Noe Valley Voice July-August 2001

Short Takes

Belly Dancing Unveiled


Are you spending too much time sipping mocha on your sofa with your tabby on your lap? Then let the culture that brought us the words mocha, sofa, and tabby energize you this summer.

Renowned Algerian dancer Amel Tafsout and her rhythmically intricate drummer Salah-Dawson Miller will perform at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, on Saturday evening, Aug. 11. Currently residing in London, Tafsout has been described as being so full of energy that you can almost see sparks flying from her hips.

Also performing will be the Fat Chance Belly Dance troupe and Helene and the Divas.

"Belly dance is both a celebration of the female spirit and a physical display of the strength and beauty of women. Its roots can be traced back to the rituals of past matriarchal cultures and to the secular entertainments that evolved as the gypsies traveled through India, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain," says Carolena Nericcio, who founded Fat Chance Belly Dance at the Noe Valley Ministry in 1987.

Fat Chance Belly Dance has fans throughout Northern California and has frequently performed at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Live Oak Park Fair, and Festival at the Lake.

Tafsout is also offering dance workshops Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Aug. 11 and 12. For performance times and prices, call 431-4322. Till then, you can practice your zagroota -- the ululating cry Middle Eastern women use to express appreciation for a performer.

Let's Talk About Traffic


Representatives from Muni, DPT (Department of Parking and Traffic), and the Noe Valley Ministry will headline the next meeting of Friends of Noe Valley, on July 12. They are coming to help plan for the new parking lot to be located at the former site of Dan's gas and service station on 24th Street. (The Ministry is in negotiations to buy the lot.)

The meeting also will include brainstorming about ways to improve bus service and traffic flow in the area. To put in your two cents, join them at 7:30 p.m. at the Noe Valley Library, 451 Jersey Street.

Dave Monks, president of Friends of Noe Valley, hopes to have a large turnout. "We welcome all suggestions having to do with Muni, parking zones, or whatever on 24th Street," says Monks. "We're also inviting other neighborhood organizations, to make sure that traffic problems get addressed in the most efficient way."

Some ideas under consideration are: evaluating the need for all current Muni stops, Saturday suspension of some 24th Street loading zones, and providing additional bus bulb construction -- where the bus zone sidewalk is widened, allowing for easier boarding and shorter bus zones.

If you are brimming with ideas and can't make it to the meeting, contact Monks by phone at 821-4087 or by e-mail at

Randall Counts Butterflies


Is that yellow and black butterfly flitting among your flowers a Western Tiger Swallowtail? A California Dogface perhaps? How about that orange, black, and white one? Could it be a Painted Lady? Come to the Randall Museum's third annual butterfly count on July 7, 2001, and you can find out.

"We talk about butterfly identification and then go out on the hill and find as many types as we can. Usually we find about 15 species, and we include the results in the National Butterfly Count tallied by the North American Butterfly Association," says Quinn McFrederick, of the Randall Museum staff.

The butterfly count, which costs $4, is one of a host of low-cost or free events offered by this little gem of a museum, perched on nearby Corona Heights.

This summer, drop-in Saturday workshops explore everything from the nature of owl pellets to decorating origami books. Family field trips include chances to view elephant seals and to pedal under the redwoods. You can also view live animals and other exhibits, enjoy teenage talent in an original musical revue entitled "Shakespeare, Soliloquy, Sons & Such," or join one of the many clubs, such as the Galileo Gem Guild or the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club. A working model railroad is on the premises.

The museum, at 199 Museum Way, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 554-9600 for particulars about events and performances, or visit the web site at

Recycle Those Batteries!


What do you do when the batteries powering your flashlight, boom box, cell phone, or other gizmos up and die on you? Groan and throw them away, most likely. Now there's a better solution.

Tucked behind the counter at our local Walgreen's (1333 Castro at Jersey) is a white plastic bucket waiting to collect all of our alkaline, zinc-carbon, and rechargeable batteries -- even the tiny button batteries used in cameras and watches. It is one of 47 Walgreen stores throughout the city participating in a battery recycling program inaugurated in April by Darcy Brown, who works for the city's Solid Waste Management Program.

"It's a tremendous program -- really groundbreaking," enthuses Brown. "It raises the consciousness of people and gets that guck out of the waste stream and water supply."

What guck? you may wonder. Well, each year Bay Area households contribute a half million pounds of batteries to our garbage piles. Batteries contain mercury, mercury compounds, and heavy metals that are highly toxic to people, wildlife, and the environment. According to Brown, mercury can cause kidney damage and genetic, neurological, and psychological disorders. The cadmium in batteries is a human carcinogen and is poisonous when ingested or inhaled.

Does that motivate you?

"If you want to recycle your batteries, just give them to a cashier or someone in the camera department," says Ming Fang, assistant manager at Walgreen's. Once the bucket is full, the batteries will be disposed of as hazardous material.

For more information, please contact Alex Erzen in the Solid Waste Management Program office at 554-1647.

Ramblin' Jack Is Back


Attention, fans of guitar-pickin' troubadours, cowboy poets, sailors, inveterate ramblers, yarn spinners, and cultural icons! Head down to Streetlight Records (3979 24th Street, near Noe) and get your ticket to see someone who is all of these and more. Ramblin' Jack Elliott will return to the Noe Valley Ministry on July 21, as part of the Noe Valley Music Series.

"Ramblin' Jack is a living legend whose roots stretch back to working with Woodie Guthrie," says Larry Kassin, producer of the series. "Jack actually traveled with Woody on his last journeys, so he has a true connection to the beginning of the folk music revival in the 20th century, and he influenced the next generation of artists, including Bob Dylan. When you hear Dylan's way of singing and delivering his music, you can tell he was influenced by Jack's style of talking and singing."

Elliott has had many honors in his long career including a 1996 Grammy for his traditional folk album South Coast. His album Friends of Mine was also nominated for a Grammy in 1998. He received the National Medal of Arts award in 1998, and was the subject of a documentary film, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack, which garnered rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.

Other coming attractions in the music series are Andy Narell Group July 28; Manring/Kassin/Darter trio Aug. 4; and Monica Pasqual with her group Blame Sally, sharing the bill with Sonya Hunter on Aug. 18. Tickets for the July shows are $14 in advance and $16 at the door. August shows are $12 in advance and $14 at the door. The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street, at 23rd Street.

A Courtyard Tea Party


Sit on a comfy bench and smell fragrant jasmine trailing up the wall, nibble on finger sandwiches, listen to local musicians and authors, and sip tea -- either hot or iced, depending upon the weather -- at Cover to Cover's tea party in celebration of the bookstore's newly resplendent courtyard. It's happening Sunday, Aug. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m.

"The courtyard is now what we've always wanted it to be," says Cover to Cover's Tracy Wynne, "and we want the neighborhood to know they're welcome here to enjoy the flowers, catch some sun, read, and even eat lunch."

Previously the shrubs in the courtyard were in pots, not in the ground, and, according to Wynne, "looked cluttered." Also, mosquitoes began to breed because there were no drainage holes. But now the plants are rooted in the ground, and there's plenty of drainage, and ample seating. Also adding a bit of charm are some set pieces remaining from the J.K. Rowling (author of the enormously popular Harry Potter series) book-signing last year.

Cover to Cover is located at 3812 24th, near Church. If you have questions or want to help make the event memorable, call Wynne at 282-8080. You can also find information about this and other goings-on at the store at

If I Ran the Park


Are you blooming with ideas for improving our neighborhood parks? Then a "Skill Building for Your Parks" seminar, offered free by Friends of Recreation & Parks, might be just the thing for you.

"We created the seminar series to help strengthen grassroots advocacy for our neighborhood parks," says Nick Wirz, of Friends. "This year we are holding seminars to teach advocacy, conflict resolution, and fundraising."

Fundraising is the topic for the next seminar. It is scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, from noon to 1:30 p.m., at the offices of Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro, 50 Fremont Street (between Market and Mission). Space is limited, so you'll need to reserve a spot in advance.

"Friends of Duboce Park just celebrated the opening of a new playground for which they raised $200,000," points out Wirz. "These were everyday folks with jobs and families who used their free time to make their campaign a success. They did everything from apply for grants to sell recognition tiles on a wall in the park, to knock on doors in the neighborhood. Most people involved in projects like this will agree that not only did they raise more than they expected, but the process was also a real community builder."

Friends of Recreation & Parks will also air on Channel 26 a series of half-hour television episodes designed to increase awareness of park issues. For reservations and further information, contact Wirz at 750-5224 or

Ripe Fruit 10 Years Old


Come taste the creative life at SomArts with Noe Valley author and teacher Leslie Kirk Campbell. It's been 10 years since she founded Ripe Fruit School of Creative Writing with a handful of students around her dining room table. Now everyone's invited to a free anniversary celebration Sunday, July 8, from 2 to 6 p.m.

Campbell lives and works on Hill Street with her husband and sons ages 13 and 3. Through Ripe Fruit, she has helped over 1,500 people develop their writing skills in what she calls her "greenhouse of the imagination."

"This celebration is in thanks and astonishment that as a single mom on welfare, I put out my shingle 10 years ago. No one knew me from Adam, but people came, and they kept coming and coming, and it evolved from being just one writing workshop to being a complete creative writing curriculum," says Campbell.

The celebration will also serve as a reunion for the sprawling community of writers who have found Ripe Fruit classes to be a fertile creative resource.

Highlights will include readings by Al Young, Tom Centolella, Priscilla Lee, and Susan Wooldridge; a Chilean painting exhibit; live world music; a discovery corner -- where both adults and children can make art with words, objects, and paint -- and cafe tables where people can experiment with "free-writing" while listening to CDs on headsets.

SomArts is at 934 Brannan Street (between 8th and 9th streets). For more information, call 337-4369 or visit the web site

This month's Short Takes were written by Laura McHale Holland.