Noe Valley Voice May 2009

Short Takes

History by Lantern Light

The San Francisco History Association will present "An Evening of Magic Lantern Slides" on Tuesday, May 26, at St. Philip's Church at 725 Diamond Street near Elizabeth Street.

Association President Ron Ross will lead the presentation, showing 63 Magic Lantern slides from his own collection, including views of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the city before and after the 1906 earthquake.

"Magic lanterns" are the precursors to slide projectors, says Ross. Their use was first recorded in 16th-century Italy, though they may have originated in China. In the mid-1800s, itinerant projectionists traveled the English countryside, entertaining audiences with slide shows, often accompanied by special effects. The few surviving lanterns and slides are sought-after collectors' items.

Ross says just to be safe, he's bringing 21st-century technology--a PowerPoint presentation--to back up his 19th-century machine.

"These things have no cooling system," he says, and light bulbs have been known to blow up.

Doors on Elizabeth Street will open at 7 p.m. to refreshments, and the meeting begins at 8 p.m. (Parking is available.) There is a $5 admission charge for non-members of the association.

For information about the History Association, call 415-750-9986 or visit

--Heather World

Rough Draft of a Book Club

The Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Library is inviting book lovers who seek conversation and company to join a new book discussion group that will meet once a month on Wednesday evenings.

The group will choose the titles, avoiding very new books to ensure the library has enough copies available for those who want to borrow them, says Susan Higgins, adult services librarian at the branch. A facilitator from the community will lead the discussion.

Interested readers should call the library at 415-355-5707 or stop by 451 Jersey Street as soon as possible. Higgins will return calls later in May with details about the first meeting.

Higgins says the idea for the book club came from a patron. "We enjoy hearing suggestions from people in the community about programming," she said.

Since Higgins joined the Noe Valley branch in November, she has been trying to expand adult programming to complement the children's events. She's averaged about one program per month so far, including a lecture and slide show on Vincent Van Gogh, a folk music program, and a play performed by a local theater group.

This month, Berkeley author Sybil Lockhart will read from her book Mother in the Middle: a Biologist's Story of Caring for Parent and Child, on Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. A neurobiologist, Lockhart was pregnant with her second child when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Her memoir is both a scientific and a personal story, about a mind evolving and a mind disintegrating.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the reading.

--Heather World

Herrera to Update Prop. 8

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera will speak on the status of marriage equality in California at the Noe Valley Democratic Club meeting on Thursday, May 21, at the Upper Noe Valley Recreation Center, 295 Day Street between Sanchez and Church streets. The public is invited to the event, which starts at 7 p.m.

The city attorney will discuss efforts to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court. Voters passed the proposition, banning same-sex marriage, in November of last year. The state high court is expected to announce its ruling on the measure's legality in June.

The Democratic Club notes that Herrera "has worked tirelessly for marriage equality in San Francisco and elsewhere," and that "most of California's largest cities, including Los Angeles, are now following his lead in attempting to topple Proposition 8."

Andrea Shorter of Equality California, which has assisted many in the LGBT community in filing discrimination suits, also will address the meeting.

For more information on the event or the club, e-mail Molly Fleischman at Note: The club will return in June to its usual meeting place at St. Philip's Church.

--Corrie Anders

Life Is Good in the Park

May weather means a blossoming of free park activity, starting Friday, May 16, when Life Is Good hosts a free Feel-Good Festival in Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadows from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The popular Noe Valley­connected band the Sippy Cups will join funksters ALO and folksinger Martin Sexton as a musical backdrop to a day of kid-friendly games and activities. Look for the usual picnic sports, like tug-o'-war, Frisbee, and double-dutch jump rope, amid some more unusual offerings, like seed-spitting.

The San Francisco festival is the first on the West Coast for Boston-based Life Is Good. As in past festivals, it will feature a 3K fundraising walk called the Good Walk for Kids. The 10 a.m. walk will cover relatively flat terrain, and organizers promise music and silliness to entertain young fundraisers along the way.

Proceeds will go to Project Joy, a national nonprofit that trains and supports teachers and childcare providers helping children who have undergone personal trauma.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, May 30, the Friends of Dolores Park Playground will host a free Jammin' in the Playground event for all ages, from 11 a.m. to noon in Dolores Park at Dolores and 19th streets. Charity & the JAMband will play their soulful rock melodies while kids scramble over the play structures.

For the scoop on this event, or on other Dolores Park activities, call 415-582-3774 or visit

--Heather World

Serious Music at the Series

The San Francisco-born duo the Bittersweets will bring home its blend of folk, pop, and country music to the Noe Valley Ministry on Saturday, May 9, as part of the Noe Valley Music Series.

The Bittersweets, composed of Chris Meyers on guitar, keyboards, and vocals, and Hannah Prater on vocals and guitar, found honey four years ago when Prater's deep smooth voice and Meyers' melancholic guitar-strumming earned a three-month stint on KFOG's Local Artist of the Month show. Since then, the pair has recorded two albums, written music for TV's Men in Trees and Rapture, and toured both the U.S. and U.K.

Encore for Music Series: A last-minute call from a fan prompted series producer Larry Kassin to add an a cappella group on Friday, May 15. Vocaldente hails from Germany and won last year's Harmony Sweepstakes at the A Cappella Festival held at the Marin Civic Center, a 24-year tradition. He says the group's five voices turn '80s rock or the latest pop music into the highs and lows of a cappella sound.

"Everyone we've had from there [the A Cappella Festival] has been really high-quality," says Kassin, who's put on the music series since the 1980s, organizing 30 performances a year.

Both concerts start at 8:15 p.m. and are held in the upstairs sanctuary of the Ministry at 1021 Sanchez Street.

For ticket information, go to or call 415-454-5238. Advance tickets, priced at $15 (they're $17 at the door), are also available at Phoenix Books & Records, 3850 24th Street.

--Heather World

Curtain Rises at Ciribiribin

The Marsh Youth Theater's MainStage Performance Ensemble celebrates its eighth season May 9 to 16 with Ciribiribin, a musical about an Italian immigrant family living in California on the eve of World War II.

Directed and co-written by Lisa Quoresimo with Charles Eurydice Gray, the story is based on Quoresimo's father's life. Like the Japanese, the Italians were deprived of civil liberties in the United States during the war, and these restrictions force the show's characters to question the meaning of home. The music pairs Italian folk melodies with swing music from the 1930s and '40s.

Pronounced "Cheery Beery Bean," Ciribiribin takes its name from a 19th-century Italian song that was popularized in America in the twenties.

The musical's performers are in grades five through eight and have been in rehearsal five to 12 hours a week since January, says program director Emily Klion.

"They develop incredibly," she says. "You see dramatic changes in their ability to sing and dance but also in their self-confidence as they start to present themselves on stage."

Performances happen on Saturday, May 9, and Sunday, May 10, at 3 p.m.; Friday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for general admission and $6 for students and can be purchased by calling 800-838-3006 or by going to the Marsh website, The theater is located at 1062 Valencia Street between 21st and 22nd streets.

The Marsh Youth Theater began in 2001 as a group of 10 neighborhood children and now boasts 200 participants from across the city. For more information about MYT shows, or about the theater's summer workshops, call 415-826-5750 or e-mail

--Heather World

Free Volunteer Symposium

Interested do-gooders can learn who needs what at a free volunteer symposium hosted by the San Francisco Young Democrats on Tuesday, May 19, at Le Colonial Restaurant.

Ten local volunteer-based organizations will send representatives to talk about the kinds of assistance needed, from one hour a week of serving meals to training others to provide services. Attendees can sign up on the spot, as well as meet like-minded volunteers over hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and chitchat from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The nonprofits represented will be the San Francisco Food Bank, Mo' Magic Foundation, St. Anthony's Foundation, Stern Grove Festival Association, Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, Opportunity Impact, Project Homeless Connect, Chinatown Community Development Center, San Francisco Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Koshland Garden and Alemany Farm.

All proceeds from food and drink sales at the event will be donated to the San Francisco Food Bank. The Young Democrats, "re-established" eight years ago, is largely made up of students, activists, and young professionals, the group says. This is its first volunteer symposium.

Le Colonial Restaurant is located in the former Trader Vic's at 20 Cosmo Place, off Taylor Street between Post and Sutter streets. For more information, visit

--Heather World

A Fair-Minded Flea Market

What has 100 families, 34 years of history, and five blocks of knickknacks? The Fair Oaks Street Fair and Flea Market, which takes place this year on Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Always the Saturday before Mother's Day, the annual fair attracts thousands of shoppers to Victorian-laden Fair Oaks Street between 21st and 26th streets.

"When you're looking at five blocks of garage sale, you'll find something," says Barbara May, a resident who helps organize the event.

In addition to selling their used furniture, books, kitchenware, and clothing, many residents host bake sales or face-painting booths. Kids especially love the event, May says. "There's stuff they can afford."

The sale benefits the neighbors' feeling of community, almost as much as their bank accounts.

"I saw this guy with a couple of truck tires, and he looked like he'd struck gold in the Yukon," said May. "I feel the same way sometimes."

Each year, nonprofits and schools set up booths during the sale to attract donors. This year, First Book San Francisco, a consortium of nonprofits bringing books to under-served families, will accept new or used books, cash, or checks on the 200 block.

For a $20 donation, First Book also will provide Mother's Day cards notifying the recipient of a donation made in her honor.

--Heather World

Older Get Wiser

San Franciscans over 60 are invited to sample the scholarship of Sixty Plus, a lifelong learning organization that hosts lectures, luncheons, and other social gatherings at San Francisco State University.

Members of the city's two chapters gather twice a month to learn about a variety of topics, from the changing structure of San Francisco General's Trauma Unit to the work of police dogs (complete with sniffing dogs). The Beta chapter meets on second and fourth Mondays, while Gamma meets on first and third Tuesdays.

Hoping to lure younger seniors, the group is offering a free lecture to anyone eligible and interested. Some lectures are lighthearted, others heavy, says Richard Lewis, the group's publicity officer. "It's all quite modern, even though we're often wrestling with it," he says.

Presentations take place in the Rosa Parks Room downstairs in the student union, and last 30 to 40 minutes.

Membership costs $75 a year and includes the option of obtaining a student ID card for a small extra fee. The card allows access to the university library and recreational and dining facilities.

"The great thing is the campus is part of the fun," says Lewis. "You go and mingle with the kids."

Sixty Plus also organizes small group activities like day and overnight trips and offers discounted theater and symphony tickets. Members who register with Elder College on campus can take as many courses as desired for $55.

For more information and a membership application, contact coordinator Eileen Ward at 415-412-4684, e-mail, or visit the Sixty Plus office at SFSU, 1600 Holloway Avenue, HSS 242.

--Heather World

Arts Ed Goes to Camp

An award-winning program for young artists, which had its roots in Noe Valley, is accepting enrollment for summer camp.

The San Francisco Arts Education Project (SFArtsED) will hold its 14th "ARTSummer" camp from June 15 through July 24 at Horace Mann Middle School at 3351 23rd Street.

A faculty of artists will mentor children in two age groups, 6 to 9 and 9 to 14, in the visual, literary, and performing arts. During camp, the youngsters will exhibit their artwork, share their writings, and perform onstage at the end of each two-week session.

Among new offerings this year are performance cabaret and art classes that focus on earth-friendly materials. The camp will continue its signature classes in musical theater, fashion design, painting and drawing, cartooning, and creative writing.

The cost is $460 per session, with discounts provided for multiple sessions and for more than one sibling.

Ruth Asawa, a Noe Valley resident and nationally acclaimed artist, founded the Alvarado Arts Workshop in 1965 at Alvarado Elementary School. It was the precursor to SFArtsEd, which also is an entry point for children wishing to join the SFArtsED Players musical theater company.

SFArtsEd receives funding in part from the California Arts Council as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. To get more information or to register, go to or call 415-551-7990.

--Corrie Anders