Noe Valley Voice June 2010

Short Takes

Party for Dolores Park Playground

The Sippy Cups "kid rock" band will be the big attraction in Dolores Park on Saturday, June 19, at a party and fundraiser sponsored by Friends of Dolores Park Playground, in partnership with the Neighborhood Parks Council and the city's Rec and Park Department.

When not bopping to the music, party-goers can enter a raffle, whose top prize is a ticket to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert on Labor Day. Additional prizes include tickets to the all-women clown show Circus Finelli and the burlesque circus Bohemian Carnival, as well as gift certificates for Bi-Rite Ice Cream, Mike's Bikes, Peet's Coffee, massages, art and fitness classes, restaurant dinners, and even a custom-made kids' pirate costume.

The fundraiser, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., is the last organized event before the playground undergoes an extensive renovation in the fall. Friends of Dolores Park Playground says it will set up detailed displays of the plans for the $3.5 million project, which will feature a pyramid-shaped climbing structure, giant rocks, and clusters of old-growth palm trees. The volunteer organization is nearing its fundraising goal, but still has another $250,000 to go, organizers say.

The party takes place near the children's area in the center of Dolores Park, located at Dolores and 19th streets. Refreshments for the event have been donated by Dolores Park Café and Whole Foods Market.

Visit to get the full scoop.

--Heather World

Mending the Lending

The Noe Valley Democratic Club will present a panel discussion on financial reform in Congress at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, at St. Philip's Church, 725 Diamond Street, between Elizabeth and 24th streets.

The program, titled "Banking, Finance, and Lending--What Went Wrong? Do We Have the Will to Fix It?" will feature panelists representing the points of view of the consumer, the lender, and the man in the middle who represents both.

The speakers will discuss how the Great Recession came about, what can be done to prevent a recurrence, and a proposed reform bill authored by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.

Molly Fleischman, the club's vice president, says panelists will include Caryn Becker of the consumer group Responsible Lending; Larry Prozan, a financial adviser and consultant representing Multi-Financial Services; and James Cole, corporate communications officer with Bank of the West. Tim Marvin from Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, will be the moderator.

To find out more, email Fleischman at

--Noel Lieberman

Noe Valley Musicana

Grammy-winner Jim Lauderdale brings the Nashville sound to the Noe Valley Music Series on Saturday, June 19.
Jam in June when the Saturday night Noe Valley Music Series presents great guitar, superb song, and an appearance by country star Jim Lauderdale at the Noe Valley Ministry.

The fun begins June 5 at 8:15 p.m. with the San Francisco Guitar Summit, an evening devoted to the guitar, from acoustic to classical to pioneering world fusion--all played by locally grown artists.

The difference is in the right hand for Teja Gerken, who plays "fingerstyle guitar" in which his right-hand fingers pluck the melody, bass, harmony, and percussion all at the same time. The difference is in the left hand for Matthew Montfort, who has had his flat fretboard scalloped in order to play intricate note-bending ornaments as well as chords. Montfort will also pick up his fretless guitar, which he can use to make a more dampened sound.

The show, which is co-produced by SF Live Arts, will also feature the San Francisco Guitar Quartet, performing classical and modern music influenced by the rhythms of Brazil, the whirling dances of the Balkans, and the hypnotic textures of minimalism. Tickets cost $16 in advance and $18 at the door.

On June 19, multi Grammy Award-winner Jim Lauderdale ascends the stage. Lauderdale, a frequent Grand Ole Opry performer, will take a break from his tour with Elvis Costello to celebrate the release of a new Americana-based CD combining folk, country, rock, bluegrass, and rhythm and blues. Tickets are $20 and $22, and the show starts at 8:15 p.m.

The month ends with a creative bang during "An Evening of Song," on June 26 at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by Merle Kessler (a.k.a. Ian Shoales, of NPR fame), 25 singers will line up to do songs backed by the Experimental Love Orchestra, led by keyboard wiz Joshua Raoul Brody.

The event's theme is "Them's the Breaks," and songs will run the gamut from show tunes to sensitive ballads, originals to standards. Most singers are moonlighting professionals, but a few will be deer-in-the-headlights first-timers.

"Evening of Song manages to provide the charm of A Prairie Home Companion without all those monologues slowing things down," says music series producer Larry Kassin. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $17 at the door.

The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. For ticket information, call 415-454-5238 or go to Advance tickets are also available at Phoenix Books & Records, 3957 24th Street.

--Heather World

The Secrets of Pisco Punch

Want to learn how to make Pisco Punch, the elixir that prompted one 1850s journalist to write, "It tastes like lemonade but comes back with the kick of a roped steer"?

Attend the June 29 meeting of the San Francisco History Association, which will host a talk by Guillermo Toro-Lira, author of the book Wings of Cherubs: The Saga of the Rediscovery of Pisco Punch, Old San Francisco's Mystery Drink.

Toro-Lira will present a slide show on the history of Pisco, a grape brandy that traveled to North America from Pisco, Peru. He'll trace its journey to a bar in San Francisco during the Gold Rush days, where the proprietor added pineapple, sugar, lime, and other key ingredients to make a walloping Pisco Punch. The drink attained worldwide fame and was a favorite at local taverns until the Prohibition Act of 1919.

The lecture will take place at St. Philip's Church, 725 Diamond Street between 24th and Elizabeth streets (enter the church parking lot on Elizabeth). Doors open at 7 p.m. for socializing; the program starts at 7:45 p.m. The cost for non-association members is $5.

The San Francisco History Association meets on the last Tuesday of the month. Memberships are $25 a year. For more information, call 415-750-9986 or visit the group's website at

--Sally Smith

Dance, Play, Sing

This summer, Noe Valley kids will have their pick of neighborhood camps and classes, from dance to music to soccer.

Irena Smith and Joshua Smith will offer their popular Little Music-Makers classes at three locations, giving parents across the valley the chance to sing, clap, stomp, listen, and play along in 45-minute classes targeted at the 6-month- to 5-year-old set.

The couple, both local musicians, play and teach their own songs as well as Americana and folk from the likes of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Each week, the children will be introduced to a new instrument--slide guitar one week, flute the next. Kids also get to bang out their own tunes on pint-sized instruments.

The summer session runs eight weeks. Saturday classes start June 12 at Mobu Dance Studio, 1605 Church Street, at two times, 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday classes, starting June 13, will be at Pixie Hall Studios, 649 Diamond Street, also at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. A Wednesday class at 9:30 a.m. will be at Sanchez Street Studios, 1589 Sanchez Street, starting June 9. Rates start at $165 for one child. For more information, visit or call 415-828-4453.

Down at Upper Noe Valley Recreation Center at Day and Sanchez streets, SoccerTots will begin its seven-week summer session June 20.

The nationally syndicated program proved very popular during its inaugural season at Upper Noe this spring, with registration filling up within hours, says Director Elizabeth Hannon. Children learn basic soccer and play a variety of other games to develop motor skills and self-confidence. The focus is on fun not competition, Hannon says.

SoccerTots will offer three classes at 9 a.m. and three classes at 10 a.m. to children 18 months to 31/2 years old, all on Sunday. The program cost is $135. To find out more, visit

More than a class, Mobu Dance Studios, 1605 Church Street, is offering two weeks of summer dance camp starting June 7, to children who will enter kindergarten through fifth grade in the fall. Camp runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and there is extended care available from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Each Friday, the children will show off their skills at a 2:30 p.m. performance.

For more information, email Director Takami Craddock at or call 415-602-8557.

--Heather World

Biopics Rule at LGBT Film Festival

Aaron Tveit and James Franco (right) star in Howl, playing June 27 at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival at the Castro, Roxie, and Victoria theaters.

Howl, a movie about Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg with actor James Franco in the lead role, will screen this month as one of the highlights of the 34th annual San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.

The festival, which runs June 17 to 27, will include 219 feature-length and short films from countries as far afield as Brazil, China, Norway, Tunisia, and the Bahamas. The majority of the films shown in San Francisco will be screened at the Castro Theatre, but the Roxie and Victoria theaters are also venues for 54 films.

Howl is the collaborative effort of San Francisco's Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk) and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet). Epstein and Friedman combined genres to portray the poet at the dawn of a literary revolution--with a cast that also includes David Strathairn as the prosecutor in Ginsberg's 1957 obscenity trial, and Jon Hamm (star of TV's Mad Men).

Howl's screening on June 27 is the festival's grand finale, with a closing-night gala at the Botanical Gardens included in the $50 ticket. The event gets under way at 7:30 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street.

The festival opens June 17, with a 7 p.m. showing at the Castro of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, a BBC-produced drama portraying the true story of a British lesbian who defied Victorian conventions by living with a female lover until her death in 1840. The film is based on Lister's diaries, which were concealed in code and only recently deciphered.

The festival's centerpiece, playing June 22 at the Castro, is the Colombian feature film Contracorriente (Undertow), about a married fisherman who tries to reconcile his attraction to his male lover in the face of village disapproval. The movie starts at 7 p.m.

In addition, the documentary We Were Here: Voices From the AIDS Years in San Francisco, directed by David Weissman, will have its world premiere at 1 p.m. on June 20, also at the Castro.

On June 23, at 7 p.m., the theater will host Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, about Andy Warhol superstar model Candy Darling.

Films range from $8 to $10 for individual tickets, to $40 for a weekly matinee pass, to $200 for all Castro Theatre shows, excluding opening and closing night galas. For tickets or more festival information, call 925-866-9559 or visit

--Corrie M. Anders

Night and Day, You're on a Hunt

You can put your physical skills and map savvy to the test during the Night & Day Challenge, a citywide urban endurance scavenger hunt that starts at the Douglass Park clubhouse June 5 and covers all of San Francisco.

Launched in Seattle in 2003 by two friends, the Night & Day Challenge is an urban version of Rogaining, the sport of long-distance cross-country navigation that originated in Australia in the 1940s. Participants work in teams of two to five people to find 60 designated checkpoints in a chosen time of three, seven, or 16 hours.

Contestants can start plotting their course at 2:30 p.m., when each team will receive a combined topographical and street map of the city, with the locations of the checkpoints circled, says event coordinator Andrea Gardner. Most street names do not appear on the map, and each checkpoint is described in generic terms, such as "tower" or "brick building, NE corner of intersection."

The physical race starts at 4 p.m. in a flurry of wheels and feet. The time categories are further broken down by mode of transportation: foot, bike, or duathlon for the two longer races. Teams win points by correctly answering a question that can only be answered by visiting the site, such as "What is the second word on the manhole cover 3 meters south of the tower?" Wrong guesses are severely penalized.

This year's course was designed by Eric Bone, one of the Night & Day founders, and it is the fourth race in San Francisco, Gardner says. Though Seattle has its own race every year, the San Francisco challenge is popular enough to draw contestants from the Emerald City as well as from surrounding areas in California, Gardner says.

"The 16-hour event pulls in a different crowd because it's really an endurance challenge," Gardner says.

Between 150 and 200 people participate, many of them with children, Gardner notes. For that reason, contestant categories also include people running with strollers and kids on bikes.

"We want kids to feel successful and have a good time," she says.

To register, visit Entrance fees vary but can be paid on the day of the race. The Douglass Park clubhouse is located at Douglass and 26th streets.

--Heather World