What You Don’t Know About Market Square

Market Square in Kuala Lumpur has several tourist attractions such as Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, the OCBC building, Market Square, Sin Seng Nam restaurant, the Old Gian Singh building, the Bank Bumiputra building, Lebuh Ampang, Jalan Tun H.S Lee, the M.S Ally building, and the Tze Ya temple.

Central Market

You may be tempted to stand under a tree in this hot weather, but be careful. Other than being a popular destination for tourists looking for souvenirs, the trees in front of Central Market are also popular with crows, who might leave you a little souvenir on your head.

This charming little Art Deco building is the most popular one-stop cultural centre in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, if you have very little time, this place is more than enough for some cultural experience, showcasing the best art and craft in the country.

Built in 1888, this building is just one of the many Art Deco buildings in Kuala Lumpur. The façade is repetitive and is held together by unifying windows and doors.

The unique square shaped entrance, with its steps, as well as the horizontal repetitive band that runs along the roof makes the architecture a delight to savour. The giant glass windows all over Central Market transmits only 20% of the sun’s heat, but allows 60% of the light.

Central Market used to be Kuala Lumpur’s wet market. After it was reopened in 1986, this building is now a cultural centre and a Heritage Site; and is very popular with tourists. In there you can find endless selections of Malaysian handcrafts, such as the famous batik, which is a cloth that uses wax-resisting dye techniques; and the wau, the spectacular Malaysian kite; and the infamous Malaysia inspired T-shirts.

The stalls are placed in zones based on the three main races in Malaysia: Malay, Chinese and Indian, which allow visitors to have a deeper insight of the cultural differences in this country.

Tourists can also have their lunch or dinner at the second floor to savour some delicious, although a little touristy, Malaysian food. And if they are lucky, they might even catch a cultural show or two.

Jalan Hang Kasturi

Hang Kasturi was one of the five famous warriors during the time of the Malaccan Sultanate, who was rumoured to have had an affair with one of the Sultan’s concubines. The Sultan ordered Hang Tuah, another great warrior to kill his best friend, Hang Kasturi to prove his loyalty to him.

Along Jalan Hang Kasturi, or Hang Kasturi Road, tourists will see some fine examples of Neo-Classic buildings. At the time when Central Market was a wet market, Jalan Hang Kasturi complemented it with its retail shops selling dried fish and preserved vegetables. Some of these shops still remain, although many have been turned into restaurants. Look out for shops number 32 to 52, built around 1909. You can easily recognize them as they are painted bright yellow and green. Symmetrical shapes, tall columns, triangular pediments right on top and long vertical windows- these are some characteristics of Neo-Classic buildings.

OCBC Building

Sleek and subtly theatrical, the OCBC building was built in 1938 for the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation by the architect A.O Coltman. Its design was innovative as it has basement storage for bicycles, which were then always parked haphazardly on the pavement. This building is a fine example of an Art Deco building with a twist. The main corner of the building is not sharp and accentuated; instead it is slightly curved. Notice also the strong repetitive horizontal band that runs between the windows of both floors. Like many Art Deco buildings, the OCBC building has a flat roof.

Sin Seng Nam restaurant

Just across the road from the OCBC building, is the eye catching orange and white Sin Seng Nam restaurant. To call this building an institution may be a slight exaggeration, but the building, which Sin Seng Nam restaurant occupies, is a pretty historic. Built around 1906 by a wealthy businessman called Loke Yew, who has a street named after him, it used to be called the Red House, due to the distinctive exposed red bricks. It has now been painted over with orange and white. Look at the triangular Dutch gables on the top of the buildings, and note the unique entrances where wooden bars act as security doors as well as to provide ventilation. The windows are narrow and long, and the upper and lower ones are shaped differently. During the olden days, this restaurant was popular among planters for its Hainanese food, despite their notoriously bad service.

Market Square

The tower forms the centre of the Market Square. The Tower was erected in 1937 in honour of King George VI of Britain. An interesting thing to notice is the sunburst motif, which one can find at the base. The clock tower is situated in the middle of the square.

How did this square come about? The city of Kuala Lumpur was founded by Chinese miners. And among the early Chinese settlers, the greatest of them was a man called Yap Ah Loy. This young man who left his village in China, arrived here at the tender age of 17, before rising to be the third Kapitan Cina of Kuala Lumpur. Kapitan Cina is loosely translated as Chinese Captain, or more specifically, a leader of the Chinese community. As Kuala Lumpur flourished, Yap Ah Loy ran his opium and gambling dens right here in Market Square. Imagine, hundreds of Chinese tin miners, gathering around this square, smoking in opium dens with their long pipes over oil lamps. This place was riotous with the disorderly noise of gamblers and the beckoning of prostitutes.

Yap Ah Loy built his large wooden house right here in this square. Maybe it was his way of keeping a close eye on the town he ruled. In 1882, citing health reasons and claiming that the site was state land, Frank Swettenham, the Resident General then, swooped in wanting the tycoon’s market and gambling sheds demolished. As a compromise, Yap Ah Loy removed his gambling sheds and was allowed to rebuild his market with the conditions that it would use brick piers and a galvanized iron roof. However despite the adjustments, he was only granted the land title for life and, upon his death in 1885, the Government took over and relocated the market.

The British government then gave guidelines for shophouses to be erected. The result is a more gracious symmetry for the buildings. They are the ones very near where you are standing. You won’t miss them as their Neo Classic architecture is clearly distinct from the other newer ones, not to mention they are painted with bright colours such as yellow and pink.The decorative plaster garlands along the rooflines are quite interesting. Other distinctive features of these buildings are the triangular structures on the top, the long and vertical windows as well as the balustrades, which are the small little pillars on the balconies. Bright, geometric and dramatic, these old buildings have witnessed the early rise of Kuala Lumpur.

Old Gian Singh Building

Across Lebuh Ampang is a magnificent white building called the Old Gian Singh building. Built in 1909, the building is famous for its complex plasterwork- a blend of Dutch, English and Islamic influences.

Majestic and imposing, the building boasts intricate and elaborate architecture. Different sections of the building were built by different owners; hence as one runs their eyes along the building, one can see how the architecture changes from left to right.

Oriental Building

This beautiful Art Deco building was designed by AO Coltman in the 1930s. The building actually follows the curve of the road, as you can see from the ground floor. The front façade has a central panel flanked by two tower-like pylons. The main panel has a white decorative plaster line following its frame. The plasterwork is made up of interlocking disks. The tall vertical bands alternate with windows, and the lighter horizontal bands run across, giving the entire building a striking and majestic look. The Oriental Building housed Radio Malaya when first built. Some people say if you look from afar, the building looks like a radio from the 30s.

Lebuh Ampang

The first thing that might strike you is the smell of jasmine flower, followed very closely by the vibrant sounds of the latest Indian hit. This placed is packed with Indian restaurants, spice and sundry, fresh flower garlands and money-lenders. The buildings here are an assortment of Utilitarian, Neo-Classic and Art Deco.

Number 24, which is a pink building, and the two buildings after that, are built using Neo-Classic style, with its plaster carvings, and its roof top balustrade, which are the tiny pillars that line the roof. The vertical columns separate the windows, and give it a theatrical illusion. The bright yellow and green buildings used to be occupied by the Chettiars, a south Indian caste of moneylenders. Money lending business is so closely associated with the Chettiars that in Malaysia, if you ask someone for the money that they owe you, they might call you a Chettiar as a joke. Today Chettiar moneylenders are rare with the establishment of banks and financial institutions.

Numbers 32 and 34, which are painted bright yellow and pink respectively are two examples of Utilitarian architecture. The roof and the butterfly grills on the windows help keep the building cool; and their beauty is not as important as their functionality.

On the right side of the road is house number 85. This is a good example of a Chettiar house. Peep in and you will see the glazed ceramic tiles with peacock design. The peacock is an important animal in Hinduism. It is the carriage of Lord Muruga who is the patron deity of the Chettiar people. There are also some low benches, chests and old safe.

Jalan Tun H.S Lee

Tun H.S Lee was one of the politicians who helped Malaysia achieve its independence, and this street is named after him.

If you walk on the right side of the road and look left and if you let your eyes follow the shop houses, you realize that they suddenly become shorter. The walkways are about two feet below the surface of the road. This is because the shorter shop houses are the some of the oldest buildings in Kuala Lumpur, and the newer ones are built higher than these. Today, these old shop houses have been restored and they look even newer than their surroundings. The original roofs have been refurbished by corrugated iron or tile roofs.

In olden times, feng shui or Chinese geomancy was very influential on this street. Many shops hung feng shui mirrors to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. It was believed that when evil spirits looked into the mirror, they will be frightened by their own image and will run away.

MS Ally

Build in 1910, it was occupied by the Federated Engineering Company and Sime Darby. Today, it is used by MS Ally, a pharmaceutical tender agent. The curious orange lines that run along the Dutch gables are quite a sight.

Sze Ya Temple

The famous Sin Sze Si Ya temple, or more known by its shorter name, Sze Ya temple is set at an angle to Jalan Tun HS Lee and Lebuh Pudu, the temple is built according to feng shui principles. Hence, it is a little hidden and is not easy to find.

It was built in 1864 by Kapitan Cina Yap Ah Loy, the same person who built Market Square, as a tribute to the deities Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya. The oldest Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur, the Sze Ya temple is a fine example of Chinese architecture using feng shui principles.

In 1859, a war broke out between the Malays and the Chinese. In this conflict, Kapitan Shin Kap, the head of Sungei Ujong, south of Kuala Lumpur, was captured by the Malays and beheaded. His death became sensational because according to local legend, when Kapitan Shin Kap’s head was chopped off, white blood flew out. The Malays believe that the spilling of white blood indicates that the person is a saint. They begged for forgiveness and allowed the Chinese to retrieve his body for burial. As a result of this miracle, the Chinese began worshipping him as the deity of Chinese miners in Malaya and Kapitan Yap Ah Loy built this temple in his honour. One will see an effigy of Kapitan Shin Kap on the main altar on the left under the name Si Tze Ya. The other figure is Yap Ah Loy’s chief general.

There is an altar of Yap Ah Loy on your left, together with other early Chinese founders of Kuala Lumpur. There are other deities in the temple such as Kuan Yin the goddess of mercy, Thai Swe the guardian of the year and Choi Sen the god of wealth.

Silicon Valley Circa 1956 – A Valley That is No More

What was it like in Silicon Valley in 1956?

Back then, the Valley lay in the shadow of San Francisco. If you wanted culture, glamor, or riches, you headed to the City. If you wanted farm life, you headed to San Jose. I exaggerate, but not by much. Hard as it is to imagine today, the Valley then was still tied closely to the soil. People knew how to grow things. Things like fruit. Not just as a hobby but as way of life. Above all, they knew how to can and pack that fruit. Not as home preserves but on a large, industrial scale. Before WWII, San Jose had fewer than 100,000 people. Yet no fewer than 18 canneries and 13 packing houses could be found in the Valley. This was then the largest canning and dried fruit packing center in the world. By 1956, this farm-based culture was still largely intact. Today, it is almost entirely gone.

Those of us who have been here awhile may have caught fragments of the old life. I remember doing a summer stint as a student at the Del Monte Cannery off Auzerais Avenue, circa 1970, in which my fingers turned prune-like as I stood there for endless hours throughout each shift “guiding” grapes to the center of a conveyor belt at its drop-off point by repeatedly reaching my arms out as if doing a butterfly stroke and pulling the grapes inward as my arms would pull together. Shifting to the “dry” side later that summer, my brother and I would do the graveyard shift standing at the bottom of a massive slide and scrambling like mad to stack pallets manually with some really heavy boxes whenever the automatic pallet-stacker at the top malfunctioned and some faceless person would switch the boxes to come zinging downward non-stop and with a great force — we felt like Lucy and Ethel trying frantically to handle all the chocolates as the sheer number and frequency of the boxes would overwhelm our ability to stack them. I can assure you that whatever talent we displayed that summer went entirely unrecognized.

But back to life in 1956. Cali Mill sat at the corner of De Anza and Stevens Creek Boulevard. Monte Bello Vineyards quietly grew its grapes in the Cupertino foothills, soon about to realize great harvests that would lead it to become Ridge Vineyards. Paul Masson was even then a Valley winery that would “sell no wine before its time,” as Orson Welles would later put it. Cupertino had just incorporated as a city in 1955, becoming the 13th city in the Valley (Sunnyvale had voted to incorporate in 1912). Cupertino High was about to form in 1958. De Anza College didn’t exist. Nor did El Camino Hospital. Both were about a decade or so off. Santa Clara’s law school was around, and it graduated exactly 13 students that year. Many at the time could remember just a couple of decades earlier when it took the equivalent of a short trip through the country to get from downtown San Jose to Willow Glen. Much of Mountain View remained agricultural not only as of 1956 but even throughout most of the 1960s — during this era, there was still open space between Mountain View and Palo Alto, with row crops and orchards filling in the gap. Moffett Field with its huge hangars filled the Valley with the noise of monster-sized military planes droning continuously as they took off and landed throughout the day.

Prosperity was afoot, however, wholly apart from the agricultural sector. Santa Clara Valley had a massive postwar population explosion and chaotic growth to accompany it. By the mid-1950s, San Jose was well on its way to having over 200,000 people, more than doubling its population within the decade. Electronics companies began to flourish, spurred on initially by WWII. Prominent among these was Hewlett Packard, which in 1956 did $20 million in revenues and employed 900 people while selling test and measurement equipment. By the following year, it would go public and double the number of its employees while doing something very unusual — it gave stock grants and options to all employees with at least six months of service, an almost unheard-of practice at the time.

Shopping malls sprang up as well, even as Woolworth’s and other five-and-ten-cent stores started to falter. In the summer of 1956, one of the first and most notable, Macy’s Valley Fair, opened as a 39-store retail center. Macy’s had wanted to open in downtown San Jose but got stiffed on price. It therefore bought several acres of land along San Jose’s unincorporated Stevens Creek Road and built the center there, amidst a wide open area consisting of orchards and an Emporium department store. When it opened, it had only one floor and a roof deck that was accessible to shoppers by elevator. Macy’s planned to add a second floor. So what did it do in the interim? It did what any good promoter of a new concept would do (and as many other centers of that day did) to attract shoppers — it set up a carnival! Yes, right on the roof deck of its shopping mall, it put not just one but seven carnival rides. It had a merry-go-round and a small train and even a 40-foot ferris wheel! It also had a cafe so that parents could relax and eat as their kids enjoyed the rides. It seems that fast-shuffle types were busy long before startups came along. If it sparkles, they will come!

While Cupertino lagged in seeing its first significant shopping center open, 17 of its largest landowners shortly thereafter sold out to Varian Associates, another thriving electronics firm, which (along with the Leonard, Lester, Craft and Orlando families) developed the center that took as its name an acronym composed of the first initials of each participant: Vallco Park. Vallco, however, did not open until the early 1960s. In 1956, the large tracts of land were entirely undeveloped except for agricultural purposes.

Meanwhile, we had the Dow at about 500. People made just under $5,000 per year on average and paid about $12,000 if they wanted to buy a brand new home. No sticker shock in those days for those moving in from the Midwest.

The Korean War had ended three years earlier and the McCarthy hearings a couple of years before. The shock of Sputnik was still a year away. The Cold War was in full sway, however, and was not helped by the crushing of the Hungarian uprising by Soviet tanks in 1956. Memorable among the oddities of the day were the atomic bomb drills by which school kids would attain assured safety from any nearby neutron blast by being taught to crawl under their desks (confirming that the leaders then were about like those we have today).

Eisenhower was President and Nixon Vice President, re-elected as a team for a second term. Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto, officially supplanting its unofficial predecessor, E Pluribus Unum. In one of the great ideological misfires of all time, Ike appointed William J. Brennan as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court at the time included not only Justice Brennan but also Earl Warren, Felix Frankfurter, John Harlan, Hugo Black, and William O. Douglas.

Drugs were clearly a problem in metropolitan areas but had not spread as yet to the larger society. In response, Congress held marathon hearings on the issue and passed the Narcotic Control Act of 1956. Prescription drugs and packaged food items, meanwhile, did not have safety caps or seals, and the Tylenol poisoner who brought that constant headache upon us had not yet begun to serve his just judgment of everlasting torture in the lowest of the lowest of the lowest regions of Hades specifically reserved for him, where (I hope) it is EXTRA, EXTRA HOT!

Smoking was cool, however, really cool; so too was drinking (remember the “highball”). Garbage was garbage and weather was weather, since Rachel Carson had not yet had her way. Wonder Bread made up for any nutritional deficit incurred through all that smoking and drinking, or at least that is the conclusion I would have come to as a 5-year old boy at the time had I thought about it (only weird people didn’t like Wonder Bread).

Fireworks were everywhere on the Fourth of July, and there were no forbidden zones. Many an anthill served as a proving ground for mischievous boys in training for the demolition corps. What was done with cherry bombs will be passed over in silence.

Ma Bell introduced three-slot pay phones (for nickel, dime, and quarter) that year. She would lease you a home phone as well but not sell you one. You could, however, listen in for free on someone else’s party-line conversation, and you could make crank calls at will without fear that caller ID would expose you for being the lewd person that you were.

’56 Chevys, costing about $2,000, symbolized the oligopoly (composed of GM, U.S. Steel, and a few others) that John Kenneth Galbraith assured us would forever dominate a new industrial state and crush all future competition. “Made in Japan” meant junk, and Sony took this to heart by shipping its first transistor radio to Canada that year, perhaps sensing that it might ultimately have the last laugh.

Dairy Queens proliferated, having just introduced dilly bars to complement the banana splits they had been serving up for five years, but no trace could yet be found of McDonald’s (nor of the infamously-named and now near-defunct Sambo’s Restaurant which some of us may remember while eating those awful 3:00 a.m. fries in student mode during the 1960s and 1970s).

Gas stations were full service and gas was priced at about $.22 per gallon. The road culture ala Jack Kerouac held sway. Drive-in theaters flourished as part of a nationwide phenomenon which saw them quintuple in number from 1948 until they hit their peak by 1958 even as indoor theaters shrank by one-quarter during that same period. President Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act that gave impetus to the federal interstate system we know so well today. Commercial flying had gone mainstream, was highly regulated and expensive, and enabled you to get a hot meal with your flight.

Kodak dominated film. Polaroid was in its third decade of existence and had managed to sell its one millionth camera that year, though the Instamatic was still well off into the future. IBM had invented the world’s first hard disk (5 MB storage) for use on mainframes. Of course, the people of that day could scarcely dream of personal computers or hand-held digital devices or email or the Internet.

TVs were in about half of all households and had become the center of family activity, having supplanted radio and undercut the cinema. Almost all were black and white, as color sets did not catch on until the early ’60s. It took a U.S Supreme Court decision in 1955 to pave the way, but TV quiz shows were held not to constitute illegal gambling and so the $64,000 Question was eagerly watched to see if contestants could win individual prizes of as much as $100. Also eagerly watched were Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, who premiered their hugely popular Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC in October, 1956, bumping Douglas Edwards of CBS from the top spot in ratings for television news. TV poured forth a wealth of wholesome family entertainment, with Father Knows Best, the Danny Thomas Show, the Phil Silvers Show, the Loretta Young Show, Playhouse 90, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Caesar’s Hour coming to mind as standouts among the offerings. No VHS to record any of it with, however, and no TiVo either.

Hollywood released Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, with its nearly 4-hour runtime, whose very ponderousness is rumored to have prompted a prominent Jewish wag of the time to stand up in the middle of the screening and cry out, “Cecil, let my people go.” While it no doubt went unnoticed here in the Valley, Ed Wood also produced what is reputed to be the worst movie ever made, Plan 9 from Outer Space, whose star (Bela Lugosi), having died after only four days of shooting, was represented by a double through most of the movie! More likely to be found at the local Odeon were Bus Stop (Marilyn Monroe), Picnic (William Holden), The Searchers (John Wayne), Giant (Rock Hudson), Moby Dick (Gregory Peck), The Solid Gold Cadillac (Judy Holliday), Forbidden Planet (Walter Pidgeon), Anastasia (Ingrid Bergman), Friendly Persuasion (Gary Cooper), Around the World in 80 Days (David Niven and about 100,000 other stars in cameo appearances), Patterns (Van Heflin), and (my favorite) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kevin McCarthy). All in all, an OK but not a great year for Hollywood, as the great stars of the 1930s and 1940s had either retired or were past their prime and as the film noir fashion had pretty much reached the end of its tether, yielding place, on the one hand, to Doris Day fluff films and, on the other, to hothouse films of the William Faulkner variety featuring sweaty male leads and ever sultry and much abused ladies. Arghhh! No wonder the cinema was in decline.

The “beat” movement was in full swing, Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, and the movie “Rock Around the Clock” was released, causing rock-and-roll riots, of all things, throughout much of Europe. The vinyl LP had been around just shy of a decade and was hugely popular. Hugh Hefner had begun his mischief, and Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando each were promoting their own versions of sex appeal. Grace Kelly caused the nation to swoon with her marriage to Prince Rainier in Monaco. And Pete Seeger protested and sang folk songs. Kids played Monopoly and rode Schwinn bikes. The Yankees won the World Series, beating the Dodgers (the Brooklyn Dodgers, that is), with Don Larsen pitching a perfect game and with such stalwarts as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee Reese gracing the field. Professional basketball remained largely segregated, though amazing players did some incredible things in what were then known as the Negro Colleges and a certain Bill Russell had led the University of San Francisco to the NCAA championships that year for the second time running; today the ratio of white to black players in the NBA has shifted, to put it mildly. Martin Luther King’s Montgomery bus boycotts had just come to a successful conclusion, spurred by a post-Brown v. Board of Education decision of the U.S. Supreme Court brought about by a legal team led by Thurgood Marshall.

Schools had discipline, and prayer. Knuckle-rapping with rulers was OK. Girls were of the marrying kind or of the “other” kind. Boys were the same drips then as they are today. Latin was still taught as a required language, though Greek had been routed by well-meaning but thoroughly befuddled language latitudinarians. Grade inflation had not yet taken hold, and the dread of flunking out remained very real for those who didn’t meet standards.

Perhaps the greatest news of 1956 came with the discovery of a vaccine for the prevention of polio — one of the great medical breakthroughs ever. The Valley, and the nation, gave a huge sigh of relief.

Law practice was characterized by mostly male lawyers who never touched a typewriter and who dictated profusely, wore suits and ties, and addressed one another as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss (no Ms. at the time and no casual first-name familiarity). Typewriters abounded. Plain paper photocopying was still several years off, but law firms could still use cruder mechanisms for making copies. Lawyers will be lawyers, after all. Early fax machines existed but were few and far between and very expensive. An “express message” meant a telegram from the one company that then held a monopoly over that mode of communication. Literal cut-and-paste constituted the editing process. Manual redlining was laboriously done in larger firms but not much elsewhere. Even “large” firms were midgets compared to today’s giants (even as of the early 1960s, the then 80-year-old firm I began with in 1980, McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, had just 20 or so lawyers!). Lawyers did not advertise, and collegial relationships tended to characterize what were then true partnerships where lawyers, once established, planned to spend their entire working careers.

“Silicon Valley” did not then exist, but all that was about to change. It began quietly enough and many did not notice. In the late 1930s, a pointy-headed Englishman named Alan Turing had taken his vast knowledge of high-level mathematics, had assumed infinite resources, and had set about to develop a logical model of incredible theoretical power that he called his “universal computing machine.” He saw that a vast number of complex functions could be mimicked and processed through logical representations contained in simple “on” and “off” states. Thus was born the digital model (or at least its modern and truly effective incarnation). But a small problem remained: what to do about those “infinite resources” that higher mathematicians could take for granted in their theorems but that did not in fact exist. The analog world was one of heavy machinery, the bigger and more powerful the better. And yet, and yet . . . Maybe with the right materials, the power of electricity could be harnessed to give us real-world computers as so envisioned.

Enter William Shockley. The date: February 13, 1956. The place: 391 South San Antonio Road, Mountain View. The goal: to make the world’s first semiconductors. Yes, right at the time the Valley struggled to retain some semblance of its agricultural roots, Shockley announced the formation of Shockley Labs. While really a division of a larger enterprise, this little outfit ultimately set the model for many startups that would follow. How? Well, in spite of all-pervasive genius, it never made a dime of profit. Only red ink. A true model for the Valley!

What is more, it became a prototype of a startup that is begun, controlled, and dominated by an engineering genius who proceeds to suffocate the life out of it. Today such engineers are kept caged in a back room, carefully guarded, and periodically fed big helpings of stock options to keep them tamed. Back then people didn’t know any better. And so William Shockley ultimately destroyed the company of which he was the brainchild. And brainchild he was — the Nobel-Prize-winning inventor of the world’s first transistor, a key foundational piece upon which the digital model could be built. A man with enough stature to assemble what was perhaps the world’s most famous founding team. But it all came to naught, and Shockley took his Nobel Prize and moved to Stanford to expound upon wild racial theories.

But what a founding team he had assembled! Gordon Moore. Robert Noyce. The founders of Fairchild Semiconductor and, ultimately, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, and all the “fairchildren” that eventually came to the fore. From failure came spectacular success. Thus, the great companies of the Valley were poised to come into existence and realize the great digital vision of Alan Turing. The world of startups, venture capital, and explosive growth was about to begin. And Santa Clara Valley was never to be the same again. Silicon Valley was born.

Engagement Anxiety Dismantled – Do I Love My Fiance Enough?

They usually speak in low tones, as if they’re violating some unwritten law of an engaged person. I can hear the fear, doubt, confusion, and anxiety wrapped in each word, as well as the relief that they’ve finally found a safe place where they can discuss their real feelings. The story and subsequent questions are some version of the following (written as a woman but could just as easily be spoken by a man about his wife-to-be):

“My fiance is a great guy. He’s honest, responsible, loyal, good-looking, funny. My parents and friends love him. I’ve never felt so safe with anyone. We have the same values about kids, family, money, religion. I know I love him and he’s my best friend but… I’m not sure that I’m in love with him. Do I love him enough to marry him? How do I know that I’m not making a mistake?”

I usually know within the first fifteen minutes of a counseling session whether or not the person is making a mistake. But it often takes much longer than that for my clients to assimilate the information I offer them, work through the exercises I prescribe, and begin to dismantle their engagement anxiety so that they can transform what we think of as “cold feet” and begin to feel excited about their wedding and marriage. We typically address three key areas to facilitate this process:

1. We distinguish between red-flag relationship issues and normal engagement anxiety:

There are two kinds of fear that arise during engagements: the first is a signal that there’s a serious red-flag issue in the relationship and the second is a signal that you’re about to make the biggest commitment of your life and, yes, it’s scary. What are the red-flag issues I’m referring to? Some are very obvious: your partner has an addiction issue (alcohol, drugs, work, gambling), there are betrayal or trust issues that haven’t been healed, there are incompatibilities regarding core values like having children or religion. Other red-flag issues might be less blatant: your partner has serious control issues that he’s not willing to address, you’re young (early twenties) and aren’t ready to commit to one person, you have the feeling that your partner doesn’t really love you but is more in love with the fantasy or idea of you. There are certainly other red-flag issues, but these are the most common I encounter in my practice.

The second kind of fear is what we commonly think of as “cold feet”. Personally, I don’t like the expression cold feet because it doesn’t accurately describe what people experience during their engagement, which is a real fear. I’m not one to mince words; I call a spade a spade and when people are in transition, they’re scared. They’re scared of the unknown. They’re scared of jumping off the cliff of the familiar life and landing in new and unfamiliar territory. They’re scared of committing to one person forever. Getting married is enormously scary and to say otherwise is to avoid a basic truth about this significant life transition. So once we determine that there are no serious red-flag issues in the relationship, we work to normalize the fear and learn how to make room for it during the engagement without letting it running the show.

2. We redefine love:

Our culture has a lot of misconceptions about love, and no where do they appear more prominently than around engagements and weddings. Prior to getting engaged, my clients share that they felt positive about their partner and excited about the prospect of marrying him. But once he popped the question, suddenly she puts him, and their relationship, under a microscope and wonders: Do I love him enough? I know I love him, but am I really in love with him? And then the waterfall of buzzwords around love and marriage cascade down her brain night and day: Is he my soul mate? What if I’m settling? Do we have enough passion? Is he (my all-time favorite and the one that gets most women) the one?

Oh, dear one, if these words and phrases are causing you to question, you’re not alone! It only means it’s time to redefine what it means to love someone, to choose to marry someone, to make the conscious, daily choice to love and commit. As one of my clients astutely said: “I had to fall out of love with my fiance so I could learn about what love is and then fall in love with him all over again — this time from a healthy place. I learned that love is not a feeling but a choice.” During our bridal counseling sessions, we spend a lot of time discussing the truth about love, romance, and marriage until the fantasy is cracked open and my client is grounded in real love.

3. We explore the underlying causes of the anxiety:

The word anxiety is somewhat of a catch-all phrase that encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions from fear and terror to depression, grief and uncertainty. The crux of the Conscious Weddings Counseling Sessions – and the impetus for pioneering bridal counseling over a decade ago – is to shed light on the thoughts and feelings that typically create what we think of as wedding cold feet and engagement anxiety. These include:

o Grief about letting go of the single identity and lifestyle

o Fears about making the commitment of marrying one person

o Confusion about how to separate from family of origin

o Uncertainty about walking toward the unknown of marriage

o A recurring sense of loss about: deceased relatives, past relationships, previous transitions

In other words, oftentimes the anxiety that arises during an engagement has nothing to do with one’s partner. Once we make sure there are no red-flag issue and redefine what real love is, I help my client to remove the projection from her fiance then guide her through the underlying causes until the anxiety dissipates and she’s able to have the joyous wedding and healthy marriage of her dreams.

Interview: Elliott Kalb

Elliott Kalb is a five-time Sports Emmy winner, working for NBC Sports for 15-years, and currently for HBO Sports, TNT, and CBS-Westwood One Radio Network. Known to many as Mr. Stats, he’s written two books, posted an excellent article with us and now he sits down with me to answers some questions.

Who’s been your favorite interview so far? Most surprising?

Since I’ve been promoting my books, my favorite interview has been Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who hosts a talk show on KNBR in SF. He told me that I should have ranked him 24th all time, since that was the number he always wore. I ranked him 22nd.

Over the years, I’ve had a chance to interview (or write questions for) most great athletes of the last two decades. My favorite was talking to Pat Riley about his ability to teach and motivate. I asked him if he felt he was wasting years teaching (mainly) to 12-millionaires, rather than hundreds of young people in a classroom. Riley is a tremendous interview.

What’s the most memorable sports moment you witnessed live?

Where do I begin? I produced NBC’s baseball coverage from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where the USA team defeated a heavily favored Cuba team. I was there at the 1988 World Series, when Kirk Gibson hit a miraculous homer. I was there for each of Michael Jordan’s 35 NBA Finals games. Super Bowl XXIII, when Joe Montana led a last minute comeback. The last two Super Bowls, when the Patriots narrowly defeated the Panthers and Eagles. Game 7 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Lakers. Game 7 of the 2000 Western conference Finals, when the Lakers overcame a 15-point defecit to the Trailblazers. Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Game 7’s are almost always memorable.

Who’s your all-time sports hero?

Wilt Chamberlain was my hero growing up. I’ve been chronicling the career of Shaquille since he came into the NBA, and very proud that I was the first to write that he was the best of all time.

What’s been the harshest criticism of your “Who’s Better, Who’s Best? in Basketball” book?

That I ranked Shaq first merely to sell books.

What’s your reaction to the Congressional hearings with MLB regarding steroid use?

If Congress wanted truly to help kids (as they said) they would worry about stopping the sale of alcohol at sports events. Congress found a way to look good. Bud Selig was made to look a fool. Of course, he wants a tougher steroids policy, but his hands are tied by the players association and Don Fehr.

Who do you think will be the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft? Why?

I follow the NFL, the NBA, and MLB very closely. I’m afraid I don’t have the time to follow college football the same way. I do know the Niners need a quarterback, and the Dolphins need a running back.

When the next group of players is picked, who do you think should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

One of the best trios of all time left the game in 2001. Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mark McGwire. When it is their turn, I am looking forward to that. Guys like Tony Perez or the recently retired Roberto Alomar are close, but no cigar in my opinion.

Do you think gambling hurts or helps collegiate sports? Professional sports?

I love fantasy leagues, but I think they are starting to hurt sports because anytime players and/or fans care more about individual stats than team goals, it hurts the sport. No doubt pools help interest in the NCAA tournament.

Do you miss the NHL? Do you know anyone that does?

I’m afraid I’m not much of a hockey fan. I feel for the many people who make their income off of the sport, though.

Do you think professional women’s leagues like the WNBA will succeed in the long run? Why?

The women’s leagues have created a niche. It will never rival the main sports, but I am happy for those involved and the people that enjoy them.

What do Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Dan Marino and Chris Carter think of TheSportsCritics.com?

They all enjoy debating the issues, so I’m sure they would like the site.

When will your book signing tour make it to Southern California?

I will be in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 14.

It’s draft time and the following people make up the draft for your sports organization. Which people are FIRST ROUND picks, which are LAST ROUND picks and which go UNDRAFTED? Why?

Barry Bonds

FIRST ROUND – Greatest baseball player of all time.

Michael Jordan

FIRST ROUND – Greatest non-center to ever play in the NBA.

Pete Rose

LAST ROUND – As a manager, he bet on his own team some days, which means he bet against his team on others…that’s what I have a problem with.

Bill Parcells

FIRST ROUND – I worked with Bill and I am one of his guys. A Jersey guy. A guy he can hang with at the diner. A guy that is loyal to him, and would go through a wall for. He needles me, gets on my case, and made me work twice as hard for him as anyone else.

Jose Canseco

LAST ROUND – I wrote a better baseball book than him–an old fashioned baseball book that could have been written at any point in time…but this schmuck has the best-seller?

Kobe Bryant

LAST ROUND – I wrote in the NBA book almost two years ago, that any great perimeter player (Tracy McGrady, for instance) would have won those three titles that Kobe won. Shaq made the difference. He has proven me correct.

Bill Buckner

SECOND ROUND – I still think of him as a batting champ, an excellent hitter, and he should have been replaced for defense in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 WS.

Brett Favre

LAST ROUND – Still can’t stomach him after he let Strahan sack him intentionally for record.

Billy Martin

Very underrated manager…and as a longtime Yankees fan, he’ll always have a place in my heart.

Bobby Knight

FIRST ROUND – I like Parcells, so I like Knight. Of course. He represents so much about what is good for his sport.

Mark Cuban

FIRST ROUND – Owners I like more than him: Al Davis, the Maloof brothers. Also, although he wasn’t an owner, Pat Croce has been a friend, role model, and the real deal.

Pedro Martinez

FIRST ROUND – One of the greatest of all time. I ranked him 29th all time, and he’ll be better than Koufax if he does anything in the back end of his career.

Terrell Owens

Who’s Better, Who’s Best? I’ll take Randy Moss and Teri Hatcher over T.O. and Nicolette Sheridan.

Gringo, Dingo, Bingo, Ringo, and Ca’Chingo

Okay so, do you like the title of my article there? I thought you might, I had fun thinking it up the other day while driving, but I want to tell the story behind it. You see, our local Indian reservation, and let me tell you these folks live much better than most middle class Americans have a huge casino along the Freeway; I-10 in California. It’s a huge draw for the area and so everyone is very happy, especially the wealthy American Indians here.

Now then, they have slot machines, limited gambling, and Bingo too. They bus in people from all over for the great shows, fine dining, and just to have fun – it’s all good right? Now then, the other day, I was listening to the radio while tootling around town and one of the Indian Casinos nearby was announcing a new restaurant opening in their casino named Ca’Chin-go! That is very creative indeed, and it would lend itself well to branding and advertising campaigns.

Think about it? What’s in a name? Well, everything if you do it right, and it hardly matters what type of business you are in, it needs to be fun, descriptive, and energizing – just like Ca’Chin-go is, so “Don’t be a Dingo, Come on Over to Ca’Chin-go!” or “You Don’t Have to Sing Like Ringo, to Enjoy Yourself a Ca’Chingo!” Think of all the possibilities for jingles and advertising.

Let this be a lesson to all entrepreneurs – think about what you are doing, and plan a good brand-able name, one you can live with, one which will get headlines, and one which draws people in. Please consider all this.