Noe Valley Voice September 2001

Short Takes

Is San Francisco Like Paris?


On Thursday, Sept. 13, Friends of Noe Valley and Cover to Cover Booksellers will sponsor a community forum and slide presentation titled "Paris 1871/San Francisco 2001: Cities and History." The event will be led by Jeannene Przyblyski.

Przyblyski is an art historian who teaches in the graduate programs at Mills College and the San Francisco Art Institute. She writes frequently on photography, history, and cities, and is the author of a book called The Camera on the Barricades: Photography and the Paris Commune of 1871, soon to be published by University of Minnesota Press.

A resident of Collingwood Street, she recently joined the board of Friends of Noe Valley.

According to Przyblyski, San Francisco has often been compared to modern-day Paris in terms of its beauty and sophistication. But as the city struggles to manage development, it may be closer to Paris in the 19th century, "when wholesale demolition and modernization projects brought great architectural successes, but met social resistance as well."

Her talk will explore the questions: How do cities manage change? How do the people who live in them adjust to changing cities?

Coinciding with Noe Valley History Month and the 30-year anniversary of Friends, the forum will be accompanied by a window display of memorabilia organized by local archivist Paul Kantus, as well as a book display on San Francisco, urban history, and planning.

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at Cover to Cover, 3812 24th Street near Church. If you have questions, call Friends president Dave Monks at 821-4087.

--Sally Smith

Sing Your Heart Out


"Sing Your Heart Out," taught by Barbara Linn, is more than an opportunity to learn about jazz and vocal technique. It's also a chance to provide community service. "The experience goes beyond music for our own pleasure, and gives us all a chance to contribute as well," says Linn, who has been teaching the class since 1998.

The contribution is a benefit concert of holiday music put on each winter by students from the fall class series. The concert is held at the Noe Valley Ministry, and proceeds go to Raphael House, a shelter for homeless families in San Francisco. Working closely with Raphael House and the Noe Valley Ministry, "Sing Your Heart Out" has raised $3,000 for the agency in the past two years.

"This class is for anyone who loves to sing," asserts Linn. "The most important thing is a desire to learn."

The next nine-week series begins Sept. 24. If you think you're not quite up to doing renditions of jazz standards like "The Christmas Song," Linn also teaches "Fundamentals of Singing." That session begins Sept. 30.

Classes are held at the Noe Valley
Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, and advance registration is required. Call 641-5466 or e-mail to sign up.

--Laura McHale Holland

Dead Man Walking on TV


Do you want to peek into American high culture without having to ferret out some opera glasses? Do you want to go below the surface of a compelling and controversial issue? Are you a comfy couch potato looking for something to stir you up? Then tune in to KQED Channel 9 on Thursday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m., for the premiere of the documentary "And Then One Night: The Making of Dead Man Walking."

The documentary tells the behind-the-scenes story of Dead Man Walking, an opera premiered by the San Francisco Opera in October 2000. Based on the best-selling memoir Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean as well as on the blockbuster movie of the same title, the opera was composed by Noe Valley resident Jake Heggie. Heggie was already an acclaimed pianist and composer, but this was his first experience scoring an opera.

The documentary's director and producer, Linda Schaller, is also a Noe Valley resident. She says the documentary includes interviews with the opera's stars and producers, as well as with advocates and family members on both sides of the capital punishment debate.

"From the start, I felt it was critical to include people who were from families of both victims and death-row inmates," says Schaller. "But it wasn't until we began editing the footage that I saw the full emotional impact of how their opinions and pain so completely mirrored the music and characters in the opera."

If you miss the film's premiere, the encore is Sunday, Sept. 23, at 6 p.m.

--Laura McHale Holland

Seniors Work the Food Bank


If you're 55 or older, and retired or semi-retired, and interested in getting a little light exercise while helping a good cause, you might want to RSVP. To RSVP.

RSVP is an acronym for Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and one of the group's accomplishments is packing six tons (!) of food for donation to needy San Franciscans each month. Packing is done at the San Francisco Food Bank, a resource for local non-profit agencies that receives donations from overstocked food suppliers, restaurants, and stores.

"We have found that it's a great way for seniors to get to meet one another, and in the process of working and doing something useful they almost always have a good time," says RSVP outreach coordinator Barbara Marré. "The Food Bank thinks our volunteers are the greatest!"

Volunteers assemble, stock, repackage, and label boxes of food, but no heavy lifting is required. RSVP invites you to join the crew on Sept. 6 and/or Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon.

You can meet at the Food Bank, 900 Pennsylvania Avenue (on Potrero Hill), at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and doughnuts, or get a ride at 9 a.m. from the RSVP office at 3150 20th Avenue, near Stonestown. Please call 731-3335 to, ahem, RSVP.

--Laura McHale Holland

S.F. Library's Book Bonanza


What's turning 37 years old and having a four-day party where you can buy six months of entertainment for under $20? Stumped? Here's a hint. It benefits a beloved San Francisco institution with a branch in Noe Valley. Okay, here's the last hint. The branch is on Jersey Street.

That's right -- it's the 37th Annual Book Sale benefiting the San Francisco Public Library, and we're all invited to peruse and purchase to the limits of our eyes and pocketbooks at Fort Mason's Herbst Pavilion.

"The sale is famous for its finds -- from a 16th-century book on the rules of dueling to hollowed-out books containing money, jewelry, and even gold teeth," notes Paul Gormsen of the Library's staff.

The party begins Thursday, Sept. 6, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 9. All proceeds go to the city's 27 branch libraries. Over 125,000 volumes will be available. That means if you laid the books end to end they'd stretch from Ocean Beach to the Ferry Building. All books are donated, and none are library discards.

If you join the Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Library, you can attend the preview sale from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6. For more information, visit www.friends& or call the book hotline, 437-4857.

--Laura McHale Holland

Dan McHale Meets the



Vicksburg Street's resident animator, Dan McHale, has landed a spot in the upcoming 10th annual San Francisco Fringe Festival. The play, entitled Meet John W.T.O., is a solo performance piece with a political theme.

"It's an autobiographical piece where I'm describing my experience with the protest in Seattle against the World Trade Organization," says McHale. "It deals with a big political event, but I'm telling my own story, which makes it both intimate and historic." (The protest made headlines in November 1999, when over 50,000 people converged on Seattle to demonstrate against the W.T.O.)

Established by Exit Theater, the Fringe Festival runs from Sept. 6 through 16 and showcases the work of independent theaters and performers from around the globe. This year's participants hail from as far off as the United Kingdom and Alaska.

Meet John W.T.O. is one of 50 different shows offered in a rotating schedule at five theaters, all of which are within walking distance of one another. McHale's venue is Phoenix II, downstairs, 653 Geary Street. Dates and times are Sept. 7, 10 p.m.; Sept. 8, 4 p.m.; Sept. 9, 5:30 pm.; and Sept. 15, 7 p.m.

Tickets for all Festival shows are $8 or less, and can be purchased at the door. For further information, call 931-1094, or visit

--Laura McHale Holland

Toast the Women's Building


The Women's Building, which made history in 1979 by becoming the first women-owned community center in the nation, will host its first annual "Women's Voices" fundraiser on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Women's Building, at 3543 18th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero).

Comedian Marga Gomez will emcee the event, and Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues, has agreed to lend her name as honorary event host. The honoree for the evening will be Toby Levy, architect and principal of Toby Levy Designs, who contributed her skills to the Women's Building Renovation Project from 1994 to 2000.

The fundraiser will feature music by Voices: A Lesbian Choral Ensemble as well as deejay Jackeline Rago, who will spin pop tunes for guests. Local restaurants such as the Liberty Cafe in Bernal Heights will provide edibles, and an exhibit focusing on the Women's Building, past and present, will be on display. In addition, a variety of dinners and hotel stays, including a night at the Hotel Julianna in Union Square, will be offered up for bidding in a silent auction.

Tickets to the event cost $75 per person and can be purchased by calling 510-532-7700. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Women's Building's ongoing programs and services, including a drop-in childcare service and community resource room, which provides referrals on employment, housing, and health care.

--Kathy Dalle-Molle

Free Computer Classes for Kids


Another school year has begun, and there's reason to be pleased that at least one dot-com hasn't imploded in our midst. This one,, offers free after-school computer classes for children of all ages. Here's the scoop.

After several years of working for Oracle, San Franciscan Marc Benioff founded Salesforce two years ago to specialize in online customer relationship management software. At the same time, he endowed a foundation called

"Our mission is twofold," says Steve Wright, the foundation's program director, "to bring relevant technology to underserved communities of youth, and to help our employees fulfill their desires around volunteering in the community."

In a joint effort with PowerUp, a consortium of technology companies, established computer centers at the Embarcadero YMCA and in neighborhood elementary, middle, and high schools. The center closest to Noe Valley is Edison School, 450 Church Street (contact Puja Butail: 626-5222).

"PowerUp provides the technology, and we provide the program support, tech support, curriculum, and training," says Wright. "One of the things we found out is that it's fairly easy for a non-profit to get technology. The difficulty is providing the support to use that technology successfully."

Classes range from computer basics, to web page development, to producing, filming, and editing original movies. For more locations and program information, visit or call Steve Wright at 901-5606.

--Laura McHale Holland

Chanticleer at St. Matthew's


Chanticleer, the only full-time classical vocal ensemble in the United States, is based in San Francisco. And when the group is not touring from Boston to Los Angeles, Tokyo to Paris, the 12 male voices of this Grammy Award ­ winning group are soaring a cappella just a stone's throw away from us.

"Chanticleer rehearses here five days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We give them a room for a low lease, and their thank-you is to give a benefit concert once a year," says Kerstin Barnes, vicar at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 3281 16th Street at Dolores Street.

Proceeds from this year's concert on Sunday, Sept. 23, will benefit the St. Matthew's Window Fund set up to defray the cost of repairing the church's stained-glass windows. "Our church was built in 1907, and the lead on the original stained-glass windows is giving way, and the windows have to be fixed," notes Barnes.

Praised by the New York Times for its "precise, pure, and deeply felt" music, Chanticleer's vocal literature runs the gamut from Renaissance to jazz, and gospel to new music.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 if purchased before Sept. 4, and $25 thereafter. To reserve tickets, call 863-6371. For more information about Chanticleer visit

--Laura McHale Holland

Fall Gathering at Ministry


The Noe Valley Ministry Presbyterian Church is inviting neighborhood residents to participate in its third annual Fall Gathering on Sunday, Sept. 9, from noon to 2 p.m.

According to Ministry pastor Keenan Kelsey, church members will be preparing a "luxurious potluck" -- with everything from chicken and potato salad to rich desserts and crusty French bread.

The World Harmony Chorus, which rehearses in the building at 1021 Sanchez Street, along with local fiddlers, accordion players, and pianists, will be providing musical entertainment. Two clowns will be on hand to perform for the kids.

As a fundraising effort, the Ministry will be selling a block of tickets to the Sept. 30 Giants' game. "The tickets are for $10 bleacher seats," says Kelsey, "but we are selling them for $25 to raise funds to support the Ministry."

Kelsey also invites the community to attend the Ministry's festival worship service, which will be held just prior to the Fall Gathering, beginning at 10:30 a.m. "The service will have some richer elements than on a typical Sunday, which we hope will be more appealing to people who do not regularly attend services," Kelsey says. In addition to a flutist and violinist, there will be liturgical dance and a dramatic presentation of the Sunday scripture.

Kelsey calls the Fall Gathering "one of the best-kept secrets around Noe Valley," and hopes Noe Valley residents will turn out in force this year. "We consider ourselves a community church," she adds. "But sometimes it seems as if members of the church and members of the community don't really know each other. This event is a way for the Ministry to connect and share with our neighbors."

For more information -- or if you'd like to bring a dish to the potluck or a musical instrument to jam with the other musicians -- call the Ministry at 282-2317.

--Kathy Dalle-Molle

Old-Time Fun at St. Philip's


September is here again, and so is an annual event that is as much a part of the neighborhood as fog drifting down Twin Peaks. Guaranteed to please families and singles alike with old-time fun and great food, the St. Philip's Parish Festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29 and 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All proceeds will benefit St. Philip School, an institution that has been educating children in kindergarten through eighth grade since 1938.

"This festival allows us to somewhat control escalating tuition rates while maintaining financial stability," says Steve Farren, St. Philip School's principal. "We look at it as a wonderful community building experience for our school families as well as our neighbors."

Inexpensive ethnic foods will reflect the diversity of the school community. They range from Italian, Thai, Filipino, and Mexican dishes, to hot dogs and burgers, once considered typically American fare. There will be live entertainment and games for tots, teens, and adults, including an Elvis talent show, a Tic-Tac-Toe booth, and the traditional goldfish (bowl) toss.

The festival will be at St. Philip's Parish, at 24th and Diamond streets. For more information call 824-8467.

--Laura McHale Holland

Feldenkrais Awareness Class


Teachers Leigh Sealy and Barbara Wright would like to announce that starting Sept. 5, they will be conducting a weekly series of "Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement" classes at the Noe Valley Ministry. The class meets each Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m. in the second-floor studio at the rear of the Ministry, 23rd and Sanchez streets.

According to Sealy, the Feldenkrais Method, which has enjoyed increasing popularity in the past few years, is a system of gentle movement developed 50 years ago by Israeli engineer and judo master Moshe Feldenkrais. Lessons are usually done with the person sitting or lying on the floor.

Each participant is guided through a series of movements designed to bring an awareness of some specific aspect of his or her body. "You learn," says Wright, "about both your limitations and your capabilities. You learn about habits you didn't know you had. Over the course of a number of lessons you, in a sense, take back your body, re-inhabit it."

"The beauty of the work," Sealy adds, "is that there are no performance pressures, no 'right' way, only what is right for each person. We discourage pain, we discourage hard physical work. Anyone, no matter how good or bad shape they're in, can benefit."

For more information, call 759-5934 or 337-6276. Or e-mail

--Sally Smith

Zephyr's History Lecture


Long before foundations were dug for our neighborhood's charming Victorians and Edwardians, and way before bustling 24th Street stretched from Grand View to Potrero Hill, Noe Valley and 17 other contiguous neighborhoods were all part of an entity called Rancho San Miguel (see story, page 1).

If you are curious about this fact and you missed Noe Valley History Day at the Noe Valley Library Sept. 15, Zephyr Real Estate invites you to a free slide show and talk on Saturday, Sept. 22. Presented by Corbett Street resident Mae Silver, the talk is titled "Rancho San Miguel: A San Francisco Neighborhood History," the name of her new book on the subject.

"We do three free seminars a year that might be of interest to property owners and residents," says Ilse Cordoni, summer sales manager for Zephyr's 24th Street office. "We just did one on staging your home for sale. We've done them on researching the history of your home, on landlord/tenant issues, on gardening, on painting your home. We started in 1995, and there's been a wide variety of presentations -- all well received."

The lecture by Silver will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Contract Design Center, 600 Townsend Street (between Seventh and Eighth streets). To reserve a space, call Zephyr Real Estate at 905-0255, ext. 230.

--Laura McHale Holland