Noe Valley Voice July-August 2007

Short Takes

By Erin O'Briant

Bethany Church to Stay Put

After nine years of deliberation, the members of Bethany United Methodist Church have reached a verdict: they're staying in Noe Valley and renovating their current building. Why the confusion? Until April, Bethany owned a prime plot of land at Market and 16th streets. The congregation originally planned to build a new facility and move there, since the church's building at Clipper and Sanchez streets needed major renovation. But last year the congregation decided it made better sense to renovate the current site. They sold the lot on Market Street and are using the funds to finance an overhaul of the Noe Valley church.

According to John Nelson, chair of Bethany UMC's building committee, the congregation has hired the San Francisco firm Goldman Architects for the job. Goldman, whose experience in church renovation includes such landmarks as Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro and St. Gregory's Episcopal Church on Potrero Hill, submitted initial plans to the Bethany congregation in May. Local residents will be invited to view the plans and offer suggestions before construction begins in March 2008. If you need information about this or other church activities, contact Nelson or Bethany pastor Lauren Chaffee at 647-8393.

Potter Book Found in Diagon Alley

Cover to Cover Booksellers is staging a blowout block party to celebrate the July 21 release of the last book in J. K. Rowling's wildly popular Harry Potter series. The shindig will take place on Castro Street between 24th and Jersey streets, and all the neighborhood's wizards-in-training are invited to come in costume and enjoy food, games, and surprises.

Festivities begin at 10 p.m. on Friday, July 20, and continue past midnight, the time when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is scheduled for release. Other Castro Street merchants plan to stay open late too, and Cover to Cover owner Tracy Wynne says they will transform their small corner of Noe Valley into Diagon Alley, the famous street in the Harry Potter books.

Reserve cards for Deathly Hallows are already available for sale at Cover to Cover. Folks who have a card can turn it in after the release time to receive their copy of the book. For more information, call the store at 282-8080, log on to, or visit 1307 Castro Street near 24th Street.

Also getting into the magic is the San Francisco Public Library, which has scheduled several summer Harry Potter events. On Wednesday, July 11, the Main Library will host the Knight Bus, based on the purple triple-decker bus in the Harry Potter books. "Wizard rock" guitarist Roonil Wazlib, juggler and magician Owen Baker-Flynn, and storyteller Mary Norris will perform.

Later in the month, the Bernal Heights Branch Library will host the Harry Potter Lunch Club on Tuesday, July 24, with the branch's basement decorated to resemble a room at Hogwarts Academy. Participants will get to hear a chapter of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows audiobook at 1 p.m. (Call 355-2810 for reservations.) For information about these and other library events, go to or call 557-4277.

Demos Get Ready to Party

The Noe Valley Democratic Club will present two events this summer, one informational and the other social--and politically energizing. The first, a panel discussion on how to wend through the city's maze of remodeling and building permits, will be held on Wednesday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m., at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street.

The event will feature a five-member panel composed of housing experts Debra Walker, president of the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission; Isam Hasenin, who directs the Building Inspection Department; Bruce Bonacker of Bonacker Associates Architecture; Henry Karnilowicz, a permit expediter active on residential projects; and Delvin Washington of the city's Planning Commission. The speakers will try to demystify the permit process, and talk about new and proposed changes at City Hall.

The second event, a "Celebrate Summer" fundraising bash, will be held at Bliss Bar on 24th Street on Wednesday, Aug. 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The public is welcome at both events.

According to Democratic Club program chair Molly Fleischman, the August bash will include a live auction and raffle and will give partygoers a chance to mingle with local and state politicos. The fundraiser is especially important, she notes, because the club is getting ready for a year of significant political campaigns, primaries, and elections. "If ever you've thought of getting active politically at the grassroots level, this is the time," she says.

To find out more, e-mail Fleischman at or call Andy Fleischman at 641-5838.

Silent Film Fest Makes Noise

The films may be silent, but the Castro Theatre won't be--all the movies in the San Francisco Silent Film Festival feature live accompaniment, either on a piano or on the theater's organ, known as the Mighty Wurlitzer.

The festival kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 13, with an opening-night party and The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, starring Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. The weekend continues with Camille, Beggars of Life, The Valley of the Giants, Retour de Flamme, and more. The festival concludes on Sunday, July 15, at 8:45 p.m. with Cecil B. DeMille's film The Godless Girl, which will be introduced by the National Film Preservation Foundation's Scott Simon.

For tickets, call 925-275-9005 or visit The festival box office is located at 833 Market Street, Suite 811, and is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. through Thursday, July 12. All films will be shown at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street near 18th Street.

Cheers to Asian American Women

When the Asian American Women Artists Association sent out its call for submissions to a new anthology, local writer (and Voice contributor) Olivia Boler answered with her story "On the Wall." That piece, along with 76 other writings and works of art, will be published this August in Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women. The 64 artists and writers in the book range in age from 14 to 85.

The anthology takes its name from the short dedication each contributor has written to honor an Asian American woman who has inspired her. For example, artist Keiko Nelson dedicates her piece to Noe Valley sculptor Ruth Asawa: "When I had my first baby, Ruth encouraged my art; when I was divorced, she encouraged my art again," writes Nelson.

Boler, who also served as a proofreader for Cheers, says she is proud to be a part of the project. "I was really impressed with the quality of work in the book--both the visual art as well as the poetry, essays, and stories."

The Cheers to Muses book launch is scheduled for Aug. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny Street (within the Hilton Hotel). An artists' panel discussion will be held at the same place July 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.

AAWAA has supported and promoted Asian American women writers, visual artists, and performers for 18 years. It is based in the Bay Area, and more information is available at

Toes Tap at Farmers' Market

An array of homegrown music has been scheduled for the Noe Valley Farmers' Market, which happens every Saturday morning in the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot on 24th Street near Vicksburg Street. Many of the performers are Noe Valleyans, says volunteer organizer Paula Benton, including members of Swing Serenade, Failure to Disperse, and Orange Sherbet. Of course, the Noe Valley Flutes are local, too.

On Saturday, July 7, Tom Huber--who claims Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline as two of his musical influences--starts off the morning at 8:30 a.m.; Failure to Disperse takes over at 10:30 and finishes at 1 p.m. Damond Moodie opens on July 14, with They Call Me Lucky tuning up at 10:30 a.m. The first performer on July 21 is Jude, followed by Swing Serenade. On July 28, Dennis Campagna and Friends take the early shift, and SqueezeKing Clark finishes out the day.

On Aug. 4, Tom Huber opens again, but this time he's followed by the Noe Valley Flutes. Jude begins the Aug. 11 show, with They Call Me Lucky taking the stage at 10:30 a.m. On Aug. 18, Orange Sherbet plays at 8:30 a.m.; Dennis Campagna and Friends go on at 10:30 a.m. The Four Finger String Band will play at 8:30 on Aug. 25, and Amy Hofer and Friends play from 10:30 until 1 p.m.

Benton, who schedules the music, says she gets most of her performers by word of mouth. If you'd like to perform at the market, e-mail her at

Jay's in Jewish Film Fest

From foreign dramas to films starring Jewish boxers, the 27th annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival features 54 movies from all over the world--and from here in the neighborhood.

Longtime Noe Valley resident and filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt screens a new short, I Am Charlie Chaplin, at the Castro Theatre on Sunday, July 22, at 2:15 p.m. He won the festival's Freedom of Expression award two years ago.

The festival also continues its tradition of showcasing documentaries, including Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan's Hot House, which examines the lives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. A sidebar on Jewish boxers includes a new film about an observant Jew who is also a professional boxer and the 1947 hit Body and Soul, directed by Robert Rossen. The festival will also present French filmmaker Lisa Azuelos' Gorgeous!, which organizers describe as a "Sephardic Sex and the City."

The festival takes place July 19 through Aug. 6 at four Bay Area venues, beginning with the Castro Theatre at 18th and Castro streets, where screenings are scheduled for July 19 to 26. Then the festival moves on to Berkeley, San Rafael, and Palo Alto. For the schedule of films or to order tickets, visit the festival site at or call 925-275-9490.

Movie Stars Play Music Series

Noe Valley's answer to Prairie Home Companion--the Noe Valley Music Series--will be strumming and singing throughout the summer. On Saturday, July 21, you can celebrate Bastille Day--a little late--with the Baguette Quartette, an ensemble that is dedicated exclusively to performing Parisian café music from the 1920s through 1940s. French accordionist and chanteuse Odile Levault leads the quartet, with a repertoire that includes the tango, fox trot, waltz, and more.

On Saturday, Aug. 4, Irish singer and songwriter Glen Hansard, star of the hit indie movie Once, will perform songs from the film with movie co-star Marketa Irglova. Music series organizer Larry Kassin describes Hansard's music as folky and harmonic (for a preview, go to Hansard's name may also ring a bell because he was in the movie The Commitments and is lead singer of the Irish band the Frames.

Singer Sasha Dobson and her quartet, specializing in Brazilian and American jazz, take the stage on Friday, Aug. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The summer wraps up with an acoustic guitar summit featuring guitar greats Peter Finger, Steve Baughman, and Teja Gerken on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Music Series concerts take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street near Elizabeth Street. All performances except the one on Aug. 10 begin at 8:15 p.m. Ticket prices at the door range from $16 to $20; all ages are welcome. For more information or tickets, call 454-5238 or visit Discount tickets are available in person at Streetlight Records, 3979 24th Street.

Dancing with the Scots

The Scottish Country Dancers, who also make their home at the Noe Valley Ministry, are welcoming new participants in the group's September classes. They've scheduled a publicity table, demonstration, and open dancing on Saturday, Aug. 4, at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market on 24th Street between Vicksburg and Sanchez streets. You may even catch some of the men dancing in kilts.

The Scottish Country Dancers' fall season kicks off with a free introductory lesson and party on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. No partner is needed, but bring soft shoes for dancing. The basic class begins the following week on Thursday, Sept. 13, at the same time and place.

The cost for classes is $8 each or $60 for a package of nine. For more information, call Susie Langdon Kass at 333-9372 or e-mail

Mission High Has a Finger in Mission Pie

Did you know that Mission Pie, the tiny new pie shop on 25th Street just east of Mission, is also a learning lab for Mission High School students? It started when the owners of a wedge-shaped ranch in Pescadero decided their property could be a vehicle for social change. What better way to make a difference than to teach urban youth how to grow and prepare wholesome food?

The kids work one morning a month at the farm during the school year, and sell their products after school at Mission Pie. They also work in the shop during the summer and assist at the Pie Ranch Farmstand one Saturday each month.

If you'd like to sample their creations, stop by Mission Pie and try a strawberry galette made with a freshly milled whole-wheat crust. You also might want to take a ride out to the coast and visit the Farmstand while the weather's still great.

Mission Pie, at 2901 Mission Street (entrance on 25th Street), is open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Pie Ranch Farmstand, at 2080 Cabrillo Highway (Highway One) in Pescadero--about 10 miles south of Pescadero Road--is open Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. The stand offers produce, berries, mill-your-own wheat, dry beans, eggs, pie, and coffee. For more information, go to

--Sue Cattoche