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CONTENT Silicon Valley’s Innovative and Creative Culture


Poet | Activist

Synchronized swimming | Hula Hoop Culture | Academic Coffee content magazine, san jose

Perform 9.4 $9.95


2 N . M A R K E T S T R E E T, S U I T E 1 0 0 , S A N J O S E , C A 9 5 1 1 3 / P : 4 0 8 . 2 9 3 . 4 2 4 2 / U M B R E L L A S A L O N . C O M

Upcoming events >> Universal Grammar (UG) is a boutique production house that presents quality artistry from emerging contemporary voices. An ambassador for modern cultural creativity, UG's curated offerings reveal a devotion to authentic artistry that both challenges modern convention and respects its given craft.

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CONTENT Issue 9.4 “Perform” Sept / Oct 2017

The Makers: Cultivator Daniel Garcia

Editors Odile Sullivan-Tarazi Vila Schwindt, Elizabeth Sullivan Kelsy Thompson, Grace Olivieri Laura Larson, Katherine Hypes Brand Director Julia Canavese Production/Partnerships Kristen Pfund Circulation/Distribution Elle Mitchell

Designers Elle Mitchell, Maggie Moore Photographers Stan Olszewski, Arabela Espinoza Scott MacDonald, Jay Aguilar Jaymaer Delapena Writers Tad Malone, Kate Evans Nathan Zanon, Diane Solomon Johanna Hickle, Brandon Roos Francisco Alvarado, Tracy Lee Summer Interns Haley Kim, Nick Panoutsos, Rashi Gupta Tiffany Ngo, Isabel Brulé


We are all performers: you know, “All the world’s a stage, etc.” In relationships, as students, and definitely at work, people review, assess, and critique us on what we do. As we do with others, even if this means simply evaluating someone’s character: do they live up to who they say they are, what they say they’ll do? This magazine is a collection of various performers—writers, editors, photographers, designers—each called upon to act out a task for the purpose of presenting it to others. Sometimes those performances are undertaken solely for the love of it, like hooping or being a part of a polo club. The joy of these activities isn’t overly tied to our performance. While other activities, like competitive synchronized swimming, are closely and meticulously measured and scored. In this issue, we bring you a few of the performers that are sometimes overlooked: the person who lights the theater, the soccer player looking to build an international career, and the rich heritage of Mexican Folklórico dance. Our hope is that you will be inspired to participate with these people or to find your own joyful place to perform. Enjoy.

Daniel Garcia The Cultivator

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Content Perform 9.4 Sept / Oct 2017 San Jose, California

Day Trip


Pleasanton, Ca

Art & Design

10 Artist, Emily Funkhouser 14 Artist, Martin Malvar 18 Stage Lighting, Nick Kumamoto


20 26 30 34 38 44 50 58

Silicon Valley Melting Pot, Tech Profiles Magician, Michael Stroud Judo Coach, Yoshihiro Uchida Grupo Folklórico, Los Lupeños de San José Polo Club, South Bay Polo Club Futbolista, Victor Parra Synchro, Santa Clara Aquamaids & Stanford Synchronized Swimming Hula Hoop Culture, Hoopers

Emily Funkhouser, pg. 10

Food & Drink

66 70 74 78

RawDaddy Foods, James Hall Vitamina, Carlos Jiménez Cárdenas Academic Coffee, Frank Nguyen Hawaiian Poke Bowl, Marcia Ribeiro


80 82 84 86 90

Jazz Singer, Ren Geisick Band, Love District Universal Grammar Music Series Producer, Turbo Sonidero Album Picks, Universal Grammar


Synchronized Swimming, pg. 50

92 Poet, Asha Sudra


98 Dean’s List, Arabela Espinoza 106 108 110 111 113

Content Calendar Content LAB Content Contributors Walk San Jose, Downtown: Innovation, Arts & Education Content Partners

South Bay Polo Club, pg. 38

Los Lupeños, pg. 34


The right environment connects ideas and sparks innovation.

Next-level meeting spaces at San Jose McEnery Convention Center The historic California Theatre The historic City National Civic The historic Center for the Performing Arts The historic Montgomery Theater and more

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Need an escape? Don’t have a lot of time? Living in Silicon Valley provides you with all kinds of options for a short getaway. From the beach to the mountains, wineries to windsurfing, the South Bay is one of the best hubs for launching into world-class scenery and activities. So why not take a day trip?

Day trip


Pleasanton, Ca. Written by Kristi Clubb Photography by Daniel Garcia If you’re itching to get away from all the hustle and bustle of city life, and want to spend your day in a quiet community filled with great food and family-friendly activities, Pleasanton is the place for you. Formerly a cowboy town, Pleasanton has one of the most picturesque little downtown areas in the Bay Area. Start your day at Inklings Coffee & Tea, right in the middle of Main Street, a unique place with tons of character, a welcoming atmosphere, and plenty of cozy nooks to curl up in with a good book—or to sit in and chat. Modeled after the pub where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their buddies used to meet to critique each other’s writing, Inklings is a quirky, comfy space to sit in and sip awhile. If you’re hungry instead for something more hearty than specialty coffee and a homemade pastry, walk a few blocks down to Cafe Main, a homey spot that serves gourmet comfort food, smoothies, and adult beverages all day long. After breakfast, you might be in the mood to stretch your legs. If you happen to be visiting on a Saturday morning, you can head across the street to browse the charming Farmers’ Market held there year-round. If you’re in town when a trade show or festival is being hosted at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, you might want to hop on over there. If you’ve got little ones with you, perhaps you’d like to explore one of the many parks sprinkled throughout the city. Nearby

Bernal Community Park has fun play structures, a zip line, several sports fields, picnic benches, and walking trails for folks of all ages to enjoy. If you and your party are up for a more intense athletic endeavor, bring some hiking shoes or a trail bike along and hit the trails over at the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park. With staging grounds just a 10-minute drive from downtown, the ridge has over 5,200 acres of pastoral, oak-covered hills waiting to be explored. Whatever your activity, you’ll definitely need something cool and yummy afterwards. Just head back toward downtown and grab a couple of soft-serve ice cream cones at the convenient drive-through Meadowlark Dairy. It’s a place with history, family-owned since the 1960s, and one of the few drivethroughs left of its kind. After your tasty treat, you might be interested in checking out a couple of the shops on Main Street. Looking for shoes or clothing? Try Therapy for a fun selection. Prefer to browse fine art, handcrafted jewelry, or glass and sculpture? In that case, Studio Seven Arts is just the thing. Also along Main Street you’ll find a locally owned book store, a boutique pet store, a western apparel shop, and an eclectic toy store. If you’re in the mood for some highquality live entertainment, look no further than Pleasanton’s Firehouse Arts Center, a gorgeously designed cultural arts center that features a 221-seat theater, the fine arts


Harrington Art Gallery, and a classroom space. Located just a block away from Main Street in what used to be the city’s original fire station, the arts center showcases performances of all sorts throughout the year. With all that hiking and shopping, or forays into the arts, it’s undoubtedly time for a meal. One great option is to stroll down to Gay Nineties Pizza, a nostalgic pizza joint with red-leather-lined booths, antique lamps, and historical memorabilia lining the walls. They’ve also got great patio seating if you’d like to eat your delicious sourdough specialty pizza al fresco. Prefer some local craft beer? Head down to Handles Gastropub, at the opposite end of Main Street. Located inside the historic Pleasanton Hotel, Handles has 30 beers and 16 wines rotating on tap, and prides itself on serving high-quality, farm-fresh American cuisine. The OMG Meatloaf is one local favorite. Enjoy your meal on the delightful tree-covered patio, or relax inside the classy, pub-like dining room. As an added bonus, Handles hosts live music regularly, all year long. After a day spent exploring just a bit of what Pleasanton has to offer, you’ll see why so many young families choose to put down roots here. A restful, slow-paced town, just a stone’s throw from the thrills that the rest of the Bay Area offers, Pleasanton is an absolute gem.

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530 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566


401 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566


77 West Angela Street Pleasanton, CA 94566


4501 Pleasanton Avenue Pleasanton, CA 94566

Main Street


7001 Pleasanton Avenue Pleasanton, CA 94566


Foothill Road Pleasanton, CA 94588 Meadowlark Dairy Mural



57 West Neal Street Pleasanton, CA 94566


525 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566 Gay Nineties Pizza

Firehouse Arts Center Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria


400 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566

Welcome to Pleasanton, CA Population: 70,285


(Gallery Hours: Wed–Fri 12–5pm, Sat 11am–3pm) 4444 Railroad Avenue Pleasanton, CA 94566

Just 25 miles north of the heart of San Jose, Pleasanton is a quiet little city nestled between some hike-friendly foothills to the west and winery-rich countryside to the east. Originally an outpost where desperados took refuge after plundering those heading home from gold rush hills, Pleasanton is now a lovely, affluent community where folks from all over come to settle down.


288 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566


855 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566

Inklings Coffee & Tea



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Design funkhouser Written by Tad Malone Photography by Daniel Garcia social media: funkhouserdesign

Emily Funkhouser uses the aesthetic vibrancy of nature to create her understated designs.


esigner, artist, and educator Emily Funkhouser grew up in a family of creative thinkers and firmly believes that the word “artistic” is best defined as a way of being in the world, rather than a crafter of a specific kind of product. Originally from New England, Funkhouser earned a degree in individualized study from New York University, with an emphasis in anthropology and art history. Even before she stepped foot on a university campus, her education was very arts-centric. Her high school offered a wide range of creative classes, and at the age of sixteen, she took part in a summer arts program at Rhode Island School of Design. A year later, she studied art history and photography at Parsons School of Design, which she credits with informing her artistic style. After college, Funkhouser spent some time in the New York arts scene, but those lofty inspirations withered when weighed against her need to make the rent. So Funkhouser went back to school. This time, inspired by how art can be a transformative educational tool, she earned her Master of Arts in Education from Harvard University. “If making art is about provoking people to have new ideas or perceptions, then

I felt that teaching art was essentially the same thing,” Funkhouser explains. Not long after finishing her master’s degree, she was tapped for Google’s emerging child development program, and Funkhouser moved West. For a while, she had trouble finding people in the San Jose area she could talk to about design and maker culture, much less fine art. So, after initially trying to learn how to blow glass, Funkhouser returned to her roots in nature for inspiration. “When I moved to San Jose three years ago,” Funkhouser recalls, “I was able to get a bigger space with a garage so I could start painting again. That was when I reconnected with that practice on a regular basis.” In those three years, Funkhouser has grown into her artistic identity. “When I was younger, I tried to make edgier, in-your-face sorts of things—often about political and identity issues. A lot of mixed media collages about women’s rights and their role in society,” she says. “When I came back to art full-time, I was in a different place artistically.” From sturdy porcelain mugs, bowls, and trays, to meditative, expressionistic drawings of the natural world, Funkhouser Design has earned a reputation for clean, elegant art and


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crafts. Combining an austerity that arises from both efficiency and the striking ambiguity of the natural world, Funkhouser creates designs that are engaging in their nuance and bold in their physicality. Like the natural gradients of color and texture in her ceramic pieces, Funkhouser’s paintings and drawings are often abstract expressions of plants like moss or lichen. Primarily working in gouache, oil pastel, or ink, her paintings are enrapturing blurs of color. “I’ve been inspired by California, the natural world, and how things grow,” she says. “I thought cactuses were really poetic and spoke to the resilience in nature, and I wanted to capture that.” Funkhouser is as pragmatic as she is creative. Her ceramic work, for example, came to fruition after she realized how many unused pots she had sitting around her home. “That’s how Funkhouser Design came to be. It’s a way of not having my house fill up with pottery and a way of subsidizing my creativity,” she says.

Funkhouser’s art and designs have become careful meditations on the world around her, extrapolated into both figurative and physical forms, and people are taking notice. She credits San Jose Made, an organization that strives to create business opportunities for artists, for the exposure. A big proponent of maker culture, Funkhouser has been selling her work in numerous pop-up shops and other events in the Bay Area, including Renegade Craft Fair, Maker Faire Bay Area, and the Downtown Bazaar at Local Color in San Jose. As for the future, Funkhouser has no expectations, just a loyalty to her sense of expression. “In fine arts there is so much to the business of it, and I’m not interested in that. Whereas craft and pursuing the field of craft has been more genuine and authentic,” she reflects. “I just want to find a balance between those two worlds.”


MARTIN MALVAR Written by Tad Malone Photography by Brian Rampas





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orn and raised in Fremont, artist Martin Malvar grew up in a house steeped in creativity. The son of an architect and drafter, Malvar came of age watching his father design and render figures with an exact, seemingly machine-like precision—all with a ballpoint pen. “I would watch him and just trip out,” Malvar recalls, laughing. With a brother and sister who also work as artist and illustrator, respectively, it was inevitable that Malvar would fall in with the family profession. In high school he dabbled in drawing, his signature character a figure with spiky hair and wild eyes. But it wasn’t until a particular class at San Francisco State University, which he credits for igniting his artistic ambitions, that Malvar decided to take art seriously. Starting with 30-page sketchbooks, Malvar dedicated himself to filling them—to the point that he couldn’t believe how much progress he’d made in such a short time. “It gave me confidence to look at it and see all the art that piled up day by day,” Malvar says. Characterized by spare, bold arrangements, Malvar’s art often features figures without faces in articulated motion or stylized contemplation. In soft but definitive lines, Malvar’s art gently deconstructs people into their archetypal forms, their elemental feelings. From esoteric expressions of sweeping feeling to more pointed commentaries on the absurdity of life, Malvar constantly returns to his humanoid figures, working and reworking their shape and form. The figures are all cast with the same blank expression because, he says, they act as a conduit for his social perception. “It’s people in general, but I don’t know them, so their faces might as well all be the same.” Although he prefers to work in gouache or watercolor, Malvar is no stranger to different media. Whether it’s using Photoshop to polish a design for a skateboard or working in oil to enliven a larger canvas, Malvar uses whatever tools best express his intent. Tonally, he often works in

color—painting his figures in vibrant hues—but of late, Malvar has gravitated to the finality of black and white. Inspired by the brooding sliceof-life drawings of Raymond Pettibon, as well as art that adorns skateboard decks and clothing, Malvar draws with an illustrator’s acumen and an expressionist’s heart. He has also recently been experimenting with media newer to him, such as block printing, to challenge his creative perceptions. Since he started putting himself and his work out there, Malvar has been amazed and gratified by the response. A long-time skateboarder, Malvar worked up the courage to pass some art along to the owner of Red Curbs Skate Shop, who loved it so much that he printed a line of decks featuring Malvar’s creations. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and Malvar plans to design more boards for the shop in the future, if not as a career. “Doing art for skateboards has been a dream for me since I was a kid. It’s so gnarly,” he says of the experience. Beyond skateboard decks, Malvar has shown his art in numerous places in the Bay Area, including Philz Coffee in Cupertino, Red Curbs, and various student shows at SF State. His biggest and most exciting exhibition was last year at Chromatic Coffee in San Jose, where he filled an entire wall with his art, selling a few pieces in the process. “People ask me what I’m going to do with my art degree. I always say I want to make skateboard graphics, since skateboarding is such a big part of my life,” Malvar says. “It has really been pushing me forward, so why would I want to stop?” He’s still finishing his degree in fine arts, specializing in drawing and painting, but Malvar already has his sights set on the future. Currently he’s making T-shirts featuring his art, something he never before considered doing. “It’s a positive experience growing in art,” he says. “Learning, meeting new people, and establishing connections has been such a thrill.”

instagram: nitramravlam 16

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NICK KUMAMOTO Interview by Kate Evans Photography by arabela Espinoza

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“Lighting helps tell the audience where to look and how to feel about what they are seeing and, in that way, is integral to storytelling.”

_ Nick Kumamoto


ick Kumamoto is the resident lighting and video designer for City Lights Theater Company in downtown San Jose, the master electrician for Opera San José, and a freelance designer for many other companies in the area, including Berkeley Playhouse, Children’s Musical Theater San Jose, and Palo Alto Players. Kumamoto is a recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Award and a Theatre Bay Area Award for his lighting design in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at City Lights Theater Company. Kumamoto knows that lighting design doesn’t happen in a vacuum. As an integral part of the Bay Area’s eclectic theater scene, he understands how cross-pollination works to create a whole out of many parts. Likewise, a designer may bring his own ideas to the table, but lighting design is only successful as part of the whole, furthering the narrative.

dance a few years ago called Six Psalms, written and directed by Mark Larson and featuring Kristin and another actor, Nick Manfredi. The script calls for one actor and one dancer, but our final conception of the show included a third character: the lighting designer. The show was performed with a small number of lighting instruments and a bare light bulb on the ground controlled by a lighting console in the performance space. Those sorts of collaborations that begin early in the process are some of the most rewarding work you can do. Is lighting a part of a larger production team effort? How do you work with others to achieve the overall aesthetic? Collaboration is a difficult thing to teach and is often something you develop over time with people. My best collaborators are designers and directors who I can depend on to make choices that will support and be supported by mine. There’s also a lot of massaging and compromise that goes into making a coherent production. Over time I realized that it isn’t about making the lighting look good—it’s about making the production look good. Sometimes that means making the lighting less attractive. That’s not a joke. If the beautiful shaft of moonlight coming through the window puts a harsh shadow on your lead actor’s face, and the audience misses details of her big monologue, you didn’t do your job. You have to remember that lighting design doesn’t exist in a vacuum: it must be hitting something to be seen, and your lighting choices have to take that object into account.

You are one of the talented young stars in the world of stage lighting. Tell me about your background. I received very little formal training in lighting design. My first teachers had the attitude “let the students get in over their head and then help them get back on their feet.” The most serious training I received was at Santa Clara University with Derek Duarte. The handful of design courses I did take helped hone my technical skills and vocabulary, but the real learning happened working on shows. Who is your greatest inspiration? My real inspiration on a project comes from the other people on my team. I usually read the script just enough to know the plot and pertinent information, like setting and time of day, and after that I try to be a bit of a blank slate. Which is not to say I don’t walk in with my own ideas, but I firmly believe that it is the role of designers to support the story as a seamless element of the environment. I can make all kinds of pretty lights, but if it’s not the story that the director and the actors are telling, it’s not good design.

In many ways, the lighting of a production is its own way of storytelling. How do you piece together your version of each story? Lighting helps tell the audience where to look and how to feel about what they are seeing and, in that way, is integral to storytelling. Very frequently I hear something like, “Oh well I don’t notice that stuff” or “I can’t tell good lighting from bad anyway.” But even if you weren’t aware that lighting design is a field that exists, your experience of a show would be dramatically different if it were done with just work lights or outside or completely in the dark. You don’t have to know anything about lighting to be affected by it.

What is a project that you most loved working on? It’s impossible to discuss some of my favorite work without bringing up Kristin Kusanovich. Kristin and I worked together on a piece of liturgical


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Silicon Valley tech

A Melting Pot Written by Tracy Lee Photography by Daniel garcia


ode, it’s such a beautiful thing. It is something that connects us all—a universal language. Two people may not speak the same language, but they can look at each other’s code and understand what’s being said. It’s code that allows us to communicate without the biases of color, gender, or belief. It’s a key that opens the doors to collaboration. It’s what allows everyone, regardless of background, to come together in one community and build on the one thing we all love. Silicon Valley has long been a melting pot of people from different backgrounds converging on the commonality that binds us together and unites us: our passion for technology. And as we come together into one large community, have you thought about how much of your life is shaped by, what you gain by, working in this field? If you think of your life and the people around you, do you realize how much of an impact your coworkers have on you? What about the culture, beliefs, and norms you bring to the workplace and how that shapes others around you? Who we are today—how and where we were raised, what roles our families and communities played in shaping us, the path we took into tech—make up our individual contributions to the everburgeoning network of ideas and innovation that support and sustain us at work. In this issue, we present five individuals who offer a glimpse into the range of diversity in the tech community today, and who reflect also on ways in which we as a community can become more fully inclusive. It’s a slice of the whole and a peek into what makes the tech community so unique.


Chris Eppstein Chris Eppstein is on the core team of Sass, a CSS extension language that lets you use features not yet available in CSS. In his day job, Chris works at LinkedIn as a senior staff engineer. Most recently, he is working on a new CSS optimization technology. Chris discovered his love for technology while majoring in music. After taking a calculus class and being the only person to get an A, he decided it might be best to explore engineering. Graduating at the top of the dot-com era, Chris joined a startup and got his first taste of front-end development, shipping his first complex user interface in JavaScript to Netscape Navigator. While many may know Chris in a professional capacity and consider his work fascinating, he leads an equally dynamic personal life. Chris practices polyamory with his wife and also identifies as queer. His personal experiences at home help bring a perspective needed in the tech community. “Communication is the most important skill I have taken from polyamory,” he says. “I have been able to have hard conversations, take perspectives on other people’s needs, 21

and learn how to ask for the things that I want, but also hear no. These skills are important to make poly work but huge to make business relationships work too.” What is also intriguing about Chris’s background, and the inclusive atmosphere he has created by accepting others from diverse backgrounds, is the vibrant community that has formed around this technology. “Sass is an incredibly queer project,” Chris explains. “The leadership of our community are all queer. People who joined our community in the beginning maybe didn’t identify as queer. But over the past few years, we discovered that a lot of us are, in fact, trans, gay, queer, or poly.” The inclusiveness in the Sass community may be attributed to leadership knowing what it feels like to be ostracized or put down. People who are otherwise marginalized can feel like the community is welcoming. “We take feelings into account instead of the ‘it’s just code’ mentality,” says Chris, summarizing. “Maybe people have found identity in the community that way.” twitter: chriseppstein

Ben Ilegbodu Ben Ilegbodu is Nigerian and grew up in Houston. He moved to California while attending Stanford University, where he took his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science. Ben is an engineering manager at Eventbrite. Both Ben’s parents have PhDs. His mother’s work in particular had a profound impact on him as a child. Working for NASA as a statistician, she was able to bless Ben with computers at an early age. As an adolescent, Ben learned BASIC and discovered his passion for programming. He would program TI calculators to solve math problems to check his homework. Ben’s experiences in tech with respect to gender diversity have been positive. While at Zazzle, he worked on a team of five, three of whom were women. At Eventbrite, the gender ratio is well balanced too. “It’s a great dynamic to have gender balance.” he says. “It makes a positive impact when there are more women in a workplace. It’s a more positive environment.” Ben reminds us that the tech industry is building products for everyone—and that we will be more

likely to build products that successfully appeal to a diverse audience if a diverse community of people are coming together to envision and build those products. Currently raising two daughters, he’s concerned about gender and race. “It’s rare to be black and female in our industry,” he says. “And it would be great if they could see people like themselves.” Ben believes that it will be easier for the tech industry to solve the gender imbalance problem first and that the issue of racial diversity will be a longer battle. Partly this stems from his own feeling of being an outsider in his community. Because his parents grew up in Nigeria, they didn’t live through segregation, which means that growing up, he was not exposed to the same experiences as many African Americans are. Given that both his parents had doctorates, college was never a question. “Changing the mindset in diverse communities needs to happen early on,” he stresses. “It’s harder after you graduate high school to make the decision to go to college, especially when the idea that you are definitely not going to college is what is usually instilled.” twitter: benmvp

David Silva David Silva is an engineer, an organizer for the Berkeley Google Developer Group and Techqueria, a community of Latinx professionals. David has also contributed to the popular Google open source project Angular. David was born in Cali, Colombia. During his childhood, Cali was one of the most violent cities in the world, with hundreds of people being killed every week. David’s childhood memories are filled with kids being kidnapped from school, hundreds of people being kidnapped from church, and family and friends being murdered. “In a way you are scared because things like that can happen,” David says, “but no one stops living their lives in this environment. You learn that it does not matter how scary things are, you still have to work hard to get ahead.” David graduated high school at 16 and went to school for multimedia design. After school, he took a detour and went to seminary in Israel. Shortly afterwards, he returned to Colombia to work as a programmer. 23

In 2013, David had the opportunity to make a life for himself in the US. He won a hackathon and the prize was tickets to the US and a week of touring. Once he arrived on US soil, he immediately found an apartment and a job. David loves the diversity of events and communities that spring up around tech. “It’s a great place to meet friends and create connections,” he says. “It’s not a secret that it’s easier to succeed if you’re part of a network.” And his thoughts on being a minority? “Being a minority is different for me,” he shrugs. “I didn’t grow up as a minority—I grew up as a person. It was only in the US that I found people care about skin color and identity.” Some of David’s Latino friends have had to deal with discrimination, but he feels lucky because he has never experienced any problems himself. “Finding what we have in common as people helps eliminate barriers,” he says. “Maybe I’m lucky because my accent is not strong and I’m friendly. I’m always proactive about participating in new communities and making new friends.” twitter: dvidsilva

Peter Mooshammer Peter Mooshammer is senior devops engineer and consultant. He is known in the tech community for being the organizer of several meetups, including the Silicon Valley Google Developer Group, Docker Palo Alto, the Chef Meetup in Santa Clara, Bay Area Infracoders, Silicon Valley Code Camp, and DevOpsDays. In his earlier years, Peter began pursuing a physics degree after he realized research wasn’t for him. Later, he transitioned to computers as he had always found them interesting. In 1998, he moved to the US from Munich. This was during the era of Java, Netscape, and Norton Antivirus. Peter has had a positive experience as an immigrant. “People assume Germans are organized, tidy, and don’t make a mess,” he says. “This is a great perception in the workplace.” Peter talks about age and the expectation bias in the Silicon Valley. “The biggest problem is what is expected of an older person, which is a track record,” he explains. “There is this perception that if you have done something for a certain number of years, you should have successfully

launched three startups or participated in a bunch of open source projects. And if you don’t have a positive track record, then you have a problem. With a young person, you are not expected to have a track record.” “Diversity is not just about age, but also about background,” he continues. “Many don’t have the same paths, changing fields to get into computer science midway through their career. It’s harder to get a job when you are transitioning careers because you don’t fit the mold of the typical interviewee.” Peter encourages those firmly anchored in their careers to reach out to others who are trying to break in and to support them. Having recently changed career paths to get into devops, he’s thankful for the supportive community he encountered at meetups and for the people who took him under their wing and helped him. On the flip side, Peter’s advice to those looking to get into the tech industry is to get out and meet people. He emphasizes the need to promote yourself and recommends exploring all available avenues. twitter: pmoosh

Aysegul Yonet Aysegul Yonet is a Google Developer Expert for Angular, a contributor to Angular and Girl Develop It, a mentor for San Quentin prison inmates, and a co-organizer of the Code for Good hackathon. She spends her free time exploring interests in AR/VR, visualization, and animations. Aysegul grew up in Turkey in a low-technology environment. She had a black and white TV, and no phone. Aysegul’s first exposure to technology was going to work with her dad, who was an engineer. Aysegul brings a background in graphic design to tech. Before she wanted to become a developer, she spent her time designing 3D scientific visualizations in nanotechnology. As she followed along the path of a design career, she found herself automating things while building animations. The opportunity to pursue a full career in software emerged when her husband took a job in the Bay Area. Aysegul joined Hack Reactor, a coding bootcamp, in 2013. Aysegul’s desire for helping change the ratio in tech was

kickstarted her first day at Hack Reactor. “I was exposed to mansplaining,” she says, “and I knew I might quit. But I loved programming, and it’s what keeps me here.” She appreciates the diverse community often found in tech as well. “There are many types of diverse persons that enter the tech community, like trans and gay. I believe the best way to approach the diversity problem is to encourage people to go into tech and support them in their career.” Women like Aysegul who are leaders in tech may pay a price for making the change, but leading by example— and creating more female founders and engineers—is the only way to foster better conversations and a better environment. And it’s not only gender. “There is a need to create racial diversity in our industry too,” she emphasizes. As CTO of AnnieCannons, Aysegul realized she saw very few African American and Hispanic engineers who could act as role models for her students. “I took my students to visit a tech company. I wanted them to see more diversity, more role models who look like them, instead of people who did not.” twitter: ayssomething

and the

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The Art of Making Magic Written by diane solomon Photography by Jacob martinez facebook: magiquebazaar


ichael Stroud makes magic dressed like an elegant pirate. As Majinga the magician, he levitates his attractive assistants. While they hover above the stage, he pulls a hoop around their prone bodies to prove that there are no ropes or devices holding them up. He waves a paper fan, and with a blast of light and sound, the fan becomes a live dove. He seems to make cards appear from the air above him. With a flourish, one turns into a long, colorful scarf. Flames shoot out from a second card as it morphs into a full deck. He throws this deck into the air and back it comes as a white top hat that he catches, twirls, and juggles. Throughout his performance, Majinga is chatting up the audience and the roar of their laughter fills the house. This is the Magique Bazaar. Michael Stroud was a Midwestern boy who loved magic. He can’t recall exactly what led him to it, but the practical jokes he played on family members soon gave way to magic tricks. At eleven years old, he got his first paying gig. When Stroud’s family moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, he placed ads offering magic shows in the local air force base’s newspaper. His mom and dad drove him to his performances at public libraries, churches, and birthday parties. Meanwhile, at school he was bullied for being different. He had long hair. He had a smart mouth. He could juggle. He could make a rabbit appear and disappear. The bullying ended when Stroud moved to

Palo Alto to live with his grandmother. At Palo Alto High School, he made two friends who also practiced magic. They introduced him to the Palo Alto chapter of The Society of American Magicians, and he attended meetings with them. They started a youth group called The Young Mystics. “The idea was to not only learn secrets,” says Stroud, “but to learn how to perform and present.” It was 1985 and for the next 13 years, Stroud performed in hundreds of shows he called Magic Mike’s Funhouse or Cirque du Magique. His magic act included attractive assistants, juggling, and family-friendly humor. He hosted KOFY TV 20’s Cartoon Classics. He co-wrote The Klutz Book of Magic, which sold over two million copies and bought him a home in Santa Clara. But Stroud wanted more. He looked around his house one day and thought, “Is this it? I’m a successful magician. I’m happy and grateful, but is there something else I can do with my art?” He stayed home for three days. He fasted and meditated. He tore out his home’s old carpets and discovered beautiful wooden floors beneath them. “I went through this weird shamanic experience,” he says. “I just went with the energy of it, and I came up with a completely new character that led to a theater show that’s now been running for 20 years.” That completely new character—Majinga— was the “something else” Stroud had been searching for. “Majinga” is the phonetic spelling


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“The idea was to not only learn secrets, but to learn how to perform and present.” _ Michael Stroud

of the Portuguese word for “tricky” and it’s Stroud’s capoeira nickname. He had begun practicing capoeira, the Brazilian martial art that integrates acrobatics, dance, and music, to become stronger and to move better. But it also helped with the genesis of his new character. Majinga was lithe and supple. He was physical and acrobatic. Magic Mike had been none of these things. Out of Stroud’s study of capoeira, his artistic angst, and his three-day sojourn into himself was born Majinga. Majinga revitalized Stroud’s performance, enabling him to reinvent his show as the Magique Bazaar. With European man of mystery Majinga and a rotating cast of performers, Stroud says he could appeal to a more sophisticated audience. He could showcase the tricks he learned studying

the work of master magicians like Chung Ling Soo, Houdini, and Le Grand David. Stroud has taken the Magique Bazaar to 20 countries. This extravaganza features magic tricks, acrobats, fire-eaters, stilt walkers, jugglers, sword swallowers, comedy, spectacular costumes, and a rocking back-up band. Venues range from private parties and small theaters like Hollywood’s Magic Castle and the San Jose Improv to the Warner Grand Theater and the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. The boy who loved magic has made a life of it in the Santa Clara Valley. “I’m proud that we’re the local magic show,” says Stroud. “We’re a big show and we have a real community that supports us. We are proud to be here.”


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“You learn judo so you can help people.” _Yoshihiro Uchida

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JUDO COACH Yoshihiro Uchida Written by Francisco Alvarado Photography by Daniel garcia

JUdo coach’s Influence on Sport and Community


n the sixth floor of a Market Street office building in downtown San Jose, you’ll find Yoshihiro Uchida, one of the most influential individuals in the history of the city. At 96, he stands about five feet tall and weighs approximately 130 pounds. From the age of 10, when he began learning judo, he has shown people that a smaller person can beat a bigger one with technique and a whole lot of spirit. That’s 86 years of developing respect, humility, integrity, and sympathy—the most important lessons judo can teach, according to Uchida. But before his illustrious coaching career, he was just a Japanese American who went to school for chemical engineering, seeking to work in the oil industry in 1940s America. A college professor of Uchida’s told him, “Forget it, you’ll never get a job. They’ll look at you and say right away, ‘You’re not qualified.’ ” That was a truth of pre-WWII America. Uchida was a Japanese American, but many people saw only the first part of the equation. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Uchida joined the military, but his family was processed into internment camps, as were so many others. “We were sort of put to the side,” he says of the treatment of Japanese Americans at the time. At the beginning of his time in the military, Uchida was tasked with kitchen duties and other custodial work. But when a superior officer remembered that Uchida had studied chemistry before the war and offered him a position as a lab technician, his career in medicine began. After the war ended, Uchida returned to San Jose State to complete his studies. He would later go on to work in medical labs and eventually own and operate labs of his own. While working on his degree, Uchida was offered a part-time position at San Jose State as a self-defense instructor. His first group of students were fellow veterans of the war, and nearly all had served in the Pacific theater. They saw their instructor, a small Japanese man, and couldn’t see how he would teach them anything. One student picked Uchida up, challenging him to defend himself. Uchida told him, “I can’t do anything. My feet aren’t on the ground.” The student obliged, setting him down. “At the moment he let me down, I went in with a throw,” Uchida


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recalls. The throw, a judo move named osoto gari, nearly knocked the student out. “I turned to the rest of the class and said, ‘This is judo.’ ” After a time, he began to see a change in his students. “As I worked with the soldiers, they began to understand me not as Japanese but as one of them, an American,” he says. This was the beginning of a legendary and pioneering coaching career, during which Uchida’s judo teams at SJSU won 50 of 55 national championships and his training produced multiple Olympians. His approach? Develop the individual. Uchida’s curriculum is based on understanding, humility, patience, and respect. “Students come from all over and think judo is smashing people,” he says. “No, you learn judo so you can help people.” When he took an early group of students to Japan for judo competitions, they were beaten badly. But they got to see how the other side lived. They found students and competitors just like themselves. “They were able to gain a new approach to humanity,” Uchida says. He also took students to San Jose’s Japantown, where they ate Japanese food together and shared something of the culture. It is in Japantown that Uchida’s legacy can be seen every day. There was a time when Japantown was a neglected neighborhood, close to losing its identity as a result of hard economic times. Uchida and a group of others from the Japanese American community worked to turn things around. “I felt it was important to have a clean Japantown that everyone could respect and live in,” he recalls. When the project was at a crossroads, Uchida sold his own business to continue with the work in Japantown. “I clung to this idea that if you’re going to be a respected member of the community,” he says, “you have to do it yourself.” That DIY attitude is the reason that judo is a collegiate sport and that Japantown is a vibrant community today. Respect, humility, integrity, and sympathy—that’s Yoshihiro Uchida.


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Grupo folklórico los lupeños de san josé Written by Nathan Zanon Photography by daniel garcia instagram: loslupenos



ounded in 1969 by Susan Cashion and Ramón Morones, Grupo Folklórico Los Lupeños de San José is one of the country’s oldest Mexican folk dance organizations. The performing company, which calls San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza home, consists of some of the nation’s best dancers in the genre, and they can be seen performing year-round at events in the Bay Area and beyond. Artistic Director Samuel Cortez took over as head of both the performing company and the youth ensemble in 2015. He started dancing in his native Mexico at age four, and he remembers an early experience performing for the Mexican president. “I have been dancing since then,” he says. Cortez attended the University of Colima to study dance. “I trained in ballet, modern, jazz, and theater,” he recalls, “but my main focus stayed with Mexican folk dance.” After college, he taught workshops in both the US and Mexico and eventually moved to Chicago in 2001 to start his own ensemble, which toured internationally. But when the opportunity arose to transplant to San Jose and join Los Lupeños, he jumped at it. “I was attracted to the Bay Area by the amazing interest in culture,” Cortez says. “This area has seen the beginning of great organizations that promote Mexican culture across the United States.” Los Lupeños cofounder Susan Cashion herself also

started the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, Danzantes Unidos, and the Cashion Cultural Legacy—which remains the governing body of Los Lupeños. “These groups and events that still exist today…are working hard to make California a great area to learn and practice this art form,” explains Cortez. “Mexican folk dance is very rich,” he continues. “We showcase influences from a wide variety of cultures that migrated to Mexico.” Dances can be broken down into two main styles: the religious danzas and the more social bailes. Cortez is a wellstudied student of the history and traditions of these dances; under his direction, Los Lupeños manages to adhere to these traditions while also adding fresh takes on both the choreography and the costuming. It’s something he can accomplish seamlessly “as long as the fundamentals and research exist.” “Many of the dances imitate nature,” he explains. “We dance mimicking the movements of the animals. A constant in Mexican folk dance is socializing, the man trying to capture the woman’s attention, dancing with machetes, bottles, and props that were part of the daily life of the people from that region.” Today, socializing goes beyond the dances themselves to the entire company, which functions as a big, supportive family. “Every family that becomes involved with


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our organization becomes part of what we do. They help us fundraise, organize, they volunteer in our events.” You can see fathers fixing the hair of their little girls before class, moms embroidering pieces and sewing costumes, grandmothers dropping off and picking up kids from class. Cortez’s proudest moments are when dancers talk about how much the art form means to them, how much it means to them to represent Mexican culture, and how satisfying it is to bring such joy to the thousands who have seen the company perform. But despite a supportive community and a rich history, cultural organizations like Los Lupeños can struggle to remain afloat. “The costumes are art pieces by themselves, so buying, shipping, and maintaining them is very expensive,” Cortez says, adding that the organization often has to find creative ways to keep costs low. In addition, dance and other performance groups require large spaces that are often costly, when they are available at all. “We are very fortunate to be established at the Mexican Heritage Plaza.” Los Lupeños plans a special 50th anniversary season that will run from 2018 through 2019. With that season, Cortez hopes to connect the generations of dancers and their families that have been part of the company since its founding. “Mexicans take great pride in seeing folklorico groups perform,” he says. “People from other cultures can easily enjoy the traditions and beauty of our dances, often finding and discussing similarities to their own cultures. Art brings people together.”


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South Bay Polo Club Written by Nick Panoutsos Photography by Daniel Garcia social media: southbaypolo


t’s Friday morning at Gilroy’s South Bay Polo Club. The horses have just finished running laps around a dirt track that surrounds the lush green playing field. The sandy ground is still damp from the previous night’s rain. A peaceful silence hangs in the air for the moment, but come Saturday, the field will erupt with a roar of hooves and the joyful banter of spectators as the afternoon breeze spreads the smoky aroma of barbeque throughout the ranch. Founded in 2012 by Tim Westin, Francesca Finato, and Santos Arriola, the South Bay Polo Club started as a humble four-member club guided by Westin’s vision to bring back affordable polo to the South Bay. Filling in the void left by the closure of Silicon Valley Polo, Westin sought to open a new club at the same site: a horse ranch nestled in the heart of garlic country. Westin hired Finato to run and manage the club, and chose polo veteran Arriola to be the club pro. For a year, the small team worked to restore the overgrown and neglected polo field that had been decommissioned six years earlier. After extensive mowing, seeding, and mulching, the field was back in playing condition. The club hosted its inaugural opening tournament in June 2012 and has continued to be the destination for polo enthusiasts from all over the Bay Area. Every year, South Bay Polo hosts a series of interclub tournaments, such as the annual Garlic Cup, that bring players from other clubs throughout California together for a weekend of polo and the club’s signature postgame barbeque. Three years after the club’s founding, Finato and Arriola took over at full capacity after Westin moved to Southern California. “It was either we leave or keep it going,” Finato recalls, “and it turned into a fun thing we could survive on,

and we never looked back.” The responsibility of running the club, teaching lessons, and scheduling tournaments fell to the two of them. In addition to her position as manager, Finato became the club’s owner as well. “You learn as you go along,” Finato laughs, reflecting on her experience of owning and managing the club, a task she continues to perform with dedication and enthusiasm. Polo has been a part of Finato’s life since high school. At seventeen years old, she began grooming horses at the Menlo Polo Club as a summer job after Tracy Conner, a member of the club, overheard her talking about her love of horses at the deli where she worked. She took her passion to the field during her time at Cal Poly, where she played three years on the women’s intercollegiate polo team. After college, Finato worked in construction management, but her love for the game left her longing for greener pastures. “All day, all I could think about was riding and playing polo,” she recalls. Fortunately, she found a way back to the field. Local polo pro Erik Wright offered Finato a job at Wrightway Polo, where she learned how to manage a club, exercise horses, and teach a new generation of polo players. The experience of working alongside Wright proved invaluable. “I wouldn’t have been able to start [South Bay Polo] without the knowledge I gained from working with him,” she says. The true muscle behind any polo club lies in the horses. South Bay Polo houses over fifty horses, all retired racehorses. When their racing careers come to an end, Finato says, “they still have plenty of life in them.” The club reaches out to local racing barns and tracks in the area to recruit potential polo ponies, a term used to describe the small horses used in polo matches. “We want agile, cat-like horses,”


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Club Member Peter O’Malley

Club Owner & Manager Francesca Finato

explains Finato. For that reason, the horses at South Bay Polo are all under 16 hands, or five foot four inches. Once they’re off the racetrack, it takes anywhere from a year to two years for them to start playing tournament polo. “Green,” or inexperienced, polo ponies still possess the athleticism and raw power of their racing days, but they must learn to rewire some basic instincts in order to compete in polo. They need to abandon the pack mentality of running when all the other horses run, so that the rider can make a controlled pass to another player. Finato calls this “accepting the traffic,” a skill she helps green horses practice by using them for umpiring matches. Most horses at South Bay Polo are now experienced polo ponies, having undergone training in the club’s early years. Though they have been seasoned by years of on-the-field experience, they still must be walked and exercised twice a day to stay in prime playing condition. With each horse comes a unique set of abilities and challenges. Finato encourages those who are serious about the game to own their own horse, so they can become familiar with their horse’s specific skills and characteristics. After spending enough time riding his or her horse, a rider can quickly determine if the

horse is favoring a certain leg or not feeling well. The inverse is also true: the horse can internalize the subtlety of its rider’s saddle movements after enough time with that rider. “When the horse and the player know each other, they know what to expect,” says Finato. “It creates this amazing relationship.” Despite the benefits of horse ownership, the club recognizes that not everyone can afford to buy their own horse, so they have a rental program available. The club also offers lessons for beginners, taught by Finato and Arriola. Depending on the student’s comfort level on horseback, he or she can start playing the same day in a beginners’ match, usually held in the club’s covered arena, which is smaller and less daunting than the full-scale field. Because of the limited player base and relative lack of mainstream coverage, polo is often misunderstood. “Most people haven’t ever seen a polo match,” says South Bay Polo Club member Peter O’Malley, “but it’s a contact sport.” Watching a chukkar, a seven-and-a-half-minute match, this becomes evident. Once the ball is in motion, the thunderous roar of hooves accompanies a frenzied race to the opposing team’s goal. Clouds of dust trail behind a sea of fluidly swinging mallets as


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_Francesca Finato

the opposing team struggles for possession. Best described as “hockey on horseback,” the game is intensely physical and demands focus and precision, from both rider and horse. Bringing riders from as far as San Francisco every week, South Bay Polo continues to attract seasoned players and onlookers alike. The club boasts one of the best playing fields in the Bay Area. Every spring, the club applies roughly 250 tons of sand and mulch to the field to keep it soft for the horses and the ball, which rolls best on soft terrain. But it’s more than the field that keeps members and first-timers coming back. “More than anything, I think it’s the social atmosphere here,” Finato observes. “We don’t just play the game, get in our cars, and leave.” Every Saturday, after the morning match, the club hosts a potluck barbeque on the field. As riders and viewers sit with a plate of food and a cold beverage, they relive the excitement of the game together. In addition to the Saturday barbeques, the club also has a tradition of going out for dinner or drinks after their Thursday night matches. The social aspect of the club is essential for Finato. “We’re a people’s club,” she says. “We want everyone to come out and enjoy the sport.”

In the tech-laden environment of the Silicon Valley, where most people are hunched over computers for hours a day, South Bay Polo offers an escape into a different world. “People come here and they can let their minds leave work and let it all go out on the field,” notes Finato, who has seen people speed down to the club from their day job to decompress with a chukkar. For those who don’t want to make the drive down to Gilroy, the club plays every Tuesday in the arena of the Horse Park at Woodside, closer to many riders’ Silicon Valley workplaces. As someone who works in e-commerce, O’Malley recognizes the power of a polo match to clear his head after a deskbound day. “When you’re out there playing, everything else that was on your mind is gone,” he reflects. Racing through the green field on horseback with a panoramic view of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range, riders can forget their workplace stress and reenergize themselves with fresh air and a rush of adrenaline. South Bay Polo seeks to extend this experience to everyone. “Our doors are open to everybody all the time,” says Finato. “We’d love it if people came out and swung a leg over a horse for themselves.”

1290 Masten Avenue | Gilroy, CA | 650.353.6898 43


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Written by Brandon Roos Photography by daniel garcia

instagram: victorparrayadig

SJSU soccer alum Victor Parra starts his journey as a pro soccer player in Europe, the sport’s most competitive proving ground.


aybe it was those rough dirt grounds that made him develop his skillful touch, or those weekend mornings watching TV with Brazilian star Ronaldinho shining on the world stage for Barcelona. Some spark kept pushing him to establish the same world-class dribbling at his own feet. Long before soccer became a vehicle to earn his education or a chance to earn a living, where he came from it was simply a way of life. Before arriving in the US at the age of 13, Victor Parra grew up playing soccer day and night in the streets of his native Medellín, Colombia, where kids would play anywhere they could lay down two rocks as goal posts. The freedom he had in childhood fed his insatiable desire for the sport. With limited avenues to turn pro domestically, at 13 he jumped at an opportunity to come to America to pursue his dream, immigrating with his aunt and two sisters to Central Falls, Rhode Island. Within two years, he was playing with FC Boston Bolts and spending time with the US U-16 Boys’ National Team. While he continued to progress in the sport, Parra didn’t find it easy to acclimate to the States.

He had a chance to follow his passion, but it meant leaving his family, including his mother, who lives in the US periodically. His aunt was rarely home, working long hours cleaning houses to keep the lights on. To purchase gear and food, Parra played in competitive weekend leagues that paid players. He began fielding scholarship offers as a sophomore at Central Falls High School. Division 1 schools like Georgetown were showing interest, but his four-day-a-week commute to train with the FC Boston Bolts took its toll academically. Parra eventually decided on Monroe College in New York. After two years with the team, he earned All-American honors and welcomed another wave of scholarship offers. Regarding San Jose State, he says, “I was really comfortable with the players, and I just saw an atmosphere I wanted to be in.” In 2015, during his stint with SJSU, he earned Academic All-Western Athletics Conference honors. Before he graduated this past December, Parra was chaperoning youth players in England. He then traveled Europe, trying out for professional teams in Sweden, Holland, Denmark, Spain, and


William Quan | Mitchell Morrison | Ayman EshaghPour | Elaheh Tassavor | Ali Tassavor | Amir Shobeiri

Portugal. Parra found his time there isolating, much like his earlier transition to the States. However, his dream became a reality when SC Freamunde, a team in Portugal’s second division, offered him a contract before he returned to America late last year. That wasn’t the only good news during a period he describes as “the best couple months of my life.” In the baggage claim at the airport back in the US, voicemails began popping up on his phone. It was December, and he had arrived back in time for the holidays. Much to his surprise, he heard the dean of his department telling him he had been voted valedictorian by faculty, the first student-athlete to ever receive the honor in hospitality management. “I only had five, seven days to prepare my speech,” he anxiously recalls. “I was nervous, but I went through those months, and I knew what I wanted to say.” His message: be thankful for what you’ve got. “Part of the speech was telling people not to take having support for granted,” he says. “Some people think that because you have family,

they’re supposed to automatically help you. For someone like me, I would hope there was food on the table.” Experience taught him to be self-sufficient early on, and he’s spent his college years as both a student athlete and provider. With his mother sick and unable to work, he has continually earned a living not only for himself, but also to help cover rent back in Central Falls. “I think a lot of positive things are happening with me because I’ve always been a good son to her,” he admits. “Even when I didn’t have money, I would send her my last dollar before I’d keep it.” This August, he returns to Portugal for preseason training with SC Freamunde and takes his first step navigating the path to becoming a European pro. “One day, I hope to play on a big team and make a lot of money, but I think the biggest thing is baby steps—do really good, live this experience,” he says. “It’s a dream come true to even be able to go there and play. I want to go as far it takes me.”


Competitive Synchro Mixed Duets Kanako Kitao Spendlove & Bill May

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Synchro SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING Written by haley Kim Photography by Daniel Garcia


ll appeared calm. The music pulsed, and the waves in the pool lapped against each other. But as the tempo rose, the water’s surface trembled, becoming increasingly agitated. The beat quickened and two heads popped up. Four arms gracefully followed, splashing upward for a second before shooting back into the water in perfect agreement. The swimmers twisted and somersaulted. In a blink, their heads, torsos, and thighs were again under the water, with only their calves and feet visible above. The legs began kicking in a series of synchronized, sharp movements, like two pairs of scissors slicing abstract shapes through the air. But something was off. The music stopped abruptly, and the two girls paused. “Can you guys approach it more like bah-bap bah-bap bah?” their coach shouted, demonstrating the motions on the side of the pool. To the left and right were two other coaches. One spoke into a microphone, running drills—figures practice—for six girls. The other used a bullhorn to coach three others. “And then make sure you do the same thing underwater. How do you prepare...” “You guys, do you know what happens if you’re going too fast? Do you know what happens? Instead of holding eight counts you’re holding 12...” “OK, let’s do it again. Let’s go to seven. Five, six, seven...” This was only the first hour of a four-hour practice.

The girls, aged 13 to 15 years old, are competitive synchronized (synchro) swimmers, members of the Santa Clara Aquamaids, one of the most elite teams in the sport. Synchronized swimming often conjures images of Cheshire Cat smiles, exaggerated makeup, and the sparkly costumes seen in performances. The athleticism required is largely underrated—yet it combines the endurance and stamina of swimming, the flexibility and strength of gymnastics, and the artistry and expressionism of dance. The athletes are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. They hold their breath while spinning and kicking, often upside down. They throw each other in the air, requiring the coordination of the whole team. They practice hundreds of hours for a single performance, but the training goes much further than just practicing routines. For these younger athletes, a large portion is practicing figures—the elements of synchro, like different types of leg positions. They hold positions for 20 seconds at a time, often with weights on their legs, train three to five hours a day, Monday through Friday, with extra hours on Saturday, and do this year-round, getting only a few vacation weeks each year. Synchro got its start in the US in the early 1900s and gained in popularity in the ’50s with Esther Williams, who became famous for her “water ballet” in films such as Million Dollar Mermaid and Dangerous When Wet. It became an Olympic sport in 1984 and was at its height for the US in the 1990s. The Aquamaids was founded in 1964,


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Aquamaids head Coach Chris Carver

Stanford Head Coach Sara Lowe

with Kay Vilen as head coach. But when the current head coach, Chris Carver, came to the Aquamaids in 1984, the club had lost some of its strength, she said. After about 10 years, Carver built the club back up to be the leader of synchro. “It’s not overnight. You have to keep striving, keep striving,” she emphasized. “And then once you have that success, you’re a magnet and people come to you.” Carver is a legendary coach. She coached the US National Team for over a decade, taking them on a gold medal–winning streak from 1991 to 1996; and in 1996, under her direction, the US Olympic team scored the first perfect 100 score in synchronized swimming’s Olympic history. She has had a hand in producing dozens of Olympic synchronized swimmers, including Kristina Lum Underwood who competed in the 2015 FINA World Championships with Bill May and in the 2000 Olympics, Anna Kozlova, a 2004 bronze winner, as well as Heather Simmons-Carrasco, Becky DyroenLancer, and Jill Sudduth Smith, all competing in the 1996 Olympics. Besides the Aquamaids, the region is home to other elite clubs such as the Walnut Creek Aquanuts, the San Francisco Merionettes, and one of the strongest collegiate varsity teams, the Stanford Women’s Synchronized Swimming Team. Last year, the Stanford synchro team started practices at 6am, earlier than most of the other sports at the university. The Stanford athletes also work on endurance. The first few months of the year are spent swimming laps and conditioning. This includes training outside of the pool, lifting weights,

and stretching. They train 20 hours a week while balancing a rigorous course load, said Head Coach Sara Lowe, who was on the bronze medal–winning 2004 US Olympic team coached by Carver. The girls often have to make sacrifices for synchro. Karen Li, a rising sophomore on the Stanford team, missed her junior prom to go to nationals. “After [practice] I am just so exhausted…It wasn’t like I didn’t have friends,” she said. “I just couldn’t make the time to hang out with them, which is definitely very tough.” The Bay Area is the most recognized hub for synchronized swimming in the world. But while synchro remains strong here, synchro in the United States as a whole has fallen behind. It began to decline at the start of the 21st century, when Russia won the gold medals in the team and duet events at the 2000 Olympics. Russia has won the gold in every team event since then, and the US only came to the podium in 2004, with bronze medals in the duet and team events. Russia, China, and Japan dominated the leaderboards at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The US only sent two athletes for the duets—they placed ninth—and wasn’t represented for the team event. “They didn’t qualify,” Carver said of the US team. “And you know, that’s really hurtful because that’s the leaders of synchro.” A variety of factors led to the decline in US synchro. When Carver was Olympic coach, Bay Area synchro standing remained high, feeding both the Aquamaids and the national team. But once she stepped down, there weren’t enough new coaches trained. Plus, there was a rise in popularity with


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Bill May

Kanako Kitao Spendlove


Santa Clara Aquamaids

collegiate synchro programs. Collegiate synchro athletes train for a different purpose. Because their focus isn’t on synchronized swimming, they train less—they’re there for school. These collegiate teams might attract athletes who would be fit for a national or Olympic team but have decided to compete just on the collegiate level. These collegiate teams aren’t competing in international competitions. But Carver is working on building US synchro up again, and the effort starts with the youth and the participation and dedication of their families and follows through to new, exciting events. While the athletes swim, their parents are volunteering to support the sport. The Aquamaids is a nonprofit and runs a bingo hall that brings in $12 million a year. The club has about $3 million to invest in the sport, community, and athletes each year, said Lisa Christian, the Aquamaids’ executive director. The bingo hall is staffed entirely by volunteers. For the parents, volunteering these hours means they are helping raise money for the Aquamaids to pay for coaching and traveling for the synchro community in the Bay Area. The Aquamaids also supports USA Synchro—for example, when Carver was the US National Team coach she was paid by the Aquamaids. “[Being a nonprofit] allows us to equalize the support for anybody who wants to participate,” Christian said. These parents are lucky, explained Carolina Espinoza, one of the Aquamaid coaches. In other states, many parents have to personally shoulder the high costs of synchro. Another element in the effort to bring back synchro nationwide is the mixed duet. Synchro is known for its team events, but there are also singles,

duets, and trios. There are two types of routines: the technical, composed of the same moves everyone must perform, and the free. The newest event, the mixed duet, allows men— once barred from competing—to perform with female partners. Bill May, one of the most famous male synchronized swimmers, came out of retirement when the event was introduced in the 2015 FINA World Championships, winning a gold in technical and a silver in free. The FINA World Championships are held every odd year. They are held for a variety of water-related sports, including synchronized swimming, diving, swimming, and water polo. May has been practicing with his new partner, Kanako Kitao Spendlove, for the 2017 FINA World Championships in July. Carver is coaching the duo, as she originally coached May when he joined the Aquamaids as a teenager. Watching May and Spendlove perform is not like watching a usual synchro performance. During a recent practice, Spendlove’s arms, shooting in and out of the water, are both slippery and smooth while also sharp, verging on animalistic. She slithers around May, who is powerful and graceful. In their free routine, she’s Medusa and he’s Perseus. The two are in conflict. By the end of the routine, Medusa is slain and Perseus is victorious. “It should be a mixed duet,” Carver said of these new routines. “It should emphasize men and women swimming together, not two people looking just alike.” It’s a risk, as the judging system hasn’t changed—but Carver explained that if they lower their expectations, the world won’t see what’s possible for the event.


May and Spendlove have a tough schedule to train around. Both are performers in Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and travel there constantly from the Bay Area, Carver following them. “Can you imagine getting to bed at one or two in the morning and then getting up at eight?” Carver asked. “You know, and starting to train, train all day, go eat something, and go right back to the same thing again?” But May and Spendlove are committed. May has a world title to uphold, and the new event provides US synchro the opportunity to once again become the leader. Synchro goes beyond winning competitions, though. Both Coach Lowe and Coach Carver said their visions for their programs are to not only develop an athlete, but a better person. At Stanford, this means supporting the athletes in their studies and career aspirations, even if that means changing or easing practice schedules, Lowe said. “As much as it’s important for them to become a better athlete,” she continued, “it’s important for them to develop their skills for interviews and for jobs because they are eventually going to go on and need that.” And even as Carver works on building US Synchro back up in international competitions, the goal for the Aquamaids is to be able to say the “heartbeat continues,” both for the coaches and athletes, to see these girls turn into strong women. “I don’t want it to ever be a puppy mill, where it’s just a business and you come in and you learn basic synchronized swimming, and maybe you go on and maybe you don’t,” Carver reflected. “I want it to be more than that. I want it to have more dimension.” instagram: aquamaids Select Women’s sports > Synchro

instagram: stanfordsynchro Bill May instagram: billmaysynchronizedswimmer Kanako Kitao Spendlove facebook: kanako.kitao.9 *Special thank you to Senior Lead Coach Sonja van der Velden for arranging photoshoot with the Aquamaids.


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HULA Hoop Culture Written by Johanna Hickle Photography by Natalie Vaughan (The Hoopers) Photography by daniel garcia (The Hoop)

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The Hoopers

Nessia Starr When Nessia Starr signed up for her first hooping class at the Quinlan Community Center, she simply saw hula hooping as a fun way to spend time with her mom. But by the end of her first session, she was a convert. “From the moment I picked up that oversized hula hoop, I was in love,” she recalls. Seven years later, Nessia is the one teaching the classes—and she holds them in the very same community center. “It’s that aha moment where you see a person’s face light up that excites me,” Nessia says. “It’s fun for me to see how people learn and connect with the hoop. It’s personal and different for everyone.” In collaboration with her husband, Ron, Nessia also hosts local hoop jams at Campbell Park and designs hula hoops for their online store, TrinityStarr. While Ron favors the technical aspects of making hoops (like sanding and drilling holes for push buttons and rivets), Nessia delights in crafting the appearance. “I have always loved colors and the emotional, psychological influence colors have on mood and well-being,” she explains. In their Inspired Designs series alone, there are 48 different patterns—accompanied with expressive names like Muse, Wonderland, Instinct, and Illuminate.


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Ron Starr When Ron Starr joined Nessia for a hooping documentary screening and saw a hundred people hooping across the street, his wife’s new interest started to become his own. “I was blown away,” Ron recalls. “I saw that there was a community of really cool people to be a part of.” LED hoops were another initial draw. “My first thought was, I have to make one,” he writes on the TrinityStarr website about his first encounter with the hoops. “I am a bit of a technology geek, so naturally I had to apply that to hooping.” Ron’s YouTube videos and his presence at hooping jams motivate other men to participate in this female-dominated activity. “There are cool ways for a guy to do hooping that aren’t necessarily so graceful and beautiful,” he says. One of his favorite moves is a combination of paddles and breaks, bringing his arms within the hoop and swinging them in chopping motions while nimbly switching the hoop’s direction back and forth, a form of expression with traces of hip-hop and martial arts. And when Ron spins rings lit up with LEDs, or even set on fire, no one would dare call what he does feminine.


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Crissy Gugler Crissy Gugler embraced hooping because she loves Latin and ballroom dancing— and her husband doesn’t. “It turns out, a hula hoop makes a great dance partner. It never says no,” she laughs. Today she is never without a hoop—even tucking a collapsible one into her suitcase for vacations. When Crissy became more involved in the hooping scene, she found that most events were held in San Francisco or Santa Cruz. Instead of wasting gasoline, she decided to establish a community here. For a while, Crissy taught hooping to anyone who expressed an interest (at one point even coaching someone with one leg). Currently, her main focus is organizing weekly spin jams. But she doesn’t consider herself a leader. “I just like to have fun. If other people want to have fun at the same time, that’s even better.” Crissy identifies chest hooping as one of the trickier moves. She compares the movement to swirling a wine glass—the stem receiving more rotation than the goblet. “The top moves at a different rhythm than the hips do.” To demonstrate, Crissy leads the way to her car, and from a tangle of eight or so hoops, she works one free and performs the move in an empty parking space in the Whole Foods parking lot.


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The Hoop The hula hoop has evolved into so much more than the children’s toy sold by Wham-O in the ’50s. Far from a fleeting fad, these plastic hoops have inspired an entire cult following. Our local chapter, the South Bay Hoopers, is six hundred members strong on Facebook. They regularly assemble for classes and hoop making, but the main draw is the hoop jams. Every week hoopers gather at parks (or at gyms when the weather grows chillier) to practice their moves. Hoop culture is as colorful as the hoops its participants twirl. To experience it, visit a hoop jam hangout—but don’t expect to observe from the sidelines. As jam organizer Crissy says, “It’s not a spectator sport.” They are an inclusive bunch. A heap of hoops in different sizes, weights, and designs are strewn across the grass, specifically so that onlookers can join in. And if someone expresses an interest in learning a new trick, it’s likely that person will be mobbed by at least three eager instructors. Because hoopers fall under the larger umbrella of flow arts—creative expression through movement—other flow artists make regular appearances at these laid-back practice sessions. This includes jugglers, acroyoga couples, poi artists, levitation wand twirlers, and staff spinners. Portable speakers are readily available for anyone who wants to plug in their iPod and DJ. Perhaps it’s not so strange that hooping has continued to impact us today. Hoops extend centuries back to the development of the Native American hoop dance and are used as a form of storytelling. A single dancer performs with one to forty wooden hoops, wielding them in different ways to represent animals, humans, nature, or seasons. The circle itself represents the never-ending cycle of life and its interconnectedness. Hoop play is found in Europe as well as the Americas. During the Middle Ages, children and adults rolled barrel hoops and sometimes even jumped through rotating ones, much like we jump rope. In 14th-century England, wooden and metal hoops were commonly twirled around waists. In fact, due to the weightiness of these objects, medical records note doctors diagnosing excessive hooping as a source of dislocated backs. But what does this recreation mean to modern participants? What sets it apart from other activities? Hoopers respond to these questions in many different ways. It’s a social pastime, coming with an entire community of new friends. Tapping into mind, body, and spirit, hooping strengthens the core and builds reflexes and patience. It spiritually grounds practitioners, assisting them in finding their center. “Repetition of circular movement around the body creates a connection for people that is very meditative, peaceful, and calming,” explains Nessia. Additionally, it can provide a nonjudgmental atmosphere. “Hooping helps people come out of their shells.” Ron says. “Dancing used to be something that I would do after a drink or two. Now I’m ready to dance anywhere.” Most importantly, it draws out that inner kid. A transformation takes place when a hooper steps inside that ring—her eyes light up, her back straightens, and the years fall away. “People can do it in a very serious manner,” Crissy says. “I’ve seen some very sexy hula hooping. I’ve seen some crazy physical, I-can’t-believe-they-can-dothat hula hooping. But it’s still inherently silly. It’s like hopscotching or playing jump rope. No matter how good you are, there’s always a playfulness to it.”

Featuring Hooper Caroline Kim.


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_Crissy Gugler


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Written by Nathan Zanon Photography by Daniel Garcia



ames Hall, popularly known as RawDaddy, seems to be everywhere these days. He caters private parties and events, sets up his popular and highly sought after food tent at the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market every Sunday, and he’s now on the cusp of opening a series of brick-and-mortar restaurants, starting a line of vegan cheeses, and contemplating a cookbook. James’ unique brand of cuisine offers up bountiful fruits and vegetables in sweet or savory combinations, all out of a cone. A simple sweet cone might be filled with berries, almond butter, and local honey, but there are also more complex recipes. The flavors are always familiar and comforting, but sometimes come from unexpected combinations. The Pilgrim’s Cream Cone, for example—a mélange of carrots, cashews, and coconut oil, topped with maple cream and candied pecans— manages to taste exactly like pumpkin pie. The savory cones are equally elegant and satisfying, and offer an international flair. His Forest and Earth Cone features Italian-style polenta made from corn right off the cob. The Moroccan Squash Cone is squash marinated in milk, herbs, and cinnamon and finished with James’ homemade harissa and a couscous of jicama, currants, and pine nuts. There is a Spicy Thai Salad Cone with crispy cabbage, mangoes, cashews, and herbs, as well as a Jamaican Cone that features bananas, pineapple puree, and habanero peppers. The physical foundation of all these dishes is the cone itself. Sweet and savory cones alike are made from flaxseed and rolled to be both perfectly handheld and part of the meal. The idea for the cones came to James in a dream. “I had just read Omnivore’s Dilemma and how McDonald’s had tried to sell salads in some Big Gulp cup, pushing the idea of eating vegetables with one hand,” he says. “When I woke up, I had the idea for the cone. I thought, that’s it!” The spiritual foundation for RawDaddy Foods, though, is that James Hall is a gentle vegan evangelist. He’s not a quiet evangelist—he’s the first to tell you how delicious his vegan, gluten-free food is and how good it is for you. But he’s not aggressively trying to get all of the omnivores to throw over their lifestyles overnight. Instead, he believes that “if you make great vegan food, people will


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Chef James Hall

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flock to you.” So he puts his classically trained chef skills and his sophisticated palate to work creating seemingly simple, elegant, tasty food that just happens to be vegan. “When people start to think about what they’re eating, about what they’re putting in their mouths, they start to feel better.” He speaks from experience. He once weighed 300 pounds, experimented with a raw food diet, lost 30 pounds right away, and learned that a “body wants to be healthy.” This is the heart of his philosophy. “Your body strives to be healthy,” James says passionately. “You just have to get out of the way. When you eat the processed starches and sugars, it makes it harder for your body to do what it needs to.” But instead of knocking his customers over the head with a message of eating mindfully and healthily, he just serves them great food. “I’m not out to convert people over to veganism. Everyone is on a journey and people will get there when they get there. I’ve had omnivores say to me, ‘I could be vegan if I could eat like this everyday.’ ” Now that James can mass-produce his cones and he’s established himself in the Bay Area culinary scene, he has enough loyal patrons and flush investors to help him open as many as two hundred RawDaddy stores around the country. He envisions a simple menu of three staple savory cones and one monthly special. He’ll serve vegan milkshakes, sweet potato fries, Brussels sprouts, and he’ll set up a kombucha bar with his personal recipes of teas and elixirs. It all comes back to James’ deeply held belief that vegetarian and vegan food can be exciting and gourmet. It just takes dedication, thoughtfulness, and imagination. As he describes his latest cone creation—vegan goat cheese, roasted beets, and asparagus, topped off with a balsamic glaze—it’s easy to see how he could convert a world of omnivores, one cone at a time. instagram: rawdaddyfoods



_Carlos Jiménez Cárdenas

Montserrat Ayala

Carlos Jiménez Cárdenas

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Vitamina Carlos Jiménez Cárdenas Written by David Ma Photography by Daniel Garcia



arlos Jiménez Cárdenas, along with his wife, Montserrat Ayala, founded one of the South Bay’s most striking new ventures, Vitamina Juices & Blends. “We stumbled upon SoFa Market by accident after going to a play at MACLA,” he recalls. Though Vitamina has been open less than two years, the pair have built a colorful reputation anchored by their passion for freshness—fresh fruit, fresh juices, fresh ingredients, and perhaps most importantly, fresh ideas. “Back then, SoFA Market was mostly empty, yet we immediately saw that it’d be a great location,” says Cárdenas. “We love that the market’s owners and employees are mostly people of color. The current political discourse often focuses on immigrants as a problem, as being undesirable. But the diverse community adds so much flavor and life to San Jose, downtown in general, the SoFa district in particular.” With Vitamina, the couple are adding to that flavor and playing a role also in the local economy. The reception has been enormously positive, in part perhaps because downtown has never seen a concept as familiar, yet so deliberately different, as Vitamina’s. “We are venturing into a type of food that has not yet fully taken off in Silicon Valley,” Cárdenas explains. “You go to LA, New York, San Francisco, or other cities and people are used to businesses like ours. So we are, in a way, part of the founding wave of local businesses trying to establish this concept here.” It’s incredibly brave and forward thinking

to venture into business, especially when the concept hasn’t completely taken shape in an area in which you operate. It’s even more courageous to embark on something you’ve never before had a hand in. While most restaurants pick a comfortable concept or expand on an existing one, Vitamina’s owners had nothing to build on, no previous training, no experience. Yet the duo has shown that passion, smarts, and drive can more than compensate for the lack of background. “Everything has been new to us,” laughs Cárdenas. “Our business has been growing slowly from an idea that sprang from a conversation at our home, to our time in the farmers’ market, to having our first storefront in SoFa Market.” But while Cardenas’ natural business acumen has proved invaluable, Vitamina’s success is not built on vision and merit alone. Paramount also has been the assistance of others and the support of the community. “Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone,” Cárdenas acknowledges. “It takes having a vision and having the courage and determination to see it through. Also, it is important to find support, mentors, and other people who can help you along the way. We would be lying if we said we did it all on our own. So talk about your dream, get excited, share that enthusiasm, and people will be touched and find ways to support you.” Of course, in addition to dreaming big and going in wide-eyed, having an incredibly rich ethnic background decidedly


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helps. At the heart of Vitamina are palates shaped by an immensely fruitful upbringing, pun intended. Vitamina isn’t simply a juice bar—its entire core is underscored by Mexican heritage and a cuisine that is varied and complex. “Everything we do has a Mexican twist to it,” Cárdenas says with a smile. “From using cactus, lime, and chile, to pitayas, amaranth, and chia— all those ingredients are integral elements of a plethora of Mexican dishes. We are innovating, and even partnered with a local vendor to offer vegan conchas, which is a type of pan dulce.” In their native Mexico, Cárdenas and Ayala were raised surrounded by food that emphasized fresh fruit, juices, and natural ingredients. In San Jose, the couple didn’t find a wide variety of options for people wanting to eat healthy, with no natural juices

readily available. “We saw an opportunity,” says Cárdenas, “and decided to jump in. It has not been easy, but the experience has been quite rewarding.” The result has been exquisite toasts, small plates, salads, and juices made without compromising ideals or ingredients. Their juice bar blossomed into a fullfledged business, with local support that emerged organically in the process, but this outcome wasn’t guaranteed. “Fear can paralyze you and prevent you from pursuing your goals,” warns Cárdenas. “Once you get past that, it gets easier. Montserrat immigrated from Mexico a few years ago and is a psychologist by training. I’m an educator. The language barrier was a challenge, but we never ever thought we’d be doing this!”



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Coffee Community Interview and Photography by Daniel Garcia


rank Nguyen has been on a journey for several years— moving toward opening his own crafted coffee house. From building out the space on South Second and Williams to running a pop-up from Five Points on West Santa Clara Street, Nguyen is looking to share his special coffee and select pastries with the community, and to help others to brew that perfect cup.

Our thing is, “OK. Here’s the coffee. This is how we make it here. If you like it, you can go home and make it the same way.” We want to give people the brew-print. You grew up in San Francisco, and is your wife from San Jose? Kathy’s from San Jose. We met in college at Berkeley, and then we reconnected years later. She was in San Jose working. I was in San Francisco. We were commuting to see each other, and I was like, “OK. This is kind of crazy. One of us should move.” I decided to do it, and it’s been good.

How did you come up with the name? When I began my coffee journey, there was so much to learn. I decided to enroll in the Specialty Coffee Association and get certified. I took some courses and did some testing with them. I just went through the first level of certification, and I was like, “OK. Wow. This is just the tip of the iceberg.” I began talking to a lot of different roasters to figure out which coffees I wanted to work with. From roaster to roaster, everyone was doing something completely different, which is a beautiful thing. You see so much diversity. I realized coffee’s going to be a lifelong learning process. Academic means that I’ll always be learning, always growing. Also, I once spent two weeks on a Russian ship called The Academic.

Was that because you saw the opportunity to grow the coffee? That wasn’t even in my mind at the time. I was still working in marketing. When I came here I’d find coffee shops I was excited about, but I’d have to drive like 20 or 30 minutes to get there. It was the same with getting great pastries. I’m the kind of guy who will wake up really early and drive 25 minutes just to get a fresh croissant or bread. So I said, “This is crazy, there needs to be more.” I talked to my wife about it, and she agreed with me. She said, “I support you, let’s do this.”

[Laughs] You liked the ring of the name? Yeah, I liked the ring of the name. And, since Academic Coffee is always learning, it worked. That’s what we do with our staff too. Even right now, just a pop-up, whenever there’s downtime, I encourage our baristas, “Hey, let’s read up on a coffee that we’re serving, so we know where it’s from, what’s being done to it, and why it tastes that way.” Also, we’re putting up a mini library of coffee resources.

You say coffee and community go hand in hand. Can you describe your focus on that? A community coffee shop, for me, means a few things. Any business, whether it’s coffee or groceries or anything, is part of that community. The people who work there live around there, so your customers are your neighbors. I see that even in the pop-up. So from the community aspect, we want to only hire people who live in the area, in San Jose. We’ve had applicants from Santa Clara, but it’s like, “Hey, you’re in Santa Clara? There are great coffee shops there. You guys should work there. You shouldn’t be taking 30 minutes to get to work.” Also, we’re trying to be really competitive with wages. Minimum wage goes up in July. I know the Bay Area, San Jose, and Santa Clara County are trying to get up to $15 by 2018 or 2019. We’re starting off now at $15 an hour. We have one of the most competitive wages. I’m paying myself

Is that for the customers to look at, or just in the back for the employees? It’ll just be a shelf for the employees. For our customers, we want to have coffee tasting events and coffee brewing events. One thing I always do is, whenever I go to a coffee shop and find a coffee I really like, I buy it. Then, when I get home, I’m like, “It doesn’t taste the same as it did in the shop.”

instagram: academiccoffeesj



less than minimum wage so that every employee can make minimum wage. The other thing we’re trying to do is to participate within the community. We haven’t actually opened our doors yet, but we’ve already done a few community service events. There an organization called QueenHype in San Jose that has an extracurricular program for young women of color—to give them leadership opportunities and skills, to give them confidence that they can go out and be leaders in the community. They asked us to cater their coffee, so I said I’d do it. We’ve done a few other events and we want to do that monthly. That’s the other part of community.

want to adjust it to get the same flavor. After coffee’s roasted, it’s still degassing, that is, gases are still coming out of the beans. You want to compensate for that to still get the same flavor profile. Most likely we’ll just change the amount of coffee we’re using, and the grind setting, to change the extraction. You get a fresh pack of beans, time your extraction, and then, if you wait two weeks and do it the exact same way, it’s going to be a vastly different grade of extraction. What are some lessons you’ve learned? As a business owner, you’ll want to keep it as simple as possible. There are so many things I want to do in terms of coffee service. With each coffee, you have the option to bring out different flavors by treating it differently. But at this point, we’re scaling everything back. When we open, we’ll have a very simple menu. Everything will be really good—just simple. I think the key is to start as simple as possible and then grow it from there. At this point I’m just trying to not stress out myself out or my team. I’m saying, “OK, for our batch brew, we’re only going to serve two coffees, and that’s it. But we’re going to spend the entire week figuring out how to make those two coffees perfect.” That goes back to the barista side—what is perfect and what is good enough. The answer is that it will never be good enough and we’re always trying to make it better. With coffee, it’s extremely subjective.

Are you planning to hold trainings for people to come in and learn how to brew in their homes? Yes. When you come to a coffee shop, I feel like you’re maybe there to try something new. If you like something, we want you to buy the bag, and then we’ll show you how to make it. We start with these little info cards. You’re either buying a blend or original source. We’ll ask you what you use at home, what method—like French press—and if you grind your beans. We’ll be able to say what grind setting you want, how much coffee you’ll want for each cup of water, and then you’ll be buying the bag with more knowledge too. Do you roast your own beans? We’re working with other roasters now. One roaster we’ve been working with for a while is creating a custom blend just for us. We feel like we’ll know what our customers are asking for and so we’ll be able to create something specific, just for them.

It depends on people’s palates, right? Exactly. Even amongst my team we’re trying to decide, “Do we like this? Do we like that?” It’s OK to have differences, but at the end of the day I’ll decide what will go out. We like it, we’re proud of it, we hope our customers like it too, but it’s very subjective. For the most part, I’d say it will be my palate. I want San Jose to have nice things. I live here. I like nice things. I want Academic Coffee to be something this neighborhood can feel proud about, like, “Oh, we have Academic Coffee in our neighborhood. It’s a nice spot to be in.”

What do you mean by “meticulously crafted coffee”? One of the difficulties with coffee is consistency. If something tastes good, then the way you make it taste good every time is to do it the same way every time. We measure everything. We measure our coffee, our water, and note the grind settings. And coffee, like any other food product, ages. If something’s been roasted two days ago versus roasted two weeks ago, the coffee doesn’t necessarily go bad, but you’ll

169 West Santa Clara Street | San Jose, CA


Chef Carlos Pereira and founder Marica Ribeiro

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Hawaiian Poke Bowl Written by David Ma Photography by Daniel Garcia instagram: hawaiian_poke_bowl


entered in the back of SoFA Market across from The Fountainhead Bar, Hawaiian Poke Bowl is a modest operation with a voracious following. What began a few years back as a small stand at the farmers’ market has blossomed into one of downtown San Jose’s best-known poke purveyors. Hawaiian Poke Bowl’s reputation is anchored in a straightforward ethos: freshness. “When people leave our place, I want them to say that we’re a family business that works hard and can feed huge amounts of people, no matter how large or how difficult it can be,” says Marcia Ribeiro, founder of Hawaiian Poke Bowl, the local poke spot that has spawned a bevy of copycats all over the Bay. “The concept of serving fresh food didn’t immediately grab me,” Marcia says with enthusiasm. “I grabbed it!” When she first came to the US, she began making changes in her life, including eating healthier. “I started to care about what I ate and was more aware of my choices,” she says. “I started cooking more. With fresh food, what you see is what you get and I really love that about our product.” And with that move, Marcia was reaching back in time. The origin of her business springs from childhood, a time when her family instilled in her an ardent passion for seafood, especially fish. “My upbringing was in large part due to my grandpa, who had eighteen siblings,” Marcia recalls. “We grew up in a fishing village so my grandpa knew how to prepare fish. He was an expert.” And it wasn’t only the adults who appreciated that expertise. “As children, we would fight for parts of the fish,” she says, laughing. But food preparation wasn’t limited to the home. Marcia’s family was in the restaurant business, one uncle combining it with an entertainment club. And her grandfather often prepared feasts for hundreds. “I was always involved with food,” Marcia laughs. “Always preparing it, always serving it, and always eating it. It has always been a part of me.” Another essential ingredient to the later

significance of those early years? Her mother, a strong female figure who, much like Marcia herself, was a natural leader with sound business sense. Although Marcia had no business experience prior to opening the restaurant, her mother had run several small businesses all through Marcia’s childhood. Growing up with an entrepreneurial mother, Marcia had been in training for the role without knowing it. “It all came together naturally,” she says. “My whole life has been about business and food, and Hawaiian Poke Bowl is the result of those things.” Even with a rich background in food and service, though, the realities of running an eatery can loom large. It starts with having a great product and an immaculately built serving space, but it doesn’t end there. Relations with the staff are, in a sense, at the core of it all. It’s the staff who engage the customers, it’s the staff who prepare the food, it’s the staff who represent the soul of the place. But Marcia took it further, thinking also in terms of paying a living wage. “This is a question I think is very important,” she says, “especially since we live in an expensive area.” With poke restaurants sprouting up all over the Bay Area in the last few years, it’s important to note which ones laid the foundation initially for those consumers now comfortable with the concept. Marcia is well aware of competition, but perhaps more importantly, she understands the strengths of her product and her operation. “Now there’re poke places everywhere with this sort of Chipotle mindset, where at the end you have a huge pile of stuff overflowing your plate. But in most of those places, the ‘stuff’ isn’t mostly fish. I don’t like that. I don’t think of poke as salad. You can have salad with your poke, but to me it’s protein. I kept the concept very simple: warm rice and a big ol’ scoop of fish,” she says. “High-gradequality, wild fish. Nothing else.”

SoFA Market | 387 South First Street #104 | San Jose, CA 79

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Jazz Singer Ren Geisick Written by Nick Panoutsos Photography by Arabela Espinoza


en Geisick isn’t your typical jazz singer. Equally influenced by Bob Dylan and Nina Simone, her music flows seamlessly, from the soulful delivery of a jazz ballad to the carefree lilt of an American folk song. Growing up with country and jazz icons playing through the stereo in her San Jose home, Geisick was surrounded by emotionally rich vocal music from an early age. She sang in her church and took voice lessons, internalizing the whimsical inflections that characterized the country music she grew up on. It wasn’t until her time at Cal State Long Beach that Geisick began studying jazz singing in earnest. While her technique and knowledge of the music improved, she felt the natural inflections of her voice being “sucked out” in her efforts to blend with a jazz choir. Fortunately, the director of vocal jazz, Christine Guter, recognized Geisick’s potential as a soloist and gave her the lead parts in the music. In her early days of assimilating into the jazz program, Geisick always felt she had “something to prove,” but gradually over the course of her time at CSULB her confidence built through performances and recitals. After graduating, Geisick lingered in Long Beach for another 10 months, singing in a local a cappella group and a Motown band in addition to straight-ahead jazz gigs. Geisick eventually landed a six-month cruise ship gig, where she performed every night, gaining the necessary confidence to carry herself as a professional artist and embrace an even more diverse range of musical styles. Returning to her San Jose roots, Ren started attending weekly jam sessions and performing at local venues like Cafe Stritch and Blackbird Tavern. Geisick remembers being forced out of her comfort zone and asking people “who were way better” to perform with her. In the company of South Bay masters like drummer Jason Lewis and bassist John Shifflett (who passed away in May), Geisick further deepened her understanding of the jazz idiom and session etiquette. Forging a lasting partnership with Shifflett, Geisick treasured the bassist’s humble sense of humor and judicious musical simplicity as she learned the skills to lead a band. The two played several gigs together throughout San Jose in a variety of formats, from voice and bass duo to a full jazz quartet with Lewis and pianist Brian Ho. With this quartet, Geisick

performed a Nina Simone tribute concert at Blackbird Tavern in 2014, shortly before the club closed its doors later that year. Geisick’s other projects in San Jose include the versatile Americana trio Dolce Musica and the funk and soul band The Renegades. The diversity of styles keeps the music fresh for Geisick. “It’s actually allowed me to explore all these genres and find the songs I really love,” she reflects. In recent years, Geisick has started to collaborate with local pianist John Dryden to record and perform the music that originally captured her heart as a child. After playing with Dryden at the Hedley Club, Geisick realized he shared her passion for country and folk music. In 2015, Geisick booked a few hours in a studio with Dryden and they recorded four of their favorite country songs together, arranged with jazz sensibilities. The sparse instrumentation and intimate connection to the lyrics prompted a breakthrough for Geisick. “I was able to just sing in a way I hadn’t allowed myself to before,” she remembers, “and that’s what I feel is most true to who I am, singing these songs in a really intimate way.” Their creative partnership continued as Dryden introduced Geisick to producer Jesse Harris, who is producing Geisick’s upcoming album. Recorded in LA, the album will take a decisive direction towards Americana and country music, although, like all of her projects, there will inevitably be a distinct jazz influence. “I don’t feel like I need to be one thing,” says Geisick of her multifaceted nature, “and I’m hoping other people will come to accept that.” Between performing with multiple bands and recording her album, Geisick finds time to pass on the tradition to the next generation. As of fall 2016, Geisick teaches jazz voice at San Jose State University, where she reminds her students to recognize the human element of performance. “You have to make it feel like it’s a conversation with another person,” she tells them. Geisick’s conversational approach to music has helped her to deliver a sincere, connected performance, regardless of genre. “I want people to expect a heartfelt delivery, not only jazz,” she explains. As she continues to grow and evolve, Geisick will continue to produce music in intimate conversation with whoever is listening. instagram: ren4eva


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LOVE District Written by Brandon Roos Photography by Polaroid Jay instagram: lovedistrictmusic


n one way, the formation of Love District can be traced back to the Guitar Center. That’s where singer and guitarist Chris Pounders first met bassist Alex James and guitarist and keyboardist Anthony Jewett. Inspired by the UK post-punk of the Cure, Joy Division, and the Smiths, Pounders wanted to create a contemporary, American take on the legendary sound. The members of his other group, the Pounders, weren’t into the idea, so rather than force it, he began writing songs with James. “We just went with it—if you have an idea, let’s write it down instead of scrapping it. Let’s get all our ideas out and then mold it all together,” James remembers. “We didn’t have an agenda when we were writing the music. We just wanted to write something cool and original, and everything came organically.” With no formula and no expectations, they soon had 14 songs to choose from. After recording studio tracks from their demos, Pounders realized the project needed to keep going. “We only wanted to record an album,” he recalls. “And that’s where the band sort of accidentally became a band.” They soon asked Jewett to join the group for a series of live shows. Drummer Kenny James fills out the quartet. As a first taste, the group released their Control EP in May 2016, a three-song collection meant to showcase the breadth of the band’s sound. The song “Let’s Do This” pairs a Latin rhythm with swirling guitars that dart around Pounders’ frantic vocal. “Manchester” is the most direct ode to the post-punk sound, with frenzied acoustic guitar speeding the song’s pulse sans overdrive aggression, a centerpiece to their approach. They close out the EP with “Will You Find Me.” Written by Pounders, the tale of longing declares “And there I go, wherever I go / alone in the world, alone in my mind / trying to find the only way / out of this place that I call home,” leading to the pleading, anthemic chorus: “Will you find me? If ever I go? Wherever I go?” The EP may provide insight into their musical DNA, but Love District believe their spirit truly comes to life when they’re on stage. They may be the

ones performing, but they’re keen to develop a musical dialogue with the listener. “We’re gonna expand the songs and really get the crowd involved, and create an experience people will connect with and remember,” explains Pounders. “You can’t do that with a two-andhalf-minute-style 20-song set.” “With Love District, you don’t have to try to play so many notes,” adds Jewett, who played in a metal band before joining the project. “You don’t have to play so aggressively to get your point across all the time. You don’t have to be the loudest band in the room. But you do have to have something worth saying.” Since releasing the EP, the band has been hard at work putting the finishing touches on Delusions, a full-length set for release later this year. Pounders feels that Delusions will provide a deeper dive into the core of the band’s spirit. “This set is where we’re going to get the more introverted, artist types who are looking for that challenge musically,” he adds. In the coming days, the group is headed to Prairie Sun Studio in Cotati, a well-known recording space that’s hosted the likes of Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, the Grateful Dead, and Faith No More. While there, they plan to record a cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” to build buzz before dropping their new album. In particular, the group’s focus has been galvanized through their collective experience in teaching music to others. All three light up while sharing stories of times they’ve witnessed breakthroughs from their students. Asked how the experience informs their musical approach, Pounders stresses how that inspiration is a two-way street. “Growing up, I never realized what being in a band taught me about life,” he says. “It’s given me a lot of life lessons. I’ve had some seriously challenging students, but you see the impact after a while. It matters.” Drawing from their own experience, the musicians of Love District move forward in their goal to create a space that celebrates music’s transformative power.


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Instant Classic. Listen at


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Music Written by Caroline Beleno


he Content Music section is part of an ongoing series, a sonic residency in literary form, that seeks to celebrate the emerging voices in sound, and soul, that challenge modern conventionality. In each and every edition of Content Music, my hope is that you will find authenticity within the expression of current culture—not limited to just the music itself, but explorative also of the conditions that shape it and the artists who compose it. As both a producer and frequent spectator of live performances, I find the relationship of performance to artist a fascinating conundrum. Is the artist made by the performance, or the performance made by the artist? In our featured artist profile, we explore the idea of sound realized through performance in conversation with Turbo Sonidero, a cumbia producer who draws from a “found” sound triggered by his early performances in Oakland and the regional sounds of the East Side neighborhood he grew up in. Turbo’s influence in global club culture has set a new precedent for sounds that are now globally synonymous with San Jose. Then, with our album picks, we highlight recent releases by some of our favorite artists. These read less like reviews and more like contextual introductions to each artist and their work: we aim to explore the cultural impact of the release itself in 300 words or less. Within this section, it was a conscious preference that the voices explicitly present artists as they are, to let them preserve their own stories, speak their own truths, trace their own credence. Let us set you up with the context. May you greet inquiry with enthusiasm and genuine curiosity, should it approach you during your read.


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TURBO SONIDERO Interview by Caroline Beleno Photography by Jaymaer Delapena

The sound that grew out of East San Jose


oman Dominguez of East San Jose has been producing under the moniker Turbo Sonidero since 2009. His characteristically dark, electronic cumbia productions have cast shadows of influence upon collectives of artists abroad. Among peers, Turbo is recognized as a young godfather in global club culture music, a progressive scene that weaves traditional rhythms and narratives in a Western club context. Turbo’s already extensive influence is now expanding further. With the release of his mixtape for London-based Radar Radio, Turbo has been sought out and celebrated on global music platforms such as Fader and Thump. Turbo’s sound—a unique intersection of locally established scenes of cumbia, bass, Bay Area rap, and lowrider culture with the distant worlds of tropical bass and future club—is now synonymous, near and far, with San Jose.

Oakland. Back in 2010 to 2011, there were a lot of warehouse parties, a lot of stuff was going on. Kreayshawn would show up at these parties. Lil B would show up at these parties. Some of the producers I was playing with were making beats for A$AP Rocky when he first came out. So I was in that scene, playing cumbia at these rap shows and people always liked it because even though it’s cumbia, you could still put elements of rap into it. It talks to rap listeners. It talks to future club listeners. I think that connection in Oakland really helped me out a lot—I still play out in Oakland, I get asked to play out in Chicago and New York. With all these connections in Oakland and abroad, what has kept you rooted here in San Jose? Back in the days I started making hip-hop beats, around ’96, I did that for a long time, but never put them out because I was too shy and I knew there was something missing. I would listen to other producers and be like, I wanna make a beat like that. So I would try to make a beat like whoever was hot at the time. When I first started making beats, I was like, I wanna make beats like DJ Shadow, so I started making beats like DJ Shadow. [Laughs] Just going through the motions for the next 10 years. Then I was like, you know what? Why don’t I just start making music that comes from where I’m from, that I can actually have a connection to? I’m from San Jose. I used to always criticize San Jose, how wack it was. That’s why I moved from San Jose and I was away for like 12 years.

You’ve had a diverse impact on many scenes, both local and abroad. How did you go about making these connections and establishing yourself in these communities? I think playing shows, especially out in Oakland, has connected me to a lot of people. It’s all just part of doing your homework. Producers always ask me that, how do you get out there? Do your homework. Know where you can play and know the scene. Even if it’s hella weird. You just gotta do your homework and be like, yeah, I could play there, why not? Try it and see what happens. Knock on those doors. One of the doors I knocked on early was in


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“I’m a product of San Jose. I love the East Side. I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve lived in Oakland, I lived in Thailand for six months, I lived in Mexico for two years. San Jose is my home and this is where I want to give back.”


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I didn’t realize it was for that long. Yeah, I’m an old mofo. [Laughs] I was like, I don’t want to be in San Jose anymore, screw this place. But I am San Jose. Not that, you know, that I am San Jose, but it’s what makes me… When people hear me talk or use certain slang, I say, “I am San Jose.” When I was in Mexico, I took a peyote trip with this one cat, he was like a shaman or whatever, a spiritual guide. He was really interested in knowing where I was from and being Chicano. I remember him saying that he had a daughter with some chick from California. So he was like, “I really want my daughter to associate herself with Chicanismo. I want her to have an identity. I don’t want her to be someone who is like, ‘I’m Mexican-American.’ ” When you go to Mexico, you’re called a pocho, someone with no identity or culture. So he was, like, picking my brain and I was telling him about the East Side, growing up out here, lowriding. He wanted to know everything, and that kind of clicked. I was like, “Dude, yeah, I’m from San Jose.” I should go back to San Jose, and I should stay in San Jose, and I think my music should represent San Jose, you know? Maybe for some people that’s not San Jose, but for me it is. Cumbia music, listening to that all over the East Side. Listening to bass! Cars back in the day, people don’t do this anymore, but back in the day they used to have systems and you would hear bass...bass tests, you would hear that all over. It’s a trend you don’t see no more in cars, but you would hear that all over. So I was like,

I’m gonna do that. I was like, why am I making this introverted, experimental hip-hop music that no one cares about other than me? [Laughs] I do like that nerdy, introverted hip-hop music, I like it a lot. But I wanna make people dance. I always say there’s a curse of listening to so much experimental hip-hop and IDM during my college years that now a lot of my cumbias are dark. I remember when I put out my first tracks, people would be like, why is it so dark? Latino music is supposed to be happy. But, no, I don’t want to make happy music. But, again, I’m a product of San Jose. I love the East Side. I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve lived in Oakland, I lived in Thailand for six months, I lived in Mexico for two years. San Jose is my home and this is where I want to give back. I do not want to be that cat always talking smack about their town or city, who moves to Oakland and San Francisco. So you’re over that? Yeah, I’m over that! [Laughs] I actually suggest to people who are moving out to Oakland and San Francisco to just go back to their little town instead of trying to jump on the next bandwagon. That’s something that’s been lost because of the internet—the regional music has been lost because of the internet. There was a time when there were certain sounds for every region and that’s been lost. I think people need to listen to the sounds from their region, listen to what they grew up with and what’s around them, ’cuz that’s when you make interesting music. social media: turbosonidero


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Playboi Carti Playboi Carti (Interscope) Release date: April 14, 2017 SZA Ctrl (Top Dawg Entertainment) Release date: June 9, 2017 Ctrl is SZA’s debut studio album, released as the highly anticipated follow-up to Z, her 2014 EP. The only female artist signed to TDE, the New Jersey native diversifies the label by delivering a narrative proper to her audience, the millennial woman. While production on the album is independently solid and features many of the same producers as on Rihanna’s 2015 Anti album (such as Travis Scott and Scum), SZA’s conceptual songwriting is what sets her apart from her contemporaries and truly steals the limelight. This is not a pop album by any means. The opening track, “Supermodel,” sets a weighty precedence for the emotional instability of the entire album, provoking an immediate visceral response with lyrics like “Let me tell you a secret / I been secretly banging your homeboy.” The lyrical context of each song delicately balances between sexual and somber, sensual and neurotic, frank and emotionally complex. There is a rawness and a quality of depth to SZA’s writing that is unmatched in today’s R&B. The album begins and ends with recordings of SZA’s mother, weaving a narrative of guiding light to love and life, further hinting at SZA’s intrinsic need to feel something deeper, despite recurring themes of bitterness towards exes, self-esteem vs. the female ideal, and being a “side-chick.” Favorite Track: Love Galore, Garden (Say It Like Dat), Broken Clocks twitter: sza

Was it a coincidence that Playboi Carti’s widely anticipated debut mixtape/album was released the same day as Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN? Considering how both artists contrast lyrically and career-wise, perhaps. Playboi Carti’s self-titled album’s strengths lie in creating deeply moody environments via lo-fi beats, hyper-distorted synth noises, and soothing ambient loops. The album’s opener, “Location,” created by Brooklynbased producer Harry Fraud, is cinematic and ethereal, with notes of jazz and “vaporwave.” Utilizing Window’s 98 and retro Playstation chimes, the song is oddly nostalgic and Carti’s raps seem to drift through comfortably and accordingly. A majority of the mixtape was produced and handled by up-and-coming producer Pierre Bourne, whose delicate sound could be comparable to the likes of Clams Casino. Bourne’s “Magnolia” is infectious with an emphasis on repetitive, fluttery flutes paired with a hard-hitting bass. With album features such as Lil Uzi Vert and Carti’s mentor A$AP Rocky, one can anticipate an album that’s nearly all adlibs. Mindless, effortless bars, but catchy and eclectic nonetheless. Many rap connoisseurs, or anyone with a mild inkling for music, might easily write this album off as lazy, prodigally one-sided—the absolute epitome of “mumble rap.” However, like many works of art, this one must be accepted and appreciated for what it is. Playboi Carti’s debut album is like a BLT or a plate of dirty rice: it may not be the finest gastronomic experience, but if one can appreciate it for what it is, it’s actually very enjoyable, somewhat complex in flavor, and digestible. Favorite Tracks: Magonolia, Wokeuplikethis* instagram: PlayboiCarti


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Written by Francisco Alvarado Photography by Daniel Garcia instagram: asha_sudra

Spoken word and education as activism

“I am not my hair, but I am proud to say my hair is me,” declares San Jose poet Asha Sudra, in the closing line of a defiant, spoken-word poem exploring oppression, the self-hate that comes from it, and the self-love that follows escape from those bounds. That poem, “Baby Hairs,” is a deep reflection on Sudra’s own struggles with, and eventual embracing of, identity. Sudra’s identity is well-traveled. Born in Los Angeles, Sudra can trace her family history through England, Europe, Uganda, and India. Her last name comes from India’s caste system, where Sudra signifies the class of unskilled workers near the bottom of society, one step up from the class known as “untouchable.” Sudra took this cruel label and found strength in it, and pride in the journey her name took before reaching California. Identity was not something she could seek in the classroom, however, where she was disheartened by the lack of presence her culture, her people, had in textbooks and the education system. “School never validated me,” Sudra says. “My family’s story is crazy, but you never would have read it in a textbook.” She began to find her

identity instead in writing and in hip-hop. “Hip-hop gave me consciousness before I could understand it,” she says reflectively. She took her vocabulary, she says, from hiphop, not books. Where she grew up in Los Angeles there were few like her, few who shared her culture, her ancestry. Hip-hop became her culture. Through the music she found inspiration and identity. A 10-yearold Sudra screenprinted the cover for Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on a T-shirt. Her own education had begun. That her inspiration comes from lyricists, not traditional poets, is clear in her delivery of spoken word, from the patterns of her rhyme to her mannerisms on stage. In the flow and cadence of Sudra’s work are hints of the underground hip-hop scene of her childhood in Los Angeles and later years in the Bay Area. And those later years helped define the artist she would become. Though Los Angeles provided a rich environment to explore when she was young, Los Angeles couldn’t offer Sudra what she was looking for as she grew older. It didn’t nurture her finely tuned sensitivity, her fierce compassion. It was in the Bay


Area, where she moved in 2006, that she found a community she could identify with, a community that inspired her. “The artist community that I’ve found specifically here in San Jose and Oakland and San Francisco,” she says with spirit, “is the community I’ve been looking for my whole life, the friends I’ve been looking for my whole life.” Sudra’s work sometimes features a subtle homage to this community and to the friends who inspired her to add to her other artistic pursuits the art of spoken word. “My friends are crazytalented,” Sudra laughs. And just as her friends inspire her, Sudra also inspires others in her role as educator. In her day job, Sudra works as an eighth-grade teacher in Campbell, and she uses her poetry to relate to students and to help them find their own identities. “I’m an educator,” she says, “because my story wasn’t validated.” Her objective with her students is to explore their identities and then to affirm those identities. Sudra utilizes a “windows

and mirrors” approach. “Whatever we’re doing, you see yourself as in a mirror, or it’s a window into someone else’s perspective to which you haven’t been exposed yet,” she explains. Her dream is to open a K–12 school that is safe and inclusive, that embraces diversity, that nurtures the identities of its students. “I believe in the kids,” Sudra says simply. In her life, in her work, identity has been key. Discovering that identity, constructing that identity, has been a lifelong journey—and her passion. This passion is embedded in her art; it’s the driving force behind her life goals. This passion has taken her on tours abroad, to the forefront of the historic Women’s March in San Jose, to the classrooms of the South Bay. This passion is the reason Sudra plans to create an interactive, multimedia exhibit that details her family’s story. Asha Sudra’s search for identity hasn’t ended. Her work as artist, educator, revolutionary continues.




_Asha Sudra

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Dialect is just a replacement for diversity. A subjugation of authenticity. Dialect allows white folks to assume all customs and traditions are basically the same. They refuse but I choose to Call it what it is. A language. A story. My family doesn’t just speak a dialect Of Gujarati. My mother speaks 7 languages. Her father several more. Diaspora created a dissonance in tradition That deviated communities From their derived paths. Caste Casting down destinies never meant for Language to stray so far from home. So far and for so long So that if it ever returned It’s tongue Would appear so foreign It wouldn’t belong To the mouth that birthed it. Wouldn’t know who or where to call home. Wouldn’t have a sense of direction that made sense to the rest of the world. But made sense to the diaspora. Gujarati spoken in my family Consists of a touch of Urdu. Tastes of Pakistani spicing. Integration of culture Enticing many to morph the enclave to fit its surroundings. Muslim sheep that weren’t as black as the indigenous Kenyans. Although they did not marry Swahili lips would touch the vocal chords And stress the accent. Creating a beautiful timbre Of culture Trying to be preserved But finding value in fluidity. Ironically becoming a now islamaphobic Community where the whites of British make every shade of brown matter. But not the same Since the exile. The hierarchy Of brown Stretched and categorized. Pitting ancestral tribes Who dreamed of solidarity Fade. Trying to stay Grounded in roots That have ever known soil Becomes a task unwarranted And under valued. Distraction delivers a language’s death. Demolition of desires to remain a part of the story. To keep it alive. But it remains a story. Not a dialect. A language Begging to be remembered. Wishing to be preserved and not forgotten.


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Pink Slip Dress, Oak + Fort, $128; Reversible Bomber Jacket, Scotch & Soda, $225

Photographer / Arabela Espinoza Art Director + Stylist / Elle Mitchell Style Assistant / Mariana Kishimoto Model / Ivy Christensen for Scout Model Agency Hair + Makeup / Vanessa Blanchard Lee Producer / Kristen Pfund Location / San Jose State University, Spartan Stadium, + Hammer Theatre Center

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Sheer Black Top, Oak + Fort, $38; Plum Crepe Skirt, Oak + Fort, $60

Black Knit Dress, Oak + Fort, $68; Frayed Hem Denim Jeans, Oak + Fort, $88; Heart Long-Sleeve Blouse, Scotch & Soda, $98

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Denim Jacket, Scotch & Soda, $225, Denim Pants, Scotch & Soda, $195; Rust Orange Tank Top, Scotch & Soda, $55

Mustard Striped Blouse, Oak + Fort, $68; Vertical Striped Shorts, Scotch & Soda, $85

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Content Calendar

SEPT/OCT #ContentPick


Luna Park Chalk Art Festival


Viva CalleSJ

This festival attracts over 3,000 artists, students, vendors, and community members to create over 250 pieces of diverse art throughout the park’s pathways. 9/16 Backesto Park

This program temporarily closes miles of San Jose streets to cars so that communities can come together to walk, bike, skate, play, and explore the city’s iconic neighborhoods. 9/17 Various San Jose Locations

Sonido Clash Music Fest


Content Meet-Up


San Jose Mini Maker Faire


Alternative Press Expo


Bill Nye the Science Guy


SoFA Street Fair



Sonido Clash continues its annual tradition with: three stages of local and international performers, DJs, poets, and dance groups; live art; cumbia dance lessons; and more. 9/3 School of Arts & Culture at MHP

Organized and executed by History San José, this is a family-friendly event that celebrates makers, inventors, tinkerers, artists, builders, crafters, and creatives. 9/3 History Park

A New York Times bestselling author, Emmy winner, inventor, comedian, engineer, and CEO, Bill Nye will speak about his new book, Everything All at Once. 9/9 San Mateo Performing Arts Center

Emerging culture creatives connect with each other as well as with established professionals working in various design fields for portfolio reviews and coaching. 9/21 SoFA Market

Founded in 1994, Alternative Press Expo (APE) is an indie comic convention dedicated to small and self-publishers, as well as artists of all sorts. 9/23–9/24 San Jose Convention Center

South First Street transforms to host an all-day music festival with multiple outdoor and indoor stages, featuring dozens of musical acts, artists, and vendors. 9/24 Various Downtown San Jose Venues

Sun 10am–2pm SoFA Brunch Each participating eatery at this downtown San Jose food hall offers its own special brunch menu items. SoFA Market

Wed 7:15pm–11:45pm Wednesday Night Hop This swing dance party is preceded by a choice of classes, introductory to advanced. First United Methodist Church (Palo Alto)

Thurs 7pm–9pm Live Lit Writer’s Open Mic This casual open mic offers a home for poems and stories in all languages over pastries and beverages. Caffe Frascati

Wed 9pm The Caravan Lounge Comedy Show Comics from all over the Bay Area and the world perform, hosted by Mr. Walker. The Caravan Lounge

Thurs 9pm The Changing Same This excursion keeps time with the future of soul, R&B, and jazz with guest DJs and live performances. The Continental Bar

Thurs 5pm–9pm Taylor Street Night+Market The community gathers for street food, libations, live music, artists, and SJMADE maker programming. Gordon Biersch Brewery

Events are subject to change and may be affected by holiday closures. Please confirm event details with the presenting organization or venue. 106

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Connect & Collect Live Auction


Silicon Valley African Film Festival


San José Poetry Festival


Roots & Wings


Pow! Wow! San Jose


La Muerte Baila


Rocky Horror Show


United Nations Association Film Festival


The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler



In partnership with BioCurious, The Tech dives into the biology of beer with tastings from local and regional craft breweries, as well as demos and talks from expert brewers. 9/28 The Tech Museum

Aptly themed “Africa through the African lens,” this is the only film festival in California that is exclusively focused on films made by African filmmakers. 9/29–10/1 Historic Hoover Theatre

This evening of modern dance will include Doris Humphrey’s masterpiece Day On Earth, as well as repertory by sjDANCEco directors, choreographers, and alumni. 10/12 & 10/14 Hammer Theatre Center

A group of departed souls run into trouble on their annual Día de los Muertos journey to visit their loved ones in this bilingual production full of humor and traditional music. 10/12–10/22 Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater

Celebrating 20 years of highlighting human rights issues, UNAFF is one of the oldest solely documentary film festivals in the US. 10/19–10/29 Various Palo Alto Venues

Art enthusiasts and collectors can view and acquire contemporary artwork by rising stars and celebrated artists whose work reflects vibrant, eclectic styles and interests. 10/21 San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

The performances and workshops of this festival reflect the diverse ethnic and cultural heritage of this region with a wide range of topics and literary styles. 10/21–10/22 History Park

Empire Seven and Universal Grammar present a week-long global arts, music, and culture festival featuring muralists painting on walls throughout San Jose. 10/22–10/29 Various San Jose Locations

Producer Matty Gregg pushes the boundaries of what can be done in live musicals with a rendition of the Rocky Horror Show built around the technology of “virtual scenery.” 10/26–11/4 San Jose Stage Theater

This comedy picks up after the events of the Ibsen classic, with Hedda trying to break free of her fictional-character purgatory. 10/27–11/19 Dragon Theatre

3rd Tues 7pm–10pm Two-Buck Tuesday The gallery hosts $2 art sales, along with a combination of performances, live painting, and/or art-making activities. KALEID Gallery

3rd Thurs 5pm–8pm Third Thursdays at SJMA Admission to the galleries is $5 after 5pm, and the museum offers a variety of nightlife programming. San Jose Museum of Art

3rd Fri 8pm San Jose Bike Party This themed ride is a place to make friends and have a good time. Riders without lights can get free lights installed. Announced 24 hours prior

3rd Thurs 6pm–8pm Make + Mingle This museum happy hour comes complete with an arts and crafts chaser, perfect for creative networking. New Museum Los Gatos

1st Fri 7pm–11pm South First Fridays This walk highlights eclectic art exhibitions and performances at galleries, museums, and creative businesses. SoFA District

2nd Sat 6pm–9pm Songwriter Saturday Showcase Coffee is served while local songwriters perform. Crema Coffee songwritersaturday

To have your event considered for listing, submit event to 107

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n the outdoor yard of Bay Maples Wild California Gardens, surrounded by buckets, hoses, wheelbarrows, wood, and various plants, guests gathered on a July afternoon for the latest installment of the CONTENT LAB series, “Wood + Water.” As they arrived, guests were invited to stop by the bar, located in a shed of gardening supplies and plants, after which they mingled and drifted around the site while listening to the upbeat music of DJ Malcolm Lee of BAMN Squad. Bronze sculptures of elegant and spritely forms by Nicola Stela lined portions of the perimeter. Overlooking the proceedings was Bay Maples’ vibrant mural featuring a highway overpass sprouting with jade green plants, an azure city skyline, and peach clouds. The prologue coming to a close, the guests took their seats at butcher-paper wrapped tables shaded by white umbrellas, and host Daniel Garcia took the mic to kick off the program. Bay Maples founder Alan Hackler stepped up next to talk about the benefits of graywater, which is the mostly clean wastewater from laundry, showers, and sinks. Daniel and the audience peppered Alan with questions, asking about methods for collecting rainwater and the best way to start collecting and redistributing graywater. Alan said a laundry system is easiest because there’s already a pump in place. He emphasized that sustainability is not as expensive, or as difficult, as people might think. Following the discussion was a beer tasting led by Elliot Hoffman from Camino Brewing Company. The first beer, the N-120 Bohemian Pilsner, is the lightest beer Camino brews, but

on the drier and more refreshing side compared to other light beers, Elliot explained. The second beer, the company’s most popular, was the Café con Leche Stout, made with Chromatic Coffee and lactose sugar. Finishing the lineup was the James Star Imperial Rye IPA, the “big beer.” Next came a buffet-style dinner, catered by Smoking Pig BBQ. The numerous savory dishes included homemade cornbread, coleslaw, potato salad, their famous BBQ beans, smoky pulled pork, juicy beef brisket, and pork spareribs. Dessert was a decadent peanut butter pie, with an Oreo crust, swirls of chocolate, and whipped cream on top. Then it was time to start the project of the night: DIY insect hotels. Kathryn Kelly from Bay Maples explained how the tiny hostels, or “artistic piles of leaves,” can be placed nearly anywhere— from gardens to fences—and that there is no wrong way to create one. Guests selected from the various materials on hand (like twigs, plants, leaves, flowers, wood, and concrete) to arrange inside the frames handmade by Terra Amico. No two hotels were alike. Some opted for more floral and leaf elements, while others stuck with the geometric wood and concrete blocks. One guest even placed miniature chairs in his habitat. Everyone huddled around the tables, some giving feedback while others worked in concentration. Bird and Willow, a sibling duo from San Jose, played breezy acoustic music to set the mood. The evening came to a close as the sun was starting to set. Guests prepared to depart, cradling their miniature hotels—soon to offer local bees and bugs welcome refuge—as they said their goodbyes.

Special thanks to our event partners: Bay Maples Wild California Gardens, Smoking Pig BBQ Company, METIS Real Estate, Terra Amico, Veggielution, Bloomsters, and Petite Petal.

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Written by Haley Kim Photography by David Ho

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Contributors The production of Content Magazine would not be possible without the talented writers, editors, graphic artists, and photographers who contribute to each issue. We thank you and are proud to provide a publication to display your work. We are also thankful for the sponsors and readers who have supported this magazine through advertisements and subscriptions.

JACOB MARTINEZ A Bay Area native, Jacob is an analog photographer with a wide-ranging knowledge of different photographic mediums. Currently studying at Chabot Community College, he focuses much of his attention on conceptual portrait series designed to inspire unity within our communities. instagram:

NATALIE VAUGHAN Natalie is a fashion, portrait, and flow arts photographer residing in Santa Clara. Inspired by nature, music, and fashion, she is also an active member of the South Bay hula hooping community.

BRIAN RAMPAS Residing in Sunnyvale, Brian is a creative who loves taking photos and videos either through roaming the streets with friends or by composing portraits. He lives through coffee and beer.

KRISTI CLUBB Though it’s difficult to get with three kids in tow, Kristi loves a quiet house, an uncluttered calendar, and a blank page on which to spill out her heart. She shares her messy journey online.

instagram: brianrampas

SOLO NATIVE Defined by a progressive style, Solo has paved his way through the Bay Area without limitations, identifying the diverse cultures present in various communities. He is recognized for fine artistry and documenting the performing arts.

CAROLINE BELENO Caroline is a writer, an instructional designer, and a creative content producer based in San Jose. Her current endeavors include coproduction of local cultural events, collaboration on the Pantone Mixtape series, and contributions to CONTENT’s music section.

MAYGAN ABUDE Maygan is a San Jose–based graphic designer with an affinity for eggs, pastel colors, and seamless patterns. Her unique point of view, a focus on the bigger picture, and a diverse taste in music has led her to be a contributor to Universal Grammar.

instagram: solonative


instagram: maygantista

Want to be a part of the Content community? Contact us at:

TIFFANY NGO Tiffany is a creative writer from Richmond, TX. She’s also a percussionist for her high school’s marching band and loves music. instagram: tiffanyyngoo


instagram: natvonphoto

Cut along line

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Cut along line


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Thank You This issue is made possible with the support of our partners— companies and organizations who share our desire to support and develop the creative community of the South Bay. We are grateful for their contribution and support and for actively taking part in the betterment of our region.

For more information on becoming a mission partner, contact

Filco Events has been working on festivals, fundraisers, and events in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988. Each event is individually tailored to the special needs and goals of the organization. While fundraising is always a significant part of festivals, other priorities include media attention, corporate support, and volunteer building, as well as the opportunity to showcase specific programs and services to the community. In all cases, advancing long-term goals while still raising significant revenue gives each event purpose and recognition for many years into the future. From logistics to concessions to volunteer coordination, we can contract key elements of large festivals, provide consultation, or actually direct the entire production. We are also available for national and multi-city events.



Welcome to Foundry Commons. A place with soul. That’s what you get when you move into Foundry Commons. Part industrial. Part sophisticated. But all very real. Foundry Commons is a place doers, originators, and creatives alike call home. Unique to this community are resort-like amenities such as a pool, petanque court, bike workshop, dog spa, library loft, and microgallery. Offering a variety of living options to mesh with your unique styles, Foundry Commons is the perfect place to make the life you want. Mention Content Magazine and receive up to $100 move-in credit*. Now leasing. 408.292.0868

Bay Maples owner Alan Hackler and his team are experts at designing gardens that reuse household greywater from laundry, baths, and sinks for landscaping purposes. They also design rain catchment systems that use rain to water gardens. Recently they were awarded the 2017 Bay Area Award for Sustainability and the 2016 Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award. They make the most of resources at hand and specialize in making water-saving gardens that embrace the native beauty of Northern California plants. If you want to design a beautiful, artistic garden while incorporating overall sustainability, call Bay Maples. facebook: FoundryCommons instagram: baymaples

*Pricing & Availability subject to change



10:00AM TO 2:00PM

BUILD YOUR OWN BRUNCH! SoFA Market is a Downtown San Jose food hall and home to ten local high quality eateries & a house bar


BE &








SoFA Market, San Jose 387 South First Street







Dance now. Think later. LIVE MUSIC BEER GARDEN STREET FOOD Free Every Thursday Aug. 24–Oct. 12 5:30–9 p.m. Plaza de Cesar Chavez Downtown San Jose 5:30 p.m. Find your spot 6 p.m. Learn the moves 7–9 p.m. Dance to live music City Dance ad 1/2 page 7-14.indd 1

Aug. 24


Aug. 31

Country Two Step

Sept. 7

Hip Hop

Sept. 14


Sept. 21


Sept. 28

East Coast Swing

Oct. 5

Merengue & Bachata

Oct. 12

Zydeco #408Creates #DTSJ #CityDanceSJ City of San Jose: Office of Cultural Affairs; Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services; Environmental Services • Knight Foundation San Jose Downtown Association • Visit San Jose Photo: Chris Willis and Ariel Dance Productions

7/14/17 4:49 PM

Vegan gluten-free catering Antiques Colony contact:

1881 W San Carlos St. Mon-Sat 10:00am – 6:00pm San Jose, CA 95128 Sun 11:00am – 5:00pm

wgi o r c





bike c l



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Professional courier service promoting sustainability and empowering women through cycling in the heart of Silicon Valley.


Lodge and Camp 2001 Rossi Rd at Hwy 1 Pescadero, CA 650-879-1100







Downtown’s Live Music Hub From jazz to rock, from hip hop to blues It’s all here.



Photo: Adrian Le Biavant

Teddy Cruz, Urban Rooms, 2017 Parque de los Pobladores, SoFA Cultural District Commissioned by the City of San Jose Public Art Program, Office of Cultural Affairs

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Profiles 9.5 SAN JOSE 2017

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Perform 9.4  

We are all performers: you know, “All the world’s a stage, etc.” In relationships, as students, and definitely at work, people review, asses...

Perform 9.4  

We are all performers: you know, “All the world’s a stage, etc.” In relationships, as students, and definitely at work, people review, asses...