We Want to be Smart Like Lake Havasu

To realize the glory of San Jose, including desolate downtown, try moving to Cocoa Beach, Florida, as I did last year.  I would give anything to be back in San Jose complaining about tumbleweeds tumbling across San Carlos, or watching children cavorting on the Quetzalcoatl Statue. Cocoa Beach has its attractions: the annual “I Dream of Jeannie Look-a-Like Contest,” and the world renowned Ron Jon Surf Shop. But that’s about it except for a pawn shop built to resemble a castle and painted orange. Not complaining. I like the beach. But I can’t stop thinking about San Jose with its odd charms and central location. I don’t think downtown San Jose really needs “saving,” but some judicious purchase of “wonders” would liven things up a bit.

Wonders, man-made or natural, provide immense cultural manna for a city. Build one and the tourists will come. Oh yes, they will come. Cocoa Beach has Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and people from Germany show up; stark-raving-mad San Francisco has The Golden Gate Bridge, and the Arizona town of Lake Havasu has the London Bridge. That is the wonder that San Jose should sit up and take notice of, because San Jose could do something similar.

In 1968, Lake Havasu paid $2,460,000 for the London Bridge, had it replanted on Lake Havasu, and the town has been rolling in its own Uncle Scrooge McDuck money bin ever since. People love the store-bought bridge, fraught as it is with English history. A quaint English village was built alongside, with quaint shoppes to bring in a lot of quaint money.

An example of wonder-buying that didn’t pan out occurred when Jamis MacNiven of Woodside made a six-figure offer to the Russian government for the body of Lenin. Deputy Minister Yuri Evanchenko considered the offer but declined. Surely San Jose has deeper pockets to make a more enticing offer. Lenin could be placed in the glass dome of City Hall or some such. The world is full of struggling countries rife with wonders. Opportunism beckons. To start, we could buy Lake Havasu’s motto, “300 days of sun, and 365 days of fun.” Now that is a motto.


  1. Well, technically, the mayor will be lying in state for the rest of his term since he is now politically dead.

  2. Good stuff, Eric.  I hope you will do something more regulary.  I enjoy your point of view.

    Once we get rid of Gonzales, maybe we can take over San Diego’s motto.

  3. Eric, we greatly miss you here in San Jose.  You kept your finger on the pulse of doings around here.  Too, your history-minded Underbelly columns were always interesting and humorous… my favorite remains you tome on the albino colony up in Alum Rock Park.  Nuke that Cocoa Beach gig and come back to us!

  4. San Jose is content to bask in the shadow of “The City That Knows How” to the North mainly because its citizens themselves lack character & consistantly refuse to part with a dollar to create an idenity which would set the city a part from the others in the Bay Area and elsewhere.  San Jose has increasingly become populated by replanted, shallow, and insecure wannabes for the last 25 years.  These people, added to the aging former orchard owners who spend what little time they have left on earth seeking free events to attend, eating samples at Costco, and avoiding any establishment that doesn’t offer a senior discount, makes for a very pathetic combination.  First. the wanabe’s try to avoid admitting they even live in San Jose. Any of them living within 5 miles of Los Gatos, Saratoga, or Santa Clara are quick to proclaim that city as their home town.  And since when did Almaden or Willow Glen become cities of their own.  I believe addresses in those areas are still San Jose, CA.  And to our aging, multi-Certificate of Deposit citizens who use the word “No” as a knee jerk reaction to baseball stadiums or anything that might increase taxes and hold dearly onto Prop. 13 which has kept their property taxes in the 1970’s era, San Jose still maintains an image of flea markets, Post Street winos, and the taste of sulfer water from Alum Rock Park.  My God, even when the city makes a bold move with a project like Santana Row, it shows its true colors by spray painting the old Courtesy Cheverolet sign & using it as its marquie.  A motto for San Jose?  How about, “Anything To Save A Buck.”

  5. #6 – Way to go. Spew insults about people and places of which you know not.
    Great way to win people over to your side, whatever that might be.

  6. It would have bee interesting to see my views rebutted with facts by Dan S., but all he can offer is the threat of catching me tell the truth.  He says he’s lived all over the world without citing where and, as we all know, there are hell hole cities spanning the globe that would even make San Jose look like Shangrila.  As for “Time To Go”, he/she felt insulted by having to come to terms with falling into one of the two groups I had described and probably earned that name by always being first in line at Century 21, waiting for free theater tickets.  At least Eric Carlson has the character that so many in San Jose lack to look in the mirror and agree that my views had “more than a few elements of truth.”  And thanks, Mr. Carlson, for helping me educate those misguided soles who indicate Willow Glen as their city address when Willow Glen has been San Jose for almost 70 years.  Next, I’d suggest we break the hard news to many who live in Campbell that they do not reside in Los Gatos, but I don’t want to be responsible for all the suicides.  My point being this – Cowtown is gone, Ozzie atop the El Rancho Drive-in is history, the Garden Theater has been raped with its lodge seating in the past, San Jose Hospital with the Medicine Man seating atop has been raized, Hart’s Dept. store with its counter dining in the basement is gone as well as memories of the Hart kidnapping forgotten, the parrot that greeted us at Andy’s Pet Shop is long dead after being poisoned and there is nothing left but a huge bedroom community called San Jose with its residents obsessed with the dollar appreciation of their post-war, cookie cutter house.

  7. A. Robb –
    Perhaps the reason you are not getting too many reponses is that many participants on this site have spent their fair share of time bashing San Jose (on many of the points you are making). 

    It has gotten a bit old – so if you were a little more constructive (for lack of a better term) in your comments you may actually create a conversation about these issues.  Just a comment from the peanut gallery.

    I guess just keep on bashing San Jose and it’s residents until it is out of your system.  We will keep agreeing with you.  It’s a free country.

  8. Aye caramba ARobb!

    Do you by chance play the character “Plankton” on Spongebob?

    Nowadays they have really cool things called “Moving Vans” that you can rent and stuff – you should check ‘em out.

    I even imagine that your neighbors would be willing to lend a hand and help you load the truck, even a fund raiser to help you on your way.

  9. Novice, by your salutation, it’s obvious you live in Tropicana Village on the East side of the city.  Spending all your time on Snell Road gives you a limited view of the city and causes everyone to ignore your viewpoint.

  10. Ditto, A. Robb. 
    I was born in San Jose and lived there from the 1940’s to the year 2000.  I’m what you would call an aficionado of what San Jose used to be like.  It was all about life at it’s best – The Wonder Years.  A place to have big dreams and lasting memories.  We all lived the good life.  Then the stench of selfishnish rolled in and engulfed the city as pungent as the sulfur water (rotten egg) aroma from Alum Rock Park.  Our parents passed Prop. 13 and said no more tax dollars for schools or improvements.  No new sports team complex. The city is “good enough” as is. “To hell with future generations!”.  Now, if you want to get the older generation out of the house or away from devouring more than their fair share of free cookies and coffee at their bank – then you must offer them free entertainment, free give aways, free theater tickets, free! free!  free!.  And all to the generation that holds the greatest wealth in the nation both in CD’s,  Bay Area real estate and sacks of free promotional junk from corporate trade shows.  Ever see a San Jose senior citizen wearing a cap that didn’t bear the logo of a company?  Right… my 75 year old neighbor knew what ADOBE ACROBAT meant on his cap. Free!  Free!  Free!  Add the new insecure wannabees to this cheapskate generation and you’ve really got a smorgasbord sporting a variety the Perry Boys would envy.  Comprised of the old rich folks frightened of mis-spending one single dollar or the new transplants who are obscessed and hyper-protective of their “university” degrees from third world nations.  I didn’t know that 88 percent of Doctorate Degrees came from Dogombadan.  No more for me, I  
    moved to San Francisco.  A real city with a world renown identity, genuine culture and a true historical past.  Not – “Hey, remember when that gas station used to be a Marie Calendar’s”.  SF is a city that is everlasting and greater than the some of it’s wacky parts (people).  SF will always be SF.  SJ is just a bunch of confused people spying out from behind their tightly closed Venitian Blinds not even trying to find their idenity. My only fear is that San Joseans’ growing elite psuedo-status of refering to every area as either Los Gatos or Willow Glen won’t be good enough…and that y’all will start claiming that anything north of Bascom Avenue is San Fransicso.

  11. Translations of the Robb-Buttler report will be available soon—as soon as somebody can interpret what they are talking about.

  12. Holy Frijoles ARobb!

    Did you just hit me with a racial slur?  (I’ll defer to the others on this board who excel at casually tossing race bombs for confirmation)

    In any event, you sound like:
    – you got wiped out in the dotcom bust
    – you’re an angry socialist who knows best how to manage other people money

    In any event you’re in dire need of some colonic hydrotherapy.  But luckily for you SF is close by – there must be heaps of places there that can help.

  13. Right on Eric!  Glad you’re still interested.  Dear A. Robb I have lived in Santa Clara, and presently live in Willow Glen (San Jose, CA) and I was born in that defunct structure at 15th and Santa Clara streets.  I have lived all over the world and when I was explaining to others where I was from it was always San Jose.  San Jose is the achor point.  There is really no shame about this being home town.  Sometimes the politics get pretty colorful.  But then………that’s the nature of American politics.  Get away with as much as you can until you are caught!

  14. Novice, your Homophobia is showing.  However, I find your knowledge of colonic hydrotherapy and suggestion where “heaps of places” are located very revealing.

  15. The rant by A. Rob (aka #6) Has more than a few elements of truth. I know a LOT of people like he describes. And admit I myself am a cheap bastard. The only reason I don’t go to free events is that I don’t like crowds.

    Willow Glen is indeed part of San Jose—since 1936. Before that it was incoporated as it’s own city, but only since 1927. So it was its own city for nine years.

  16. Living in various parts of the world was not the issue of my comments.  What I was trying to say was that I am proud to be from San Jose.  I reside in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose now.  I am a native son.  When I resided in Santa Clara, I used San Jose as the anchor point to give people a geographic idea where Santa Clara is.  It distresses me to observe that A. Robb seems to be defensive and have a chip on the shoulder.  I understand he lives way on the outskirts of Los Gatos just north of the Campbell border.

  17. ARobb Compadre!

    You’d be amazed at what you can learn at Costco.

    Mi esposa was in the checkout line so I took my sample of tasty taters over to the big screens where Dr. Phil was talking about you know what.

    Needless to say I almost lost my appetite.

    Anyhoo – here’s some free advice – lighten up and take in as much of the meaning and spirit of Christmas as you can.

    Feliz Navidad amigo.

  18. Novice comments that it is amazing what you can learn at Costco. I guess the Spanish
    language is one of them. I’m sure it comes in handy when selling oranges on White Road.  And, Dan S., I don’t know where you got your understanding of where I live, but you are way off, not that anything’s wrong with living on the outskits of Los Gatos just north of Campbell as long as you tell people you live in Campbell.  You see, I’m a native son also and have probably forgotten more about San Jose than you actually know about this city.  Did you ever drink an artichoke milkshake on Steven’s Creek Blvd., cross downtown streets through underground walkways, eat at Sambo’s or Carnation’s Ice Cream on The Alameda, watch the Bees play baseball, smell the oder of Alviso, visit Frontier Village or see the 74 room masion on that same property, know when some one escaped from Agnew State Hospital, etc.?  I know this is Greek (apology to Novice) to some people, but they’re the same ones who have destroyed what once made San Jose unique and are probably the ones who spray painted the Courtesy Chevrolet sign and stuck it above Santana Row.

  19. Courtesy Chevrolet sign?
    Uhh yeah.  Got it.  Spray paint.  National outrage.
    I’m starting to think you were one of the escapees they never found.

    Hang in there ARobb!

  20. Novice, are you sure we’re talking about the same San Jose?  Everyone is referring to San Jose, CA, not San Jose, Costa Rica.

  21. Novice, I’m sure you’re decent person and I respect your right to express any opinion you wish.  Unfortunately, many of the comments regarding San Jose have gone right over your head.  I wish you well and hope you will take the time someday to learn about the good things that once made up my home town, but are now gone.  Maybe then, you can lead the charge for a future San Jose with its own unique idenity and proud citizenship.

  22. Ok, lemme see if I got this straight..

    There was a crazy guy from Alviso who had body odor, he then escaped from Agnews, spray painted the Courtesy Chevrolet sign, and stuck it up on top of Santana Row?

    That tops todays ostrich story by a mile!!

  23. Way to go A. Robb! 
    I have also enjoyed an artichoke shake on Stevens Creek Blvd., walked through the 74 room mansion adjacent to Frontier Village and all the other stuff you mentioned.  How about playing with the metal Tonka trucks at Kiddy World or eating at the Patio Buffett which was one of the first smorgasbords in the Bay Area. However, nothing beat The Fair smorgasbord – all you can eat foods from all over the nation.  Then take in a Bee’s game and watch new ball player (Kenzie Davis) race a Volkswagon then a race horse before a game.  Keep tell’n it like it is A. Robb – sounds like you and I were visting the Rosecrusian Museum when Tut was in diapers.  If some one (like this Novice character) doesn’t know who Ozzie was setting a record sitting atop the El Rancho Drive-in…then they are just minor leaguers (novices) and are all about nothing. Send their hot air and composted opinions to Gilroy, great for growing garlic and mushrooms.

  24. BButtler,
    You think you’re the only ones who’s hometown was screwed up by growth and development?

    Sure SJ was nice at one time, now it’s not as nice, you can say the same about *millions* of places.

    So what’s your point?

    Here’s a tip – try not to embody all the worst sterotypes out there for seasoned citizens.

  25. Dear Mr. Novice,
    You seem to be missing the point. San Jose was not screwed up by growth.  On the contrary, city growth is typically a positive thing since it may bring new art culture and theater, professional sports teams, gourmet restaurants, exciting night life, etc. San Jose is a unique experiment in human selfishness.  The issues the new comers bring are nothing more than a elitist joke, i.e.; stretching the boundries of Willow Glen, Los Gatos, Santa Clara, etc. just to include their home which is actually in San Jose or Campbell. However, it is San Jose’s long time natives that have grown into old (you know whats) that sock away every dime they have into mutliple Certificate of Deposit accounts and shoot down every voting measure that would bring progress and positive growth to the city. They don’t want change and they don’t pump money into the local economy such as New Yorkers or San Franciscans. Their NO CHANGE attitude has kept San Jose from becoming a tourist destination such as the cities mentioned above – more lost revenue for San Jose. A recent study conducted by A.G. Edwards placed San Jose at the top of the U.S. list of cities where the people have the highest savings account balances. See Associated Press columnist Jim Salter online – entitled: “Nobody can put money away for safekeeping like the people in San Jose”. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the wealthy, I’m disgusted with people (especially over 60 and 70) who hord money and not only deprive city growth but also live their frightened lives in deprivation. San Jose also holds the record per capita for lowest new auto sales, lowest restaurant revenue, lowest in new large ticket item purchases(refrigerators, TV’s, etc.) lowest in computer sales (and this is silicon valley???)  But ranked 2nd only to Las Vegas in public freebees- i.e.; giveaways, hats, pens, fans, calendars, food tasting, free outdoor music and ice skating all done to motivate people who won’t spend a buck.  No, Mr. Novice, it’s not about San Jose being screwed up by growth, it’s about a disease of epidemic proportion spread amoung it’s native children -self-centered greed and selfishnish.  It’s going to take many decades to raise San Jose to the next level and achieve renowned city greatness. The funny thing is – is that it will be the new commer psuedo-elitists that achieve this.  Splurging for a senior coffee once a week (the other 6 days is free coffee at your bank) is not in their blood – at least I can respect that about them!

  26. On one hand there’s the constant lament that US per capita savings rates are the lowest of all western nations… and then there’s BButtler.

    Given that SJ city government has proven itself time and again to be nothing but a tax dollar graveyard of waste and mismanagement   (lightrail, city hall, etc.) why should anyone with a brainwave want to entrust CH with their hard earned money?

    (BTW – now that you live in that shangri-la known as San Francisco, how do you feel about your tax dollars being used to subsidize sex change operations for city workers?)

    If old-timers want to hang on to their money and pass it on to their kids, then so be it. 

    If you want to donate your wealth to Team Malfeasance (Ron and Cindy and the gang) or to   Team Rainbow Malfeasance in SF then go for it. 

    But do us a favor and ease up on the elitism.

  27. Dear Mr. Novice,
    At least you are consistent in all of your postings.  Rather than make keen points to support your position and properly debate an issue, you attack everyone on a personal level.  You make wild unsupported generalizations and expect to be taken seriously.  Your comments in postings 12, 16 & 19 are rude attacks on the individual not the issue at hand…not to mention your obvious homo-phobia in 28.  Your comments in 23 show you have no clue about San Jose history.  The Courtesy Chevrolet sign was just that from 1959 until they turned it into the sign for Santana Row. Oh, you thought that Santana Row had adopted GM’s Chevy logo?  Nevertheless, I am not interested in dealing with someone ruled by their emotions and uncontrolled bursts of impatience and intollerance.  Think before you post or speak – for that matter. You are easily exciteable and high strung. You must be difficult at work, or maybe you are self employed and since you answer to no one, you have no self-discipline.  To respond directly to your last comment, No – I have never thought of you as an elitist.  I have a certain regard for dayworkers and their plight to put food on the table.

  28. #28 must’ve hit pretty close to home.

    The issue at hand?

    Well it took about a dozen posts/counterposts wading through fond memories of Courtesy Chevrolets and Artichokes to find out that there weren’t any issues to begin with.

    Just a lot of anger and resentment (dare I say intolerance?) about people who have different values than you, came here from other places, etc.

    Be glad you had the good fortune to live in the valley when you did and have the fond memories from those times – and leave it at that.

  29. Novice, you’re not taking your medication as prescribed and therefore your mental state is unstable.  You tell B. Butler to have tolerance with people of different values then proceed to gay bash for the second time.  So whose values are you referring to –  just yours?  No one has an issue with those who come from other places, but we do have a problem when they bring those other places with them and expect those of us who’ve lived here all our lives to conform to their ways and sometimes language.  It’s like a guest in your own home sitting down at your dining room table and then telling you there isn’t any room for you to sit.  And, old-timers, as you call them certainly don’t mind discounts or anything free when it’s subsidized by tax dollars.  I’d say more, but it’s time again for your medication.  Enjoy your nap and don’t worry, no one will try to change your sex while you’re asleep.

  30. I seem to have unwittingly stumbled into a confrontation with the membership of the Gray Gay and Transgender Defense League (GGTDL).

    Who knew there was such an organization?

    It truly has been a hoot – many thanks for all the entertainment.  Promise that you’ll continue to hang out at SJI.

    You chronologically gifted gentlepeople have the last word.

    (Note that I said “gentlepeople” instead of “gentlemen” because “gentleman” might be construed as offensive and intolerant in the event that either or both of you happened to be transgender)

  31. #27 Comment about the money being saved by San Joseans (among 60’s and 70’s) is interesting.  I will have to go back and read that article. In the little debate going on I actually found some good tidbits of information…

  32. I have lived in SJ all 86 years of my life. I have reviewed postings 1 thru 33 and offer the following:  Whereas A.Robb certainly has the gift of flair, I agree with most of what he says.  After all, I see myself and many of my friends, some still alive, that think in a manner that benefits the individual and not the whole.  I have done very well financially here but still love a free cup ‘o joe at the bank or a free ice skating show downtown.  Other than a Senior Coffee at Denny’s, my money remains in CD’s. This Novice fellow seems to be missing the many points through all the one ups-man-ship hoopla and he only clouds the issue with the personal attacks.  He sounds like some of the complaining, “do nothing” local politicians. Those of us who think of ourselves as the sons and daughters of San Jose should give back all we can to a city that gave us of everything.  And thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only one who laughs at the Santana Row sign, formally Courtesy Chevrolet sign and current General Motors logo.

  33. I just read all the above post. Wow, and to think I have always regreted moving away from my birthplace (San Mateo) and proving grounds.  I have lived from Salinas to SM, and the cities between with the exception of Watsonville, Gilroy, Cambell, Alviso, Mt.View, and EPA. With Santa Clara/San Jose (I had two residences) as my last Ca addresses (1985).
    I plan on moving back to the area soon, (probably not SJ though. Has Woodside changed much since ‘85? Menlo?) I guess it would not matter to me where. If that stomach turning smell(for miles) producing slaughter house in Milpitas is still there, even it would be better than all the nothing this truly un-dynamic city that could not even decide what state it would reside. The people here are always bragging how great it is to live in Johnson County-the3rd weathiest county per capita in the US. (outdated statisic, I’m sure). I have lived there. It has regular cities, not any nicer than Redwood City. Sure, there is an area with nothing but $2m mansions, but they are all in a gated community, with about 25’ between homes in unfenced, 2-3 tree yards. (???) Why zone a communtiy of giant houses in a regular neigborhood format. All I can think is that these are really scared people or it is just an extreme case of ‘keeping up with the Jones’.
    As far as local government, all I need to say is that I live in the county next to Johnson County-Wyandotte County. East Palo Alto is like WC. And like there, where Palo Alto/Menlo/Atherton are right next to EPA. So it is with JC and WC.  Social/finacial differences between the two are mirrored here also. WC residents pay approx. 30% higher property taxes than the affluent JC’ers.
    I know it seems I am on the wrong forum and maybe I am. I just wanted to say that even the worst part of Bakersfield or Chular is better than the finest here. There is no reason (on this thread) for racial attacks. I am white, but I miss the cultural diversity in place there. There are only fat rednecks (not a racial slur) and ganstas (I will leave that one to you), and I have had enough of both.