Noe Valley Voice February 2009

Short Takes

A Packed Town Hall

Supervisor Bevan Dufty will be among the panelists at a town hall on Noe Valley's burning issues--Bell Market, Whole Foods, and neighborhood safety -- sponsored by the Noe Valley Democratic Club on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at St. Philip's Church.

Dufty will share the stage with Capt. Stephen Tacchini of the San Francisco Police Department; Glen Moon, vice president for development at Whole Foods Market; and Debra Niemann, executive director of the Noe Valley Association (NVA), the community benefit district along 24th Street.

Tacchini, who is captain of Mission Station, plans to discuss SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone), a city-funded project that organizes block and merchant watch programs.

Moon will field questions about Whole Foods, which will be taking over Bell Market's site after Bell closes in mid-February (see Voice front page). And Niemann will share the NVA's ideas for streetscape improvements along Noe Valley's commercial strip.

The town hall starts at 7:30 p.m. in St. Philip's Parish Hall, located at 725 Diamond Street between Elizabeth and 24th streets. The event also includes the annual election of officers by the Noe Valley Democratic Club.

For information or to suggest questions for the panelists, call Democratic Club vice president Molly Fleischman at 415-641-5838 or e-mail

--Noel Lieberman

Imagining Istanbul

Jersey Street resident Robert Root, a psychiatrist and self-taught photographer, has published his second book in two years of scenes from his foreign travels.

Imagining Istanbul is a coffee-table book featuring portraits, landscapes, and architectural photos that Root took on a five-day visit to Istanbul, Turkey, last spring.

"It's a book of first impressions during a visit to an ancient, exotic, and mythical city," says Root, who has lived in Noe Valley for more than a dozen years.

Lucienne Thys-Senocak, an associate professor at Koç University in Istanbul and a specialist in Ottoman architectural history, wrote two companion essays for the book.

As he did with his first book of photography, Image in Mind: The Psychiatrist As Photographer, Root says he plans to donate a portion of his proceeds to charitable causes, such as health care for indigent children.

The book, which San Francisco­based Rock Out Books published Dec. 8, is available at Cover to Cover Booksellers on Castro Street and Phoenix Books on 24th Street.

--Corrie M. Anders

Blissfully Jazzy

Sunday afternoons on 24th Street have gotten jazzier over the last few months--and we mean that quite literally. Bliss Bar has launched an ongoing series featuring Bay Area jazz veteran and master pianist Larry Vuckovich, accompanied by a different guest musician or vocalist each week.

"They're top jazz people," Bliss Bar owner Pierre Letheule says.

Indeed, the February lineup includes such popular local jazz scenesters as Kim Nalley (Feb. 8), Jackie Ryan (Feb. 15), and Noel Jewkes (Feb. 22).

"I've been here for eight years, and people have always asked me to do live music," explains Letheule, whose establishment will celebrate its ninth anniversary in the neighborhood this year.

Each Sunday, Vuckovich and his guests perform three sets in the bar's front room, which Letheule estimates can accommodate up to 45 patrons.

"It's very laid-back. It's sort of 1950s style, very good music, and it's a very comfortable atmosphere," he adds.

That's not the only new development at the bar, located at 4026 24th Street near Castro. Since November, an informal group of local comedians has begun holding an open mike event on Monday evenings, starting at 8 p.m. The event itself is free, but those interested in performing should contact the organizer in advance by e-mailing

The Bliss Bar Sunday Afternoon Jazz Series, dubbed "The Art of Duo," takes place Sunday afternoons from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge for the event. For more information, call 415-826-6200 or visit

--Lorraine Sanders

Bluegrass Fest Turns 10

The San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival returns to the Noe Valley Ministry this month for its 10th season showcasing bluegrass, country, and folk music. The neighborhood venue will host three of the 34 events in this year's festival, running Feb. 6 to 14. Other venues near the neighborhood include the Make-Out Room, the Atlas Cafe, Cafe du Nord, and the SoCha Cafe on Mission Street. Along with live performances, this year's fest features an opening-night square dance, workshop series, and a kids show at the Randall Museum.

The three events at the Noe Valley Ministry are co-presented by the Noe Valley Music Series. First up is a Saturday, Feb. 7, concert called the "Old Time Show," highlighted by a reunion performance of the Crooked Jades--Jeff Kazor, Lisa Berman, Stephanie Prausnitz, Tom Lucas, and Megan Adie--back together for the first time in five years. Joining the Jades are the live acts Huckleberry Flint and the Water Tower String Band, along with deejay Tom LG, who spins bluegrass 78s from the 1920s to the 1950s. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.

On Friday, Feb. 13, Grammy Award-winning Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick, co-founders of the Good Ol' Persons, perform solo sets before joining forces in the evening's finale. Tickets for that event are $20 in advance and $22 at the door.

On Valentine's Day, Saturday, Feb. 14, the Ministry hosts the "Traditional Bluegrass Show," featuring the guitar pickin' and close harmonies of Del Williams, Blue & Lonesome, and San Francisco's own Homespun Rowdy for $18 in advance or $20 at the door.

All shows start at 7:30 p.m., at 1021 Sanchez Street. Tickets are available online through Advance tickets are also available in person at Phoenix Books and Records, 3850 24th Street; 415-821-3477.

For more information about the Noe Valley Music Series, visit www.noevalley The festival's complete schedule, including workshops and performances, is at

--Lorraine Sanders

A Parachute for Dancers

A local nonprofit is seeking donations to a fund that offers a safety net to members of the dance community.

Dancers' Group, which supports performers and programs throughout the Bay Area, hopes Noe Valley residents will consider contributing to its Parachute Fund.

The fund, established in 1987, provides grants to Bay Area dancers and choreographers facing HIV/AIDS or other life-threatening illnesses. Grant recipients, who can be awarded up to $1,500 a year, often use the money for such things as dance class tuition, rehearsal space rental, or their own apartment rent or medical supplies. Since its founding, the fund has distributed more than $100,000.

Donations may be sent to Dancers' Group, 1360 Mission Street, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94103. (Please make checks payable to S.F. Foundation/Parachute Fund.)

Another way to help the fund is to donate clothes or other discards to Community Thrift Store at 623 Valencia Street (near 17th). Tell the store the items are to be credited to the Parachute Fund (charity #160).

Both types of donations are tax-deductible.

For information on the program or on how you or someone you know can request a grant, contact Wayne Hazzard at 920-9181 or Or go to and click on Programs.

--Sally Smith

Carbs for a Cause

A neighborhood restaurant is offering local diners the chance to eat for a good cause this month. At all California Pasta Pomodoro locations, including Noe Valley's on 24th Street, one-fifth of the food sales on Feb. 24 and 25 will be donated to Roots of Peace, a nonprofit organization whose projects replace landmines left in war-torn countries.

Proceeds from the initiative will fund efforts to remove landmines left in Afghanistan as a result of the Soviet occupation of the 1980s and the Afghan Civil War of the 1990s. In place of the landmines, the organization plants vineyards and other sustainable crops to aid farms and rural communities.

To ensure a percentage of the tab goes to the charity, diners should mention the words "Roots of Peace."

They also might want to take advantage of another special offer at the restaurant, founded in 1994 by Liberty Heights resident and chef Adriano Paganini.

On Tuesday nights, at the Noe Valley Pasta Pomodoro at 4000 24th Street, kids can eat free. The kids menu includes child-friendly basics like cheesy pasta, pizza, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Also this month, the restaurant is promoting a pre-fixe menu on Valentine's Day for $49 per couple.

For menus and other locations, visit More information about Roots of Peace is available at

--Lorraine Sanders

Celebrate Chinese New Year

Tired of all the economic evils we suffered during the Year of the Rat? Want to bring in the Year of the Ox, known for its propensity for prosperity?

Then get thee to 24th Street for a Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday, Feb. 7. There will be lion dances and fireworks, plus treats for the kids, at the 2 p.m. event in front of Zephyr Real Estate, 4040 24th Street.

"We're going to burn a lot of firecrackers and make loud noises to scare away the evil spirits in the new year," says Zephyr real estate agent Tuan Tran, who is hosting the celebration.

Lion dancers from the Yau Kung Moon dance troupe will help usher in lunar year 4707 (which officially started Jan. 26). Drummers will accompany the performance, expected to last approximately 45 minutes.

This is the 10th year Tran and Zephyr Real Estate have co-sponsored the Chinese New Year festivities on 24th Street.

"It's a nice way to bring in the new year, and to bring something cultural into Noe Valley," Tran says.

--Corrie M. Anders