Noe Valley Voice November 2010


’Tis the Season to Go Gaga

By Mazook

DATELINE MONDAY, NOV. 1: The Noe Valley Halloween madness has just passed, the Giants are poised for a World Series win, Election Day is tomorrow, Veterans Day is Nov. 11, Thanksgiving is four Thursdays away, Hanukkah a week after that (Dec. 2), and then there’s the first day of Muharram (the start of an Islamic new year) Dec. 7, which is also Pearl Harbor Day. After that, we’ve got only 17 shopping days till the Night Before Christmas, and one week after that it’s New Year’s Eve, hats, horns, and BOOM! hello 2011.

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This Wonderful HALLOWEEN, trick-or-treaters abounded in the neighborhood, even more than any year in recent memory. On Halloween morning, many small-fry families attended a party given by the Friends of the Upper Noe Valley Rec Center on Day Street, where there were kids costume and pet parades, pumpkin carvings, and live musical entertainment.

On Halloween afternoon, 24th Street was filled with kids, toddlers, and strollers for the annual promenade to each and every store in Downtown Noe Valley. It  has been a major ad hoc neighborhood event since the 1970s, with near total merchant participation. Several onlookers estimated that upwards of a thousand ghosts and goblins were in the parade. Great goodies on 24th Street are the attraction, and there were bags of treats for all. (Some of you parents might remember a Halloween, circa 1999, when the Ark toy store gave the little folks Beanie Babies.)

“There were wall-to-wall kids, strollers, dogs, and parents,” says Bobby Penny, manager of Just for Fun on 24th near Noe. “We gave out over six cases of Jelly Bellies and all of our remaining stock of Halloween Pez dispensers with candy.” Penny estimates over a thousand families visited the store.

Up 24th Street at Global Exchange, assistant manager Corinne Regan was amazed by the turnout. “We gave out over 2,000 pieces of [“Equal Exchange”] chocolate, one piece to each child,” says Regan. In typical Global Exchange fashion, the chocolate was organic and fair-trade-certified, hailing from farms in the Dominican Republic and Peru. “I was really impressed with the number of families who came in [before Halloween] and bought bags to give out as treats at their homes,” Regan says.

Regan wants us all to see a recently released documentary, The Dark Side of Chocolate, which exposes the use of child labor in the cocoa fields of Ghana, the second largest chocolate producer worldwide.

Further up 24th Street, Azia Yenne Bolos, Small Fry’s manager, estimates she doled out “all kinds of candy to almost two thousand kids on Halloween alone, besides probably over a thousand kids on Friday [Oct. 29],” when the local elementary schools had their annual 24th Street Halloween costume parade.

Of course, everyone had to stop at Noe Valley Bakery. Baker Alicia Toyooka says they baked over 1,500 pumpkin cookies for Halloween, and around a thousand for the Friday school parade.

Finally, as the Halloween sun went down, Fair Oaks Street filled with zillions of parading trick-or-treaters—witches and warlocks, and tortured Giants fans. Some of the Fair Oaksters put televisions out as a special treat for the revelers. The same was true up on Douglass Street, where Bruce Kapsack projected the fourth World Series game onto his garage door, to the delight of his neighbors.

Real estate website last month ranked Noe Valley the number-one “trick-or-treat destination in San Francisco.” It also put the City of San Francisco number two nationally (behind Seattle), in a list of the top 20 cities in the U.S. for trick-or-treating. The Zillow rankings were “calculated using four equally weighted data variables”: home values, population density, walkability, and crime data. “Based on those variables,” states Zillow, “the index represents neighborhoods that will provide the most candy, with the least walking and safety risks.” Yep, that’s us.

The number one costume demanded this year at the venerable One Stop Party Shop (opened at the corner of Church and 28th in 1988) was Lady Gaga.

“Vampires were also huge,” says One Stop’s owner Mardie Van Dervort. “But the biggest-selling items this year were beards. People were coming from everywhere to buy a beard, some four, five, or six at a time, so I had my supplier ship me 500 more, air express, and I expect they will go fast.”

As all you San Francisco Giants fans know, “Fear the beard!” has been the team’s rally cry for their quest to be the best in baseball and is derived from Giants closer Brian Wilson’s now internationally recognized boot-black beard.

This year, my favorite costume on 24th Street was the lady dressed up as Meg Whitman, in a black dress suit, handing out $50 bills (fake) and saying, “Can I buy your vote?”

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RUN SILENT, YOU SLEEP: The J-Church line was drastically revamped over the Columbus Day weekend, when the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency replaced the myriad failing streetcar tracks in the intersection at the corner of Church and 30th. This was good news to everyone who lives at or near that intersection and has been subjected for years to loud, metal-to-metal grinding noises from the city’s various fleets of streetcars.

The million-dollar job started with the intersection closing on Friday, Oct. 8, and work went on 24 hours a day until the job was finished on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Neighbors say the grinding sound has been softened. “There is still a rumble when the trains are turning [especially the big Breda cars], but the screeching sounds have been significantly silenced,” said Ken Murphy, who lives on 30th Street above the intersection. “Now, if the train operators would only keep their speed at five miles per hour until the whole train turns the corner, the rumbling would probably be significantly reduced.”

Murphy made a fantastic 13-minute time-lapse video of the construction, which he shot from Friday evening to Tuesday morning. “An image was captured every 15 seconds,” he said, “and shot using a Canon A590, with CHDK installed.” (CHDK is a firmware replacement for Canon cameras that enables all sorts of additional features.) “Each card would hold about 5,000 shots and would have to be changed every 20 hours,” Murphy said.

You can see the video, which has 28,520 images, at In late October, Murphy reports, the video had received over 230,000 views on the Web. It also was recently featured on the Japanese public television network NHK, which interviewed Murphy via Skype.

Murphy works as a web developer at KQED, has been hired by the Exploratorium as an artist-in-residence, and is doing a yearlong time-lapse movie of the sky that will have about 230,000 images. He also will be doing a video of the construction of the new                Exploratorium on Piers 15 and along the Embarcadero.

You might also find Ken Murphy’s recently released book, called Blinky Bugs, at Cover to Cover and Just for Fun. “It’s a children’s activity book where kids can make their own electric insects using low-power LED lights,” he says. The book sells for $20, and should be a hit gift this holiday season.

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SEEING THE WORLD: Upper Noe Valleyan and author Susan Krieger has a new book out, Traveling Blind: Adventures in Vision with a Guide Dog by My Side, which is getting well-deserved recognition. Krieger was interviewed a few months back by host Moira Gunn on National Public Radio’s geek show Tech Nation.

The book (Purdue University Press) has been described as “a series of beautifully textured stories [in which] the author takes the reader on a fascinating journey as she travels with Teela, her lively ‘golden dog,’ through airports, city streets, and southwest desert landscapes. This unusual account of travel will inspire the sighted as well as the blind, offering pointed observations on processes of learning to work with a service animal and on coming to terms with a disability.”

Krieger was profiled in the Voice in May 2005 following the publication of an earlier memoir called Things No Longer There. She was diagnosed in 1996 with a rare eye disease that has gradually taken her sight away. Now she is legally blind.

Kudos also go out to Dylan Donnelly, who this fall began attending the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City. Back in 2005, a 12-year-old Dylan won the first Noe Valley Harvest Festival poster contest—he drew the picture of a sprite with a basket of fall leaves. Dylan’s mom, Teresa Donnelly, operates Danu Hair Design on Castro Street.

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PASTA LA VISTA: It may be even harder to grab a table at Incanto these days, since the Church Street restaurant has doubled its pasta dishes, and the noodle plates are almost half the price of other entrees on the menu. “In these times, many people want a good meal for a reasonable price, and our pasta dishes have become very popular,” said co-owner Mark Pastore.

Pastore says he and co-owner/chef Chris Cosentino bought a pasta extruder which enables them to make their own pasta with whole grains and herbs. “This allows us a lot of creativity, so we even use squid ink, which turns the pasta black,” Pastore says.

In other Incanto news, Chef Cosentino and local clothes maker Betabrand have designed a new pair of pants, Gluttony Pants, that allows the wearer to expand the waistline depending on the size of the meal. The three buttons at the waist have their own names etched on them: “piglet,” “sow,” and “boar.”

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FLAGS ON DUNCAN STREET are the bright idea of Kate Koeppel, a California College of Arts graduate student who lives in the 100 block of Duncan. “I started making recycled fabric color flags to hang on the street, on trees, houses, fences, and in windows. I hoped that these playful color flags would encourage neighbors to talk, meet, and at the very least, laugh and enjoy the temporary colored flags.”

The project has gotten some participation up on the 600 block of Duncan. “The project started as a way to add color to Duncan Street, but is slowly becoming a way to connect neighbors and encourage neighborly behavior—learning names, sharing stories, getting together to make our street feel less anonymous,” says Koeppel.

You can check out her blog at ­

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ON THE BEVAN DUFTY BEAT: It’s hard to believe, but Bevan Dufty, Supervisor in District 8, is nearing the end of his eight-year reign. Admits Dufty, “it will end at 11:59 a.m. on January 8, 2010. After 28 years in public service, I am going to, well, retire, but I am going to start actively campaigning for mayor, with the election being on November 8, 2011.” That should be exciting.

In mid-October, Dufty’s legislative aide Boe Hayward took a paternity leave to await his first child, expected on Election Day. Dufty says the very popular Hayward has been a key liaison between the supervisor and many of our neighborhood activists.

Now Dufty has asked Noe Valley gadfly Todd David to take over for Hayward for the balance of Dufty’s term. “Todd caught my attention last year when he was working on behalf of Alvarado School Parents, organizing what proved to be the very successful Tech Search Party, a fundraising scavenger hunt. I was impressed by how involved he was, and then with his participation in the citywide public school parents forum and his work on the successful Prop. A campaign for a school parcel tax,” Dufty says. “I talked with him about [Hayward’s pending] departure and if he would be interested in doing some public service work. Three months would give him the opportunity to learn the legislative process.”

David agreed and started the job mid-October. Says David, “This is something I’ve been interested in, and it gives me an extraordinary opportunity to get involved in city government to see what works and what doesn’t work. Bevan has a great understanding of how to make government work for the people and has been a strong advocate and supporter of our public schools.”

By the way, Alvarado’s second annual Tech Search Party is scheduled for Nov. 13, and starts from the James Lick Auditorium on the corner of 25th and Noe streets at 5:30 p.m. Rumor has it there could be as many as 500 participants coming from all over the Bay Area.

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STOP THE PRESSES: Now it’s Nov. 1. The Giants won the World Series! Tonight Noe Valley erupted in spontaneous bedlam, along with the rest of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Screaming fans hit the streets, horns were honking, fireworks filled the sky, and helicopters buzzed overhead.

Congrats to Noe Valleyan Matt Cain, on both the team’s victory and his spectacular pitching in Game 2 of the Series. Maybe the Giants, with Ken Murphy’s help, could put together a time-lapse video showing each of his pitches in that game. We could show it at the next Friends of Noe Valley meeting.

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BEFORE I GO, I want to wish everyone a happy Armistice Day, Nov. 11. Armistice Day celebrated the end of World War I, “the war that would end all wars.” They changed its name to Veterans Day in the 1950s to acknowledge the American soldiers who fought and died in subsequent wars: WWII and Korea. Now add Vietnam, Gulf, and Terror. Did I miss any?

It was at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that the Germans accepted the terms of armistice from Allied Commander Marshall Foch. WWI saw the end of the Russian and Ottoman empires. France and Great Britain divided up the spoils and called it the Treaty of Versailles. American soldiers are still fighting and dying on the terrain of the Ottoman Empire because of that failed treaty.

So on Nov. 11, put a yellow ribbon in your window for all the vets who have made it back alive, and for all our soldiers who still need to come home.