Noe Valley Voice March 2001

Short Takes

To Read Is But to Dream


Fairmount Elementary School, located at 65 Chenery Street, kicks off its annual Read-a-thon fundraiser on March 2 with a two-hour marathon reading session and sleepover at the school, starting at 6 p.m.

"Kids put on their pajamas and they have their sleeping bags with them and they do nothing but read books," says Hydra Mendoza, a Fairmount parent and the school's community outreach coordinator.

Last year, 95 children, chaperoned by parents and teachers, read books and slept the night away in their classrooms. Many more parents and children dropped by to read during the evening, but opted to go home and sleep in their own beds. During the following school week, the Read-a-thon continues with children, parents, and volunteers reading books to one another in both Spanish and English.

"This is a huge, exciting event for the kids," says Mendoza. "They love the idea of spending the night at the school. The entire Read-a-thon is a great event because it combines Fairmount's strong emphasis on literacy while helping us raise funds for the school library."

The students set goals for the number of books they plan to read during the week. Then they receive points for each completed book. They also obtain sponsors, who agree to donate either so much money per book or a fixed amount if the student reaches his or her goal. Last year the Read-a-thon raised $2,000, which went toward buying new books for the school library. This year the school hopes to raise $3,000.

Although Mendoza knows of no celeb-rity appearances on tap for this year's event, actor Robin Williams made a surprise appearance at last year's sleepover. He spent a few hours going from classroom to classroom reading to the children. Before he left, he presented the school with an autographed picture.

Mendoza encourages those who'd like to volunteer for the Read-a-thon to call the school at 695-5669.

If you prefer working with your hands to reading a book, Fairmount also is looking for volunteers to participate in its year-
ly Garden and Maintenance Work Day on March 24 from 9 a.m. to noon. "No experience is necessary," says Mendoza.

Volunteers are needed to tend to the Fairmount grounds and garden, including the 169 bulbs recently planted by students and parents. Assistance also is needed inside the school building to install bookshelves in classrooms, hang new curtains, and make small repairs.

For more information on the Work Day, call Fairmount at 695-5669.

A Trio of Local Authors


Three Noe Valley writers, Cara Black, Heather Drohan, and Ruthanne Lum McCunn, will be reading from their latest novels at the Noe Valley Library on Saturday, March 3, at 2 p.m.

Cara Black is the author of two mysteries, Murder in the Marais and the new Murder in Belleville, featuring fearless Parisienne detective Aimée Leduc.

Heather Drohan, a CPA who has worked in investment banking, reads from her first book, False Alarm, a comic novel about the chaotic life of a woman "trying to do it all," set in Noe Valley.

Ruthanne Lum McCunn's latest, The Moon Pearl, provides a glimpse into the world of 19th-century women who stand up to the traditional expectations of Chinese culture. The Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library is located at 451 Jersey Street. For more information call 695-5095.

Ruthanne Lum McCunn will also be participating in the San Francisco Public Library's "Writers on Writing" program. She will discuss her work on Sunday, March 11. Hong Kong­born McCunn has published seven books dealing with the experiences of Chinese people in America, including the novels Wooden Fish Songs, Sole Survivor, and Thousand Pieces of Gold. Her nonfiction examines Chinese proverbs and the influence of Chinese culture on America. The March 11 program will be 1 to 4 p.m., in Community Meeting Room B at the Main Library, 100 Larkin Street.

Killing My Lobster at Victoria


"The avant garde never looked so cheap or so damn good." That's the San Francisco Bay Guardian's take on the Hi/Lo Film Festival, to be held this year on Friday, March 30, through Sunday, April 1. The festival came by its name because it presents "high-concept, low-budget films for the adventurous and disenchanted," according to co-directors Brian Perkins and Mark Vogl.

After a modest start in 1997, when the local production company and comedy collective Killing My Lobster first organized the festival, it has grown in popularity, and hundreds now attend the three-night festival each year. True to its low-
budget image, tickets cost just $6 per show.

The films selected for the festival range from animations, short narratives, and abstract imagistic explorations to micro-features, documentaries, and uncategorizable creations. They all have two things in common, though -- they are low-budget and high in originality. One of the group's official slogans is "$40 million can kill a good idea."

Films by five local filmmakers join others from around the world. They are Bryan Boyce (Election Collectibles and Special Report), Anne Maguire (I Like Men), Courtney Booker and Greg Rozum (Lesson One), and Jeremy Solterbeck (Moving Illustrations of Machines).

There will be a total of 18 short films grouped into two programs. All films will be screened at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, and each program will be shown twice. Program I plays Friday at 8 and Saturday at 10 p.m. Program II will be shown Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m.

For a list of which films are in which program, and lots of other information, check out the festival's web site at www., or call the "lobster line" at 267-0642.

Anarchists Organize Book Fair


Paul Krassner and Michelle Tea, among other authors, will be reading from their works at the Sixth Annual San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair on Saturday, March 24.

Krassner is a well-known leftist commentator and humorist, and author of several works including Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders. Michelle Tea is the local lesbian author of Valencia and The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America.

The fair will host about 60 anarchist groups and alternative book, magazine, and publishing people, selling and distributing their work. A coffee bar and art show are also planned. The fair will take place at the San Francisco County Fair Building (just inside Golden Gate Park near Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way) and will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bound Together Books, an all-volunteer, collectively operated anarchist bookshop for the past 25 years, is sponsoring the event. Call the shop at 431-8355 for more information.

Glen Canyon Flower Walks


Getting in the mood for spring? Friends of Glen Canyon Park is holding three Spring Flower Walks, the first of which will be on Saturday, March 10.

Richard Craib, president, and Jean Conner, vice president of the group, will lead a two-hour guided tour of the park, naming the local flora and describing their life cycle, history, and role in Native American culture. Footsteps to Spring, Pink Flowering Currant, and California Poppies are just a few of the species that may show up at the March walk.

This is the fourth year that the Friends has sponsored the walks, and based on past experience, Conner suggests wearing sturdy shoes with good tread. For some, a walking stick will also be helpful. The terrain is a mixture of flat and hilly places. Due to the narrow trails, it would be better to leave the dogs and young children at home.

The walking group will meet at 10 a.m. at the picnic tables behind the park's recreation center. The best way to get to the center is to use the park entrance at Elk and Chenery streets. If there's only a light rain, the walk will still be held, but a steady rain will cancel the event.

Additional walks have been scheduled for April 14 and May 12. For more information, call Jean Conner at 584-8576 or Richard Craib at 648-0862.

Mixers for Writers & Artists


As a creativity coach practicing in Noe Valley for the last two years, Robert Ressler has worked with many artists and writers who don't have much time to mingle with their peers. That's why he's decided to begin a series of "Salonshops" every first and third Friday of the month, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The first two Salonshops in the series will be held on March 2 and March 16.

"Many artistic pursuits are solitary," says Ressler. "Combine that with the high cost of living in the Bay Area and most artists don't have much time to hang out with other artists. I figured I'd start something whereby artists would make sure and allot time in their schedules to gather together for creative stimulation, conversation, and community instead of waiting for this to evolve by chance."

The Salonshops will be hybrid events--part salon, part workshop. Each event will include a presentation--a taped interview or documentary involving a well-known artist or writer, or a live reading or slide show by a guest artist. Following the presentation, Ressler will lead a discussion among the attendees. "I want people to feel like they're in their own living room and connected to everyone else in the room," says Ressler. "I also want these events to make artists feel inspired about their work and have faith in their work."

At the March 2 event, Ressler plans to show a documentary about Guerilla Girls, a group of feminist artists, writers, and performers who fight discrimination, dubbing themselves "the conscience of culture." Other Salonshops will feature taped interviews with writers Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, and Susan Sontag, and artists Wayne Thiebaud and Chuck Close.

Ressler is limiting attendance at each Salonshop to 6 to 12 people, on a first-come, first-served basis. When you call to make a reservation, he'll tell you the program's location in Noe Valley. Admission to each Salonshop is $15 per person. "It's going to be a very informal event," says Ressler, "and refreshments will be served."

For information and registration, contact Robert Ressler at 289-2212 or visit his web site at

Party for a Good Cause


The American Cancer Society's 11th annual creative black-tie Gala promises an "Escape to Paradise." This year's event, to be held March 17 at the San Francisco Gift Center Pavilion, is expected to attract 2,000 people from around the Bay Area and will benefit the Society's research, education, and patient service programs.

Throughout the evening, guests will have the opportunity to bid on heavenly travel adventures--such as an African safari. They'll also enjoy live music, casino gaming in a penthouse overlooking San Francisco, and a silent auction. Some of San Francisco's finest restaurants will provide an abundant array of hors d'oeuvres.

"The San Francisco Gala is the American Cancer Society's only grassroots fundraiser in the United States that is fully organized by and targeted toward an up-and-coming 20-something and 30-something crowd," says Theresa Stephenson, a member of the 26-person committee planning the event. "These volunteers are attorneys and financial executives by day, and a dedicated group of event planners by night. When you think about it, almost everyone is touched by cancer, either directly or through a friend or family member. So it's no wonder the commitment to raise funds is so strong in our group."

Special guests are invited to kick off the evening with a VIP party at the Gift Center prior to "Escape to Paradise." At this gathering, the Society will recognize the generosity of lead sponsors such as Clear Channel Communications, Latham & Watkins, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. VIP guests will enjoy exclusive entertainment and food and beverages from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The Gala begins at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets to "Escape to Paradise" can be purchased by calling 510-594-1400 or visiting Gala tickets are $95 in advance and $125 at the door. VIP party tickets, which include Gala admission, are $175. For information, call Dawn Yalsovac at the American Cancer Society at 415-394-7100, ext. 306.

This month's Short Takes were written by Kathy Dalle-Molle, Victoria Colgan, and Karol Barske.