Noe Valley Voice June 2002

Noe This 'n That

By Laura McHale Holland

June. The month when days are long; children say farewell to teachers who have guided them through another academic year; families, lovers, and friends plan getaways long and short; gardens in full bloom are kissed by the fog.

One garden to note is on the third-floor patio of On Lok's 30th Street Senior Center. The spot where seniors often can be seen doing tai chi is now graced with a vibrant mural, unveiled in May. Designed and painted by participants in On Lok's senior services and health programs, the mural commemorates the seniors' diverse backgrounds as well as the impact the center has had on their lives.

"This mural shows the 'Tree of Life' colored with the many flags of the countries from which the seniors emigrated," notes participant Frances Burns. "A desire to feel part of this country is shown by the figures with uplifted arms. The weavers -- one weaving on a loom, the other doing needlework on plastic canvas-- are symbolic of the weaving of different cultures and lives into the fabric of the country, the community, and the center."

Initiated by On Lok Senior Services, the project was funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and guided to fruition by the Precita Eyes muralists group. To see the mural, just stop by the center at 225 30th Street between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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When you've finished admiring the painting, you can stroll down Dolores Street to 29th Street to view a different sort of multicultural phenomenon, Hair Play. In this hair salon, you'll find African, Asian, and European American stylists tending the locks of an equally multiracial clientele. One customer, Peggy Orenstein, is so enthusiastic about the salon's commitment to integration that she wrote a glowing piece about Hair Play for Self magazine's May issue.

This month, Hair Play stylists are teaming up with the organization Community Impact (CI) to do complementary consultations, haircuts, and styling for clients of CI's Homeless Prenatal Program. The program offers support for homeless women in San Francisco who are parents or expectant parents.

"We're really excited," says stylist Erin Cervelli. "I'm looking forward to giving back, to doing something to help someone else."

Salon coordinator Irën Matsuoka is also enthusiastic about offering CI's clients a "day of beauty and empowerment" on June 2. "We all know that self-confidence is an integral part of success, and we'd like to help these clients achieve self-esteem and confidence they can pass on to the children of the future."

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Two people who have crisscrossed this continent and the Atlantic Ocean to create a new home and family are Cindy Goldfield and her husband Stephen Leigh Askew. (He goes by Leigh.) They met in 1996 on a train from Swansea to Fishguard in Wales.

"I was on a holiday with my mother, trying to heal the remainders of a broken heart," says Goldfield. "We sat near Leigh and several of his friends on the train. They were on a stag night trip to Ireland and just torturing the poor groom-to-be, complete with a blow-up doll. We thought they were funny, and they adopted my mom and me for the evening. To make a long story short, Leigh ended up traveling with us for the rest of the week and then coming out to California the next month."

Askew was in England's Merchant Navy at the time. This meant he was at sea for four months at a stretch. Then he'd spend six weeks with Goldfield in California until his next tour of duty. Two years after they met, the couple retraced their first trip together (without Goldfield's mom this time) and got pregnant on the Irish Sea. Their son, Jack Indiana Goldfield-Askew, was born on Jan. 25, 1999. (They've been on our "More Mouths to Feed" list for quite a while.)

Askew has absolutely no regrets about giving up both his dream job and his country to share the day-to-day joys of parenting son Jack with his wife. He is now a project manager for MCI-WorldCom. Goldfield's adjustment to parenthood was entirely different, but equally regret-free.

"I have incorporated Jack into my daily life. It was a challenge to keep working right through the transition to mothering. Jack has been a part of my work since he was just days old. I am a voice-over actor, and he has learned that a booth is a place to be quiet. He goes daily on auditions and jobs both. He also attends lots of theater rehearsals. I used to just wear him in a sling. Now he usually brings a load of trains and plays in the corner," says Goldfield.

Goldfield, who formerly resided at 21st and Church streets, loves the unexpected hugs and little discoveries that Jack brings to their Glen Park home. Jack, says Mom, is a gregarious and funny child who could do the Time Warp (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show) at age 2. "He kisses cats, memorizes musicals, likes his bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, prefers a cloth napkin but would never wear a bib, talks with his hands, and 'reads' aloud from imaginary books," she adds.

One thing that disturbs Goldfield about raising a young child is the gender-specificity of kids' clothes. "With the exception of some great places in Noe Valley-- Li'l Lizards, Wavy Footprints, Peek-a-Bootique, Just for Fun, and the Ark -- most kids' departments and catalogs feature tones of pink, yellow, purple, and red for girls, and only cargo, camouflage, and dark colors for boys. Why is it that cats are for girls and dogs are for boys? Why are stars for girls and planets for boys? So I have just shopped both departments and sewn my own stuff."

As for Jack's future, Mom and Dad both hope their son finds happiness in his work, whatever that may be. "I think the best thing is to be able to make a living for yourself doing what you love," Goldfield says.

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Three men who make a living doing what they love are musicians Michael Manring, Larry Kassin, and Tom Darter. They're having a release concert and celebration for their trio Manring/Kassin/ Darter's first CD on Saturday, June 8, at the Noe Valley Ministry. The CD is titled Scatter and features Manring on bass, Kassin on flute, and Darter on piano.

The evening is part of the Noe Valley Music Series, founded by Kassin 16 years ago. Each member of the trio is a critically acclaimed musician and composer in his own right. Together they play provocative, complex compositions that tear down the categories between jazz, avant-classical, world, and rock music.

Kassin points out that there is a healthy dose of silliness thrown into the mix as well. "One of the pieces is called 'Eubie Blake on Mars,'" he says. "It's been described as a fusion of ragtime, stride piano, and science fiction. There's another one called 'Gamma People.' It's our score to an imaginary low-budget science-fiction film."

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Some of us think a profitable dot-com only exists in science fiction. But Valley Street resident and freelance photographer Najib Joe Hakim has snapped a picture of Brett Wilson, CEO of Youcansave .com, a profitable dot-com discounter.

"You can get toothbrushes for discounted rates, or cat litter," says Hakim in describing Youcansave's niche. "It reminds me of those 'As Seen on TV!' products."

The company won the Hot Tech Award and was profiled in the San Francisco Business Times last October. Hakim's photo of Wilson subsequently won the Peninsula Press Club's "Best Photo, Non Dailies Category" for 2001. The award was presented this May.

Hakim is surprised that his photo won. "It was a little quirky, and the paper tends to go with more conventional things. It's more of a magazine photo. I'm delighted that the newspaper ran it because a photo has to be published to be eligible for the award," he says.

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Congratulations are also in order for a group of students at James Lick Middle School. The kids made colorful costumes for their dancing debut in this year's Carnaval parade on Memorial Day weekend. Also in May, students from the school were given a 2002 Precita Eyes Mural Award for a project they completed, with the aid of muralist Elaine Chu, at their school in the summer of 2001.

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Another recent honoree is Roger Craib, native San Franciscan and president of Friends of Glen Canyon Park. He was given an official commendation by the Board of Supervisors at their meeting April 22, for his lifelong devotion to restoring and improving our city's parks. Most Wednesday mornings Craib can be seen in Glen Canyon Park working on trail improvements, non-native plant removal, or the redirection of eroding flows of rainwater. He says he is looking forward to helping the Rec and Park Department work with disadvantaged and at-risk youth this summer on a trails and creek restoration project in the Canyon.

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Rounding out this month's medley of luminaries is neighborhood poet Zack Rogow. He is a 2002 inductee into Pudding House Publication's prestigious Poets' Greatest Hits National Archiving Project. As part of this, a chapbook containing 12 signature poems is now available through Pudding House, the largest small press in America. "I appreciate being asked for my work for a change," says Rogow, who teaches in the creative writing graduate program at California College of Arts and Crafts. "I spend a lot of energy sending my work out, and the odds aren't very good right now because so many people are writing poetry."

Here's one of Rogow's recent oeuvres, set at a gas station on the outskirts of Noe Valley. It's too new to be in his chapbook, and we're pleased to print it here:

Vision in the Mission

By Zack Rogow

I was pumping 20 bucks worth of Regular this evening

at the Gas and Shop on 30th Street

wondering if this ever really will pass

my spirits pointing toward Empty

when I saw above the cinderblocks

where you buy Sprites, Milky Ways and motor oil

a flock of plum clouds

blazing underneath lava-gold

against a blue silk sky

a sunset so fin-de-siècle

so beyond


that it seemed to make the station's night neon

switch on just at that moment

and my eyes let go

of the little numbers dashing toward FULL

to gawk at the firmament

even though today

I was doubting out loud to myself

and all my problems were adding up wrong

there are still these Ballet Russe costumes

of the evening sky

above fluorescent letters bleeding light

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Why not gawk at the heavens yourself this month and write your own take on the evening sky?

Enjoy your neighbors, take a soak at Elisa's Spa, stroll on over to Tully's, buy some oil at Beyond the Sea, listen to doves cooing in the bushes, and then send us your news. We want to know about your sprightly babies, graduations, engagements, weddings, awards, book parties, art show openings, literary salons, and resplendent summer escapades. (Don't forget to pack a Voice.)

E-mail leads to thisnthat@noevalley; mail them to us at 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114; or leave a phone message at 821-3324. We eagerly await your news.