Noe Valley Voice July-August 2003

Short Takes

July 6 Blood Drive

If you weigh less than 110 pounds, don't read this. But if you tip the scales at or above 110, are at least 17 years old, and are in generally good health, you may be ripe for the St. Paul's Church blood drive on Sunday, July 6, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Why do I want to do this? you may wonder. Mary Tan, pastoral associate at St. Paul's, sums it up succinctly, "Giving blood is giving life." Plus, you'll get a bonus: a two-for-one coupon for Paramount's Great America, valued at $45.99 and valid through Aug. 31.

Preregistration with Jill Alcantar at 586-8911 is advised, but not required. The actual donor screening and drawing of blood will take place in a specially equipped donor coach, staffed by Blood Centers of the Pacific. (Not to worry--no vampires or extraterrestrials will be on hand.) The coach will be parked in the church's upper parking lot on 29th Street between Church and Sanchez streets.

For the full skinny on Blood Centers of the Pacific, surf to or call 888-393-GIVE (that's 888-393-4483 for the letters-on-phone-challenged).

Teen Filmmakers on Love

Premiering at the 23rd annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival this year is a group of documentary vignettes titled Four Short Films About Love, co-directed by 10 teenagers. Two of the filmmakers, Alex Baum and Max Staley, live in Noe Valley and would like to invite their neighbors to come see the show.

The vignettes explore what it is about love that draws people together and what pulls them apart, the filmmakers say. "We originally were going to just focus on romance, but then we decided it would be better and more people in the group would have more things to say if we did all different levels of love. Each film is about a different form of love: siblings, grandparents, parents, and romance," says Staley, who lives on 23rd Street.

Baum, a senior at the Urban School of San Francisco, and Staley, a senior at University High School, are both part of the New Jewish Filmmaker Project. Staley was a novice filmmaker when they began working together last August. Baum had prior experience. "I had taken filmmaking classes at the San Francisco Art Institute and had created two short Super 8 films," says Baum, who lives on 27th Street.

Founded by independent filmmaker Sam Ball in conjunction with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the project is in its second year. It gives teenagers in the Jewish community (ages 15 through 19) training and resources so they can tell their own stories and exhibit their work at international venues.

The festival will take place at the Castro Theater from July 17 through 24, and at venues in Berkeley, Palo Alto, and San Rafael in the weeks directly following. Showing more than 50 films from 13 countries, it is the largest and oldest festival of its kind in the world.

Four Short Films About Love, which runs 17 minutes, will be shown on the closing night of the Castro part of the festival (July 24, 8:15 p.m.), along with the feature-length film Samy y Yo, an Argentinian comedy with a Woody Allen-ish antihero as the lead character.

Screening dates and times for other films are posted at Or you can call the box office at 925-275-9490.

"The Jewish Film Festival is for everyone, not just for Jewish people," says Staley. "And it's right over the hill at the Castro Theater [Castro and Market streets]."

'Dolores Eats' in the Park

Up to 2,000 people are expected to attend "Dolores Eats--a celebration of life, food, and art" produced by Dolores Street Community Services (DSCS) in Dolores Park on Sunday, July 13.

From 1 to 6 p.m. the park will sizzle with multicultural dance performances, the music of local singer/songwriter Bonnie Hayes, booths selling arts and crafts, and tasty dishes from restaurants such as Foreign Cinema, Delfina, Luna Park, El Majahual, Dolores Park Café, Tacqueria Cancun, Boogaloos, Andalu, and Platanos.

Proceeds from the event will benefit DSCS, a nonprofit organization located at Valencia and Liberty streets that for over 20 years has provided shelter and support for people in need, particularly those with HIV or AIDS, the physically or mentally disabled, and the working poor.

Admission is free at the celebration, which is sponsored by a dozen or more groups, including El Tecolote, El Mensajero, KPFA, KFOG, S.F. Weekly, and Lavender Youth Recreation & Information Center. So, bring a blanket and have a picnic in the park, located between Dolores and Church and 18th and 20th streets. For more information, call 282-6209, ext. 22, or visit

Bird & Beckett & Poetry & Jazz

What do authors Franz Kafka, Pablo Neruda, and Chester Himes have in common? They were all born in July. And you can celebrate their birthdays this month on Tuesday, July 8, at Bird & Beckett bookstore (and record store) in Glen Park.

"It's a gathering of people to read excerpts from writers whose birthdays happen to fall in a given month, so people bring their own excerpts to read. Half the crowd tends to be the same all the time, and half are all new people," says Eric Whittington, the store's proprietor.

This birthday-themed event recurs on the second Tuesday of each month, starting at 7:30 p.m. Authors on the horizon for the Aug. 12 fete are Herman Melville, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Charles Bukowski.

Meanwhile, the store will host a number of other readings and musical events this summer. On Sunday, July 20, at 4:30 p.m., cellist Randolph Fromme will play unaccompanied suites for cello by Johann Sebastian Bach. "He knows them all," says Whittington, "but he probably won't be able to fit them all into the one-and-a-half hours he'll have here."

On the next Sunday, July 27, at 4:30 p.m., Sonoma County poet Armando Garcia-Davila will read from his work. An open mike will follow. "Garcia-Davila is known in the North Bay as the gourmet poet. He does gigs where he cooks for people and then regales them with his poetry for dinner parties. But he's just reading here, in English and Spanish," says Whittington.

Kenneth Wong, a Burmese writer living in San Francisco, will be the guest artist on Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 7:30 p.m. Wong will read from his book A Prayer for Burma, to the accompaniment of a Burmese harp.

You can also hear the Chuck Peterson Quintet and friends play jazz every Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Bird & Beckett is at 2788 Diamond Street near Chenery. For more details, call 586-3733.

Savagely Noir Theater

Hal Savage, a Duncan Street playwright who often lurks around the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, hopes to lure you into a dark theater this summer--to see his latest work. Entitled Savage Eye, the piece consists of four one-act plays Savage wrote in homage to the film noir era of the 1940s and '50s and its bygone "B" movie stars.

"After seeing the turnout for the Film Noir Festival at the Castro [January 2003], I am convinced that many readers of the Noe Valley Voice are interested in this genre," says Savage.

The show, which promises an eyeful of "private eyes, perps, and dames," opens Thursday, July 24, and runs through Aug. 16. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 5 p.m. on Sundays. The venue is Phoenix Theatre, Suite 601, 414 Mason Street (at Geary).

Tickets are 20 bucks, but Thursdays are two-for-one nights, if you dress in '40s garb. Call the box office for reservations at 364-3070. And check out the virtual Savage Eye, complete with man in trench coat and fedora, at

Ye Olde Music Series

After 16 years, the Noe Valley Music Series is still going strong, producing more than 40 concerts annually in the richly resonant sanctuary of the Noe Valley Ministry. If you haven't gone to one of these intimate events, it's time to stroll over to 1021 Sanchez Street (at 23rd) to catch a performance. Here's what's in store:

On Saturday, July 12, the Baguette Quartette is having an early Bastille Day celebration. The group's specialty is French café music of the 1920s and 1930s. Tickets are $14 in advance/$16 at the door.

The Crooked Jades will return with the Earl Brothers for a CD release concert on Saturday, July 19. This will be a foot-stompin' night of bluegrass and old-time music. Tickets are $13 and $15.

On Saturday, Aug. 9, the rafters will ring with electric, finger-picking-style guitar. The evening of original compositions by Teja Gerken will feature blues master Dale Miller, Gerken, and Hawaiian slack-key guitarist Patrick Landeza. Tickets are $13 and $15.

All shows start at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are available at Streetlight Records, 3979 24th Street; 282-3550. If you are willing to pay a service charge, you can charge tickets by phone at 510-762-BASS. If snail mail is for you, send a check to S.F. Live Arts, P.O. Box 862, Fairfax, CA 94978.

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