Noe Valley Voice July-August 1999

Rumors Behind the News:
Direct from the Noe Valley Weather Bureau

By Mazook

MOST NOE VALLEONS are hip to the fact that summer doesn't arrive in Noe Valley until sometime around the autumnal equinox (Sept. 21). It lasts roughly 21 days, and to Halloween only if we're lucky.

But many out-of-towners haven't a clue. So it's a good idea to warn those friends and relatives from Back East who will be visiting "sunny" California this summer to bring their sweats -- pants, that is -- and about seven layers of shirts and jackets. (Back East, of course, means anything beyond the Bay Bridge toll plaza.)

Once they're here, the first thing they may want to do after they get up in the morning is take a stroll around our quaint little village.

But make them sit down and listen to the weather report first: The Noe Valley Weather Bureau (NVWB) predicts early-morning and late-afternoon fog rolling over Twin Peaks throughout July and August. Otherwise, it will be sunny and windy with temperatures peaking in the 60s to low 70s midday, then dipping to the upper 40s or low 50s in the late night and early morning.

It's clear your shivering visitors will need a brisk warm-up walk: Let's begin at the landmark Victorians on Liberty near Valencia Street, walk (or run) west to Church Street, and then turn left on Church, pointing out the gold fire hydrant and Mission Dolores Park down below on 20th. Follow Church to 22nd Street and turn right.

What? You mean go up the 22nd Street hill, the second steepest in the city? Sure, you can do it! Use the steps.

Follow 22nd all the way to Douglass and turn left, then take another left on 24th Street to start your descent into Downtown Noe Valley. More avid walkers may want to stay on Douglass until they reach Upper Douglass Park, where they can watch the dogs cavorting like gorillas in the mist. But if you're not sure whether the fog's rolling in or out, head for Diamond and 24th and the land of the latte.

There you can reward yourself and your friends with a cup (or vat) of brew at your favorite coffeehouse, or do a little shopping as you meander down 24th to Church Street. Eventually we'll head south on Church to what historically was the "end of the line," at 30th Street. (That's where Noe Valley ends and Fairmount Heights begins. At least it used to.)

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THESE DAYS YOUR DOT-COM friends and relations may have revved up their Internet search engines and punched in "Noe Valley" long before they bought their plane tickets. If they looked at (the Chronicle's web site), they'd have seen Noe Valley described as a "one-time working-class Irish neighborhood [that] has been transformed into an upper-class 'hood offering locals and visitors a taste of small-town coziness well within city limits."

The Chron's guide goes on to call our little dale "San Francisco's version of Sesame Street," where the shopkeepers say hello as they sweep their entryways and the sun always shines, and where life "seems so uncannily perfect, you are tempted to peek behind the storefronts to make sure they're three-dimensional."

If that one doesn't get you, try this: "If you plan on visiting Noe on a Saturday or Sunday (or really, any day), prepare for some serious sidewalk maneuvering, when 24th Street (Noe's main drag) becomes Toddler Highway: three moms pushing three racing strollers can plow you and your coffee cup right into the gutter -- but the babies look so adorable you'll forget all about the mishap."

Isn't that a bit too rose-colored? Dot-com me with your comments. The Voice web site is

Anyway, sfgate was right on the mark with this restaurant review: "Herb's Fine Foods [is] "a full-on greasy spoon diner with the friendliest wait staff. Caution: buy your coffee elsewhere."

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HERE ARE SOME ITEMS you can dazzle your friends with as you chatter your way down 24th Street heading toward Church. Point out the charming Miss Millie's Restaurant, which now serves dinner only -- except on Saturdays and Sundays when they pack 'em in at brunch.

Next wander over to Noe Valley's oldest bar, The Peaks (on Castro near 24th), which opens at 6 a.m. on weekends (8 a.m. weekdays) and now has a patio in its "back yard," where you'll find our poor, smoking masses huddling together for warmth. You may also find our resident Irish tenor. Ask for "Danny Boy."

And yes, when your friends ask, admit that more chains and more than our fair share of bazaars are moving into Downtown Noe Valley: General Nutrition Center has grabbed a storefront in the big complex next to Bell Market. Rumor also has it that another chain, Aveda Cosmetics, will move in next door to GNC.

By the time you read this, Cottage Industry should be settled into what used to be Classy Sweats. The exotic gift shop has another store below 17 Reasons (across from Bell). There's also an Indonesian bazaar moving into the old Cover to Cover Booksellers location.

And then there's what I'll guarantee you is not a chain: Christina's Psychic and Palm Reading Parlor. The salon is opening on 24th Street between Manhattan Bagel and Martha's Coffee, where Misha's Antiques used to be. Actually, Christina is moving down the street from her former headquarters across from Barney's Restaurant.

Christina reads palms, cards, crystals, and can get into your past life. "I like Noe Valley very much," she says.

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BEFORE YOU LEAVE Downtown Noe Valley, you might want to duck into Lovejoy's Tea Room, on Church next to Noe's Bar. It's a fine place to take a load off, especially if coffee is not your cup of tea.

Incidentally, co-owner Tricia Hollenberg also dabbles in the psychic realm. She gives tarot readings. She also reads tea leaves. She likes Noe Valley, too.

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WHAT'S REALLY HOT (or maybe I should say cool and wet) these days is commerce in Uptown Noe Valley, also known as Upper Church Street. It's big news in this month's Voice that a Church Street mainstay, What's for Dessert, is closing its doors sometime this month. What will emerge in its place is a sushi bar. And a new ice cream cafe is going in across the street (corner of 27th).

However, the raw fish story behind this wrap is that another sushi bar called Deep Sushi will open this fall in the vacant spot next to Hungry Joe's cafe, on Church near Day.

Noe native Ray Tobias ("I was born and raised and went to school here") will be opening it with his cousin, Galvin Gaviola, in the spot where Ray's mom, Sonia, used to run a hair salon. (She moved her shop toward 30th Street last year.) Galvin knows sushi and Ray knows Noe Valley.

According to Ray, all the plans and permits are done-deals, so it's full steam ahead with construction. Ray is also excited about the "illusion artist" from the Philippines he has commissioned to redesign the interior and "create a unique atmosphere." A good sound system is part of the plan, too -- it'll supply music ranging from Japanese to jazz to hip-hop. Galvin and Ray hope to have Deep Sushi serving Upper Noe Valleons by Halloween.

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ANOTHER HOT RUMOR along the J-line is that there could be a parking garage on the corner of Church and 28th Street, underneath The Church in San Francisco (formerly Holiness Temple in Christ). A parking garage, you say?

Well, sources tell me that Pastor Joe Bell has met with S.F. Supe Amos Brown and the Department of Parking and Traffic about getting public financing to raise the church building (which used to be a movie theater), make two levels of parking underground and another at ground level, and then put the church back on top.

Some may think this project resembles an earlier plan by Dante, but we must admit the car crunch in this town is pure Hell.

Whether the idea sinks or not, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association may have a plan to let motorists know where they are at all times. Merchants president Bob Roddick is contemplating erecting street signs on some of the local thoroughfares (see story, front page). They'll say "Welcome to Noe Valley -- Now Go Home." (That's a joke.)

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OKAY, RUMORMONGERS, we've reached the last block of Church Street. As you cross Day, be sure to turn around and look at the new 24-by-12-foot mural on MikeyTom Market. It's titled "Make Love!" and was created by Noe Valley artist and musician Brad Mossman.

Brad says he got a lot of stares from the neighbors as he was finishing it. "Around 95 percent of the people came up and said they liked it, but many were perplexed. One person told me that the figures looked like futuristic, genetically altered mutant flowers."

Personally, I thought the figures represented two Noe Valleons in the far-off future (like 2 million A.D.), dancing in the sandbox at Douglass Park, with a view of the city as a backdrop.

Okay, time to put these rumors on the back burner till September. Ciao for now, and remember, it's cold out there.