This Weekend: Open Studios in Bernal Heights


Heads up Bernal art nerds! Or, people who identify with Bernal art nerds!

This weekend, Artspan has organized the 2014 Open Studios in Bernal Heights. Visit Bernal artists between 11 am and 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday, November 1 & 2. See their work. Find out where the magic really happens:

SF Open Studios is the oldest and largest open studios program in the country, featuring an annual, month-long art event in October and November that showcases over 800 emerging and established San Francisco artists in their studios. Each weekend, art patrons, admirers, and collectors venture out on self-guided tours to see as many SF Open Studios artists and their artworks as possible, in the hopes of finding their next true art love. The event connects collectors with artists for engaging dialogue and a glimpse into the life of the working artist; SF Open Studios simultaneously helps artists build their mailing lists, gain new admirers, and ultimately sustain a living making art.

Right on. And here’s the details, to get the names and addresses of the participating Bernal artists:


Saturday Morning: Come Out to Clean Up Precita Park


Neighbor Demece, the reigning queen of the terrific Precita Valley Neighbors, invites Bernalese of all ages to join in for a Precita Park Cleanup, on Saturday, November 1 at 9 am:

Bring your bags, hand shovels, and rakes! We are going to Clean Up Precita Park!

This Saturday at 9:00a.m., meet in the Children’s Playground. Neighborly conversation and friendship provided!

And don’t be shy: tell your neighbors to get our emails by signing up at! It’s free and fun!

Sparkle on!

RIP Bernard Mayes, Bernal Neighbor and Suicide-Prevention Pioneer


Via an obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, we learn that we have lost one of Bernal’s finest. Neighbor Bernard Mayes of Winfield Street, the creator of America’s first suicide prevention hotline, has died. The Chronicle writes:

The first suicide hotline in the United States consisted of one man with one phone in one room in San Francisco. The man was Bernard Mayes, and he has died at 85.

Mr. Mayes, a longtime San Francisco radio correspondent for the BBC, was also the founding station manager of KQED FM. His death Thursday was confirmed by Matthew Chayt, executor of his estate. Mr. Mayes suffered from Parkinson’s disease and had been hospitalized.

In a 2012 interview with The Chronicle at his home in Bernal Heights, Mr. Mayes recounted how he got the idea for the hotline.

“I did feel that what was really needed was a compassionate ear, someone to talk to,” he said in the smooth radio voice of his native London. “It occurred to me that we had to have some kind of service which would offer unconditional listening, and that I would be this anonymous ear.”

The year was 1962, and Mr. Mayes acted on his hunch by placing cardboard ads on Muni buses: “Thinking of ending it all? Call Bruce, PR1-0450, San Francisco Suicide Prevention.”

PHOTO: Bernard Mayes at his home in Bernal Heights, 2012. Photo by the San Francisco Chronicle

Giants Win Another World Series, But What About the Children?


For better or worse, San Francisco has become rather skilled at winning.

Case in point: Last night’s World Series victory by the San Francisco Giants, the team’s third World Series victory in five years.

The Bernalwood Action News Team watched the Giants clinch their 2014 championship victory from fashionable Lundy’s Landing on the west slope, where the al fresco baseball viewing experience was an image of everything that’s good and right in the universe right now. This was the scene during the second-to-last out of the game:

Here’s a post-game victory portrait of Team Lundys, highlighting the Bernal sexy:


Super- mega- extra- gold stars for the Lundy’s neighbors who made the al fresco World Series happen. That was as good as it gets.

From Lundys, the Bernalwood Action News Team rolled down to Mission Street to watch the festivities there. From afar, we heard lots of whooping and car horns honking. Madness! We arrived on Mission across from our Taoist Safeway, and quickly assessed the situation. There was a robust police presence, with bemused SFPD officers standing on almost every block. Most of the whooping was coming from cheerful pedestrians celebrating on the sidewalk. Like these stylish gents:


Much of the honking car horns was coming from minivans full of parents and their excited children participating in an ad hoc parade.


We encountered this group of Bernal hooligans as they wandered south on Mission:


The big excitement in Greater Bernalwood was on Mission at Precita, where a large crowd gathered in front of the (rather delicious) Baby Blues BBQ restaurant. There was much cheering and waving of banners:


At one point, Bernalwood peered into a car stopped at the intersection. Star Sighting!!!  It was San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.  You remember: That guy from the Batkid video! Chief Suhr was out surveying the situation from the passenger seat of an unmarked car:


Then, with impeccable timing, just moments after Chief Suhr headed north on Mission, a pod of Lowriders showed up.  And when the light at Mission and Precita turned from green to red, the cars began to bounce:

Much bouncing ensued. And lifting, and tilting, and and flag-waving, and cheering. There were some firecrackers, and lots of laughing and high-fiving, and in general, there was a lot of euphoria but not a lot of mayhem on our stretch of Mission Street.

Sure, things got far more wild as you headed north on Mission. But here in Bernal, this is about as wild as it got:

Because overall, San Francisco is getting very good at winning.

Yet herein lies an insidious peril, particularly for the children of Bernal Heights.

The hazard is that for many of our Junior Citizens, World Series celebrations
have become a familiar event. Victory is the only thing they have ever known. The whole “win the World Series, whoop it up around the neighborhood, then go to sleep to the sound of news helicopters hovering overhead” … this has become a familiar ritual in their young lives.

In other words, our children are growing up with unrealistic expectations. They have no first-hand knowledge of lifelong defeat, late-inning disappointment, or unrequited loyalty to a losing team. The oddness of this condition was summarized by one Bernal parent whom Bernalwood spoke with last night on Mission Street:

“It’s okay if the kids stay up a little late,” the Bernal parent said. “This only happens once every two years.”

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Chefs from Hillside Supper Club Join Zagat’s “30 Under 30″ List


Emerging celebrity chef alert!

Chefs Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton from Hillside Supper Club on Precita Park were just named to  Zagat’s “30 Under 30″ list for San Francisco:

Former Johnson & Wales classmates Ferrari and Sutton collectively toiled away for years at fine-dining spots like Acquerello, Michael Mina and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G before realizing their restaurant dream the 2.0 way, by way of pop-ups and a Kickstarter campaign. “The transition from being a cook, to running a pop-up, to opening your own restaurant is like learning how to crawl before you walk”, explains Sutton, who along with his partner breaks the mold of the typical millennial chef. “Chefs our age [24 at the time] are really just beginning their career and have no idea even where to start with opening a place, let alone cooking meat to the correct temperature,” points out Ferrari. Not to mention find money in a city as expensive and competitive as San Francisco. Two and a half years later, HSC, built on the principle of simplicity, sustainability and camaraderie, has become an integral part of the emerging Bernal dining scene, and the guys are eyeing to open a second restaurant, providing the right situation arises.

A second restaurant?! Whaaat??  More dish on Team HSC from Zagat right here.

PHOTO: Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton via Zagats

Bernal Neighbor’s Prints Appear in Primetime TV Cameo


Neighbor Alex is an artist who lives on Highland in Bernal Heights. He also operates a business called Past Postage with turns vintage stamps and matchbook designs into hangable wall art.

Last week, in true Bernal celebrity style, one of Neighbor Alex’s pieces just scored a network TV cameo. Alex explains:

I just had my artwork show up on NBC’s Parenthood program this past week. In an episode called ‘A Potpourri of Freaks’, one of my ‘Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1′ prints is front and center over Max’s bed during a father/son conversation. Max is the lead teenage character in the series, and he’s showing some good taste for the Space Race. The artwork is of a Russian postage stamp from 1961 enlarged and put on canvas.

You can also see some of Neighbor Alex’s handiwork in 2M Architecture’s office on Cortland Avenue.

In related  news, Neighbor Alex is also taking part in ArtSpan’s Open Studios this coming weekend, with his studio doors open from 11am – 5pm on Saturday 11/1 and Sunday 11/2. The studio is in the Mission at 32 Shotwell Street. Check out the Artspan website for more information, and you can find more of Alex’s work on the Etsy.

IMAGE: Parenthood screengrab via Neighbor Alex

Is Wild Side West Now San Francisco’s Last Lesbian Bar?

Wild Side West

Last week, the operators of the Lexington Club on 19th Street in The Mission announced that the bar will soon shut down. High rents and changing demographics were cited as the causes for the Lexington’s demise.

The announcement triggered some earnest soul-searching around San Francisco, because the Lexigton was, arguably, The City’s last true lesbian bar. Writing for the HuffPo, Jen Jack Gieseking says:

The only bar dedicated to serving lesbians in San Francisco, the Lexington Club, announced that it is closing after 18 years. You may be shocked that the bar is closing and/or that there is only one lesbian bar in that gay metropolis. As a researcher of lesbian-queer spaces and economies, I am not surprised at all.


But wait! Is that true? Is the Lexington Club San Francisco’s last true lesbian bar? Or, is it the case, as a wise Jedi once said, “No. There is another.”

The Bold Italic points to Bernal Heights:

[The Lexington] has been a Mission staple for almost two decades, and when it goes so goes one of the city’s last lesbian bars in the city (Wild Side West in Bernal still stands, but it’s arguable whether it’s actually a “lesbian bar” anymore)

Journalist-about-town Steve Silverman is on the same page:

SFist replies, Yes but only sort of and not really so much:

Some may argue the case for Wild Side West, which remains a LGBT-friendly neighborhood bar in Bernal Heights, open since 1962, with a historic link to the lesbian community, but anecdotally we understand it is more of a mixed bar these days.

Bernalwood has considered this question of Wild Side West’s sexual credentials before, in the context of a larger discussion of the changing political economy of the Bay Area lesbian community.

Yet with the closure of The Lex, the subcultural role of Wild Side West is now a bit more of an urgent question. Please discuss.

PHOTOS: Wild Side West by Telstar Logistics. Lexington Club sign by Vintageroadtrip on Flickr