Faces on the Block

Rainbow Honor Walk Plans Move Forward



Efforts to raise money for the Rainbow Honor Walk — the Hollywood Walk of Fame-like project to immortalize famous members and allies of the LGBT community — have found success so far.


The community has raised more than half the money to produce the first 20 plaques, which will be fixed in the Castro’s sidewalks as the current sidewalk widening project progresses.


“Each plaque costs roughly $5,000 to produce, so for this initial effort we are looking to raise $100,000,” said David Perry, board president of the Rainbow Honor Walk. “Currently we are over half way to our goal.” So far, all the money raised has been through private donations.


Perry said he was confident the community would raise the balance of the money by early summer, perhaps by the time of the SF Pride celebration. A recent exhibition of Beth Van Hoesen’s art at the Krevsky Gallery raised more than $23,000. Perry expressed gratitude to Lori Sottile, Diane Roby and George Krevsky.


Residents and visitors will see the first plaques in the sidewalk along Castro Street between Market and 19th streets. Eventually, the sidewalk project will continue along 18th and 19th streets and along Market Street toward the LGBT Community Center.


“The Rainbow Honor Walk will be a terrific asset for the Castro and the LGBT community,” said District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro. “As we move forward as a community, we must remember our history – how we got here and who got us here. The Rainbow Honor Walk will be a visible and permanent reminder of that history.”


The first completed plaque is on display at the Human Rights Campaign Action Center and Store, 575 Castro St. Manufactured by Artworks Foundry, Berkeley, the plaque honors Sylvester James, a child gospel star, American disco star, soul singer, drag artist and a member of The Cockettes.


Tom Schrey, sales director, Artworks Foundry, said the foundry produced the three foot by three foot plaque to help show what people envisioned for the walk. “It is cast bronze,” Shrey said. The plaque is about three-eights of an inch thick, with two levels of color. The background is a darker brown and the upper level is bare bronze.


The foundry completed the plaque to help with fundraising. “San Francisco’s Academy of Art University [is] providing pro bono artistic guidance and coordination,” Perry said. “If all goes according to schedule, the first part of the Rainbow Honor Walk, the first 20 plaques along Castro between Market and 19th, will be completed sometime this fall.”


Behind the scenes is an 13-member, all volunteer board of directors and a 13-member advisory committee, many, if not all, from the local community. Though neither on the board or committee, Castro Merchants President Terry Asten-Bennett said it’s important to celebrate the heroines and heros of the LGBT community. The walk may be another venue that draws people to the Castro.


“The Castro is a rich and vibrant San Francisco district, having welcomed many communities over the City’s 160 year history, Perry said. “Before the days of Harvey Milk, it was an Irish neighborhood. During the 1970s, it became the center of a burgeoning gay community. During the ‘80s and ‘90s it was at the epicenter of the AIDS / HIV crisis.”


David Perry, the current president of the Rainbow Honor Walk organization, pushed for a similar project in 1996 but the funding was never came to fruition. However, in early 2009 30-plus-year neighborhood resident and antique dealer Isak Lindenauer came up with the modern incarnation of the idea. He then took it to his politically savvy friend, Allan Baird for direction. Eventually, Perry and Lindenauer met and the project has been evolving since.


The Rainbow Honor Walk will inform future generations of the unique place the Castro represents in LGBT history. And it will give a voice to the people from the Castro and around the world who have contributed to that history.


Photo courtesy of Artworks Foundry


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Quad’ moniker coined by local realtor

New Neighborhood Envisioned Within Castro/Mission/Noe


In a neighborhood in the midst of an identity crisis, it’s no surprise that local realtor Jennifer Rosdail of Paragon Reality has stirred up criticism by proposing to create a new neighborhood, which she christened the Quad, out of parts of the Mission, the Castro, and Noe Valley.


Basing her analysis of 14 years of data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Rosdail demarcated an area where property values have skyrocketed and remained resilient even during the recession due to the influx of those she calls “Quadsters” — relatively young (under 40) and “newly minted” San Franciscans who work hard in high-tech or biotech. They value a neighborhood where they can “hang out in the sun with their friends” and enjoy a fast commute to downtown and an abundance of trendy restaurants (Quadsters like to eat good food, but have no time to cook), she said. Status is also a significant factor. “It may also be that in a world where clothes don’t matter, and other status symbols are considered irrelevant or even gauche, an address can be a way to differentiate oneself. It can certainly put you at the center of the party,” Rosdail writes.


Rosdail likens these time-pressed techies, who work on “campuses” to college students – hence the name Quad. Hot spots of the area include Bi-Rite and Dolores Park. She describes 21st Street from Guerrero to Dolores as the “Billionare’s Row or Gold Coast in San Francisco for this generation.”


The area spans from 17th and Market to Market and Valencia to 25th and Shotwell to 25th and Church and back. Unlike micro-hoods such as NOPA and Lower Pac Heights, where physical borders are prominent or hoods have a distinctly different feel, the Quad’s borders are determined only by desirability, as shown by property values and data. According to Rosdail, the standard MLS classifications of real estate districts do not sufficiently capture trends in this area, as it crosses four real estate sub-districts – Eureka Valley, Inner Mission, Mission Dolores, and Noe Valley.


“We have four neighborhoods intersecting around Dolores Park, where there is a disproportionate increase in value...it is accelerating in value faster than the surrounding areas, it’s outstripping the rate of growth of everything around it,” says Rosdail.


For long-term Mission resident Aaron Novik, the idea seems unwarranted. “There isn’t a neighborhood in the country with more cache, in terms of name recognition and as a place that people want to live, except for maybe Williamsburg, than the Mission. Why would you want to change that?” he says.


Several online publications have chided her proposal and accused her of pandering to the interests of these millionaire and billionaire quadsters whom many bemoan.


However, Rosdail clarified that she does not want to change the names of these neighborhoods, but instead create “more of an overlay or meta-hood.”


She explains, “It’s about trying to develop a tool to help my clients and myself understand what’s happening to the value of these properties.”


The idea came about when she was responding to a client, trying to determine whether or not a property they sought was a safe buy.


“What seems to be misunderstood,” she says, regarding the new face of the Mission, “is that I don’t like it. This isn’t about me catering to any demographic, it’s about trying to describe a phenomenon has already occurred.”


Photo courtesy of Jennifer Rosdail


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Eureka: Coffee and Ice Cream Under One Roof



Blink and you’ll miss it, Eureka! Cafe is the newest addition to the Castro corridor. This local and gay-owned business takes over a previously empty storefront, bringing smiles, caffeine, and locally sourced products to the neighborhood in pure Castro fashion.


Eureka! is the brainchild of its two owners: Patrick Eatt and Bill Singleton. Both left careers in more straightforward business ventures (real estate and PG&E, respectively) in order to achieve a simple dream of starting a coffee shop in the area.


But simply owning a coffee shop wasn’t the dream for Eatt and Singleton. Instead, they were interested in bringing the neighborhood something it did not already have: a locally owned business with gourmet coffee, organic ice cream and pastries, with all products swourced from area suppliers. The biscotti are even from a grandmother recipe!


Now the store features single-drip cups of Blue Bottle Coffee and ice cream from Strauss Creamery and Tara’s Ice Cream.


From the basic idea to the actual opening of their doors in October, it took about a year to have this dream come together. The journey started when the landlord of the three-year empty space — nestled next to Slider’s and near the Castro Theatre - was interested in having these locals set up shop. He was afraid of what Eatt calls ‘terrorist cupcakes’ from deep pocketed corporations. The space previously held a gelateria, and thus Eureka! keeps the legend of the space alive.


Now that the store has opened, the owners are doing all they can to get noticed.


“People still have an empty storefront mentality as they walk by,” comments Eatt. However, despite this lingering passing-over of the storefront, the Blue Bottle Coffee and Strauss and Tara’s ice creams have increased popularity via word of mouth. Although this may not be your drop-in coffee shop for a quick sip on your way to work, it is a place to get quality products, and perhaps a chat while your coffee drips into its own singular cup.


In addition to culinary delights the store features a clock from Paris, the place some might say inspired the coffee/ice cream combo, and an excellent collection of vintage photographs of SF. A customer favorite of these shots has proven to be a photograph from post- earthquake Twin Peaks, when cows still roamed the hill for pastureland and Market Street only went so far as Van Ness. Hearkening back to old San Francisco reminds the customers where they are: not some standard Baskin Robbins or Starbucks, but a place owned by two men who have been working in the neighborhood for decades and living here in San Francisco even longer; perhaps like yourself or who you aspire to be.


So whether you’re strolling the neighborhood, popping out of the Castro theater for an evening of culture, or looking to spend an extra two minutes for your morning coffee, Eureka, you have found it here!


Eureka! Cafe is located at 451 Castro St.



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Sister Barbi Mitzvah to be Celebrated after Untimely Death



Were you ever lucky enough to cross paths with that rare person who inspired passion and commitment in others, who saw the same community need as others, and who courageously took initiative to bring people together to do something about it?


From the accounts of those left behind, one such person was the late Sister Barbi Mitzvah of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who unexpectedly transitioned “over the bridge of light” in Portland, Oregon, on February 23 at the untimely age of 51.


Sister Barbi, also known as Ed Huser, had been a founder of the Russian River community of Sisters as well as active in charitable work in communities in San Francisco and Palm Springs. According to the Sonoma County Gazette, the first event in the Russian River was a “Rocky Horror” sing-a-long at the Rio Theater in Monte Rio. “Within minutes,” the paper reports, “Sister Barbi’s charm and infectious sense of humor firmly endeared her in the hearts of the ENTIRE community.”



A Celebration of Life
for Sister Barbi Mitzvah

Saturday, April 12 • 5:45 pm

MCC Church

Wearing pink is encouraged


These qualities will be instantly recognized by members of the Castro Merchants (formerly MUMC) who got to know Sister Barbi well over the years as the humorous, active and hard-working liaison between the sisters and the merchants. Steve Adams, MUMC’s long-time president, was in a position to know her well, and summed up Barbi’s drive: “She wanted to take care of people; she really cared about people.”


Among her many good works, she raised money for compassionate care at Maitri and always promoted the message of safe sex. Besides making sure the Sisters’ annual Easter festivities in the Castro went well - whether it was the children’s costume parade or the Hunky Jesus contest - for many years she got local merchants to give out candy to neighborhood children at Halloween. And “she always made sure the money was there to support the many charities,” recalled Steve.


What many people might not know, said Steve, is that “she saved Pink Saturday.” When it looked like disorder would claim the streets of the Castro, Sister Barbi brought together all the city players including the police, Parks and Rec, Public Works (DPW), Transportation (MTA) and others. “She had a real talent and skill in how to get crowds through the gate and in and out of large events,” he said.


This was also evident in the logistics and preparations for the world-wide meeting of Sisters from around the globe celebrating their 30th anniversary. Concludes Steve, “She will be missed. She was always doing a whole lot of good for people.”



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Brick & Mortar Celebrates Three Years


Brick & Mortar is located at 1710 Mission St.



Jason Perkins is co-owner of Brick & Mortar Music Hall.




Congratulations on the success of Brick & Mortar Music Hall. How long have you owned and operated the club?




We opened it almost exactly three years ago - 3/30 in 2011.




Oh - happy anniversary! What was your initial vision when you first saw the space; what did you want to see there?




My partner, Michael O’Connor, and I had seen the space through it’s various [reincarnations] over the years and we really felt that the space wasn’t being used properly - that the Mission could really use a small, quality venue. There’s definitely some great bars that have live music, but [we wanted] an actual music venue. We wanted something that was small enough and intimate enough that it could be accessible for local bands, and be open all the time, and be able to keep the prices low - it just seemed to fit all those categories that we were looking for.




You and your partner Michael have other clubs in the Bay Area, like The New Parish in Oakland.




Correct. We also own Place Pigalle which is a small craft beer bar in Hayes Valley, The New Parish of course, The Rock Steady - our DJ bar in the East Bay, and next month we’re about to open Leo’s, which will be another club very similar to Brick, and that’s going to [be] at 55th and Telegraph [Avenue, in Oakland], and we’ll have a restaurant there too.




Well, congratulations. Speaking of restaurants, you also now have a pop-up restaurant that’s found a home within Brick & Mortar - Rice, Paper, Scissors, a Vietnamese restaurant. Is that open all the time? I know it’s open for lunch.




Lunchtime, correct. They do pop-ups at night too, during busy shows or a show that starts early. They’ve been an excellent partner; we really wanted to partner with a quality operator and they have certainly filled that bill.




You have tables set up for lunch, but I would assume not at busy shows.




No, just stand-up pop-up service.




I looked at the calendar for April and it’s full; I think there were only two nights during the month where the club is dark.




Yeah. We were gearing the space to be open all the time; that way it gives a lot of different genres a chance to showcase their work. We really try to be as diverse as possible in our booking; we want to give an opportunity to many different forms of music, especially in this city. The result of that is that it’s very rare that we’re closed.




One of this month’s shows, the annual Tingel Tangel event [on April 16th], features a lot of favorite performers from the Castro community - Veronica Klaus and Ethel Merman, for example.




Yeah, we’re really excited that they’re back. They needed a new home and we’re happy that worked out.




Right, they used to be at Cafe Du Nord.




Correct. You know it’s funny - I thought we would have more Castro acts and they just haven’t come up as much. We were surprised; I thought we’d have more performers from that part of the city.




Well getting the word out is half of it. Perhaps people will read this and be inclined to get in touch, and things will start to evolve.




I would love to see the community do more events at our space; that’d be great. I know that it’s a major blow to, not just San Francisco, but also the Castro, that Cafe Du Nord went down, which is one of the clubs, growing up in the city, that really always had my imagination and helped to probably inspire my career choice. It was really disappointing to see. Maybe we can do our part to help fill up part of that void.


Photo courtesy of Brick & Mortar


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© Castro Courier 2014

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