See the Bernal Hill Players on Sunday — For Free!


Ready to get your chamber music on? The price is right to see the Bernal Hill Players this weekend, on Sunday, September 14 at 4:00 the Community Music Center on Capp Street.

BHP shares the big news:

The Bernal Hill Players will play a concert entitled Musical Chairs: Chamber Music from the 1800s to Now, for Flute, Clarinet, Cello and Piano as part of the Community Music Center’s Shenson Faculty Series.
This concert features four prominent Bay Area chamber musicians in various instrumental combinations, including an elegant German Classical Sinfonia by Franz Danzi, a virtuosic French Romantic flute trio by Louise Farrenc, a Fellini-esque Italian clarinet trio by Nino Rota, an Indian and jazz-influenced woodwind duo by Russell Peterson, and dynamically rhythmic Latin American compositions by Eduardo Gamboa and Miguel del Aguila.
Performers are Martha Rodríguez-Salazar on flute, Sarah Bonomo on clarinet, and Jennifer Peringer on piano. Guest cellist: Laura Gaynon.
WHERE: Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street (at 21st), San Francisco, CA 94110
WHEN: Sunday, September 14 at 4 PM
Thanks to the Shenson Foundation for their support of this free community concert.
The Bernal Hill Players have been playing concerts since 2008 throughout the Bay Area and Mexico City, have commissioned several pieces by Bay Area and Mexican composers, and have produced a CD entitled “San Francisco: In an About the City” about neighborhoods of San Francisco.  Their mission is to play a wide and rich repertoire, to commission new works, to create interesting arrangements of existing works, and to use chamber music as a way of both celebrating local community and creating cross-cultural musical connections.
Posted in Events, Music | Leave a comment

Saturday Morning: Cleanup Party in Precita Park


When you look down at Precita Park from the safety and climate-contolled comfort of the Google Earth blimp, it looks… Peaceful. Pristine. Like an urban oasis.

Actually, when you look at Precita Park from street level, it looks pretty damn awesome as well.

This is no accident. Precita Park looks so super-sexy in no small part because of all the hard work Neighbor Demece Garepis has done through the years under the auspices of Precita Valley Neighbors, the volunteer group she so valiantly leads.

Tomorrow morning, PVN is organizing a neighborly Precita Park cleanup party… and it’s a great opportunity to give the park some of your love.  Neighbor Demece says:

We are going to Clean Up Precita Park!

Join us this Saturday, Sept. 13 at 9:30a am. Meet in the Children’s Playground. Bring your bags, hand shovels, and rakes! Neighborly conversation and friendship provided.

IMAGE: Via Google Earth Pro

Posted in Activism, Events | Leave a comment

This is America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon, and It’s from Bernal Heights


This weekend, those grease-stained fathers from the Bernal Dads Racing team will depart Bernal Heights to compete at the Thunderhill Park Raceway in scenic Willows, California. That’s where they plan to race The Whale — their battle-scarred Volvo 240 station wagon — in yet another another absurdist 24 Hours of LeMons endurance race.

This represents the latest in a long series of comebacks for The Whale, which has suffered countless blows and indignities during its long racing career.

Indeed, this race car is so valiant, so unstoppable, so tolerant of abuse, and so much more nimble than you’d imagine any erstwhile family truckster to be that Bernalwood is hereby anointing The Whale as America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon. And, just like you, The Whale calls Bernal Heights home.

Neighbor Brandon from Bernal Dads Racing makes the case for The Whale’s paramount badassitude:

Bernal Dads Racing has been circling West Coast race tracks for six-and-a-half years and 20 or so 24 Hours of LeMons races. The Whale, aka La Polpetta Svedese, aka a white 1985 Volvo 240 wagon rescued from Craigslist, has been our main ride for almost all of this storied racing career, taking the green flag in 17 of those 20 races. We later added a second car, a 1995 Miata with identity issues, to allow more Dads to race. But The Whale has always been the heart of our operation — and it remains so to this day.

The Whale is a survivor. We didn’t know this when we chose it; we just wanted a rear-wheel-drive car, and it seemed appropriate for a bunch of dads to race a family wagon optimized for hauling kids to soccer practice. So we bought one. Here’s how The Whale looked before we met… when it was just another suburban Volvo for sale on Craigslist:


Then came the race-prep, and the installation of a roll cage and racing seat, and the happy afterlife. Chloe’s Closet sponsored the back doors, and the Stray Bar (sniff) bought the hood:


In its second race, at the notorious Altamont Speedway, an overly ambitious competitor slammed into the front wheel, bending the strut so far that the tire rubbed against it. Once a spare was sourced from another team running a Volvo, it was back on the track in 30 minutes. This pattern has been repeated many, many times since: Race, wreck, repair, race more.

In a race at Sears Point, The Whale was T-boned so severely that the passenger side of the roll cage bent inward and the engine popped right off its mounts. Our resident Volvo expert eyeballed the motor mount dimensions, gave them to a machinist, and The Whale was back on track in short order. (The big dent on the passenger side remains to this day.)

Later, in red-and-white “Team Lettuce” livery, The Whale proved itself to be an adept competitor in fair weather …


… and foul:


At another Sears Point race, while finally in the lead of our class, the engine suffered a catastrophic loss of oil and total failure. This turned out to be the only race where The Whale failed to take the checkered flag at the end of the weekend.

At another race, the transmission gave up the ghost (also at Sears Point… hmmm), but Neighbor Ben, our resident Volvo whisperer, located a spare via a Volvo forum. We picked it up from a home in San Rafael, where the transmission had been used as a lawn ornament. After an overnight swap, The Whale was back on track the next day. That’s still the transmission we’re using.

The Whale has been through more fenders than we can count. Our hoods have not fared much better.

The Dads’ most recent LeMons race, last June at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in wilds of the Central Valley near Bakersfield, proved to be another classic Whale outing. This video pretty much sums up the weekend. Our fastest lap of the weekend was immediately followed by a very hard front-end collision (jump ahead to about 3:30 in the video) as our aspirations for race glory crashed to the ground:

Notice that despite the hard impact, The Whale started right back up again. The other car? It was pushed onto a trailer and carted home a few hours later.

Here’s another view of the crash, as seen from the front seat of the car that triggered the wreck. From this perspective, I like how it looks as if The Whale is eating the other car:

This is me, posing with The Whale after I brought it back in to the paddock:



After lots of banging of sledgehammers, jumping, and jacking, The Whale was back on track fifteen minutes later. The body was a mess, but the mechanicals were fine, the radiator was undamaged, and the front suspension even remained aligned. Then it was back to racing:


The Whale is a survivor. It’s been through vehicular combat. Then more vehicular combat. And then some more after that. And pretty much it does not give up.

Although there were a few more moments of drama, The Whale completed that last race despite all the damage and abuse it had sustained. Here’s how it looked a few weeks later, after we removed the bent sheet metal and rotten flesh:


Now, however, The Whale has received another new hood, a new bumper, a new grill, a new radiator housing, and yet another new fender… with a new shark-mouth painted by Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter:


Then we put it all back together, with more turning of bolts and banging of hammers. Here is what The Whale looks like now, as we head to the track this weekend:


Good as new!  Next stop: Thunderhill Raceway.

No matter what happens there, most of the Bernal Dads have already concluded that our kids’ first cars will be old Volvos.

For trackside updates on The Whale this weekend, check out the Bernal Dads Racing page on Facebook.

UPDATE: 15 September Wheeee! Here’s your post-race report: Last weekend at Thunderhill, The Whale did what the Whale does best… it just did not quit. The car was flawless all weekend, with no mechanical glitches.

LeMons at Thunderhill 2014

The humans who drove it were not so impeccable, however. In particular, your Bernalwood editor racked up some shameful penalties that proved very costly. Despite that — or, rather, despite me — the Bernal Dads still had an excellent weekend. The Whale not only finished the race, but it finished ninth in it’s class — its best finish ever. Here’s the team’s post-Thunderhill glamor photo:


PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Posted in Cars | 7 Comments

Hear Tim and Erin Archuleta from Ichi Sushi on Burrito Justice Radio


In case (like me) you missed hearing it live, you can now listen to a recording of yesterday’s action-packed episode of La Lengua rebel leader’s Burrito Justice Radio, featuring special celebrity guests Tim and Erin Archuleta from the intergalactically famous Ichi Sushi on Mission Street!

Listen to this terrific episode to learn:

  • When does Team Ichi plan to open their new oyster bar in the original Ichi space?
  • FACT: Celebrity sushi chef Tim Archuleta used to hate fish!
  • The scandalous tale of how Tim and Erin met! (Hint: It was the karaoke)
  • Tim’s goal: Build a ski lift-style “bunny tow” from Mission Street to Upper Cortland
  • How to eat four meals a day — with a friend — in Tokyo for just $100 a day!
  • What song did Tim and Erin dance to during their glamorous pre-celebrity wedding?
  • Why should you be eating local salmon and albacore RIGHT NOW?
  • Can “burrito railgun” technology trim the carbon footprint of imported Japanese fish?

All that, and so much more. Listen to the whole thing, on your interweb terminal, right now, right here!

Posted in Celebrity, Media | 2 Comments

Writer Chris Colin Invites You To a Curious Pop-Up Dinner in His Bernal Heights Home


Bernal neighbor and celebrity journalist Chris Colin extends this unusual invitation to attend an unusual dinner party at his Bernal Heights home:

A little news, neighbors: I’m starting a restaurant! It launches Friday, Oct. 3, in Bernal. It’s going to be awesome. I’m also closing this restaurant, on Oct. 4. Please come eat at this exclusive, one-night-only affair.

I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll do this under the auspices of a site that arranges similar pop-up restaurants in people’s homes — for instance — or just on my own. Either way, it’ll feature 8-10 people coming to our house, and my wife and me serving our best food and drinks, plus maybe some other fun little whatnots.

We’re not chefs. We’re people who throw decent dinner parties. That’s part of the appeal for me — finding out whether regular people, who cook good food and dim the lights just so, could ever run a successful restaurant. If you’re someone who likes taking chances on weird and larky things, we’d really love to have you.

The fine print: We cannot know each other. Why? Because I’m also writing a magazine story about the experience, and will want to extract your unbiased opinions about it. This also means you’ll have to be okay with being written about, and possibly photographed. Nothing weird or TMZ’ish, I promise.

About us: I’m a writer, my wife Amy is a public radio reporter. I write about food sometimes, and Amy once co-published a magazine about meat. But mostly we’re no more involved in food than your average Bay Areans. We live in Bernal and have two kids, whom we’ll boot for the night. Duh.

Drop me a line if you’re game, or maybe game! It’ll be a fun night and you’ll meet interesting people and it’ll be a thing to remember. We hope it will be delicious, too. Worst-case scenario, well, I guess that’d be a giant meteor. That’d be just horrible.

Thanks for reading. Details below.
Chris Colin

When: 7pm, Oct. 3, 2014
Where: Bernal Heights, not far from Sandbox Bakery
Price: $55 per person, incl. alcohol

First-come, first-served. Dietary restrictions can’t be accommodated — sorry, too new at this!

UPDATE: In the comments, Chris says this event is now SOLD OUT.  We look forward to the report after the dinner takes place

ILLUSTRATION: Supper with Chris Colin, by Bernalwood

Posted in Events, Food and Drink, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Extremely Sexy, Extremely Short Raised Bikeway Coming to Part of Our Part of Valencia Street


As we all know, infrastructure is sexy.

Not the building and construction part… that’s a big honking mess. But when it’s done, infrastructure represents an investment in our collective future, which is why Bernalwood is always glad to learn about new infrastructure projects coming to our humble corner of the citysphere. Extra credit when the new infrastructure is the first of its kind.

Recently, the City unveiled a plan to build some particularly sexy new infrastructure along the La Lengua stretch of Valencia Street, between Mission and Cesar Chavez, alongside St. Luke’s Hospital. Its all part of that proposal to improve the sewer system and streetscape for that segment of Valenica, which we told you about a year ago. Well, now the design has solidified, and it includes a plan to create a Scandinavian-style raised pathway for bicycles that will be insanely cool and the first of it’s kind in San Francisco. But oddly, this completely cool new raised bikeway will only extend along part of the La Lengua stretch of Valencia Street, between Duncan and Cesar Chavez — which isn’t very big in the first place.

In other words… for one block

Let’s visualize the proposed elevated bikeway site, using the futuristic Google Earth Pro map tool thingy that Neighbor Vanessa generously provided to Bernalwood. Shall we?


As you can see… Infrastructure! Sexy! First of its kind! The best bikeway in all of San Francisco! But just not very much of it. Hmm.

Here’s what the San Francisco Bike Coalition said about the project:

San Francisco is set to get its first raised bikeway next year! The showcase bikeway is part of the Mission/Valencia Gateway project and will stretch southbound on Valencia Street from Cesar Chavez Street to Duncan Street. This one-block bikeway heralds a completely new type of bicycle infrastructure to our city, one that will become more common in the next few years, as raised bikeways are integrated into the Masonic Avenue and 2nd Street projects.

Raised bikeways are common in great bicycling cities like Copenhagen, but relatively new in the United States. Raised bikeways create a protected bikeway without bollards or barriers, instead building the bikeway at an intermediate level between the sidewalk and roadway.Learn more about raised bikeways and see designs here. 

The raised bikeway is an unexpected but very welcome enhancement to the Mission Valencia Green Gateway project, which wrapped up public outreach last year after three community open houses as well as feedback from hundreds of neighbors and SF Bicycle Coalition members. In addition to the raised bikeway, the final project design also includes wider sidewalks, permeable pavement and two new plazas, one at Mission and Valencia and a smaller one at Duncan and Valencia.

So when this sexy new bikeway is completed sometime in mid-2016, it may herald the beginning of a much larger elevated bikeway network that could extend… all the way across Cesar Chavez! Someday! Or maybe it will even extend all the way to the fabled Southern Crossing. Someday!

In the meantime, come mid-2016, if you want to make the new bikeway feel more substantial, you can simply ride back and forth along it a few times, very slowly. Go back and forth six times, and you’ll cover about a mile. Do that while listening to ABBA on your headphones, and you may even begin to feel like you’re in Scandinavia. So sexy!!!

IMAGE: Elevated bikeway rendering via NACTO

Posted in Coming Soon, Infrastructure, Transportation | 12 Comments

The Last Woof: Precita Bark Has Closed For Good


Despite some initial excitement and a previous, temporary closure that was intended to revitalize the business, it looks like Precita Bark, the salon-style dog washery on the eastern end of Precita Park at Alabama, has closed for good, as the signage and interior fixtures have been removed.

Dog owners, please share your postmortems.

No word yet on what might come next to this historic corner store location. This is a sweet spot across from the playground and the Precita Park Cafe, however, so in the right hands it could be an innnnnteresting opportunity to further activate the joyfully reactivated Precita Park ecosystem.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Posted in Dogs, Merchants | 26 Comments