With such a diverse group of dynamic individuals, it was exciting to meet the founders of a new pub, a beer blogger, a representative from NextSpace, the Metro, San Jose Jazz and others. Most, if not all the participants do their thing downtown, which has seen the arts, entertainment, and restaurant scene grow in the last few years.
Later on Sam Liccardo got up on a small stage to thank everyone and give some remarks. Half way into his talk he makes what I call the Fredo remark. Fredo is the character from the Godfather series of movies played by John Cazale. In the movie Fredo complains to Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) that even though he is the elder of the two he was passed over to be the godfather. In a line from the movie he claims in a shout "I can handle things, I'm smart." This is a often heard refrain in San Jose that even though San Jose is larger and more populous that, it should have the title "Godfather"; the godfather of culture, of entertainment, of a vibrant downtown.
Yes, strides are being made but instead of always comparing San Jose to the "younger, smaller" city to the north it's about time that it find its own way, do what works for this area, create its own vibe. In other words stand on its own two feet. Yes there is a growing movement of residents that are creating an original scene downtown, a unique vibe, but many times they have to fight city hall and especially the planning department to rise above the ubiquitous shopping malls and chain restaurants.
It's tough trying to start a new restaurant, pub, or event downtown when the city is ringed with Panda's, Panera's, and Wing Stop's. The flood of ubiquitous chains just doesn't seem to stop. With the recent announcement of another mega-mall, with mega-box retailers, and the obligatory fry pits, the city's planning department (along with other reasons I'll discuss in other posts) makes it just that much more difficult to create a vibrant space downtown.
San Jose City Council Approves Mega-Retail Center in Almaden Area - SJ Mercury News