Noe Valley Voice March 2002

Short Takes

Voices from the Tenderloin


On Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m., a unique expression of life in the Tenderloin will be unveiled in a reading and launch party at Cover to Cover Booksellers for Voices of Our Own, a book subtitled "Mothers, Daughters, and Elders of the Tenderloin Tell Their Stories."

Authored by Noe Valley writer and teacher Nancy Deutsch, Voices of Our Own is an outgrowth of Deutsch's work as an artist-in-residence at Mercy Housing's low-income housing project at 111 Jones Street. It is filled with poems, journal writings, photos, and oral histories by or about the women and girls who live there, ages 7 to 77. Published this month by From My Window Books, the book has received advance praise from several notable writers and activists. It is also pictured on the cover of KQED's Women's History Resource Guide.

"The response to Voices of Our Own has been incredibly encouraging -- from Gloria Steinem to Maxine Hong Kingston to teachers, librarians, and the Bay Area community -- people have jumped in to support the book. I believe there's a real hunger to hear these women's stories in their own words," says Deutsch.

At the party, students from Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy will read poems from the book in honor of the Tenderloin writers. Kathrin Miller, a Noe Valley resident and photographer whose work appears in the book, will also be on hand. Deutsch will read from the book's introduction and share her journal entries. "These describe both the struggles and the inspiration I experienced working with these women and girls, who navigate through the daily war zones of the Tenderloin. They are my heroes," she says.

Cover to Cover is located on 24th Street near Church Street. For more information about this event, call 282-8080.

Voices of Our Own will be similarly celebrated at the First Unitarian Universalist Church as part of a 12:30 p.m. service on Sunday, March 17. Dolores Huerta will be the special guest speaker. A reception will follow at 2 p.m. The church is located at 1187 Franklin Street.

For information about other events in support of the book, call 648-6162 or e-mail

A Post-Millennium Godspell


Godspell, a 1970s Broadway musical and film that tells the story of the last seven days of Jesus' life (based on the Gospel of St. Matthew), is playing this month at Bethany United Methodist Church. And this updated production has a definite local flair.

Produced by Bethany Theatre Project, an arts ministry of the church, the action is set in San Francisco, complete with a mini-Transamerica Building and a coffee shop facade. The 10-member ensemble stars Brandy Leggett as a female Jesus.

Instead of the flower children of the '70s, whose voices popularized such tunes as "Day by Day" and "Light of the World," this production portrays "typical San Franciscans, from a dot-com worker to a policeman, nurse, prostitute, and businesswoman. The choreography is a blend of classical, modern, and folk styles, again reflecting the diversity of humanity and of the Bay Area," says Bethany's artistic director, John Lehrack.

Directed by Charles Ascello, with musical direction by Lehrack and choreography by Dean Loumbas, the show opens Friday, March 1. Shows are at 8 p.m. on March 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9. The last performance will be on Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.

Bethany is located at 1268 Sanchez Street, at Clipper Street. For reservations call 701-7011 or e-mail BethanyTheatre

Asian American Film Festival


The Asian American Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary March 7 through 17, and five of the 134 films being showcased are by filmmakers with ties to Noe Valley.

Veteran independent filmmaker and acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda's short film Kiss will be screened as part of the "Short Stories, Narrative Beginnings" program on March 12. It is a 13-minute piece about a quiet office worker who feels victimized by his co-workers until something surprising happens one day.

"I shot part of Kiss in Noe Valley at a place called What's for Dessert," notes Gotanda, a Glen Park resident. "It's no longer there, but it was on the corner of 27th and Church for 12 years, and it was run by a lovely man named Mervyn Mark. He was friendly to everybody, and a lot of folks just gravitated to his cafe. I got to know him, and he let us shoot some of the scenes there," recalls Gotanda.

The other local films are by up-and-coming directors living in Noe Valley, and include Yours, directed by Kirthi Nath; Take This Tablet, directed by Stom Sogo; Shut Up, White Boy by Vu T. Thu Ha; and Curve Ball by John Neely.

For a full schedule of screening dates, call 255-4299 or visit Prices vary, and can be purchased by phone at 478-2277, by fax at 863-7428, online at, or in person at the AMC Kabuki Festival Box Office at 1881 Post Street, at Fillmore.

Worms for the Masses


The San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) is offering a variety of free or low-cost classes that might entice you to get out your trowels or pruning shears. Unless otherwise noted, classes are held at the Garden for the Environment on 7th Avenue at Lawton. Some of the earthiest offerings are:

* Worm Composting, Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to noon. Teaches the basics of composting with a worm bin so that you can turn your kitchen scraps into plant fertilizer. Free.

* Roses Organically, Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m. to noon. Gives information on rose selection, planting, feeding, and general care, all without the use of toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. $10 for SLUG members; $15 for non-members.

* Create Your Own Mushroom Garden, Saturday, March 16, 1 to 4 p.m. A hands-on workshop on the benefits of fungus in your garden. $10 for SLUG and Mycological Society members; $15 for others.

* Composting in the Mission (taught in Spanish and English), Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m. to noon, at Alioto Park Garden, 20th Street at Capp. Covers both worm composting and basic composting skills. Free.

* Integrated Pest Management, Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Focuses on the least toxic ways to deal with landscape pests and diseases. Free.

* Introduction to Irrigation Systems, Saturday, March 30, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Covers the basics of installing an irrigation system so you can deliver water to your garden with minimal waste. Free.

* Plant Containers, Saturday, March 30, noon to 2 p.m. at San Francisco Tool Lending Center, 2713 San Bruno Avenue, at Bacon. Teaches how to build plant containers using recycled materials. Free.

To register for Plant Containers, call 467-8665. To register for all the other classes, call 285-7584.

Bottoms-Up for St. Paddy's


It's an American tradition that everyone who wants to can be a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day. And festivities in Noe Valley this year will include plenty of libations for Irish and non-Irish alike.

At the Dubliner -- a bastion of Irish heritage located on 24th Street near Vicksburg -- the March 17 celebration will host Irish dancers as well as serve corned beef, starting at about 3 p.m., says bar manager Rikki O'Keefe. A bagpiper may stop by, and as usual, the Dubliner will offer plenty of drink specials. "It will be really busy," predicts O'Keefe.

O'Greenberg's at Dolores and 29th will also serve up drink specials and corned beef, but the bar will celebrate its Irish and Jewish roots with a side of bagels instead of cabbage. "[The owner] usually orders about 150 pounds of corned beef," notes bartender Craig Winter.

Newcomer Bliss Bar, on 24th Street between Noe and Castro streets, will offer a special smoky martini made with Jameson's Irish whiskey for just $5. "And we'll have Guinness as always," says co-owner Pierre Chaltry.

Witches in Noe Valley?


If you think Halloween is the only time witches walk among us, or if you just want to learn more about contemporary paganism, you should mark your calendar for Friday, March 15, at 7 p.m. That's when Bernal Books is hosting a party celebrating Modern Pagans: An Investigation of Contemporary Pagan Practices, a new book by RE/Search Publications.

"Modern Pagans consists of more than 40 interviews with practicing witches, magicians, Wiccans, druids, and assorted free spirits, and continues the sometimes controversial RE/Search style of exposing emerging cultures," notes Nuala Wilde, one of the event's promoters.

Deborah "Oak" Cooper, who was interviewed for the book, is a psychotherapist practicing in Noe Valley. A witch for 20 years, Cooper says, "There are many therapists these days who are Buddhists, and witchcraft is similar to Buddhism in that it fosters mindfulness and awareness of the five senses." Photographer and fellow interviewee Charles Gatewood says using magic is an integral part of his life, and that his Bernal Heights neighborhood "is probably 99 percent pagan."

Festivities will include readings, live music, and appearances by many of the people featured in the book. In addition to Cooper and Gatewood, those slated to attend are Beat poet Diane di Prima, sexologist and Good Vibrations co-owner Carol Queen, psychotherapist Dossie Easton, Earth First activist Darryl Cherney, Bernal Heights Reclaiming teacher Thorn, Sam Webster of the Crescent Hellions coven, and members of the Ravenheart "polyamorist" family (having more than one sexual partner). John Sulak and V. Vale, who conducted the Modern Pagan interviews, will also be on hand.

Bernal Books is at 401 Cortland Avenue, at Bennington. For further information call 550-0293.

The 'Spirit' of Cancer Research


If you want to donate to a worthy cause and you're up for wearing what the American Cancer Society calls "creative black tie" attire, consider attending the "Spirit of San Francisco" Gala on March 9. It will be held at the Argent Hotel, 50 Third Street, between Market and Mission streets.

"One of the Society's biggest fundraising events of the year, the Gala typically attracts many Noe Valley residents," says event volunteer Michelle Spolver. "All proceeds go directly to support cancer research, education, and patient services in the Bay Area."

The event will include gourmet hors d'oeuvres, wine tasting, casino gaming, dancing to the band Pride and Joy, and a silent auction. Tickets for a VIP pre-party from 7 to 8:30 p.m. are $125 per person. For the main event from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., tickets are $65 in advance, and $75 at the door. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Web at 1-866-468-3399 or visit

Alvarado Auction Goes Wild


Three years ago, the parents of Alvarado Elementary School had a good idea. Instead of holding a garage sale and silent auction at the school, they hosted an auction off-site, and doubled the money raised for the school's art programs.

So this year they're at it again, with Alvarado's "Not So Silent" Auction. Located on Douglass Street, Alvarado educates a diverse student body from Noe Valley, the Mission, Diamond Heights, the Castro, and Visitacion Valley.

"The typical silent auction can be a little tame, and we're trying to get away from that and make it a really fun social, community event," says chairperson Julia Harrison. "The event is for adults only, and the ticket price includes food and wine. We'll also have a live deejay, and a celebrity auctioneer, Renee Richards from KFOG," she adds.

Items up for auction include gift certificates to restaurants and clothing stores, works by local artists, family entertainment packages, and vouchers for a variety of children's classes. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

The event will take place Friday, March 8, from 7 p.m. until midnight, at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan Street (between 8th and 9th streets). The live auction will be held from 9 to 10 p.m., and the entire auction will be checked by 11 p.m., because "it's more of a party atmosphere than an auction, and people like to hang out and keep dancing afterwards," says Harrison.

For advance tickets or further information, call Wendi Grasteit at 641-4322.

This month's Short Takes were written by Laura McHale Holland and Erin O'Briant.