for ordinary citizens every time a new program like universal health care is proposed, have no compunctions about seeing that the rich get it in a sleight-of-hand inversion of the Robin Hood method.