On a Road Trip Around the World, French Family Parks on Bernal Hill

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Large vehicles modified for mobile habitation tend to attract lots of attention when they’re parked on Bernal Hill. Last weekend your Bernalwood editor paid particular attention to a very large vehicle parked on Bernal Hill that was very clearly intended for mobile habitation.

But this was no ordinary house on wheels. It was a giant-ass overland truck, equipped with four-wheel-drive and substantial cross-country modifications. Specifically, it was what’s called an expedition vehicle — the kind of thing you drive when you’re doing a road trip, say, from Morocco to India. It even had French license plates:

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So stylish. And so clever! Our Municipal Transportation Agency does not yet have an extradition treaty with the government of France, so French license plates are a handy accessory to avoid paying San Francisco parking fines. But we digress…

The graphic on the side of the truck pointed us toward the  Martin autour du monde website:

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That’s where we began to unravel why this apocalypse-ready intercontinental French RV was parked on the top of Bernal Hill. The introduction video provided a mission statement (in French):

A family. A house on wheels. Five years. Five continents. The world is theirs. In search of exceptional places, they cross deserts, oceans, lakes, and towns. On all their routes, they stay close to the people.

Well, at least that’s what I think it said — my French is a little rusty. The basic idea seems to be a kind of modern-day Swiss Family Robinson, only with a French family, a badass RV, an environmental education mission, and a video production contract.

Anyway, Bernalwood also found photos of the truck that’s parked on Bernal Hill, parked in some other rather exotic places. Like this:

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And this:

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At the very least, our new French neighbors are quite good at scenic parking. It was time to welcome them to Bernal Heights.

Bernalwood knocked politely on the side of the truck. Frederic Cébron opened the door, and welcomed us inside, where we met his wife Laure, their son Martin, age 9, and daughter Chine, age 6. The interior of the vehicle looked compact, modern, and efficient, like one of those tiny IKEA display apartments they set up inside the stores.

In the back, Martin and Chine were laughing and playing:

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Laure was making some snacks.

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Frederic said the family is in year four of their five-year tour. Along the way, they’ve been documenting innovative ways people are practicing good ecology and sustainable living. They came to San Francisco to visit Recology, our globally fashionable, zero waste-aspiring trash processing facility, as well as several other waste management and recycling initiatives in the Bay Area.

Frederic explained that the family’s journey began with a comprehensive tour of South America. Then they shipped the truck back to Europe, and drove it from Turkey to Tibet via Iran and India. From there it was off to Mongolia, then down to Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. In between they make videos like this:

There was a hop to Japan, and an arrival in North America at Montreal. From there they drove to Alaska, down to Vancouver, and eventually to Bernal Heights.

Bernalwood encouraged Frederic to call ahead next time they decide to visit Bernal Heights, so we can  arrange a more proper welcome.

As things stand, Frederic said they had a nice stay here, that they’ve enjoyed their view of the I-280 Spaghetti Bowl, and that that only one Bernal neighbor warned the Cébron family that their planet-traversing home on wheels had been parked on Bernal Hill for more than the legal maximum of 72 hours. He also spoke very highly of the neighborly hospitality the family had received when they were parked in Teheran.

The Cébrons are overlanding to San Diego next. After that, they drive into Mexico and around much of Central America, before bringing their five-year journey to an end in Panama.

Against that backdrop, Bernal Heights might not be the most exotic place the family has been. But it may well be one of the most glamorous. Bon voyage, Frederic, Laure, Martin, and Chine!

PHOTOS: Cébrons in Bernal Heights, by Telstar Logistics

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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Recovery Continues for Jackie Jones, Celebrity Music-Maker of the Alemany Farmer’s Market

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Bernalwood has received several requests for an update on the health of Bernal neighbor Jackie Jones, the Alemany Farmer’s Market musical celebrity who took a bad fall last year.

Neighbor Hannah spearheaded the previous fundraising effort for Jackie, and she’s been checking in on Jackie regularly. Neighbor Hannah shares this candid report:

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you for your concern about Jackie Jones. She gave me permission to share this update:

“I had thought getting over my broken bones would be the end of my problem, but not so. My feet turned up with posterior tibial tendon disfunction. In other words, collapsing feet. The bones start to fall apart. I had to stay off my feet for so long, so I lost my balance. I will have to do exercises to regain this. I’m on my way. Next they will have new foot and ankle braces made for the right foot because the broken bones healed crooked. It’s been an awful thing to happen to me. But my spirits are up and I do want to figure ways to play music again.”

Jackie is happy to know that her “spot” is still open at the market and she still hopes to get back. When I asked her if she needed anything, she said “Bring me tales from the market!”

So if you’d like to send her your tales, email them to messages4jackie@gmail.com, I’ll pass your notes along to her.

With warmth and gratitude,
Hannah

PHOTO: Jackie Jones in 2006, by Telstar Logistics

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.

Bernal Neighbor Seeks Samaritans Who Helped After Bad Fall

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Neighbor Cecilia lives on Putnam, and she’s searching for the helpful souls who helped her after a very bad fall while crossing a very busy Bernal street:

I had a bad injury just over a week ago and it could have been much worse if a man and a woman hadn’t come to my rescue.

On Aug 29, coming back from my commute, I was crossing Mission at Virginia – coming from the Safeway parking lot – at about 5:30 pm to go get my car on Coleridge when I tripped on a small lip of the pavement. My husband later photographed it; it is an old crack going lengthwise on Mission.

I could not catch myself quickly enough with an extra step, and so I fell flat like pancake. I laid flat, belly down, my arms open, on the pavement, in deep pain, scared, my glasses broken, for what seemed quite a while. Meanwhile the light must have turned red against me and surely the drivers on Mission were eager to move on.

A man and a woman knelt down near me and gently helped me up. She put my car keys back in my jacket pocket and he walked me to La Altena taqueria to get me a cup of water, while I sat on the window ledge outside.

I later spent the whole night at the ER where I was diagnosed with fractures at my shoulder and at my knee. I am home-bound now, feeling every day a bit better, thank god. I am an active person and I do yoga, so I trust I will heal fast.

Now I would like to find and thank my rescuers personally. I don’t know what I would have done without them. I am hoping this message will reach them.

Thank you, Good Samaritans! If you would like to come forward, contact us at bernalwood @ gmail, and we will gladly connect you with one very grateful Neighbor Cecilia.

New Neighbor Interview: Meet Kalie and Ari; They Just Moved to Bernal Heights

Kalie_and_AriSubterranean pressures build. Tectonic plates shift. A volcano erupts, and a tsunami engulfs a distant atoll. Somewhere, a kitten is born. Old neighbors move away, and new neighbors move in. As part of Bernalwood’s occasional series of New Neighbor Interviews, we like to get to know people who have recently settled in Bernal Heights.

This week, let’s meet new neighbors Kalie and Ari. They just moved in.

Names: Kalie and Ari
Move-In Date: April 2014
Bernal Address: Park Street
Own or Rent: Rent
Came Here From: Russian Hill

What do you do for a living?
Kalie is in advertising, and Ari is a UX designer for a stealth start-up.

Why Bernal Heights?
We wanted to live in a neighborhood where we could get to know our neighbors and feel like part of the community. We also wanted a dog-friendly place for our dog, Lucy. It was also nice that we found a single-family house to rent, so we’ve been spending tons of time gardening!

First impressions of the neighborhood?
It’s a cute family-friendly and dog-friendly place. We also fell in love with Cortland Avenue. When we moved in, a neighbor brought over fresh banana bread and an assortment of teas as a welcome gift. Another brought a beautiful handmade card. Our direct neighbors invited us over for a glass of wine. So, so sweet! In the four years we spent in Russian Hill we didn’t meet a single neighbor.

What would you say about yourselves to a Bernal Heights old-timer?
We love your neighborhood! Thank you for making us feel so welcome!

Any unexpected surprises after you moved in?
I’m surprised how much sun we get. It’s awesome!

How would you describe Bernal Heights to a friend from out of town?
It has a comfortable, family-friendly feel. The people of Bernal are really nice and really friendly. We’ve met a lot of our neighbors, and tons of people at the dog park.

What are your biggest concerns about your new neighborhood?
NONE

Name your three favorite things about Bernal.
1. Friendly and kind neighbors
2. Good Life Grocery
3. Holy Water

Name three things you wish Bernal had (but which it currently does not)?
1. Good bagels
2. A falafel place
3. A vegetarian restaurant

PHOTO: Neighbors Kalie and Ari