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Is Everybody Okay?
BEFORE WE START, please observe a stanza of silence for all those who perished in the inferno of Sept. 11, 2001....
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THE NVBI (Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation) reports that our neighborhood mood is uncharacteristically subdued and curiously patriotic. The shock of Sept. 11 has touched us all.
American flag displays in the neighborhood are up 10,000 percent. In the days of yore, I mean three weeks ago, the only place on 24th Street you would see Old Glory was in Harry Aleo's window (Twin Peaks Properties, the closest thing we have to a Republican shrine). Now, about half the businesses in Downtown Noe Valley sport some sort of flag.
Still, Harry is urging all Noe Valley merchants to show their colors. "Urge" is putting it mildly. A few days after the tragedy, Aleo posted this notice in his window: "Many merchants refuse to put a flag in their window. If they refuse to support our country at this time, why would you support them?"
NVBI agents also report that although there has been a sharp increase in random acts of kindness in the streets of Noe Valley, once we get in our cars, all bets are off. Drivers seem even more arrogant than ever about who has the right of way at four-way stops and who gets the parking spot. Shame, shame.
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THE NVBI SENT AGENTS to Downtown Noe Valley on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 22, to poll passersby on three questions:
1. Do you live in Noe Valley? If yes, then go on to questions 2 and 3:
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate President George W. Bush's job performance?
3. Do you support military retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?
Firstly, only 25 percent of the people said they lived in Noe Valley. The NVBI notes this poll was conducted in front of Noe Bagel/Real Food Company, where clipboarders often set up, so some pedestrians may have thought we wanted their signature on a petition.
Among that 25 percent, President Bush's approval rating averaged a 4.7 rating on the 1 to 10 scale. The NVBI must point out that this is a substantial gain for Bush. In last November's general election, he was only able to pull down 9.2 percent of the Noe Valley vote.
Lastly, on the retaliation question, 60 percent said "no," 30 percent said "yes," or qualified the "yes" by emphasizing that we should only bomb terrorist camps. Ten percent stood undecided.
As for yours truly, I agree with Rep. Barbara Lee, who cast the lone dissenting vote in Congress over the war spending bill. Instead, she said, we should capture and try those who conspired in the attacks, step up security across the country, and improve intelligence operations.
As for my own answers to the NVBI questions: 1. Yes, I live here. 2. I rate Bush a 10 so far, and for only one reason: he has adopted Barbara Lee's approach, at least for now.
As for question 3, I shout NO. I hope our government understands that killing civilians will only nurture bigger and worse retaliation. The Mahatma Gandhi quote being circulated in the Valley these days says it all: "Eye for an eye, and the whole world is blind."
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LES AMIS DE NOE: Friends of Noe Valley President Dave Monks is the one who passed the Gandhi quote on to me. Dave, who works at SFO, was upset by recent events. However, he was happy that his group did not cancel its Sept. 13 forum and slide show, "Paris 1871/San Francisco 2001," at Cover to Cover Books. Part of it was a lecture by architectural historian Jeannene Przyblyski, who compared San Francisco to Paris in the 19th century, when demolition and modernization threatened to engulf the city.
Says Dave, "After the events of Tuesday, Sept. 11, we seriously considered calling the event off, but decided that people might want to get away from the images on the TV screen, so we gave it a go, and it was standing-room only."
Now Dave is hoping those same people will turn out for the Friends' picnic and board election, to be held the last day of September (after press time). "This year, we will boost our directors from 10 to 12 or 14, although our bylaws permit us to go up to 20," says Dave, "especially because our membership has shown a nice increase this year, putting us over 250."
The FNV is still looking for people willing to serve on one of its six committees: Parking, Traffic and Transit, Planning, Parks, Trees and Open Space, Kids and Schools, Library, and last but not least, the Social Committee.
If you want to sign up, go to the next Friends meeting on Thursday, Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m., at the Noe Valley Library.
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PARK 'N' BEANS: Meanwhile, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association is moving forward with plans to get some metered parking on 24th Street above Castro.
According to Merchants President Bob Roddick, it looks like a compromise has been reached between merchants and residents to meter 14 of the 41 available spots, up to Diamond Street.
There was going to be a public hearing before the Department of Parking and Traffic on Sept. 28, but that has been continued to Oct. 14, according to DPT spokesperson Diana Hammons. "There have to be public notices at least 14 days before the hearing," explained Diana, "and because of recent events, we have not been able to give proper notice."
Diana warns that Oct. 14 is a tentative date, so keep your eyes open for any notices that might be posted by DPW on 24th Street.
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THE TWISTED SCOOP of the month is that it looks like there will be no changes in the immediate future at Rory's Twisted Scoop at 24th and Castro. We can all continue to scream for ice cream.
The Chronicle started this rumor, with a report that the people from Luna Park restaurant, at 18th and Valencia, were planning to open a cafe/wine bar (with a limited charcuterie menu) in the storefront where Rory's is now.
In last month's column, I reported that Rory's confirmed that their 24th Street location was for sale (they have another Rory's on Fillmore Street), but would not confirm whether it had been sold. Well, Luna Park spokesman A. J. Gilbert now states that he is "95 percent sure we will not [be completing the deal]."
Gilbert had gone to the Merchants Association and the East & West of Castro Club with his plans, but didn't leave either with a sense of optimism, although according to him, neither group said it would protest his application for a beer and wine license.
Gilbert was going to contact Friends of Noe Valley, but decided to ditch the idea. "We have concluded that the space is too small [1,100 square feet], and it is not worth it to go through the process with all the restrictions in the district," he said.
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IN THE MARKET FOR A MARKET? Word is out that the owners of Shufat Market, on 24th near the corner of Church, have put up half of their place (the west side) for rent. Brothers Mike Khalil, James Abunie, and Omar Kamal have operated this grocery store and deli since June 1972, and it is named after their hometown in East Jerusalem.
"Our rent is now $4,200 a month, and our PG&E bill has jumped to $1,600 dollars a month," says Mike. James adds: "We have to try to downsize our space and overhead."
The brothers are offering the 900-square-foot location for $2,100 a month, and so far they've had inquiries from a rug store, a furniture store, and a deli.
How about a butcher shop, with meat and fish trimmed to order? Then the corner -- which now has Shufat's grocery, Happy Donuts, and Jim and Sons Produce (with some of the best produce prices in town) -- might rival Bell Market.
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SPARE CHANGES: Don't blink or you'll miss even more openings and closings in the 'hood. Echo Home and Garden, the nifty design store on the east side of Church Street, is no more. The furniture store is still there, though.
The spot on 24th Street next to Rite Aid, last occupied by Terra Mia, not to mention the old Cork 'n' Bottle, has just opened as Riki, a women's designer boutique. This is a branch of the original store, which is downtown on Grant Street.
Isa has moved his Isa's Hair Salon to the old Horner's Corners building on the corner of Castro and Jersey, which had been occupied by Mylene's Hair Salon for 20 years. But Isa will continue to use his 24th Street store, between Church and Vicksburg, as a retail outlet for beauty supplies. Mylene's is up on 24th Street, in the (former) Doll House.
Probably the quickest opening and closing of any Noe store in modern history would be the three-month run of the Flower Station on the corner of Castro and Clipper. Why? I wish I could tell you.
Castro Computer has moved from its tiny closet on Castro next to RPM property management, to the more expansive space south of 24th that was recently a DVD store (Laser Video). It's next to the Peaks bar...but don't drink and digitize.
And hold your chihuahuas! There are rumors that Taco BellKFC has been checking out the old Star Bakery site on Church at 29th.
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TOP OF THE POPS this month at Streetlight Records is the new Bob Dylan CD Love and Theft. It was officially released on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and "flew out the door." I wouldn't be surprised if Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited got revisited, too.
Down at Aquarius Records, the word is that Uneasy Listening, the new album by deejays Z-Trip & P, has sold out. "It's basically turntable music," says Elisabeth O'Connell, "where the disc jockeys are spinning records to make complimentary rhythms and clever narratives."
The other record of the moment is the first release in 10 years from Jon Wayne ("the band, not the dead actor"), Two Graduated Jiggers, which includes hillbilly cowpunk tunes like "Death and Texas" and "Time to Drink Whiskey." It's redneck music, but these here's redneck times.
As far as page-turners go, in the nonfiction departments at Cover to Cover and Phoenix Books, everybody is reading Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. But postSept. 11, people started grabbing Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong (2000), and Thomas Friedman's 1990 bestseller, From Beirut to Jerusalem.
Fictionally speaking, over at Cover to Cover, the big hit is Garth Nix's young adult fantasy/sci-fi book Lirael, the second in the Abhorsen trilogy (his first novel was Sabriel). At Phoenix, the hot pick is Red Tent, Anita Diamont's retelling of the Old Testament story of Dinah, daughter of Leah and the patriarch Jacob.
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IN THE VIDEO REALM: Over at Noe Valley Video on 24th Street, Blow, Johnny Depp's portrayal of a drug dealer (cocaine smuggler), is tied for No. 1 with, curiously, The Tailor of Panama, starring Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush, a spy movie that takes place after Manuel Noriega's downfall.
At First Choice Video, Church and 24th, Memento, an artsy independent film about a man with severe memory loss tracking down his wife's murderer, is the first choice.
A sampling over at Video Wave on Castro reveals that most requests these days are for comedy, especially the Marx Brothers. That makes sense. Also heavily requested is The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, a 1981 documentary about Nostradamus, narrated by Orson Welles. Whatever you do, don't watch it just before bedtime. It's scary.
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THAT'S THIRTY for this month. Sleep tight, get up bright, and don't let the bed bugs bite. Everything will be all right tomorrow. Maybe. I hope.