Noe Valley Voice July-August 1999

Short Takes

Mime Troupe's City for Sale


The San Francisco Mime Troupe, famous for its singing, satire, and political rabble-rousing, once again tries to make sense out of the headlines with City for Sale, a new musical about urban gentrification. The show plays throughout the summer in parks and community theaters around the Bay Area.

The closest gigs to Noe Valley are at 2 p.m. on July 3, 4, and 5 in Dolores Park, July 17 in Glen Park, and again in Dolores Park on Sept. 4, 5, and 6. The official opening day is July 4 at Dolores Park, with the band tuning up at 1:30 p.m.

According to the troupers, City for Sale takes an underdog's view of the battle over live/work lofts in San Francisco. (In April, the Planning Commission voted to limit the construction of lofts, but the new laws will not affect the more than 1,500 lofts already in development. Supervisor Sue Bierman has proposed a moratorium, which will be debated during the summer performances of City for Sale.)

The plot focuses on a factory building whose owner is taking advantage of lax zoning codes to convert what should be low-rent artists' studios to high-end lofts. Agnes, a young web site producer, is thrilled to find a roomy new residence in a colorful urban neighborhood for "only" a few thousand per month. However, the original tenants, who now face eviction, refuse to go quietly. As frustrations rise, Agnes finds herself the target of resentment and harassment, while the city's mayor struggles to find a solution without offending his political contributors.

To find out what happens, go see the show, which is free (or pass-the-hat). For a complete schedule of performances in this the troupe's 40th anniversary year, call 285-1717 or click on

Ministry Looks Back in Time


Since it began life as the Noe Valley Presbyterian Church in 1881, the Noe Valley Ministry has been subject to many forces -- earthquakes and world financial collapse, the buzz of Blue Angels, Bach, and Basie, and the patter of little feet from the Noe Valley Nursery School -- but it's always been an integral part of a growing and changing neighborhood.

Now the church is gathering up these diverse strands and weaving them into a tapestry, to be called the Noe Valley Ministry Timeline. Under the direction of Pastor Keenan Kelsey and Gallery Sanchez coordinator Phoebe McAfee, the Ministry will create a map, showing seven parallel lines of history, for the world, nation, state, city, Noe Valley, the Ministry, and the personal, from 1881 to 2000.

"The most important parts of the whole project," says Kelsey, "are the neighborhood and personal lines. To implement those, the walls of the Ministry will be hung with large sheets of paper arranged by era, year, and decade, for people to record their thoughts, memories, and hopes for the future. This will be in place and open to the public on August 1. So please join us."

Kelsey adds that residents can check the timeline's progress at a neighborhood block party in early September, and an open house and display in November. For further information, call 282-2317, or drop by the church at 1021 Sanchez St.

Taking Care of Someone?


If you are caring for a friend, partner, or family member with AIDS or cancer, you might want to take advantage of a free training series offered by the private nonprofit Home Care Companions.

The training will be given in six sessions -- on July 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, and 30, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. -- at Davies Hospital on Castro at Duboce. Workshops will be taught by a cadre of volunteer doctors, nurses, attorneys, and caregivers.

Each class will focus on a different topic, including such things as understanding disease and its treatment; managing pain; nutrition; bed care; working with community agencies; expanding your personal network; and getting a patient's legal affairs in order.

"Family and friends are often on call for 24 hours without support," notes Celi Adams, executive director of Home Care Companions. "It's scary for family members, and having a program like this makes it a little less scary for them."

Adams, a registered nurse, founded Home Care Companions in 1988 after her own experience of taking care of a friend with AIDS. She cites a recent poll of course participants which showed that the training helped caregivers feel less anxious and patients feel more trusting toward their families.

"There were reduced emergency visits, and the quality of the patients' lives improved," says Adams. "Also, family members were able to put together friendship teams to help lessen their burden."

Space for the course is limited to 25 participants, so people who are interested should go ahead and reserve a spot by calling Adams at 824-3269.

Saturdays Are Special


Saturdays are indeed special in July, when the Randall Museum offers an array of drop-in, hands-on art and science workshops as part of its "Saturdays Are Special" program.

The month takes off with a Butterfly Tally on July 3. Quinn McFrederick helps kids learn how to identify butterflies and count the butterflies on Randall Hill as part of the North American Butterfly Association's nationwide butterfly count, which takes place every Independence Day weekend.

On July 10, kids will use cigar boxes, found objects, and magazine pictures to create a 3-D wall hanging of their favorite enchanted place. Margaret Goodale explores birds' wings, feathers, feet, and beaks in her "Winging It" workshop on July 17. And the following week, on July 24, Michael Stanley shows kids how to make Chilean rain sticks and Kenyan tambourines, using toothpicks, beans, sticks, wire, and bottle caps.

The month ends with a July 31 workshop on spiders in which children will meet live spiders and learn their web-building secrets.

Workshop sign-ups start at 12:30 the day of the class, and classes last from 1 to 2:30 p.m. All ages are welcome, but children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. The workshop fee is $4 per person.

Before or after their workshop, kids can check out the museum's Animal Room, home to live reptiles, raptors and small birds, insects, spiders, tide pool creatures, and a variety of California mammals, including bats. Visitors can also enter a special petting pen to touch a chicken, rabbit, and guinea pig. The Animal Room is open during museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free.

The Randall Museum is located at 199 Museum Way (off Roosevelt, above the Castro). For more info, call 554-9600.

Polk Street Is Gonna Swing


Promoters are expecting 75,000 gyrating revelers to crowd Polk Street for the first ever Swing City Festival on Saturday and Sunday, July 31 and Aug. 1.

The festival, celebrating Swing music and dance, an American rhythm sensation of the '40s and '50s, will feature bands, dance contests, "retro" fashion and car shows, food booths, and Swing era art, clothing, and other memorabilia.

There is no charge for the event, hosted by the nonprofit Polk District Renaissance, a neighborhood merchants association. The festival will kick off at 10 a.m., and keep Polk Street between Jackson and California jumpin' till 6 p.m.

For information about booth space and the music schedule, call festival producer Pro Event at 383-3470.

Precita Eyes Kids and Art


There are plenty of ways kids can show off their creativity this summer at a program sponsored by Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center in the Mission.

Creating papier-mâché sculpture, making art from recycled materials, drawing landscapes at neighborhood parks, and taking field trips to libraries and galleries are some of the highlights of the program, now continuing through Aug. 13.

"This is such a great program for kids," says Deidre Elmansoumi, a teacher and program coordinator. "It's exploratory, so kids can take risks and try new things. It's good for developing their critical and creative thinking. I wish I'd had something like this when I was a kid."

For children ages 5 to 9, sessions are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m., and 3 to 5 p.m. Kids 10 to 13 can attend on Mondays, also from 1 to 3 and 3 to 5 p.m.

Parents may preregister their kids or just drop in. The cost is $5 per session. Or if you become a member of Precita Eyes ($35), you get 10 free classes.

Precita Eyes is a nonprofit mural arts organization, operating since 1977. Classes meet at 348 Precita Ave., near Folsom. For more information, call 285-2311 or go online:

75 Years and Many More


St. James School is celebrating its 75th anniversary on Sept. 18 and invites all former graduates, families of graduates, and parents of prospective students to attend a celebratory mass and reception in honor of the school.

The mass will be held at 2 p.m. at St. James Church, located at 1086 Guerrero St., with a reception following at the school site at 321 Fair Oaks St. A variety of dishes, which reflect the different cultures in the school community, including Irish, Russian, Hispanic, and Filipino foods, will be served.

Although the school has been in operation since 1883 -- originally run by the Dominican Sisters -- St. James is celebrating the year that the parish took over the school and built its current home on Fair Oaks. According to Raquel Fox, a 1976 St. James graduate and now a staff attorney at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, a planning committee has been working for more than a year to find graduates to invite them to the event. Students from as far back as the Class of 1940 are expected to attend.

"A lot of us feel a strong allegiance to the school," says Fox. "I'm still friends with people I went to school with at St. James. I really love the school. It was a very fun and safe place for me, and even though I live in Menlo Park now, I'm planning to send my daughter there for kindergarten in the year 2000."

If you want to know more about the celebration, contact Raquel Fox at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic at 771-9850.

Summer Music at Stern Grove


Grab a blanket, make a picnic, and head over to Stern Grove for the 62nd season of free concerts under the eucalyptus trees. This year's Stern Grove Festival, on Sunday afternoons through Aug. 15, runs the musical gamut, from opera and classical ballet to jazz, R&B, and world beat.

On July 4, the festival presents members of the San Francisco Opera, singing highlights from Wagner's The Ring. On July 11, "An Afternoon of Jazz" features vocalist Diana Krall, known for her tributes to Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Carter.

On July 18, three "Women of Spirit at the Grove" will celebrate women in music across the continents. The featured artists are Oumou Sangare of Mali, Grammy Award ­ winning Janis Ian, and Mary Jane Lamond, whose music fuses traditional Celtic sounds with pop, funk, and Highland bagpipes.

R&B giant Tower of Power, known for such '70s hits as "What Is Hip?" and "You're Still a Young Man," will demonstrate its staying power on July 25. The following week, on Aug. 1, the San Francisco Ballet will dance highlights from Christensen's Con Amore and Balanchine's Theme and Variations.

On Aug. 8, the San Francisco Opera's acclaimed Merola Opera Program, for budding stars and directors, will make its 40th annual Stern Grove appearance with a fully staged and costumed production of The Italian Girl in Algiers, sung in English. On Aug. 15, the concert series concludes with "World Music: An African Celebration," featuring Congolese "rumbero" Sam Mangwana and singer and guitarist Habib Koité.

All concerts start at 2 p.m., but be sure to go early to get a patch on the grass. Stern Grove is located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. For more information, call 252-6252, or visit the Stern Grove web site at

Garden Walk for Kids


Some Smug Slug, Bumblebee, Bumblebee, Do You Know Me? and Flower Fairies of the Summer are among the children's books to be read at a "Story Time and Garden Walk," unfolding July 11 and 18 at Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Parents can bring their kids, ages 4 to 8, and curl up in a chair to listen to readings with a summer garden theme. Then they can take a guided walk, in which children and parents will be introduced to flowers, plants, birds, and butterflies from as far away as Chile, Australia, and South Africa. The story time begins at 10:30 a.m. at the park's library. The walk starts a half-hour later at 11 a.m.

Strybing Arboretum, the Bay Area's premier botanical gardens, covers 55 acres and features 7,000 plants displayed in 17 gardens. According to park librarian Barbara Pitschel, San Francisco's mild Mediterranean climate enables the Arboretum to grow and conserve plants from all over the world, including species no longer found in their native habitat.

"It's quite a wonderful place, an oasis in the city," says Pitschel. "The story time and garden walk is a great way for children to learn about plants and nature."

Strybing has been offering the reading series and garden walk on the first and third Sundays of the month since 1992. "We've done Asian plant stories, African plant stories, autumn garden stories," says Pitschel. "Every month there's a different topic." On Aug. 1 and 15, the theme will be "Trees: Urban and Natural Forest."

Strybing Arboretum is located within Golden Gate Park at Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. For more information about the walk, call the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture at 661-1316, ext. 303, or visit the Arboretum's web site at

This month's Short Takes were written by Kathy Dalle-Molle and Sally Smith.