Scenes from PianFrancisco 2017 on Bernal Hill

Photo: Telstar Logistics

Photo: Maria Lanigan

On Sunday afternoon, everything went according to plan. The piano appeared on the top of Bernal Hill, with help from a team of meadow gnomes and musical sprites. A small crowd arrived, including many musicians. And because it’s Fogust, Karl the Fog made a celebrity guest appearance, though he very kindly kept the temperatures somewhat warm on Bernal Hill.

Photo: Maria Lanigan

The Bernal Hill edition of PianFrancisco 2017 was wonderful, but if you missed it, here’s a video sampler, filmed live by the Bernalwood Mobile Uplink Team:

Thanks to all the sprites from PianFrancisco for bringing their magic to Bernal Hill, and a very special thanks to all the pianists and wannabe-pianists who created the music that brought so many smiles to so many Bernalese faces yesterday afternoon.

Sunday: Renegade Piano Recital to Materialize on Bernal Hill


It’s happening again. Just like that wonderful time a few years ago.

On the afternoon of Sunday, August 6, a piano will appear on the top of Bernal Hill. Carried up the hill by a team of meadow gnomes and musical sprites, the piano will be positioned with a commanding view of the San Francisco skyline.

Then people will arrive, and some of them will be talented musicians. The piano will play, and there will be music, and more people will gather around, and the scene will be lovely.  Like this:


A post shared by Jen (@tuasomeblossom) on

… but maybe with more fog.  Hopefully not. But definitely maybe more fog.

Most importantly, you can be there too. To be part of it. Like a renegade.

PianFrancisco is a musical cabal that stages impromptu piano performances in improbable places around San Francisco. They materialized on Bernal Hill for the first time in 2015, and their events have since become a Thing that happens from time to time throughout the City. This Sunday, PianFrancisco is coming back to Bernal Hill.

The hush-hush communiqué Bernalwood received from the PianFrancisco cabal says:

Dearest Piano People,

We are pleased to announce the location of this Sunday’s PianFrancisco!

Wait for it… Wait for it…

Bernal Heights Park! Hooray!

As some of you know, we’ve held PianFrancisco here in years past. It’s a fabulous location, and the views from behind the piano are stunning. Plus we have some renowned local pianists joining us, including Allison Lovejoy and Dean Mermell. They will start playing at 3:30pm, so be sure to arrive by then!

Sunday, 8/6
Bernal Heights Park
San Francisco, CA

How to Find Us
There are lots of ways to access the park, but we recommend the entrance on the south side of the park at the very end of Bernal Heights Blvd (it dead ends). Just walk up the paved road toward “Sutrito Tower”, and you will find us just below the tower.

Other Stuff
Take a Lyft if you plan on drinking!
Don’t leave anything visible in your car. Seriously.
Take all your trash with you.

See ya Sunday!

Rest assured, Bernalwood is told the magical piano will also magically dematerialize from the Hill at the conclusion of the festivities.

Everyone else: You know what to do.

PHOTO: Top, 2013 renegade piano recital, on Bernal Hill, by paranoiddroid

Friday: Celebrate and Support Secession Art & Design’s 10th Anniversary

This Friday, August 4 from 6-9 pm, all Bernalese are invited to Neighbor Eden Stein’s fabulous Secession Art & Design store at 3235 Mission (near Valencia) to celebrate the store’s 10th anniversary party.

It’s a worthy cause for festivities, because in addition to operating her fabulous store, Neighbor Eden also leads the Mission-Bernal Merchants Association, which has played a very active role in helping our Mission Street corridor recover from the 2016 Cole Hardware Fire.

At the same time, Secession is also organizing a crowdfunding campaign. Neighbor Eden explains why:

In the time that I have owned my store I have been successful, been evicted and relocated two blocks from my original location, renovated a restaurant into a gallery, and worked almost every weekend. This past year the transit changes, the fire, politics, and changing retail behaviors have challenged whether or not I can continue to keep my doors open. Last week I had an attempted break-in, and another financial setback when they broke my glass door, which is not covered by insurance.

Neighbor Eden also shares this invitation to Friday’s 10th Anniversary Party:

You are personally invited to our 10th anniversary party on Friday night, 6-9pm.

Thank you to the lovely donors that have participated so far to our Gofundme campaign, and all the friends on Facebook who shared it. Your stories about why it is important to keep Secession Art & Design open in San Francisco moved my heart. Our goal is to raise 10k for our 10th Anniversary. The vision is to not only keep the doors open, but to grow. With additional capital, I will be able to hire one more person to the team, and create an event space in the back gallery with custom reclaimed wood benches, projector screen, and speakers.

I am always trying to be creative with how to use the gallery in new ways. The sky is the limit for what will happen in the next year. Most important is that I am able to hold onto this beautiful space. It is an epic journey every month to pay every bill. When you buy a painting, onesie, card, or gift certificate it means so much more. When you shop local, your money stays local. We are in this together.

You rock!
XO Eden

PHOTO: Courtesy of Secession Art & Design

Proposed Pinball Center Finds New Home on Misson Street in Bernal Heights


After all the fuss and cranky backlash, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth have finally found another location for their proposed pinball spot in Bernal Heights.

As you may recall, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth are proud denizens of Bocana, and they’d originally planned to open their pinball center at 1000 Cortland,  in the site of a former hair salon on the corner of Folsom. That plan, alas, foundered in the face of opposition from a few nearby residents, leaving the proposed pinball palace in search of a new location.

Happily, they’ve found one: Under the new name Outer Orbit, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth now plan to set up shop on Mission Street in Bernal Heights, near the intersection of Valencia, in the storefront that’s currently home to Bel, the Belgian restaurant.

Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth tell us:

For all of you who’ve been following the trials and tribulations of us trying to get our little pinball spot off the ground, we are delighted to announce that we’ve found a location and signed a lease! We tried mightily to open a place on Cortland Ave, but we fished through all the prospects and instead found our oasis on Mission Street (where it meets Valencia), so we will still be able to serve the families of Bernal Heights.

We expect to open in early spring after doing some light renovation. Our plan is to have nine machines ranging from vintage (EM, for those in the know) all the way to brand new games, while providing a fun and inviting atmosphere to match the pins.

In the evenings when the kids have settled off to La La Land, we’ll have plenty of beers and wines to keep the evening exciting. And the big reveal: Hawaiian-inspired eats! I grew up in Hawaii and have been dreaming of bringing well-executed novel touches of Hawaiiana to accessible dining.

So thanks again for all the interest and support you kind folks on Bernal have shown us. It’s been the fire that’s kept us going.

So that means family-friendly pinball, drinks, and Hawaiian food, all just a convenient bumper-bounce away all the other fabulous restaurants and bars in the delightfully vibrant, delightfully low-key Nano-Tokyo District and La Lengua Nightlife Zone. Game on!

Of course, Bel has a lot of fans in the neighborhood too, so it’s sad to see them go.  According to MissionLocal, Richard Rosen, the chef and co-woner of Bel had a motorcycle accident recently, after which it became more difficult to operate the business.  Rosen and his partner and co-owner, Jennifer Garris, also own the excellent Pi Bar on Valencia near 25th. We wish them all the best.

PHOTO: San Francisco pinball game, photographed at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda by Telstar Logistics.

Former Neighbor Lists Where to Eat and Drink in Bernal Heights

Until recently, writer Caleb Pershan was known to us as Neighbor Caleb, a resident of these Bernalese lands. Alas, Caleb recently decamped to another part of the City, but he still knows Bernal Heights well, and that shows in his list of “Where to Eat and Drink in Bernal Heights” that was just published on EaterSF.

Caleb writes:

Bernal Heights is sometimes described as an urban village rather than a neighborhood, which is to say it’s a little isolated and very family-friendly. The name Maternal Heights has been bandied about, but kids or not, it’s a great place to explore, eat, and drink.

To be sure, there’s certainly room to quibble about some glaring omissions. Nevertheless, this is an undeniably credible greatest-hits summary of Bernal’s fooding and drinking scene as it stands in the summer of 2017.

So dig in to see the list, and let the argumentation begin.



What’s Up With That Weird Construction Project on Bernal Heights Boulevard?

There’ve been many questions and much speculation about the big construction project that’s gobbled up a whole lane of Bernal Heights Boulevard on the north side of Bernal Hill. It’s quite a scene:

The presence of several stainless steel vats on the job site has led some to surmise that, as part of this Golden Age for Beer in Bernal Heights, a new microbrewery is under construction there, with skyline views that will pair nicely with a full-bodied IPA. The frosty mist emanating from a pipe has caused others to wonder if the site will become a pop-up location for one of those trendy, liquid-nitrogen ice cream stands, like that popular place in Japantown.

Suffice to say, such rumors are false and unfounded. Instead, the project on Bernal Heights Boulevard is part of a PG&E effort to reposition a high-voltage electric transmission line that’s buried under the street.

Neighbor Sam wrote about this process a few years ago after spotting a similar operation underway in Los Angeles. Here’s his basic explanation:

It turns out they have a problem with an underground wire. Not just any wire but a 230 KV, many-hundred-amp, 10 mile long coax cable. […]

The cable consists of a copper center conductor living inside a 16 inch diameter pipe filled with a pressurized oil dielectric. Hundreds of thousands of gallons [of mineral oil] live in the entire length of pipe. Finding the fault was hard enough. But having found it they still have a serious problem. They can’t afford to drain the whole pipeline – the old oil (contaminated by temporary storage) would have to be disposed of and replaced with new (pure) stuff which they claim takes months to order (in that volume). The cost of oil replacement would be gigantic given that it is special stuff. [..,]

That’s where the LN-2 [liquid nitrogen] comes in. An elegant solution if you ask me. They dig holes on both sides (20-30 feet each way) of the fault, wrap the pipe with giant (asbestos-looking) blankets filled with all kind of tubes and wires, feed LN-2 through the tubes, and *freeze* the oil. Viola! Programmable plugs! The faulty section is drained, sliced, the bad stuff removed, replaced, welded back together, topped off, and the plugs are thawed.

That’s what’s happening on Bernal Hill right now. Only, the issue here isn’t a fault in the line. Instead, workers at the site tell Bernalwood that PG&E is re-positioning the underground electric line to bypass a sewer upgrade The City recently installed along Folsom Street.

So on Bernal Hill, a contractor is using liquid nitrogen to freeze a segment of the mineral oil that functions as an insulator for the high-voltage electric line. The frozen segment acts like a cork to seal off the mineral oil backed up in the rest of the very long electric line. There’s another liquid nitrogen site farther north on Folsom that corked the other end of the line, and in-between, a third crew is repositioning the power line to avoid the new sewer pipes.

So now you know.

PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Telstar Logistics

Finally! Watch Bernal Filmmaker Joe Talbot’s “American Paradise”

Bernal Heights filmmaker Joe Talbot in 2014

When we last heard from Bernalese filmmaker Joe Talbot, he was schmoozing with the stars at the Sundance Film Festival.  Neighbor Joe, a native of Montcalm Street  and winner of the coveted “Best of Bernal” prize at the 2014 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema Festival, was at Sundance last Februrary to premier American Paradise, a short film he recently wrote and directed.

Yet if you just couldn’t make it to Sundance — ugh, the maddening crowds, darling — you’re now in luck: Yesterday Neighbor Joe shared American Paradise on the interwebs so the rest of us can watch it too.

IndieWire called American Paradise one of the “must-see shorts” at Sundance this year, and Vimeo just selected it as a Staff Pick Premiere. Emily Bruder at No Film School writes:

Some filmmakers come right out of the gate with a distinctive style and vision for their directorial debut. Joe Talbot is one such director. Although Talbot’s short, American Paradise, was his first time working with a budget and legitimate production team, it went on to screen at Sundance 2017 and SXSW 2017, garnering wide acclaim for its grasp of absurdist comedy and incisive social commentary.

Now, American Paradise has been selected as Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere and is finally available to stream online (Watch it below). It’s the story of a forgotten man in Trump’s America who tries to shift his fate with the perfect crime—until, of course, all goes horribly wrong. Its tagline, “based on an unfortunately true story,” perfectly encapsulates the film’s sense of humor and underlying somber message. Rendered with a pastel color palette and compositions that would make Wes Anderson weep, American Paradise announces an exciting new talent in Talbot.

Some filmmakers come right out of the gate with a distinctive style and vision for their directorial debut. Joe Talbot is one such director. Although Talbot’s short, American Paradise, was his first time working with a budget and legitimate production team, it went on to screen at Sundance 2017 and SXSW 2017, garnering wide acclaim for its grasp of absurdist comedy and incisive social commentary.

Find a comfortable place to sit, get yourself a cup of popcorn, and enjoy Neighbor Joe Talbot’s short film: