World’s First Pop-Up Jewish Record Shop Coming to Bernal

Tikva Records

Tikva Records

Between December 1 and December 28, our neighborhood will play host to a unique ethno-cultural music retail experience. That’s because the excellent Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation plans to open Tivka Records, a pop-up 1950’s-style Jewish record store, right here in Bernalwood (!), at 3191 Mission Street, just north of Valencia in the space next to Queen’s Nails:

The store will feature an eclectic series of exclusive live music performances, film screenings, academic lectures, comedians, remix workshops, food trucks, and more.

Special events will emulate the historical and cultural significance of Tikva Records – NYC’s most prolific Jewish record label of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Events will explore the Jewish American songbook, and Jewish culture in general, interpreted by some of today’s brightest performers, comedians, musicians and lecturers. Rare vinyl from select Jewish musicians of the past 80 years will be sold at the new Tikva Records, and we will have all of our latest album releases for sale.

This will be a terrific (but fleeting) opportunity to check out some interesting music drawn from a few unusual corners of the Jewish-American experience. The name Tikva Records alludes to a Jewish-themed record label by the same name that was sometimes described as the “Jewish Motown.”

In other words: “Fiddler on the Roof,” this is not. Consider the example of The Sabras, who recorded with Tikva Records… explains:

By far the most coveted cult album from the Tikva catalog is 1967’s Jerusalem of Gold, the only release from Hebrew reverb specialists The Sabras. Though they formed in New York City with one American and three Israeli members, the band took their name from the tough Israeli prickly pear cactus that had become the familiar Zionist handle for Jews born on Israeli soil. The cover makes the quartet look like a Vegas novelty act (wide-collared, chest-hair-bearing gold lame shirts, an Ottoman handlebar moustache, electric guitar poses, a dumbek over the knee), but what’s inside is a bit more serious: twelve slices of fuzzed out diaspora garage rock. They are at their tightest on the lean and mean “Ho Yaldonet” (“O Little Girl”).

Listen to it right here:

Remember, Tikva Records will only be open for a month, so don’t dawdle. Likewise, don’t don’t miss the impressive schedule of events they’ve got on tap; lectures, listenings, comedy, food trucks, and more. Dayenu!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Tonight at the Lucky Horseshoe: A Meeting About Live Music

Lucky Horseshoe

Lucky Horseshoe

Now that the Lucky Horseshoe bar has installed its new sign, the legacy of the former Skip’s Tavern — which used to occupy the space at 453 Cortland — is now no more than a memory. But for the new owners of the Lucky Horseshoe, that’s precisely the problem.

Skip’s was a lively and colorful place. But it was also a troublesome neighbor for some Bernal Heights residents who lived nearby. The new owners of the Lucky Horseshoe also live in Bernal Heights, and they have been very focused on making sure the bar integrates smoothly into the neighborhood.

The Lucky Horseshoe now wants to secure an entertainment license, so that the bar can play host to live music performances. The City will hold a hearing on the license application in mid-December, but tonight at 6 pm, the Lucky Horseshoe will hold an informal meeting to talk about their vision for the place.

In an email to Bernalwood, Lucky Horsehoe co-owner Eric Embry explains:

We’re having a meeting at the bar Wednesday 30 November at 6PM to discuss our plans for live music and to address the concerns that anyone in the neighborhood might have with our desire to have live music and other entertainment (such as DJs) at The Lucky Horseshoe.

We have received hundreds of signatures and many letters of support from Bernal folks who not only are thrilled with what we’ve done to the place so far, but also with the potential for live music to once again have a place on Cortland Avenue. We sincerely hope that anyone with concerns will show up and let them be known. We hope that before our December 13 hearing date that we can have EVERYBODY in the neighborhood on board!

We’ve worked to address every concern that we heard this spring during the sale of the bar, and we think we’ve done an excellent job converting a contentious bar into a neighborhood asset. Our policy is that anyone is welcome, as long as they respect our business and our neighborhood. It’s a policy that we think is fair, effective, and welcoming to patrons new and old. I personally think [Lucky Horseshoe co-owner/bartender] Lisa is a superhero for facing down many bad elements who USED to come in to see if they could still get away with what they did at the old bar, and she’s usually done this all by herself. We’re proud of the job we’ve done, and we know many people — including our direct neighbors — have experienced relief and excitement over the changes we’ve made.

If folks can’t make it to the meeting, here is our plan in a nutshell: We aim to book high quality music with an emphasis on sophistication. As a musician myself I’ve played pretty much every small-venue gig in town, and I know the difference between a show with good sound quality/volume levels and a gig that’s just ridiculously loud and obnoxious. We want patrons to be able to hear their conversations while the music plays, rather than leave the bar with ears ringing; the latter is just no fun, even if the music is great.

We plan to prioritize booking acts that come from right here in Bernal Heights, because this neighborhood is rich with superbly talented musicians whom we’d like to showcase. This has many added benefits: less cars to park,  fewer “out-of-towners” coming to the neighborhood, and more of a sense of accountability with the musicians. We’ll not only have beautiful quality sound at enjoyable levels and a sound tech on site in control of the stage, but also a contract for the musicians to sign before accepting a gig that puts responsibility for respecting the venue and neighborhood in their hands.

There will be “Guard Card” trained employees working the door to make sure that our patrons aren’t loitering in the streets either during or after shows. This is required of us by law, and if you know us, you know we do everything by the letter of the law. Folks can rest assured that we will never be granted this permit if adequate soundproofing isn’t present, as a sound pressure level inspection is part of the permitting process. We look forward to exceeding the standards, because we’re proud to call ourselves a neighborhood bar and want nothing more than to be embraced by Bernal Heights when we have live music.

As an example of how live music at the bar can enrich our neighborhood for EVERYONE, we’ll be holding a fundraiser for the library mural project on the 8th of December, after the winter shopping stroll.

Lisa and I have changed 453 Cortland 180 degrees for the better, and we hope the neighborhood has confidence in our ability to change the music culture at the location as well. Let’s celebrate the arts together! It’s one of the reasons we all live in San Francisco.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Oops! Bernalwood Forgets Its First Anniversary

I just looked back at some of the logs for this blog and realized… yesterday was Bernalwood’s first anniversary. Nice work! We forgot our own birthday!

Bernalwood began not with a bang, but with a sound-check. The complete text of our very first post read as follows:

We Are Live, People
Posted on November 28, 2010 by Todd_Lappin

Is this thing on? Check, one-two. ONE-TWO. Check, check….

Very auspicious, eh?

I won’t bother describing all the reasons why Bernalwood was started, because that has very little to do with what inspires and animates it today. I will say that working on Bernalwood for the last year has been a marvelous experience, in ways that I never would have imagined.

Bernalwood is an Internet thing, but it has become an incredibly powerful tool for converting digital bytes into atom-to-atom human relationships. I can’t describe how many terrific people I’ve met because of this blog, and how many new friends and neighbors I’ve gotten to know along the way. In fact, many of those relationships already feel so familiar that it’s hard to believe they’re less than a year old.

So thanks to everyone who helped make this year so fun: Bernalwood’s regular cast of contributors, our colorful coterie of commenters, all you phabulous photographers, our marvelous Bernal merchants, those strident separatists from La Lengua, and our many thousands of next-door neighbors.

Onward! For glamour! For the Dominion of Bernalwood!

Bernal Heights Artist Installs Huge Glass Sculpture in Tokyo

So, what was I doing in Tokyo last week? Three things:

  1. Walking around aimlessly all over the city.
  2. Eating a lot of staggeringly good food.
  3. Visiting the installation of a new piece by Bernal Heights glass sculptor Nikolas Weinstein.

Nik’s Studio is on Valencia Street, hidden behind a laundromat in the La Lengua Autonomous Zone. It’s a fascinating place jammed with intricate machinery and full-scale glass prototypes dangling from the ceiling. To give a sense of what I mean, here’s a photo of the interior of the studio I took a few years ago:

Office Window

Nikolas specializes in creating glass sculptures inspired by organic forms:

His site-specific installations lie at the intersection of art, architecture and the natural world, leveraging new technologies to build works in glass. The sculptures respond sympathetically to the definition of architectural space, and range in scale from small and intimate to very large works.

Ever noticed the billowing glass sculptures that hang from the skylights at Bar Agricole in SOMA? Nik’s team created those, although many of their clients — and their creations — are in Asia.

The newest one is in Tokyo, where the studio is installing a large, suspended glass piece in the lobby of the new headquarters for the Kajima Corporation. Here’s how it looked on Sunday afternoon:

Tokyo Installation

Pretty soon, all that scaffolding will be gone, and the piece will become the centerpiece of a glamorous new high-rise building in Tokyo. It’s visible 24-7 from the street outside, so if you’re ever in Tokyo and feeling homesick, you can always go visit.

Tokyo Installation

And the rest of us can take some world-class pride in knowing that it was created right here in the Dominion of Bernalwood. がんばれ ベルナルハイツ!!

UPDATE: Tuesday November 29, 4:30 pm

The Nikolas Weinstein Studios team just emailed a few new installation photos from Tokyo. Here’s Nikolas (at left), working with the Japanese construction team to make a few final adjustments to the piece. Cute helmets, fellas!

And here’s how the finished piece looks. Tomorrow, we’re told, that scaffolding floor will be removed. Lovely!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics, Nikolas Weinstein Studios

Deadline Extended for Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Contest

This just in….

To give everyone a little more time to settle in after the Thanksgiving holiday, architect Mason Kirby has decided to extend the submission deadline for the Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Contest. Mason says:

Extension time! The new deadline is Wednesday, November 30 at 12 noon.

That means you and your Junior Corbusiers have 2 more days to rock the color and win the chert!! Click here to download the free Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book and read the complete submission guidelines.

IMAGE: Contest entry by Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter

Precita Park Cafe Looks Almost Ready to Open

The Precita Park Cafe is getting ready to open its doors. Reader Lonnie sent this photo yesterday, along with a quick update:

Saw the finishing touches going on Precita Park’s logo today. Opening in a week or so!

That’s unofficial, of course, but hopefully the estimate is in the ballpark. But what’s the inside going to look like? Here’s a snap I took about a week ago:

Very exciting.

UPDATE 16 December: The Precita Park Cafe opened at 7 am this morning. I dropped by last night for the opening party, and it was grand. The interior is spacious, airy, and nicely decorated, and the food was very good. Very exciting.

PHOTOS: Top, Lonnie Lazar. Below, Telstar Logistics

Apparently, It Was Lovely Here on Saturday

As I write this now, it’s 5:30 am on Sunday in Bernal Heights… but I’m not in Bernal Heights. Instead, I’m sitting in a lounge at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, waiting for a flight that will take me back to… Bernal Heights.

I’ll explain more about what I was doing in Tokyo later — there’s a Bernal Heights connection! — but in the meantime, it was a treat to find these iPhone photos taken by Paul Wardein on Saturday.

What a nice reminder that as wonderful as my time here was, I’m lucky to have such a beautiful place to come home to.

PHOTOS: Paul Wardein