Anna, Maker of Piroshkis on Cortland, Celebrates New American Citizenship

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Hooray! Anna Tvelova is the founder and proprietor of the certifiably delicious Anda’s Pirsoshki shop at 331 Cortland, and her piroshkis taste so authentically amazing in part because Anna originally hails from Russia.  This week, however, she also became a naturalized American citizen, and she’s thrilled about it.

To celebrate her new status, Anna engaged in a hallowed naturalization ritual that dates back to the earliest days of George Washington and the Founding Fathers: A hilltop Zumba line dance.

Anna tells Bernalwood:

Had blast dancing Zumba On Bernal Hill this weekend with SF Jay!  Because I love Zumba, I love Bernal, and my piroshki shop out here. This event was created in support of Bernie Sanders, and it’s my first act as a brand new citizen.

Congratulations, Citizen Anna!

Put on your powdered wig, sharpen your quill pen, and join Citizen Anna as she celebrates her new status by shaking her naturalized American groove thang atop Bernal Hill:

PHOTO: Citizen Anna at her naturalization ceremony, courtesy of Citizen Anna

Bernal Neighbor Named Director of City’s New Homelessness Office

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While Bernal residents keep an eye on efforts to address the homeless encampment underneath the Cesar Chavez/101 interchange, one Bernal Heights neighbor will soon be paying particularly close attention: Yesterday, neighbor Jeff Kositsky of Precitaville was introduced as the first director of the City’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Heather Knight from the San Francisco Chronicle covered Neighbor Jeff’s appointment:

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s plan for a new department of homelessness — an idea bandied about at City Hall for at least 14 years — is taking shape, with a budget of at least $160 million, nearly 200 workers and a new director, who was announced Wednesday.

He’s Jeff Kositsky, a well-known figure in the city’s homeless service system. Since 2013, he has worked as executive director of Hamilton Family Center, which provides emergency shelter and other services to homeless families. He led the Community Housing Partnership, which manages housing for 1,300 formerly homeless adults, for nine years before that.

“The city has all of these amazing programs that are really world-class,” Kositsky said. “To be able to bring all of those under the same department under a unified strategy to help really amplify Mayor Lee’s vision for addressing homelessness in San Francisco is an honor and an amazing opportunity.”

In his new role, Neighbor Jeff will oversee a department with 110 employees and an annual budget of more than $160 million. His top priorities in the big new job will include opening more Navigation Centers to provide interim shelter for the homeless and deploying a new information system to improve management and coordination of homeless cases and services. The new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will launch on July 1.

PHOTO: Neighbor Jeff Kositsky photographed by Connor Radnovich for The San Francisco Chronicle

RIP Charles Gatewood, Underground Photographer and Bernal Neighbor

Charles Gatewood (1942-2016)

Charles Gatewood (1942-2016)

Photographer Charles Gatewood passed away last week at age 74. He was a longtime resident of Mirabel Street.

Neighbor Charles built his career photographing rock music celebrities, but later in his career he took an interest in alternative culture and sexuality. Even if you never knew him, you probably know some of his work. This was the first photo Charles Gatewood ever published, in 1966:

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“Dylan With Sunglasses and Cigarette,” by Charles Gatewood

Writing for BoingBoing, former Bernal neighbor David Pescovitz summarized Charles Gatewood’s legacy:

Charles Gatewood, a pioneering photographer of the underground for nearly 50 years, died today from injuries sustained in a fall from his third-floor balcony. He was 74.

From documenting the Beats and the dark alleys of 1970s Mardi Gras to extreme body modification practitioners and sexual fetishists, Charles lived his life as a curious, open-minded photographic anthropologist at the fringes of culture.

I first encountered Charles’s work in the 1980s through the groundbreaking RE/Search book Modern Primitives and a grainy VHS dub of the documentary “Dances Sacred and Profane” about his quest for individuals “breaking the bounds of convention.” We first met in 1993 and I always looked forward to the terrific stories of his travels through the interzones that he happily shared with me. Charles was warm, generous, witty, and very grounded.

Tattoo Mike, by Charles Gatewood

Tattoo Mike, by Charles Gatewood

Neighbor Charles was close friends with Bernal Neighbor Annie Sprinkle, and she shared these thoughts about him:

Charles Gatewood was my close friend, photography mentor and sometimes collaborator since 1977. He was enormously talented, an influential photographer, and he lived his life on his own terms. A lot of folks in the body art, music, poetry, sex worker communities are sad today as he passed away, and also enormously grateful for the treasure trove of images he made of so many of us, which thank goodness are housed safely archived at UC Berkeley.

He was a sweet bad ass. Also fun to photograph. He made some of the best photos of me ever. Most too explicit for Facebook.

Its been an honor to be part of the last chapter of his life. He was in ICU for over two weeks, and I got to visit him, be part of the love fest surrounding him, and go to add my opinions at the three “ethics committee meetings” about his care. Finally the medical team took him off life support so that he could leave his broken body and find some peace.

A public ‘memorial celebration’ is being planned for the Center For Sex & Culture in about two months, to give folks time to travel. There might also be something in New York City if someone takes the lead. Details to come. Charles’ sister Betty lost her last family member and only brother. She donated his cornea to help someone see better. What a lucky person to get Charles Gatewoods cornea! Charles wanted to be cremated. All is well and as it should be now. Needless to say, I’m very sad, as well as relieved he is out of pain. He was an important person in my life to whom I shall always be grateful.

Big love to all those who are sad to see Charles go. See you at the memorial, and eventually at the big UC Berkeley Gatewood archive presentation one day, for a grand reunion. Stardust to stardust…

Sigh.

Here’s a (NSFW) video of Neighbor Charles giving a tour of his own archive in 2012, including a cameo of some photos he took of Neighbor Annie Sprinkle:

Autistic Boy, Missing From Concord, Found by Bernal Neighbor Alice Caruthers

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An autistic 11 year-old boy who went missing from his home in Concord, California was found near the Alemany housing project in Bernal Heights last Friday after Bernal neighbor Alice Caruthers noticed that the boy looked lost.

ABC-7 carried the story:

Zachary Jordan-Smith, an 11-year-old boy with autism, walked out of class on Friday and hopped a BART train to San Francisco. He’s now been safely reunited with his family because of one woman’s instincts. […]

He was found in the 900 block of Ellsworth in San Francisco in front of a head start school.

Somehow he squeezed through a fence at Holbrook and took a path to the North Concord BART station, which is nearby, and managed to get on BART train without money.

Fortunately, he was found safe.

“A sigh of relief. An absolute sigh of relief. Words cannot describe it. We were just so nervous and all of a sudden, such relief,” his father, Chris, said.

“I want to go get my son,” his mother, Christine, added.

That’s exactly what the Jordan-Smith family did. They got in the car and drove to Concord, bound for San Francisco.

Jordan-Smith was found next to I-280 by a woman who held him there for police, and the first officer on the scene happened to be a family friend.

There were hugs and happiness all around.

“I said, ‘Lord, give me favor right now. Clear this freeway so I can get this kid.’ I said, ‘Are you lost?’ and he said, ‘Yes I’m lost.’ I said, ‘Where do you live?’ and he mentioned a street I’ve never heard of. He mentioned Concord and I said, ‘Concord, how did you get here?’ He said, “BART,’ so I said, ‘Oh, so you’re missing. I’m going to get you safe and I promise you I’m going to get you to your parents,” San Francisco resident Alice Caruthers said.

Wow. Neighbor Matt shared this detail:

My daughter’s schoolmate saw the boy running somewhat erratically down Andover and across Cortland.

Previously she and a classmate were on the J Church going outbound and had seen the boy get off on Church St. So somehow he managed to get from BART to Muni and ended up on Andover above Cortland.

What a story!

Indeed.

Of course, anyone who knows Neighbor Alice will tell you that her role in this Good Samaritan tale should come as no surprise: Alice Caruthers is also president of the Alemany housing project residents association and she’s served on the board at the Alemany Farm. And now, on top of all that, she’s also a superhero.

Here’s the ABC-7 video report:

PHOTO: Montage by the San Francisco Police Department

Aerial Love Story: Watch as Bernal Neighbor Proposes to Sweetie on Bernal Hill

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Yesterday, Neighbor Tim proposed to Renee atop Bernal Hill. She said Yes!

HURRAH! Congratulations!!!

This being 2016, the proposal was documented from above by Bernalwood pal and ace aerial videographer Eddie Codel. Eddie says:

Long time Bernal resident Tim Lang proposed to his girlfriend Renee Carano yesterday atop Bernal Hill, on what was probably the warmest day of the year. The special moment was captured by drone, of course!

The video is lovely, sweet and deep, in a way that only an aerial camera could convey. Kleenex Alert: You may experience feelings. Watch:

Hail to the Chief! Meet the New President of Mission-Bernal Merchants Association

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It’s presidential campaign season, but (hooray!) here’s one story that doesn’t involve Donald Trump.

Neighbor Eden Stein from Secession Art & Design is now the president of the Mission-Bernal Merchants Association, the merchant group organized along the Bernal/La Lengua’s Mission Street corridor.

Neighbor Eden now presides over the proud territories that once belonged to the “South of Army-Mission Merchants Association” in days of yore, but she brings a thoroughly contemporary approach to the office. President Eden writes:

Wearing my heart on my sleeve and being locally-minded are part of my approach to life. I live and work passionately everyday being the owner and curator of Secession Art & Design. I often get asked “what is your art?” Secession is my art, and the 60+ independent makers are my muses. Outside my doors is my community.

I am honored to announce that I am now President of the Mission Bernal Merchant Association. This leadership role is a way for me to help our neighborhood have a strong voice that will benefit merchants and residents. I look forward to collaborating with local business and government to help unite and transform our neighborhood into a destination that supports our local community.

See you in the neighborhood soon!
XO Eden

RIP Robert Nygard, a Familiar Character on Cortland Avenue

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We’re sad to report that Robert Nygard has passed away. Neighbor Robert was a familiar face on Cortland Avenue, but he died last weekend after he was struck by a car near Mission and 29th streets, a few days short of his 61st birthday.

Valerie Reichert, manager at the Bernal Heights Library, recalls:

Robert was part of the neighborhood’s old guard, and those of us working on Cortland chatted with him daily. When I came to work, Robert was always sitting with his coffee on the Neighborhood Center bench. He would shout across the street “Hey Lady! “and then give me the weather report.

Robert used the library pretty much every day and was a favorite with the staff. He was a teller of tall tales (which I fell for lock stock and barrel), convincing me last year it was his 80th birthday, when in fact he had added 20 years in order to ice the cake. Mr. Robert Nygard was definitely part of our Bernal landscape.

Neighbor Stacie from Little Bee Baking adds:

Robert was one of the older guys who hung out most every day at the Neighborhood Center or the library, and he came in to my shop regularly for ice cream. He also used to play the blues on his guitar outside the Neighborhood Center while I was getting my shop ready to open. (He was always really proud that he taught himself to play the guitar!) It’s just weird not seeing him after having seen him almost everyday for the past two-plus years.

PHOTO: Robert Nygard at the opening day for Little Bee Baking. Photo courtesy of Stacie Pierce.