Noe Valley Voice March 2006

Short Takes

Murder Mystery in Paris, Take Six

Noe Valley mystery author Cara Black is hard at work on edits to the seventh Parisian murder mystery, even as the sixth book in the series--Murder in Montmartre--hits book stands March 10. Murder in Montmartre has already been chosen as an April Booksense Pick by the American Booksellers Association, and it debuted this week at No. 10 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.

The story centers, as always, around private investigator Aimée Leduc. In this novel, Leduc must attempt to clear her childhood friend Laure of murder charges after the policewoman is accused of killing a fellow officer.

Asked how many books she plans for the series, Black answers, "Well, Paris has twenty arrondissements [districts], and I'd say that's six down and fourteen to go." She figures her protagonist has plenty of crimes to solve. "This crime novel genre gives me a great opportunity to tell a story and explore issues current in France today--immigration and social issues, the echoes of the Nazi-occupied past. But who knows?"

Fans of Black's novels can see her in person at readings this month, but they'll have to go outside the neighborhood. She'll appear March 8 at 12:30 p.m. at Stacey's Bookstore, 581 Market Street near Second Street. On March 9, Black will read at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street near Belvedere Street, at 7 p.m. For more information, visit

Are Nursing Homes Our Fate?

Come find out the truth about long-term care in San Francisco at Bethany United Methodist Church's Kitchen Table Talk on Sunday, March 26, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Learn from the experts what the policies are and what important personal and public policy matters San Francisco officials now face with regard to providing long-term care.

Among the people who will discuss these issues are Donna Calame, executive director of the In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority; Shireen McSpadden, deputy director of programs in the Department of Aging and Adult Services; and Marie Jobling, co-chair of the mayor's LTC Coordinating Council. District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty will also be in attendance.

The meeting will be held at Bethany Church, located at the corner of Clipper and Sanchez streets. For more information, call Marilyn Herand at 648-4092, e-mail her at, or call the Bethany office at 647-8393.

Philanthropy Made Funny

Prepare to howl. Now in its fourth year, 826 Valencia's annual Comedy Night happens this year on Saturday, April 1, at 7 p.m. The sure-to-be-hilarious lineup includes Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, and Al Madrigal--stand-up comedians who boast a dizzying array of TV and film credits.

According to Dave Eggers, well-known author and founder of 826 Valencia, "The 826 Comedy Night is always hysterical and kind of raucous.... The crowd comes to laugh, and every year so far they've left wanting more."

The show is for adults 18 and up, though it takes place in Everett Middle School's auditorium and is a fundraiser for 826 Valencia's Writers' Room at the school. The 1,400 seats sold out last year, so book your tickets in advance at or over the phone at 866-468-3399. Tickets are $20 for balcony, $30 for orchestra, and $75 for premier seats. To learn more about 826 Valencia's programs, visit

Dufty Updates District Dems

San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty will present a district update at a meeting of the Noe Valley Democratic Club at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15. The meeting will take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, located at 1021 Sanchez Street near 23rd Street.

Dufty will discuss future issues facing the Board of Supervisors and legislation recently passed or pending that affects Noe Valley. Among the topics he will tackle are the Real Food vacancy, the Bell Market lease, parking, construction, and the state of the 24th Street commercial strip.

Also, a member of the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Coalition will be on hand to discuss public financing of statewide and legislative races. Programs for statewide election financing are now in effect in Maine and Arizona, and similar plans are being proposed for California. Attendance at the club's meeting is free and open to the public.

Summer Writing Retreat in Tuscany

One of Noe Valley's own is traveling to Italy this summer to teach a writing workshop amid the rolling hills of Tuscany. Published poet and California College of the Arts writing instructor Zack Rogow, who lives on Hill Street, will lead the workshop July 3 to 9 at the Tuscany Institute for Advanced Studies in the heart of the Val d'Orcia.

The $2,395 workshop includes day trips to scenic towns in Tuscany, local food and wine, and many opportunities for reading and writing. The group is limited to eight participants. To learn more, visit

25 Years of Anything Goes

Is there anything the Noe Valley Ministry building has not been used for? In 1983, a group of adults began singing in the church basement under the direction of jazz vocalist, pianist, composer, and choral director Ellen Robinson. The group was called Anything Goes Chorus (after the Cole Porter song). There was a sister group with the same name in Oakland, which Robinson had started two years earlier.

Noe Valley resident and tenor Lynne Sonenberg recalls that in the early days "we met weekly, alternating with the 12-step groups and the preschool. Ellen has a wonderfully eclectic musical taste, and she encouraged people to let their joy flow forth in song."

The groups have now been singing four-part harmony to jazz, pop, Broadway, folk, spirituals, and oldies for 25 years. The choruses are truly community-based. There are no auditions, and folks who can hold their part in harmony singing are welcome. In addition, the singers give back to their community by raising money for local groups. Last year, the San Francisco chorus, which now operates out of Community Music Center on Capp Street, gave a fundraising performance for the Glen Park Library.

To celebrate the first 25 years of Anything Goes, Robinson will conduct both the San Francisco and Oakland choruses in a rousing concert on Saturday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m., at the First Congregational Church in Oakland, 2501 Harrison Street at 27th Street. Tickets are $15.

For information on joining the next session of the San Francisco Anything Goes Chorus, call Community Music Center at 647-6015.

--Betsy Bannerman

Salsa Heats Up the Mission

Dance SF offers two four-week salsa dance classes in San Francisco this month. The closest ones are held on Sunday afternoons at Studio J, located at 2407 Harrison Street between 20th and 21st streets. Absolute beginners start at 4 p.m., and the intermediate class follows at 5:30 p.m. on March 5, 12, 19, and 26.

If your Sundays are full and you're willing to travel, you might also consider the Monday evening course, which will be held at the Pick Ballroom at 380 18th Avenue (at Geary Boulevard) on March 6, 13, 20, and 27. Whichever class you choose, you don't need a partner. No salsa experience is needed for the beginner classes. Folks who already know the basics should sign up for the intermediate classes.

The cost for one class is $15, or participants can buy all four in advance for $50. To find out more, visit www.dancesf .com, e-mail, or call 668-9936.

Art You Can Keep

Creativity Explored, a gallery and school for artists with developmental disabilities, presents a new exhibit this month. Titled "Vessels," the exhibit showcases handmade containers for the home as part of the gallery's annual tradition of presenting functional artwork.

Visitors will find everything from bowls to vases to lunch boxes--and even an animal carrier--available to view and purchase. The opening reception takes place on Thursday, March 9, from 7 to 9 p.m., and the exhibit will be open March 9 through April 27, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m.

Creativity Explored Gallery is located at 3245 16th Street at Guerrero. For more information, call 863-2108 or visit

International Poetry Museum

Only in San Francisco! The National Poetry Association has announced the establishment of the International Poetry Museum, a collection of poetry from around the world and the only museum of its kind. The IPM already includes 48 bilingual poetry collections, and organizers are campaigning to expand the library by adding bilingual publications from an additional 50 countries.

In other news from the National Poetry Association, the 30th Annual Poetry-Film Festival is scheduled for May 19, and 20-minute film entries are welcome until May 16. Applications are available at the NPA office, located at 934 Brannan Street in San Francisco. For more information, e-mail

This month's Short Takes were written by Erin O'Briant, unless otherwise noted.