Noe Valley Voice December-January 2003

Short Takes

Music for the Spirits

The critically acclaimed a cappella vocal ensemble Volti, directed by Robert Geary, will perform at the Noe Valley Chamber Music Series on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. The concert, titled "Mysteries of the Spirit," will be part of Volti's 25th anniversary season and will feature the works of contemporary American composers Mark Winges, Morten Lauridsen, Charles Loeffler, William Albright, Wayne Peterson, and Jacob Avshalomov.

Tickets are $12 to $15, with discounts for subscribers. The event will be held at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. Phone 648-5236 or e-mail for information.

Mysterious Holiday Cheer

The San Francisco Mystery Bookstore is hosting its second annual holiday party on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 1 p.m. until all revelers have had enough refreshments and mirth for the day.

Neighborhood mystery writers Cara Black and Michael Castleman will be on hand. They will be joined by two new authors: Elaine Flynn, who will drive up from Monterey, and Pamela Cranston, a minister from Oakland who has written the first book in a series set in San Francisco and the East Bay.

"We're having this party for the neighborhood, to thank our loyal customers and get the holidays off to a good start," says Diane Kudisch, the store's proprietor. "I'm going to try to make latkes myself this year. We'll see how that works. We'll have a nice spread from the cheese shop down the street too. It's a very local affair."

The San Francisco Mystery Bookstore is located at 4175 24th Street near Diamond. Call the sleuths at 282-7444 if you need more information.

Unload Your Old Cell Phone

The kids in Fairmount School's Girls on the Run program are collecting used wireless phones and accessories through Dec. 9. Girls on the Run is an after-school fitness and self-esteem program for girls in third through eighth grades.

All phones collected will be donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Wireless Foundation. The phones will be programmed to dial emergency numbers and then distributed to victims of family violence.

Phones, chargers, etc., can be dropped off on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Fairmont School, 65 Chenery Street near Randall. For further information, visit or call the school at 695-5669.

An Atypical Art Sale

Creativity Explored, a nonprofit studio and gallery for adults with developmental disabilities, is having its annual holiday art sale the weekend of Dec. 5 through 7. The group's executive director, Amy Taub, advises shoppers to show up early to get the best selection at this "lively, frenzied, and unusual affair."

The event features more than 100 artists, who work in a variety of media including painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, fabric art, and assemblage (a type of sculpture). Six-packs of holiday cards will be on sale for $8.

"The art is oftentimes very humorous and whimsical, but it can also be very serious and insightful," says Taub.

The sale runs Friday, Dec. 5, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 and 7, from 11 6 p.m. The gallery is at 3245 16th Street, at Guerrero. Questions? Call Creativity Explored, 863-2108.

Chronic Pain Support Group

A self-help support group for people dealing with chronic pain is now meeting in Diamond Heights on the first and third Thursdays of the month, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The group is a chapter of the American Chronic Pain Association and is facilitated by local resident Peter Quain.

"Some of the emotional issues that people with chronic pain cope with are isolation, depression, guilt, anger, and the loss of support from friends and family," says Quain, who suffered a herniated disc in his lower back while on a hiking trip eight years ago. "It's affirming to hear your own story from the person sitting next to you. Though each story is unique, the similarities are startling."

Quain says the group will be meeting on Diamond Heights Boulevard. Call him at 642-0585 for the exact location. Also for more information, you can check out the ACPA web site at

Volunteer at the Food Bank

The San Francisco Food Bank is seeking volunteers this month to help distribute 9,000 holiday food boxes to needy families in the city. Volunteer slots are available in the evenings and on weekends, but the critical need is for Monday through Friday during the day.

"Volunteers help with inspecting, sorting, and packing donations that come in through community food drives and other sources. They help stock pantry shelves, deliver emergency food boxes, collect food at food drives, and pack and distribute holiday food boxes. The week of Dec. 15 through 19, we'll need many extra hands on deck," says Chris Sams, volunteer services manager.

Depending on the assignment, training can be as little as five minutes for a three-hour task. "The Food Bank is a neat volunteer opportunity because we're flexible. We don't require a fixed amount of time. It's okay for people to just volunteer for two or three hours. We do ask that people call us in advance, just so we can plan the projects accordingly," says Sams.

Volunteers can sign up at 282-1900. Monetary donations are also welcomed at, over the phone at 282-1900, or via mail to 900 Pennsylvania Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94107.

Free Days at the Planetarium

If you are fond of visiting the Morrison Planetarium housed within the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, you'd better get your fix this month because starting in January 2004, the Planetarium will be on hiatus until 2008. That's when the new Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park will be completed.

Throughout December, the Planetarium will offer "Christmas Star" and other favorite astronomy shows each weekend. Also, the entire museum will be admission-free on the last three days of 2003, Dec. 29, 30, and 31, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Then the Academy of Sciences will close until the spring, when it will reopen in its temporary home at 875 Howard Street. There, natural history exhibits, as well as the 5,000 fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and penguins from Steinhart Aquarium, will be on display until they return to Golden Gate Park in 2008.

For more information, call 750-7145 or visit

Handmade Shrines for Peace

Store owner Julie Anderson has commissioned more than 40 artists to contribute ornaments and shrines with a peace theme to a month-long show at Chatterbox Gift Gallery on Church Street. A reception will be held Saturday, Dec. 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. Theloni on Wry, a jazz quartet, will provide atmosphere, as art lovers peruse the visual treats, all of which will be for sale.

"I thought the show would be a nice way to involve the art community and the public to counter all of the war and violence that is happening in our world today," says Anderson.

Participating artists from Noe Valley include multimedia artist Eleanor Kent; hip-hop cartoonist and painter T. J. Walkup; Rebecca West, who does figure drawing; mixed-media artist Cheryl Stone; Laura Jacobs, who works with glass; Anna Elizabeth, a painter; Mary Graves, who makes silver jewelry; and bead artist Donna Davis.

Anderson says she expects to see Russian-style eggs and lots of glass and beaded pieces among the ornaments and shrines. Chatterbox is at 1185 Church Street near 24th Street. For more details about the show, which runs Dec. 1 through 31, call 647-0900.

The Voice Short Takes are compiled and written by Laura McHale Holland.