Noe Valley Voice November 2007

Rumors Behind the News:

War and Peace and Carrots

By Mazook

NOE VALLEY MOBILIZES: On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 27, a group of about 75 Noe Valley neighbors marched along 24th Street from Castro to Church, in protest of the war in Iraq. As the delegation walked down the sidewalk (past Harry Aleo's "Liberal Loonies" window), passing cars honked in support of the banner-carriers, who urged drivers to get out of their internal-combustion engines and join the parade.

The marchers J-Churched it to Civic Center Plaza to join a chorus of 20,000 citizens from other neighborhoods around San Francisco. Then the Noe tribe marched back to Dolores Park for a rally, singing that same old sad song: Stop the War Now.

Before starting the march, the Noe Valley delegation mingled at 24th and Castro, and sorted through their signs and banners. Those assembled wanted to talk about the wretched mess our government has created by invading Iraq four years ago.

Noe Valleyans gathered at Castro and 24th streets on Oct. 27 to march as a contingent against the war in Iraq. Photo by Beverly Tharp

Steve Hyman of Sanchez Street, one of the organizers, said his main frustration was "we have now succeeded in totally destabilizing the region and created terrorists. Quite simply, our leaders are addicted to war."

"It makes me feel better being here with like-minded people," said Clipper Street resident Judy Dunworth. "I feel so bad about what we are doing to the people we've invaded."

Marcher Joe Morehead, who lives up on Fountain Street, said, "Over the years, I have been to too many of these marches, but I am extremely concerned right now.... We now seem to be gearing up for war with Iran. When will this insanity end?"

The sign made by Kristin Anundsen of 27th Street was direct and to the point: "The World Can't Wait, Drive Out the Bush Administration--Impeach Now!"

Howard Fallon, also a 27th Streeter, was wearing a Code Pink shirt. "I just bought it," he said. Fallon wants to end the War on Terror, "which is taking all the money that we desperately need to use here [to end] poverty and to use for humanitarian and social services."

Elizabeth Street activist Peter Gabel was there, of course. "This was just great," he said, "to see a neighborhood that can mobilize and stand up for itself."

According to Morehead, "The best part for me was for the first time that I can remember [he moved to the neighborhood in 1973], there was an actual Noe Valley delegation at an antiwar rally, and we all stood at Civic Center Plaza together under a big 'Noe Valley' banner, which felt really good. It blew me away when all of us followed a delegation of Sioux Indians who wanted to leave all the what I thought was boring rhetoric at Civic Center and lead the march up Market to the rally at Dolores Park. One of the Sioux turned around to a bunch of us and said: 'I have heard enough of white man's talk.' I could not have agreed more!"

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COURTS AND SPARKS: On Oct. 1, we saw some very positive action initiated by one of our local coalitions, the Friends of Noe Courts. Finally, the bulldozers arrived on the corner of Douglass and 24th streets and started some heavy-duty excavations to create a brand-new children's playground.

You all remember two years ago when FNC's Laura Norman and Eden Halbert decided it was time to mobilize the community to redesign the children's play area and make it more compatible with the grass area where the dogs run. Committees formed, and FNC raised $18,000 for improvements. FNC got the support of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, then turned to Mayor Gavin Newsom for help. They got the Rec and Park Department to earmark $400,000 for the task.

"We are really excited that the work has begun," says Norman, "and we are hopeful that the playground will be finished by the end of the year.... We will use the $18,000 to buy picnic tables, benches, and furnishings, and we want to raise an additional $10,000 to do more landscaping," says Norman.

Some of you might recall that another neighborhood coalition, Friends of Noe Valley, saved a totally decaying Noe Courts from extinction 30 years ago, when the city was considering selling the park for development. The Friends raised $138,000 and provided Rec and Park with a design for the new children's play area, a tennis court, new basketball court, benches, and landscaping.

In a front-page article in the October 1977 Voice, Sally Smith and Cindy Baumann heralded the Friends of Noe Valley's heroic rescue by describing Noe Courts generally as "an appropriate set for the exercise yard in Birdman of Alcatraz," and more particularly as "basically a third of a block of corroded blacktop surrounded by a towering chain-link fence [with] a small children's play area, graffiti-scarred restrooms, and a few token trees on the perimeter, but the overall impression is that of a 'cage with no roof on it,' in the words of Clyde Self, who plays basketball there."

Norman promises that one of FNC's future projects will be raising money to reopen the restrooms, which have been somewhat graffiti-free but nevertheless locked-up for at least 30 years. Not a problem for the tiny tots for whom the playground was designed, since they all wear diapers. Nor is it one for the dogs and their pooper-scooping owners. For the rest of us, it is quite a climb up to Douglass Park, where you hope the restrooms will be open.

How much does a small park bathroom cost, anyway?

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CHESS FOR FUN: The mini-park, or rather rest-your-feet area, in front of the city's public parking lot on 24th Street was completed this fall, thanks to the Noe Valley Association­Community Benefit District, working with various city departments. The spot has new street furniture: three benches, and a table with two chairs. There's a checkers/chessboard embedded in the table, and it's set back enough to accommodate parents with strollers.

NVA-CBD director Debra Niemann says she is "quite pleased with the way the mini-park turned out and really happy that so many people are using it these days.

"By the way," Niemann points out, "the checker and chess pieces are located underneath the table's chairs. We will be posting a notice there soon to ask those who use them to please return them" to the seat.

Niemann says some finishing touches will be coming to the mini-park soon, namely, flower baskets and a clock.

The NVA and its environmental chairman, David Eiland, also are pleased with the new sidewalk installed last August in front of Just for Fun. The property owner gave Eiland the go-ahead to put in a red-orange permeable concrete sidewalk, "which looks like regular concrete, except it will absorb the rainwater and any pollutants, rather than send them into the sewers and down to the Mission District and into the Bay," says Eiland. "We hope this will be a model project for the rest of the neighborhood."

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PROPOSING A TOAST: Rumors are true, and the headline of my column last month, "Herb's Is Toast," has proved prophetic: Herb's Fine Foods, which supplied eggs and bacon to Noe Valleyans for 64 years, will indeed reincarnate as Noe Valley's second location of the Church Street eatery Toast.

"We were able to negotiate a lease with the building owners, the McFadden family, and are now going through the permit process to remodel the restaurant and open another Toast, in hopefully about six months," says Toast co-owner Eddie Nasser.

Nasser and his two brothers, Kamal and Anis, took over Hungry Joe's on the corner of Church and Day a year ago and turned it into the first Toast. It has become a popular weekday breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in Upper Noe Valley, and it's packed for brunch on the weekends.

"We plan on having the same menu as our Church Street restaurant, and will stay open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week," says Nasser, "including dinner." (Herb's was only open for breakfast and lunch.) They're still considering what the weekend hours will be.

"In keeping with Herb's tradition, we will have senior specials," Nasser says, "since we know that there were quite a few seniors who came into Herb's for an early breakfast, and several have come out to our Church Street restaurant since Herb's closed."

Nasser says he and his brothers have already started stripping the floor at Herb's to install a new one, "and we've found six layers of linoleum so far that we've had to remove."

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OUR PLATE IS FULL: Chris Cosentino, head chef of the very popular Church Street Italian restaurant Incanto, competed with Traci Des Jardins and other chefs on the Food Network's Next Iron Chef last month. The show premiered on Oct. 7, when Cosentino was challenged to make a dessert with tripe in it. His solution was a goat's milk rice pudding with fried honeycomb tripe panzanella, which turned out to be good enough for Cosentino to progress to the next round.

Cosentino and Incanto owner Mark Pastore have also started an artisan salumi business (Boccalone), so they can offer Noe Valley patrons the "tasty salted pig parts" they love. According to Pastore, last month they started preparing boxed artisan meats for Salumi Society members, who will pick up the hand-butchered meats at Incanto two Saturdays a month. You can get a sacchetto (a small bag), containing an assortment of fresh sausage, and cooked and cured meats. The Piglet sacchetto is for two people and costs $174 for three months. Check out for more info.

Another item in the food basket is the new diet and delivery service started by Noe Valley resident Jessica Wallack-Cohen, called Zone San Francisco. ZSF will deliver three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and two snacks) to your door at 6 a.m. According to Wallack-Cohen, Zone meals include 40 percent carbs from fruits and vegetables, 30 percent lean protein, and 30 percent "favorable fats." The cost: $39.99 per day. Zone San Francisco is online or call 608-9195.

Kookez (24th above Castro) is now open for lunch with a geographically diverse lunch fare at lunchtime prices: $5.25 to $9.95. Myself, I like the Laredo Chicken Enchiladas Suizas.

The Clay Pot, on Church near 29th, opened in advance of its "grand opening" last month, and the place has been packed. This is Noe Valley's first Indian restaurant, and a lot of the locals are trying out what looks to be good food at reasonable prices.

Upper Noe folks are also talking about Bella Venezia, the relatively new southern Italian eatery a couple blocks away on Mission near Valencia. Noe Valley resident Wendy Gallagher says, "I've been going there two to three times a week," also for the good food at reasonable prices.

Meanwhile, Curves exercise studio has closed on Church Street. A connection?

There may not be food there, but a new studio called Fima's Photography opened on Castro near 25th Street last month. Fima Gelman is a longtime Noe Valley resident, but we'll tell you more about him in a future issue.

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PLAYING THE MARKET: To follow up our September page-one story, the rumor about Bell Market morphing into Whole Foods seems to be "a done deal," according to very reliable sources. However, the transformation will not occur until sometime shortly before Bell's lease runs out in April 2009.

In August, Whole Foods' web site's "Stores in Development" section identified the Bell Market space, albeit not specifically (but we all know that Bell is the only 16,790-square-foot store in Noe Valley). After the Voice's September story, the info was removed from the web site (casting doubt), but in the last month the Noe Valley store was put back on the web site's developing stores list.

Whole Foods' Northern California marketing director, Jolyn Bibb, finally returned our telephone calls with a statement that she can make no comments about it right now, but "we will be having some news for you during the first week of November. My V.P. says that we can't comment now."

What about the web site? Her response: "No comment right now."

Ralphs Northern California boss, Chris O'Leary, who oversees our Bell, also gave us a for-the-record no-comment response, and referred us to the chain's Southern California offices (which did not return phone calls).

Even Supe Bevan Dufty was mum on the record, but he confirmed that any changes at Bell Market won't occur "until the first or second month of 2009."

To set the record straight on an item I ran last month about Real Food's owner Nutraceutical having applied for a permit to demolish the building, what I should have said is that a Nutra representative told the Noe Valley Merchants Association at a March meeting that they were "going to apply for permits in April." When we followed up with Supervisor Dufty, he said his office researched the applications, and found none for the site.

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NOE COYOTE: Douglass Street resident Janet Kessler, who wrote about her friendly encounters with a coyote on Twin Peaks in the September issue of the Voice, has put together a little book called Myca of Twin Peaks: Our Mild-Mannered Neighbor. The book continues the tale of the coyote Kessler is now calling "Myca"--known as "Mike" in the Voice--and includes a bunch of Kessler photos of the animal bouncing about in the hills above Noe Valley. The book, selling for $10 ("just to recover my printing costs," she says), is sitting on the counter at three shops in Noe Valley: Just for Fun, Cover to Cover, and Phoenix Books. Kessler, who often hikes up around Twin Peaks with her dog Park, says she last saw the coyote in mid-October. "I'm trying not to engage with her these days, and she's keeping her distance now, too."

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ALL 4,000 SOULS DAY: I hope you all had a happy Halloween and enjoyed the annual parade of costumed kids on 24th Street. One Stop Party Shop reports that the number-one dress-up this year was as pirates. Arrrgh!

The next holiday coming up is Armistice Day on Nov. 11, which celebrates the end of WWI. Now it's called Veterans Day, since WWI was not the "War to End All Wars."

Word is out that there will be a display of 4,000 lights at Dolores Park on Nov. 11 during the evening hours of 6 to 9, to honor all our American soldiers who have died in Iraq. (See Short Takes again.) I hope Noe Valley will come out and remember them.

That's 30!