Noe Valley Voice July-August 2010

Short Takes

Town Hall on Town Square

Come discuss the possibility of converting the 24th Street parking lot between Sanchez and Vicksburg to a public town square at a July 15 meeting hosted by the Friends of Noe Valley.

Todd David and Chris Keene from the new "Friends of Noe Valley Town Square" will explain the ownership status as well as the potential sale of the parking lot, according to David of FNV.

Meredith Thomas, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council, will moderate a question-and-answer period to follow the presentation.

The lot is partially owned by the Noe Valley Ministry, which is raising money to undergo a substantial remodel of its 19th-century home at Sanchez and 23rd streets.

Keene, David, and others have met with Supervisor Bevan Dufty as well as Recreation and Park Department staff to determine whether the city can buy the 10,000-square-foot lot using funding set aside for open space acquisition.

Conversion costs and upkeep could be covered by private funds raised by Friends of Noe Valley Town Square, thereby freeing the city from ongoing costs, says Keene. Such neighborhood investment would make the plan more palatable to the Board of Supervisors, which must vote to approve the acquisition, Keene says.

The town square would be a gathering spot that would serve as a home for the Noe Valley Farmers' Market and other community activities and events.

Exactly what the square might look like will be the topic of discussion among meeting participants when they break into small discussion groups after the Q&A. They then will reconvene as a whole to share their ideas.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the St. Philip's Church community room, accessed down steps on Diamond Street between 24th and Elizabeth streets. To find out more, contact Todd David at

--Heather World

Approaching Geezerdom

After a winning run at the Marsh Theater in the Mission District, Noe Valley resident and veteran entertainer Geoff Hoyle will bring his new solo show, Geezer, to his own back yard this month.

For one night only, on July 31, Hoyle will present the tragicomedy as part of the Saturday Noe Valley Music Series at the Noe Valley Ministry.

Through a series of vignettes, Hoyle, 64, portrays a man (remarkably like himself) who is starting to obsess about getting old, or even worse, death. His witty observations roam from complaints about aches and pains, to nursing home encounters, to fantasies of living in a 60s-style commune for the elderly.

Hoyle, a Sanchez Street resident since 1988, says the "trigger" for the show was an operation for varicose veins he underwent not long ago. "Just seeing my body get older made me confront my mortality and [ask] what am I going to do about it," he says.

He began toying with a couple of options for his tombstone: "C'est la vie" or "Refrigerate after opening."

While Geezer may be an apt title for his current play, Hoyle hasn't lost the youthful zest that made his style of "physical comedy" famous. His stellar career has included shows on Broadway (he was the original Zazu in The Lion King), major roles at the Berkeley Rep and in other regional theaters, a part in the movie Popeye, and a string of solo performances. He's also performed mime--he studied in Paris under Marcel Marceau's teacher, Étienne Decroux--and clowned around as Mr. Sniff in the Pickle Family Circus.

In May, both Hoyle and his son, writer-actor Dan Hoyle, played at the Marsh simultaneously. (Dan Hoyle is still reprising his one-man show, The Real Americans, July 8 through Sept. 25, at the Valencia Street venue.)

Geezer gets under way at 8:15 p.m. at the Ministry, located at 1021 Sanchez Street. Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 at the door. Advance tickets can be picked up at Phoenix Books & Records, 3957 24th Street; 821-3477. You can also go to

--Corrie M. Anders

New Diary of a Lost Girl

The Diary of a Lost Girl, a 1905 novel about a teenage prostitute in Germany, was one of that country's bestselling books. Then, the controversial book all but disappeared during the Nazi era, and has been out of print in the United States for more than 100 years.

Now it's back in the public eye, thanks to longtime Noe Valley resident and silent film historian Thomas Gladysz. Gladysz has written an introduction, edited the story, and published a reprint of author Margarete Böhme's infamous work.

Gladysz will sign copies of the book on Saturday, July 17, at the Castro Theatre, following a 6:30 p.m. screening of the 1929 film of the same name, during the 15th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Gladysz is the founder of the Louise Brooks Society, an online archive and international fan club devoted to the silent film actress. While doing research on Brooks (who stars in Diary of a Lost Girl), he became fascinated with Böhme's story, about a young woman who is seduced by her father's assistant and cast out of her home after she has his baby.

"I found a copy of the book, and I discovered it had a truly fascinating history. The book was published as the genuine diary of a teenage girl, but it was actually a fake. It sold 1.2 million copies, inspired two silent films, and there was a play based on the book that was banned in some cities," says Gladysz, a resident of Church Street.

The film festival runs July 15 to 18 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street. Opening night will feature director John Ford's silent masterpiece The Iron Horse, at 7 p.m. Festival entries also include the Italian movie Rotaie at 6 p.m. on July 16 and The Flying Ace, with an all-African-American cast, an anomaly in the silent era. It will show at 2 p.m. July 17.

Accompanying the films will be pianists Stephen Horne and Donald Sosin, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Sweden's Matti Bye Ensemble, and popular Wurlitzer organist Dennis James. In addition, the Alloy Orchestra will perform an original composition for Fritz Lang's Metropolis, showing Friday, July 16, at 8:15 p.m.

Tickets for The Diary of a Lost Girl are $17. Prices for other shows range from $14 to $20; the opening night film and gala is $30. For more information, visit or call 777-4908.

--Corrie M. Anders

The Color of Water

Author/photographer Robert Dawson
Noe Valley resident Robert Dawson, who has spent three decades photographing water issues around the world, will have a major exhibition this month at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library.

"Empire of Thirst: Robert Dawson's Photographs of Water in the West" opened June 26 and runs through Aug. 1. Dawson also will give a lecture of the same title on Tuesday, July 13, at the library, 100 Larkin Street.

The retrospective includes 40 prints of images that Dawson photographed over three decades as he explored America's often tumultuous relationship with water. Many of the photos focus on water wars and conservation drives in California. The exhibition includes both black-and-white and color photographs.

"The show is 30 years of my photographs looking at water as a crucial part of living in the American West. It's one of the most essential parts of life itself...and almost anything you touch in the West deals with water: political issues, environmental issues, economic issues, and agricultural issues," he says.

The 59-year-old Dawson, who has lived on Noe Street since 1996, teaches photography at Stanford and San Jose State universities. He has authored or co-authored seven books of photography, and his prints have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Museum of American Art (Smithsonian Institution), and the Library of Congress, among many other museums and locations around the world.

The survey is Dawson's first solo show at the San Francisco Library. A pre-lecture reception starts at 5:30 p.m. in the library's Latino/Hispanic meeting room, and the lecture begins an hour later in the Koret Auditorium. For more information and a preview of photos, visit or

--Corrie M. Anders

How to Hunt for Preschools

Back in 2008, author Jenifer Wana and her husband began looking for a preschool for their son Josh, and discovered the search was more confusing and stressful than they ever could have imagined. "Not only were we ignorant about the various educational philosophies, but we didn't know what selection criteria to consider or what to look for during the school tours." Wana was also surprised she couldn't find a book to help with the process. "I decided to assemble all the information that parents needed into a one-stop resource."

The result is her book How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Getting Into, and Preparing for Nursery School. Sourcebooks is publishing it Aug. 1, just in time for parents--or parents-to-be--who will need preschools next year.

Wana thinks Noe Valley parents will be able to take advantage of her legwork. "Applying to preschools in San Francisco can be a very daunting task. Admissions procedures and deadlines are different for every school. Some, for instance, allow you to apply the day your baby is born, while others don't even allow you to tour until the year prior to your child being old enough to enroll. Some use waiting lists, while others use a college-type of admissions process."

The 18th Street resident is a director of brand marketing for Pottery Barn. She also teaches classes on choosing preschools, at Recess Urban Recreation in Potrero Hill. Her next class there will be on Aug. 17 at 7:30. Additionally, she'll be signing the book at Cover to Cover Booksellers, 1307 Castro Street near 24th Street, on Friday, Aug. 13, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

By the way, Wana's son eventually attended the preschool at Children's Day School (CDS), which runs through the eighth grade. Josh, however, will start kindergarten this August at Miraloma, a public elementary school. Daughter Ruby will be attending preschool in the fall of 2011, "hopefully at CDS, but sibling preference doesn't apply once a student leaves the school, so nothing is guaranteed," says Wana.

--Olivia Boler

Gangsters and Mothers

During the Prohibition Era, racketeer Louis "Lepke" Buchalter was the man to see if you wanted a few kneecaps broken. Brainy Meyer Lansky was the go-to guy if you needed to hire an assassin. Over in wide-open Las Vegas, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel lived up to his psychopathic nickname.

Lepke, Lansky, and Bugsy were Jewish mobsters who both terrified and captured the imagination of the American public during the 1920s and 1930s. These and other gangsters will garner special attention this month during the 30th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, playing at the Jewish Community Center and the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, and at theaters in three other Bay Area cities.

The festival runs July 24 through Aug. 9, and will include 41 features and 16 shorter films. Topping the program is the film retrospective (and panel discussion) "Tough Guys: Images of Jewish Gangsters in Film," which will feature screenings of Bugsy, starring Warren Beatty; Lepke, starring Tony Curtis; and King of the Roaring 20s, about notorious gambling boss Arnold Rothstein, who fixed the 1919 World Series.

"Gangster films are exciting and entertaining, and some of the greatest films ever made have been in this genre," says the festival's guest curator, Nancy Fishman.

A Holocaust survival drama, Saviors in the Night, opens the festival on Saturday, July 24. Directed by Ludi Boeken and based on a memoir by Marga Spiegel, the film tells the true story of German farmers who risked their lives to shelter a Jewish family from the Nazis.

Music is the theme on closing night at the Castro Theatre, when the klezmer/fusion group the Klezmatics fills the stage both in live performance and in a film directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou.

Among noteworthy short films is Perfect Mother, a documentary by 30-year-old Glen Park resident Theo Rigby, who combined home movies on Super 8 and 16mm film to examine the lost relationship between his mother and grandmother. The film will air at 2:15 p.m. July 26 at the Castro, and on different nights at other venues.

For ticket and schedule information, contact the box office at 866-558-2453 or 415-256-8499, or visit the festival online at

--Corrie M. Anders