Noe Valley Voice April 2013

And Now For The Rumors Behind The News

Noe Fun, Noe Fooling

By Mazook

 If you cannot answer at least three of the following quiz questions about Greater Noe Valley, then either you just blew into town or you’ve never strayed far from your permeable sidewalk. Those who get all the answers right will receive a virtual blue ribbon. (The answers, all except for the answer to question #10, can be found at the end of this column.) Anyone who knows the answer to question #10 should email me c/o by April 23. You will receive a real blue ribbon. All of you regular Voice readers already know the answer to question #1, since you’ve had a month to figure it out. Good luck.

1. Where in Noe Valley was Fat Ron’s Deli?

2. Who is the president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association?

3. Who was Alvin Edlin and what was the name of his business?

4. What famous Noe Valley cartoonists sold their house back in 1998 and moved to a farm in East Haddam, Connecticut?

5. Name the structure near Noe Valley that is the oldest building in San Francisco. What happened at that site on June 29, 1776?

6. What is the claim to fame of the house at 159 Liberty St.?

7. Where are the Harry Street Steps?

8. Where in downtown Noe Valley is the El Vira Building (also known as Elvira)?

9. Before it was Sterling Bank what was it?

10. The Blue Ribbon Question: For what it’s worth, where exactly in Noe Valley is Worth?


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DO YOU NOE THE WAY: Downtown Noe Valley became a destination for more than 35 members of the Northern California Concierge Association, which is a non-profit professional organization for concierges employed at more than 50 Bay Area hotels. They took a tour of our Main Street in the late afternoon of the vernal equinox (March 20). The tour was arranged by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association as part of its effort to attract more visitors to our urban village.

“According to SF Travel, our partners in commerce and the liaison agency to the Mayor’s Office, tourism generates 6.3 billion dollars in revenue to the city of San Francisco,” says tour organizer Dani Sheehan-Meyer. “We just need a little bit of that to thrive.”

Many in the group came to Noe Valley via a special bus from the downtown Marriott, which landed them at the top of 24th Street at Cliché Noe Gift Store. Others came by way of the J-Church, disembarking at Noe’s Bar. The concierges broke up into smaller groups, and several of our merchants acted as guides in Downtown Noe Valley. The visitors were treated to hors d’oeuvres at a range of eateries, from Noe’s to Contigo, and received gifts from many retailers.

One of the tour guides, Carol Yenne from Small Frys, was delighted with the event and impressed with the turnout.

“This is the first time we have ever done this kind of thing, and I think it will generate more tourists visiting our commercial corridor, especially when they [the concierges] saw how easy it is to get out here by public transit.” Yenne said she was surprised that many in her group “had never been out to our neighborhood, and [they were] very pleased with what they saw.”

The tour ended with a big reception on the Savor restaurant patio, with good eats, a raffle, and prizes. Each concierge got a supply of the 2013 edition of the NVMPA’s Noe Valley Guide, and merchants are now bracing for the onslaught of shoppers.

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If you see this lovely lady on April 7, please wish her a happy birthday. Jeanne Galarza will be 93 and on her way to a celebratory lunch on 24th Street.    Photo by Lorraine Lombardo

A WALK ON THE NOE SIDE: When Jeanne Galarza takes her daily walk in downtown Noe Valley on April 7, it will likely take most of the day to finish. She was born on April 7 back in 1920 in Stockton, California, but has lived here in San Francisco for almost all of her 93 years. Noe Valley has been her residence since 1991.

Her progress won’t be hindered by her gait but by her gaiety. On her walk from her home on Church Street at 22nd—up Church to 24th, then up 24th to Castro, then back down 24th to Church, then home—she talks to scores of people who work at businesses along the route or sit outside at the parklets. It may take several hours to hear everybody’s rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

“I have met people from all over the world on 24th Street,” says Galarza, “and there are so many wonderful people who live in this neighborhood, such a diversity of people—all kinds—and they all are so nice.”

Says the ninety-genarian, “My walk every day makes my day. It makes me feel good! I walk up to Walgreen’s and then on the way back stop at Phoenix Books to check for anything interesting in their free box, and I shop at Whole Foods mostly for their fruit, and sometimes go in and get a pastry at Starbucks, but I like to talk to the people who sit outside at Bernie’s and Martha’s.”

Our 24th Street beat officer, Lorraine Lombardo, says she will be spending at least an hour with Galarza at a birthday lunch on 24th Street. “I asked her if she would like to lunch with me on her birthday, and she said, ‘Well okay, but I have never eaten in a restaurant in Noe Valley.’” Galarza confirms that eating out in a restaurant will be a special treat.


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MY WORD: The WordWeek Book Festival, brought to us by Friends of Noe Valley (with special thanks to Richard May and Peggy Cling), was a huge success. On March 23, St. Philip’s parish hall was packed with people perusing the tables of upwards of 40 local authors. There were successful children’s book authors, such as Brandi Dougherty and Michelle Cannon, and a science fiction writer, Suhail Rafidi, surrounded by a crowd. Olivia Boler and Laura McHale Holland from the Voice were there, as was Patricia Lee Jackson, author of the lesbian parables Takes an Uprising. G.A. Peters gave out turquoise, white, and beige candy with his humorous illustrated book, The Dark Side of Decorating, and Michael Castleman got everyone excited about his new murder mystery,Killer Weed. (You can download the first seven chapters free at History author Bill Yenne also was there with his latest, a paperback western novel called Bladen Cole: Bounty Hunter. 

Elizabeth Street resident John Bird is an editor at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, but he plays an art history professor in his new novel: Chasing My Long Shadows.

Spring certainly appears to be the time for new books. Elizabeth Street resident John Bird, who edited the Noe Valley Ministry newsletter for 10 years, has published a book titled Chasing My Long Shadows: A Tale of Love, Lust, and Taking the Long Way Home.He says it’s about an art history professor facing a midlife crisis who decides to explore some new experiences. (Parental discretion advised.) You can find the book on the “Local Authors” shelf at Phoenix Books, he says. Bird currently works as an editor at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, by the way.

Another local author, Daphne Miller, is seeing her second health-related book released this month. Dr. Miller—she has a family practice on Sanchez Street—pennedFarmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing.

Farmacology will hit the bookshelves April 16, and a gala party to celebrate its release has been scheduled for April 30 at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. Miller, whom most people call “Dr. Daphne,” describes the work as “an adventure by a Harvard-trained family doctor who ends up on [seven] family farms around this country to learn the hidden connections between how we care for our bodies and how we grow our food.”

She also has had good luck with her first book, The Jungle Effect, which is about “the wisdom of bringing traditional diets to our own plates, in the interest of both our general health and our pleasure.”

Dr. Daphne has appeared on TV and radio talk shows like Dr. Oz and Michael Krasny’s Forum, at the Commonwealth Club, and in Vogue magazine.

Expect Farmacology (what a great name) to create a big splash. Miller has already won reviews from Alice Waters, Andrew Weil, Raj Patel, Michael Pollan, and the founder of the Slow Food Movement, Carlo Petrini.


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Fima Gelman’s portrait series of the Mary H. family recently won a gold ribbon from the Professional Photographers of the Greater Bay Area.    Photo by Fima Gelman

ODDS & ENDS & EVENS: Everybody is very happy with Happy Donuts’ new sign. Go take a look.… Kudos to Castro Street photographer Fima Gelman, who won a gold ribbon in the Best Photo Album category from the Professional Photographers of the Greater Bay Area.… The editors have corrected the online version of last month’s Rumors, but for all you print media folks, the Mark Zuckerberg item talking about a house in the 3000 block of 21st Street should have read “the 3600 block of 21st Street.” It also appears that the Facebook folks bought two properties “down the hill,” not just one. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg was spotted buying flowers at the French Tulip. That’s really cool....

Looks like SF City and County is actively moving towards the purchase of what will become the Noe Valley Town Square. City-hired drillers appeared on the property to take soil samples (which is routine whenever the city is buying property), and the square is another step closer to becoming a reality. I think the square should be named the Town Circle....

Good luck to Noe Valley’s world-class chef Chris Cosentino. The Incanto star has being nominated for a James Beard 2013 award. The awards ceremony will happen in New York City on May 6. And congrats to Noe Valley star restaurants Contigo and La Ciccia, for best Spanish and Italian restaurants, respectively, in 7x7 magazine….

It was nice seeing that a two-disk CD, Riverrun, has recently been released. It was recorded live at the Noe Valley Ministry a couple of years ago and features bassist Michael Manring, flutist Larry Kassin, and pianist Tom Darter, who bill themselves as “the world’s most sophisticated jam-band,” and they are. You might want to go see them on April 20 at Studio 55 Marin, 1455 E. Francisco Blvd., in San Rafael.... How about a shout out to The Whole Hog blog (wholehog.wordpress.comfor their wonderful piece, “Noe Stairway Walks,” last month....

And doors are opening and closing quickly these days, with Selecta Auto Body moving to Bernal Heights and Noe Valley Auto Works expanding upstairs on 24th Street. Selecta says it will offer a mobile estimator service for its Noe Valley customers.

Noe Valley Deli surprised many by closing without fanfare last month, after 34 years on 24th Street. Permits have been applied for, for various upgrades to what appears to be an incoming food service there….

Speaking of food, it looks as if the so-called Asia fusion restaurant on the corner of 25th and Church has passed all of its inspections and is ready to go, but when exactly it will open is still unknown.


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THERE WILL COME AN ANSWER: You may now look at the answers to the first nine questions:

1. Where in Noe Valley was Fat Ron’s Deli? 4015 24th St., where Tung Sing is now located. Karim Balat bought Fat Ron’s in 1979 and moved down the street to 4007 24th in 1989, establishing the Noe Valley Deli.

2. Who is the president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association? Robert T. Roddick. Roddick, whom everyone calls “Bob,” runs Noe Valley Law Offices at 1330 Castro St.

3. Who was Alvin Edlin and what was the name of his business? Alvin Edlin is legend in these parts. His nickname in Downtown Noe Valley was “Bud,” and he owned and operated Bud’s Ice Cream on the corner of 24th and Castro from 1952 to 1980. The shop space was ultra small, and Bud made all of his flavors in the creamery in the back of the store. Bud sold to a group of investors in 1980.

4. What famous Noe Valley cartoonists sold their house back in 1998 and moved to a farm in East Haddam, Connecticut? That would be Bill Griffith, famous for Zippy the Pinhead, and his wife, Diane Noomin, creator of the character Didi Glitz and editor of the anthology Twisted Sisters. By the way, my old page-mate at the Voice sends his best regards to everyone. Griffith emailed saying he has a new book coming out later this month called Zippy: The Dingburg Diaries, a collection of his latest Zippy strips. He says he still lives in CT and teaches comics to sophomores in New York City’s School of Visual Arts.

5. Name the structure near Noe Valley that is the oldest building in San Francisco. What happened on June 29, 1776? Yes, the oldest building in our urban mecca is Mission Dolores, located on Dolores near 16th Street. At that site, along the shores of Lake Dolores (La Laguna de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores), an arbor was constructed and a special mass celebrated on June 29, 1776, by Father Francisco Palou. Palou was the chaplain for a small band of Spanish soldiers sent here by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza to establish a military outpost for Spain (the Presidio).

6. What is the claim to fame of the house at 159 Liberty St.? The house at 159 Liberty was built in 1878 and owned for a long time by Judge Daniel J. Murphy. The house, according to the authors of Here Today: San Francisco’s Architectural Heritage, became “a hotbed of the women’s suffrage movement,” as evidenced by an invitation to the house by Murphy “to meet Miss Susan B. Anthony, Rev. Anna Shaw, and others interested in the ‘Woman’s Suffrage’ question, for a social chat.”

7. Where are the Harry Street Steps? The steps are located in Fairmount Heights off the 100 block of Laidley Street. Harry Street has 241 wooden steps that climb through trees and yards from Laidley up to Beacon Street. 

8. Where in downtown Noe Valley is the El Vira Building? It is located at 3993 24th St. at Noe, and it consists of the six residential units above Toast and Starbucks.

9. Before it was Sterling Bank what was it? A coin-operated laundromat called Launderland, which also occupied the space next door (on 24th near Church Street).

10. The Blue Ribbon Question: Where exactly in Noe Valley is Worth? That answer will be revealed in the May issue.

I can hardly wait. 

Have a great April. Ciao4now.