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Diamonds for your Valentine: enter to win free Cartier tickets

Our generous fans over at FAMSF are making Valentine’s Day dreams come true this year. In honor of Cupid’s big day, they’ve given me two pairs of passes to the Cartier and America exhibit at the Legion of Honor which I want to give away to readers.

Doesn’t diamonds and lunch sound like a great Valentine’s Day? After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And even the men are getting in on the bling nowadays. ;) But if you win, the passes are good anytime, not just on February 14th.

To enter to win a pair of free tickets to Cartier and America, just find the answers to the two trivia questions below, then go to our Contact Us page and send them in. Entries are due by Sunday, February 7 at midnight.

1) The exhibit includes a pair of bracelets worn by Gloria Swanson in what classic Hollywood film?

2) The exhibit also includes the engagement ring of Princess Grace of Monaco. What cut diamond does it contain and how many carats is it?

Good luck!

Sarah B.

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 6:36 am | Posted under Museums | Comments Off

Golden Gate Park Volunteer Fair, Feb. 10

Golden Gate Park is a great place to visit, and a lot of the “care and feeding” comes from volunteers. Places like the Conservatory of Flowers, the Academy of Sciences and the SF Botanical Garden rely on volunteers year round to help staff their venues, educate the public and work with kids.

Next Wednesday, the Conservatory will host the Golden Gate Park Volunteer Fair where representatives from leading Park organizations will present exciting opportunities for volunteering in Golden Gate Park.

Meet representatives from the Academy of Sciences, de Young Museum, Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, San Francisco Parks Trust and affiliated community groups.

If you’ve ever thought about volunteering your time in the park, the fair is an exciting and meaningful way to meet new people, pursue lifelong passions, educate the public and lend a helping hand in one of the Bay Area’s most beautiful parks!

Golden Gate Park Volunteer Fair
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | 10am – 2pm

Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park
Free Admission

Sarah B.

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 6:24 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Volunteer | Comments Off

Become a NERT for the Richmond

What would you do if a disaster like the Haiti earthquake hit San Francisco? It’s horrible to even think about, but wouldn’t you want to be prepared, and be able to help out your family and neighbors?

After the 6.9 quake of ’89, the San Francisco Fire Department, prompted by the residents in the city, formed the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) Training Program, which provides training in disaster and emergency response.

Since 1990, NERT has trained more than 17,000 San Francisco residents to be self reliant in a major disaster. Their goal is to teach as many San Franciscans as possible that, with basic training, they can make a difference in the lives of their families and others when affected by a disaster, large or small. It’s often the first 72 hours after a disaster that are the most important.

NERT courses are free and include training in disaster skills, disaster medicine, earthquake awareness, light search and rescue, hazard mitigation and more.

Normally training is 20 hours over a period of 3-hour sessions, but this month, they are offering an intensive session over two Saturdays. Anyone can attend but residents in the Richmond and Sunset are especially encouraged to help fill out the N.E.R.T. ranks on the west side of the city.

Saturday, February 13 & Saturday, February 20
8:30am to 5:30pm
L’Chaim Senior Center, 2534 Judah Street (between 30th and 31st Avenues)

Click here to register for the class or call 970-2024.

If the intensive training doesn’t fit with your schedule, visit the NERT website for more class dates and times.

Sarah B.

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 2:12 pm | Posted under Community | 1 comment

Chinese Lion Dancers at the Library, Feb. 6

Stop by the Richmond District Library this Saturday from 12:30pm to 1:30pm to catch a performance of the Chinese Lion Dancers in celebration of Chinese New Year.

There will also be a martial arts demonstration. Below is video I captured of the lovely lions dancing along Clement Street last year.

Sarah B.

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 6:04 am | Posted under Events | 1 comment

Food News – Namu, The Richmond

The restaurants along Balboa continue to impress…

Namu (439 Balboa) was named as a top choice for late night dining by the New York Times last week:

A similar mix of flavors can be found at Namu, which draws on the Korean heritage of the brothers Dennis, Dan and Dave Lee, who run it. In a quiet part of the Richmond District, Namu feeds diners until midnight most nights with dishes like green beans and tofu sesame cream with crisp guanciale from Boccalone, and a hamburger cooked rare, dressed with daikon and kimchi relish. Sojus are inventively flavored, one with smoky Pu’er tea.

The SF Bay Guardian took a closer look at The Richmond (615 Balboa), saying it’s “one of those wonderful neighborhood restaurants where it is actually possible to have a conversation with the other people at your table.”

The reviewer had good things to say about the menu too: “Owyang appears to have taken a sense of culinary style away from [his experience at Elisabeth Daniel] while paring away the Upper East Side preciousness… The basic style is elegant Californian, with a rich variety of flavors, colors, and textures and tasteful presentations that don’t become precious.”
Read the full review here

Sarah B.

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 11:15 pm | Posted under Food | 2 comments

9th Avenue mugger has a long rap sheet

The Examiner recently published a story about Charles Ryan, the man who assaulted and robbed a Richmond District resident after they pulled into their garage on 9th Avenue near Lake Street in late December.

Ryan, 40 years old, 6-5″ and 205 pounds, struck 60-year old Richard Johns several times, landing him in the emergency room with 15 forehead stitches, about the same amount inside his mouth and a fractured finger. All just for his wallet.

Johns, a San Francisco attorney, told the Examiner that after Ryan demanded his wallet he said, “Fine, but you didn’t have to do this to me. And then he hit me again.” Ryan is 40 years old, 6′-5″ and 205 pounds.

Be thankful that Ryan is finally off the street. The Examiner found out that he has a long rap sheet that includes at least nine robberies. Ryan pled not guilty to the December 29th attack but if convicted, it would be his 11th strike under California’s three strikes law.

Normally, when someone is convicted on their third strike, it carries a sentence of 25 years to life. How did a criminal menace like Charles Ryan slip through the cracks? Despite having 10 strikes on his record, was not tried under the three strikes law because it wasn’t passed until 1994.

The Examiner writes, “According to Brian Buckelew, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, Ryan’s first strike came in 1990 for a San Francisco street robbery. In 1992, he was accused of nine more robberies throughout that year.”

Those nine cases were merged into one and Ryan received a 24-year sentence in a plea deal. He was recently released on parole, but arrested soon after on January 7 on suspicion of dealing cocaine.

Detectives and officers from the Richmond District station say that clues point to Ryan as the 9th Avenue attacker. Ryan’s public defender, Aleem Raja, says that police have the wrong man in custody. “The police and prosecutor are looking at Mr. Ryan’s past and ignoring the lack of evidence in the case.”

Ryan is currently in jail on $2 million bail. Thank god.

Sarah B.

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 12:20 pm | Posted under Crime | 2 comments

Denied! Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic event in jeopardy

In these tough economic times, even 20 plus years of tradition doesn’t hold much weight with the city’s Recreation & Parks Department.

In a letter earlier this month, the organizer for Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic was notified that their permit for 2010 was denied. The event is one of San Francisco’s longest running and most beloved classic car shows, where hundreds of owners and enthusiasts gather in Golden Gate Park’s Speedway Meadow to share their cars and raise money for the developmentally disabled.

In the letter, the Rec & Park outlined these reasons for the denial:

1. We believe that a grass field is not an appropriate venue for a car show and as a matter of policy this Department is not going to permit Car Shows on our grass areas going forward.

2. We are limiting the number of events in the fall that have an impact on our meadows to allow a minimum of 3 weeks between major events. We must choose between a number of different events. In deciding which events to allow, we are looking at a number of factors including

3. Cultural and recreational benefits to the city and residents

4. Economic benefit to the department

In an ironic twist, Jimmy’s Car Picnic was started by a former Rec & Park Dept. gardener, Jimmy O’Keefe, in 1988. The 35-year veteran of GGP told the Examiner, “You think I don’t know how to take care of lawn? They don’t have a leg to stand on.” Besides, what’s the difference between a couple hundred cars sitting idly on the grass for one day and thousands of Outside Lands concertgoers tromping on it for three days straight?

As for whether the event has cultural and recreational benefits… Come on, who are they kidding? According to Jimmy’s Picnic website, the event has raised thousands for a charity that assists the developmentally disabled. There are no vendors at the picnic, just regular folks out showing off their classic cars and hot rods, and grilling on their barbecues. Alcohol is not even sold, and you won’t hear music except what’s coming from old car radios.

As a San Francisco native, I’ve attended Jimmy’s picnic several times. My best friend’s father showed his classic cars there for many years. It’s a wonderful event where the local community, and nearby Bay Area enthusiasts can come to enjoy the park, great cars and help raise money for a worthy cause. “For 21 years, you bring a hamburger, you bring your ’44 coupe — and now these people have wrecked it,” O’Keefe told the Examiner.

The only reason for denial we really need to focus on is #4. Yup, the money. As the Examiner points out, there are two very different permit prices for events in Golden Gate Park. They charge $250 for a picnic permit when there are 400+ people, which is likely what Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic has been paying all these years.

But for a “special event” permit, the Rec & Parks Dept. charges $18,000 for Speedway Meadow. Even with the 50% discount that non-profits get, it would still be a $9,000 hit to the event’s fundraising efforts. My guess is they wouldn’t even break even.

Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic is also bumping up too close to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which draws thousands of concertgoers to the park a week earlier. But for that festival, the department rakes in multiple special event fees for the park venues that the festival uses. It’s $50,000 a day just to use the Polo Fields.

While I understand that the department doesn’t have enough money, it’s unconscionable that they would deny a long-running event like Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic that is appropriate for all ages, helps raise money for charity, and has minimal to no effect on the park grounds and surrounding environment. It’s exactly these kinds of events that neighbors would like to see more of, not the gargantuan, noisy concerts that run almost every weekend in the late summer.

To help ensure that Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic continues, sign the online petition. Jimmy O’Keefe and other supporters of the event will attend the SF Rec & Park Dept. Commission hearing on February 18 (1pm, City Hall, Room 216) where they’ll plead their case.

A full petition of signatures and letters of support from the community can go a long way. If you’re so inclined, send a letter of support before the hearing. Full details and suggested language on Jimmy’s website.

Sarah B.

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 3:25 pm | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Recreation | 15 comments

Someone tell this tree it’s still winter

A blooming tree on Funston near Lake Street

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 2:15 pm | Posted under Photos | 3 comments