Noe Valley Voice May 2013

And Now For The Rumors Behind The News

Sometimes the Light’s All Shining on Me

By Mazook

A very unlucky long-haul trucker from Nevada got trapped on the 22nd Street hill for more than five hours on April Fool’s Day.     Photo courtesy Mitchell Fox,

OTHER TIMES I CAN BARELY SEE: April 1 was not a good day for Rodney McFadden, a resident of Nevada who makes his living driving a big Volvo truck that pulls a 53-foot trailer. San Francisco was his last stop in a journey that started in Oklahoma, and after he’d finished his last delivery, McFadden found himself on Sanchez Street, near Cesar Chavez.

“I asked the guy which way was the best way outta there, and he told me to go up Sanchez Street and make a right on 22nd Street, which I thought would take me back to the freeway,” said McFadden. “That was about 3:30 p.m., and my truck got stuck at the top of the hill.” 

The hill, of course, is the 32-degree-grade, one-way block of 22nd between Vicksburg and Church streets, one of the steepest drivable hills in the city. The hill actually has its own page in Wikipedia.

“I was able to make the turn from Sanchez, but when I started going down this hill the front landing gear under the trailer got caught at the top and I came to a halt,” said McFadden, “so the next step was to get a tow truck to pull me back up the hill.” 

But problems developed when the first tow truck pulled the truck sideways, causing McFadden to halt the process and call another tow service. Finally, four hours later the truck and trailer were pulled back up the hill to Sanchez Street.

Thanks to Vicksburg resident Mitchell Fox, the image of the stuck truck has been preserved for posterity (

Said Fox: “I was coming home from work at about five o’clock, planning to go down 22nd to Vicksburg, but found the whole street blocked off by a giant truck.” The perfect photo op.

By 9 p.m. McFadden was at last on his way out of Noe Valley. “And I’ll tell you that either that guy who gave me directions the first time didn’t know that neighborhood at all, or geez, I was pranked…but I will tell you I met some really nice people in that neighborhood who made a bad situation much better. Thanks.”

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MAY DAZE: A heads-up for Saturday, May 18, when Downtown Noe Valley will have its annual Sidewalk Sale, with participation from over 30 businesses on 24th and Church streets, according to Dani Sheehan Meyer of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association (and Cliché Noe Gift Store). “It will be a great day for Spring $ales (sorry, I could not resist), meaning there will be some great bargains out on the sidewalk, and hopefully a boost to our local merchants,” she writes. It’s all a part of Small Business Week, which San Francisco is celebrating from May 12 to 18.

We also hear from the Saturday Farmers’ Market vendors (see below) that May 18 has been predicted to be an awesome day to buy springtime fruits and vegetables in the morning, prior to your stroll through Noe Valley for merchant values. In our climate futurecast, the Noe Valley Weather Service is predicting early morning fog will be clutching Twin Peaks, but burn off by about 9 a.m., with temperatures rising to a sunny high of 74 degrees.

By the way, during aforesaid Small Business Week, on May 16, the NVMPA will be hosting a party at the 24th Street Wells Fargo starting at 6 p.m. Association President Bob Roddick says he wants all members to attend, because certificates of appreciation from the Board of Supervisors will be presented to some very worthy recipients.

According to NVMPA organizer Carol Yenne, the honorees will include the Town Square Steering Committee, “for their hard work and determination in efforts to making it a reality for Noe Valley, and to maintain open space and provide a permanent location for the Farmers Market: Nisha Pillai, Todd David, Chris Keene, Leslie Crawford, and Kate Sherwood.”

Other honorees include the Noe Valley Merchants ADA Committee, composed of Gwen Sanderson, Susan Walla, and Mike Onufer, “for their hard work in seeking solutions for businesses in dealing with the laws and consequences of ADA legislation that has burdened small businesses.... Also, Zephyr Real Estate’s Bill Drypolcher will be honored for being a constant contributor to the community of Noe Valley and supporter of families and businesses through Real Estate.”

And lastly but not leastly, receiving an award will be Bank of America’s Noe Valley branch manager, Becky Feijoo, for her longtime service as treasurer of the NVMPA.

Congrats to all.

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HONOR ROLL: Kudos go out to Noe Valleyan Yuriko Gamo Romer, whose film Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful won the 2013 Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the International Festival of Sports Movies in Moscow, Russia, last month. As many of you know, this movie is about Noe Valley legend Keiko Fukuda, who just passed away at age 99 (see the March 2013 issue). She was the first woman to earn a 10th degree black belt in judo, the sport’s highest honor.

In a remotely related item, Noe Valley nonagenarian Jeanne Galarza’s 93rd birthday party (rumored here last month) was wonderful. A big thanks go to SFPD’s Lorraine Lombardo, our 24th Street beat cop, who threw the party at Toast on 24th Street. Michael Gessen of our famous Noe Valley Bakery made a cake for Galarza, and the Just for Fun folks gave her a lovely tiara. “I got her two cool candles—one said 93—but I had to buy her two cards,” reports Lombardo, “one 90 and one 3, because I couldn’t find a 93!”

Kudos also to Noe Valley’s own Steven Pressman, whose long resume (primarily as a legal affairs journalist and author) also includes being a filmmaker. Pressman’s documentary, Fifty Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, had its HBO premiere on April 8, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day. The story is told by an 83-year-old widow who was the 50th out of 50 children to be sent by their Austrian parents to Gilbert and Eleanor Krause in America for safety back in 1938, after the Nazis had taken over their country.

A wonderful review of the documentary came out that day in the San Francisco Chronicle by writer Sam Whiting.

The Krauses’ granddaughter is Pressman’s wife Liz Perle. She had maintained the records of the rescue. Searching the roster of children, Pressman found a survivor, Kay Lee, living in Atherton. She was originally known in Austria as Klara Rattner, and Pressman traced her to the 1948 graduating class at Mission High School.

From there, the rest is history.

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MANGIA, MANGIA! On the local food front, news is that the now-landmark Upper Noe Valley restaurant La Ciccia is going to open a new restaurant just a few doors down the train tracks at 1781 Church. That’s where Cece’s Closet consignment shop used to be, before the property was brought up to seismic and ADA code requirements.

La Ciccia owner/chef Massimiliano Conti says he and his wife, Lorella Degan, are planning to open a new eaterie at the premises called La Nebbia. “We are so excited about this and hopefully—fingers crossed—we can open this fall,” says Conti. “We are going to make it an Enoteca, but so much more: a lasagnaria, pizzeria, prosciutteria, with a fresh cheese bar featuring local and Italian mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta, with a small wine bar serving between 70 and 80 wines from California and Italy, and about 30 of those by the glass,” says the exuberant Conti.

“We have been in this fantastic neighborhood now for seven years and feel very fortunate that so many people visit us…and this will give us a chance to expand our menu and offer a more relaxed and casual atmosphere, and we will prepare my favorite dish—lasagna—so we will have a delicious variety on the menu,” he adds.

Back on 24th Street, the Noe Valley Deli is morphing into what appears to be a breakfast/ lunch/brunch café. Attempts to reach someone at Je & June, Inc. have been unsuccessful.  Workmen allowed the posting of aVoice contact number on the paper covering the inside of the front door. I did notice that the building owner put up a notice of “non-responsibility” by the building owner. But passersby can see, Je and June have renovated the space and received ABC approval to sell beer and wine. We will update you next month. And, Je or June: Give me a call and we can talk eggs over easy.

Rumors that the retail space on the corner of 24th and Diamond streets is going to become a kid-related store have evaporated, as have merchants’ hopes that a retail something-or-other will open in the space. The current rumor is, uh, a title insurance company.

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FRUITATARIANISM: The vendors at the Saturday Noe Valley Farmers’ Market say myriad fruits and vegetables are in store for us during the month of May. (As most of you know, especially those of you who have gotten this far down in the column, the market is located in the parking lot at 3861 24th, between Sanchez and Vicksburg.)

“We are looking forward to sugar snap peas and broccolini,” says Ashley McDermott of Happy Boy Farms, “and lots of herbs, like oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro, and tarragon.”

Evelyn Williamson from Tomatero Organic Farm will be bringing “strawberries, a lot of herbs, spring basil, lettuces, arugula, spinach, and carrots.”

“For us, we will see a lot of tomatoes and squash,” says Capay Organics’ Lisa David.  

According to Aaron Gold from Hidden Star Orchards, the best fruit will be blueberries and cherries. Forrest Cook from Swanton Berry Farm says he’s been selling a lot of his Chandler strawberry crop (very sweet and very short shelf life). “Next we will have cauliflower and broccoli,” says Cook.

“We are looking at long beans, bell pepper, and hot pepper, eggplant, and tomato,” says Kou Her from the Herr Family Farm (“My dad spells his name with two Rs”).

The month of May will bring “a lot of peaches (yellow), cherries, apricots, plums, as well as pluots and apriums, which are hybrids of plums and apricots,” says Jimmy Egoian of Twin Girl Farms. “We will also have some great nectarines.”

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CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: The Mazookmobile was driving towards Market on Dolores—a poor route choice—on Saturday, April 20, in the late afternoon, and I have never in my life seen so many people in Dolores Park. Okay, I get it—weekend, sun, fun.

But when I passed by the park the next Monday afternoon, after working at my regular day job, I noticed there were still hundreds of sun/fun people lounging on the park green. I stopped, got out the car, and entered the park to find out: Who are all these people?

I came upon Alex Rosan, who said he was a regular at the park but lives in the Lower Haight. “This place is a melting pot of people with beautiful spirits,” he said. He pointed out that various groups go to various spots on the uphill terrain. “Over here [pointing to the playground], you have moms and kids, and up there [pointing to the upper plateau near 20th Street] is the gay beach area, and over there [near the tennis courts] are the international groups, and up the hill are artists, hipsters, techies, punks, anarchists, hippies, and some nine-to-fivers.”

Taylor Alec, from Bernal Heights, agrees that it’s a very social park. “I come here because it is a great place to people-watch.”

Liz Kershaw, who lives in Noe Valley, says she comes over the hill because “it is relaxing, and everyone here has a great feeling.” 

“I come here when it is sunny—I work and live around here, and find it is very social around here—as a matter of fact I met my fiancé here,” says Noe Valley resident Maia H, blushingly.

“I enjoy this park and get to meet a lot of people from France,” says Wahia, who lives in Daly City and works in computer science.

Donna Hunt from the South Bay comes “because it is a good place to hang in the city and has good weather.”

One park grazer, who would not give his name, said he thought the conga drum group could stand some improvement. And a fellow from Bernal said, “Some people get unruly when they have had too much to drink, which you never see with the stoners.”

Dolores Park, as Voice readers know, is in the midst of a major remodel, and construction is due to start in October. I’ll be trying to catch some events in the park this summer, especially the SF Mime Troupe and a rock show I hear is on the calendar.

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ODDS AND ENDS: A new woman’s boutique, called Kitami Ropa has opened at 1478 Church St. near 27th, selling modern, vintage, and new clothing. The shop had a soft opening in mid-March, but was fully stocked and attracting lots of attention by early last month. “We have clothes by a lot of different designers, many of them local,” says owner Tara Kitami. She says she’s open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Congratulations to Peggy Cling and Jack Twomey for correctly answering last month’s blue-ribbon bonus quiz question: Where exactly in Noe Valley is Worth? Twomey wrote a letter to the editor about his growing up on Worth (see Letters, page 8), and Peggy Cling takes her walk from Sanchez Street to Grand View and passes Worth on the way. Of course, Worth is a one block street located between 21st and 22nd streets with Grand View to the west and Douglass Street to the east.

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WHAT A LONG STRANGE TRIP IT’S BEEN: That’s it for May. See you all in June. Ciao4now.