Noe Valley Voice December-January 2005

Short Takes

A Concert of Carols

The San Francisco Choral Artists will perform medieval Christmas carols by a variety of composers on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m., as part of the Noe Valley Chamber Music series. The concert will include Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols with harp, as well as works by nine contemporary composers.

Two of the new pieces are world premieres by the group's 2005-2006 Composers in Residence program: Alleluia by Henry Mollicone and Coventry Carol by Maia Aprahamian. The San Francisco Choral Artists is a 24-voice chamber choir that has been performing in the Bay Area since 1985. The choir is led by Artistic Director Magen Solomon.

Admission is $15 ($12 for students and seniors). The concert takes place at the Noe Valley Ministry, at 1021 Sanchez Street near 23rd Street. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit or call 648-5236.

Utilities Go Underground

The utility cables along several blocks of Duncan and Newburg streets in Noe Valley are going underground. Pacific Gas & Electric will break ground in late December to begin the first phase of the project, which is happening in designated areas throughout the city. This part of the undergrounding project will cover Duncan Street between Noe and Douglass streets and Newburg Street between Castro and Duncan streets.

PG&E workers will begin by constructing the underground substructure, which involves trenching on both sides of the streets. The trenches will be dug in segments to minimize inconvenience. That work takes four to five weeks; the total trenching and repaving will take six to eight months. The second phase of the undergrounding, when the new cables are installed and the old ones removed, will take an additional four to six months. PG&E and the Department of Public Works will notify the property owners affected by the project by mail before construction begins. Call 973-5930 for more information.

Two Months of Odd Mondays

The Odd Mondays discussion series at the Noe Valley Ministry presents several interesting happenings during December and January. On Monday, Dec. 5, members of Noe Valleyans for Community and Social Justice will present a talk and video on Portland City Repair, a citizen volunteer group in Portland, Ore. They'll discuss "intersection repair, how to start a project, pocket parks, and public art," says organizer and NVCSJ member Ramon Sender. Also at the Dec. 5 event, Jane Martin of PlantSF will speak on permeable landscaping.

On Dec. 19, city leaders Sue Bierman and Agar Jaicks will give their views on "San Francisco Politics and Human Rights, Then and Now." On Jan. 9, the Spiritual Cinema Circle will present a surprise movie with a heartwarming message. And on Jan. 23, the Odd Mondays series honors African-American women with a reading by Effie Lee Morris from Black Women Stirring the Waters.

Meetings begin at 7 p.m., and admission is free. The Ministry's address is 1021 Sanchez Street. For more information, e-mail Sender at

No Pet Left Behind

If you want to help homeless animals and low-income pet owners this winter, the San Francisco SPCA is offering a new program for the philanthropic. By donating $100, you can underwrite the cost of spay or neuter surgery for a shelter dog or cat, or for the companion animal of a low-income or homeless person. The surgeries are performed at the SPCA's Spay/Neuter Clinic. "Spaying and neutering are really essential for reducing the number of unwanted animals who end up in shelters," notes SPCA dog trainer Aishe Berger. The procedures also could benefit the animals' health and behavior. For more information, contact Katy Volz at 554-3027 or Grant Sun at 522-3549.

Kosher Comedy for Christmas

"Kung Pao Kosher Comedy" features Jewish comedians performing in a Chinese restaurant during Christmas. Now in its 13th year (and celebrating its bar/bat mitzvah), the annual event is billed as a side-splitting break from Christmas mania. The show features four Jewish comics, including headliner Wendy Liebman, who has appeared on just about every comedy show known to television.

Come to the early dinner shows for a seven-course Chinese banquet ($60), or attend a later cocktail show with drinks and egg rolls ($40). According to the organizers, all ages are welcome except screaming babies, and while the comedy is kosher, the food is not.

Showtimes are 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, through Saturday, Dec. 24, and 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 25. The venue is the New Asia Restaurant at 772 Pacific Ave., between Grant and Stockton streets. For tickets, visit or call 925-275-9005. For more information about the show, call 522-3737.

Demos Recap Special Election

Democratic pollster David Binder, a political analyst with 20 years of experience, will present a recap of the California special election at the December meeting of the Noe Valley Democratic Club.

Binder's topic will be "What Went Right? Can We Do It Again?" (On Nov. 8, a Democratic coalition helped defeat six measures, including four propositions submitted by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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 also has been a frequent commentator on local TV and radio broadcasts. His clients include political, government, labor, health care, and nonprofit organizations, as well as business and marketing firms. He also often serves as an independent monitor of election trends and returns.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. For information, contact Rafael Mandelman, Democratic Club president, at

Special Saturdays at the Randall

The Randall Museum hosts an amazing array of workshops and activities for kids and parents every Saturday. The fun starts at 10 a.m. each week with a family ceramics workshop, costing $5 per person. From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., the Golden Gate Model Railroad is on exhibit. From 11:15 a.m. until noon, folks can meet the museum's animals, and at noon they can help feed the animals. Drop-in art and science workshops happen from 1 to 4 p.m.

During the month of December, the drop-in workshops are tailored to the season. Participants will learn to make holiday crafts on Dec. 3; paper mosaics on Dec. 10, glass tile and sea glass mosaics on Dec. 17, winter solstice sundials on Dec. 24, and print and collage calendars on Dec. 31. The cost is $3 per child and $5 per parent-child combo.

An interactive exhibit celebrating the life and art of San Francisco sculptor Benny Bufano, titled "A Child in Benny's Studio," is at the museum through Feb. 11. Tours begin every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

The Randall Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and is located at 199 Museum Way near Castro and 14th streets. For more information, visit or call 554-9600.

Sing and Ride on a Cable Car

Celebrate the season in San Francisco style while you raise funds for the Friendship Line, a 24-hour telephone crisis line for elders. Motorized cable cars carry carolers around the city, stopping to sing for Friendship Line clients who aren't able to leave their homes. "The car will make a few stops in Noe Valley," notes Rebekah Eppley, of the Institute on Aging, which sponsors the Friendship Line.

After the cable cars have made all their stops, singers return to St. Mary's Cathedral at 1111 Gough Street for dinner and entertainment. This year's event will be held on Sunday, Dec. 11. Registration begins at St. Mary's at 2 p.m., and the cable cars leave at 3 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 on the day of the event; they include the ride, dinner, and entertainment. Children under 12 may participate for free.

Cable Car Caroling has been an annual Christmas event since 1986, when the director of the crisis line and some friends asked for volunteers to visit elders during the holidays. To buy tickets, call Eppley at 750-4180, ext. 142, or e-mail reppley

Come for the Latkes, Stay for the Candles

"We always have games and fun for families, latkes to eat, a lot of dreidel playing, arts and crafts," says Brianna Hughes, an employee of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, when asked about the organization's annual family Hanukkah party. The event also includes a candle-lighting, when participants light the candles on the center's large menorah and sing blessings and Hanukkah songs. The JCCSF doesn't have its membership broken down by neighborhood, but Hughes says there are many Noe Valley families who are members of the center and participate in its various programs. Join the party on Sunday, Dec. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. Suggested donation per family is $5 for JCCSF members and $7 for the public. The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is located at 3200 California Street. For more information, call Karen Einbinder at 292-1255 or visit

Sewer Lids Make Sidewalks Safer

Nothing ruins an afternoon stroll like stepping into an uncovered sewer vent. Unfortunately, a rash of missing vent covers around San Francisco is creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians.

The job of replacing the covers belongs to the owners of the property, not the city. "Many times, property owners don't know that it is their responsibility to maintain their the problem lingers and we receive complaints," notes city administrator Ed Lee. DPW received more than 200 complaints about missing covers last year.

Replacement vent covers and frames are available at most hardware stores or plumbing supply retailers. Property owners should look at their water bills for information about sidewalk maintenance. More info is also online at

Holla Days Celebration

To celebrate the "Holla Days," the Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women will hold a community open house on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m. The event features music by folk legend Faith Petric, as well as lively conversation about the environment, racism, discrimination against LGBT people, feminism, and more.

The open house is also an opportunity to support the local socialist feminist bookstore and buy gifts at a crafts bazaar. Drinks and a buffet are available for a $6.50 donation (work exchanges also available).

The open house will be held at New Valencia Hall, 1908 Mission Street near 16th Street. For more information, call 864-1278 or e-mail

This month's Short Takes were written by Erin O'Briant.