Noe Valley Voice June 1999

Short Takes

Douglass Playground Swings


Dorthe Deubler was turning cartwheels in late May. As head of the Noe Valley Neighborhood Parks Improvement Association (NVNPIA), she'd just gotten word that Douglass Playground was being awarded brand-new playground equipment, to be installed this summer.

"I'm ecstatic," she said. "The people offering the equipment [Game Time] came out to the park, and they are definitely dedicated to making this a great playground. All the equipment will be donated." She and her group had been begging the Recreation and Park Department for months to replace the old teeter-totter, swings, metal slides, and wooden climbing structure in use since the 1970s.

Now she's asking the neighborhood to do its part and turn out for a community meeting on Monday, June 14. The meeting, cohosted by Rec and Park, is to give residents the opportunity to pick out the equipment -- and decide such things as the color, number and type of swings, and whether the slides should be plastic or metal, open or covered. "We want to make it more toddler friendly, and accommodate the latchkey kids, too," said Deubler. "So now's the time for the people in the community to design what they want their kids to be playing on."

The meeting will start at 6:45 p.m. at the clubhouse at 26th and Douglass. If you want to hear about some of the options beforehand, call NVNPIA co-chair Krista Keegan at 550-9050.

--Sally Smith

A Cartoonist Gets Artsy


Jersey Street artist Mark Ziemann had always drawn cartoons. But while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art (also in Chi-cago), he had wide exposure to fine arts.

Now the "Z-Man" is bringing these two worlds together with an exhibit of his bright, pop art paintings at neighborhood cafes. (The exhibit also includes painted vinyl records and muffin tins.)

Some of his art works are already on display at Muddy Waters Coffee House at 262 Church St. (near 15th). And on June 19, Ziemann will open a show in Noe Valley -- at Cafe J, on Church Street.

On Saturday, Ziemann will be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m., drawing free caricatures of any children who stop by the cafe. An artist's reception will be held on Sunday, June 20, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The exhibit will continue through Aug. 1. Mark Ziemann will also keep teaching his classes in comic book illustration at San Francisco's Academy of Art College. For the scoop on the show or the artist, call 826-9488.

-- Mark Robinson

Looks Weird, Sounds Great


Larry Kassin, director of the Noe Valley Music Series, describes Oliver DiCicco as "a neighborhood treasure." And the praise fits. Not only has DiCicco been recording for other people (jazz, pop, classical) at his Mobius Studios on Sanchez Street for a couple of decades, but he's also been making music himself, on an assortment of original, handcrafted instruments. The current result is an ensemble of players called Mobius Operandi.

They'll appear at the Noe Valley Ministry at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, and if you've never experienced them, you won't believe either your ears or your eyes. "The music pulsates with tuneful insistence," notes Examiner critic Robert Hurwitt, "as the odd, rich tones emanating from DiCicco's metal, wood, and glass instruments mystify the senses."

Vocalists Pamela Winfrey and Christie Winn, along with multi-instrumentalists Jason Reinier and Peter Whitehead, appear with DiCicco in a refreshing approach to traditional song forms that is as much fun as it is fascinating.

Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door (at 1021 Sanchez St.). Call 454-5238 for information.

-- Jeff Kaliss

PAWS to Remember


If you're panting to help out a good cause, the fourth annual Doggone Fun Run may be the race for you. The 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) event features people and their dogs, running or walking through Golden Gate Park. The purpose: to raise money for PAWS, a group that supports people with AIDS who want to keep their pets.

PAWS volunteers assist clients with dog walking and litter-box cleaning. The money raised by the run will go for things like veterinary care and pet food. "As a volunteer and board member of PAWS, I can tell you firsthand how valuable the services PAWS provides are," says Matt O'Toole, a Glen Park resident.

The race will be held Sunday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to noon. You don't have to have a dog to participate, but organizers are asking for a minimum $35 pledge. You may register on the day of the run or sign up in advance by calling PAWS at (415) 241-1460.

-- Mark Robinson

Boys in Good Voice


You have to be good to be singing for the pope on the eve of the millennium, and that's just what the Golden Gate Boys Choir will be doing six months from now, halfway around the globe. Closer to home and to now, on June 13 at 6:30 p.m., the Boys (with some fathers providing bass backup) will present a concert at St. Paul's Church at Church and 29th streets.

Day Street resident Franco Monda, one of the singing dads, testifies to the effect that the Choir has had on his 71/2-year-old son, Alexander. "He feels great about performing," says Monda. "With a lot of boys, it tends to be, 'Singing is a girls' thing,' but once they get into the Choir, there's this pact of camaraderie."

In fact, the 32 boys currently involved, ages 7 to 18, are hoping that the June 13 concert will net them some new members from Noe Valley and beyond, and they invite would-be choristers and their parents to call 431-1137 for info about auditions.

The June 13 program includes Randall Thompson's 30-minute "Ode to Virgina," as well as "Suogan," a Welsh lullaby, and "Bless the Lord, O My Soul," a Russian hymn. The Choir's bellringers, formed from choristers whose voices are changing, will present their own selections." Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids, on sale at the door or through St. Paul's.

-- Jeff Kaliss

The Topic Is Youth Violence


What can communities do to head off violence among children and adolescents? Two agencies with answers to that question will talk about their programs at a meeting of the residents group Friends of Noe Valley on June 10.

Carol Badran from the San Francisco Public Health Department will describe "Transitions," a 10-session program aimed at helping fifth-graders deal with violence and aggression, body image, relationships, loss, and self-development. Then Andres Soto from the Pacific Center for Violence Prevention will discuss work being done to reduce gun violence among youth.

"In view of what's been going on in the country, we thought this might give people a chance to learn and talk about some of the anxiety they're feeling," said Eleanore Gerhardt, a Friends of Noe Valley board member who helped organize the event. "We try to have timely topics."

The meeting, which will be held at the Noe Valley Library (451 Jersey St.) at 7:45 p.m., is open to the public.

For more information, call Friends of Noe Valley at 285-8016.

-- Mark Robinson

Hot Forecast for Eve of Song


Have you found yourself waiting for the J-car neath a foggy sky in Upper Noe Valley recently, when the lady next to you suddenly starts singing "Isn't It a Lovely Day"? That vocalizer may well have been Bermuda Schwartz, who lives and commutes to her day job from Duncan Street.

Schwartz and dozens of her musical colleagues have been rehearsing for an Evening of Song, which will happen at the Noe Valley Ministry on Saturday, June 19, at 8 p.m. In addition to Schwartz's reprise of that once popular tune, you may get to hear "Rainy Day Women," "Lightning Strikes," or "Stormy Monday," since the theme for this year's hit parade is "Weather ... or Not."

"It's a variety show kind of thing," Schwartz explains, for those who've missed the five previous hilarious but harmonious Evenings, presented by Right-Brained Productions. "And it's geared toward the short attention span, because everyone gets just four minutes to sing one song." Musicians can perform either a standard, a rarity, or an original, as long as it's about sun, rain, sleet, hail ... or not.

Performers will include some of the best on the city's vocal circuit, including the Ethel Merman Memorial Choir, Gunnar Madsen, Rick and Ruby, and the True Fiction Magazine improv troupe -- all under the musical direction of keyboardist J. Raoul Brody and his electrified band.

Keeping the music flowing will be emcee, comic, and sometime radio host Ian Shoales, a.k.a. Merle Kessler.

Tickets are available in advance at Streetlight Records ($12), or at the door at 1021 Sanchez St. ($14). Or call (415) 454-5238 for more info and outlets.

-- Jeff Kaliss

Volunteering Goes Digital


So you want to get involved in your community but don't know where to start? The Volunteer Center of San Francisco has a new web site that can help you make your move. The site,, includes details about 900 organizations that need volunteers.

The centerpiece of the new site is an interactive database of volunteer opportunities. It's searchable by key word, the type of work involved, and the organization's name or location.

Potential volunteers can find information about coaching youth athletics, helping hospital patients navigate the Internet, restoring parks and trails, fundraising for AIDS organizations, mentoring students, and hundreds of other opportunities.

The site itself was built by volunteers from CNET, a San Francisco media company. To reach the Volunteer Center's community service program the old-fashioned way, call (415) 982-8999.

-- Mark Robinson