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Jazz giants in the jazz district

Ella Fitzgerald singing to Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Richard Rodgers in 1950.

April is jazz appreciation month, all month long, and there’s something special to appreciate at the Fillmore Heritage Center at 1330 Fillmore. “Jazz Giants: the Photography of Herman Leonard” is a collection of some of the finest jazz photographs ever taken by one of America’s greatest living photographers. In addition, there’s a full program of other special events this month.

Photograph © Herman Leonard Photography LLC

Polo’s promises go unfulfilled

Polo Ralph Lauren's store at 2040 Fillmore.

By Barbara Kate Repa

Almost exactly two years ago, when Polo Ralph Lauren became the first business to encounter San Francisco’s new ordinance limiting chain stores in the neighborhood, the company’s leaders promised that their Fillmore store, if approved, would become engaged in the neighborhood and support local causes.

They even put it in writing.

“We feel the proposed shop, which will carry both men’s and women’s fashion, will be a perfect fit with this neighborhood,” wrote Wayne T. Meichner, president of Polo Ralph Lauren retail stores. “Our team has compiled a list of actions to demonstrate to you how we can best use our skills and resources to partner with the local community.”

Two years later, Polo’s promises to become involved in the local community have not been fulfilled.
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Tacobar shaping up as a jewel

UPDATE: Tacobar is now open.

By Chris Barnett

Locals have been clamoring for better and more authentic Mexican food on Fillmore Street even before La Posada said adios a few years ago and the fast food chain La Salsa shuttered its shop at the end of last year.

They may soon get their wish.

Tacobar, at the corner of California and Fillmore, seems destined to be far more than a typical taqueria. Owner and top toque Jack Schwartz, 40, has fashioned a mini-Mexican restaurant with organic food considerably above the ordinary and a whimsical design that promises to be lively and fun. Just check out the handpainted mural on the ceiling of el bano, the unisex bathroom.
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Exporting Fillmore’s coffee culture

By Anne Paprocki

Tucked in an unassuming office behind two Fillmore boutiques, longtime local residents Elise Papazian and Scott Pritikin hope to expand the horizons of coffee connoisseurs everywhere with their recently launched online service GoCoffeeGo.

“Nobody should be drinking the same cup of coffee every day,” says Papazian, “It’s just boring. Would you eat the same food day in and out?”

The website includes a selection of coffee beans from 18 different roasters, including Zoka, Ritual, Cuvee, Atomic, Equator Coffees & Teas and Johnson Brothers. Papazian and Pritikin — who admit to testing up to 10 different coffees a day — have vetted each offering.
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Checking out of the checkout line

Photograph of Allen Brandstein by Kathi O'Leary

After more than two decades of offering up good cheer and wry observations while ringing up groceries and restocking the shelves, Allen Brandstein has retired from Mollie Stone’s. His last day was March 31.

Stoking his decision to leave were two life passages: a bout with colon cancer last year and his first Social Security check, which he received a few weeks ago after turning 62.

“Those things give you an immediate dose of perspective that life is finite,” he says.
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Brautigan’s library finds a home

The Presidio Branch Library, now under renovation.

The Presidio Branch Library on Sacramento Street, now undergoing renovation, became legendary in literary circles after author Richard Brautigan used it as the setting for his imaginary library of unpublished manuscripts in the novel, The Abortion.

In Brautigan’s novel, published in 1970, the library was always open for authors to personally deposit their manuscripts. Through the years, quite a few writers took the story literally and submitted manuscripts or asked if the library really existed.

The Presidio library maintained a small display about Brautigan’s novel, but never actually accepted manuscripts. But in 1990 one of the author’s fans opened the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont, and accepted several hundred manuscripts. That arrangement ended in 2005 when negotiations were announced to bring the manuscripts to the Presidio Branch Library. But it never happened.

Now the manuscripts have found a new home. The Brautigan Library will become a permanent collection in the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington. Brautigan was a Washington native.

Local aficionados, including library volunteer Marcia Popper, continue to push for an expanded display about the Brautigan connection when the renovated Presidio Branch Library reopens in late 2011.

NY Times: A homecoming for Richard Brautigan

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