Aug 26

Acoustic Soul Fest This Saturday at the Amphitheater

More events are coming to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater this summer with the Saturdays in the Park Concert Series.  Starting last Saturday (sorry, we missed one here at the Planet) and continuing through October with a total of six events.  This Saturday, August 27th, is the Acoustic Soul Fest featuring McLaren Park neighbor, Martin Luther McCoy and his R&B review.  In addition to Martin, the show features performances by DJ Jahi Sundance, Kev Choice, Three Bell and special guest Sol Development.  The event kicks off at 1pm and goes until 4.

Soul Fest V2 Image


Can’t make this weekend’s show?  Here is a list of upcoming dates and performances from The Friends of the AMP:

September 10 – The 4th Annual Kid’s’ Festival – Featuring The Not-Its, JAM with Charity Kahn, Tree Frog Treks, nature programs, The Exploratorium, magic show with Magician Mike Della Penna and “On the Move” Children’s’ Storytelling Theater, There will be 4 Hours (11am- 3pm) of art, music, magic, science, hikes and dance and much more. Fun for the whole family to enjoy.


October 8 – Let the Good Times Rock’n Roll Show! Four virtuoso bands of great musicians will take you on a three and a half hour ride of dance and sing-along music when we welcome Cocker Power –A Joe Cocker Tribute Band, Rock Candy with Lindsey Boullt, Lost Comet with Sharon Pucci and Big Rain– a Rockin’ Country and Blues group.


October 15 – In mid-October we welcome back, by popular demand, a non-stop three hours of new and traditional tunes sung and played by several of our local troubadours at The Bluegrass Festival. The Bluegrass Festival is a non-stop afternoon of new and traditional tunes sung and played by the Back Porch Band, The Beauty Operators String Band, Canyon Johnson and the Windy Hill Bluegrass Band.


October 22 – The Blues Show – our season finale concert once again offers a great lineup of local bay area blues performers, including the dynamic Tia Carroll and Bobbie “Spider” Webb, the Saturday in the Park House Band and special guests. This final show also celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Amphitheater with the annual Saturday in the Park Amphitheater Birthday Party.

 Click on over to youtube to enjoy a little sampler of past Saturday in Park concerts here!



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Aug 18

Weekend Photo Roundup, Jerry & Drag!

Wow, what a weekend!  I’m clearly a bit biased when it comes to my enthusiasm for this community but even I was surprised by the turnout we saw at both Jerry Day and Drag Queen Bingo.  Two very different but completely San Francisco events that take place right here in our little neighborhood.

Jerry Day 2016 - Photo by Bob Minkin Photography via Facebook.

Jerry Day 2016 – Photo by Bob Minkin Photography via Facebook.

Jerry Day was on Sunday and if you missed it, there was another record crowd.  Live performances were given by Melvin Seals & JGB, Midnight North and Stu Allen & Mars Hotel.  The crowds overflowed into the park with event goers dancing the afternoon away.

Photo by Bob Minkin Photography

Photo by Bob Minkin Photography

Photo by Bob Minkin Photography

Photo by Bob Minkin Photography

The Portola Neighborhood Association hosted the 3rd annual Drag Queen Bingo event last Thursday to another record crowd.  Every year the attendance seems to double with this year’s event attracting over 150 guest and over 30 Drag Queens & Kings of all ages.  Prizes ranging from homemade cheesecakes to Sephora gift certificates were awarded to winners but the biggest prize of the night went to the P.N.A. who raised over $2,000!  No plans for the funds yet but it will go to support the group which is responsible for such projects as the new mural that just went up on the side of Breakfast At Tiffany’s (more on that in another post.)


Drag Queen Bingo 2016 at El Toro Night Club on San Bruno Ave.

Drag Queen Bingo 2016 at El Toro Night Club on San Bruno Ave.

You had to get past this lady to get in the door...

You had to get past this lady to get in the door…


The delicious Paella was made by our neighbor Arthur Koch and sold out in less than an hour!

The delicious Paella was made by our neighbor Arthur Koch and sold out in less than an hour!



If you missed either event, there is always next year!

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Aug 09

Party In The Portola: Drag Queen Bingo & Jerry Day!


Two of our neighborhood’s most popular events fall in the same week this year. Starting Thursday night at El Toro Night Club, it’s the 3rd Annual Drag Queen Bingo. There will be drinks, prizes, homemade Paella, local art and of course fabulous Drag Queen hosts.  Guests that arrive in Drag, costumes or festive attire get a free Bingo card so let your freak flag fly Portola!  Proceeds support the P.N.A. and more information can be found here.


On Sunday, trade in your wigs and stilettos for a tie-dye t-shirt and a splash of patchouli oil.  Then head over to McLaren Park’s Jerry Garcia Amphitheater for the annual Jerry Day celebration.  The event opens at 11:00 a.m. and the various music acts run into the afternoon.  Get there early for a good spot, last year’s event attracted several thousand guests and it grows steadily every year.  More information on the event here.



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Aug 03

Portola’s Own KALW Radio Turns 75


Did you know the Portola is home to the oldest FM radio station west of the Mississippi? Well it is and KALW is celebrating its 75th birthday tomorrow. The Chronicle has a very interesting write up on the history of the station as well as its current success in a changing media world.   Tune in and help NPR  affiliated KALW celebrate as it continues its long-standing mission of bringing innovative local programming to the people.

Read the full article here: SF Chronicle

Visit the KALW website with live streaming and podcasts here:

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Jun 02

Neighbor Featured On KQED’s “Perspectives”


If you are a KQED listener – which I believe by San Francsico law we are all required to be – you may have heard a perspective the other week by our neighbor Ren Volpe. Her perspective entitled, “Public Space Is…Public,” is a nice reminder to all of us in this increasingly congested city, that perhaps it’s time we all just chill the “F” out a bit.  Okay, so maybe she didn’t say it quite like that, but I think her message about coexisting in an increasingly tight space was well made and very apropos to the growing tension in this city.  Even here in the neighborhood that nobody knows about, new residents and businesses are moving in and with that comes less space to spread out.  While change such as freshly painted houses, park improvements and Breweries are welcome by most, the trade-off appears to be less street parking and more packed buses.  But as Ren suggests, living in an urban area is about sharing our common spaces and sometimes we all need a little reminder that the park, road, bus or sidewalk belongs to all of us.   I’ll try to remember that and remain cool next time I find myself sharing the sidewalk with someone else’s parked car.

You can read Ren’s thoughtful piece and listen to it in her own words at the KQED website: CLICK HERE

Hat tip to Elisa for recognizing our neighbor on the radio.


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May 26

F.D.R. Brewery Opens (Softly) To A Crowd

Fresh new space on S.B.A, notice the hop style light fixtures.

Fresh new space on S.B.A, notice the hop style light fixtures.

To the delight of many eager neighbors, Ferment Drink Repeat swung open their taproom doors to a thirsty crowd yesterday. The “soft opening” was a huge milestone for the team behind the nanobrewery project, which started almost 2.5 years ago.  The community came out in droves to show support for the new business on San Bruno with a steady crowd and a full house up until closing.  While speaking with Shae, one of the owners, she mentioned several times how much the support of the Portola community has meant to them as they pushed through the long process of receiving approvals from the city.  Their appreciation for last nights successful opening was echoed on their Facebook page this morning:


What an AMAZING soft opening last night! We could not have asked to land in a better neighborhood than the Portola! The community support has been incredible. We are open tonight from 3-10! Let’s make this second night just as great!


The new brewery space at 2636 San Bruno Ave is still coming together and will be completed by the Grand Opening celebration on Saturday June 25th (mark your calendars).  Even in its current state though, the taproom is quite eye-catching with Hop inspired light fixtures, a stained wood bar and stylish bright orange metal stools.   The owners designed it with the intention of creating a space for the community to come together and share a drink.  There are large communal tables to gather around, outside food from San Bruno restaurants is allowed and encouraged and in true San Francisco fashion, dogs are welcome in the taproom.    Future plans do include board games for those wanting a little activity with their brew and events such as trivia nights and theme parties are in the cards.  Just on opening night alone, the communal vibe was apparent with so many new and longtime neighbors reconnecting and meeting for the first time.  It was very cool to see on San Bruno and to have a reason (finally!) to be on our neighborhood “main street” past 3p.m.

The custom built wood bar

The custom-built wood bar

With all my waxing on about community, let’s not forget the star of the night, the beer.  F.D.R. opened with four of their brews on tap; The San Bruno Saison, Ole Black, Orange is the New Black and the Inauguration Session IPA.  The last of which seemed to be a real crowd-pleaser with a lower alcohol content and a tamed hoppiness that is refreshing but not overpowering.  As one of the owners put it, “an IPA that you can drink all day.”  We tried all the brews (they offer a flight) and although I could be accused of being slightly biased, all the flavors were sophisticated and very well balanced.  I’d be surprised if they this doesn’t become an attraction for people outside the community, it’s that good which is very exciting to have here.  More brews will be coming as they ramp up production and there is talk of some non-alcoholic options on the way as well.

The stars of the night.

The stars of the night.

You can read more about the NanoBrewery concept and Simon’s in-depth reporting on his home brewing experience with supplies purchased in F.D.R.’s home brew supply shop.  Click here:  NanoBrewery  and Homebrewing

Current menu.  Two more will be added this weekend and there will be a total of 10 once they are fully up and running.

Current menu. Two more will be added this weekend and there will be a total of 10 once they are fully up and running.

Ferment Drink Repeat is “proudly located in San Francisco’s sunny Portola neighborhood” at 2636 San Bruno Ave.  Check out their website: Click here!


Mon:  Closed

Tues:  3:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Homebrew Shop Closes at 7:00 pm)

Wed :  3:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Homebrew Shop Closes at 7:00 pm)

Thu:  3:00 pm – 10:00 pm (Homebrew Shop Closes at 7:00 pm)

Fri:  1:00 pm – 10:00 pm (Homebrew Shop Closes at 7:00 pm)

Sat:  10:00 am – 10:00 pm (Homebrew Shop Closes at 7:00 pm)

Sun:  Noon – 6:00 pm


Portola neighbors catching up over drinks.

Portola neighbors catching up over drinks.




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May 18

Help McLaren Park Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser This Saturday

Help McLaren Park


Over the past month we have had a number of well attended and successful community events here in the Portola. This Saturday (5/21) there will be an opportunity to support the good work of another group that is making a positive difference in our neighborhood. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. the folks at Help McLaren Park will be hosting their annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser at the Louis Sutter Clubhouse next to the duck pond. This year’s fundraiser is in support of the kid’s concert that the group is putting on this summer at Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in the park.

Over the years, Help McLaren Park has been instrumental in the upkeep and growth of McLaren Park.  Taking on projects such as the installation of  the community boards throughout the park, lobbing the city for park funding, created the beautiful snake mosaic at the duck pond as well as an upcoming refurbishment of the Shelly Drive Picnic Area. You can learn more about the group and sign up for their email newsletters on their website: Help McLaren Park

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May 11

Plant A Tree & Tell City Hall To Maintain It!

Listen to the Lorax

Listen to the Lorax

If you would like to help add a little much-needed greenery to the Portola, Friends of the Urban Forest will be planting trees in the neighborhood on June 25th.  The cost is highly subsidized for our neighborhood at only $75 per tree which includes everything from the permits, concrete removal, the tree and several years of pruning.   Act quickly though, the forms are due in two week on Tuesday May 24th (date extended).  You can sign up easily & learn more on the F.U.F. website and no payment is due until after the tree has been planted:  SIGN UP & LEARN MORE. Kyle at F.U.F. is available to answer any questions, he can be reached at [email protected] or (415)-268-0788.  If you don’t make this planting, please still sign up and wait for the next.  The more sign ups they get, the sooner we will have another planting.

With that all said, street trees aren’t loved by everyone in this city and despite F.U.F’s efforts, trees in S.F. are on the decline.  Tree related maintenance and liability such as sidewalk issues and pruning are an understandable deterrent to street trees.  To remedy this issue, F.U.F. has introduced new legislation that would put all street tree maintenance and tree related problems such as sidewalk cracking back on the city to maintain and repair.  Their hope is that by taking this burden off homeowners and giving it back to the city (where it belongs), citizens will be more likely to support this vital environmental & community resource.  You can sign the petition to have the initiative added to the November ballot here:  TELL THE CITY TO MAINTAIN THE TREES

I’ll now step down from my soapbox.



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