The Cupertino ĎBurbs: Stimulation, Simulation, and Shelter

by Peter Peng
Brown '08 (Freshmen, Spring 2005)


For most of my life, I lived a rather sheltered life in a small town that's nothing more than a mere dot on the map. I was born in the heart of the Silicon Valley and lived in Cupertino, California. In this small technologically based town, I built all my ambitions and dreams, and perhaps it is a small view of the world, but my memories of Cupertino (CPT) consists of essentially my entire worldview right up†until before going to Brown University in Rhode Island (seemingly light years away on the East Coast) for college.

We didnít have a lot of diversity. The Valley was predominantly Asian. I saw maybe twenty African-Americans in all my years there. There was the occasional Caucasian, a few Hispanics, some Indians (who are technically Asians too), but Asians were everywhere. If at any one time you didnít see an Asian around, it would be a good bet you were no longer in CPT. I guess I was sheltered from most other cultures because of this.

Cupertino sheltered me from the streets too. Not that we didnít have streets, but there was no such thing as the streets. You know, gang violence, gang bangs, rape, drug lords, death. That was the stuff of other places.

We didnít have people getting shot everyday like in Chicago. We didnít have girls barely into their teens giving blowjobs and selling their bodies, really. Domestic violence? Maybe. Probably, but nothing too bad, just the typical Asian punishment. Families still loved each other, even though many of us kids proclaimed we hated our parents. We werenít scared to walk down the alleyways by ourselves at 2 in the morning (any later and you were breaking curfew). I know a kid who got arrested for breaking curfew. That was probably the worst. That and maybe a little underage drinking and some pot smoking.

Providence, Rhode Island is different. Or maybe college is different, or both are different. Something is different. The Cupertino ĎBurbs project explores my memories of many places in and around Cupertino and how Iíve come to think of them, or how I remember them now.

I started this project completely unsure where it was headed or what direction I wanted it to take. I just liked the idea of remembering the town I had been gone away from for what felt like too long (well, really just a year). I wanted to compare my first year at Brown to all the years back home, wanted to psych myself up for my return in a few weeks back home. I wanted so badly to recall all the good things that have happened to me in that little town. Itís funny because I remember hating home so much. I remember being so excited to leave that hellhole for Brown. In retrospect, I realize home wasnít so bad after all and I miss it more than anything. Perhaps this is because I feel I have had a horrible first-year at Brown, but then again, maybe when Iím back home Iíll start missing Brown.

In any case, if taking The Cyborg Self (EL65 S08) with Professor Landow has taught me anything, itís that we live in a highly interconnected world. Hyperlinking on the Web, another thing Iíve begun to explore with this class, is much like the links of every aspect of our lives and our world. In the Cupertino ĎBurbs, Iíve delved into the world of my mind and explored the way my memories link to each other.

Please enter the portal below to the Cupertino worldview: