Conspiracy Theory

I’m not often one to subscribe to conspiracy theories regardless of how rational or irrational they sound. There seem to be hundreds of them floating around, usually based on a government’s action. Even if you agree with me about doubting them, you’ve got to admit they are fun to speculate on. Often wonder how they get started and who embellishes them as they are passed along.

How about you and I starting one? Ok – here goes. About four or five years ago a confidential conference was called in Geneva, Switzerland. Attending were all of the companies in the world that made shoes. It was organized by the large manufacturers who specialized in tennis shoes (sneakers if you prefer.) Now you know their names and probably can identify their trade marks. Maybe Adidas, Nike, or New Balance, to name a few. But more conventional leather goods firms such as Ecco, Birkenstock, and Nunn Bush were also attendingGettyImages_166291763 copy.

The group sat down to a Power Point presentation that focused in on the fact that the world was nearly saturated with plain old white or black tennies. Something needed to be done to increase sales. The agreed-upon solution was to introduce shoes in any and all imaginative colors, a wide variety of materials, and a bunch of new shapes. It was agreed to be a joint venture where all participated, and believe me it has worked. Worked extraordinarily well!! The colors were then assigned to different countries and aimed at different ages. The new materials were introduced worldwide.

A few months ago I spent a number of weeks over in Europe. It was a pleasant, relaxing trip including France, The Low Countries, and Germany. Several times during this visit I found myself sitting alone on a bench watching people stream by. Barb was shopping, and my tolerance for wandering through stores loaded with local items (some imported from China) is very short. While sitting there on the bench I became aware of the shoes people were wearing. I’m easily entertained as you can see. Nonetheless let me share a few of my observations with you.

Older, more mature women with longer, box skirts and proper jackets wear brown medium-heeled comfortable shoes. They often carry bags with expensive store logos. A hat or kerchief may be included.

Men in business suits wear lace-up shoes of shiny leather, usually quite well polished. The younger these men are, the more pointed the shoe becomes. Either their toes are more pointed than ones I know about, or there exists a large space between foot end and shoe end.

Younger, more casually-dressed people, invariably wear tennis shoes. (I’ll get to the Uggs and boots later.) Now these shoes are extremely colorful. Orange stripes or sections are the most predominant, but an iridescent blue comes in a close second. One can be sure the brand is identified as it stands out in some bold statement or color on the side of each shoe. The actual sole may be white or black but is hardly visible. Colorful shoe laces that may or may not match are also part of the ensemble. They appear comfortable so I guess they work.

A group of Eastern Europeans paraded by following a younger lady holding an umbrella aloft. They all wore beat-up looking black oxfords which to some degree matched the dour look on their faces. I tried a smile at them, but I was dismissed out of hand –or ignored, as the case may be. The shoe revolution has not reached these countries yet.

Perhaps the happiest of all groups was a gaggle of school kids about twelve years old. They laughed, pushed, hit one another, and overall seemed to be enjoying themselves. They all wore those brightly colored tennies I mentioned earlier, so perhaps the color works.

There was one pair of clean white tennies that zoomed by. They were on the feet of an older American lady who was passing everyone else. Maybe looking for a w.c.

Another tour group, which I would judge came from Southern Germany or maybe Switzerland wore very comfortable looking hiking boots. The sole left a design on the pavement as they passed. Their determination and general robust size gave their nationality away. They all seemed comfortable – content with their lot in life.

I did notice a fair number of boots. Mostly on ladies. The height of the boot seemed comparable to the length of the skirt. The higher the boot, the shorter the skirt.

There are also those feet things that look like bowling shoes used to look. They are low to the ground with very thin soles. They have funny lacing going almost to the toes, and they too come in all the colors of the rainbow.

I can hardly wait to get back to the United States and test out my new theory. We’ll go into San Francisco and see if the conspiracy theory which matches colored shoes with the personality of the wearers is valid there as well.

Oh – here comes Barbara. Time to move on.

Trusting “The Man”

I attended a family reunion recently and was happily re-connected with some relatives I hadn’t seen in years. As you might expect, conversations included the inevitable comparisons of life today versus in the past. Admonitions of politics aside, my nephew, who was celebrating his 50th birthday, remarked that when we were younger, a common watchword of the day was “never trust ‘the man’,” as we agreed that today it seems as though the pendulum has reached its opposing apex, where young people largely lack what we always considered a healthy distrust of government—either that or they are simply apathetic (perhaps because they are too busy texting).GettyImages_147413377

Whatever the case, the fact that the under 35 demographic overwhelming voted for Barrack Obama in 2008—a man forthright in his intention to “fundamentally transform America,” with a promise of programs and policies that, by design, enlarged the influence and power of the federal government—bears witness that the tables have turned a full 180 degrees. Distrust still exists amongst the younger generation, but instead of “the man” or “big brother” being the objects of skepticism, today it is other establishment groups—big business and corporations, the Republican party, or just about anything but the federal government.

From the so-called “green” (what was called environmental) and “climate change” movements, to healthcare and economics (think capitalism vs socialism) the under 35 group, by and large, appear to support a more influential federal government, as opposed to a smaller, less-intrusive one. The exception would be the segment of young Libertarians who supported Ron Paul—but again, proof by the numbers that a good many young people seem comfortable surrendering their liberties to “the man.”

And so it is that today that the who or what we trust is reversed; where ideas like net neutrality and universal healthcare are willingly placed in the care of appointed bureaucrats, by people too young to recall how economic conditions actually improved when the push was for smaller government—when the marketplace was trusted more than the Washington elite, and when the masses supported deregulation, not more of it.

If you are old enough to recall how the cost of phone calls dropped when the heavy hand of government was lifted, or how airline travel became within the reach of “common folk” when that industry was deregulated, you know what I’m talking about.

Academics, of course, argue about the efficacy of deregulation, but considering that the same flight that cost $1,442 in 1974 only costs $268 today, or that you no longer have to plan the day of the week or time of day to make a long distance phone call in order to be sure you could afford to pay for it, both speak of the power of letting the market, rather than “the man,” dictate outcomes.

I look forward to more conversations with my nephew at our next reunion and another again when today’s under 35 group have the benefit of more life experience. And if their phrase isn’t “never trust the man,” perhaps they will at least be familiar with this one: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

He Said/She Said with Robin and Shawn

Dear SSHS,
My daughter, who’s been living with her boyfriend for two years, has just announced their engagement. They are both in their upper 20s, been on their own since graduating college, and both make a very nice living. What are the new rules on who should pay for the wedding?
–Penny, Dublin

She Said:
The tradition of the parents of the bride footing the entire bill for the wedding is outdated and unnecessary. Women rarely go directly from their parents’ home to their husband’s home these days, so the idea that her parents should pay for everything because the man needs to support her once they’re married, is archaic. I recommend the parties from both sides sit down to discuss a reasonable budget for the affair, and then determine what sort of contribution everyone, including the couple, is able to make.

He Said:
I’ve never been a fan of outrageous weddings, but I know a lot of women have waited for the ‘big day’ their whole lives. While the ladies should be able to have their cake and eat it too, most guys don’t wait their whole lives for this one day. Plan to splurge on the necessities like great food, open bar, a seasoned photographer and a band or DJ that will bring the house down, and cut costs on areas that no one will be talking about the next day. I mention this first, because only after you plan to spend money wisely will it be easier to get the groom and/or his family to share the cost.

Dear HSSS,
I’m a junior in high school and am not sure I want to go to college. I’m good with my hands and think I’d be happier in life doing some kind of trade, but my mom says I need a college degree to get ahead in life. How can I convince her there are other alternatives?GettyImages_480799497
–Junior, Sunol

He Said:
Sounds like you think you’re too cool for school. Well, Junior, let me assure you that you’re not. Keep an open mind and instead of trying to convince your mother that you don’t need to go to college, ask her to convince you why you should and I’m sure she’ll easily come up with a dozen reasons. College is so much more than just books and classrooms. You’ll make great friends, have a lot of fun, and experience a whole lot more than someone who doesn’t go to college. And while you don’t always need a college degree to be successful, the education and life experience you get is priceless.

She Said:
Your mom just wants what’s best for you, and the idea of her son not getting a college degree scares her. So what you need to do is a little more research. Think about what you’d like to do with your life, then look into the education that will be required to achieve that goal. You’re probably going to need to go to some sort of trade school, so show her what that would look like in terms of time, cost, location, and what you can expect to earn once you’re certified. If mom can see you have a plan, she will feel a lot better about your alternative to college.

Robin Fahr is a public relations specialist and co-host with Shawn Shizzo on Conversations and He Said/She Said seen daily on Tri-Valley TV, Channel 30 and online at Send your questions to


I am a sucker for a good restaurant success story, especially those that happen on a slow burn over the duration of many years.

In 1991, Raj Jain opened Luna Loca in the Livery Mercantile, Danville, with a vision that would soon explode.

Raj was ahead of his time and saw the inherent value of the margarita and the marketable wiles that the concoction could provide. With this vision, he started the first ever “Margarita Committee.” Every full moon (the argument for the title of the restaurant is not unlike the chicken and the egg), Raj would gather his members up and taste a variety of tequilas and mixers. This led to an explosion of interest that would soon take over the bar, then the whole restaurant, until finally the entire parking lot, with live bands, portable bars and whole roasted

Sadly however, the town of Danville was not prepared for this onslaught of full-moon aficionados and soon shut down the operation.

Since that time, Raj has grown Luna Loca to a 2500-3000 patron-a-week business (50% of which come in more than once a week), with patrons that seldom look at a menu and simply get “the usual.”

Fast-forward to March 2015, and for the first time in 24 years, Raj is going to spread his wings and try to recreate the party… in the same parking lot!

Raj has acquired the property where currently Martini Sky is housed, and Patrick David’s before her (restaurants are always referred to as women to me and to be treated as such). He will open “Dana’s,” named after his “better half” –a place for good old-fashioned comfort food with a chef’s touch.

The menu will boast Stuffed Chicken, Scampi, Sole, Filet Mignon and a myriad of salad creations, all created by new Chef Luis, formerly of Marcellos then 17 years at Forlis in Alamo. Bottom line, and most important is that this man knows how to cook for our small town demographic and has kept people in their seats for many years with his creations. You can expect the same at Dana’s.

The décor will remain somewhat the same, as Martini Sky is relatively knew (at least by décor genres) and they certainly did it right! The high bar tables will come out and make way for the more intimate booths. Raj is laying down hardwood floors covered with a Persian rug motif to add warmth.

Raj’s son, Shekhar (Jake) Jain, will be the General Manager. They will keep the above bar TVs, and the lighting will remain elegant and low enough to provide privacy bubbles amidst the hustle.

As Danvillites, we have grown accustomed to getting to know our servers and them getting to know us. One of the largest concerns we have is when keys change hands and we’re starting over with names and faces. Not so at Dana’s. A couple of the key faces seem to come grandfathered in with the property and stem from the Patrick David’s era. Brian will remain behind the bar, and while the ink is yet to dry on this, Dori is expected to return on the floor.

The most excitement with this new venture is that Raj is going back into his bag-o-tricks and looking to breathe life back into his “committee” formula. Not unlike it’s predecessor, Raj will be looking to do a Wine Comittee, this time with the knowledge and cooperation from Danville, lest it spills past the perimeters of his modest patio.

Forty years ago, Raj came here from India and took a job in a restaurant. Like so many of us, he was infected and carries with him the same passion as he did then. We are lucky that he landed locally and continues to show us what proprietorship is supposed to look like.

416 Sycamore Valley Rd. W, Danville, CA 94526

Spring Beauty Trends

March into Spring with a New Trendy Look

This season, add a little skip in your step with a mouth-watering lip shade that is fresh and brilliant. It may be your year to try something new, to discover a brave new color and spice things up! When exploring new colors, always choose a hue that complements your skin tone while also stays true to the trends of the season. Get out of your beauty color box and try something like a watermelon lip shade, or a soft, moss-green eye color; don’t underestimate how original it may be on you. Also investigate a new shimmer blush color, such as a soft pink or a warm shade of berry. You want to look like yourself, yet with a fresh, new twist that brightens.

Transform Eyes
Even though there is a multitude of peach, gray, pink and bright colors in clothing this season, you don’t want to match your make-up to these colors. Our enchanting cosmetic fashion creates a new kind of beauty. What works now is naturally colorful, fluidly-applied, pastel eye shadows with a natural edge. Apply nude pink on the lid, then sweep a soft, moss-green shade in the crease, finished with a warm, light-shimmer beige or golden tone under the brow. These colors will help complement the spring tones you wear, making you look unique, trendy and updated. Soft eye colors will brighten up your look without a dramatic change, while you appear refreshed, polished and ready for spring.

Illuminate Skin
Gleaming skin is in, whether delicately pinked or reflecting a healthy glow. Blush colors are updated with baked pinks, soft rose gold, and peach tones with a touch of golden bronze for that nice lift and youthful glow. Just sweep it over the apple of your cheeks and a little on the forehead. For a freshly-showered, silky look to the skin, add a delicate face bronzer shimmer to the cheeks and forehead.

Go Glossy
Shine is the simplest seasonal update. Because really…who doesn’t want to add a little brightness after a dull winter? Lips want all the attention this spring. The secret in seeing a different or brighter you is in changing your lip color! Simple, right? This season we’re seeing subtle radiance with high pigment pinks, mouth-watering mauves, and delicate corals. These colors will complement any spring fashionista, while keeping it real without looking like you tried. Keep it simple, smart and edgy. Don’t forget to use a nice lip treatment to soften dry lips. Choose lip conditioners that have peptides to increase hydration, plump collagen and smooth lines so lips look full and youthful.

Take the Spring Challenge
Take charge today and March into Spring with a new edgy look that’s more refined than ever. Find out today and move in the right direction to find your perfect spring wardrobe of colors that brighten you, leaving you feeling confident and natural. The Rouge will be offering free Spring Seasonal Updates starting in March through April 30th. Discover the fashion trends and secrets to make them a reality for you.

Lions In, Lambs Out

The old saying is that March comes in like a Lion and goes out like a lamb ( or was it the other way around?). March, lions and lambs! Let’s give it a go.

1. What was the name of the lion in “Born Free?”

2. Chris’s Crew was the outstanding defensive backfield for which NFL franchise in the 1950s?

3. What actor won the Best Actor Oscar for “Best Day of Our Lives”?

4. Here is one we learn from the crosswords. What British essayist wrote under the pen name of Elia?

5. The “poor little lambs that have gone astray” is from which college song?

6. Who were the four March children in the classic book “Little Women?”