Noe Valley Voice November 2006

Short Takes

Happy 160th Birthday, Noe Valley

Ring in the neighborhood's 160th year with the Friends of Noe Valley's annual November celebration of Noe Valley History Month. According to Friends President Richard May, this year's theme is "Happy Birthday, Noe Valley!" and a fittingly festive event has been scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the St. Philip's Church Parish Hall.

The Noe Valley Bakery is donating a birthday cake for the occasion, and the Friends will serve snacks and party punch from local restaurants. Wine and water will be available for a suggested donation. Local author and historian Bill Yenne will be on hand to autograph his recent books, including one on Noe Valley. Paul Kantus, a Noe Valley archivist, will present samples from his collection of neighborhood historical photos. Longtime neighborhood residents Claire Pilcher and Eleanore Gerhardt will discuss the modern history of Noe Valley, which takes its name from José de Jésus Noe, who was granted land covering about half of present-day San Francisco in 1846.

May suggests that some party-goers may want to buy a "birthday present" for Noe Valley by making a contribution to a neighborhood need. Representatives from several organizations, including the 30th Street Senior Center, Friends of Noe Courts Park, the Library Campaign, and the Noe Valley Ministry, will be on hand to take donations or sign up volunteers. The Friends of Noe Valley will sell T-shirts as a fundraiser.

The St. Philip's Church Parish Hall is located on Diamond Street between 24th Street and Elizabeth. Parking is available in the church lot on 24th Street between Castro and Diamond streets. The parking entrance that is accessible to wheelchairs is on Elizabeth Street between Castro and Diamond streets. For information, e-mail May at

Wearable and Givable Art

Local jewelry maker Gretchen Schields, who's also co-creator of the PBS animated series Sagwa: The Chinese Siamese Cat, will be among more than 150 artists in this year's Celebration of Craftswomen Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 2-3.

"I'll have a couple of different kinds of jewelry there," says Schields, including necklaces made from Japanese and Chinese textiles, and "fabulous multiple strands of different-colored pearls that are very elaborate, very dramatic signature pieces."

The event, which is dubbed the largest holiday fine crafts retail fair in the city, will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all four days, at the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Center at Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the programs of the San Francisco Women's Building on 18th Street.

For more information about the fair, visit To learn more about Schields' artwork, visit

Musical Musée Benefits St. Luke's Kids

This year, the annual Musée de Noel fundraiser for St. Luke's Hospital benefits some of the emergency room's youngest patients. The luncheon and fashion show, scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 15, includes a silent auction and vendor sales. The festivities begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Palace Hotel at 2 New Montgomery Street at Market Street in downtown San Francisco. Medical director of St. Luke's Emergency Department and Noe Valley resident Marc Snyder and his band, Dr. Jazz, will provide live music.

With funds raised from the event, the St. Luke's Hospital Auxiliary is planning a new pediatric treatment room that will include an exam table in the form of a friendly animal, a cartoon-character phone, and storybook character curtains to camouflage medical equipment.

For Musée tickets and information, contact St. Luke's Hospital Volunteer Services at 641-6490.

Binder Wraps Up the Election

David Binder, a political and public opinion analyst with more than 20 years of experience, will present a recap of the Nov. 7 California and national elections at the next meeting of the Noe Valley Democratic Club. The election analysis will begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, near 23rd Street. The program is free and open to the public.

Binder has appeared as a public opinion and political analyst for the CBS Evening News, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and California This Week. He has served as a political analyst for San Francisco's KPIX-TV and is a frequent commentator on San Francisco's ABC, NBC, and Fox television stations.

To find out more about the Democratic Club, call 641-5838.

Take a Shot Against Flu

Flu season has already started, so if you've been lucky enough to avoid it thus far, now is a good time to get a flu shot. The United Way of the Bay Area is co-sponsoring flu shot clinics in and around San Francisco, many at local drugstores.

Although there is no flu vaccine event scheduled in Noe Valley during November, two nearby events are accessible to Noe Valley residents. One flu vaccine clinic will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 9 a.m. until noon at the Walgreen Drug Store in the Diamond Heights Shopping Center.

If the Castro is easier to get to, try visiting the Walgreen's at 498 Castro Street at 18th Street for a flu shot clinic on Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. The shot costs $25 and is available to all ages. For more information about flu shot locations, times, and fees, call the United Way Helplink at 211 in San Francisco or 800-273-6222 in other Bay Area counties.

Advocate for Abused Kids

The San Francisco chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is in need of volunteers throughout the city to help abused or neglected children navigate through the foster care system. A CASA volunteer usually takes responsibility for one child and mentors him or her through the courts, visiting the child weekly, exploring his or her options, and writing recommendations for judges. The mentoring program takes 8 to 16 hours per month, and a background check and an 18-month commitment are required. For more information, call Kelley Mullin at 399-6132 or visit

Ruth Asawa Retrospective at the de Young

The first major retrospective of innovative sculptor Ruth Asawa's work begins Saturday, Nov. 18, and continues through Sunday, Jan. 28, at San Francisco's de Young Museum. The exhibition, titled Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air, showcases Asawa's work from her student drawings and paintings through 52 sculptures and 44 works on paper. Fifty-minute docent tours of the Asawa exhibit take place daily at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for the duration of the exhibit.

Asawa, a longtime Noe Valley resident, is well known for her gifts to the neighborhood, particularly the Alvarado Arts Workshop at Alvarado School, which she co-founded with art historian Sally Woodbridge in the late 1960s.

Fans of Asawa's work can learn more about her at a two-hour lecture by Daniell Cornell, curator of American Art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The lecture is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the museum's Koret Auditorium. Admission is $3 for members and $4 for non-members in addition to general admission to the museum. No reservations are needed.

The de Young is located on Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park. For more information about the lecture or docent tours, call Holly Turney at 750-3638. To learn more about the de Young, visit or call 863-3330.

Strangers Author a Familiar Face

Mystery writer Mark Coggins is looking forward to his book-signing at the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25. "They've always been very supportive of me and my books," he says. Besides, he used to live just a few blocks from the store.

Coggins' new novel, Candy from Strangers, has recently been published by Bleak House Books, and the signing on the 25th is one of a string of similar book events this fall. The novel's plot centers on the mysterious disappearance of a young art student who solicits money from admirers via the Internet. Private eye August Riordan, also the star sleuth in Coggins' first mystery novel, The Immortal Game, investigates.

Coggins, who lived on Valley Street for several years before leaving the neighborhood in 2002, says Candy from Strangers includes several Noe Valley-inspired scenes. "I think my old friends and neighbors...will get a kick out of seeing the people and places from Noe Valley portrayed in a novel," he notes. Part of Coggins' heart is still in Noe Valley, and so is his mail: he keeps a box at the post office on 24th Street near Castro Street.

The Mystery Bookstore is located at 4175 24th Street near Diamond Street. For information on Coggins' other signings, visit

Songs and Memories at Brava

Iconic singers Janis Ian and Holly Near kick off the month at Brava! For Women in the Arts, located at 2781 24th Street near Bryant Street. Ian performs on Friday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. and Near takes the stage at the same time the following night.

Later in the month, Brava features a performance titled From the Bayou to the Bay: Stories of Katrina Survivors in Their Own Words on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11 and 12, at 8 p.m. The performance was culled from more than 20 interviews with former New Orleans residents, from age 12 to 104, who are now living in the Bay Area.

That event is free, though donations to Katrina survivors will be accepted. Tickets for the Near and Ian shows are $24 for mezzanine seating and $28 for the main floor. Discounts are available for seniors, students, disabled people, and neighbors.

For concert tickets, e-mail Jeanne@ or call 647-2822, ext. 4, with your name, phone number, and the number of seats needed. For more information about Brava, visit

Please RSVP

The nonprofit Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is looking for men and women 55 and older to join its team of volunteers in San Francisco's public schools. Volunteers can work with kids in kindergarten through high school, and choose from a variety of options, including after-school tutoring. RSVP especially seeks bilingual volunteers.

RSVP San Francisco currently has 800 volunteers serving in over 100 San Francisco nonprofit organizations. To sign up, call 731-3335 or go to

The Short Takes are compiled and written by Erin O'Briant.