Laptop Stolen While Owner Was Using It at Cortland Coffee Shop


Ugh. There was some unpleasantness yesterday at Progressive Grounds coffee shop on Cortland. Neighbor Davis reports:

My roommate’s laptop was stolen out of her hands on Sunday while she was working out of Progressive Grounds. It happened at 1:30PM; the two people (young African-American men) came into the coffee shop and one man grabbed it from her table and ran out of the coffee shop while the other man followed him. My rooomate pursued the two people heading south on Bennington Street, where the two men eventually headed east around Ellert or Newman Street and jumped into a grey SUV that was waiting for them and sped away.

Various people in the cafe proceeded to help her figure out how to catch them. The police were called and she filed a report with them. The cops later contacted her with possible leads on cars around the area.

We are currently trying to figure out if there is some kind of surveillance footage on cortland street or adjacent streets that might have captured any video footage of the criminals.

Have footage? Bernalwood will be glad to pass it on. In the meantime, please be careful out there.

New Video: Bernal Heights Spring 2015

David C. Hill just published a lovely and atmospheric video that’s all about Bernal’s favorite subject: Us!

It’s called Bernal Heights Spring 2015, and it will pair nicely with a large screen and headphones.

Special celebrity guest stars include: That spooky tree-shrub thingy!  The South Van Artery! Sutrito Tower! And of course… Karl the Fog!

Plus: Dogs! Sun! Colorful light! And plenty of Bernal neighbors shown in atmospheric silhouette.

Enjoy your journey.

Bernal Floral Designer Created the Huge Piece Now Showing at the deYoung Museum

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Natasha Lisitsa is the celebrity founder of Waterlily Pond, a floral studio at 1501 Cortland here in Bernal. She’s got a HUGE piece on display this weekend at the extremely glamorous deYoung Museum (!!!!). Wow.

Waterlily Pond also has some cool events happening closer to home in the weeks ahead. Natasha tells Bernalwood:

Waterlily Pond has been commissioned to design a large scale floral art installation – a centerpiece for Bouquets to Art exhibition at the de Young Museum, open April 14 through April 19, 2015. Last year over 70,000 people visited this exhibit. Last year for this event, we created 15′ tall tornado-shaped floral work named Flornado (shown above).

This year’s installation is Concentrik, another aerial sculpture just as big, at 15′ diameter and 900 lb in weight. Here’s how it looked when we were working on it in our Cortland studio:


The other news is that I am teaching a Modern Romantic floral design workshop at the studio 1501 Cortland on April 28, 2015. A couple of Bernal neighbors I met at the Valentines Day popup shop at Pinhole Coffee already signed up for this workshop. Morning, afternoon or full-day sessions are available.

Oh, and by the way, we are doing another pop-up shop again for Mothers Day at Pinhole.


PHOTO: Top, Flornado by Waterlily Pong on display at the deYoung in 2014.

Ugly-Ass Roll-Up Door Removed from Former Park Bench Cafe Space


Sometimes, when you put on your sparkly red shoes and click your heels together three times, your wishes are granted. For a lost girl named Dorothy, that meant returning home to Kansas. Yet for many residents of Precitaville, one such wish would be to remove the heavy steel roll-up door that covers the former Park Bench Cafe on Folsom; the one that makes the streetscape seem so dismal.

Neighbor Nina lives just up the street from the former Park Bench space, and she has spent a lot of time wearing her sparkly red shows and clicking her heels together. Yesterday she finally got her wish: The heavy steel door was removed from the storefront. Hurrah!

But wait … Does the removal of the steel door mean that something exciting and new is coming to the former Park Bench Cafe space, which has been dormant and empty for several fallow years?!?

Why, yes it does. It means exactly that.

But then the question becomes: What’s gonna happen there?!?

Bernalwood doesn’t have many details right now, but lets just say that if you were to put on your sparkly red shoes and click your heels together three times and wish for a delicious gourmet pizza place founded by another longtime Precitaville neighbor… well, we have reason to believe your wish might soon come true.

PHOTO: Neighbor Nina

Then and Now: 111 Years of History on Virginia at Mission


If you’re planning to attend the fashionable Bernal Heights history show-and-tell tonight, you’ll likely hear mention of the SFMTA Photography Department & Archive. That’s the wonderful, searchable online photography collection that documents various infrastructure and public works projects in San Francisco dating back to the earliest years of the 20th century. It’s a gold mine.

The photo above is a sample from the SFMTA archive, and it’s a gem. It’s a view of Virginia Avenue at Mission, looking west, as it looked on June 8, 1904. To help you get oriented, today, this is the view looking toward the Bernal Safeway. The old Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack would be on the left, and the Pizza Hut-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of is on the right.

But in this photo, all that was still a century away. In this photo, we can clearly see the spires of St. Paul’s church off in the background, along with the pre-Sutro Tower nakedness of Twin Peaks:


Let’s take a closer look at those fantastic advertising billboards on the fence:


Zoom and enhance:

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J. Noonan Furniture! Overalls! Amazing!

And check out the kid laborer working at the corner of the building on a left! And his ladyfriend admirer:

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Just three years after the SFMTA’s 1904 photo was taken, development came to the parcel behind the billboard fence… in the form of the Lyceum Theater:


Bernalwood wrote about the Lyceum in 2013:

The photo above was taken in the 1920s, and a brief history of the 1400-seat Lyceum lives on at the Cinema Treasures website:

The Lyceum Theatre opened in mid-1907, with vaudeville and motion pictures. By the late-1920’s it was featuring Vitaphone Talking Pictures, and remained a popular low priced, late run house for patrons of the outer Mission district for the next twenty-five years.

Like so many other secondary houses, it was one of the first to feel the impact of television in the early-1950’s, and, after several closings and re-openings, became the temporary home of the San Francisco Revival Center [church], before they moved to the former State/Del Mar (q.v.) which they then made their permanent home.

The Lyceum was torn down and replaced by our Taoist Safeway in the 1960s(?). And ever since, Bernal residents have been waiting on long, long checkout lines there. Here’s the view from the very same spot today:


Notice how much parallelism there is between then and now. We can still see the spires of St. Paul’s church. Twin Peaks are still there, of course, having now sprouted a Sutro Tower. Fortuitously, they were even doing some work on the street last weekend — although that laborer kid has now been replaced by a tracked mini-excavator. After 111 years, this is what progress looks like.

PHOTOS: Top, Virginia at Mission, June 1904 via SFMTA Photography Archive. 2015 photo by Telstar Logistics

Look Up From Your Meatballs to Notice Neighbor Alex’s Art on the Walls at Emmy’s


If you find yourself craving a meatball fix from the new Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack on Mission Street in the next few weeks, take a moment to notice the retro-cool artwork hanging on the wall in the rear dining room. The pieces are enlarged prints created from scans of vintage San Francisco restaurant matchbooks, and they are ridiculously charming.

They were made by Bernal neighbor Alex von Wolff of Baja Cortlandia, and he tells Bernalwood:

Over a drink one night, Heather from Emmy’s told my friend [Neighbor] Ben that they where looking for some artists to start staging shows at the new location. Ben thought of me, and pushed me to contact them, which I did. Emmy got back to me, and my pieces will be hanging there until the middle of May.

Public reaction has been superb. One excited patron bought the Jimmie’s piece right off the wall, explaining that she used to work at that location as a fry cook in the 80’s when it was called Bouncers.

Want one for your own spaghetti shack? Neighbor Alex can set you up.

PHOTO: Interior of Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack by Neighbor Ben Buja