‘Do you want to come to the show?’

Mark Fantino and Richard Butler at Chouquet’s on Fillmore.

Mark Fantino and Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs at Chouquet’s.

FIRST PERSON | MARK FANTINO

It’s Tuesday, and I’m halfway through working a typical lunch at Chouquet’s, at Fillmore and Washington, when in he walks. Immediately I ask: “Are you Richard Butler?”

Turns out, I know him well. He’s the lead vocalist of The Psychedelic Furs, one of my favorite rock bands. A benefit of being a record collector who scrutinizes every detail and reads all the liner notes and lyrics on all the records that shaped my life is that I have names memorized, as if they are all old friends who’ve seen me through thick and thin. I’m remembering the adage that we should know the names of the people who changed the world, or at least made it a better place.

So there is something profound about welcoming him by name instead of: “Hey, aren’t you that guy from The Psychedelic Furs?”

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The wait is over

BBFlowers

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA WYETH

For us early morning folk, the long awaited opening of Blue Bottle Coffee on the busy Jackson and Fillmore corner is a blessing. In my mind, a strong cup of coffee is always a good thing, any time of day. That bracing dark, sweet shot of warmth and energy is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sometimes it’s also a necessity, a predictably effective motivator if I am going to accomplish anything the rest of the day.

We in the Jackson and Fillmore pro-coffee faction mourned the day the friendly, patient staff at Tully’s closed their doors. Once a beacon of light, warmth, and caffeine — especially in the winter months — the corner remained dark for two years. I would often see  members of our tribe looking wistfully at the closed doors and the posted notices on the papered-over windows. It was especially difficult this last very cold and very wet winter. Sloshing through puddles to a distant cafe early in the dark morning was not an ideal way to start the day. I would occasionally catch the eye of a former Jackson-Fillmore regular scurrying up the hill with soggy paper cups and trays.

When the sparkly new Blue Bottle Cafe opened, I saw many of those same folks standing patiently in the line, looking relieved, and eager to enjoy the much-acclaimed coffee. The cafe is modern, bright and open, with wrap-around windows to watch the comings and goings on that lively intersection. The cheerful staff seems eager to make friends of all the neighborhood folk. And those meticulously prepared espressos and macchiatos and pour overs are are gradually clouding my memory of the long wait for that early morning elixir. Truth be told, they take a little too long for me, at least most mornings — but damn, it is mighty fine coffee!

Presbyterians embrace protesters, spark more

A new banner at Calvary Presbyterian Church includes new protests and eternal verities.

A new banner at Calvary Presbyterian Church includes new protests and eternal verities.

FIRST PERSON | FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

It started out of frustration. A pastor at a mainline San Francisco church got tired of pulling together candlelight services after yet another black youth was killed. He wanted to do something positive to show support for the black friends he and many of his parishioners knew. So he hung a banner on the front of the church’s education building. Black Lives Matter, it proclaimed, the logo of a nascent movement.

This happened a few months ago at Calvary Presbyterian, the 164-year-old church at the corner of Fillmore and Jackson. Alongside the banner, minister John Weems hung a rainbow flag. He was also weary of attacks on the LGBTQ community, which incredibly still occur in San Francisco.

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Marching against ageism

The Age March takes place on December 4 on Union Street in San Francisco.

The third Age March takes place on December 4 on Union Street in San Francisco.

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA ROSE BROOKER

My idea for an Age March began with a dream.

I dreamed there was an end to age discrimination and segregation — and that men and women of all races and sexual orientations marched to celebrate their ages. I led the marchers along with several other people, holding a giant red banner emblazoned with the words “Age March.” Accompanied by jazz musicians, we marched a mile as we chanted, “Celebrate your age! Don’t lie about it!”

And then I woke up.

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Waiting for coffee

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Flowers for the Fillmore-Jackson coffee shop when it closed in 2014.

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA WYETH

Funny how habits form. They revolve around responsibilities and chores, but also the small pleasures that brighten our daily routines.

I have been working for several years at a beautiful flower shop in the neighborhood. In addition to spending time with a great team of co-workers and the lovely flowers every season and every day, it includes a relatively pleasant bus trip over from my Russian Hill apartment.

Florists start early, so it’s usually the coldest part of the day, and in the winter it’s dark. Very dark. But at the corner of Fillmore and Jackson was the welcome light of the coffee shop and the aroma of ground beans and steamed milk — and those friendly baristas who knew exactly what I wanted and just how I wanted it.

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There’s a new Sherith in town

New cantor David Frommer and new senior rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf.

New cantor David Frommer and new senior rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf.

By JESSICA ZIMMERMAN GRAF

I grew up in this neighborhood. I used to go to Gino’s grocery store at Fillmore and Jackson after school to get gummy worms in the ’80s when they were all the rage. I’ve walked around this neighborhood for years — decades, in fact. And now, I’m delighted to be back here in a new capacity.

Last month, a new clergy team was installed at Congregation Sherith Israel, at the corner of California and Webster Streets. Friends and congregants gathered for a Sabbath service on September 16, followed by festivities and food that honored the different cultures of San Francisco. About 600 people participated.

Who would have thought, just shy of 30 years after I became bat mitzvah in this community, that I would stand in the same spot being installed as the 10th senior rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel?

• I am the first senior rabbi who proudly hangs a Sunday School diploma on the wall.

• I am the first senior rabbi who interned here as a rabbinical student.

• And I am the first senior rabbi to wear a dress for installation — at least as far as I know.

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The story of our adoption

JD Schramm and Ken Daigle with their newborn daughter Roma and their son Tobias.

JD Schramm and Ken Daigle with their newborn daughter Roma and their son Tobias.

FIRST PERSON | KEN DAIGLE

My husband JD Schramm and I have been on the most amazing journey of our lives: the journey to fatherhood.

We decided to become parents to a child — or children — who needed us and what we have to offer. That decision has stretched us beyond our limits and has limited us in ways we could not have expected. Yet each and every painful or joyful step has brought us to a place of peace, a place of joy and a place of surrender.

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The smell of death

Jack Dairiki with his painting of Hiroshima 30 seconds after the atomic bomb exploded.

Jack Dairiki with his painting of Hiroshima 30 seconds after the atomic bomb exploded.

FIRST PERSON | JACK M. DAIRIKI

In Hiroshima City’s Atomic Peace Park, there is a poem carved into a rock that states: “Please rest in peace, for this error shall never be repeated.” It is a pledge to all living people of the world to protect all of humanity.

I witnessed the holocaust three and a half miles from the atomic bomb detonation point.

I traveled to Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1941 with my father on a summer vacation to visit my ailing grandfather. Unfortunately, we were stranded there in September of that year. Finding no passage to return to Sacramento, my father and I were separated from my mother and four siblings, who were interned in the camps at Tule Lake, California; Jerome and Rowher, Arkansas; and, finally, Amache, Colorado.

My classmates and I were conscripted to work for the Japanese war effort at Toyo Factory. I was a 14-year-old student. We worked there from January 1945 until the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6. On that fateful day, because of air bombing raids, my commuter train to the Toyo Factory was delayed by 15 minutes. That delay saved me and my classmates from being in Hiroshima City. We were taking roll call at 08:15 when the bomb was detonated.

We noticed three B-29 bombers traveling toward Hiroshima. It was shortly after that sighting that we experienced the horrific explosion of the first atomic bomb. First, there was a blinding flash and a horrific blast of wind that took out 99 percent of the Toyo Factory windows. I felt my body being lifted by this wind. When I opened my eyes, I was in the midst of dust and smoke and could not see my hands. Then I heard a fellow student run toward the bomb shelter a few hundred yards away; the entrance was at a higher elevation. Perhaps 30 seconds had elapsed. I looked back at Hiroshima and saw the monstrous fire column rising thousands of feet into the air. The whole city was on fire, covered in smoke and fire with no buildings to be seen.

An hour later we peeked out from the cave shelter and witnessed the first victim: a young woman walking with her arms extended, her ragged clothes hanging from her arms and her hair burned off. She was looking straight ahead and walked like a ghost. We noticed as she came closer that it was not burned clothes, but her skin, hanging from her arms.

We were instructed to return home if we were able to walk. I boarded a ghost train with the paint burned off and windows shattered. Inside the train were many injured people asking for medical aid. I could not help them, so I dismounted the train to walk home, a distance of 10 miles. My grandmother welcomed me — she was scanning the horizon for my return. The house was not damaged, except that all the sliding doors were down but unbroken.

There were 55 hospitals, 200 doctors and 2,000 nurses in Hiroshima City before the bombing. What remained were three hospitals, 20 doctors and 170 nurses to help the wounded. There were 80,000 people who died near me in the city.

I can never forget the image nor the smell of death.

Maybe I loved my car too much?

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FIRST PERSON  |  VICTORIA DUNHAM

I whined most of the day — well, at least from 9 a.m. on, when my downstairs neighbor called and said: “I have bad news. You know that loud crash you heard last night?”

I had heard a big crash at around 3 a.m., then a car alarm going off — typical Bush Street sounds. But then the downstairs door opened and closed, which was only slightly odd because Uncle Andy was here and I knew he heard the same sound that woke me up — and being the car guy he is, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that he might go out to investigate things, even though it was 3 in the morning.

But it wasn’t just any car the jerk hit. It was my car. After sideswiping the car parked behind me, the driver hit the back of my car dead-on without braking. Andy figures he was going around 40 to 50 miles an hour.

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Coming home to Fillmore

Kim Nalley performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

Kim Nalley performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

FIRST PERSON | KIM NALLEY

Being a musician is kind of like being a foodie. If you grew up poor, you’re really excited just to have food. Then, after you get accustomed to having food and are exposed to good food, you want something better. You eat at great restaurants and become able to distinguish the different components and learn which wines are best paired with each. Your palate is ruined for fast food. You seek better food experiences and make better food at home. But every once in a while you get misty-eyed for mom’s mac and cheese, made with government cheese, because it tastes like home.

In the beginning, I really just wanted a gig singing. I was cleaning houses at the time. I gave the owner of Harry’s Bar on Fillmore, Keith Provo, a demo cassette tape I had made by exchanging house cleaning for studio time. There were only three songs on that demo: an R&B song, an uptempo jazz scat and a ballad, “Moonlight in Vermont.”

Mr. Provo loved the ballad. His son Chris called on a Thursday morning and offered me a weekly gig — if I could put together a band and play that night. I had to stiff the owner of the house I was supposed to clean, but I did get that every-Thursday gig. They paid me $400 a night, and my rent was only $250 a month. I could hire A-list musicians who were much older than me to be my accompanists. I thought Harry’s Bar was the center of the universe and I felt really important at age 18 having a regular gig on Fillmore.

But soon I wanted more. I wanted to play the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

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