San Jose ain’t San Francisco

My gilded cage

This week I am down in San Jose and although I’ve never been here before and I’m not even a San Francisco resident (I’m a DC Metroblogger) I note there is a little Jose-Frisco rivalry.

For any of you in San Francisco that could be possibly worried by your southern neighbours:


San Jose is LA North at best – way too much hype, too many freeways, and too little of anything that resembles a worthy lifestyle.

I am currently trapped in the Fairmont San Jose and after the concierge actually laughed when I asked what fun might be had within walking distance, I have acquiesced.

I am confined by geography until freedom on Friday – the freedom of ‘Frisco.

18 Comments so far

  1. TinMan (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

    As far as I can tell, there is only one halfway amusing place to go within walking distance: the Blank Club. Occasionally, they get a fun band like Oakland’s The Lovemakers.

  2. Anna (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

    Sometimes people see things as they want to see them. LA may be as interesting- or as boring- as you take the energy and time to invest in it. Same with San Jo. Or, as my sister says, “There is no such thing as boredom. It’s just laziness.” She lives in San Jo! how wild!

    tip: you are very close to a cool Victorian western ghosttown: alviso. walkable? depends on how fit you are.

  3. Judge Not (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

    San Jose …despite actually being the largest Nor Cal city, with cute , clean, shiny newy-ness abounding, still seems 2nd rate. Like LA, it’s a city of mostly post WWII sprawl, whose population either is content to stay at home, or can be easily satiated by what’s there. The adventurous occasionally venture northward for cultural deviation.

    San Jose/Santa Clara , South Bay et. all threaten SF’s regional dominance only in that they offer more opportunities for developers and corporations for development with more lenient taxation and business perks.

    The area has lotsa new money, and is attractive only in the sense it is more a blank & maleable corporate canvas, not a real city…

    many of the SF metrobloggers actually reside closer to there, than in SF…

    If there was any vision running the Metroblogs, they would create a seperate category for San Jose / Silicon Valley / South Bay… as SF has little in common with San Jose culturally or even weather wise, in fact even SF’s cooled smog heads south, heats up and clogs SJ’s lungs…

  4. joann Landers (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 5:48 pm

    “create a seperate category for San Jose / Silicon Valley / South Bay…” Oh, yes!

  5. Jason (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

    They don’t have any massage parlors in San Jose? Dude, what are you gonna do?!?!?! You must be bummed!!! Seriously, your post was pretty funny. “Frisco”? Rivalry? Hilarious.

  6. Chester (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

    I’ll echo the above. It makes sense that you’re from D.C., because there is no SF-SJ rivalry, only out-of-towners call SF “Frisco”, and if you think SJ is like “LA North” you have a poor handle on SJ and LA. And how does SJ have “too much hype”? Who the fuck hypes SJ?

    Does SJ compare to SF? It depends on your criteria. The point, however, is that SJ isn’t trying to be SF. People don’t live in SJ expecting an SF vibe. SJ is SJ and SF is SF.

  7. Lauren (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

    I think the main issue here seems to be that you are trapped in downtown SJ without a car. SJ is a car city, like it or not, and isn’t designed to be fun carless. Plus downtown SJ is hardly the heart and soul of the Silicon Valley. At least get over the The Alameda neighborhood, or check out Los Gatos or Mountain View.

  8. 49Giants (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 10:46 pm

    Is there an SF v. SJ rivalry? Kinda, sorta. Back in the days, SJ and the entire Silicon Valley area was definitely the darling of the national media and money was just pouring into the South Bay. As a result of those days, SJ has rose in prominence and population and wealth. I remember reading a Newsweek article on Silicon Valley where one particular quote stuck out “San Francisco is the backyard of Silicon Valley.” That hurt.

    However, anyone local knows that there is no competition whatsoever. San Francisco and San Jose are totally different animals. San Francisco was, is, and always will be the cultural, political, intellectual heart and soul of the Bay Area. No one WANTS to be in SJ. The only reason, I think, that people want to live in that part of the Bay is because of the concentration of high-tech jobs down there. That, and until recently, housing costs were dramatically lower in Santa Clara County.

    But to say that there isn’t some sort of rivalry would be false. I think there is. It’s definitely not the SF/la thing we have going, but it’s there. Just look at the reaction surrounding the 49ers move to Santa Clara. The Niners playing down there would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago. Suddenly, at least economically, it might make some sense. That, combined with the A’s move to Fremont, it’s easy to see the up and coming prominence of the South Bay.

    But, in the end, like I said before, there is no real competition. SF and Oakland and SJ are kinda like siblings in the family we call The Bay. SF is the star sibling, Oakland the troubled one, and SJ is just emerging from puberty.

  9. Jennifer (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:11 am

    I think I get a little bitter when this topic comes up.. echoing Chester, San Jose doesn’t want to be San Francisco. California already has San Francisco.. but does that mean there is no chance for any other city to try to be something for it’s locals and draw in some visitors? Yeah it’s lacking in some respects – but big deal! This is not some farm town with one stoplight and one bar at the corner. There ARE things to do. There are theatres, small & big restaurants, taquerias, pubs, clubs, lounges, pool halls, museums, parks, small shops, and hell probably more I’m not aware of.. all downtown. All within walking distance of each other. Some are better than others, yes, but that’s the case anywhere.

  10. cd (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 10:14 am

    I’m not one to swipe at fellow MBers – oh, the hell I’m not, I’ll do it when it’s deserved, as it is here: Wayan, you managed to say issue ignorant (can’t call them stupid because I don’t know if you’ve said them more than once yet) statements about not one, but 3 cities I happen to like very much.

    You managed to offend all three of the cities you discuss as well. “Frisco?” The only people who can use that term to describe SF are the ones so utterly SF, so wholly native, that no one would have the cajones to call them out. That ain’t me. And it sure as hell ain’t you.

    It’s always fun to write an outsiders perspective of a place – and it’s fun to read one as well – but shit, what did San Jose or LA ever do to you? San Jose does have more of a SoCal feel than an SF feel – mostly because of the weather and the car-heavy demands of San Jose living. That’s not a negative in many folks’ books.

    As for creating a separate MB San Jose, “Judge Not,” and Wayan for that matter, you guys go nuts recruiting and cultivating more SJ writers, and maybe we’ll get around to it. Until then, I still now, as I did when I was an SF writer/captain, would rather have Joann bringing the Bay Area together on this site, than not have the area represented at all. It’s hardly a “lack of vision.”

    There are entire neighborhoods of SF that don’t fit into the “SF” that gets the most press and that could support their own MB sites, were they cities of their own. I’m guessing the experiences of a Bay View resident fits about as well as a Nob Hill/Russian Hill/Cole Valley/etc resident as does anyone from SJ.


    I may not live here anymore, but I *hate* when people attack m’blog. Or my former homes.

  11. Chester (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 1:47 pm

    What I find interesting is that being “a Metroblogger” in one region is apparently qualification to write about another region, despite being the sort of person who goes and pouts in his room when his less-than-exhaustive (“Concierge!”) search for activity and adventure fails to hit immediate paydirt.

    An SF.metblogs poster should go make a trip to DC and discuss how it does such a shitty job of emulating New York City and Miami.

    And in response to 49Giants and the general sentiment that people live in SJ because they have to…

    There are plenty of people who do, in fact, prefer SJ over SF. Some people want to own a home with a real yard…some want to be able to find easy parking wherever they go…some like an environment that’s more child-friendly…some don’t dig ubiquitous panhandling…some don’t like SF’s internecine political squabbling…some prefer sunnier weather…the list goes on and on.

    I personally prefer SF over SJ, but that’s my personal preference. Just because I feel one way doesn’t make someone else’s preferences lame, silly, or provincial.

  12. anna (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

    Hey Chester, I’m going to DC tomorrow…

  13. Jason (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

    Lauren, have to take issue with a couple of your comments. Even during the dot-com era, SF was bursting with startups, and most of the cool parties and events were happening in the City even if the companies were located in the South Bay. Most of the engineers may have worked in San Jose, but they were hanging out in their free time in San Francisco. Second, even with the Niners thing it isn’t a rivalry. San Francisco knows it is just a matter of available land for a new park. People in the City are just frustrated about having to drive an extra 45 miles each way to a game, and about how the SF politicians just dropped the ball on the negotiations with crazy York.

    I would also like to echo the comment from Chester. Who is this Wayan guy? His first couple posts were okay, but what’s up with the posts about massage palours and orgasms that don’t involve sex? Does the guy just need to get laid?

  14. wayan (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 7:29 pm

    I’m glad I got this debate going, its an education for all of us – visitors and locals alike.

    From the East Coast, I’ve heard SF is the DC twin, while as a techie, I heard of SJ as the promised land. Both were told to be as better than the other by people who lived in either. So I know the two as having a rivalry.

    From the responses here, there does seem to be a rivalry, albeit a small one that I learned from those homesick who talk about it more that those at home.

    From my perspective, SJ might have more things to do (walkable even) but if they are not know by any locals I’ve asked in my week here (and I’ve asked about a dozen by now) and I feel its time to call a town like I see it – car-centric and not my style.

    LA isn’t my style either, its car-centric too. But as to a SF/SJ Metorblogging split, I have no opinion, and never expressed one either.

    Yet expressing opinions is what makes our country and the whole Metroblogging system great. So if you are a SF writer and traveling, email Sean to see if you can write for other sites when you travel. He makes that call, not I.

    And last but not least, note that I say SJ or LA are not worthy lifestyle choices for me. If its worthy for you is up to you, and you are more than welcome to live there.

    Me, I’ll take SF or DC. Both suit me better, more so once I know what to call SF besides “San Francisco” now that “Frisco” is apparently out.

  15. cd (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

    “San Jose is LA North at best – way too much hype, too many freeways, and too little of anything that resembles a worthy lifestyle.”

    So, the “for me” was implied?

    At any rate . . . SF is the DC twin? Really? How so? I can – and do – appreciate the hell out of SF, but as a confirmed government nerd, DC is, well, it’s DC. I like its Metro better than BART. It’s flat. It’s filled with the kind of celebs I like to spot (rather than the LA kind). SF and DC each have their draw, but having lived in both, other than them bothing being metropolitan areas, I’m not seeing the twin thing. In that equation, some city gets a bum comparison. I’m not even sure which, but one of them must.

  16. Loyal Subject (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 12:06 am

    By decree of his Imperial Majesty, Emperor Norton I:

    “Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco”, which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars.”

  17. 49Giants (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 1:47 am

    Hear, hear! All hail the Emperor!

  18. Mr. Brownstone (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    Holy cow 49giants, i have to commend you as the only other person on the internet who knows how to write “hear, hear!”

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