Immigration fight snares a familiar face

Luis Quiroz, a staffer at Fillmore’s Invision, is among those threatened.

Luis Quiroz, a staffer at Fillmore’s Invision, is among those threatened.

By JAYA PADMANABHAN

When 27-year-old Luis Quiroz heard the news that DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program — was being rescinded, it was as though something he’d worked for all his life had been stripped away.

“I felt completely defeated,” he said.

Quiroz was born in the Mexican state of Guerrero and was brought to America when he was 6 months old. He grew up in San Diego and later moved here to attend San Francisco State University.

“My whole life has been devoted to the United States,” he said. “I know no other home. California has been my home my whole life, pretty much.”

DACA changed Quiroz’s life in two crucial ways: He found a job at Invision Optometry on Fillmore Street, which helps him pay off education expenses; and he obtained a driver’s license, which allows him unrestricted movement. DACA validated his identity.

“I could prove to the world that I was Luis Quiroz and that my birth date was the date it was and that I was a California resident,” he said.

Quiroz worried about his family living close to the Mexican border in San Diego, where there was heightened immigration enforcement activity — and he was right to worry. When Quiroz was 15, his 23-year-old brother was detained and subsequently deported. Two years after that, his father was deported. And in 2015, his mother was sent back to Mexico.

“The reason they fled Mexico in the first place was for economic opportunity, to escape violence, for a better future for themselves and their children,” Quiroz said. “As much as we want to see each other again, my parents recommend I stay in San Francisco.”

His voice thickened with emotion, Quiroz talked about a recent tragedy in his family. In March of this year, his brother, who operated a business for tourists, was assaulted and shot point-blank in front of his 4-year-old daughter.

“I currently have no way of going to Mexico, or visiting his grave, or visiting my parents or my brother’s daughter, whom I have never met,” Quiroz said. He had just finished putting together the paperwork and fee for DACA’s advanced parole, which would have enabled him to visit his family in Mexico. But now, with DACA rescinded, advanced parole is no longer an option.

“I’m very lucky to be in San Francisco, of all places,” Quiroz declared, enumerating the various resources the city has offered him.

S.F. State set up healing circles at their Dream Resource Center after the DACA announcement. San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs offers advice, support and sanctuary to Dreamers. That office also provides help with DACA renewals, fee assistance and legal aid.

Dreamers like Quiroz are concerned about what might be compromised in the zeal to get Congress to pass the pending Dream Act.

“I personally feel torn about this,” Quiroz said. “This Dream Act offers relief to less than 10 percent of the undocumented population, and it excludes everyone else.”

He fears that while he would personally benefit from the bill, the larger undocumented population will be left unprotected.

“It’s like saying, ‘We get to stay, but our parents will get deported,’ ” Quiroz said.

An earlier version of this article appeared in Jaya Padmanabhan’s In Brown Type column in the San Francisco Examiner.

Historian Kevin Starr: A personal memoir

Photograph of former State Librarian Kevin Starr by Andrew Burton.

Photograph of former State Librarian Kevin Starr by Andrew Burton

By CHARLES FRACCHIA

He was born and grew up in public housing on Potrero Hill. When his parents could no longer take care of him and his brother, he was sent to a Catholic orphanage in Eureka. After a stint as a seminarian he attended St. Ignatius High School, where his Jesuit teachers noticed he could not read well, had his eyes checked, and bought him glasses.

It is a surprising start for what happens next. He attends the University of San Francisco and graduates with honors, does a stint as an officer in the U.S. Army, is given a Danforth Fellowship and attends Harvard University, where he receives a Ph.D. in American literature. Following a teaching stint at Harvard, he returns to San Francisco in 1973, where he becomes a special assistant to Mayor Joseph Alioto and City Librarian.

This protean figure is Kevin Starr, who, during the four and a half decades after his return to San Francisco, became one of the major cultural historians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a journalist and editor, a generous abettor of many authors, an amiable clubman, State Librarian of California and a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California, to which he would commute weekly from his home in San Francisco.

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So long, Charlie

charlie with preschooler

THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAS lost one of its most familiar faces: Charlie, the large golden doodle known for relaxing on the sidewalk outside Peet’s at Fillmore and Sacramento, has died. Charlie always put smiles on the faces of passersby with his unusual size and gentle demeanor. 

He was a frequent customer at George, his favorite destination, and also enjoyed the carpets at Browser Books, where the staff posted a memorial. Said erudite Browser bookman Fred Martin: “He had the soul of a saint and the body of a blonde bombshell.”

VICTORIA’S SECRET

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By BARBARA KATE REPA

Victoria Dunham is bucking the trend.

At a time when many small businesses with unique offerings have been priced out and forced off Fillmore Street, the proprietor of the HiHo Silver jewelry store at 1904 Fillmore has just opened a second shop next door, doubling her retail space.

“I live in this neighborhood, too,” she says. “I know what it means to have mom-and-pop stores here, and this is a mom-and-pop — or at least a mom.”

In mid-July, Dunham opened a new boutique one door north, naming it simply for its address: 1906. The spot allows her to showcase the many gems and curiosities she finds too weird or wonderful to resist while traveling the world scouting for silver: scarves and shawls, framed insects, stainless steel vases, sting ray wallets and coin purses and polished wooden boxes.

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Nurturing the evolution of jazz in S.F.

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CULTURE BEAT | PAM FEINSILBER

It’s fitting that Randall Kline, founder and executive artistic director of SFJazz — the largest jazz-presenting organization on the West Coast — lives near Fillmore Street. In the 1940s and ’50s, when the neighborhood was teeming with clubs, bars and after-hours joints, it was revered by jazz musicians and fans. Now Kline, who has lived locally with his wife, Teresa Panteleo, for almost 20 years, presides over the acclaimed SFJazz Center he willed into being in the cultural mecca near City Hall.

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Poetica finds its community

Traci Teraoka is the proprietor of Poetica Art & Antiques at 3461 Sacramento Street.

Traci Teraoka is the proprietor of Poetica Art & Antiques at 3461 Sacramento Street.

LOCALS | FRANCINE BREVETTI

There was no place to put 1,000 Monks. Artist Andrea Speer Hibberd was frustrated when trying to find a store or a gallery to exhibit the giclee prints of her drawing.

Until she walked into Poetica Art & Antiques on Sacramento Street.

There she found the proprietor, the expansive Traci Teraoka, only too happy to show and sell the luminous work in her store. Hibberd had created the drawing in tribute after her father died in 2001; her son had the original and encouraged his mom to make prints.

The creation was just the right fit for Teraoka’s eclectic and wide-ranging collection of furniture, art and decor at 3461 Sacramento Street. After six years in business, Poetica has drawn a devoted following.

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The art of neighborliness

Suzanne, wearing a hat from her collection by a local milliner, and George Burwasser.

Suzanne, wearing a hat from her collection by a local milliner, and George Burwasser.

LOCALS | BARBARA KATE REPA

Longtime locals Suzanne and George Burwasser practice the fine and gentle art of neighborliness.

Together for more than half a century, most of that time only a few doors from Fillmore Street, they have made it a priority to shop local and get to know the people who live and work around them.

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A view of the bay helped lure the maestro

Photograph of San Francisco opera music director Nicola Luisotti by Cory Weaver

Photograph of San Francisco Opera music director Nicola Luisotti by Cory Weaver

CULTURE BEAT | PAMELA FEINSILBER

Maestro — and neighborhood resident — Nicola Luisotti opens the San Francisco Opera’s summer season this month, conducting eight performances of Verdi’s heart-wrenching Rigoletto.

Italian to his core, Luisotti, who’s been music director of the opera company since 2009, is particularly renowned for conducting the works of his most famous musical countrymen. He will open the fall season conducting Puccini’s beloved Turandot in early September and Verdi’s romantic La Traviata later that month.

But if not for the charms of the neighborhood, he might not be in San Francisco at all.

You’ve worked in opera companies all over the world. What brought you to San Francisco?

I will never forget that important moment of my artistic life. I was in L.A. in 2005 conducting Pagliacci, by Leoncavallo. I’d been invited to conduct La Forza del Destino, by Giuseppe Verdi, in San Francisco, and I had to start the rehearsals. But I was so tired, I was close to canceling my engagement.

I decided to come here for two days; my wife, Rita, remained in L.A. When I entered the apartment S.F. Opera had arranged for me in Pacific Heights, the windows provided a spectacular view of the bay and Alcatraz — a view I couldn’t have had in any other neighborhood. I immediately called Rita and said: “You will love this city!”

And it was one of the best musical experiences in my life. The S.F. Opera orchestra and chorus were just amazing. Four years later, when I was asked to become music director, I was in paradise.

And back in Pacific Heights.

I fell in love with what the neighborhood first gave me — that view. Our apartment building in Pacific Heights was built in 1932, and I thought it was truly fate, since that was the year the Opera House opened. And Pacific Heights is so quiet, beautiful and elegant — just a perfect place for a musician to be inspired.

You began your career at age 10, playing the organ in your village church in Tuscany, learning to read music by watching the priest — and a year later you were conducting the church chorus. How did you become an opera conductor?

The first time I attended an opera, it was Madama Butterfly, when I was 12. But the first time I fell in love with an opera was La Bohème, when I was 21. When I saw it, I understood that one day, I could become an opera conductor. For sure, a bit of talent, a lot of work and some luck can contribute to achievement. Perhaps being Italian is why many theaters ask me to conduct Italian works, and so it can be said that I bring my Italian traditions to the music.

What exactly does an opera conductor do?

My colleagues in the orchestra pit and on stage each knows his or her own role intimately. But the conductor brings his knowledge of the entire opera, acting almost like a medium, channeling the composer through the score. When everything works, we have magic.

What do you enjoy on your time off?

Rita and I love to cook and we do not eat out very often, although we have been many times, either on our own or with visiting friends and family, to Pizzeria Delfina. We walk all over Pacific Heights and shop at Sur La Table on Union, the Apple store and Lucca Deli on Chestnut, and go to Whole Foods on California several times a week. We love the services of Deluxe Cleaners on Laguna, and Rita attends Pilates classes at the Dailey Method in Cow Hollow. We bike from home to Crissy Field and beyond and like to hike in the Marin Headlands.

Alas, you’ll be moving on after next season. What are your plans?

I have just been named director asociado at the Teatro Real in Madrid. I will also conduct a lot in New York at the Met, and in Paris, London, Munich, Rome, Turin and many other places around the world.

What you will miss?

I will simply miss everything about this fantastic, charming city that gave me so much. But I will come back here as a guest, and sooner than expected. Remember that all who have lived in this city have left their hearts in San Francisco!

Flowers for Prom

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Text & Photographs by BARBARA WYETH

Every year in the late spring, we florists at Bloomers, over on Washington Street near Broderick, get to share in the time-honored, all-American ritual of prom.

For 40 years, Bloomers has been providing flowers for families in the neighborhood and beyond. The mother who got her wedding flowers may call for her son’s corsage, the same son whose mom received a sweet bouquet the day he was born. Her daughter, who needs a boutonniere for her date, probably got a charming little nosegay for her ballet recital not that long ago. Or so it sometimes seems.

Now the son and daughter are ordering flowers, perhaps for the first time, to honor this special occasion in their own lives. Some of these high-schoolers are nervous about ordering wristlets and boutonnieres. Others are so self-assured that we marvel at their sophistication.

Making the boutonnieres and especially the wristlet corsages is labor intensive and time consuming, but the results are beautiful. And the parade of young women and young men — many with proud moms and dads — who come to pick up the prom flowers is endearing and great fun.

Flowers for prom — a sweet tradition that endures.

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New novel born on old Fillmore

magicwar

BOOKS | MARK MITCHELL

Walking down Fillmore Street, I often run into people who have lived here for a while, most of whom know me from my many years here. We’ll chat about the Giants and the weather and then they’ll ask, “How’s the writing going?” Anyone who has spent any time around me knows that I am a writer.

Right now, I get to answer, “Just great!” My new novel just came out, and it’s called The Magic War. If I have one with me, I hand them a flyer with the cover and a link to Amazon. (We’re still working on getting into Browser Books.)

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