pay no attention…
Drive down posh Waverly Avenue in Palo Alto and, just north of California Avenue, you’ll pass the private residences of Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Larry Page who, like some kind of Silicon Valley sitcom, actually live across the street from one another! What kind of awkward borrow-a-cup-of-sugar conversations do you think these guys have? Or what about when one of the Jobs children accidentally tosses a frisbee over Page’s fence? And do you think Bill Gates just TP’s the whole block for good measure?
Agricultural bonus: guess what kind of fruit tree grows in Jobs’ front yard?
Drive up Rengstorff Avenue over the 101 and you’re surrounded by ugly aqua cruiser bikes whizzing by you, their orange safety flags flapping happily behind them. It’s really the best way to know you’ve arrived at Google: you’re stomping on your breaks hoping to not kill a helmetless millionaire on a free bike. They appear to be free, or perhaps their value represents little more than a rounding error in most employee’s stock option plans, because they litter the campus like leaves in the fall, never locked up and simply everywhere. It’s dizzying, watching a Google employee pick up a bike and pedal off, oblivious to oncoming traffic, heading off to another corner of the far-flung campus. It’s not like they’re heading off to lunch–spend more than a week in Silicon Valley and you will have heard a half-dozen tales of how delicious the food at Google is (which, like the bikes, is also free)–it’s just the need to get, well, somewhere really fast. So enjoy a drive around Google, but drive with extreme caution.
(side trip: the Shoreline Amphitheater, which doesn’t actually line a shore but is across the street from Google, boasts as an original investor Apple co-founder Steve Wosniak; it is also the only concert venue I’ve ever heard of to have had a fire start due to methane leaking from the landfill that lies below it. Whoops.)
Drive down DeAnza Boulevard in Cupertino, California and you’re struck by two things:
First, this is the one place on earth where you don’t feel ostentatious walking around with an iPhone. They’re everywhere here–you almost expect to see them floating in the gutters like leaves, their glass screens glinting in the sunlight and making the street appear to be lined by diamonds. Get stopped at the corner of Mariani and DeAnza during a lunch break and try to keep count of how many iPhones walk by you. A baker’s dozen over the course of a single walk signal? Easily. And not a single hip-holster among them. Good job, fashionable Apple employees!
Second, this is the last place on earth you’d expect to find a restaurant named after a sex act. Yet there it is, taunting you in all its libidinal glory: BJ’s. Really! It’s so out of place here, in this canyon of tasteful corporate architecture (which, when you search deep down in your soul you have to admit you expected to be cooler), yet there it is, its neon signage undulating in the California sun. You have to wonder how Steve Jobs feels driving past it every day (Wozniak, no doubt, thinks its hilarious). Every hair on his neck must stand up as he grips the wheel of his Mercedes just a little bit tighter. It’s such a gaudy affront to his very being–ignoring the prurient aspect for a moment, the man’s practically a vegan so he’s not pulling in for a “Sweet Pig” pizza–and yet there it stands as the gateway into the company that popularized the personal computer, the graphical user interface, the MP3 player, desktop publishing, and much more: BJ’s–home, no joke, of the Pizookie (a cookie covered in, well, cream). I suppose it could be worse. It could be a pasta place called Cunnilinguini’s.