Noe Valley Voice April 2005

The Looney Valley Voice

Merchants Hope New Signage Will Goose Local Economy

By Lucy Cannon

After much prodding and kneading from local stores and residents, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has decided to rename Noe Valley "Looney Valley." Starting May 1, all city documents and public buildings will reflect the change--including the Looney Valley Sally Wally Library. The Cuckoo's Nest B&B will keep its name, however.

Within hours of the decision, members of the newly formed Extreme Neighborhood Makeover Committee erected a large sign beneath the palms on Dolores Street, reading, "Welcome to Looney Valley--Home of the Liberals."

The new moniker was the first step in a seven-pronged economic revivification campaign, launched last year by Valley merchants and homeowners concerned about the vacancy rate on 24th Street. But why Looney Valley?

"One of our local real estate agents posted a Looney Valley sign in his window around the time of the November election, and people liked it so much we decided to make it official, sort of like the rainbow flag," said committee chair Madge of Chaillot. "Now that we're gaining a national identity, we want to make it easy for people from out of state to find us," she added.

There is also historical precedent for the name. According to a grizzled oldtimer sitting at the counter at Herb's Fine Foods, one of our earliest pioneers was "Old Man" Looney. His tent was pitched on what is now Kooks Boulevard. Looney settled here during the Gold Rush and built the first Prozac manufacturing plant. Horney's Addition came later. If


Utah Corporation Buys Noe Valley Farmers' Market

By Gus Aspair

It's been called an eyesore, a health hazard, and a big mess--but starting April 1, the Noe Valley Farmers' Market will proudly be called a member of Nutraceutical Joe's. The renowned Utah-based corporation has promised to make some much needed improvements to the open-air market, beginning with a complete remodeling of the parking lot.

Fresh stripes will be painted on the asphalt, the side walls will be tuckpointed, and the resident birds will be steam-cleaned. The nearby minipark will be replanted with grasses native to Noe, and the attendant's shack will get a total makeover, including granite tile and indoor-outdoor carpeting.

The farmers' market will be closed during the renovation, and is expected to reopen around the same time that Real Food does.

Meanwhile, Noe Valley's neighborhood groups are showing strong support for Nutraceutical's plans.

"This will really revitalize Downtown Noe Valley," said Peter Rabbit. "We've needed someone to come in and streamline that market. Right now, some of those heirloom tomatoes aren't even symmetrical. The company's going to fix that."

To make sure the produce in the neighborhood is uniform, Nutraceutical is also negotiating to buy, close down, and remodel Bell Market on 24th Street.

Moms Win Bid to Excavate Quarry

By Brad Pit

It seems like only yesterday that three Noe Valley moms, concerned about a lack of unsafe places for their kids to play in, started gathering signatures to reopen the old quarry at 30th and Castro.

Now, after 23 years of stalling, the city's Planning Commission voted to approve a work permit for the local chapter of Chicks with Bricks on Feb. 30. Almost immediately, the triumphant women picked up their axes and shovels and headed for the hill.

"I tunneled 40 feet the first day, and I feel terrific. I'm a little sweaty, though," said hot Chick Jade Pinkett.

It's probably too late for her own son, Cliff, to enjoy clambering around a gaping hole in the ground--since he recently graduated from Princeton University--but Pinkett is nonetheless proud of the Chicks' accomplishment.

"When we started, there was something there," she beamed at a recent Friends of Noe Quarry meeting. "But now that we're digging, there's really nothing. Four stories deep of nothing."

Pinkett had initially worked alongside fellow moms Emerald Yay and Ruby Paul, but Yay moved to Walnut Creek in 1985 and Paul swam to Cuba not long after, renouncing capitalism and dodging late fees at Blockbuster in the process. In their absence, Pinkett moved heaven and earth to keep the project alive.

Her lucky break came when Oliver Stone featured her in his epic rockumentary Can You Dig It? "I guess he heard about me on Crag's List," Pinkett said.


Hungry Wolves to Be Released in Douglass Park

By J. Lobo

In an unprecedented attempt to restore the natural balance of Noe Valley's ecology, the Department of Fish, Game, and Carnivores has agreed to introduce wolves in Upper Douglass Park.

"The park's terrain and flora, combined with cool Diamond Heights temperatures, should ensure that the wolves will thrive," says biologist Anne Rand. "Their food needs will be supplied amply by nearby Douglass Playground, where an overabundance of infants, toddlers, and middle-schoolers has been wreaking havoc with the site's grasses and wildflowers. Equilibrium will be restored to the neighborhood, with fewer mouths to


A New Joint! Despite the growing controversy over the proliferation of such stores, a retail pot outlet opened on Castro Street in April, selling a wide variety of pots--soup, stew, copper-bottom, cast-iron, and crock. Photo by Pol Pot

Local Activists Oppose Reopening of Launderland

By Speed McQueen

After an illustrious 20-year history at the corner of 24th and Church, Launderland officially closed its doors in May. Owner Dominic Whipple removed all the washers and dryers and announced plans to renovate the building. But a Noe Valley Voice investigation has revealed that this "renovation" plan is just a veiled attempt to skirt labor laws.

Our well-placed source, whom we agreed to identify only as Washer #13, tells us that the laundry machines were actually removed as retribution for their attempt to unionize. Washers and dryers at Launderland were first contacted by Western Union in early October 2004. When Launderland management caught wind of what was going on, they suddenly pulled the plug.

Mr. Whipple could not be reached for comment, but in a prepared statement he accused Washer #13 of being "a known agitator."

The washers and dryers who were removed from the premises feel that they've been treated like scrap, and have turned to serial activist Harry Linttrap for help.

"Whipple can spin it however he likes," said Linttrap, "but he's clearly trying to soak these loyal washers and dryers. All we can cheer for is that the washers and dryers bounce back, and ultimately turn the tide towards a new era in which all workers gain more protection."

At press time, the Voice learned that Supervisor Bevan Dufty had agreed to bring the case before the National Laundry Relations Board.

"Once we go in front of the NLRB, hopefully this should all come out in the


Neighborhood Gets a 'Clue'

By Colonel Mustard

Famous game maker Parker Brothers has released a Noe Valley edition of its classic board game Clue. The mystery game has been set at well-known sites in the neighborhood, and will feature a host of local personalities.

"Our market research has shown that there are more mystery buffs in Noe Valley than in any other enclave on the North American Tectonic Plate," explained Nosy Parker, vice president of new concept development. "They like snooping around."

So what's the mystery the players must solve? Here's the lowdown:

Mr. Newell Rich, the unpleasant owner of a monster home on Elizabeth Street, has been murdered somewhere in Downtown Noe Valley. So whodunit?

Was it Donna Doula at the Birthing Center with the umbilical cord? Manny Peddy in the Beauty Parlor with the nails? Edward Jones in the Brokerage with the roll of quarters? Miss Millie in the Restaurant with the short ribs? Or perhaps B.J. Droubi in the Victorian with the gingerbread?

Just for Fun will carry the $21.99 game. Be on the lookout in the next few months for a somewhat less expensive version: Noe Valley Clue--The TIC Edition.

Men to Take Over Women's Building

By John Wayne Macy

Men are finally putting their foot down and demanding a piece of the pie that women have been hoarding for the last 30 years. Ever since gals were allowed to vote and to stop binding their feet, women's support groups, women's health collectives, women's reading groups, and women's clothing stores have sprouted up everywhere. Meanwhile, Men have been relegated to impromptu get-togethers in boardrooms and barbershops to discuss The Old Man and the Sea.

But now the pie's on the other shoe. On April 1, the city fathers decreed that Friday will be Men's Day at the Women's Building on 18th Street.

Starting next month, on Fridays the sign over the door will be switched to read "Men's Building," and the mural will be painted over to reflect the achievements of men and men's lives. "Barry Bonds will be the subject of our first 'Testosterone Marches On' mural," says artist Fred Kahlo.

In addition, the building will host a weekly Men's Crafts Fair, featuring carved duck decoys, knitted tube socks, scrimshaw cufflinks, hand-rolled cigars, and guns.

The event will start at 7 a.m. and end on Saturday morning at 2 a.m., in time to restore the women's mural and sweep up the poker chips, pork rinds, and Levitra...


Crisco Makes Noe Valley Shine

By Fatty Arbuckle

Crisco, the internationally known artist who recently wrapped 7,500 Manhattan hotdog vendors in alternating layers of lavash and aluminum foil, has spread his work westward this spring with an installation in Downtown Noe Valley.

Throughout the month of April, he will wrap cars parked along 24th Street with a thick coating of provolone cheese.

Visitors have included art historian Art Historian, who came all the way from Armenia to check it out. "This exhibit is slick, but tasteful," he marveled. "The elegance of the cheese draping over the hoods of the cars brings tears to my eyes."

In spite of the enthusiastic response from the art community, however, some residents are concerned that Crisco's work will clog Noe Valley's main artery.

"It's a marvelous show," said Val Vita, "but I just can't stop eating it."

To appease his critics, Crisco will be shortening the exhibit.

The Menschurian Candidate: Supervisor Bevan Dufty shows up at every meeting, baptism, coffee klatch, and harvest fair in the neighborhood. Now the secret of how he manages this feat is out: There are actually six of him. Though they all have the same facial features and goofy grin, each Dufty double has a different body type and wardrobe so as to better mix with the voters. One even sports shoulder-length hair. So if you've got a pothole to patch or a stop sign to celebrate, don't worry--a Dufty will be there. Photo by Anonymous

Compliments Cause Tragic Head Explosion

By Betsey Johnson

A 24th Street shopper's head exploded unexpectedly just after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1. Paramedics rushed to the scene at Ambivalence, a clothing boutique where retail clerks routinely flatter every customer who comes in the door. The victim was Dolores Street resident Alice Kramden, 25, an employee of nearby Sewer Rat Plumbing Service.

Fasha Neesta, who witnessed the event, told police, "Her head started swelling as soon as she walked in the store. First, the salesgirl told her she liked her jacket, and then her purse, and then her hair." (At the time, Kramden was wearing grimy overalls and a babushka.)

The coup de grâce was when the salesperson asked if Kramden's work boots were Prada. "After that, her brains were splattered everywhere," said Neesta.

Nancy Grace of the San Francisco Coroner's Office confirmed that the accident was caused by an excess of hot air in the victim's cranial cavity. No charges were filed, however. "It's not a crime to be too nice," said Grace.

The owner of Ambivalence, Amy Able, later told the Voice, "We deeply regret this horrible incident. And we hope our customers will bear with us. The truth is we do like what you're wearing. But for the foreseeable future, we're not going to say anything."

Old Bag of Pluots from Real Food Co. Fetches $180 on eBay

By Daniel Rather

Mounting rumors that Real Food Company on 24th Street will never reopen have sparked a collector's frenzy over store-related items. EBay trading in Real Food memorabilia reached new heights yesterday when former cashier and union organizer Joe Hill sold an original bag of five organic pluots. Although a label on the fruit clearly stated a Sept. 3, 2003, expiration date, the anonymous buyer ponied up $180 for the clearly inedible item.

Dan's Gas Hosts Blood-for-Oil Exchange

By Ethyl Wolfowitz

The pumps at Dan's Shell Station will come alive on April 1, when Noe Valley's first Fossil Fuel Festival kicks off an afternoon of fun for all ages.

The long-anticipated main event will be a blood-for-oil exchange--anyone who donates a pint of blood will get a pint of gas for his or her vehicle. The station will match donations, up to three gallons, which is the total volume of blood in the human body.

Donors of more than four gallons will also receive a stylish camouflage tote bag and the soundtrack to Lawrence of Arabia.

Dinosaur Remains Unearthed at Phoenix Books

By Indiana Bones

When a landmark local bookstore had a 20th-anniversary sale last month, they discovered more than some lost first editions behind their shelves. The bones of a 37-million-year-old predator from the Paleolithic Age were found at the back of the shop, under the bottom shelf of the hardcover poetry section.

Customer Nan R. Thall made the discovery. "At first, I thought it was just more old volumes of the collected works of William Wordsworth. Then it looked like leftovers from somebody's chicken sandwich," Thall said.

It wasn't until scientists from Drewes Meats confirmed that the bones were those of a young Thesaurus, the fearsome


First S.F. Critical Mass for Cars

By David Schwinner

Taking a cue from the Bicycle Coalition's battle cry "We're not blocking traffic--we are traffic," automobile drivers will hit the streets April 31 in an historic attempt to clog San Francisco's thoroughfares. The Critical Gas event is set to rev up at Celexa Auto Body on 24th Street at 3 p.m., right after school lets out.

"This is our big chance to finally break the 15-minute delay record set by the bike riders," declared organizer Chevy Chase, speaking at a bumper-to-bumper pep rally at the local Ministry of Parking. "Are you ready to ride?" Seat belts secure, the crowd roared, "We're here! We steer!"

Others handed out bumperstickers with sayings like, "Honk if you've got a car!" and "1-2-3-4! Watch out, I'm going to open the door!"

If all goes well at the end of the month, Chase said, the rally could become a reg-


Letter Rip

That's What Friends Are For


Every time I pick up your paper I see headlines and stories about "our friends in Glen Park." Well, let me tell you, Glen Park may be our neighbor, but it's not our friend. Don't even get me started on the Fairmount District.

Dick Chenery

30th Street

To Serve Mankind


The human finger found in a bowl of chili at Wendy's points out a horrible problem that has gotten out of hand in San Francisco: cannibalism. On a recent trip to Tower Market, I found Ladyfingers and Rose Hips Tea on the shelves. In the pasta aisle there were boxes of Elbows. I guess it's just a matter of time before I find Soul in the fish cooler.

Peta Fonda

Arm Street


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Heidi Anderson, Olivia Boler, Suzanne Herel, Doug & Barb Konecky, David Moisl, Erin O'Briant, Karen Topakian

April 2005