Noe Valley Voice February 2000

Short Takes

Meet the Mystery Author


If you ever had a beer at the Rat and Raven (sold last year and recently reopened as the Coyote Club), maybe you will see yourself in The Immortal Game, a new mystery novel by Noe Valley's own Mark Coggins.

The book is set in San Francisco, and Coggins devotes a whole chapter to a private eye's activities in Noe Valley, including snooping around the R&R.

Creativity must be in the water (or maybe the coffee) in Noe Valley. "I spent a lot of time mulling over the book at Martha & Brothers in the mornings before I sat down to work at my computer," says Coggins.

He also borrowed certain atmospheric details from the neighborhood. "The main character in The Immortal Game is an ex-L.A. Times reporter named August Riordan who drives a '68 Ford Galaxy 500. Interestingly, a neighbor of mine on 28th Street happens to have a car exactly like Riordan's," Coggins says slyly.

You can meet the author and get him to sign your copy of the book at the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, 4175 24th St., on Saturday, Feb. 12, at 1 p.m. You can also read the first chapter on the Internet at

Ammiano Speaks to Demos


The Noe Valley Democratic Club has lined up Tom Ammiano to speak at its Feb. 9 meeting. As you're well aware, Ammiano was the second-place finisher in the November mayoral election and is current president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

"This is really to celebrate Tom," says Demo Club president Dave Monks. "His race was really exciting, and he's energized a lot of people. We'll have a chance to hear how he wants to carry that energy forward." Ammiano will bring tales from the campaign trail and address issues at City Hall, such as transportation and the living wage.

Those who attend will also have a chance to meet candidates for the Democratic County Central Committee (13th Assembly District) and hear debate on the more controversial propositions on the March 7 primary ballot. The meeting will be held at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez St., at 7:30 p.m. For information, call Dave Monks at 821-4087.

How to Shop for a Preschool


Preschool Preview Night 2000 -- the eighth annual event hosted by Parents Place and Bay Area Parent Magazine -- can simplify your life with one-stop shopping. Parents can meet with representatives from more than 75 private, public, and parent-cooperative schools, and get applications and brochures all at one time and place, on Wednesday, Feb. 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

A talk on "Finding a Preschool for Your Child," by Lee Ann Slaton, will offer tips on what to look for when visiting a program and what questions to ask. Admission is free. Find out more by calling Parents Place at 563-1041, ext. 133.

Open Hand Opens Wider


Starting on Valentine's Day, more San Francisco residents with debilitating illnesses will be able to benefit from Project Open Hand, thanks to an expansion of the group's daily meal service beyond people with AIDS and seniors. On Feb. 14, the organization will begin delivering meals to people who are incapacitated, homebound, recovering from surgery, or fighting any serious illness.

"The encouraging advances in AIDS treatment have given us an opportunity to expand our service to help other people, such as women with breast cancer or people who have suffered strokes," says Executive Director Tom Nolan.

Specifically, Open Hand's new expanded service will apply to homebound people under 60 years of age (who are not eligible for Meals on Wheels) who are experiencing an acute health crisis or a chronic disease. People will be referred by their discharging hospitals, social workers, and health care providers.

Project Open Hand has been providing nutritious meals for people with AIDS since 1985, and for seniors since 1998. Those interested in supporting the organization can call 447-2300.

Book Schleppers Needed


The Noe Valley - Sally Brunn Library is always grateful to receive book donations, but some of the books that patrons drop off at the branch can't be used at 451 Jersey St. Perhaps the branch has multiple copies, or the donated books are inappropriate for the collection. In either case, the librarians check the computer to see whether the books are needed at other branches, and if so, they pass them along.

Still, some donated books can't find a home anywhere in the system. For this reason, the library is looking for volunteers who can come by the branch and pick up the excess books on a weekly basis. The volunteers will then deliver the books to Fort Mason, to be sold at book sales run by the Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library. Proceeds from the sales will benefit programs throughout the library system.

If you are interested in helping to cart the books, and have your own vehicle, please call Patricia Coyle of the Friends of the Library at 557-4256. You can also contact Roberta Greifer, head librarian at the Noe Valley Branch, at 695-5095.

Homegrown Bluegrass Festival


Historically, bluegrass in San Francisco has been a little like oysters in Topeka -- you had to work hard to find it and when you did, it didn't always smell very fresh. But now a whole new generation of Bay Area folks has discovered this musical form.

The Northern California Bluegrass Society (formerly the Santa Cruz Bluegrass Society) will sponsor the first annual San Francisco Bluegrass Festival from Feb. 5 to 13. And it will be kicking it off right c'here in Noe Valley.

The opening-night concert will be held Saturday, Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m., at the Noe Valley Ministry at 1021 Sanchez St. Leading the bluegrass revival will be San Francisco's Crooked Jades, the Kathy Kallick Band, and the Blue Flame String Band of Prairie Home Companion fame. Tickets are $14 in advance and $16 at the door; call 454-5238 for details.

The festival will move to Radio Valencia at 1199 Valencia St. (752-0606) on Feb. 6 and Feb. 13. The first date features music from High Country and All Wrecked Up; the second Dark Hollow and Stringbean. Audiences will have another local shot on Feb. 10, when Stringbean and All Wrecked Up play the Atlas Cafe at 3049 20th St. (648-1047).

Other festival gigs will be held at Sweetwater in Mill Valley (Feb. 8) and Last Day Saloon on Clement Street (Feb. 9). Call the clubs for times and prices.

PeeWees' Full-Court Press


Can you believe it? There are eight -- count 'em, eight -- co-ed PeeWee Basketball teams for the 9-and-under set this season, and Noe Valley has two of them. The Lakers and the Warriors play every Saturday morning through Feb. 19 at Upper Noe Rec Center on Day Street. Cheerleaders are welcome, and the dribbling starts at 10 a.m.

In addition to the PeeWee teams, Marcus Steinbeck and Jack Maguire coach a 13-and-under girls' team, which is playing on Friday afternoons at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., and Saturday afternoons at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. A 13-and-under boys' team plays on Wednesdays at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., coached by Willie Dickens and Ron Scott. The boys' team won the championship last year. The season is well under way, with playoffs continuing into March. Go see 'em.

If basketball's not your passion, Upper Noe Recreation Center also hosts indoor soccer and volleyball. Call 695-5011 for more information.

And it's almost time for spring training. CYO, PAL, and San Francisco Recreation and Park baseball registration starts in February. For the scoop on the baseball teams, call the Recreation and Park Department's Youth Athletic Division at 753-7029.

Recycle That Old Computer


These days it seems like computers become obsolete before they're able to collect any dust. And that means more computers being trashed. It may startle you to hear that San Franciscans threw away more than 32 million pounds of electronic goods in 1998, including 16 million pounds of CRTs, computers, and computer peripherals.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The San Francisco Recycling Program points out that there are dozens of places in the city that will gladly take your old computer. Some even come pick them up. Some will reuse your old computer by donating it to a local school, while others will break it apart and recycle the innards.

Some of the larger recycling companies are Ace Recyclers, 282-0225; Community Computer Center, 822-4144; Computer Recycling Center, 643-6200; and HMR U.S.A., 647-6071.

The S.F. Recycling Program also offers a free Reuse and Recycling Directory, which lists a variety of organizations that take computers and other items. To order one, call the program at 554-3400, or go to

Adam and Eve Tell All


More limelight is shining on Noe Valley with Fair Oaks Press' publication of an "audiobook" of Mark Twain's Diaries of Adam & Eve. The tape was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for best spoken-word recording of 1999. (Fair Oaks Press published The Diaries as a book in 1997, on the 100th anniversary of Twain's British edition.)

Don Roberts and Gary Jones, who run Fair Oaks Press, actually live in the Castro, but the Fair Oaks name comes from the street where Jones spent many happy years.

You can meet Roberts and Jones and hear their presentation on "The Making of an Audiobook" at Cover to Cover on Monday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. They'll talk about the book's production, and play taped excerpts from recording sessions with Mandy Patinkin (the voice of Adam), Betty Buckley (the voice of Eve), and Walter Cronkite (the narrator).

"The Valentine's Day event is perfect timing," says Roberts, "since Mark Twain's Diaries represents two of the great love stories in American literature: Adam and Eve, of course, and his own marriage."

Cover to Cover is at 24th and Church. For more information, call the store at 282-8080, or Fair Oaks Press at 252-0977. And watch the Grammies on Wednesday, Feb. 23, to see if the tape wins.

Black History Celebration


This February the San Francisco Public Library is offering more than 40 programs in honor of Black History Month. There will be storytelling, songs, and poetry with Tureeda Mikell; African drumming with S. Kwaku Daddy; the story of John Henry performed by Word for Word theater company; an exhibit on African-American inventors; a large-screen video series on African-American artists; and "Mystery Writers of Color," a panel discussion featuring authors Penny Mickelbury, Gary Phillip, and Lucha Corpi.

The celebration will culminate with the 12th annual Unsung Heroes Program at the Main Library on Feb. 27. This event will recognize exceptional African Americans in San Francisco who have made a difference in their community through public service. All programs are free.

For more information, call the Main Library at 557-4277.

Are You a Good Listener?


Two local nonprofits are looking for volunteers with a sympathetic ear.

Jewish Family and Children's Services (JFCS) is seeking people who would like to visit elderly individuals in their homes one hour a week. Volunteers bring companionship, friendship, support, and relief from isolation to their new friends. To discover the satisfaction that comes from helping others, call Debbi Goodman at the JFCS Seniors-At-Home Companionship Program, 449-3832.

San Francisco Suicide Prevention needs volunteers to answer its AIDS/HIV Nightline (415-434-AIDS). This number provides emotional support, crisis counseling, and information to people with questions and concerns about HIV. By giving just a few nighttime hours each month, you can help others through a difficult time. Training is provided, and a new class is starting soon. Call 984-1902, day or night, for more information.