Noe Valley Voice May 2004

Short Takes

By Laura McHale Holland

Nothin' but the Truth

For those who favor fact over fiction, the San Francisco Independent Film Festival is presenting DocFest May 13 through 16. It is four days of nonfiction film and video screenings at two venues: the Roxie Cinema, 3125 16th Street, and the Women's Building, 3543 18th Street.

Festival highlights include Slasher, directed by John Landis, of Animal House and Blues Brothers fame. Slasher is Landis' first documentary and provides a look at the underbelly of a car salesman's world. Another potential hit is Up for Grabs, directed by Mike Wranovic. It follows the saga of Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi, who both claimed to have caught Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball in 2001. Other intriguing titles include Louisa Achille's The Naked Feminist, Gregg Brown and Jason Holzman's Words, and Goro Toshima's A Hard Straight. For a complete rundown on the films with their screening times and venues, surf to

Tickets are $9 for evening screenings and $7 for shows that start before 5 p.m. For tickets and further information, call 820-3907.

Taking Note of Beauty

Have you noticed some enticing new landscaping, a stunning mural, or a revamped playground recently? Perhaps those who created the transformation deserve a pat on the back. San Francisco Beautiful, a 57-year-old nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing the livability of our fair city, is seeking nominations for its 2004 Beautification Awards.

Projects must be in San Francisco and visually and/or physically accessible to the general public. This year's emphasis is on high-quality historic preservation projects, as well as projects with sustainable design components. Eight to 10 awards will be given to individuals, businesses, organizations, and agencies.

For a nomination form, call 421-2608 or visit Nominations are due by June 4.

A Landmark for Women

The San Francisco Women's Building, our monument to women's equality at 3543 18th Street, will commemorate its 25th anniversary this year with several special events in May.

Coming up on two weekends, May 7­9 and May 14­16, will be the premiere of the play She Rises Like a Building to the Sky. Written by Mercilee Jenkins and directed by Amy Kilgard, the theater work is based on the oral histories of the Women's Building founders.

The May 14 show will be a benefit reception and performance, beginning at 6 p.m. in Room 587 of San Francisco State University's Humanities building, at 19th and Holloway avenues. (All performances will be in the auditorium, Room 133, of the same building.) Showtimes will be 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets for the benefit are $25. All other tickets are $10 general admission, and $5 for students.

On May 16, there will be an admission-free Community Street Fair to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Women's Building's "MaestraPeace" outdoor mural. From noon to 5 p.m., the building and its environs--18th Street between Valencia and Guerrero streets--will be filled with music, dance, food, arts and crafts booths, and community tables.

"Anyone who hasn't been to the Women's Building should come by and see it. It's really beautiful inside and out. And it's an amazing accomplishment," says Jenkins. "There were many projects like this in the '70s, like the Women's Building in Los Angeles, but they're gone."

For information about events later in the year, including a dyke march, a poetry slam, and a gala 25th anniversary concert, visit

Movie Night in the Park

Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal will be in Mission Dolores Park on May 15--on celluloid, that is. Like an old-fashioned drive-in movie minus the car, the event is an outdoor screening of the 1972 comedy What's Up Doc?

"We're interested in bringing films to neighborhoods, and in the absence of a theater, this is one way to do it," says Alfonso Felder of the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, which is co-sponsoring the event with the grassroots organization Save the New Mission. "We actually did a film screening in Washington Square Park last year, and it attracted about 1,000 people. It demonstrates the value of film and its ability to bring communities together."

Previews, including a showcase of trailers from movies by San Francisco-based filmmakers, will begin at 8 p.m., in the part of the park that is closest to 19th and Dolores streets. The main event will screen at about 8:30 p.m. A $5 donation is requested, but not required.

Felder says popcorn and refreshments will be on sale. Bring a blanket and other creature comforts, he says, but avoid lugging chairs that will obstruct other people's views. Need more info? Call 465-FILM (465-3456).

Spring into Feldenkrais

Mayor Gavin Newsom has proclaimed May to be Feldenkrais Method Awareness Month in San Francisco. If you're saying, "Felden what?" you might want to drop by an all-day Feldenkrais demonstration on Saturday, May 8, at Synergy School on Valencia Street.

The event, called "Spring into Motion," will give attendees a chance to hear lectures and take free classes in the Feldenkrais method of body movement. (For example, you can see how Feldenkrais might be applied to dances such as ballet or tango.) Participants also can sign up for individual hands-on sessions offered at low cost by Feldenkrais practitioners, including several from Noe Valley and Glen Park.

"Spring into Motion" is being sponsored by Feldenkrais practitioners in locations throughout California to honor the centennial of founder Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli scientist and athlete who lived from 1904 to 1984. Moshe Feldenkrais held that one could retrain the body to move in ways less likely to aggravate pain symptoms.

"It is a chance for people to learn about the relationship between moving and thinking, sensing, and feeling," says Cliff Smyth, a 30th Street resident and Feldenkrais practitioner. "The great thing about Feldenkrais is that it can be for everybody. If you have pain, you'll benefit. But you can also be an athlete, a performer, or somebody who uses the computer, and you can start where you are and improve."

The Feldenkrais showcase takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Synergy School, 1387 Valencia Street at 25th Street. For information, e-mail Sonja Riket at or call 661-1852. Go to for news about other centennial events.

You're Halfway to the Stairs

Back in 1979, Adah Bakalinsky joined a program called City Guides, the brainchild of the San Francisco Public Library. For the past 26 years, the group has taken people on free walking tours as part of its mission to perpetuate San Francisco's rich history. Bakalinsky was so fascinated by the many stairways in the city that she wrote a book called Stairway Walks in San Francisco. Now in its fifth edition, her book is celebrating 20 years in print.

To commemorate this milestone, City Guides is offering six simultaneous guided walks, featuring six different stairways, on Saturday, May 22. Three of the stairway walks are close to Noe Valley: Bernal Heights East, Eureka Valley, and Fairmount Heights. The other walks are Russian Hill South, Golden Gate Heights, and Forest Hills.

"Each of the neighborhoods has something special about it," says Bakalinsky. "Bernal Heights is a forest of stairways, and it also has a lot of community gardens. Eureka Valley has a pedestrian overpass that goes all the way across Market Street from Elizabeth Street. It also has open space and a community garden where over 30 species of birds have been sighted. Fairmount Heights was platted in the 1860s. It's an old area with one of the most interesting streets in the city, Laidley Street near the Harry Street stairway. It's a delight for the eyes to see what's been done to the small cottages there," she adds.

All walks are free. They begin at 1 p.m. and last for two hours. The Eureka Valley tour meets at the northwest corner of Elizabeth and Douglass; the Fairmount walk at 5290 Diamond Heights Blvd. (shopping center) and Gold Mine Drive; and the Bernal Heights trek at the intersection of 600 Peralta and 1000 Esmeralda.

To find out about all the walks, call City Guides at 557-4266 or go to Bakalinsky says be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Fair Oaks Folks' Flea Market

It'll be garage-sale heaven on Saturday, May 8, as the residents of Fair Oaks Street fill their sidewalks from 21st to 26th Street with an array of castoffs and curios. This marks the 29th year that Fair Oaks neighbors have come together for their annual street fair and flea market.

"It's your average garage sale times 1,000," says Michael Plaut, one of the fair's organizers, who has lived on the street for five years. "We'll have everything from clothing, household goods, and homemade foods, all the way up to really fine antiques and other furniture. Last year, my neighbor sold an electric scooter. My big goal is to sell more things than I buy," Plaut adds with a laugh.

A big goal for the event is to raise money for Jamestown Community Center. Each seller will donate a minimum of $10; some may donate all of their proceeds. Jamestown offers after-school and summer programs for youths attending nearby schools.

If the weather is foul instead of fair, the rain date is May 15. Plaut is the point man if you need more information: 713-9380.

A Gold Mine for the Arts

A new performing arts series will debut this month, at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in Diamond Heights.

The nine-performance series, Performance Showcase 2004, will run May 7 through 22 and feature contemporary artists in four genres: poetry and spoken word; opera and musical theater; jazz and new music; and dance.

Nicknamed PS2004, the series will involve nearly two dozen performers and groups. Among the big draws are monologists Charlie Varon and Ron Jones (May 8), Bryan Baker of the San Francisco Choral Society (May 9), jazz musician Terry Disley and the Del Sol String Quartet (May 13), and choreographers Sara Shelton-Mann and Stephen Pelton (May 21). Producing the shows will be Doug Baird and Darlene Frank.

Opening night on Friday, May 7, will offer attendees a special preview of all three weekends in the series, followed by a champagne reception with the performers and other special guests.

All performances will take place in a newly remodeled space at St. Aidan's Church, 101 Gold Mine Drive at Diamond Heights Boulevard.

Tickets are $18 in advance and $22 at the door. For advance tickets, call 584-3526. A complete schedule is online at

Behold the Library of the Future

It's not too late to put in your two cents when it comes to renovating the historic Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library. The next community meeting will be held at the library, 451 Jersey Street at Castro Street, on Wednesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

After working with input from meeting participants, architects Alice Carey & Company will present revised plans to the San Francisco Library Commission on May 20. Pending final approval of the plans, the library is scheduled to close for renovation at the end of this year.

In 2000, city voters approved a $106 million bond measure to renovate library branches in need of seismic repair; $4.2 million of that was set aside for our local branch. The lion's share of the money will go for disabled access and earthquake retrofitting. The plans also call for preserving the beauty of our Carnegie-era library (which was designated an architecturally significant building by the City Landmarks Board) while creating a more functional interior that allows for new technology and equipment.

For more information, call the San Francisco Public Library at 557-4354.


Last month's Short Take about the Noe Valley Senior Center at 1021 Sanchez Street gave the impression that membership in the group was open to people of all ages. That is not the case. Only people who are 60 and older can become members of the center and receive such benefits as free haircuts and hot lunches for a $1.50 donation. However, younger people who are occasionally invited as guests of members are welcomed, and they may purchase lunch for $3.75.