Anyone who knows me knows that I refuse to step outside my house with out a perfectly coiffed gigantic pouf of hair on top of my head, an asset I was very proud of untilÂ I came across these images: hair hats by Nagi Noda!! Pretty rad. My hair skills are feeling a bit amateur right now. Check out her website for this and other projects!Â http://www.naginoda.com
The endless summer has somehow managed to come to an end. We had our moments this year â€“ beach trips, picnics, bonfires, camping, afternoons in the pool, long laughs on the front porch. The list goes on. Thatâ€™s it â€“ for those of us returning to school, you can count your days of freedom on your two hands by this time. For those of us working, you canâ€™t even do that. I donâ€™t know about you guys, but Iâ€™ve always viewed the end of the summer as the beginning of a new year. As the greatest season, it feels like all of the year before it accumulates into summertime and then it starts all over again with the coming of Fall. So, in that case, Happy New Year, guys! Young hearts run free. Take a moment to become achingly aware of your surroundings. You canâ€™t be young again, but I swear you can feel this way forever.
Despite its inescapable suburban sprawl and rotten, culturally vacant downtown core, San Jose does offer its share of hidden treasures â€“ local businesses that offer high-quality goods and services against the crushing odds of ubiquitous chain stores and the continuing economic disaster that is the United States.
When measured against those obstacles, these local businessesâ€™ fine work is even more impressive.Â Although good service and customer satisfaction should always be a businessâ€™s chief concerns, the establishments listed here go beyond those antiquated standards of American commerce.Â Hard as it is to find truly unique homegrown businesses in strip-mall country, these are worth seeking out and deserve your undying loyalty. Each comes highly recommended.
Trials and Teskeâ€™s are located next door to each other near downtown San Jose on First Street and also happen to be the two best bars in San Jose, so their proximity is an enormous convenience and, I hope, a mutual boon.Â Trials is English/Irish in theme, and its dÃ©cor is appropriately reminiscent of a neighborhood pub in a small English town.Â The bar is long, and there limited table seating in the back.
Trials offers about 20 very decent beers on draft, with more in bottles, and a full bar besides.Â A standard pub menu is available, and the food is a notch or two above competent.Â Trials can be a rambunctious place, but rarely obnoxious.Â Even on crowded nights, patrons are more concerned with enjoying themselves than with putting on a show.Â There are no televisions, live music, or other such distractions â€“ Trials is a neighborhood place, where friends meet and drink and chat.
Teskeâ€™s is German in thrust, and it has a sizable sit-down restaurant attached to the bar. Two large dining rooms offer a full range of German grub, and itâ€™s supposed to be quite good.Â The truth is Iâ€™ve never eaten there, so I can only discuss the bar, which has more than enough to recommend it.Â The bar is small, dimly lit, and made even darker by the rich wood of the bar, chairs, and tables therein.Â A broad selection of fine German beers and an even more unusual menu of schnapps make Teskeâ€™s stand out from just about every other place in the South Bay.
The beer and schnapps are fantastic, well worth experimenting with â€“ try the jagertee (pictured; it does not contain Jagermeister).Â Keep in mind that Teskeâ€™s is small; itâ€™s still a lot of fun on a Friday or Saturday night, but can be cramped.
Lindsay has been going to Maiâ€™s regularly for just over a year and she has yet to be disappointed.Â This family-owned business on San Joseâ€™s East Side is operated like a goddamn machine.Â Mai and her staff crank out an enormous amount of work.Â Lindsayâ€™s specific, detailed instructions have been followed to the letter, with nary a hitch.Â The only downside is the distance, but Maiâ€™s dependable, thorough work is well worth the extra gas.
One of the fastest, most satisfying business transactions Iâ€™ve ever had in San Jose was downtown at Hubcap City.
It was early 2008, and I was getting ready to sell my 1990 Toyota Corolla.Â It had over 215,000 miles on it, but believe it or not, the car looked really good.Â Only the hubcaps had been scratched to hell, mostly thanks to my iffy parallel parking skills.Â Getting replacements took all of three â€“ maybe four â€“ minutes.Â I walked in, announced my carâ€™s make and model information, and followed the clerk as he grabbed brand-new versions of my hubcaps off his well-stocked walls.Â Then, he swept outside and in a matter of seconds, made the switch.Â He trashed my old hubcaps and took me back inside to run my credit card.Â It was all over before I even knew it.Â My only regret is that I donâ€™t need hubcaps more often.
Bookstores are for people who like books and reading, and in San Jose those people are among its most woebegone citizens.Â But Recycle Books is there to help, at either of their two locations â€“ over on The Alameda or in downtown Campbell.
As a resource, itâ€™s a solid shop, packed with books in every genre.Â Selection can be unpredictable, which is part of the fun.Â Most of the stock is used, but books are generally in good condition.Â They also carry a fair number of new books, many of which reflect the idiosyncrasies of the management and staff, and not the most recent New York Time Bestseller List.Â The original store on the Alameda has is larger, but both are cozy, quiet, inviting, friendly places where youâ€™re bound to stumble across at least a few unusual finds per visit.
Los Gatos used to be a place to avoid â€“ a haven for silver-spoon teens and their drunken, sandal-clad parents, but the sociological freak show of Santana Row has turned this little town nestled at the cool base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in a bucolic suburb of unusual tranquility.Â There are high-quality establishments here, including the bakery Icing on the Cake and several terrific restaurants.Â (The bars arenâ€™t so great, despite ample testimony to the contrary by locals.)Â Dolce Spazio is the town gelateria, and itâ€™s a fantastic one.Â Quick, friendly service presides over about twenty flavors, which rotate regularly.Â Keep your eye out for the rarely-seen Nutella flavor which, Lindsay will tell you, is a gift from some sort of divine protector of all things dairy.Â They offer espresso and coffee, too.
I took my camera out the other night and played around with lights and longer exposures. Feel free to turn on the soundtrack to Disneyland's Electric Light Parade while viewing (idea via Burbach). Planning to experiment more soon!
Here are some of the shots I took (click on the photo twice to make it larger):
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