“San Jose California Tourism, Today and Yesterday”

By Lee Foster

BATW benefitted in October when a few of us gathered in San Jose and met a new duo representing the city, Laura Chmielewski and Kyle Schatzel.

The tourism scene in California’s third largest city, San Jose, continues to evolve, and these new people promoting San Jose with positive energy now define the destination for journalists and the public in fresh and exciting ways.

With Super Bowl 2016 imminent and with regional/worldwide prosperity emanating from Silicon Valley tech and social media innovations, the San Jose/Silicon Valley tourism story is worth exploring.

When I heard Laura and Kyle present recently to travel journalists, it was interesting to see how San Jose is now going way back to the 1960s-1970s to claim its legacy. I happened to be there at that time, as a young graduate student in Literature and Writing at Stanford, so I recall fondly some of these icons on which the promoters of San Jose now focus when telling the area’s travel story.

Paul Draper, at his Ridge Winery in the hills above San Jose, is one of their winemaker heroes. He continues today to make powerful Zinfandels and Cabernets. I remember driving my VW Bug up the steep hill to Paul’s place in the early 1970s for an ad hoc wine tasting club that we formed in that era. We met monthly, with the goal of tasting powerful wines.

San Jose also now celebrates that Ken Kesey took a swing through the city on his bus in that hallucinogenic era. Kesey’s spirit was AprilFoolsCover-300-2hovering around my Writing program at Stanford in the 1960s-early ’70s from time to time. It is difficult today to comprehend how the hallucinogenic movement of the era was gripping everyone’s imagination. A Harvard professor, Tim O’Leary, preached better living through chemistry. Who would not want to consider a voyage into what was believed to be a higher level of human consciousness?

All this is a major theme in my novel published in 1970, titled The Message of April Fools. My mentor, Wallace Stegner, helped me get it agented and published. Today there are still a few copies available as collectibles on Amazon. Maybe I will reprint it. The novel is about being young, and in the Stanford milieu, in that Summer of Love era, with the new LSD chemistry, and the darker side of things, which was primarily the Vietnam War. The military-industrial complex seemed out of control, and Stanford and the Silicon Valley were a complicit beneficiary. There also seemed to be a feeling that a sameness affected all lives as society evolved, with humans being stamped out in the same cookie-cutter manner, and the newly invented Xerox machine for copying documents became a metaphor. It is not easy to explain that era today.

The new story of travel to San Jose/Silicon Valley will involve new forms of communication and new players providing the content. The old forms were travel guidebooks, magazines, and newspapers. The new forms will include websites, social media, and YouTube videos. I was part of the first travel guidebook tourism interest in the area, in 1983. Moreover, there is a Silicon Valley twist to the story.

PeninsulaCover-300-2Presidio Press in Marin County, California, was segmenting California into a travel guidebook series, called Making the Most Of. The entrepreneur behind Presidio contracted me to write and photograph Making the Most of the Peninsula: A California Guide to San Mateo, Santa Clara, & Santa Cruz Counties. There are still a few collectible copies of this guidebook floating around on Amazon. The book went through a later reprinting from Tioga Press.

The appropriate Silicon Valley twist to this publishing drama involved the book’s production.

I have always been highly interested in evolving technology, especially as it relates for travel publishing.

My travel guidebook to San Jose/Silicon Valley in 1983 was one of the first books in the history of books to be laid out from a file presented on a computer disk.

Moreover, I was one of the first authors to negotiate payment for this contribution to “production.” Beyond royalty, I received an extra $1,500 from the publisher for this production assistance.

Here is the story. Books at the time were re-keyboarded from a manuscript by a typesetter, and then outputted on photographic paper for the offset printing. Typesetters were highly skilled and relatively error-free keyboard people, but typesetter errors of input were always a concern.

What if I could provide the publisher with the outputted ready-to-print book? What if I could do this from a computer file incapable of making any “imaginative” errors of keystroke?

I had written the “Peninsula” guidebook on a new device, my Osborne 1 Computer, which was innovative but not totally unique. A few other writers were also composing their books on computers, then printing out a copy of the manuscript.

I had met a guy in a garage, literally, in Los Altos, who had a day job (managing the new computers for United Airlines at SFO) and had also some entrepreneurial dreams. He was looking for a test case for what he considered a revolutionary publishing technology.

He had a setup in his garage where he could output on photographic publishing paper the content of a book from a computer disk. I would put in all the codes specifying typeface fonts and sizes in my WordStar file (that’s not Word, that’s WordStar).

I talked this over with the folks at Presidio Press. They had a known cost of $3,000 to input the text manually into the typesetting system and output it on the photographic printing paper. So I made a modest proposal:

“What if I, as the author, can save you $3,000 in the publishing production process? Beyond our deal on royalties, would you be willing to pay me 50% of your production savings, or $1,500 cash money, because I have saved you $3,000 cash money?”

They said “Yes.” So I did the work, provided the outputted ready-to-offset-print book, and they wrote me a $1,500 extra check. This was a revolution in author-publisher relations. I was paid for helping in “production” of the book, beyond my royalty for writing it.

So, it could be said that the San Jose/Silicon Valley tourism legacy figures in this “positively disruptive” story.

For today’s traveler going to San Jose/Silicon Valley, possibly the first subject to consider would be the three great museums reflecting this unique region: the Tech Museum, the Intel Museum and the Computer Museum.

The latest in San Jose, CA Tourism can be seen at http://www.sanjose.org.

Here is a more detailed article on a subject that has contributed a lot to the San Jose/Silicon Valley story. The article is “California’s Stanford University: A World Class Legacy.” The article is also one of 30 chapters in my book Northern California Travel: The Best Options.