Noe Valley Voice May 2002

Noe This 'n That

By Laura McHale Holland

There is something most of us probably fail to notice, as dazzling days of sun lure us outside to enjoy the peaceful streets of Noe Valley. We are being watched -- from above.

"I'm interested in how people and animals adapt to city environments and make it work," says filmmaker Judy Irving. "For instance, there are red-tailed hawks flying around Noe Valley, looking for prey. You don't have to go to the country to see that."

When Irving began filming her documentary about wild parrots in San Francisco a couple of years ago, she could see parakeets perched in the acacia trees outside her window. This was at the corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez streets, where she lived for 22 years. Now editing her film in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood, she is near the parrots and cherry-headed conures that star in her film. The green-and-yellow canary-winged parakeets of Noe Valley play a "supporting role," she says.

Irving is showing a rough cut of her documentary at the San Francisco Main Library on June 8, 2 to 4:30 p.m. Also, Mark Bittner, featured in Irving's film and known as the "Friend of the Flock," is writing a book about the wild parrots. He will present a slide show and reading at Koret Auditorium on May 11 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.


Another bit of nature in the neighborhood is the native plant garden in front of Planet Drum Foundation's 30th Street office. "The plants have been here since '89," says Judy Goldhaft, Planet Drum's managing director. "There are coyote bush, Douglass iris, dune tansy, grindelia, manzanita, wild lilac, bunch grass, and a lot of weeds."

The foundation could use a volunteer to tend the garden. It could also use volunteers to resurrect its Green City Calendar, a comprehensive listing of environmental activities and events in the Bay Area. It's been in hibernation since it lost funding a little over a year ago. If you want to help out, call Goldhaft at 285-6556.


A different sort of native in the news is Donald Currie -- born, raised, and still living on 25th Street. He's just finished collaborating with Jason Gorski on Sex and Mayhem, the first in a series of audiobook CDs about "a gay kid growing up in San Francisco in the '50s and '60s." Currie founded the singing-telegram business Western Onion 25 years ago. He was also a member of the Gestalt Fool Theater Family, a '60s hippie theater commune. After the demise of Western Onion and after AIDS began taking the lives of many of his friends, Currie grew interested in Chinese medicine. He has been an acupuncturist in private practice for 12 years. But he remains a gestalt fool.

"The inspiration for the CD came out of a monologue I did for a reunion of the Gestalt Fool Theater Family, and it's taken on a life of its own. It's like the creative part of my life has come back in full flower. I don't think I've ever enjoyed collaborating with anyone as much as I have with Jason," he says.

The CD is on sale through Currie's web site at, where he warns, "You'd better tuck the little tykes into bed before popping this puppy into the CD player, 'cause its bark is as fun as its bite."


A web site that requires no R rating is Andrea Alban Gosline's www.amble It features "Welcome, Little Love," her baby stationery collection that includes greeting cards, gift wrap, gift bags, birth announcements, thank-you notes, and a photo album. The line is available at the Stonestown and other Papyrus store branches.

Also being sold on Gosline's web site is her new book Little Moments of Peace: Daily Reflections for Mothers, to be published by Tarcher/Putnam on Mother's Day, May 12. In writing it, she drew on her experiences with her 12-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. "With this book, I searched for the gift of peace in each moment with my children. This challenge has made me a more peaceful woman and mother, and my days now feel richer and happier," says Gosline. She's throwing a publication party at Natural Resources, the local parenting center, on Saturday, May 11, at 2 p.m.


A couple in the neighborhood whose life is more joyous than peaceful these days is Lani Tanaka and Craig Compton. Their first child, Makiko Midori Tanaka Compton, was born July 24, 2001, at 10 p.m., at California Pacific Medical Center. Already, their little one exhibits a sense of humor.

"Whenever you change your expression, she laughs. If you frown or make a funny face, she thinks it's hilarious," says Tanaka. "I hope Makiko has a daughter someday because it's made me so happy to have her," she adds. "It's the scariest thing and yet the most joyous thing. It's added so much depth and meaning. It's changed my perspective and opened my heart so much."

In Japanese, Makiko can mean either big strong tree or spirit of the century, and her mom says little Makiko may embody both those things. "[She's] freakishly strong. When I take her in for checkups, the doctor is always surprised at how advanced she is on the gross motor skills, and people who hold her are amazed at her strength. But they also enjoy her delicate features. She's very pretty."

Another mom blessed with a charming daughter is Lisa Moresco. She, her husband Gerry Agosta, and their sons Rio and Alexander (ages 9 and 12) welcomed Sophia Elisa Moresco Agosta to their family one year ago, May 9, at 2 a.m. They didn't need a car seat for the ride home from the hospital because Sophia was born in their 27th Street home. "Everything I've studied, witnessed, and experienced myself confirms my belief that home births are safe, sacred, and beautiful," says Moresco, who has been a director at Natural Resources for over a decade and is now the Castro Street establishment's sole owner.

It took Mom and Dad a couple of days to decide upon a name, but when Sophia popped up, it seemed absolutely right. "We wanted something Mediterranean to reflect our heritage. Gerry is Sicilian American and I'm Italian American, with Spanish blood," says Moresco.

Sophia is a contented little girl whose curly hair and full lips turn heads on 24th Street. "Having her," says Moresco, "was absolutely the right thing to do. The birth of a child has to be the most incredible experience that we have in our life cycle. It brought us all closer to that everyday knowledge of love. My boys were asking for a dog before they got a sister," she continues. "I think the reason they wanted a dog was to bring out a sense of nurturing, responsibility, and companionship. Sophia gives them that, and more. They don't ask for a dog anymore."


If a dog would be the right addition to your family, Pali Boucher is caring for 13 canines in her Bernal Heights home, 10 of which are, or soon will be, ready for adoption. She was profiled in this paper's March 1999 issue. At that time, she was affiliated with Hopalong Animal Rescue, based in Oakland. Boucher, who has been saving animals from euthanasia for seven years, started her own animal rescue non-profit last November. It's called Rocket Dog Rescue. "I'll take a really healthy dog, but I like to reach out to the underdog -- dogs that need surgery, or are not so beautiful, like a little old-man dog with no hair," says Boucher.

One of her charges, Daisy Mae, is "a big, clumsy, beautiful American bulldog" that was hit on the freeway in San Jose by two different cars. When a Good Samaritan stopped to pick her up, she wagged her tail. And in the car she put her head in his lap. "She was affectionate even though one of her legs was smashed," says Boucher.

Boucher took Daisy Mae to a specialist and was able to save the dog's leg, something many rescue organizations are not able to do. "I arrange two to three surgeries a year that are over $3,000, with no funding other than what I raise sitting out on a street corner with the dogs," she says.

To get a financial boost, she is going to hold a "Blast Off" benefit for Rocket Dog Rescue on May 18. It will include a silent auction, an art show, and food. For more information, call Boucher at 642-4786.


Conveying information is Mitchell Friedman's specialty. Now he's writing a monthly column for ExpertPR, a free weekly e-mail newsletter published by MediaMap. You can check it out at The column covers a range of public relations issues, with an emphasis on media relations. Friedman also contributes a monthly column to the Luce Online News and Information Bulletin and is a guest p.r. expert at

"I see my work, and my columns in particular, as a counterbalance to what we read in the media about spins and other excesses of the [public relations] profession," says Friedman, a resident of what to him "will always be Army Street."

Another neighbor whose business is communication is Carla Pasqualini. She's the new communications manager for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Pasqualini lived in Boston for seven years, where she worked at the Boston Conservatory. She moved to Vicksburg Street with her husband in January.

"I often spend the evening listening to my young neighbor practice away on her piano and think that she and many others may not be aware that they have access to the only conservatory on the West Coast right over the hill on Ortega Street," Pasqualini says. The Conservatory of Music has organized a summer program for young people ages 4 to 20. Offerings include early childhood music; musicianship; instrumental workshops; ensembles for strings, woodwinds, and piano; and composition. Call Pasqualini for details at 759-3415.

Of Noe Valley, Pasqualini says, "It's a beautiful location, and the community is fantastic, too. We gather on the front steps for a chat while our neighbor's daughter draws with chalk on the sidewalk. Sometimes we'll all grab a piece of chalk and have some fun."


If you know a teen more interested in French language and culture than in music, check out It's the web site of Abbey Road Overseas Programs, directed by Dr. Arthur Kian. Kian lives at 21st and Church streets and has worked with and directed summer programs for American and international teenage students for the past 10 years.

Columbia University in New York City, one of our country's eight Ivy League institutions, hasn't sent news of summer programs. But it did send us a list of local undergraduates who recently made the Dean's List. This honor is reserved for students who have a 3.33 or higher GPA. So congratulations go to Thomas Gorman of Diamond Heights Boulevard, Kira Morser of Sanchez Street, Yakira Teitel of 26th Street, and Julia Willdorf of Chenery Street.


Sadly, there will be no more achievements for local filmmaker John Verbeck, who died unexpectedly on March 24. A longtime resident of Duncan Street, Verbeck migrated to San Francisco from Ohio during our famous 1967 Summer of Love. He was a sound editor on such illustrious films as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Godfather III, Dead Poets Society, Blue Velvet, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He co-wrote and directed Secrets of an Alien World, which won many international film awards and is still being aired on the Discovery Channel. Verbeck, who could often be seen jogging along Sanchez Street, also produced and directed television documentaries, including one about his paraplegic nephew's attempt to swim the English Channel.


Next month we'll be congratulating students at one of our local schools for creative work well done. Please make sure they're in good company by sending us news of your beautiful babies, graduations and academic honors, engagements, weddings, professional awards, book publishing parties, art show openings, literary salons, web site launches, and of course, the plant tricks performed in your garden.

E-mail leads to, mail them to the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, or leave a phone message at 821-3324. Again, we eagerly await your news.