Noe Valley Voice May 2007

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

TREE CHEERS: The Green Committee of our Noe Valley Association­Community Benefit District (NVA-CBD) has completed its Downtown Noe Valley tree planting project. We can now welcome 130 trees on and around 24th Street--119 new ones and 11 re-plantings, that will vastly improve our commercial corridor.

You might have seen more than 60 volunteers (many from St. Philip's Church) out in the rain on Castro and Diamond streets Saturday, April 14, planting the last 66 trees, primarily magnolias, flowering cherry, and plum.

Thanks go to the tireless efforts of Green Committee chair David Eiland, co-committeeman and newest member of the NVA Board of Directors Rob Evans, and executive director Debra Niemann. For the past year and a half, the tree planting project has gotten hundreds of friends and neighbors working together on a forest of tasks: writing grants, getting 130 property owners' consent, coordinating donors, dealing with five separate agencies at City Hall, choosing tree species, and planting them in three separate plantings with the help of volunteers and Friends of the Urban Forest.

"It was great to see so many come out to help on that very rainy Saturday," says a relieved Evans, who worked hard on mapping out tree sites, "and for St. Philip's to give us the space to have a pizza party afterwards to thank all the volunteers."

Regarding the 11 trees that needed replanting, Evans says two had to be replaced because of aphid attacks, two because they were defective trees, and one because of excessive wind at Douglass and 24th (a more wind-resistant species was chosen). A sixth tree, at 24th and Sanchez, had mistakenly been removed when a building was renovated. But what Evans "personally found very disturbing was that [the remaining] five trees were the victims of hateful vandalism."

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THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY: The Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation (NVBI) reports that 24th Street's Ames Locksmith remains bolted and closed for business. Neighbors say the doors were locked at the end of February and a sign went up informing us that the owner had "gone fishin'" and the shop would reopen March 20. Then a legal notice from the landlord showed up on the door, telling Ames to pay the rent. However, that was soon removed. At April's end, the neon lights in the back of the store were still burning 24/7 and the sidewalk sandwich board sat dutifully out front, but there was not a person in sight.

Telephone calls to Ames were greeted by automated disconnect notifications. And a quick Google produced a web site and former patrons giving very mixed reviews. A call to the property owner brought a rather terse "I really can't comment except to tell you that the rent is currently being paid."

Ames has been at 3977 24th Street across from Bell for over 30 years (although its current owners have been there a little over three years), and it is hard to understand this sudden closing. Hopefully, everything will work out.

Meanwhile, if you need duplicate keys, don't fret--Tuggey's Hardware at Sanchez and 24th has provided that service for at least 50 years. In Upper Noe Valley, Key Kraft, located at 1585 Church Street at the corner of 28th, not only cuts keys, but provides full locksmith services for all you locked-outers (add 285-0134 to your emergency numbers).

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THE UPPER CRUST: As many of you sports fans know, Cybelle's pizza parlor next to Noe's Bar at 24th and Church, has departed the building. Behind the parlor's papered windows, there is construction going on for a new restaurant. Rumor is that Noe's owner Wayne Basso and family will be expanding and offering us new eats. Noebody will confirm or deny these rumors, so I guess we will all have to wait for delivery.

Speaking of Noe's Bar, congrats go out again to Karri Cormican and Hannah Bridgeman-Oxley, who were commended by the city last month for saving one of their female patrons, two years ago, from being drugged by her date. Cormican and Bridgeman-Oxley confiscated the tampered beers, informed the potential victim, and called the police, thereby getting the creep arrested. (See Voice Rumors, June 2005.)

For their heroism, Cormican and Bridgeman-Oxley each received the Board of Supervisors' "highest commendation" at the April 10, 2007, meeting of the supes. The award came "in recognition of your courageous actions that prevented a potential date rape at Noe's Bar and resulted in the apprehension and conviction of the perpetrator. Thanks to your bravery, citywide awareness has been raised and you have helped prevent further citizens from becoming victims of this heinous act."

The perpetrator, Joseph Szlamnik, who had no prior criminal history, was convicted and sentenced this past March to one year in jail, with six months suspended. Szlamnik pled guilty to "transporting and furnishing a narcotic," to avoid facing sexual assault charges based on slipping a sleeping drug, zalepron, and a central nervous system depressant, alprazolam, into his date's beer.

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IN OR OUT? Those many neighborhood families who are currently taking classes, including dance, yoga, martial arts, music, and drama therapy, at the MoBu Dance Studio, may have heard rumors recently that the very popular studio will have to move because of landlord tenant misunderstandings. Well, the rumors have a chance of turning out to be false.

As you might know, Takami Craddock moved her dance studio here from the Sunset District last November. She took over the storefront vacated by Dirt Cheap Travel on the corner of 23rd and Sanchez, and remodeled the funky space and installed maple wood floors and walls of mirrors. The studio opened in November of last year.

Craddock confirmed that she and her landlord have been having "discussions" regarding neighbors' complaints about noise and the studio's hours of operation. She was told she would have to move. However, she says she is currently weighing her options. "I will be telling all my students of my decision about moving the studio, in the coming month, since current classes end on June 15."

We will update you on this story next month. Good luck, Takami.

Many Noe folks were concerned when a "For Rent" sign appeared on the front door of Paula Benton's Artery, located at 1311 Church Street. This popular art studio opened three years ago and offers arts and crafts classes to young and old.

"No, we are not closing," says Benton. "We just have outgrown our space and are looking for a larger space somewhere in Noe Valley, preferably on Church Street."

A neighborhood activist who helped organize the Noe Valley Farmers' Market and the Harvest Festival, Benton helped found the merchant group called Church Street Professionals, which now sports 90 merchants on its e-mail list.

By the way, Church Street Professionals will be holding its next meeting on May 16 at 9:30 a.m. at Pescheria (on Church near 29th) and will feature PUC representatives who will inform those assembled about the overhead streetlight maintenance scheduled for this summer.

And Benton invites you to the group's first fundraiser, a used book sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. More than 20 Church Street businesss (from Elizabeth to 30th) will be selling the books, with proceeds going to the Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library interior renovation fund.

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QUIZZICALLY SPEAKING: Thanks to the many of you who personally informed me about the editorial gaffe in last month's answer to question #1: "What was Star Magic first called when it opened on the corner of 24th and Noe in 1979?"

To set the record straight, Gifts of the Magi was its original name at 24th and Noe, and the shop later moved up the block to 4028 24th Street, where Simply Chic is now (not 4026, where Bliss Bar is now). In 1980, the storefront was occupied by a clothing boutique owned by Elisa Ining. When Ining closed the clothing shop and opened her health spa in the back part of the building, Star Magic moved into the front boutique space.

Not-so-old-timers also reminded me that Bliss Bar used to be called the Rover's Inn. Before that, it was a bar called the First Ining, owned by--guess who?--Elisa Ining, who took over a bar named Salonicas, active in the 1970s. So does anybody remember what the bar at 4026 24th Street was called before it was called Salonicas? You will find the answer below.

And speaking of Star Magic, a special hello to Robert Hanfling and Justin Moreau, who founded the retail superstar in 1978. They opened more shops in Manhattan, then in 1988 sold three of the stores, including our 24th Street shop, to Shlomo Ayal from New York City. You can read the story of Star Magic's closing in 1998 in the Voice March 1998 issue on our web site,

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ON THE FOOD FRONT: Kookez Restaurant on 24th Street has launched a three-course earlybird dinner special (from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.): soup or salad, entrée, and dessert, with a glass of wine, beer, or soda pop, all for twenty bucks.

On the music front: Over spring break, St. Paul's Youth Choir performed in the Magic Music Days program at Disneyland. They sang Broadway hits "Lullaby of Broadway" and "Razzle Dazzle" from the musical Chicago, and a showstopper Malt Shop Medley of '50s and '60s tunes on the Plaza Gardens stage. Song and dance were led by choir director Laura Flaviani, her husband Victor, and sixth-grade teacher Jennifer Woodall.

On the book front: Local author Bill Yenne saw his latest coffeetable book, American Aircraft Factory, reviewed well in the current issue of Air and Space, a magazine of the Smithsonian Institution. The aircraft were vintage World War II, the last war that almost all Americans supported. The book has some great photos and tells how American factories went from manufacturing about 900 airplanes in 1939 to a staggering 300,000 by 1944. Four years after we entered that war, we did our part to help the Allies defeat Nazi Germany and then went on to defeat Japan. Four years after we started the war in Iraq, "victory" seems illusory, and the war is against an enemy that has not one plane.

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FINALLY, ON THE FUNDRAISING FRONT: Ten-year-old Alice Kincade and her grandparents Barbara and Joe Minafo, who were pictured in the February issue of the Voice, are happy to report that the garage and bake sale Alice held on 26th Street in honor of her grandmother, who suffers from myasthenia gravis, raised $832. Neighbors baked brownies, Cole Hardware donated six cases of water, and Walgreen's gave dolls and gift baskets. Cybelle's, Accent on Flowers, Bell Market, and Starbucks pitched in, and Mitchell's Ice Cream contributed some tubs of their very best. "A lot of my friends and family came [on Feb. 24]. My school was really supportive, too," reports Alice. "One time my grandmother even started crying. She was really happy."

A week or so later, the family presented the money to the Forbes Norris Foundation ALS/MDA Center on Sacramento Street, a clinic where Barbara receives treatment. "The doctors were delighted and surprised," said Barbara. They also were eager to thank Alice and her family.

Alice enjoyed the presentation almost as much as the garage sale. She said, "The only funny thing was that it was Pajama Day [at St. James]. We went to the clinic right after school, and I had to wear my pajamas! It was kind of embarrassing. But it was fun."

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THE OLDEN DAYS: The name of that bar at 4026 24th Street was the Jury Room, owned by Tim and Ruby Ward, and known for its raucous ambiance and the many motorcycles parked outside. When it changed ownership circa 1976, the neighborhood regulars moved across the street to the Cork 'n' Bottle. But that's another story.

That's 30 for this month. Ciao for now.