Sep 26

That’s Bananas – Growing Here In The Garden District

Bananas growing on the 400 block of Girard Street.


An unusual sight for San Francisco, spotted growing here in the Garden District, around 3,500 miles north of its natural tropical habitat.  This photo was sent to us from a reader who caught these unripened bananas growing in the front yard of a home on the 400 black of Girard Street.  The house is on the west side of the street, protecting the plant from our notorious afternoon winds so that it can take full advantage of the warm sun  that lasts a little longer in this corner of the city.


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Sep 22

Portola Prost! – 2nd Annual Oktoberfest Starts Saturday

The week long celebration begins tomorrow (9/23) at F.D.R. down on San Bruno. Special brews, accordians and sausages this and next Saturday with a Munich beer tent vibe all week.  Here are all the details from Kevin & Shae:

Our favorite time of year is upon us!


We will be kicking off our week long Oktoberfest Celebration this Saturday, September 23rd!

We will be transforming our taproom into a traditional German Beer Tent … like the ones you see in Munich!

Come listen to our special accordionist playing traditional and non-traditional music to get you in the mood from 7-10pm

and …. we hope that you’ve been lifting weights because at 9pm we’ll be having our STEIN HOLDING CONTEST!! Win a glass das boot if you are the last man and woman holding the heavy traditional stein!

There will also be sausages and food by El Taquero!

Don’t miss out on our celebration of BEER!!

For further details:

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Sep 21

Portography: It’s A Beautiful Morning In The Neighborhood

After weeks of bizarre weather, we are having a beautiful morning here in the Portola. So much so that a neighbor texted me a sunrise photo taken as she left for work. I noticed a couple similar photos on neighbor’s Facebook feeds so I thought I’d share the natural beauty that comes with being on the eastern slope of the McLaren Park hill.

Sunrise at Palega Park, photo by Elisa Laird-Metke

Sunrise at McLaren Park Gambier entrance by Joan Loeffler


If you follow Joan Loeffler on Facebook you may have caught some of her fantastic sunrise photos from her perch up on Gambier street.  \For those who don’t know Joan, I’ve assembled a little gallery of her best smartphone camera work, capturing the varied sunrises from McLaren Park. .

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Sep 12

Mayor To Unveil Avenue Theater’s Striking New Neon Tomorrow – Come Join The Party!

After years of planning and decades of wishful thinking, tomorrow night Mayor Ed Lee will flip the switch on a new chapter in the Avenue Theater’s history.  Come join the countdown and tour an historical exhibit curated by our Portola neighbors in the old Johnson’s B.B.Q. space.  Live organ music, ice cream and an after party at the brewery will be part of the festivities.  Everyone is invited and there will be popcorn and commemorative posters for everyone.  All the details are in the flyer below, see you then.

In the meantime, read up on our past coverage of the project’s history and how the sign colors were discovered. .


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Aug 25

Portola’s Colorful Drag Queen Bingo Prom

Another drag queen bingo has come and gone in a blaze of smeared makeup and bingo ball glory. The Portola Prom theme for this season’s event was embraced by the crowd with attendees in everything from formal wear to cross dressing fabulousness with even some random pandas and a unicorn tossed into the mix.  Capturing all the outlandish looks of the night, was a wonderfully tacky Garden District themed photo booth with a rose covered disco ball trellis.  Even the police – not the fashion police – made an appearance to show their community support, rounding up drag queens to have their photos taken together in the booth.   Including the emcee for the event and our own local celeb Drag Queen, Pollo Del Mar.  Arguably one of the best hosts yet, Pollo threw some excitement into the games, breaking bingo winning ties with lip syncing challenges and poking fun at the prize packages – the crowd loved it..  Those prizes included everything from a very popular XXX movie, gift cards and Giants tickets to name a few.  .

By the end of the night, the Portola Neighborhood Association had raised over $2,500 to support their community improvement efforts and a Portola Prom King & Queen were crowned – only to have Carrie finally get her revenge with a bucket of fake blood.  The event has grown every year and is now attracting participants from outside the Portola with over half in attendance from other neighborhoods this time. None of this would have been possible without the generous donation of prizes by neighbors and local merchants or without the organizing of Portola’s own drag queen, “Severa Wang”.  Only 6 months until the next one!

Carrie finally gets her revenge on the Prom King & Queen!



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Aug 24

Apparently Kevin Spacey Has Our Doors

We’ve heard this neighborhood rumor for quite some time and it appears that it might actually be true. If you haven’t heard, the story is that actor Kevin Spacey bought the Avenue Theater’s entry doors several years ago when the church operating out of the space at the time, deemed them too risqué for their congregation and had the doors removed.  The naughty doors in question feature scenes depicting topless nymphs playing in the flowers with birds and floating orbs – hot!  The Art Deco fantasies are etched into the glass on several sets of doors that were once between the lobby and the auditorium areas of the theater.  The whimsical motifs complimented the decorative paintings that once adorned the theater’s interior walls (see photo below) which were also painted over by the church.   We are told that Kevin – first name basis since he’s kind of a part of the community now – installed them in his Deco style home theater down in the L.A. area.

Only known image of one of the door panels.

A Portolan intrigued by the story did some serious online digging and was able to find out who handled the sale, a man by the name of Gary Parks who specializes in architectural salvage and sales.  Gary was so kind as to provide the only known photo of one of the door panels and confined much of the story. Considering that Mr. Spacey bought them fair and square, the doors will probably not return if and when the theater’s interiors are restored. That’s okay though, we have also been told by Gary that the designs would be relatively easy to replicate should that day come.

If you would like to keep up on all the discoveries by our local Avenue Theater history buff, follow her posts on the “Renew The Avenue” Facebook page.  We will continue to share the secrets and history being unearthed by the community as the restoration of the theater’s facade continues.

The interior of the Avenue Theater after its 1940 renovation. Note the nymph motif in the decorative paintings as well as the doors above.

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Aug 14

Drag Queen Bingo Presents “Portola Prom” This Thursday

Drag Queen Bingo Presents The Portola Prom Fundraiser

This Thursday marks the 5th edition of this popular biannual neighborhood fundraising event. Every Drag Queen Bingo has a theme and this time it’s “Portola Prom”,  You can expect all the trappings of a high school dance but with drag queens, prizes and a bar.  No dates need for this event either but if you decide to dress to the nines, rest assured that you will be in good company. This year’s Emcee is our own neighborhood drag queen, Pollo Del Mar, who typically can be found performing at clubs in the Castro and SOMA.  Details are in the flyer above and we’ve included some photos from the February D.B.Q. event, “Portolove” to give you an idea of what to expect.

What:  Drag Queen Bingo Presents Portola Prom.  Fundraiser to support the work of the Portola Neighborhood Association

When:  Thursday August 17th, 7pm

Where: El Toro Night Club, 2470 San Bruno Ave.

Why:  Because in San Francisco we don’t do just another bake sale to fundraise

Scenes From February’s D.B.Q.

The “drag-off” audience competition was a big hit

Last year’s emcee and Portola drag queen “Severa Wang” striking a pose up front.

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Aug 14

Free Eclipse Glasses At The Portola Library While Supplies Last

The Youth Services Librarians modeling how to use the glasses the day of the eclipse.

Our fabulous Librarian Nicole wants to makes sure that we all experience the solar eclipse safely on the 21st.  San Francisco is too far south to see the full celestial event which means that the only safe way to view the partial eclipse is with a specific type of glasses. Luckily, you can pick up your free pair at the front desk of the Portola Branch Library while their supplies last.  Numbers are limited and Nicole requests that you only take one pair per household so more Portola households can experience the event.

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