It's not the sourdough- it's the ngihborhoods
too young to be so corny," a friend of mine heaves through cigarette
smoke every time I write about the jasmine on Russian Hill.
I was in Park City, Utah recently for only a few days. The feeling of
relief that comes with the descent into San Francisco International
Airport never fails to reach a zenith of kiss-the-ground excitement.
It's true whether you're returning from Rome or Reno. I never met a
local who wasn't corny enough to know that feeling, and that includes
The San Franciscan returns with a grateful heart and a full calendar.
With them I offer this collection of items dedicated to the City's neighborhoods.
They are the ground we kiss.
From Hayes Valley comes good news from gospel singer Emmit Powell, who
announced recently that his Powell's
Place soul food restaurant had been priced out of its Hayes and
Octavia location after 31 years. Now Powell says he's signed a lease
for a new joint at Fillmore and Eddy Streets and expects to open there
in May after only a few weeks of down time. Halleluiah and pass the
salt! (Update 04/14/04: Mr. Powell now says it may take a little
bit longer to get the new place just right. Heart of the City will keep
Fans of Miz
Brown's Feed Bag in Laurel Heights are not so lucky as to have a
favorite joint reprieved from closing. Miz Brown's - which only last
week was celebrated by the Bay Guardian along with other businesses
that have survived since the 1950s - is closed for good.
Telegraph Hill dwellers are elated that Judy Irving's documentary "The
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" is up for a Golden Gate Award at
this year's San Francisco International Film Festival. "Wild Parrots"
screens on April 16 and 24 at the Kabuki. The Golden Gate Awards will
be presented at the Brava Theatre Center at 24th Street and York on
April 28. For more information, visit the San Francisco Film Society's
The Randall Museum, a natural sciences museum in Corona Heights, welcomed
the addition of several works by San Francisco's famed sculptor Beniamino
Bufano. The eight pieces include a 1,700-pound butterfly and equally
massive and elegant cats, bears, seals, and a bunny. Bufano created
the granite sculptures under the Works Progress Administration in the
1930s. They had been at the Valencia Gardens housing project since 1945.
In a 1989 essay, arts writer Thomas Albright says of Bufano's animal
sculptures, "Their forms, stripped down to the barest essentials, mirror
perfectly the innocence and serenity that Bufano sought to express."
In North Beach, the Purple Onion
is back at 140 Columbus Avenue. Sylvester, the late disco queen of the
Castro and beyond, returned - if not in the flesh, then in celebration
- at the Opera House at Civic Center. Performances by Martha Wash, Chanticleer,
Emmit Powell and the Gospel Elites and others marked the 25th anniversary
of Sylvester's own historic Opera House performance.
Now comes word that the Trocadero Transfer is back, too. Today's Glas
Kat, the former Troc venue at 520 Fourth Street, hosts a tea dance and
Trocadero celebration on April 18. The DJ is Robbie Leslie, aka "The
Gentleman of Disco." For more information visit remembertheparty.com.
On Potrero Hill, the Thick Space hosts the newest great performance
by the Eastenders Repertory Company. Charles E. Polly directs "Three
Hotels," a series of monologues about the marketing of baby formula
in the Third World. For more information visit eastenders.org.
The Union Square hotel community is buzzing with excitement these days.
The Westin St. Francis celebrated its 100th
anniversary with a bash focused not on the endless parade of movie
stars and international dignitaries that have stayed at the hotel over
the century, but on the employees who continue to make it one of the
friendliest places to stay in town.
A paparazzo stationed outside the hotel's legendary Mural Room treated
each arriving housekeeper, associate, and custodian as though they themselves
were royalty. Jan Wahl was a star-quality emcee, retelling the scandal
that destroyed the career of silent comedian Fatty Arbuckle after a
starlet died following a party in Arbuckle's room at the St. Francis.
General Manager Joseph Berger introduced veteran bellmen Pete Petri
and George Cross. Before retiring, Petri worked at the St. Francis for
63 years, Cross for 52 years. Marsha Monro, the sparkling Westin publicist,
wanted me to know that Petri and Cross were acquainted with Herb Caen.
"Were you both friends with Mr. Caen?" I asked. "Friends?" said Cross,
"We don't like to commit."
Petri remembered the knock-down, drag-outs that were audible throughout
the hallways of the hotel when Bette Davis and Gary Merrill began their
turbulent relationship while filming scenes from "All
About Eve" around the corner on Geary Street.
Sad news from the Marina district that 54 year-old
neighborhood activist Betty White was the pedestrian struck and killed
by a 30 Stockton bus on March 11.
White organized the first Neighborhood Emergency Response Team program
following the Loma Prieta Earthquake. She founded Magnolia Street Neighbors,
which prevented Rite Aid from opening a 12,000 sq. ft. store at Lombard
and Buchanan, a district zoned for retailers half that size. White was
also instrumental in obtaining funding for the new Moscone Playground.
These are just a few of the many accomplishments of a neighbor who is
deeply missed by her community.
At a memorial service, some of White's out-of-town relatives, who knew
only the basics about White's life in San Francisco, were honored to
hear of her achievements from leaders such as Assemblyman Leland Yee
and former Supervisor Angela Alioto.
If the Vaillancourt Fountain
is eventually removed from Justin Herman Plaza on the waterfront, Claire
Sagardahl will be among the last kids who fell in the icy water there.
Claire, who was born in San Francisco but lives in Sacramento, was six
years old when she fell in, a week or so before the fountain was unplugged
in the name of energy conservation. She was drenched but otherwise unharmed.
The moral of Claire's soaking is two-fold. One, maybe you can't fight
progress; and two, don't let me baby sit your kids.
to MisterSF.com. Please visit the site often to keep in
with San Francisco, for your own amusement, and to use the Local
Joints section as a portal for independent businesses. Keep your
in the neighborhoods... Watch this space for observations, interviews
more from around town. All other sections of MisterSF.com are also
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