Noe Valley Voice June 2006

Short Takes

By Erin O'Briant

Botanical Mural in Full Bloom

If you ride the J-Church streetcar, you've probably noticed that the gray walls surrounding the Theresa Mahler Child Development Center at the corner of Church and 22nd streets have been transformed over the past six months into an earth-toned mural filled with wildflowers and butterflies. Artist Mona Caron says "very tiny things are painted really big," allowing viewers to appreciate even the smallest plant.

Now you can help Caron celebrate the mural's completion, at a special "unveiling" on Saturday, June 17, starting at noon. The party and ceremony will include live music by Rupa and the April Fishes, dancers, stilt walkers, snacks, and drinks. Various dignitaries, including Supervisor Bevan Dufty and Assemblyman Mark Leno, will be on hand to congratulate Caron in person.

Her Botanical Mural, as she calls it, is one of the largest in San Francisco, with a total surface area of 2,750 feet. It was funded by the City of San Francisco's Community Challenge Grant Program and by a grant from San Francisco Beautiful. Caron is a Swiss-born artist whose previous works include the award-winning Market Street Railway Mural, at Church and 15th streets. To learn more about the Botanical project or to donate funds toward a graffiti-proof varnish for the mural, visit

Keeping Kids in San Francisco

Why are there so few families with school-age children in San Francisco? Bethany United Methodist Church is hosting a "table talk" to discuss the issue and figure out what can be done to keep kids in the city.

Speakers from the Mayor's Policy Council on Children, Youth, and Families; Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth; and Parents for Public Schools will attend. The informal forum takes place on Sunday, June 11, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at Bethany Church, 1268 Sanchez Street at Clipper Street. Childcare will be provided. For information, call 647-8393.

Playwright-Turned-Politician Performs at Marsh

When her 2004 bid for Congress failed to win her a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, longtime Noe Valley resident and playwright Terry Baum turned her surprising experiences into a comic stage performance. The musical farce, called Baum for Peace or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Democracy, will play June 29 through July 22 at the Marsh theater on Valencia Street.

Baum, who has lived on Douglass Street since 1978, hoped to represent San Francisco as a peace advocate and Green Party standard-bearer. Once described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "the lesbian Woody Allen," she has written numerous plays, often with a political theme.

She will be joined at the Marsh by Scrumbly Koldewyn, of Cockettes fame. Koldewyn, who will accompany Baum on piano, served as her campaign manager in 2004. While she was running for office, Baum was certain she would never write a play, much less a comedy, about her adventures. "It was just too grueling and overwhelming," she says. "Then, when it was all over, it was obvious that I had a combination of skill and experience that no one else had, and I had to do it."

Baum for Peace will run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. The show is directed by Bobbi Ausubel, with songs composed by Koldewyn and David Hyman. For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit The Marsh is located at 1062 Valencia Street, between 21st and 22nd streets.

Let the Games Begin

If you aren't into the bar scene, it can be hard to find a place to socialize on a Friday night. That's where SF Games comes in. This group of friendly folks meets every Friday evening from 7 p.m. until midnight to play board and card games. The best news is that they're just down the hill from Noe Valley at Muddy's Coffeehouse, located at 1304 Valencia Street near 24th Street. You may meet some neighbors, too. Says spokesman David Kaye, "We've got people from all over the city, so it's a mixed bag, but a number of people live in Noe Valley."

The informal gang has been meeting to play for 11 years, and by Kaye's estimate, they've been gathering at Muddy's for around four to five years. You don't have to know how to play, and all are welcome to bring their favorite games.

For more information, visit the group's web site at, or just show up next Friday night.

Summer Art for All Ages

Sign the kids up for a color-filled summer with art classes for children of all ages. Artery, located at 1311 Church Street near 25th Street, is offering an array of fun camps close to home.

A one-week camp for children ages 8 to 11, called "Drawing with Five Big Guys," takes place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. June 19 through 23. Participants will be inspired by five big 20th-century artists whose works are fascinating to kids: Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miro, Henri Rousseau, Sol LeWitt, and Chuck Close.

The week of June 26 to 30, young artists ages 12 to 15 can attend a camp where they'll get to design and varnish their own skateboard decks. The completed decks will be works of art, suitable for hanging on the wall.

The afternoons of June 20, 21, and 23, kids ages 7 to 9 can sign up to create cool robots from custom parts, in an ArtBOTS class. Older children, from age 10 on up, can participate in "ArtBOTS Extreme" the afternoons of June 27, 28, and 30.

For more information, including times and prices, call Artery owner Paula Benton, 245-0235, or visit

Volunteer to Help the Homeless

Project Homeless Connect is looking for volunteers to help San Francisco's homeless population. The program, which was founded by Mayor Gavin Newsom, relies on volunteers who gather every month at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at San Francisco's Civic Center. Some volunteers go on the streets in teams of two or three offering support to homeless people they meet. Meanwhile, other volunteers staff the auditorium, where they help homeless people connect with a variety of city services.

The most recent Project Homeless Connect event took place on April 13--when more than 1,400 volunteers gathered at the auditorium to serve more than 1,600 clients. The next PHC gathering happens on Friday, June 9, in the same location.

No experience is needed to help out, and many of the regular volunteers are Noe Valley residents, according to public relations volunteer Ed DeMasi. To learn more about specific volunteer opportunities and to sign up for the June 9 event, visit the project's web site at

A Buggy Reading List

Now that school's out for summer, kids finally have a chance to read just for fun--and the San Francisco Public Library's Summer Reading Club aims to help kids through age 13 enjoy hitting the books. This year's program--"Don't Bug Me...I'm Reading!"--is happening June 17 through Aug. 12, at the Main Library and at all the branches and bookmobiles.

Children who register for the club get to read whatever interests them, including books in languages other than English, and they receive a cool Don't Bug Me bookmark. They can also choose from a theme-related reading list that includes picture stories, fiction, and non-fiction books on gardens, plants, flowers, and (of course!) bugs.

Kids get prizes for reading for a total of two, four, and six hours--and those who read for eight hours and visit the library twice get a grand prize. The library will also offer expanded programming, much of it with a nature theme, for children this summer.

The Summer Reading Club and the other programs are free and open to the public. While the Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Library on Jersey Street is closed for renovation, residents can get their library fix at neighboring branches.

The Bernal Heights Branch is located at 500 Cortland Street, the Mission Branch at 300 Bartlett, and the Eureka Valley Branch at 3555 16th Street. For more information on specific summer events, visit a library branch, call 557-4277, or visit

Election Review by David Binder

David Binder, a political and public opinion analyst with more than 20 years of experience, will give a recap of the June 6 California primary election at the next meeting of the Noe Valley Democratic Club. Binder also will offer his predictions on the November elections, which will include races for California governor and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street near 23rd Street.

A popular guest on TV news programs, Binder has appeared on the CBS Evening News, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and California This Week. He also has provided commentary for San Francisco's KPIX-TV, KCBS News Radio, and the Forum show on KQED Radio. His political punditry pops up frequently in California newspapers, as well as in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and USA Today. Binder often serves as an independent monitor of election returns for news organizations and election officials.

For information about the event or other activities of the Democratic Club, contact Andy Fleischman at 641-5838.

Wrong Bathroom in LGBT Film Fest

Noe Valley can be proud of its own at Frameline30, the 30th annual San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. Twenty-eighth Street resident Shani Heckman has directed a film, Wrong Bathroom, that will be screened at this year's event.

The short documentary takes viewers on a stroll through restroom politics, blending humor with formal interviews. It is one of 260 features and short films screening at the festival from June 15 until June 25.

The opening film for the fest is Puccini for Beginners, a comedy written and directed by Maria Maggenti, who also wrote The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love. Frameline's opening-night gala will take place after the screening, and Maggenti will be there. On closing night, the festival wraps up with Queens, directed by Manuel Gomez, which focuses on Spain's first mass same-sex wedding.

The festival hosts films at several Bay Area movie theaters, including the Castro Theater, the Roxie, and the CinéArts Empire in West Portal. Wrong Bathroom will be shown along with other short films on Sunday, June 18, 1:45 p.m., at the Victoria Theatre on 16th Street.

The Parkway Theater in Oakland is also participating in the festival. For a complete schedule and online tickets, visit Tickets are available by phone beginning June 2 at 925-866-9559.

Guts, Gore, and More at the Roxie

If you can't get enough horror, sci-fi, and fantasy film, visit the Roxie Film Center at 3117 16th Street between Valencia and Guerrero streets June 8 through 15, when SF IndieFest presents "(Perhaps) Another Hole in the Head."

The "HoleHead" film festival showcases 30 American and international films featuring the best in horror, horror-comedy, sci-fi, and dark fantasy, with a little porn thrown in for good measure. The current festival features the U.S. premiere of Broken. In this disturbing film by British filmmakers Adam Mason and Simon Boyes, a young mother attempts to escape a cruel sociopath in an endless forest. The filmmakers will be on hand for the screening.

In honor of the late Polish director Walerian Borowczyk, HoleHead presents Borowczyk's infamous horror-pornography hybrid The Beast (1975). The screening is a new, uncensored, English-subtitled print of this notorious and internationally banned exploration of the mythology of Beauty and the Beast. For tickets, times, and more information, call 820-3907 or visit

A Fitting Memorial for a Fierce Activist

By Laura McHale Holland

Even in death, Miriam Blaustein is doing good works for Noe Valley, and in particular for the Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library's long-awaited renovation. A neighborhood resident for 35 years, Blaustein passed away at the age of 91 in June 2005.

As a longtime member of Friends of Noe Valley, the Gray Panthers, and the leadership of the Noe Valley Co-op Nursery School, Blaustein advocated for a host of causes to improve the quality of life in Noe Valley, including establishing a community garden, expanding childcare options, creating a mix of businesses and housing on 24th Street, and improving nutrition for senior citizens. When the neighborhood library was threatened with closure in the late 1980s, she helped run the successful efforts to keep it open.

Blaustein's friends and fans have been raising money to name a display case in the remodeled library in her memory. Their initial goal was $2,500.

"There's been money coming in off and on, and now we have at least $2,600 and have decided to go for broke," says Eleanore Gerhardt, who has led efforts to fund a Blaustein memorial. "We're going to earmark some things in the children's library in her honor, too."

Checks should be made out to the Noe Valley Library Campaign (with a note saying they're for the Miriam Blaustein memorial) and mailed to 391 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. If you have any questions or want to make a contribution in person, call Gerhardt at 826-0522.