Noe Valley Voice September 2011

Short Takes

(Dis) Order in the Courts

The neighborhood association Friends of Noe Valley will host a music-filled, hip-shakin’ barbeque for neighbors, their children, and their dogs Saturday, Sept. 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Noe Courts at Douglass and 24th streets.

Music in the Park will open with a band playing for kids, but the rest of the music will be by and for the parents. Noe Valley’s Dan Luscher will drum out an uptempo beat for the Indie rock band District 8; and local singer, songwriter, and piano teacher Hilary Craddock joins Sharon Gillenwater and Rich Burns (both formerly of Playdate) to make Trio, a slower-paced folk-based rock band.

There will be more than music in the park, too, says Linda Lockyer, who chairs the group’s events committee. Cherry Hoops has promised to get the audience moving with a hula hoop demonstration, and the Scottish Country Dancers will show off their fancy footwork. There will also be a bouncy castle, and the usual selection of hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie dogs, and drinks sold at nominal prices.

Noe Valley’s own Michael Capozzola will emcee the event. A comedian and cartoonist, Capozzola has hosted shows at the Harvest Festival in the past.

This is the first event put on by the newly invigorated Friends, which held a general membership meeting in July.

“We wanted to kick off our first event with something that was family oriented,” Lockyer says. (“Family” defined in Noe Valley includes dogs, of course.) An estimated 100 people showed up for the last Music in the Park three years ago, and the group is hoping for a good turnout again this year.

You can contact Friends by email:

—Heather World


25 Schools Introduce Themselves

For even the most astute parent, picking a good school in San Francisco can be a daunting task. With this in mind, a group of Noe Valley residents and educators is holding an elementary school fair to help parents learn the ropes.

The Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center will sponsor the free event on Sunday, Sept. 25, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the rec center, located on Day Street between Sanchez and Church streets.

“As far as I know, it’s the first elementary school fair of its kind,” says Kate Haug, a FNVRC co-chair and the fair’s organizer. “The purpose of the fair is to help parents navigate the search for kindergartens.”

Parents and administrators from schools in Noe Valley, Glen Park, Bernal Heights, the Mission, the Castro, and elsewhere in the city will be on hand to answer questions. More than 25 public, private, and parochial schools will participate, including Alvarado, St. Paul’s, and St. Philip’s in Noe Valley; Fairmount and St. John’s in Glen Park; Harvey Milk in the Castro District; and Sunnyside in the Mission District.

In addition, Parents for Public Schools will conduct a workshop from 9 to 10 a.m. on the enrollment process at city schools. A representative will explain the complicated system, which uses a new “choice” method this year.

To entertain the kids, the San Francisco Library’s bookmobile will be parked nearby. Also, children and parents will have an opportunity to register for family accounts with the Recreation and Park Department. (Bring a driver’s license or other California identification.)

Recreation staffers will be available to discuss park programs for tots, teens, and adults. For more information, contact Kate Haug at or

—Corrie M. Anders


Odd Mondays Back in Black

With summer vacation over, Odd Mondays returns to work Labor Day weekend with a panel honoring labor unions. Then later in the month, it will host two evenings with Noe Valley authors: mystery maven Cara Black and journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett.

The panel Sept. 5, “Honoring Labor Unions,” will feature journalist Dick Meister and labor activists Gerry Meister, Ken Tray, and Kathy Lipscomb. They will discuss labor issues in the context of the current trend of anti-union sentiment, says Judith Levy-Sender, who produces Odd Mondays with her husband Ramon Sender.

“There’s a movement in this country that is unsympathetic to labor,” Levy-Sender says. “In that spirit, I wanted to recognize unions on Labor Day.”

On Sept. 19, bestselling author Cara Black will read from the latest book in her popular Paris-based murder mystery series, Murder in the Passy. Black, a Francophile who has written 11 mysteries solved by sleuth Aimée Leduc, will sign copies of her book as well.

The following odd Monday, Oct. 3, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett will read from her book The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, subtitled “the true story of a thief, a detective, and a world of literary obsession.” The book follows the lives of a book thief who managed to enlarge his personal library by stealing a fortune in rare books and the detective who tracked him down. She will also sign copies.

All Odd Mondays events are free and start at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Books, 3957 24th St. The evenings are preceded by a no-host supper at 5:30 p.m. at Haystack Pizza, 3881 24th St.

Very often Noe Valley resident and musician Julie Dillon offers a musical prelude to the program, Levy-Sender says.

“She’s a folksinger with a tremendous flair for singing both socio-political and personal lyrics,” she says.

For information about the series, email

—Heather World


Ruth Asawa Name on High

San Francisco School of the Arts High School celebrates its 30th birthday this year by changing its name to honor acclaimed artist Ruth Asawa, who was instrumental in starting the school, as well as art programs for students around the city.

The new marquee for the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is set to rise Wednesday, Sept. 14. District, political, and art dignitaries such as State Senator Mark Leno and actor Peter Coyote will honor the artist at an 11 a.m. reception hosted by the school, 555 Portola Drive at O’Shaughnessy.

“Our family is so proud to have this wonderful school named after our mother,” says Paul Lanier, Asawa’s son and the parent of two students at the school. “It is her lifelong dream to have children work with, and be taught by, professional artists and to have students pursue their dreams.”

Asawa, who spent her teenage years in a Japanese internment camp, sought to help children develop creative-thinking skills through art and gardening, says her daughter, Aiko Cuneo. “My mother always thought that the arts taught children to learn their fullest capabilities as well as limitations,” says Cuneo.

Asawa, now 85, was already a successful artist when in 1968 she and another Alvarado Elementary School parent created the Alvarado Arts Workshop. The program brought in artists to help students create art from cast-off milk cartons, fabric, and clay. In 1973, she organized the arts festival that has become Young at Art, an annual exhibit of student art at the de Young Museum. The same year, she had her first solo retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the first of many such exhibits in museums around the world. Her delicate wire sculptures hang in a hall at the de Young.

A San Francisco resident for more than 60 years (50 in Noe Valley), Asawa is known for her many public fountains, including the mermaid fountain at Ghirardelli Square.

In 1982, she and husband Albert Lanier set their sights on creating the School of the Arts High School. The public school is the Glee of the city, specializing in creative writing, dance, music, theater, film, and visual arts. Its population of 600 students is selected by audition.

To find out more about the event, call the school at 415-695-5700 or email

—Heather World


Block Party on Ames Street

Scruffy little Ames Street in Baja Noe Valley will meet its makeover at a block party sponsored by the Fair Oaks Community Coalition (FOCC) on Friday, Sept. 9, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Plans for a green renovation of Ames will be unveiled at the festivities, which will feature food carts, live music, an art display, and a raffle with prizes from local restaurants and other businesses. The event will take place in the block of Ames that runs parallel between Dolores and Guerrero and 22nd and 23rd streets.

Considered run-down and underutilized, the alleyway has been targeted by the FOCC, urban designers, and the city for an upgrade that will include water-permeable paving and fresh landscaping.

“We’re honored that our neighborhood’s environmental vision has won support and approval from San Francisco’s Department of Public Works,” says Fair Oaks Street resident Kim Stryker, who contributed to the design.

The San Francisco Parks Trust is also on board, serving as fiscal agent for the project, which is eligible for tax-deductible donations. Photos of Ames and designs for its renovation can be viewed at

The Fair Oaks Community Coalition is a neighborhood association established in 2005 to focus on improving residents’ relationships with local businesses, schools, city agencies, and social service providers.

—Blair Moser


Music for (All) the Ages

Community Music Center is registering students young and old for its fall quarter classes, which range from private lessons on more than 30 instruments to group classes like piano for children and chamber music for adults.

From Sept. 8 to Dec. 9, the nonprofit’s Mission branch at 544 Capp St. will offer 25 group classes for adults, six group classes for young people, and three scholarship programs for middle and high school kids.

Options like “Music for Children” for 4- to 7-year-olds focus on rhythm games, songs, creative movement, and the use of easy-to-play instruments. The fall lineup also includes an introduction to music for babies and toddlers, piano for children ages 61/2 to 8, and chorus for children ages 8 to 12.

Adults can look forward to a jazz improvisation workshop, the Anything Goes Chorus, and an opera and musical scenes workshop.

Most classes are small—up to 10 students—and generally meet once a week. Some classes are free, though most cost about $330 per term. Scholarships and financial aid are available. The organization seeks to make music accessible to all people regardless of financial status.

There is a second location in the Richmond District, but the Capp Street address has been the home of Community Music Center for an incredible 90 years.

To register, visit or call 415-647-6015.

—Heather World