SJ Mercury News: Sports Information Director Receives His Profession’s Highest Honor

Longtime San Jose State sports information director Lawrence Fan getting Hall of Fame recognition

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News June 22, 2012.

By Jon Wilner

The list of San Jose State Spartans in national halls of fame, which includes Bill Walsh, Peter Ueberroth and Juli Inkster, is about to add another name.

Longtime staff member Lawrence Fan will be inducted into the College Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame on Monday in St. Louis, along with six colleagues from a slice of college athletics that employs thousands of people across the nation.

Fan also will receive the Arch Ward Award — the highest honor in his profession — for outstanding contributions to his field.

“It’s a big deal for my parents,” said Fan, 57, the first Chinese-American to be inducted into the sports information Hall of Fame. “It’s also big for San Jose State. It gives the school another level of repute.”

Officially, Fan has been the liaison between SJSU sports and the media for 32 years, arranging interviews and providing an endless array of information about Spartans sports.

“No one in our industry is more respected than Lawrence,” said Jim Young, Stanford’s senior assistant athletic director for communications, who has known Fan for decades.

“A lot of people in our profession are known for their glossy publications and the voluminous notes and the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook. But Lawrence has always been about connecting with people, and he does that better than anyone.”

Unofficially, Fan fills a far more significant role in his cramped office in the athletic department. To a greater

extent than any athlete or coach to pass through SJSU in the past quarter century, Fan is Spartans athletics.

“If San Jose State had a pyramid of success, Lawrence would be one of the major building blocks,” said former basketball coach Stan Morrison, who led SJSU to the 1996 NCAA tournament and had dinner with Fan on Sundays at Grande Pizzeria near campus.

Fan has seen every Spartans football game since 1980 and possesses encyclopedic knowledge of SJSU athletics. He has a story for any occasion and knows everyone from John Elway to Bill Hancock, the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, who called Fan “the consummate professional.”

“His dry wit and attention to detail have earned many friends for San Jose State through the years,” Hancock added.

Fan is tireless, methodical and a tad eccentric. He loves “Leave It to Beaver” and roller derby and drove a 1978 Ford Granada until it had 412,000 miles. He replaced it with a 2000 Oldsmobile, which has 234,000 miles (and counting).

Fan is well known in college basketball circles for baking a cake for SJSU officials and media members before home games. Dubbed “Fan cake,” its ingredients have never been disclosed.

In order to manage his massive workload — SJSU’s media relations department has fewer resources than Stanford and Cal — Fan has been known to sleep in his office.

Or his car.

“That’s a bit of an exaggeration,” he said. “I haven’t done that more than five times.”

The oldest of three children, Fan grew up in San Francisco with a love for the Giants and 49ers. He attended Y.A. Tittle’s final game at Kezar Stadium and was in the crowd for the infamous wrong-way run by the Minnesota Vikings’ Jim Marshall.

After graduating from Lowell High, Fan enrolled at Cal with plans to be a math major. But he was drawn to athletic administration and eventually became the sports information director at La Salle University, in Philadelphia, in 1978.

Two years later, Fan accepted the same post at San Jose State, crammed his belongings into the Ford Granada, and made the cross-country trek.

In the three decades since, Fan has produced tens of thousands of pages of media guides, news releases, game notes and statistics. He also has been a friend and adviser to many Spartans athletes and coaches.

“If you have a bad game, he always has a good word to lift you up,” said third-year football coach Mike MacIntyre, who videotaped a testimonial about Fan that will be shown at the Hall of Fame induction.

Along the way, Fan has established relationships with media members in the Bay Area and throughout the country.

“He’s a nice guy even when he’s not selling you something,” said KRON sports anchor and KNBR host Gary Radnich, who refers to Fan as “The Great Lawrence Fan” on his radio show.

“He called my 90-year-old mother just to say he enjoyed being on my show.”

For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner’s College Hotline at Contact him at or 408-920-5716.

San Jose Mercury News: Roadwork Around SJSU to Yield Bike Lanes

Downtown San Jose road work will result in better biking

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News June 20, 2012.

By Eric Kurhi

To encourage pedal-powered transit downtown, San Jose roads are being ripped apart, repaired and repainted.

“We’re striving to make downtown San Jose the most bike-friendly downtown in the Bay Area,” said Jesse Quirion, a transportation specialist with the city.

That entails more than laying down the paint for bike lanes and buffer zones. The work is being done along with scheduled pavement maintenance. And the problems on some of the roads are more than just asphalt-deep, Quirion said.

“Some areas have what we call dig-outs,” he said. “Base failure. We need to repair the underground first and then do the overlay and slurry seal.”

Work is currently being done on Third Street, Fourth Street, 10th Street, 11th Street and Almaden Boulevard — all expected to be completed by mid to late July.

Some roads will have traditional bike lanes. Others will have additional room via painted buffer zones, and one stretch of Fourth Street will be physically separated from traffic by a 4-inch-high rubberized barrier where it runs alongside San Jose State University.

Existing traffic lanes on most of the affected arteries are being reduced to two lanes instead of three as part of a long-term plan to encourage people to get around without a car, Quirion said.

“Initially we may see some traffic impacts, but we hope it will be alleviated over time,” he said. “Hopefully people will make a shift to alternative transportation.”

Quirion said other bike projects are on tap to start later this summer, including a green-colored bike lane on San Fernando Street from Cahill Street to SJSU like the one on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Santa Clara as well as selected corridors in San Francisco.

“It makes it stand out, highlights it and notifies drivers that the bike lane is there,” Quirion said.

The city also is partnering with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to set up 20 bike share stations throughout downtown, where public bikes can be checked out with a credit card and returned to a different location.

Quirion said similar programs are proving popular in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a few locations in Miami.

San Jose’s bike share program will begin in September, Quirion said.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at

Sal Pizarro: SJSU Foundry, Alumni Artists Create Guadalupe River Park Sculptures

Pizarro: Shining scenes of childhood whimsy

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News May 26, 2012.

New public art in the Guadalupe River Park has managed to capture the whimsy of childhood — in aluminum.

Two scenes of children at play were unveiled Thursday at the park that snakes through downtown San Jose. One, titled “Ready or Not,” has kids playing hide-and-seek in the park near Julian Street. The other, “Prepare for Takeoff,” plays off the park’s spot in the flight path of Mineta San Jose International Airport. The scene shows one child pointing up at an imagined airplane with another readying a paper airplane for launch.

Shirley Lewis, the former San Jose city councilwoman and current president of the downtown Rotary Club, was the driving force behind the project. She enlisted a committee led by Hopkins & Carley attorney Jay Ross and Guadalupe River Park Conservancy Executive Director Leslee Hamilton. After weighing various options, the group discovered a hidden gem right in San Jose where the statues could be designed and produced locally: the foundry at San Jose State University.

Steve Davis and Ryan Carrington, who both received advanced degrees at San Jose State last year, were the artists who created the statues at the foundry over the past few months. The project, Davis said, “let us get in touch with our inner child.”

There’s room for more, too — if more funding sources are found. The Rotary Children’s Sculpture Walk allows for up to 10 total scenes that could follow a path from the Children’s Discovery Museum to the site near Coleman Avenue where the Rotary Club plans to build a play garden to commemorate its upcoming centennial.

“This project has far exceeded my expectations,” Lewis said, “because of the generous commitment of the talent, time and resources of many.”

NBC: Politics Professor Assesses Prospects for Governor Brown’s Tax Proposal

Brown’s Tax Proposal in Trouble

Posted by NBC San Diego June 10, 2012.

By Larry Gerston

The latest Field Poll offers some bleak prospects for Gov. Jerry Brown and the state of California. Under the terms of Brown’s November ballot proposal, the state sales tax would increase by one-fourth cent for four years, while income taxes would increase for those earning $250,000 or more for seven years.

The proposal is designed to raise about $8 billion annually, erasing half of the state’s $16 billion deficit.

The findings show that 52 percent of the respondents support Brown’s temporary tax increase proposal, with 35 percent opposed. Proponents should be anything but excited. If history is any guide, those numbers portend defeat.

Generally speaking, money-related ballot proposals are most likely to pass when they have support from 60 percent or more going into the election; that’s because some people drift to the “no” side with the approach of the actual vote. Remember last week’s Proposition 29?

More than the aggregate numbers, the numbers inside the Field Poll tell us much about the divisions within California. In terms of political values, strong conservatives oppose the Brown proposal by a margin of three to one, whereas strong liberals endorse the idea by a hefty nine to one margin.

Age is another area of division. The proposal enjoys solid support from people under 40 years of age, but garners less than majority support from those 40 and older.

Then there’s the matter of income. The higher the income, the weaker the support for the Brown proposal, according to the latest Field Poll. High income voters are the most reliable voters, which underscores the likely outcome as matters now stand.

Some might argue that Brown hasn’t done a good job of making his case, although he’s been beating the drums on the state’s budget woes for more than a year. He has warned us of draconian cuts if the tax vote fails, including three fewer weeks of K-12 public education in addition to the week that most have already lost.

Another possibility is that large numbers of people simply don’t care. They’ve got theirs and it’s up to the rest of us to fend for ourselves. If that’s the case, this state is in a lot more trouble than most people understand, and all of us–haves and have nots alike–will be paying a hefty price.

Larry Gerston teaches political science at San Jose State University and is the political analyst at NBC Bay Area.

New York Times: Grad’s Vietnam War Images, Photosynthesized

Vietnam War Images, Photosynthesized

Posted by the New York Times May 30, 2012.


Growing up in California, Binh Danh was fascinated by the weird discolorations left on the lawn by the sun. Shaped like a garden hose or a rake, the images were baked into the grass, the sun bleaching the bent blades. At the time, Mr. Danh could only marvel at the effects of photosynthesis — the process that sustains all plants — but by college he’d discovered that the sun’s power could also be used to replicate other images.

Like the rake, Mr. Danh could leave his mark on nature.

Mr. Danh invented the chlorophyll printing process, baking his images onto natural canvases with wild grasses and leaves. Mr. Danh is the child of war refugees displaced from Vietnam to San Jose in 1980. For more than a decade, Mr. Danh, now 34, has tried to recapture the experience of the Vietnam War by printing images of suffering civilians, soldiers on patrol and the dead.

“Nature is the final place where memory lies,” Mr. Danh said. “I imagined that through my interaction with the landscape I could flush those memories out, particular traumatic events like war, through art-making.”

American cinema provided Binh Danh with his earliest memories of his native country: the flickering images of the verdant jungles of “Apocalypse Now” and the grittiness of American soldiers fighting in “Platoon.” Though he couldn’t remember his time in Vietnam and his parents rarely spoke of the war, Vietnam and its battlefields remained a specter throughout his childhood.

“That history is not talked about in the family because it’s so painful,” he said. “People in the United States wanted to forget because it was a war that Americans didn’t win. But for my parents’ generation it was a war they lost.”

While Mr. Dahn’s parents believed it was important for him to visit the land of his birth, it wasn’t until his family was called to the bedside of an ailing relative in 1999 that Mr. Danh, then 22, made his first trip to Vietnam.

“Being an Asian-American growing up in America, you never really feel at home,” Mr. Danh said. “I thought, ‘Vietnam will be a place where I am going to feel included, everyone is going to look like me and they will understand my language.’”

Instead, he was viewed as an outsider — an American with a Vietnamese birth certificate.

The theme of memory, and Mr. Danh’s relationship with his native country’s history, led him to the chlorophyll printing project. Part of the work’s novelty is that it forces the viewer to reconsider the very concept of a photograph. As a result, his pieces hint at the impermanence of ideas like identity, belonging, family, and history.

To create the images, Mr. Danh prints a large format negative of a selected image on a transparency, similar to those used with overhead projectors. He then places the transparency atop a fresh leaf, sandwiching it all between a pane of glass and solid backing. Mr. Danh puts the entire unit in direct sunlight, usually on his roof.

Then nature takes over.

The baking process can take a few hours or a few days. During that time, light bleaches some sections of the leaf and alters the natural pigments in others. The process is little more than trial and error, Mr. Danh admits — only one in every five prints is successful. The prints that he selects are then dipped and preserved in two- or three-inch-thick blocks of resin. In Mr. Danh’s galleries these resin pieces are often hung on exhibit wall.

“Visitors are prepared to see something different,” Mr. Danh said. “They want to hold on to that memory as a concrete object.” Resin, too, suggests the importance of history’s preservation.

Mr. Danh displayed his first series of leaf photographs at the student art gallery at San Jose State University in November 2001. In his collection, he included famous Vietnam War images: a mother carrying her child, American soldiers in their barracks, a silhouette of American G.I.’s on patrol. He called the display “Immortality: The Remnants of Vietnam and the American War.”

But the gallery was held only two months after the attacks on 9/11, and as American troops geared up for deployment to Afghanistan. Mr. Danh was concerned that his work would be misinterpreted as antiwar. Even today, he is quick to declare his images apolitical, admitting only that his work offers a different way to remember the costs of forgotten conflicts. As he continues to contribute work on Vietnam to photography and art shows around the world, he believes that each image stands as a meditation on trauma, death and remembrance of that time.

“The idea of not using any chemicals to capture that image on a living thing was beautiful,” said Ashley Rice, 28, the director of photography for the Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz. In 2007, the gallery selected Mr. Danh’s work for display in a show, “The Botany of Tuol Sleng,” and has displayed his photography ever since.

“Some people will look at the pieces from a process point of view,” Ms. Rice said.

Other visitors, many of whom had lived through America’s Vietnam years, left the presentation with new questions about this period in history.

Today, Mr. Danh identifies himself as a landscape photographer and remains as interested in the war-stripped jungles of southern Vietnam as he is the memories that continue to “nourish the land.” When asked about the complexity of his work, Mr. Danh looks to biology as a way of explaining how his images bridge the gap between science and art.

“One of the most important lessons I learned in science class is that our bodies are composed of atoms and that every atom in our body has a history,” said Mr. Danh, who will be an assistant professor of photography at Arizona State University this fall. “Doing what I do now opens up so many possibilities to take everything I know in life and mash it together to make something new out of it.”