Noe Valley Voice February 2011


All the News to Print That Fits

By Mazook 


SUPER BOWL SUNDAY will be especially super for longtime Noe Valleyan (since 1967) Larry Jacobson. He will be attending Super Bowl XLV (45) in Dallas, Texas, on Feb. 6. There he will be interviewed during the pre-game media frenzy and asked probably hundreds of questions by reporters on ESPN and other networks.

You might have seen him on television already, since he appeared in a commercial that’s been on national air since last October. If you google “Larry Jacobson Super Bowl” you will find about 50 thousand results in less than a second. At the top of the list is a Los Angeles Times article from Jan. 16 by Jerry Crowe, with a great picture of Jacobson sitting in his home on 25th Street.

Most of Jacobson’s neighbors grew to know his celebrity back in August 2010, when “No Parking” signs were posted on his block. The parking spots were occupied by a large film crew, which spent the day producing a TV commercial featuring Jacobson and three people with similar interests from other parts of the country. This week, you will probably see or hear him on local radio, the Internet, and TV sports shows.

Why? Well, Mr. Jacobson, an avid 49ers fan and season-ticket holder “since the Kezar days,” he says, has been to every Super Bowl since Roman numeral one was played in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1967 (Packers vs. Chiefs). He is a member of a very exclusive group which now has only four members: the Never Miss a Super Bowl Club. (The others are Pittsburgh Steelers fan Tom Henschel from Natrona Heights, Pa.; Patriots fan Don Crisman from Kennebunk, Maine; and Robert Cook, of Brown Deer, Wis., a Packers fan.)

Jacobson and his fellow club members appear as part of a huge Visa marketing campaign, “Go Fans,” which centers on the Super Bowl Trip for Life Sweepstakes. The winner gets a trip for two to the Super Bowl for the rest of his or her life.

Now 71, Jacobson is retired, having first been a teacher for the SFUSD at James Lick Middle School from 1965 to 1971, “and then moving downtown to work in the district’s real estate department until 1991, when I moved to the city’s Department of Real Estate.”

Jacobson says a few people have recognized him from the ads “and come up to me and asked me if I have been on TV. The funniest was when a guy came up to me in the last Rose Bowl [by the way, he has attended the last 46 renditions of that New Year’s Day classic] and said he knew me from TV and wanted my autograph and to pose with him for a picture.” He did.

As for his favorite Super Bowl, “it is definitely Super Bowl XXIII, when my wife [Jonell] and I went down to Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida, to watch the 49ers play the Cincinnati Bengals. We won in the last 35 seconds on a 10-yard pass from Joe Montana to Charles Taylor for the winning touchdown.”

As for the worst heartbreak (in 49ers’ history), Jacobson agreed that near the top was the 49ers’ loss to the Detroit Lions in the 1957 western divisional playoff at Kezar Stadium, where after leading 27 to 7 at the half, the ­Lions roared back and won the game 31 to 27.

As for Noe Valley, Mr. Super Bowl says Tuggey’s Hardware is his favorite store on 24th Street, and you can probably see him eating at any one of his favorite restaurants: Firefly, Pasta Pomodoro, or Le Zinc. “Of course,” he says nostalgically, “Noe Valley Pizza was my favorite of all.”

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RUTH’S TABLE: Another longtime Noe Valleyan, world-class sculptor Ruth Asawa, is the subject of a new documentary sponsored by San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. Ruth Asawa: Roots of an Artist had its premiere at the de Young Museum on Friday, Jan. 21. (Asawa’s works have been on display at the de Young since the modernized museum reopened in 2005.)

The film is directed by Bob Toy, with help from one of Asawa’s daughters, Aiko Cuneo.

According to Cuneo, there was a large turnout for the 6 o’clock private showing, but “regrettably, many people had to be turned away” for the free public show, which started at 7:15 p.m.

The documentary describes Asawa’s passion for community art projects and art education in public schools (e.g., Alvarado Arts) and tells the story of “Ruth’s Table”—her kitchen table—and its role in the lives of those now living at Bethany Center Senior Housing on Capp Street, where the table now resides.

As readers might know from the Voice stories about her over the years, Asawa, who is 85, and her husband, architect Al Lanier (who died in 2008), moved to Noe Valley in 1960.

Her kitchen table became a meeting place for friends, poets, and artists, where they shared food and art and brainstormed about the many community projects they would later ­accomplish for our neighborhood and city. Her mantra is “learn something, master it, pass it on.” Recently, to honor Asawa, the school district renamed the high school on Portola ­Drive the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.

Cuneo says her mother previewed the documentary in a private screening at her home with family. “She liked it, and was unable to criticize any part of it [which for Mom] is quite rare,” says Cuneo, who sends greetings to all from Ruth. “She is doing fine—physically frail but mentally just great.”

Mark your calendars: the de Young has scheduled another screening free to the public on March 11 at 6:30 p.m., and again at 7:30 p.m., in the museum’s theater, which FYI holds only 250 people. Cuneo is also hoping that arrangements can be made to do a screening at the Sally Brunn Noe Valley Library. You can see the 38-minute film’s trailer on YouTube. The preview will probably get you motivated to be among the first 250 in line.

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BOOKLETS AND PARKLETS: Speaking of our library on Jersey Street, attendance is way up, and one of the best-attended activities is “Toddler Tales,” which happens Tuesday mornings at 10: 15 and 11 a.m.

“We are drawing somewhere around 70 parents and children for the first program and around 40 at 11 a.m.,” says children’s librarian Jean Sweeney.

Sweeney says other activities at the branch are booming, too: kids events are filled, the computer stations are all occupied (WiFi access), and lots of people are borrowing books and DVDs. The reason: they’re free!

Also popular these days in Downtown Noe Valley are our two new parklets—one in front of Martha’s Coffee, and the other at Just for Fun on 24th Street.

“Everyone seems to be really enjoying the parklet in front of our store,” says Just for Funner David Eiland. “They [those who sit at the little red tables] all have been very respectful of others, have cleaned their tables, and taken their trash away.”

He says the weather was really challenging during the “24 HoliDAYS” events in December, but “the live entertainment got a great response.” The merchants association hopes to book some of the entertainers for its next “Summer Solstice,” he says, which was a very successful event last year and a real “sellibration” for the stores. “We’ve learned a lot—the hula act was a hit, as were the musical groups, who we will invite again.”

Evidently, the only complaint re the parklets was about people smoking in or near them. District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener reports that his office did hear some complaints, specifically about the lack of “no smoking” signs at the miniparks. Martha Monroy says she has posted a sign (a very artsy one, in fact) on one of the planters in the parklet in front of her store.

Supervisor Wiener’s chief of staff, Gillian Gillett, says the official “No Smoking” signs will be installed by the Department of Public Works this month.                   = = =

THE HOT SPOT in Noe Valley during the 31 HoliDAYS of December was a table at the venerable Lovejoy’s Tea House on the corner of Church and Clipper. When the Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation (NVBI) went to book a table for six for the annual NVBI tea and crumpets two weeks before Christmas, NVBI Bureau Chief Joey Noe was informed by Lovejoy’s co-owner Gillian Briley that the reservation book was full till the 24th. “Sorry,” she said, showing Joey the book and the crowd outside, clamoring to get in.

When special agent Noe asked the group where they were from, they replied: two were from Noe Valley, one was from Santa Barbara, another from Benecia, the fifth was visiting from Long Beach, and their mother traveled here from Carroll County, Ga. Said Joyce Dalton, the lady from Carroll, “One of the conditions of my coming out here to see my children was that we all have tea at Lovejoy’s.”

“We can only seat 48 at a time,” co-owner Muna Nash chimed in. “We are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and have three seatings per day, seven days a week, and during the month of December, we have been fully booked.”

Nash noted that “there were a lot of families visiting our Noe Valley [patrons], so we did very well with just our local support, although we also had reservations call in from all over the Bay Area.”

Dalton, by the way, said she was going to order her favorite, the “Queen’s Tea,” which consists of two sandwiches cut into fours, coleslaw, spring greens, a scone, preserves and double Devon cream, a crumpet with lemon curd, a petit four, fresh fruit, and a shortbread tea biscuit.

Agent Noe now reports that after a small show of force he was able to make a reservation for six at 2 p.m. on Dec. 18É2011.

Noe further reports that two special agents had to wait in line about 40 minutes at 3 a.m. on New Year’s morning at our 24-hour Happy Donuts on Church Street. At the counter they were told the glazed donuts were sold out but that freshly made donuts would be available at 4:30 a.m. The agents settled right then and there for four cinnamon twists and four apple fritters.

Not coincidentally, 14 days later, foodie Antonia Richmond, writing in the online zine, gave Happy Donuts her highest rating for glazed donuts in San Francisco. The Happy delicacy is “big and puffy with a crackly glaze,” she wrote. “Sweetness level: Pretty darn sweet, but not achingly so. Melt-in-mouth factor: Excellent. It’s light, airy, and super fresh.”

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DRYWALL TO THE PEOPLE, RIGHT ON: The demonstrations, picketing, and leafleting on 24th Street in front of Circle Bank last month caused quite a ruckus for bank depositors and a bit of a surprise to bank manager Carlos Rivera and assistant manager Erick Tenorio.

The reason the picketers, who were from San Rafael-based Carpenters Local 35 Union, came to Noe Valley is unclear, but the union is having a dispute with a drywall contractor who is a subcontractor for the general contractor who is building a new branch for Circle Bank in Corte Madera. Got that?

According to Tenorio, the picketers were peaceful and “have a right to free speech.” He expressed regret that the bank got caught in the middle of the union’s dispute.

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STORED-UP NEWS: Looks like Lola Herrera, who created a “pop-up” women’s boutique that temporarily took over the closed Apple Blossom on Castro near 24th for Christmas, will be staying on. “When my friend Jin [Kwon] told me that she was going to have her baby soon and was closing Apple Blossom and had sold out almost all of her inventory by mid-November, she suggested that I might put some of my designs from my studio in the Mission into her space for the holiday season for the last month of her lease. I didÉand wow,” says Lola. “I am just thrilled by the neighborhood’s response to my designs and have decided to stay and signed a new lease with the landlord.”

Lola says she has been designing and making clothes for the past 10 years and just moved from her studio of nine years, at Hampshire and Mariposa. “I started acquiring a lot of different machines that do different things with different fabrics, and working with a lot of different bodies that come in all sizes from petite to, shall we say, voluptuous. I have developed a strong local following, and somehow found a lot of clients from Sebastopol.”

“It has been just awesome: people have seen my patterns in the window and come in to say hello, and watch me sew, and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard men walking by and singing one of the several ‘Lola’ songs,” she smiles. “One thing I have noticed is that many of the people who have come in these past two months are transplanted from places in Europe.”

Lola says she is delighted there will be another women’s boutique soon opening up the street. That would be Two Birds, which rented the space long ago vacated by Cooks Boulevard. The windows have been covered with Voguesque women’s fashion pictures and predictions of a mid-February opening. There has not been any activity in the store yet, and the NVBI has been unable to reach either Bird. On a Google search, the NVBI turned up two women’s boutiques in England and neither had plans to move to Noe Valley.

Updating the updates in a geographically related parking item: The folks at DPW surprised a lot of people in mid-December when they implemented SFMTA’s revamping of the parking on the east side of Castro at 24th Street. The change from parallel to diagonal parking (except the parking space closest to the Muni stop) netted a parking gain of three, count ’em, three spaces.

This exceeded the initial DPW estimates that only two new spaces would be created by the change, which was reported here last fall (Rumors, October 2010). Delighted at the move are the Noe Valley Association and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, which spent much of last year trying to coax the change through the city bureaucracy—thanks, Bevan!

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BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE: In the Noe Valley Department of Real Estate, there are tales circulating about two homes: the Dream House and the Fire House.

The Noe Valley Dream House, located at 815 Alvarado, was so named for being the grand prize of the raffle at Yerba Buena Center’s popular art auction in the spring of 2010. In 2009, prior to becoming the prize, it had been listed for sale for $2,965,000.

The winner didn’t take the 3,800-square-foot Dream but took the $1.5 million cash prize instead. The property was then offered for sale at the “reduced” price of $2.6 million. It very recently got another “drastic price cut” and can be yours now for a slightly more affordable $2.33 million. For all of you in the market for a house, that translates to a $465,000 down payment and a 30-year fixed mortgage at an annual APR of 4.625 percent, which means you’d make a monthly payment of $9,563 plus pay annual property taxes of over $23,000.

And then there is the Fire House at 3816 22nd Street, built in 1909. It is a residence now, but was Chemical Engine House 44 until 1959, when it was closed and sold at public auction for $7,500 to well-known artists Mark Adams (tapestries) and Beth Van Hoesen (prints). It was their home and studio for the next nearly 50 years. After Adams died in January of 2006, Van Hoesen sold the former firehouse.

The new owners extensively renovated the four floors (with elevator) and offered the 6,140-square-foot residence for sale for a cool $6.38 million in May of ’08. According to broker Joe Marko, there were offers made, but none acceptable to his client.

A year or so later, the price went down to $5.18 million. Now (actually two months ago), the price has fallen by more than two million dollars to a fire sale price of $4.25 million (with a $550,000 down payment and a monthly mortgage payment of about $25,000). According to Marko, there are no offers pending.

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THAT’S THIRTY, folks. Have a good Groundhog Day and see you at the start of spring and before the Ides of March.