En Route to Washington, Badass Bernal Racecar Generates Panic In Oregon


As you know, America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon is a proud resident of Bernal Heights.

Driven competitively by the Bernal Dads Racing Team in the 24 Hours of LeMons racing series, “The Whale” is currently en route from Bernal Heights to scenic Shelton, Washington to compete in a weekend race at The Ridge Motorsports Park.


Yesterday, as Neighbor Stephan dragged The Whale into Oregon for the first time, Bernalwood received unconfirmed reports that Oregon governor Kate Brown had ordered the distribution of mandatory tetanus shot boosters for all residents of the Beaver State:


Now on its third engine, second transmission, third hood, fourth bumper, third pair of front fenders, second electrical system, and second windshield, The Whale will roll at The Ridge this weekend to bring honor and glory to all the peoples of Bernal Heights.  Maybe.

If you’d like to keep track of the spectacle, follow Bernal Dads Racing on Facebook for photos and updates.

PHOTOS: Bernal Dads Racing

Tonight: There’s a New Variety Show at the Moonlight Cafe


A “happy pirate team” of Cortland merchants have conspired to create a new, monthly variety show at the Moonlight Cafe, and there’s one happening tonight.

Ms. Monique from Heartfelt shared the news:

Monique from Heartfelt and Aziz from Moonlight have teamed up with local funny gal morgansfunny to host a monthly Variety Show in Bernal at the Moonlight Cafe (634 Cortland).

It happens every 3rd Wednesday of the month (there’s a show tonight, October 15!!!) and the show consists of comedy, spoken word, and music.

There are four acts, and the show begins at 7:30 and runs about 90 minutes with an intermission. Cost is $10, and there is food and drink (modified from Moonlight’s regular menu) available for purchase. 21+ as we hope to make this a regular grown up night in Bernal.

We just started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds in an attempt to make this show and other entertainment more available more often. Please check it out and spread the word!


Godzilla Invades Bernal Heights (Again)

Bernal Hill from Billy Goat Hill Park

Over the weekend, Burrito Justice, chief spokesblogger for the La Lenguan separatists, noted the recent arrival of a billboard for the new Godzilla film on Mission Street just north of Precita.

“OMG Godzilla attacking!” he declared:


This is not the first time Godzilla has invaded Bernal Heights, of course. The kaiju image at the top of this post was created by your Bernalwood editor (with help from neighbor Laura Brunow Miner) waaaaaay back in 2011.

Yet in a response that neatly encapsulates the spirit of our age, journalist Roberto Baldwin needed just 20 minutes to adapt Burrito Justice’s photo into an animated GIF that takes the idea of a Godzilla incursion in Bernal Heights to an entertaining new level. Behold, Godzilla Invades Bernal Heights: The Sequel



El Rio Pride Video Reveals Bernal’s Wild Side, Is Totally NSFW





Bernal Heights is glamorous, but our neighborhood is often stereotyped as a quiet haven for crunchy people with dogs and families with kids.

Of course, we know there is a grain truth to this stereotype, even if — as with most stereotypes — there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. After all, Bernal also has a naughty side, and if you don’t believe us, then we would submit the following video as evidence of our deep, Dionysian tendencies.

The video was made by Ajapopfilms, and it was filmed at El Rio on Mission Street during Pride Weekend in June.

The video is very fun.

The video is very sexxxy.

The video is NOT recommended for viewing in the presence of your co-workers, your children, or your pets.

But when you do watch the video, you will shake your groove thang, and you will smile, and you will feel proud, because you will know that this is part of the essence of who we are:


How To Get Free Family Admission to City Museums

Though they look glamorous, this is not another Bernalwood fashion shoot. Instead, here we see Laura (8), Hanna (11), Max (1), and mother Lene waiting for the Bernal Heights Branch Library to open, so they can check out a Family Pass and get complimentary admission (for the whole kit and caboodle!) to the California Academy of Sciences.

Any San Francisco resident who has a library card and kids in their family can do this, at any branch library. Individual branches have passes for a rotating selection of 15 “Participating Attractions,” which include SFMOMA and the zoo, at different times. A single pass is good for one or two adults accompanied by up to four children under 18.

Check out SFKids.org or the S.F. Public Library’s website for more information.

Carnaval Dancers Shake Their Stuff in Precita Park

Precita Park is never a bad place to spend a glorious weekend afternoon. But it got even better yesterday with the arrival of Fogo na Roupa, a Bay Area-based Brazilian Carnaval dance and percussion troupe whose members young and old were producing some mighty fine hip-shaking rhythms.

Here they are (well, about a quarter of the full group, according to one dancer), preparing for San Francisco’s big Carnaval parade, which takes place in the Mission on May 27.

Bernal Native and Smarty-Pants Political Comic Performs Tonight in Oakland

Our sources at the Bernal Heights Parents Club tell us that Bernal native and Bay Area comic luminary Nato Green – whom writer Lemony Snicket has likened to “finding a shot of bourbon at your co-worker’s stupid vegan potluck” – is doing stand-up at the New Parish in Oakland at 7 and 9 tonight (and recording the performances for his first comedy album).

You can read more about Green and his roots in union organizing in this East Bay Express article; it sounds like Green could be a good antidote to all the outrage we’re feeling over the Great Bernal Dumping Epidemic. Plus, for all the moms and dads out there, rumor has it there will be jokes about being a San Francisco parent. Tickets ($12-$15) available here.

YIMBY Power: How Friends of the Lucky Horseshoe Bar Rallied to Sway the City’s Entertainment Commission

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So, remember how Eric Embry, co-owner of the Lucky Horseshoe on Cortland, asked folks from Bernal Heights to attend a hearing at City Hall on Tuesday night, so that the Lucky Horseshoe might secure the coveted Entertainment Permit needed to host live music at the bar?

Well, a whole lot of people actually showed up at City Hall to express their support. And in the end, the Lucky Horseshow got their permit — which means live music will soon follow.

But the story doesn’t end there. Overall, the episode turned out to be a rather encouraging experience for many of those who decided to get involved. It showed that hard work can pay off, meaningful community can be created, and antagonism from a NIMBY minority doesn’t always carry the day — or spoil the fun.

Neighbor Clane attended the hearing on Tuesday night, and she filed this exclusive report:

Around 6 p.m. Tuesday night a few of us sat in Room 400 at City Hall to support Lucky Horseshoe’s bid for a live entertainment license. Through a long, tangled presentation by a group that had been successfully blocking entertainment — for twenty years — in SOMA, I worked on some crochet to stay occupied. I didn’t look up until one of the Commissioners announced Lucky Horseshoe. That’s when I noticed something great: The room was totally full.

A Commissioner began Lucky Horseshoe’s case by stating they’d received 845 letters of support of it, and only twelve against. A dozing commissioner straightened as the room exploded with applause.

Lisa Marie and Eric, Lucky Horseshoe’s owners and proprietors, both straight out of Super Cute Geek and Smartie Hotness Magazine, explained their case at the podium. The Commissioners asked a few questions and then invited public comment. A line went around the room as people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors stood up to speak.

The commission unanimously voted to approve the license, and the crowd went nicely and politely wild.

Afterward, back at Lucky Horseshoe, Lisa poured champagne for everyone who’d come to City Hall, and the outdated jukebox started up right away with the perfect outdated music I go to Lucky Horseshoe just to hear. Seriously, I go there for three reasons: good drinks from convivial bartenders, interesting conversation with random strangers, and the crappy jukebox.

Whenever I go into Lucky Horseshoe I end up talking to someone totally new and unexpected, because it’s practically a scientific fact: You can bond with almost anyone over “Benny and the Jets.” Those gathered at City Hall were no exception, from the elegant, elderly pool shark, to the mussed hipster, to my neighbor. There were OGs and hoodies, moms and hipsters, musicians of all kinds, and bingo-playing church ladies. There was a genteel pensioner and a lawyer in a trucker’s cap. It was awesome, grown-folk style.

A few things were really clear. The support was genuine and heartfelt, and Lisa Marie and Eric had worked hard for it. Since opening they’d differentiated themselves from Skip’s Tavern, but they’d welcomed old regulars and anyone who respected the business. They held community meetings and supported local causes and events, like the Library Mural Project and the Solstice Stroll.

They also thought a lot about why people might be concerned about live music and what issues it might entail. I don’t think you can fake this kind of thing — either the outreach Lisa Marie and Eric put into it, nor the unanimous approval and overwhelming support they received in return. For once I felt like I was at the really cool party. Gathering to make, experience, and reflect art, music, and culture is the life of the City itself.

Post Script: Eric said he and Lisa Marie were just beside themselves with all the support, and wanted to really, really, really thank everyone.


Last night, Bernalwood received an email from Eric, who writes

Thank you very much!!

Now we just have to do some soundproofing, install the sound system, and pass a couple inspections between now and our first show.  We’ll be on for Valentines day if not earlier, hopefully sometime in January!

PHOTOS: Top, Lisa-Marie and Eric. Below, friends of Lucky Horseshoe attending and testifying at the Entertainment Commission hearing. Fabulous photos courtesy of Adrian Mendoza.

Tonight! Buy Chicken John’s Book, Help Save His Space for ‘Odd and Unlikely Artworks’

On Cesar Chavez Street near Mission, there’s a prominent mural on a jaunty red building that shouts advice to all passers-by: “Fail…to WIN!”

That slogan is the subtitle of The Book of the IS, a new book written by the building’s owner, Chicken John Rinaldi.

I’ve read it, and I was genuinely inspired by its rallying cry to embrace the “Is” — that which “allows and accepts and laughs and courts” — and reject the “Un,” which “prevents and contains and moderates and disdains.”

The key to pulling off this trick? Don’t be afraid to fail. “The minute we’re as comfortable with failing,” Rinaldi writes, “as we are with winning — the moment we’re in it for the experience and not the victory lap — is the moment we’re free.”

A showman provocateur whose multifarious capers have increased the colorfulness of our city and Bernalwood in particular (anyone remember the Odeon Bar?), Chicken John’s most recent claim to fame is his (failed) mayoral campaign in 2007.

But for the past five years or so, he has quietly put on all manner of interesting artistic and cultural events ­— oracular Q&A salons, trapeze classes, puppet shows, mayoral debates, you name it — at 3359 Cesar Chavez Street, the aforementioned jaunty red building. Quietly as in, you know, lacking all the permits and stuff.

That space is now at a crossroads, and Chicken John needs help. He needs you to buy his awesome book, either online at bookoftheis.com or, preferably, in person tonight, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.-2 a.m., at a spectacular free event at 111 Minna and the surrounding block (the street will be closed to accommodate over 100 performers and god knows what kind of mayhem).

Did we mention that the book is an objet d’art? And that 550 of the 2,500 copies in existence sport handmade slip covers by renowned street artist Swoon as well as a smattering of local artists? You can even choose (for a slightly higher price) to have your book include a coupon worth one “anything,” redeemable directly from Chicken John. “It’s gonna kill me,” he says, “but I’m serious about it. I will do anything to save the warehouse.”

If he can raise the dough, Chicken John will be able to (a) keep his warehouse and (b) make an honest art space out of it via the nonprofit he created: the San Francisco Institute for Possibility. “We want to champion odd and unlikely artworks,” he says. “There is so much cool stuff that wants to happen there that I have to pass on because we are just not legal enough. Together, we can put the warehouse’s problems away and focus on doing shows, manufacturing culture, and battling the onslaught of mediocrity.”

Hear, hear! Help the man fail at failure.

PHOTO: Neil Berrett

Let the Chase Begin!! Bernal’s Bullitt Cameo, Then and Now

Although Bernal Heights has earned many a claim to Hollywood fame, my favorite is the role our neghborhood played in Bullitt, the 1968 Steve McQueen classic. It’s a great flick, but the most famous part, of course, is the epic car chase that screeches and sprawls around the street of San Francisco.

Bernal Heights plays a starring role here, because the chase itself gets underway just on the other side of US 101, near the intersection of Bayshore and Marin (near the site of the current car wash). The vroom-vroom action begins at the intersection  Army/Cesar Chavez and Precita Avenue, when two goons driving a Dodge Charger try to put the move on McQueen in his Ford Mustang. This screen grab shows the very moment when the chase gets underway:

Notice Bernal Hill making a cameo in the background, looking green and properly manicured. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this moment in the film is how little this corner of the neighborhood has changed in the last 40 years:

Fun stuff. From here the chase heads up York Street before turning onto Peralta, and from there it careens around San Francisco without rhyme or reason, as McQueen screeches around the corner in one part of town – only to reemerge in another. neighborhood, miles away.

The chase is a fun ride, and if you want to see it again, you can watch the thing right here:

Drive safely!

Hat Tip: @burritojustice

Off the Hill: Best Cheap Eats in the Mission, Carnival Parade on Sunday, Beach Chalet Blues, and a Market Street Makeover

It’s time for Bernalwood’s Friday buffet of warmed-over nibbles from around The City:

The 20 Best Dishes Under $10 in the Mission  (7×7 via MissionLoc@l)

Design Unveiled for New SFMOMA Addition (SF Chronicle)

Don’t Forget the Carnival Parade on Sunday Morning!! (FunCheapSF)

Let’s Roll: Best San Francisco Food Trucks of 2011 (SF Weekly)

The Odyssey of the Original Beach Chalet at Ocean Beach (The Richmond Blog)

Planning Underway to Make Market Street Not Crappy (Streetsblog)

PHOTO: Carnival 2009 in the Mission, by Telstar Logsitics

Filmmaker, Attack!!! Submit Your Film for the 2011 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema Series


Look, there is a reason we call it Bernalwood — and it’s not just because everyone who lives here is glamorous and fashion-obsessed. No, it’s also called Bernalwood in part because our neighborhood is home to its very own film festival, and our festival is a very locavore affair:

Organizers of Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema™ are planning the eighth season of free screenings showcasing local filmmakers — August 31-September 4, 2011. Plans include an Opening Night & Preview, an evening Block Party, the Film Crawl on Cortland, a screening Under the Stars at Precita Park, and a closing night in conjunction with Salsa Sunday at El Rio. As in the past, it’s a full schedule of film and video, live music, local filmmakers and film-lovers mixing around the Hill.

So attention all you gonnabe Coppolas, Kubricks, Kurosawas, Spielbergs and Tarantinos: The submission deadline for the 2011 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema is June 1. Get on it.

PHOTO: Illustration by Telstar Logistics

Style Network Uses Stylish Bernalwood Home As Location for Stylish TV Show

Reader Molli Amara submitted some news via the Bernalwood hotline about a camera crew from the Style Network that’s shooting an episode of a TV show in our stylish neighborhood. (Luckily, no one told them about our unstylish dirt-fountain. Shhhhh!) For style-mavens, Molli also brings news of a yard sale that will take place at the same location this weekend. Read her full report for details…

As a rather new mom on leave of absence from work for a few months, I’ve had the opportunity to re-engage with our little village of Bernalwood in a more meaningful way — i.e. I get to be a weekday inhabitant of the neighborhood.

No longer waving goodbye early in the morning and returning at night — perhaps slipping in a quick end-of-the-day sunset walk to the top of Bernal Hill.  As I try to escape my house at least once a day by traversing my least hilly route over to Cortland Ave., I have been getting to know the minutiae — where to avoid the most uneven pavement when I’m out with the stroller, which blocks have the new bright yellow lego-like corner ramps (what is up with the bizarre design of the one on the NE corner of Cortland and Anderson!?), waving at the old guys who hang out in their windows or garage doorways, and even recognizing some of the same dog people I see out around the same times. It’s a good day when I’ve at least made it out to The Good Life and maybe peeked in at the fun and lovely things over at Heartfelt.

Our little corner of Bernal is pretty quiet, immortalized this past December for its after dark loveliness. So there was a bit of excitement when we SouthEast slopers received a notice that the Style Network was taking over a bunch of our parking spaces to shoot a segment on my neighbor Deanne’s house.
She has a lot of cool stuff — she’s been doing live sound for shows from the Fillmore and seeing the world on tour, and she has the record collection to prove it. But as part of the show, they are going to make her get rid of a lot of it by having a big ol’ yard sale this weekend.

I don’t have a TV, but Deanne gave me a tour of her house this past Sunday, so I am curious, as a pack rat of sorts myself, to see what they will do to her house. Now my usually quiet walk up my steep hill is punctuated by the sound of generators and the sight of directors chairs and coolers on the corner that is now the craft service area.

Bernal may not have been given love by Soderbergh while he was in town the past few weeks, but at least we will be immortalized for our eclectic style.

UPDATE: I picked up a flier I picked up from some nice production people. Here are the details on the yard sale:

Clean House is hosting a huge yard sale!
When: Saturday, February 19th, 9am-1pm
Where: The Slovenian Hall 2101 Mariposa Street in beautiful San Francisco
Come and get GREAT DEALS on…
Classic Punk Rock albums
Collectible concert posters
Vintage clothing and accessories

And so much more!

Come and meet the cast!
You may even find yourself on TV!
Cash only — no early birds, please
Style Network

Photos: Molli Amara