Noe Valley Voice April 2004

Short Takes


April Headache Therapy

Doctors Daphne Miller and Avril Swan have scored points with their patients at Family Practice on Church Street because they do house calls. Now they have added the Waiting Room Lecture Series, a monthly Saturday morning educational event that is open to the public.

"We started the series in January because we wanted to do some community outreach, and we wanted to do a benefit for the Bay Area Girls Center, a nonprofit organization [in the Women's Building on 18th Street] that reaches out to preteen and teen girls through activities that boost their self-esteem," says Swan.

All lectures are from 10 to 11 a.m. and give attendees time for Q&A. They cover a variety of topics, from nutrition and parenting to how to deal with a chronic illness. On April 17, physical therapist Bettina Newman will discuss how physical and craniosacral therapy can help relieve headache pain. On May 22, Jillian Chelsen will offer stress-management tips to new mothers. Dr. Swan will follow on June 19 with a lecture on pediatric first-aid, including guidelines for determining when a call to the doctor is necessary.

The fee is $15 per class, and all proceeds go to the Bay Area Girls Center. Preregistration at 642-0333 is advised because there is a maximum of 15 participants per class. Family Practice is at 1448 Church Street, at Cesar Chavez Street.

An Inviting Menu for Seniors

Bingo on Tuesday. Exercise on Wednesday. Pinochle and board games on Friday. Parties throughout the year. Free haircuts. All of this, plus a low-cost hot lunch served at noon every weekday, awaits Noe Valley seniors looking for a little fun and camaraderie. "It's the friendliness that keeps me coming back," says Lois Hoskins, who has been attending the Noe Valley Senior Center since 1991. "I especially like the games."

These days, the senior center, located within the Noe Valley Ministry, is holding an informal membership drive to make sure it can continue to receive lunches subsidized by the city.

"I see seniors walking in this area all the time, but not that many come in here," says site coordinator Wendy Cohen. "There's a stigma attached to senior centers. People think, 'I'm not old enough to go there.' They think it might be dreary and dull, but it's not like that. It's a place to come have good conversation, a great environment, good food, and then you do your own thing."

The group accepts members of all ages, but those who are 60 or older pay just a $1.50 donation for their meals, which are catered by Project Open Hand. (Younger people can buy a lunch for $3.75.) One typical menu is baked fish, peas and carrots, red-skinned potatoes with paprika, dinner rolls, and an orange. Another favorite is rosemary chicken, tossed salad with Italian dressing, broccoli, fettuccine, and vanilla pudding.

The Noe Valley Senior Center is a block and a half from 24th Street, at 1021 Sanchez Street. To make a meal reservation, call Cohen between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at 648-1030.

Dance, Stories, Art, Play, and a Free Book

The third annual Dia de los Niños/Dia de los Libros, a celebration of children and books, will take place on Sunday, April 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Dolores Park.

"This is a chance for families in our community to come together and celebrate the diversity of books available to our children," says Loretta Kruger, director of the Mission Learning Center. "Last year, we distributed approximately 700 books for free, and we hope that more families will come to take part in this year's festivities."

Children of all ages should enjoy the many dance and storytelling performances, as well as a variety of hands-on art activities, including mask-making. Youngsters who participate in at least three activities will receive one free book.

The event is sponsored by the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Children's Book Press, KQED, Mission Learning Center, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco State University's Jumpstart Program, University of San Francisco, and Zeum.

Dolores Park is just over the hill at Church and 20th streets. For more details visit

Ways to Fiddle at the Farmers' Market

The Noe Valley Farmers' Market, operating Saturday mornings on 24th Street since December, is about food, yes. But shoppers can also listen to live music while they load up on zucchini and strawberries.

This month the market will host seven bands and musicians. The first act for Saturday, April 3, will be Mick Shaffer, performing from 8 to 10 a.m. Known for his finger-style picking and strong vocals, Shaffer says he plays in a "country/folk acoustic blues vein, with a generous helping of Dobro-style bottleneck slide guitar thrown in for good measure."

Following him from 10 a.m. to noon will be La Bolshevita. This is a trio with Karen Leigh on accordion and vocals, Delilah Lewis on fiddle and vocals, and Karen Celia Heil on stand-up bass. The group plays "intense, passionate, and colorful" old-world Italian, Greek, Jewish, and Latin music.

Mick Shaffer will return on April 10 from 8 to 10 a.m. Then the Shut-Ins will take the stage from 10 a.m. to noon. They are an acoustic instrumental and vocal combo that plays a blend of country-western, honky-tonk, bluegrass, and Hawaiian music. They say they have an affinity for the bizarre and "a special place in their hearts for upbeat songs of pain, longing, and occasionally happiness."

On April 17, K.C. Jiang will ease shoppers into the day from 8 to 10 a.m. with his penny whistle and harmonica. Following him will be Amy and Karen's Old Timey Duo. They say they "love to play straight-ahead dance tunes, creepy crookedy melodies, and to sing two-part harmonies on songs where everybody dies." Karen is on guitar, fiddle, and vocals. Amy does fiddle, banjo, guitar, and vocals.

Burning off the fog on April 24 from 8 to 10 a.m. will be Dan Lange. He plays slide guitar and sings. "Blues informs everything I do," he says. "You could say I play finger-style slide in opening tunings using a National Steel Guitar as my sound system."

Belle Monroe and Her Brewglass Boys round out the show, playing from 10 a.m. to noon. The group delivers "traditional and familiar songs alongside obscure selections you'd never expect a bluegrass outfit to attempt."

The May lineup is not yet complete, but already committed for a May 8 slot are Chuck and Jeanie's Country Roundup. They play country classics and bluegrass standards. The Squirrelly Stringband, performing Appalachian dance music, will entertain on May 22.

The Noe Valley Farmers' Market is located at 3865 24th Street between Vicksburg and Sanchez streets, and is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. If you have questions about the entertainment or want to book an act, call Rachel at 415-695-9299.

Invigorate Your Karma

The Kadampa Buddhist Center is celebrating the grand opening of a new temple on April 10, with a Buddha Shakyanmuni empowerment ceremony from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Followers of Kadampa Buddhism have been flourishing in San Francisco for a decade, holding classes in residential and retail settings, and renting space for larger ceremonies. They recently purchased a former spiritualist temple at 3324 17th Street, between Valencia and Mission streets. Now all of their classes and ceremonies will be held on the new site.

"An empowerment is a blessing ceremony where the teacher in charge actually assumes the identity of Buddha Shakyamuni [also known as Buddha, Siddhartha, or Gotama Buddha] during the ceremony. It's been described as a formal introduction to the deity, so your karma is actually, from that point forward, intermingled with Buddha in a very special way," says Kelsang Tekchog (a.k.a. David Ruch), a monk and teacher at the center.

Asked what distinguishes Kadampa Buddhism from other Buddhist traditions, Tekchog replied, "It's very much method-oriented. It tells you how to do it and what to do in very explicit and accessible Western language, as opposed to some traditions which have been described as 'meditation, you figure it out.'"

For more information on the classes and programs of Kadampa Buddhist Center, visit

Eyes on Young Muralists

Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, a creative force in the community for the past 27 years, has just moved its Youth Mural Workshop from its 24th Street center to a studio on Precita Avenue. The workshop is a place where youth 11 to 19 years old can learn the ins and outs of mural painting.

"They'll have their own space instead of being in the midst of all the tours that take place on the weekend at the 24th Street center," says Leanna Blankenship, programs coordinator. "They'll also be able to work on multiple projects at the same time. We're hoping to get more new students. It's a great experience for them to be taken seriously as artists, to collaborate on big projects, and to know that they can paint and then see their murals up in public for years and years to come," she adds.

The workshop meets Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and costs $10 per session. A $60 membership includes 10 free classes. Also, scholarships are available, so no one is turned away due to lack of funds. Drop-ins are welcome; no registration is required.

Precita Eyes is located at 348 Precita Avenue, at Folsom Street. For more information about this workshop and other classes and mural tours, call 415-285-2311 or visit

Special Guest: A Transgender Choir

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus will swing into spring April 17­18 with "Oh, Happy Day," a vocal concert honoring African American music. The Saturday night and Sunday afternoon shows will include contemporary and traditional spiritual, Motown, gospel, soul, and blues tunes.

Members of the chorus will be decked out in religious vestments belonging to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender spiritual leaders. This is in support of the Shower of Stoles project, whose mission is to end ecclesiastical discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith.

The chorus, now in its 26th season, was the world's first gay men's chorus. It will be joined this year by guest ensemble Transcendence Gospel Choir, the world's first all-transgender chorus. Other guests will include blues virtuoso Gwen Avery and Canadian recording artist Kim Kuzma.

Showtime is 8 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Both shows will be at Mission High School's Murphy Auditorium, 3750 18th Street, between Church and Dolores streets. Tickets are $10 to $40. Purchase tickets in person at Box Office, 4053 18th Street, online at, or by phone at 865-3650. Group discounts are available.

Alvarado Rummage Sale

Garage sale aficionados, take heed: On Saturday and Sunday, May 1 and 2, Alvarado Elementary School will host its wildly popular Annual Rummage Sale.

The event takes places from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days, in the school cafeteria on 22nd Street between Eureka and Douglass streets. Saturday will be the day to snap up the choicest clothes and toys. But Sunday is bargain day (prices will drop).

All money raised at the event will go toward enrichment programs, supplies, and other resources needed at the school.

Before attending the sale, you might want do some spring cleaning and donate those things that are cluttering up your cupboards and closets. Bring your new and used clothes and household items (no junk or stuffed animals, please) to the school cafeteria on April 17 or 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Questions? Call 695-5695.

Civil Grand Jury Needs You

Would you like to investigate the workings of our city and county government? If so, the San Francisco Superior Court is now accepting applications to serve on the 2004­05 Civil Grand Jury. The application deadline is April 12.

Only 19 volunteers will be selected for the jury. Jury members will investigate the operations of various government offices, departments, and agencies and report their findings and recommendations to the presiding judge of the Superior Court and to the subjects of the investigations.

For more information and an application, call 415-551-3605.

Free Help with Taxes

If you earned less than $35,000 in 2003, you can get your taxes prepared for free. You also might be eligible for a refund from the government's Earned Income Tax Credit, even if you didn't have enough income to file a tax return last year. If you are indeed eligible for a refund, it will not affect any state or federal benefits you now receive.

This program is available through April 15 at locations throughout the city and is sponsored by several nonprofit organizations, including the United Way, Tax-Aid, the San Francisco Department of Human Services, SFWorks, and EARN.

To make an appointment at the location closest to you, call 1-800-358-8832. You will need to bring a Social Security number for each family member, W-2 forms for all jobs worked in 2003, and all 1099 forms for other income. Those who employ a childcare provider will also need to bring the name, address, and tax ID (if available) of their provider.

The Short Takes column is compiled and written by Laura McHale Holland.