Thursday, June 17, 2021

2. TO GECCA WE GO

 






“Why are we listening to Doris Day?” demands Van Stein, a tad puzzled by my choice of tunes on the CD player as we roll toward the belly of the beast in Silicon Valley.


“You kidding?" I say. "We need Doris.”


Patti Page and summer days
On old Cape Cod

Happy time making wine
In my garage

Country shade and lemonade
Guess I’m slowing down


It’s a turned back world
With a local girl
In a smaller town


“We need Doris Day?”

Some truths, it seems, are not self-evident.

I smirk.  “You’ll see.”

Onward we drive, past Salinas and Gilroy, whose garlic fields give the devil pause and, before we know it, we’re zipping into Mountain View, a vibrant suburb of Palo Alto.

Hell-o!

We cruise Castro Street, the main drag.

“What’s with all these ethnic restaurants?” says Van Stein.

Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Turkish, Japanese…

“Google is nearby,” I say.  “When Googlers break from all the gourmet cuisine they get for free, a tactic to keep them near, this is where they entertain themselves, their friends, and families.”

Van Stein experiences an epiphany.  “These restaurants are all owned by foreign intelligence services.  They bug every table.   This must be is part of how they spy on the hi-tech industry.”  

“So where’s the FBI?” I say.

Van Stein points at a restaurant we’re passing at that very moment.  “Over there!”


I turn to see a restaurant called Steak Out.

You can’t make this stuff up.


“Screw the spies,” I laugh.  “Let’s get to the heart of this place.”


El Camino straight-lines us toward Palo Alto.  


Nothing stands out as distinctive:  an affluent suburban community with strip malls and fast fooderies, not much charm… until we roscoe onto University Avenue, attractive and colorful with retro facades and streets bustling with hip nerds and nerdy hipsters who took over decades ago when the beats and hippies swarmed north to San Francisco.


I forgot to mention that on the ride up the devil tried to get us lost by clogging The Tablet (my iPad, for navigation) with data, rendering it useless. 


So when I see an Apple Store, we park and alight.  


Inside, certain passwords are required to gain access for reprogramming, but I discover, for the first time in my life, I’ve forgotten to pack my address book, which contains all my various codes for computer and blog access. 


It’s as if the devil has said, you think I’m in the data? Okay, first you get too much—and now you don’t get any!


But we outfox the old bastard again and now we know where to find everything we’ve come to see:  the Computer History Museum, Google headquarters, FaceBook headquarters and, the most important landmark on our agenda… 



The Garage.

Not just any garage.

It was in this garage, in 1938, that Silicon Valley was born.









And with The Tablet working again, we can see on a Google map that The Garage is a mere six blocks from the Garden Court Hotel, which, operating on spontaneity and serendipity, we’d just checked into.


“This is it.” I wave my arms around after dumping our bags.  “Ground zero.   Geekville.”


“Geek mecca,” Van Stein corrects.


Gecca.