Heart of the City Archives

City of joy, luck, and somethings in between
by Hank Donat

The house at 180 Manchester Street in Bernal Heights is for sale. In Wayne Wang's film of Amy Tan's novel "The Joy Luck Club" it was the home of chic, successful Waverly Jong, played by Tamlyn Tamita. The house was designed in 1984 by William Stout. It's a big, white box with great views.

I saw some obvious crumbling on one of the exterior walls on a visit there last week. Nevertheless, a listing from Sotheby's says, "The home maintains considerable pedigree, having been featured in architectural publications from around the world." If you have $1.4 million lying around it's all yours. I'd rather find a mutt who's never been in pictures and keep my money in the bank.

Next! I can't shed even a crocodile tear for the pedestrian tunnels at the music concourse in Golden Gate Park. When workers removed the first of three tunnels, two of which will be rebuilt, they discovered that just over twelve inches of unreinforced concrete and asphalt separated the ceiling of the tunnel from the Muni buses that have run over the top of it for years. Holy rebar!

The work is part of the underground garage project. A court ruling is pending which will determine whether it moves forward. A few neighbors from the area near 8th and Fulton are trying to hold it up. I call them the dandelion people because I'm sure they'll sue you if you try to pick one.

San Francisco is a power-to-the-people kind of place, as it should be, but this is why it took us 30 years to build Yerba Buena Gardens, which was a good idea all along. The concourse garage is also a good idea. It's just too dangerous to have all that parking traffic racing through the concourse anymore.

It bears repeating that preserving the City doesn't mean not improving it. That's the political reality in Mayor Gavin Newsom's San Francisco, where adversaries aren't always enemies. In fact, if San Franciscans in District 5 look for that quality in someone among the huge field of candidates running for Supervisor there, they should be able to pick a winner.

Janis MacKenzie, one of the few who is not running for District 5 Supervisor, is a marketing partner for the new owners of the Examiner and other San Francisco companies. MacKenzie recently celebrated 21 years in business with her firm, MacKenzie Communications. That's a virtual centennial in independent business years!

MacKenzie started the firm on the dining room table of her Russian Hill apartment with only her cat, Rosemary, and an idea for a public relations company that would embody the spirit of San Francisco. Since then, MacKenzie has represented major cultural centers here such as the De Young Museum, Zeum, and the Maritime National Historical Park, in addition to the "Britain by the Bay" campaign that brought a million visitors to the City in 1997.

A soiree in the company's Washington Street offices brought out many old friends of MacKenzie and of the City. Lee Blitch of the Chamber of Commerce, Ben Zaricor of Good Earth Teas, British Consul-General Martin Uden, office supply baron Clifford Waldeck, Examiner chairman Robert Starzel and his wife Mary Beth, and Mary Huss of SF Business Times were among those who came out to congratulate MacKenzie.

Patty Walters, Judy Dinkle, Richard Rappaport, and Sabrina Kaegi were there at the beginning and also wouldn't have missed the chance to raise a glass in MacKenzie's direction.

Here's a toast to Rosemary the cat. She was a stray when MacKenzie took her inside in 1983. MacKenzie named her after the rosemary that grows in abundance on Russian Hill. Incredibly, Rosemary is still around. Longer may she live - or at least until the end of this column.

Every now and then you meet someone who's truly unselfish and does something just because it really helps a community. Dr. Jim Garrick is someone like that.

Dr. Garrick is the director of the Center for Sports Medicine at St. Francis Memorial Hospital. At a point in his career when he could see his most famous athlete and entertainer patients exclusively, Dr. Garrick has started a clinic for dancers in the City.

The average age of a professional dancer at the end of their career is 22. In that short time, the rigors of professional dance and dance education can be devastating physically. In addition, Dr. Garrick reminds us that dancers are often uninsured and usually hold physically demanding day jobs such as waiting tables. Dancers who come to the clinic at Hyde and Bush Streets can get the help they need for as little as $25.

Dr. Garrick says doctors expect a spike in dance injury cases in a matter of days after the start of the summer season. Because Dr. Garrick's clinic makes treatment available on short notice to people of all income brackets, you may have him to thank for a high-kicking summer from the San Francisco Youth Ballet Academy to Beach Blanket to the Shan-Yee Poon School. You can find each of those in the heart of the city.

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Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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