Noe Valley Voice December-January 1999-2000

Rumors Behind the News: Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore'

By Mazook

THE RAT AND RAVEN is no more. In early November, the doors were shut and a notice posted in the front window announcing a change of ownership.

As many of you know, the popular bar has been a fixture in Downtown Noe Valley (4054 24th St.) for ages. It was the crowded drinking establishment called Finnegan's Wake in the 1970s and early '80s. (The Noe Valley Voice was conceived on those hallowed premises.) Then it briefly became Noebody's Inn, and then the Rat and Raven for the past decade.

Well, the most recent owner, Horst Grahlman, was murdered in his Russian River digs (he also ran a bar up there) a couple of years ago. It took a while, but evidently his estate has now been settled, and the building and business sold.

The new owner, whose name is Sparkie ("I have only one name, like Prince"), says he is painting and cleaning the place and that he plans to keep it a bar. But he has no set date to reopen. "I am in no big hurry," he says.

Sparkie is no stranger to the bar business: he owns the Lucky 13 bar over the hill on Market Street, and he has another Lucky 13 on the island of Alameda.

He doesn't know what he will be calling his new drinking establishment, he says, but he's sure it won't be Lucky 13.

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A YMCA IN OUR VILLAGE, PEOPLE? That item in the Friends of Noe Valley newsletter reporting that the YMCA was scouting a site in Noe Valley, "near the intersection of Clipper and Noe streets," got a lot of Noe Valleons talking last month.

According to Andrew Scott, executive director of the Mission YMCA, the organization wants to relocate the Mission Y, which has been in cramped quarters on Mission Street near Bosworth since 1953, to a new and larger building.

"We are presently looking to build a major facility on Castro Street between Clipper and 25th, on what is now the upper yard of James Lick Middle School," says Scott, "and obviously we would do so only if we got the support we needed from the neighborhood."

Scott points out that the Mission Y has been serving the southeast quadrant of San Francisco for over a hundred years -- since 1883. As for a move to Noe Valley, "it might be a long process, but we think that a facility with a gym, pool, fitness center, senior services, and child-care center would be welcomed by the community." Scott also indicated that the Y would build an underground parking garage to accommodate members, employees, and others using the facility.

Scott says the YMCA has worked with the S.F. Unified School District before, and knows that a plan involving the James Lick campus is feasible.

Over the next year we should see Judy Martens -- Mission Y's senior services director and a Noe Valley resident -- making the rounds of the neighborhood groups, checking our (aerobic) pulse on the issue.

"We want the community to work with us," says Scott. If you want to reach either Andy or Judy, call the Mission YMCA at 586-6900.

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THAT PICKET LINE in front of Isa's Beauty Salon in mid-November was staged by the San Francisco Tenants Union. The protesters were targeting owner Isa Muhawieh, who is allegedly trying to evict two seniors in a four-unit building on Lexington Street, through the so-called Ellis Act (where a landlord removes all units in a building from the rental market).

Attempts to reach Isa were unsuccessful, and I was told that the dispute was "in litigation" and I should talk to his lawyer. My calls to his lawyer have not been returned. But Ted Gullicksen of the Tenants Union confirmed that his group was behind the 24th Street protest. Ted also said the SFTU planned to picket Isa's shop again in December.

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SCOTTISH AUTHOR (and creator of kid wizards) J.K. Rowling signed a thousand copies of her Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the 2 hours and 20 minutes she spent at Cover to Cover on Saturday morning, Oct. 30. "And every kid got one of those sweet looks -- she was amazing," says a delighted Nicky Salan, owner of the 24th Street bookstore.

The workers at Happy Donuts across the street told Nicky that the line for the book signing started at 1:30 a.m. on Friday night, when a family who had driven up from L.A. bedded down at the door.

A few days later, Nicky recounted the story as a guest on KQED's radio show "Forum." She also gave her picks for the best reads in children's literature. Frank Baum's Oz books -- about another wizard -- made Nicky's Top 10 list. Drop by the store and she'll reveal the rest.

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NOE VALLEY PROTECTIONISTS appeared at the East & West of Castro Club's Nov. 3 meeting and sounded the alarm about legislation that Supervisor Mark Leno is proposing. Leno, who lives on Clipper Street, wants the city to allow greater housing density along Muni's busy transit routes, such as 24th Street. His proposed law, intended to make room for more people, would raise the building height limits from 40 to 50 feet, and would free some developers from having to provide off-street parking. The theory is that residents who live along these corridors wouldn't need cars since they'd have public transportation at their doorstep.

But as Harry Stern puts it in the November Friends of Noe Valley newsletter, less per-capita parking is "going to be a tough sell in Noe Valley."

Paul Kantus of the East & West Club is already raising a ruckus: "Aren't our streets short enough on parking spaces now?" he writes in his group's newsletter. "Mr. Leno seems to think that people will ride the Muni and not need cars! Mr. Leno, Noe Valley (and most other neighborhood districts serviced by Muni) is not Manhattan!... We do not have the people-moving transportation system that New York has, where many residents do not even own cars. Most single-family residences [here] have more than one car, with only one off-street space.... And another 10 feet added to building height limits means another floor of the house with more people and no off-street parking! This sounds like very poor thinking. What happened to preserving the unique characteristics of our neighborhoods?"

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SPEAKING OF UNIQUE CHARACTERistics, we can thank the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association for those new red holiday banners adorning the light poles on 24th Street. We've already received a few favorable comments at the Voice office.One reader wrote: "I'm quite enjoying the merchants' new Christmas banners along 24th Street. Coming out of Pasta Pomodoro last night, I encountered one that had fallen to the ground, so I returned it to the restaurant -- I know how much those merchants are pinching their pennies for those decorations!"

The Merchants have also sprung for Santa and friends, who will visit the Bank of America (24th and Castro) on Saturday, Dec. 11, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. There will be free photos and goodies for the kids. Then on the following Saturday (Dec. 18), from 11 to 3, holiday carolers and musicians will stroll through Downtown Noe Valley.

In the association's last newsletter, President Bob Roddick thanked the members for their enthusiasm during the year.

Bob also wrote that due partly to their efforts, Noe Valley is becoming "a special neighborhood ... where natives, residents, fellow San Franciscans, immigrants, new arrivals, and tourists come together to visit, shop, relax, and sightsee. 'Noe Valley' is being noticed.... Even the morning weath-er channel highlights the temperature in a special box for Noe Valley. Of course, our temperature is always the best in the city. The sun is always shining in Noe Valley."

Let's hope it shines with or without parking.

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SHORT SHRIFTS: Say goodbye to Homes of Charm, which is closing after more than 20 years on the corner of Church and Duncan streets. The owners are moving to England. No word yet on what's going in in its place.

However, the news about the storefront on Church near 28th, formerly occupied by Cash and Carry Beauty Supply, is that it's being remodeled to become a consignment furniture store.

Tom Maravilla, co-owner of MikeyTom Market on Church Street, is being urged by the Glen Park Neighborhood Association to open a MikeyTom Two in the grocery store space at Diamond and Chenery, where Diamond Super (and Terry's Meats) used to be. The Glen Park store -- which Tom says is two to three times the square footage of his current storefront in Noe Valley -- was burned out a year ago and is now being remodeled. Tom says he is negotiating with the building's new owners and that things look promising. "I think it would be great to apply all the stuff we've learned here in Noe Valley," he says. Not to worry, though. He and partner Mikey will still run their flagship, MikeyTom on Church.

Surprise -- the Pigeon Lady's house (at 1329 Sanchez) is on the market again. You all remember when she put it up for sale two years ago for $199K, sold it for $241K, then flew off to Estonia. Well, the new owners are selling it. Last month, the price tag for the refurbished 2 bedroom, 11/2 bath (with patio and hot tub), was $529,000. Feathers included.

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SPEAKING OF SQUABBLING -- no, not really -- the Noe Valley Democratic Club had a protracted November meeting, and wound up endorsing Tom Ammiano for mayor in the Dec. 14 runoff. The club had made no mayoral endorsement in the Nov. 2 election.

This time around, the Demos decided not to make an endorsement in the district attorney's race (Hallinan vs. Fazio). In the last one, they endorsed Matt Gonzalez.

I know I promised you local election results, but at press time the San Francisco Department of Elections had yet to tabulate the final vote count because of the historic Ammiano write-in.

I'll get to it next month -- uh, next year.

That reminds me: The Department of Elections, formerly the Registrar of Voters, is now faced with setting up next year's district elections for the Board of Supervisors, otherwise known as the Balkanization of San Francisco. We are in District 8, which consists of (from north to south) Eureka Valley, Upper Market, Noe Valley, Fairmount, Diamond Heights, and Glen Park.

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BEFORE LEAVING city government, congratulations are in order for Noe Val-leon Mary Counihan, who was the winner of a Public Managerial Excellence Award (one of five) given by an advisory council to Mayor Brown. She works for the Department of Human Services as a manager in Adult Protective Services.

In her award citation, Mary was described as "the driving force" behind new state legislation that will increase funding ($45 million) for adults who are at risk of physical abuse, mental illness, and neglect -- often the elderly. She also helped train staff to operate a new 24-hour adult abuse hotline in San Francisco.

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THE NOE VALLEY MINISTRY needed a 24-hour hotline to field all the calls about jazz-rock star Rickie Lee Jones, who performed at the church Nov. 26 ­ 27. She sold out her four shows (two shows a night) within nanoseconds of the $38 tickets going on sale. As her many fans know, Jones has won two Grammies and twice appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The show was produced by Slim's nightclub. Why'd they choose the Ministry? According to Tracey Buck of Slim's, Rickie Lee "specifically asked for this venue, because she wanted to perform in more intimate surroundings."

The Ministry comfortably seats 200. Regulars of the Noe Valley Music Series, who used to flock to see Bobby McFerrin there in the '80s, know just how cozy that chapel can get. But let's see, if we added 10 feet to the steeple...

By the way, the next hot ticket at the Ministry is Dec. 3, when comedian (and Noe Valleon) Geoff Hoyle will perform at the Music Series. Geoff will depart the following day for the Big Apple, where he'll do Revelers on Broadway.

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THAT'S ENOUGH REVELING for this century, folks. Onward toward the millennium, 2001. You all have a merry, happy, and safe Y2K.