Vicky Walker Stars in New Podcast About Bernal Heights History


The fabulous Vicky Walker is no stranger to Bernalwood readers; she’s a co-founder of the Bernal Heights History Project and an intrepid seeker of artifacts about the people and places that made our neighborhood what it is today.

As befits her status as Bernal’s Minister of History, Neighbor Vicky was recently invited to be a celebrity guest on the Outside Lands Podcast, an audio show created by Woody LaBounty and (former Bernal neighbor) David Gallagher of the Western Neighborhoods Project, to talk about the history of Bernal Heights.

Listen and learn, right here!

PHOTO: Bernal Hill, circa 1925

Superstar Bernal Journalist Is Co-Host of New KQED Podcast


Bernal Neighbor Amy Standen lives on Gates, but she also happens to be an audio-famous public radio reporter for KQED. (That’s Neighbor Amy on the right in the photo.)

Her radio work is always lively and whip-smart, and now she’s co-hosting a brand-new KQED podcast called The Leap. Here’s how she describes it:

I’m spreading the word about a new podcast. My new podcast! I’m making it with my friend Judy Campbell, who in regular life produces KQED’s Forum.

The podcast is called The Leap  and it’s about people trying to transform themselves somehow. Each episode — one every other week — introduces you to a person in the midst of such a leap, and then kind of spirals out to the people around them and their own weird transformations.

We launched this week with two stories: Episode 0 explains what we’re all about and previews a few upcoming stories.

Episode 1 is an actual story, our first. It chronicles the invention of a really bad smell (this smell) and traces its journey from a high school kid’s bedroom through the decline of the American manufacturing industry to a fake Iraqi battlefield.

Next story comes out on October 20, and it’s a tear-jerker.

Your Bernalwood editor listened to Episode 1 yesterday, and it was… engrossing! Wonderfully so. The first installment of The Leap tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the bizarre history of Liquid Ass — which perhaps may not seem like something you ever wanted to know anything about, but which is actually rather fascinating once you hear the tale. Of course, that’s the hallmark of a really good podcast.

Congrats to Neighbor Amy and her co-conspirator Judy Campbell, and tune in.

PHOTO: Courtesy of KQED

Bernal Neighbor Brilliantly Trolls Tech Industry, Tech-Haters, Media, Chickens, and Us


For the last few days, Neighbor Andi Plantenberg on fashionable Samoset Street has generated a lot of buzz and a few headlines by creating a pitch-perfect website for Qoopy, a luxury day care service for chickens.

Operating in Brooklyn, Portland, and (of course) Bernal Heights, Qoopy promises that “when you travel, we give your chickens the royal treatment.” But only if you can get to the top of the waitlist.

Naturally, this has been was greeted with howls of shock and zeitgeist-encapsulating derision. For example:

Some saw it as a clear sign of late-stage urban bourgeois affluenza:

Bernalwood heard about Qoopy earlier in the week, and with Bernal featured so prominently, we decided to reach out for more information.  Neighbor Andi sent this reply:

One of the most common questions we get is “Is Qoopy real — or is this some kind of affectionate satire of the world we live in?”

I’m not a shaman. I’m not qualified to answer questions like that.

I do see that today’s urbanites long for a return to the simplicity and immediacy of raising their own food. This new generation has its own answers to questions like “What should I do with my chicken once her egg-laying days are done?” And even, “When I go to work, will my chicken miss me?”

On the other hand, the tech industry is racing to provide services that cater to urbanites’ every whim. I can have my dirty skivvies picked up with a tap of my smartphone.

Qoopy’s biggest innovation has not been our hand-crafted chicken curriculum, but our willingness to ask the question “Is the innovation economy solving the right problems?”

Truth be told, even after receiving this response, Bernalwood remained unsure if Qoopy was real, or satire, or both.

After all, experience has taught us that proper chicken care is a legitimate need in Bernal Heights, and besides; the idea of creating a satirical thing that nevertheless operates as a real thing is … errrrrrrrrr … uummmmm … well, suffice to say, we don’t find this hard to imagine either, because Bernalwood has been doing exactly that for almost five years.

We were candid about our ongoing confusion in the conversation with Neighbor Andi, and she was gracious enough to provide a less ambiguous reply:

Last Thursday evening, my husband Alan Peters and I were joking around like we normally do, and the notion of a Chicken Daycare for Urban Hipsters came up. We laughed and I said “I’m just going to launch it tomorrow’. I made a landing page, came up with a company name and a domain. And posted to facebook. The goal was to entertain myself.

That was Friday. Qoopy had a handful of up-votes on Product Hunt by Monday afternoon. By Tuesday mid-day I had thousands of hits, a few serious inquiries (all from Brooklyn) and a playful VC inquiry.

I think the reason it went viral was that it seemed like a joke, but could conceivably be true (Wait– maybe this *is* real”). The innovation economy is making services like this left and right, hence my earlier blurb.

So it began as a fun couple hours on friday, but has tapped on something larger. Qoopy has started some healthy and entertaining dialog.

Yeah yeah, sure sure. Seriously though… how do we get to the top of the waiting list?


Tonight: Join In for the First Anniversary of Phonographic Memories


Has it been a year already?  Neighbor Corey invites you to join in for the one-year anniversary edition of his wonderful Phonographic Memories series, where people are invited to share their both favorite vinyl records and the stories they evoke. It happens tonight, September 30 at 7 pm at the Bernal Library, and Neighbor Corey says:

On the last Wednesday of every month over the past year Phonographic Memory has called the Bernal Library home. For the unacquainted, we are a monthly storytelling event focused on vinyl records. This Wednesday (the 30th, at 7pm), come celebrate our one year anniversary and hear your neighbors tell stories about the records that shaped their lives.

Want a preview of what to expect? Try this:

Read This: Writerly Bernal Heights Couple Rocks Today’s NYTimes


Oh hey! Need some great Sunday reading? The dynamic husband-and-wife duo of Ellsworth neighbors Elizabeth Weil and Daniel Duane have a terrific husband-and-wife pair of articles in today’s New York Times.

Read Neighbor Liz’s explanation of why San Francisco bagels suck, and why there’s hope for a better bagel future!

Read Neighbor Dan’s article on the growing popularity of rock climbing and climbing gyms!

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Finally!! Reality TV Show Tells America That Bernal Heights Is a “Crap Neighborhood”


To those who fret that Bernal Heights has become too safe, too comfortable, too nice, too fetishized, and too bourgeois, we bring some fantastic news: According to a popular reality TV show, Bernal Heights is too ghetto!


Bravo network’s Million Dollar Listing San Francisco is a reality TV series about slick realtors hustling to sell high-value homes. It’s a Jersey Shore-style drama, only with less tawdry beach sex and more granite countertops. About a million Americans watch the show each week, and on Wednesday night’s episode, one of the more oily realtors was having a tough time selling a home in a “crap neighborhood” called Bernal Heights.

Our Bernalphile friends at CurbedSF explain what happened next:

This week’s episode of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco was the most entertaining of the series so far, but possibly only because it was so completely, utterly filled with plot lines that bear no resemblance to the real world. Unlike last week’s show, there were plenty of new houses to gawk at this time around, and the realtors themselves seemed to fade into the background a bit. The best story line of all was one in which Bernal Heights—the same Bernal named the hottest neighborhood in the whole country by Redfin last year, the Bernal where houses are snatched from the market for hundreds of thousands over asking in mere days—was made out to be a quasi-ghetto where buyers were so turned off that they didn’t even bother to show up for open houses.

The Bernal plot line kicks off when Andrew gets a listing at 535 Gates Street. It’s a classic Bernal flip, and developer Anders Kang has spent $500,000 renovating the property. He wants $2 million, but Andrew talks him down to listing for $1.8 million. “This is not Pacific Heights,” he explains. “This is Bernal Heights, meaning this is going to be a challenge.” Is he living in the 1990s or something? His only challenge should be how to fit prospective buyers into the place for an open house.

Andrew sets up several private showings, only to be blown off by nearly all of the buyers. “Hey Andrew, couldn’t find a buyer for Bernal Heights,” one agent texts. “Let me know if you have something in Noe Valley.” We concede that there are some less-than-ideal things about the property’s location. It sits on the south side of Bernal, which is less sought after than the north side. Neighbors have chickens and curtains for windows, and an adjacent house is covered in peeling paint. “We’ve got a great house in a crap neighborhood,” Andrew explains to a colleague. “What have you seen there?” she asks. “A couple of drug deals?” he answers flippantly. Enough already! This is Bernal! And the house is two blocks from the heart of Cortland Avenue and about a five-minute walk to Holly Park.

There’s a whole bit where Andrew realizes that maybe there are some local tech shuttle stops but cannot find any. Then, the segment wraps up with Justin appearing at Andrew’s open house to say that he couldn’t bring any of his tech buyers over because the listing is on the wrong side of Bernal. By this point, we were laughing so hard at the depiction of Bernal as a wasteland that we didn’t even catch whatever the drama between Andrew and Justin was.

Ohmigod!! Right??

And it gets even better: Some people on Twitter confirm that it sucks here!

Others say Bernal is just rough around the edges:

Some believe the fundamentals don’t make any sense:

While other are just plain cynical:

Still, all in all, this might well be the best thing to happen to Bernal’s street cred since that Bigfoot sighting in 2012.

It’s official: We’re rough. We’re edgy. We’re out of the way. Techies think we are squalid. This week, a million Americans learned that respectable, high-achieving people want nothing whatsoever to do with Bernal Heights. Which, of course, can only mean…



PHOTO: Top, 535 Gates via SFMLS