Ancient Decal Reveals Primitive Origins of La Lengua Identity

To properly manage the delicate relationship between the Dominion of Bernalwood and our rebellious vassals from La Lengua, it is important for us to understand the longstanding roots of the La Lenguans’ search for autonomy.

Neighbor Ben recently discovered an important artifact that should assist in this quest for historical context. Hiding in plain sight on a vacant Mission Street storefront just north of 30th Street, he found a vintage decal which pledges fealty to the “South of Army – Mission Merchants Association.”

Who were these proto-La Lenguans? What can we infer about the people who roamed the flatlands in the days before Army Street became Cesar Chavez Boulevard? The decal’s intimation that “He Knows You – You Know Him” suggests they were a paternalistic tribe that was closely bound by kinship ties and sharply-defined notions of geographic solidarity.

Minus the paternalistic bias, the same might be said of the La Lenguans of 2012. The contemporary articulation of La Lengua identity is a relatively recent phenomenon, but this decal demonstrates that the area’s sense of geographic “otherness” has been present for a very long time. Good to know.

PHOTO: Neighbor Ben

Last Vestiges of Infamous Nasser Market Disappear

Neighbor Lessley brings us this update on the evolution of the former Nasser Market space on the corner of Crescent and Anderson:

Nasser Market, the infamous Crescent Ave. liquor store that inspired a 2008 murder and served as a drug dealing front, is now gone for good. Vacant for the past several years, the owners finally decided to turn it into an apartment building. As you can see from the picture, the sign came down last Saturday, erasing what had been a shameful blot on South Bernal’s reputation.

For those not familiar with the sordid tale, here are the lowlights: Four years ago owner Tong Van Le was held up at gun point at the seedy market, then tracked down and shot on the doorstep of his house in Novato by six accomplices who didn’t want him to testify in court about the hold up. Next, the market was taken over by drug dealers, who used Nasser as a front for their marijuana operation.

There had been hopes among some neighbors that Nasser might be turned into a small produce market for overflow from the Alemany Farmer’s Market, but these rumored inquiries apparently went nowhere. Instead, a ground level apartment has been carved out if the former storefront, with a familiar Lowes-style vinyl window in front. It’s not particularly pretty, but for the moment it’s a big improvement.

PHOTO: Neighbor Lessley

Newfangled Electric Bicycle Shop Opens on Cortland

Last weekend, The New Wheel opened at last at 420 Cortland. As previously reported, The New Wheel is a newfangled kind of bicycle shop, specializing in electric bikes that effectively “flatten” San Francisco hills — including our own Bernal Hill. The awesome posters inside the store illustrate this idea:

From the New Wheel website:

What should an electric bike be like? It should be easy to operate and maintain, like a bicycle. It should elegantly and seamlessly combine pedal power with a silent, powerful electric motor. It should be practical, designed to match the utility of an automobile. And it should be built of high quality components that will last. The New Wheel sells electric bikes that exceed the highest expectations.

The design of the shop is lovely, inside and out. I dropped by during The New Wheel’s opening party on Friday night, and introduced myself to store owner Brett Thurber:

Mr. Thurber was predictably giddy, and excited to be here at last. He also tells us there will be opportunities coming up soon to witness the hill-climbing power of the products he sells. In the meantime, do stop in, say hello, and check out the wares.

PHOTOS: Posters, by The Real WBTC. All others, Telstar Logistics

Bernal Bucks Featured on Front Page of Today’s LA Times

Our very own “weird little borderline utopia” here in Bernal Heights makes an appearance on the front page of today’s Los Angeles Times, in an article about the unique (and fabulous) Bernal Bucks local currency program.

The LAT article begins thus:

Coiled around a wind-swept hill near this city’s lively Mission District, Bernal Heights takes an almost cult-like pride in being insular.

With a butcher, grocer, bookstore and bakery, the neighborhood provides the basics. When you add to that some unique establishments — like an organic baby food outlet and a knife-sharpening venture offering classes in Japanese whetstone techniques — many residents say they rarely feel the urge to leave.

“It’s this weird little borderline utopia,” said Ken Shelf, 42, who runs a combination movie-rental and succulent store here. His home, business, favorite shops and kids’ school are all within a five-block radius.

Now, Bernal Heights is taking its experiment in localism one step further, adopting what is believed to be the country’s first “complementary currency” in the form of a debit card.

Designed by two neighborhood loyalists versed in technology and banking, the Bernal Bucks card allows residents to pay for their purchases while earning credits every time they swipe it at any of the two dozen area businesses that have signed on since June.

Accrued as frequent-flier miles are, the bucks can be printed as coupons and used toward future purchases. Cardholders also can donate their accrued “wealth” to neighborhood nonprofits.

Here’s a close-up of that front-page image. So glam!

Read the whole article here. Bonus LA Times photo gallery from their visit to the ‘wood, here.

Want to get your very own Bernal Bucks card?  What are you waiting for???

An Inventory of Services Offered on the Good Life Bulletin Board

For the benefit of potential clients, prospective homeowners, cultural anthropologists, and future archaeologists, Bernalwood presents this comprehensive inventory of services offered via the Good Life Grocery bulletin board, as it appeared on January 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm:

  • Academic Editing (2x)
  • Acupuncture
  • Construction
  • Drawing Lessons
  • Hypnotherapy
  • K-12 Tutoring
  • Pregnancy Counseling
  • Marijuana Addition Counseling
  • Moving and Delivery
  • Prenatal Yoga
  • Salsa Dancing
  • Spanish Tutoring
  • Website Development
  • Writing and Editing

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

The Mysterious New Store at 420 Cortland, REVEALED!

For weeks, mystery has surrounded the newly renovated storefront at 420 Cortland Street. Word on the street was that a tenant had been found. But who?! And what?!

Then, a clue appeared… in the form of a question mark:

Then, weeks later, came… another question mark!

Two question marks! One, containing a bicycle wheel. The other, in the form of an electrical cord. So many questions.

Well, we have answers. Or, at least a partial answer. Or, most of an answer, with a few questions still outstanding. Allow us to explain…

Through the patient hard work of the Bernalwood Signals Intelligence Group, we have learned that 420 Cortland will soon become the storefront for a merchant specializing in the sale of electric bicycles.

Specifically, 420 Cortland will become the new home of the business now known as The New Wheel, which today operates from 782 Columbus Avenue in North Beach. On The New Wheel blog, there is an announcement:

We are in the process of completely re-imagining The New Wheel. Three big changes are afoot:

1. New Location: We are moving to a beautiful 1100 sq. ft. space at 420 Cortland Avenue in sunny Bernal Heights. Mark your calendars for our opening party March 2 and stay tuned for more news and updates!

2. New People:  For the past year, The New Wheel has been run day to day by founder Brett Thurber. Joining Brett for this new expansion is his partner Karen Wiener, along with a full time mechanic.

3. New Products: We will be carrying a growing roster of the best electric bikes available, along with a selection of urban transportation products from the likes of Brooks, Ortlieb, Fjällräven, Rickshaw, Abus, and Burley. Stay tuned for more news!

But wait: What’s an electric bike?

Our research turned up these product photographs, which illustrate the concept:

Also…

Basically, an electric bicycle is a pedal-driven bike that uses a battery-powered electric motor to provide supplemental propulsion when desired — say, when climbing big-ass San Francisco hills. Conveniently, this also explains the riddle posed by the new shop’s teaser website, which asks:

Get it? You put a bike shop on a hill to underscore the fact that you sell a different kind of bicycle.

To flesh out the details of our story, Bernalwood decided to commit some journalism. We telephoned Brett Thurber, the founder of The New Wheel, to learn more of his plans.

Mr. Thurber proved to be friendly fellow, and he took it well when informed that Bernalwood had pierced the mystery of his shop’s main product. But he assures us that he still has some surprises up his sleeve.

For example, he hinted that the shop may get a new name. And that he has some interesting promotional events planned between now and the store’s March opening date. So we’ll have to wait and see. Which is fine.

Then Bernalwood gave Mr. Thurber the lay of the land. We told him that given the nature of his product, there is only one mystery that the residents of Bernal Heights truly want to know:

Do his electric bicycles have sufficient mojo to ascend the fearsome Folsom Street hill??

Can they climb the hill with style and grace?? And, in a matchup against a typical fixie-riding Mission hipster, would Mr. Thurber’s electrically-assisted bicycles defeat said hipster in a head-to-head race to the summit??

Mr. Thurber expressed confidence that his product can both master Folsom Street and vanquish the hipster. We shall see…

The Plywood Comes Off the New Precita Park Cafe

After many months of construction and veiled mystery, the plywood has been removed from the facade of the forthcoming Precita Park Cafe at the eastern end of the park. As Bernalwood previously reported:

The former Riteway Market will soon be home to the Precita Park Cafe. What will that be like? The precise details are unknown, but the new restaurant will serve food and light drink. It’s a project of Rachel Herbert, who also operates the Dolores Park Cafe and the Duboce Park Cafe, so it’s safe to assume the Precita Park Cafe will be a classy joint. There’s been talk that Precita Park Cafe may have a kid-friendly emphasis, which would be swell, because the cafe is just across the street from the uber-chic Precita Park playground.

Our friend Tim Dickinson poked his head in at the Precita Park Cafe today to do some sleuthing, and he shared these particulars:

Precita Park Cafe opening in “3-4 weeks” per dude inside — promised beer on tap: “they have the license and everything”

Sounds good. But as I drove home tonight, I was able to snap this spycam shot of the interior. Looks promising, but still much work to be done!

PHOTOS: Exterior, Bernal Journal. Interior, Telstar Logistics