A Historic Tale of Art and Total Elation on Alabama Street

A few years back, I went to the Bernal Heights Outdoor Film Festival. On that particular night the location was on Bernal Heights Boulevard, on the slope leading easterly towards Folsom Street. I remember it being extremely cold and uncomfortable. The other thing I remember, apart from the fact that it was kind of a crappy place to see a movie, was a film called “Yield To Total Elation” (by Pat Ferrero). It told the story of a reclusive draftsman who lived and worked for more than 50 years in a tiny house on Alabama Street in Bernal Heights.

From 1935 to 1944, A.G. Rizzoli produced a large body of architectural drawings of fantastical buildings — some of which were symbolic representations of friends and relations, most notably his mother. The drawings from this period are all part of a larger environment loosely based on the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, a world’s fair based in what would become San Francisco’s Marina District.

In 1935 Rizzoli began exhibiting his work, The Achilles Tectonic Exhibit, on the walls of the Alabama Street home he shared with his mother. Patrons included friends, relatives, and neighborhood children. Overall, it was kind of like the Open Studios of today.

The First Achilles Tectonic Exhibit

The book, A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions provides a detailed schematic look at the Achilles Tectonic Exhibit of 1940, with a 10′ by 13′ room crammed with over 50 artworks.

Rizzoli died unknown in 1982, 5 years after a debilitating stroke necessitated moving from the Bernal Heights home he’d lived in since 1933. His works were “discovered” in 1990 and his life has captivated people ever since.

A.G. Rizzoli on the Internet:

The Ames Gallery – Berkeley

A. G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions. by Jo Farb Hernandez, John Beardsley, and Roger Cardinal.

Yield to Total Elation, a film by Pat Ferrero

Off the Hill: Adios Discolandia, Adios Chris Daly, Hola Fried Chicken Sandwiches on Wheels

What’s going on in other neighborhoods around the City?  We scour the Interwebs… so you don’t have to!

Some dude named Ed Lee is now Mayor of San Francisco (SF Chronicle)

New SF Supervisor Sean Elsbernd used holy water to purge the unholy ghost of ex-Supervisor Chris Daly (City Insider)

Oopsie! A Muni bus crashed into a bus shelter on Mission at 24th (Muni Diaries)

Sad. 24th Street’s iconic Discolandia is going out of business (MissionMission)

A new gourmet food truck serves pulled pork and fried chicken sandwiches (SFoodie)

Wanna buy a castle in Hunter’s Point on the cheap? (CurbedSF)

Someone is hanging guerilla birdhouses all over town (UptownAlmanac)

Long before the Doggie Diner, Fat Boy Barbecue was SF’s burger joint by the beach (Ocean Beach Bulletin)

Photo: Discolandia on January 8, 2011, by Ame Otoko

Then And Now: What Became of Those “Working Class Houses” on Hampshire Street?

Bernal Hill, San Francisco

Last week Bernalwood introduced you to Dave Glass, a wonderful San Francisco photographer who has amassed a continuous body of work that dates back to the 1960s.

Now it’s time for another installment of the Dave Glass Bernal Heights Then-And-Now Comparison Show. This week, we again travel back to 1982, to take a look at the corner of Hampshire and Peralta, on Bernal’s north side, where Dave photographed what he calls “working class housing.”

So what does it look like now? Dave says that today “these are expensive little homes with modern upgrades and city views.” Judging from this photo I took on December 24, 2010, it sure seems that he’s right:

Peralta at Hampshire (2010)

Photos: 1982, Dave Glass. 2010, Telstar Logistics

Our Exclusive Interview with the New Mayor of Bernal Heights Park

You may not have voted for him, but Ben Calvin recently became the new mayor of Bernal Heights Park. That is, he’s the new mayor of Bernal Heights Park on Foursquare, the location-based social media thingy. Since it seemed unlikely that our *other* new mayor would entertain our probing questions — come to think of it, we didn’t vote for him either! — Bernalwood asked Ben to tell us about his new title, his political agenda, and his four-legged aide-de-camp.

Congratulations! You’re now the Foursquare mayor of Bernal Hill. How does it feel?

I treasure both my Foursquare mayoralities — in addition to Bernal Hill I am also the mayor of Pastores,  the tiny Mexican restaurant on Mission Street at Cortland. Both are special to me.

How hard did you campaign to win the title? Did you get any help along the way?

I owe it all to my dog Tennyson. Without him there is no way I would be out there everyday at 7:00 AM. I may be the mayor, but Tennyson is the King of Bernal Hill. (Editor’s note: Tennyson may have to fight for the throne.)

What’s your favorite thing about Bernal Hill?
There is a real community of dogs (and their owners) who are a pleasure to know. We have a 10 year-old son, so I already knew the kid side of Bernal, but thanks to Tennyson I’ve met a lot of other great people and their dogs.

We got Tennyson through Wonderdog Rescue. They are a (mostly) small dog rescue organization, so if you’re thinking of getting a dog I recommend them highly.

What’s your least favorite thing about Bernal Hill?

The periodic midnight trash dump, and the occasional police activity. However in the early morning that’s fairly rare.

Now that you’re mayor, what’s your political agenda?

I’d like to see the Illegal Soap Box Derby return to the hill. There was one in November 2009, which the police curtailed. I don’t think we’ve had one since.

If you could change anything about the park, what would it be?

There is a certain amount of nefarious nighttime activity which comes and goes. Keeping that in check needs to be a priority.

How do you plan to stay on top?

Constant vigilance.

Photo: Ben Calvin and Tennyson

If It Snowed On Bernal Hill, I Would Bring My Powder Skis

Snow Towers

I was in Tahoe last weekend, teaching my daughter how to ski at Alpine Meadows. (Cuuuuuuuute!) While she was in ski school, I managed to sneak off for a few hours to make some turns with the grown-ups.

At the summit of Alpine, I saw this microwave tower, and I thought: “Wow, this is pretty much what Bernal Hill would look like if we got a big dump in San Francisco.” It was so easy to visualize.

I then commenced fantasizing about an epic powder run from the top of the hill down to my house on Precita. Mmmmmmmm.

I Love This View

Yes, yes… I know, it has snowed here before! Check out this view of the north slope after a dusting in 1882:

There wasn’t enough snow for a powder run, alas — even on rock skis. But as this photo makes clear, Bernal Hill is otherwise so skiable! Think snow, people. Also, think ski lift!

Photos: Alpine summit by Telstar Logistics. Bernal 1882, via Bernal History Project

SFPD Crime Prevention Tips: “Ten Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You”

In response to yesterday’s post about a thwarted home burglary attempt in Our Faire Neighborhood, Bernalwood reader SeanD commented with some street-smart burglary-avoidance tips from the San Francisco Police Department.  I’m reposting those tips here, for our collective benefit.

From Bayview Station Captain Greg Suhr’s newsletter (w/o permission but something tells me he won’t mind):

Ten Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You:

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste…. And taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming systems they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up in the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer on your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. A good security company alarms the windows over the sink and the windows
on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom- and your jewelry.

6. It’s raining. You’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forgot to lock your door. But understand this: I don’t take the day off because of bad weather .

7. I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions or offer to clean your gutters. If you don’t answer, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

8. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, the medicine cabinet and the

9. Here are some helpful hints: I almost never go into kids’ room, I hate loud dogs and nosey neighbors, and most importantly: A loud TV or
radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system.

10. Avoid announcing your vacation plans on your Facebook page. It is easier than you think to look up your address on the internet.

Photo: Captain Greg Shur, by SF Bayview Business Council