Bernal Neighbor’s Prints Appear in Primetime TV Cameo

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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

Bernal Street Photographer Exhibits Work in Glamorous SoMa Parking Lot

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During a brisk constitutional on Second Street in SoMa yesterday, your Bernalwood editor stumbled across a rather gorgeous photo exhibit in the parking lot across the street from the (so classic) Adolph Gasser Photography store at 181 Second.

It’s a series of photos wheatpasted onto the parking lot’s brick walls, and it looks fantastic. The show is called “City at Large,” and wouldn’t you know it… Bernal neighbor and superstar street photographer Troy Holden, a resident of Cortlandia, has a few images on display.

That’s Troy’s work, in the photo above. Beautiful!

Check out Neighbor Troy’s photos if you’re taking a constitutional on Second Street, or peep his feed online.

PHOTO: Troy Holden’s photography on display in City at Large, by Telstar Logistics

Secession Art & Design Staying in Bernal, Moving North on Mission, Seeking Your Support

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Secession Art & Design is a Bernalwood treasure. Part creative studio, part art gallery, part fashion boutique, owner Eden Stein’s has carved out a very special place for Secession’s store on Mission just across from our Taoist Safeway.

But Secession is also vulnerable to the winds of change, which now  require a move up the street to 3235 Mission, the former SoCha Cafe/former Dell’uva Wine Bar space, a few blocks north near Valencia. Eden explains:

After 7 wonderful years, we are excited to announce that Secession Art & Design will be relocating to a new location. Our store, gallery and studio is moving two short blocks up the street, from 3361 Mission St to 3235 Mission St. Like many things in life, what began as a pretty daunting experience has turned into an inspiring opportunity.

When we heard in August of this year that our lease would not be renewed, we were somewhat shocked and taken aback, but we were determined that Secession Art & Design should remain in our current neighborhood. After two months of searching—with help from real estate brokers and support from friends and family—we finally found a space that we know is going to be the perfect fit for Secession.

But it’s going to need to be built from the ground up. [...]

We are so heartened by your support throughout the years, and we’ve fought long and hard to stay in the Bernal neighborhood so we can continue to be a part of the health and wealth of our collective community.

To help fund the buildout of the new space, Secession Art & Design has created a fundraising page. Take a look, make a contribution if you’re so inclined, and let’s all say hurrah that Team Secession is staying in Bernal Heights.

PHOTO: Eden Stein via Secession Art & Design

Bernal Celebrity Blogger Interviews Bernal Celebrity Music Impresario

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Here’s some hot hot hot Bernal celebrity-on-celebrity action action action!

You did know that David Pescovitz, celebrity blogger with the intergalactically famous BoingBoing blog, lives in Bernal Heights, right? Well, it’s true. He does.

And you already know that local music meta-star Jordan Kurland lives in Bernal Heights, too? It’s true. He does. Neighbor Jordan is the creative force behind many of San Francisco’s much-beloved music events, including NoisePop and this weekend’s gigantic  Treasure Island Music Festival. His Zeitgeist Artist Management also manages bands like Best Coast, Bob Mould, The New Pornographers, Rogue Wave, She & Him, and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.

Because they are neighbors, Neighbor David and Neighbor Jordan have become friends. This week, David interviewed Jordan to get an insider’s perspective on the state of the music biz. A local-flavored excerpt:

[Neighbor David]: As a manager, it seems like you’d be living in Los Angeles or New York City. But yet you came to SF and never left. Why?

[Neighbor Jordan]:I moved to San Francisco in 1995 for a job. I was nearly a year out of college and knew that I wanted to try to be a manager. I was living in Los Angeles and answering phones for the performance rights organization, ASCAP. It was the typical entry level music industry job and not easy to land. I went on four interviews before I was hired. If I had stayed on that path I would have answered phones for a year or so, then become an assistant, and then, eventually, a membership director. All of which would have been cool, it’s just that I knew based on my experience interning for a few different companies during college, that I wanted to try to be an artist manager. There was an amazing opportunity up in San Francisco to work for a company called David Lefkowtiz/Figurehead management. The roster was Primus, the Melvins, Charlie Hunter and a few other acts. I spent four years there, learned a ton, and began managing the acts that became the first iteration of my management roster. It was also during my time there that I met Kevin Arnold and began working alongside him on Noise Pop. Kevin founded Noise Pop in 1993 and the first festival I worked on with him was 1998.

I started my management company, Zeitgeist, in 1999 which was the same year the music and technology were beginning to converge. It was the year that MP3.com, eMusic and Napster, to name a few, started to make waves. It wasn’t good news for the music industry but it did justify my existence up here. All of a sudden I had a competitive edge by living in the Bay Area.

The reason that I never left San Francisco once I arrived is simple: I adore this place.

You’re active in the city with the music festivals, investments in numerous restaurants, and donating your time to 826 Valencia, Stern Grove Festival, and other arts and culture organizations. As you know, SF is experiencing its own culture war right now. Where do you stand and what can be done in your opinion?

To be clear, I’m not one of those people that rails against the tech industry. To the contrary, I think it’s pretty incredible to live in the heart of where these innovations which are being dreamed up and born. It’s not a coincidence that a creative, intellectual and way left-of-center city like San Francisco attracted the entrepreneurs that built these companies. With all that said, the city needs to do more to protect its creative community. A lot more. The Bay Area is incredibly expensive which does not bode well for an upstart musician or artist. I know some folks in the private sector that are starting to help but the city, as far as I can tell, has only made cosmetic offerings at best. The musical cultural history is so, so rich here: Summer of Love, Bill Graham, the Grateful Dead, the jazz scene of the 50s and 60s, the Dead Kennedys, Journey, Metallica … it goes on and on. But San Francisco does not do much in the way of supporting musicians and visual artists and film makers. And because it’s prohibitively expensive to live here fledgling artists are moving to Los Angeles or Portland where it’s cheaper and there’s a stronger, more inspiring creative community. Which leads the established artists who can now afford to live in the Bay Area to leave because they don’t have a strong community around them. I don’t pretend to know of a simple solution but it is clear to me that the city should be attacking the issue with much more urgency.

Read the rest of the interview here, and if you’re headed to Treasure Island this weekend, give Neighbor Jordan the secret Bernal Heights hand signal.

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Jack London Lived in Bernal Heights Before He Was Cool

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You might have noticed that Bernal Heights is today home to a rather impressive roster of fabulous writers and authors. All Bernalese can feel justifiably proud of our rich literary landscape, but Bernal Heights has been fertile ground for writerly genius for well over 120 years. For example, thanks to some impressive new research published by La Lengua’s rebel propagandist Burrito Justice, we now know Jack London once lived in Bernal Heights.

Yes, you read that correctly: Jack London once lived in Bernal Heights.

Okay, so Jack London was just one year old when he called Bernal home, and he didn’t live here for for long. Nevertheless, his later success provides clear proof that there’s something in the air in Bernal Heights that nurtures literary excellence.

Burrito Justice points to an excerpt from Irving Stone’s 1903 biography of Jack London:

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(Side Note: Jenny Prentiss does not appear to be the namesake for the Prentiss Street in Bernal today. That Prentiss was likely the Civil War hero General Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss.)

Anyway, if Jack London lived in Bernal Heights, Burrito Justice moves on to the obvious question:

But where in Bernal? Jack London was born on January 12, 1876, and John London married his mother either in September 1876 or February 1877.

The 1878 SF city directory gives a potential answer:

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Jack’s adopted father was John London, a Union veteran who married Jack’s mother Flora after Jack’s birth. But there are two John Londons! Which one? Also, how does 27th meet up with Harrison? And where is Gunnison Ave and Precita? And how does 28th have anything to do with Precita?

After some further sleuthing, we learn that Gunnison Avenue in Bernal Heights was a short stretch between Precita and Ripley that was contiguous with Harrison Street — until  1895 when it was renamed Harrison. But in this 1889 map, for example, the street was still called Gunnison Ave:

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So baby Jack London lived somewhere just south of Precita Park, along present-day Harrison Street, which today maps out like this:

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That’s just a quick summary of the evidence, but Burrito Justice dug up lots of fun stories and maps and historical geekery to identify where Baby Jack London lived when he lived in Bernal Heights. It’s fascinating stuff, and he did all the homework, so you absolutely must read the entire story on the Burrito Justice blog.

And from here on out, whenever you see some snot-nosed toddler being pushed around Precita Park in a stroller, just remember: That kid might just might turn out to be Bernal’s next Jack London.

IMAGES: Historical maps and text excerpts via Burrito Justice

Watch the Amazing Film from the Bernal-Born Director that Won “Best of Bernal” at the 2014 Outdoor Cinema Festival

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Neighbor Joe Talbot is a filmmaker who has lived on Montcalm for his whole life. At the 2014 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival, Neighbor Joe walked away with the “Best of Bernal” award for the trailer he directed for an in-progress film, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”

Neighbor Joe shared the award-winning trailer with us, and we’ll share it with you in a moment. But first, let’s let Joe introduce himself:

I grew up running around Bernal with a ragtag production team made up of local kids. I was usually at the helm, doing my best impersonation of what I thought a despotic director looked like. I’m just old enough that our early years pre-dated computer editing software, so we cut our chops doing in-camera edits and wreaking havoc on our side of the hill.

Bernal neighbors were an integral part of our informal film education, whether they knew it or not. Our mischievous and often wild antics were almost always met with nothing but kind support. Neighbor Buck Bagot turned on to his street once to find us running full-speed down the middle of it, pushing a rickety old wheelchair as a dolly. We noticed his approaching car and offered to move out of the way, to which Buck yelled, “No way man! I don’t fuck with the arts!” He abruptly busted a u-turn and drove the long way around the block, as not to disrupt our set.

Most of the kids I knew have since shipped off to college. Some of the unlucky ones lost their homes during various financial crises, and drifted inland to suburbia. My parents were fortunate enough to keep our house, and unfortunate enough to keep me along with it.

My last remaining collaborator today is Jimmie Fails, a kid I first crossed paths with almost ten years ago. Jimmie was living in the Army St. projects at the time, and we quickly formed a closeness. Over midnight walks through Bernal’s roller-coaster hills, Jimmie would weave tales of his strange family story.

These talks would become the basis for our film to-be, The Last Black Man in San Francisco. The film, which we’re currently trying to raise money to shoot, pulls heavily from Jimmie’s own story, and examines what it’s like to feel out of place in your own hometown.

The video is a trailer we shot, on a dime, to help raise funds to shoot the feature-length film. You’ll notice that Bernal plays a major role in the trailer. How could it not?

Indeed. How could it not? Here’s a still from the trailer:

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It’s a nice image, and we all recognize the location. Nice location! But the trailer for Neighbor Joe’s film is even better. In fact, Joe’s film is amazing. In fact, it’s officially the “Best of Bernal.”

Watch and enjoy:

Big congrats to Neighbor Joe Talbot, Jimmie Fails, and their entire team!

PS: Joe can be reached at joe *AT* longshotfeatures.com.