Photography by Jeff Hunt
Christopher Coppola wants to tell you about his dad.
In this episode, the filmmaker from the very famous filmmaking family shares his life story with us. Born and raised in Long Beach, he and his brother, Nicolas, spent a lot of time in San Francisco with their uncle, Francis.
Christopher starts things off with his dad, August Coppola. According to him, August carried an old family tradition of creativity and "stick-to-it-iveness" into the modern era. His long career in education brought him to SF State, where he was the dean of Creative Arts for many years.
He takes us on a sidetrack into some of the possible reasons that there's so much creativity and passion running throughout his relatives as well as his ancestors who date back to southern Italy.
Then we head into another sidetrack, this time about Christopher growing up in Long Beach with an ill mother and a younger brother who later became a household name. The story involves the two youngsters misidentifying their own Chinese zodiac signs.
The next sidetrack involves stories of Christopher riding with motorcycle gangs. This leads to one of his movie ideas—Biker McBeth.
We talk about the origins of Coppolas in Northern California. It all started with "Uncle" Francis. Following the success of The Godfather, he moved to San Francisco. His brother (Christopher's dad), August, soon followed suit. Because their mother was ill, when Christopher and his brother, Nicolas, were around 8 or 9, they were often sent up to The City to spend time with their aunt and uncle.
Christopher speaks fondly of his Aunt Eleanor. They called her "mother aunt." During their stays in San Francisco, she would give the kids allowances and send them on their way around town. People would ask if they were "those" Coppolas, which of course they weren't. It bothered both brothers when they were young, but Christopher let it go.
We end Part 1 with Christopher's tales of his and his brother's mischievous, creative lives in Long Beach and how San Francisco served as a sanctuary for them.
Emmy Kaplan and her friends in the restaurant business just wanted somewhere to go after their shifts.
In this podcast, Jeff fulfills a 20ish-year dream meeting and recording with Emmy, the namesake behind Emmy's Spaghetti Shack. Today located on Mission Street just below Cesar Chavez, the restaurant recently celebrated 21 years in business.
Emmy was born in San Francisco and shares her and family's stories with us. Her mom is from Alameda. That family goes back generations in the East Bay, coming from places like Germany, Scotland, and Ireland. Emmy's mom came to SF State in the '60s—"a real, bona fide hippie."
Her parents met at SF State. Later, her dad was a cable car driver. His family also went back a few generations here in The City. Both her parents were young free spirits, and didn't stay together for very long. After having Emmy and her brother, they split up. Then her mom took Emmy and her brother up to Sonoma, where Emmy grew up.
Later in life, her dad owned several restaurants in the Mission—Bruno's and Mission Villa, to name a couple. When she was a kid, Emmy would often join him at his restaurants. When she was 17, after splitting time between The City and Sonoma, Emmy moved back to her hometown.
As a teenager, she started working in restaurants, first in Sonoma, and later, in San Francisco. She realized that she needed to fend for herself at an early age. Without going into too much detail, Emmy says that her teen years were "wild." She and her friends were punk rockers—they went to shows and got into trouble, as you do. Her mom threatened her with either incarceration or joining her brother in Europe. She chose Europe.
Her time overseas taught her that the world is a big place. When she got back home, her priorities had shifted. She graduated high school early and worked a lot in The City. She toyed with art school, but that didn't stick. She took a business class at City College, where she pitched an idea that essentially was the restaurant she has today. The idea didn't go over well in class, though.
She worked at the Flying Saucer, a long-gone restaurant at 22nd and Guerrero. It was while Emmy worked there that the first location of Emmy's Spaghetti Shack opened.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
Maggie Marks has deep roots in San Francisco, and that's not a gardening pun.
In this episode, Maggie, who today is the director of Garden for the Environment (GFE) in the Inner Sunset, traces her family's history in The City. Her mom's side goes back at least two generations here; and her dad's side includes the family that owns Guerra Quality Meats. Her parents lived in various spots around town before settling in the Inner Sunset in the '90s. This is where Maggie grew up.
She went to Rooftop School, where she indulged in art, theater, and gardening. By eighth grade, Maggie was head of the environmental club at school. Around this time, California was experiencing a major drought. Residents were constantly being made aware of steps to mitigate the water shortages, stuff we're very familiar with today—shorter and fewer showers, less watering of gardens, etc. Around this time and not too far from her childhood home, GFE was founded.
Maggie and her friends liked to create make-believe worlds. She also liked to read. She spent a lot of time in the nearby library. Once she was a little older, she rode Muni all over town. One of her (and her family's) favorite spots was the Mission, almost always to get burritos.
We talk a little about Maggie's time living away from her hometown. She went to college in Seattle and loved it, but the rain ultimately got to her. In 2008, she spent time in DC working for the Obama campaign in Northern Virginia.
Before the financial crisis really took hold that year, Maggie had been thinking of permanently relocating. But with the election over and the economy continuing its decline, she decided to come back home. She worked various jobs while trying to find her calling—farmers' markets, her family's shop, and other non-profit work. She got a great spot up in Bernal Heights, met the man she'd later marry, and sealed the deal on staying in her hometown.
Growing up in the Inner Sunset, Maggie remembered GFE being built. Through one of her non-profit jobs, she got reconnected with the garden after sharing an office with them. With GFE's director going on maternity leave, Maggie applied and got the job. That was 10 years ago.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
There's a dude in the Mission who makes vegan donuts and break-dances.
In this episode, we meet Vandor Hill. Vandor was born and raised in The City. He recently turned 40. He shares the story of how he came to love baking. It starts in the predominantly female house he grew up in.
Surrounded by his grandma and aunt, Vandor says a lot of his baking went uncredited. No one believed that he was the one who made whatever delicious treat they were eating. Peach cobbler soon became his signature bake.
Vandor shares the story of why his company is called Whack Donuts. It involves a group of young kids getting jumped in the Mission and the quiet one (Vandor) basically fending off the attackers. His buddies called him "Whacko" from that point on.
As part of the story of starting his donut business, Vandor takes us back to a tough period in his life. Between 2017 and 2019, he lost his grandmother, his mom, his aunt, a mentor, and a friend. His dancing suffered. His work wasn't willing to adjust or allow him space to grieve. His living situation deteriorated. And then, the pandemic hit.
We get into the early days of Whack Donuts and talk about why Vandor decided to make his product without any dairy. The story goes back to an internship he had in high school at a local donut shop. Eventually, enough people asked if the donuts were vegan, which inspired Vandor to bake his treats rather than fry them.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
Note: Our guest this week raises issues, true stories from their own life, of sexual and gender-based violence. Listener discretion is advised.
This story starts in 1978. A young San Francisco punk rock woman with two kids saw that many of her peers were getting hooked on drugs. Suddenly, there was an influx of abandoned children and she decided to do something about it. She established a foster home.
Fast-forward 10 years and newborn Mason (not known by that name at the time) comes around and ends up at said foster home. Born to drug addicts, Mason entered this world addicted themselves.
Mason ended up being raised in that one home, and only that one home. They've never been in a shelter system or homeless.
From a very early age (four or so), Mason was acting, doing voiceover work, and modeling. Around age eight, they noticed that things were starting to get gendered and that they didn't fit either mold—male or female. Producers also told Mason that they sounded "too white" (they're Black, indigenous, and Mexican) and that they should try sounding "more Black." But at home, Mason's mom supported their being gender non-conforming at that time.
Around 12, they were waiting for puberty and playing lots and lots of soccer. Other coaches were suspicious enough to investigate whether Mason's coach was disguising a boy as a girl on the girl's soccer team. That fizzled, but Mason kept playing. They were competitive and good enough to be scouted by some colleges while in eighth grade. But a torn ACL when they were 13 dashed those dreams.
They spent that summer recovering, lying in bed waiting to get their period so they could get surgery for the torn ACL. They went back to art and started writing and building up a portfolio, which helped them get into Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.
Mason thrived in high school. They talk about all the guest speakers and various programs and internships students at SOTA were involved in. They also mention, laughingly, some of the more savory elements of arts high school in San Francisco in the early 2000s. Inspired by teachers and an intentional immersion in The City's various art worlds, Mason left high school aimed toward an artist's life. But there were issues along the way, which they delve into in the podcast. Eventually, through that struggle, they landed on photography, opening their own photo company in 2007.
We end Part 1 with Mason struggling to find identity and purpose as they entered adulthood and their hometown was changing rapidly.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
Our City Gardens series continues with a visit to Sisterhood Gardens. Located on Brotherhood Way (get it?) in the OMI area of southwest San Francisco, the garden was established in 2016.
In this podcast, we meet master gardener and Sisterhood volunteer Jamie Chan. In addition to her work at Sisterhood, Jamie teaches at SF State, where she's also a doctoral student.
Jamie shares her story with us. A fourth-generation San Franciscan, she traces her family's history in The City back to the Gold Rush era. Over the years, her ancestors lived mostly in Chinatown, but eventually, they all moved to the Sunset and Richmond. Jamie grew up near Stern Grove and went to SFUSD schools.
Her parents grew up in Chinatown, where they knew each other growing up. The two reconnected while at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and got married after graduation.
Today, Jamie trains public school teachers (her husband happens to be a teacher, too). As a teenager, she went to School of the Arts and was interested in telling people's stories. She studied documentary film and made movies about ABC (American-born Chinese) identity. She went to art school at CalArts in SoCal but didn't like it. So she came back and went to SF State, where she studied biology.
After graduation, Jamie worked at California Academy of Sciences and became interested in education. She and her husband got their home through a city program—an acquisition that came with a yard bigger than the house.
She started gardening there after having kids and found herself wanting to connect with food and food systems as a mom. That led to a master gardener program at UC.
Jamie helped found Sisterhood Gardens in 2016, The land is owned by SF Department of Public Works, who landscaped the space and got water running before turning it over to neighborhood volunteers.
We end Part 1 with Jamie's thoughts about still being here in San Francisco.
City Gardens Series: Danielle "Calibird" Fernandez and Isaiah Powell of Calibird and Bee Pollinator Sanctuary and Dragonspunk GRO (S4E41)
In this podcast, Isaiah Powell (Part 1/Part 2) catches us up with what's been going since his Storied: SF episodes back in the summer of 2020. Between the land he and Danielle Fernandez stewarded at Florence Fang Community Farm and today, they were at Adam Rogers Park. The philosophy behind Dragonspunk has always been that they go where the help is needed; it's never been about a single location.
That brings us today and the place we recorded—Calibird and Bee Pollinator Sanctuary on Palou in the Bayview. The spot lies above a Caltrain tunnel in the southeast side of San Francisco. Looking north from this beautiful space, with The City's skyline as backdrop, multiple smokestacks, construction cranes, and the Bay Bridge pepper one's view.
Isaiah talks a little about what he's been up to and their gaining access to the land where we talked. Then he hands the mic over to Danielle. She describes her vision of the space, which spawned from an idea she had 10 years ago when she lived in New York and would regularly visit gardens and green spaces around the city. She says her decade-long dream was to have a botanical garden of her own, one that begins the process of healing the damage humans have done to the natural environment.
Danielle takes us all on a tour of the sanctuary, listing off the mostly native plants, trees, bushes, and shrubs that live there. And we end this episode with Danielle's vision for the future of the space, which includes community gathering and events.
Connie Chan used to love listening to music at Tower Records.
In this podcast, we get to know Connie, who's beginning her second year as supervisor of San Francisco's District 1 (more or less the Inner and Outer Richmond). She and her brother were born in Hong Kong and raised in Taiwan. Connie shares the story of how her parents met: Her dad was a Hong Kong cop who worked with youth; Connie's mom was a social worker who also spent a lot of time with kids. They met through their work.
When Connie was 5, the family moved to Taiwan. It was the Eighties and Connie and her brother were very much latch-key kids. Connie was exposed to plenty of pop culture, although it took some time for music and movies to reach eastern Asia.
She talks about how members of her family had various trades and interests in Asia (piano teacher, opera singer, university professor) that they had to give up when they immigrated to the US. An aunt and uncle came over before her own family, and they landed in San Francisco's Chinatown. Her aunt served dim sum and her uncle worked as a bookkeeper for the famed Empress of China restaurant.
Connie speaks to the well-established immigrant and Chinese-American community in Chinatown and the role they played in her family's move there when she was 13. The networks that existed, the opportunities that opened to newcomers ... it all played a part in establishing a trust that was almost always paid forward. Her mom moved Connie and her brother there, where the three lived with her aunt and uncle in a not-very-big apartment.
But she got her first impression of San Francisco on a trip here the year before. Connie plays the mandolin and visited as part of a band that toured the US for two weeks, SF being one of the stops. It was also the beginning of her really learning English. Her family speaks Cantonese, but from an early age, Connie learned Mandarin in school.
She talks about some racism and bullying she experienced at school shortly after her arrival here. But Connie adjusted and made the most of her new circumstances. She would stop at Tower Records and visit their listening stations, where she would read along to the music and learn even more English.
As a teen, Connie felt she had everything she needed in Chinatown. But when she returned to San Francisco as a 21-year-old after college, The City really opened up for her.
Trigger warning: We're extremely grateful to Vincent for sharing his life story. But it's a difficult, painful, and traumatic story that involves several tales of violence and abuse against women and children. Please be warned that these episodes with Vincent contain potentially triggering content.
Vincent Ray Williams's ancestors on both sides moved to the Bay Area for a better life.
In this podcast, we get to know Vincent, the founder and CEO of Urban Compassion Project, a nonprofit "committed to the health, welfare, and empowerment of the unhoused." His dad was Black and from the South; Vincent's mom is Puerto Rican. His dad was a Marine vet who brought trauma home with him and succumbed to the crack epidemic in the 1980s. Vincent never knew him.
Vincent's mother also suffered from drug addiction. The couple met in Oakland and had Vincent's older brother. Eleven months later, in 1987, they had their second son: Vincent. His parents weren't only addicted; they also sold drugs. Big time.
An Oakland poet named Hershey Hill joined us by coincidence the day we recorded with Vincent. During the recording, Hershey asks Vincent if he speaks Spanish. He shares that, in fact, it's his first language, but, as he explains in the podcast, there's some trauma that comes along with that. His father had physically abused his mom so badly that she asked CPS to come and take Vincent and his brother. Now in a foster home, the two boys would be beaten and locked in a closet for speaking their native tongue. The situation was bad enough that Vincent ran away at age 8.
The police handed him over to CPS and CPS put him in a group home. He thought he had escaped the nightmarishness, but it turned out to be a facade. More physical abuse ensued, and so Vincent ran away from the group home. He'd do his best to alert teachers or even the police to what was happening, but to no avail. Because he was so often in trouble at school, Vincent didn't have many friends.
Despite all this, he graduated from high school in Oakland.
At this point in the conversation, Vincent takes us back to when he was 9 years old and started doing and selling drugs. Between the streets of San Francisco and the streets of his hometown of Oakland, he was also selling himself. He also started committing crimes.
Eventually, Vincent reconnected with brother, Willie. Around 2010, Willie inspired him to try Narcotics Anonymous and it worked. After a relapse, Vincent has been sober for more than nine years.
We end Part 1 with Vincent sharing what it was like living and walking around the streets of Oakland and San Francisco before he got clean.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
Arabella DeLucco was raised by a village.
In this podcast, we get to know Arabella, beginning with the story of her Filipino family. Her grandfather fled to the hills outside Manila during World War II, a story Arabella learned shortly before he died.
When she was 5, Arabella came to Los Angeles to live with aunts and uncles who were already there. It was a cramped house, but she was a happy kid who immersed herself in school. She was especially drawn to science, but soon discovered that she enjoyed the writing of scientific reports more than the science itself.
When she was in fourth grade, she moved to a much smaller town in New Jersey than she had been used to in Southern California. Junior high was tough for Arabella, both schoolwork-wise and also in terms of the racism she encountered. She ended up going to a small private high school that was a 40-minute train ride away. She loved the journey as much as she did the schoolwork itself. Arabella ended up the school's valedictorian.
She went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and spent a lot of time in New York City after she turned 21. First, she was a spokesmodel for a beer company and later, she worked a journalism internship in the city. Arabella shares the story of seeing the first plane hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
She moved to NYC after college and worked various journalism jobs, searching for her true calling.
Alfredo Uribe and Lucia Ippolito-Gonzalez's love story revolves around milk.
In this special episode of Storied: SF, we get to know Fredo and we reconnect with Lucia, our guest on Season 3, Episode 42 (Part 1 / Part 2). First, we hear from Fredo.
He was born in Oakland and grew up in Pinole. His neighbors there had a dairy delivery company and San Francisco was a big part of their route. Young Fredo and Robert Frangieh were pals, and Fredo soon found himself running routes in The City with his buddy Robert and Robert's dad's company. They'd head out in the dark to a mostly quiet, empty city. But Fredo was hooked.
Eventually, they gave him the Mission route. He felt like San Francisco, and specially, the Mission, had it all. Fredo talks about the changes he's seen in San Francisco over years, especially around the South of Market/Oracle Field area. He reminisces about going to Giants games back in the Barry Bonds days. He was falling in love with San Francisco.
From there, we hear the story of how Lucia and Fredo met. It's a charming AF city love story involving the two of them doing what they do: art and milk delivery.
(At this point in the recording, their very young daughter appears on screen and distracts Jeff with her infinite cuteness. Please excuse.)
Fredo obviously knew a little about Lucia. But on that first date, they walked through Balmy Alley and other areas around the Mission where Lucia's murals live vibrantly. He was blown away that much more.
We hear the story of how Fredo decided to start Los Lecheros, his label. He was teased by folks he delivered milk to, so he decided to own it by putting "Lechero" on a T-shirt. For Fredo (and Lucia), the lechero symbolizes the hard-working folks who got up way before everyone else and actually came to people's houses to deliver their goods. That connection and community is what they're going for with Los Lecheros. They have dreams of turning it into a place in the alley to get coffee.
We talk a little about the Balmy Alley event that took place on Feb. 12, 2022. It marked the official product launch for Los Lecheros. But "Lovers Lane" was so much more. There were vendors galore: face-painting, clothing, food, drinks, DJs, and more.
We end this podcast with Fredo's and Lucia's thoughts on what it means to still be here in San Francisco.
We recorded this podcast on Zoom in February 2022.
Jim Argo's family has deep San Francisco roots.
In this podcast, we get to know Jim, a born-and-raised San Francisco mortgage broker. His grandparents on his mom's side met in the Marina, each a member of an immigrant family from Italy. Jim's grandfather played saxophone and met his grandmother at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. His great-grandfather on his dad's side took his children and left his wife in Tennessee after learning of her affair. His paternal grandmother's parents were immigrants from Italy and Bulgaria.
Jim's dad's dad was a railroad clerk, eventually working out of San Francisco. The family lived off of Waller Street in the Lower Fillmore area. Jim's mom grew up in the Outer Richmond (near where Jim lives today). Her dad was a grocer in the then-new neighborhood, and he did pretty well.
His parents met when Jim's dad and a buddy, both students at Poly High, went on a double date with girls from a Catholic school in another part of town. His parents weren't paired with each other that night, but they met and the rest is history. It was the mid-1930s, well into the Depression but before the US's involvement in World War II.
Jim's dad worked for SFFD as a firefighter. It was a stable job, and, coming out of the Depression, that was a big deal. The young, newly married couple rented a place not far from her parents in the Outer Richmond. They lived there with their three daughters.
And then Jim, their only son, was born. This meant it was time to move. The family bought a house on 29th Avenue and Fulton, near Golden Gate Park. This is the house where Jim did most of his growing up.
He went to Catholic schools and, eventually, around the time of the Jonestown Massacre and Milk/Moscone murders, SF State. (We'll get more into that in Part 2.) Early in his childhood, looking to his maternal grandfather and his own dad, both of whom played, Jim picked up the saxophone. Playing sax is something he does to this day.
We end Part 1 with the story of how, at Sacred Heart high school, Jim ended up being the de-facto student director of the band. This was necessitated by the fact that many of the music teachers were professionals who played out a lot and might've had a hard time making it to school the next morning at 8 a.m.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
Rachele Kanigel comes from a long line of readers.
In this podcast, Rachele shares her life story with us. Today, she's the chair of the Journalism Department at SF State. She's published The Diversity Style Guide, among other books. She also was one of Jeff's teachers back in 2005 when he went to SF State, so there's that.
Rachele was born in Brooklyn and raised in a suburb of New York City on the New Jersey side of the Hudson. Her mom did some substitute teaching, and at home, loved to read books and poetry. She also liked to play Scrabble. She passed that on in one way or another to Rachele and her two older brothers.
Her oldest brother was 15 when Rachele was born, so she didn't grow up with him around much. Fair Lawn, NJ, a middle-class suburb, never resonated much with young Rachele. Nearby NYC provided the contrast and escape she needed. She'd visit museums, Broadway shows, off-Broadway shows, cafes, jazz clubs ... but what she loved most was simply walking the streets of the big city.
She was so anxious to get out of suburbia that she found a college that would accept high school juniors, and she bailed. After a year at school on Long Island, she got into McGill University in Montreal. Rachele loved it there—the cafes, the Québecois. But there was something pulling her west toward California.
One of her brothers was in San Francisco and somewhat estranged from the family. But Rachele wanted to reconnect by visiting him here. It was May 1980 and she was 19. The plan was to visit for two weeks. But that turned into three months.
It was a summer of meeting people, finding a boyfriend, going to the Gorilla Grotto ... John Law's (Part 1/Part 2) name comes up as someone in that scene whom Rachele met back in the day. That fall, she took a journalism class at SF State and was hooked. She worked on the student newspaper and graduated a few years later with a bachelor's in journalism. Now, it was time to work. She found a copy-editing job at a shopping paper called The San Francisco Progress. The paper eventually gave Rachele a reporting beat. She took it and ran and never looked back.
Both of Alex Maxa's parents are journalists.
In this episode, we hear the life story of the founder of Gillibus, who "specialize in not only Bay Area day trips, nighttime cruises, and mobile performances but also stationary events and overnight camping." Alex's granddad on his dad's side was in the Army, and so his dad moved around a lot, but ended up in Washington, DC, for high school. He was the editor of his school paper in those days and ended up in journalism school at Ohio University.
His mom grew up in Toledo and also went to OU, where she met Alex's dad. The young couple skipped graduation, got married, and went to DC. His dad got a job at The Washington Post pretty quickly. Political gossip and scandal was his beat. It was the early 1970s. Nothing to see here, folks.
There was an opening on a DC radio station and they asked Alex's dad to step in and fill it. This was well before the internet, and so, when celebrities rolled into town, they'd call into programs like this to promote whatever it was they were doing in the nation's capital.
Alex's mom wanted to write feature stories. She was assigned and reluctantly ended up covering sports, something she knew little to nothing about. His parents split up earlier in his life, and his step-dad came into the picture around the time Alex was 6.
But his dad remained close. Alex split time between his parents' houses. He credits his sister, seven years older than him, with being the "glue that kept things together" between and among the two families.
Along with many friends, he played soccer from a young age. He shares the story of going to a rather unusual preschool in DC. But when he was out on the field, he could forget everything and just have fun.
We end Part 1 with stories of Alex hanging out with his dad in the early 1990s, when his dad had shifted out of political journalism and into travel writing and the adventures they had together.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
This is the final installment in our four-part series with Creativity Explored, whose mission is "to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression." Please listen to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you haven't already.
Vincent Jackson has been making art at Creativity Explored for more than half of his life.
In this podcast, Vincent shares his life story with us. He was born and raised in the Bayview. He had drawn some here and there before a social worker told him about the non-profit in the Mission. He used to spend a lot of time at the Bayview Opera House. That was 37 years ago.
He says that CE became family to him after his mom died.
Vincent has sold a lot of his art over the years. He's done commissioned pieces for folks and fashion where he gives another artist pieces to be quilted. He was once on a speaking panel with Paul Moshammer (featured in Part 3 of this series). His favorite thing about doing art at Creativity Explored, as he puts it, is: "It's no limit here."
Late last year, Vincent went to New York City to show his art. It was his first trip there and he enjoyed it. In fact, he wanted to stay longer, although he did miss home.
Vincent loves his hometown, but isn't happy with the changes in San Francisco. He feels like people used to be nicer to one another.
He plans to keep doing art and maintains an open mind about the future.
Here's a peek at some of Vincent's art:
We recorded this podcast at Creativity Explored in the Mission in January 2022.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
This is the third in a four-part series we're doing with Creativity Explored. CE's mission is "to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression." Please listen to Part 1 and Part 2 and check back next week for the final episode in this series, with artist Vincent Jackson. You'll hear Vincent a little in the background as he sat in with Jeff and Paul during the recording.
Paul Moshammer is the offspring of artists.
In this episode, we get to know the director of programs at Creativity Explored. Paul was born and raised in Vienna. His dad was an architect and his mom was a gold- and silversmith. They encouraged Paul's creative energy from a young age by sending him to various art schools. Around 19, he felt he already had a strong artistic voice, something schools weren't so much looking for.
He started to travel around this time, and ended up living and working on a kibbutz in Israel. He met his wife, a Cuban-American, there during this time. After three months on the kibbutz, the young couple started to travel together. Eventually, Maria went back to her home in the US while Paul stayed on in Kenya for five weeks.
Paul arrived in San Francisco in October 1989—two days before the Loma Prieta earthquake. Maria was already here and had discovered Creativity Explored before Paul's arrival. An art teacher from earlier in his life had talked about the art of children and folks who were institutionalized and it had left a strong impression on him.
He stuck around for four hours on his first visit and ended up volunteering in early 1990. He was soon hired as a substitute teacher, and when there was an opening, Paul got the job. Vincent Jackson was at the table Paul took over, and they've been working together ever since.
We chat a bit about Florence and Elias Katz, the cofounders of Creativity Explored. Paul never met Florence, but he knew Elias well. Vincent steps in to share stories of Florence with us.
Paul skims over some of the highlights of his 30-plus years with the organization. They were in crisis, as he puts it, when the original director left. The second director rescued them, so to speak, and one of her innovations was to open the front of the 16th Street space to the public in the form of a gallery for CE artists to show and sell their work. It was an instant success.
We wrap up this episode talking about what it means for Creativity Explored to still be here, especially in its role as an art space for folks with developmental disabilities.
We recorded this podcast at Creativity Explored in the Mission in January 2022.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
This episode is the second in a series we're doing with Creativity Explored. CE's mission is "to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression." Check back Thursday for the next episode in this series, where we meet Studio Director Paul Moshammer.
Joseph "JD" Green lives close enough to Creativity Explored on 16th Street that he walks to get there.
JD has been with Creativity Explored since just after he graduated from high school 10 years ago. He was doing art in the building where he lives, in Hayes Valley, when someone let him know about the organization serving people with developmental disabilities.
He's been making art nearly his whole life, inspired by TV shows, animation, and cartoons. Nickelodeon and Disney characters made up the bulk of figures he drew, but his favorite to this day is Spider-Man.
JD also does social and political art. He tells us all about a collaboration he did with other Creativity Explored artists looking at Black identity through the lens of "blackface" and flipping the script on white supremacy. In 2019, he was part of a show with other Black CE artists called "Blackiful" that looked at police violence against Black folks.
JD recounts his first visit to CE for us. He was in awe of the large space filled with so many people "just doing art." He immediately loved it and started meeting other artists.
Today, he still draws cartoons, but his main jam is portraits. He's drawn Michael Jackson, Prince, and David Bowie, among other singers and celebrities. He also does ceramics in addition to painting and drawing.
And here's a slideshow of some of our favorite pieces by JD:
We end this episode with what JD loves about San Francisco and who his favorite artists are, including fellow Creativity Explored artist and JD's friend, Gerald Wiggins.
If you missed it, Part 1 with CE's Executive Director, Linda Johnson, can be found here.
We recorded this podcast at Creativity Explored in the Mission in December 2021.
Photography by Jeff Hunt
This episode is the first in a series we're doing with Creativity Explored. CE's mission is "to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression." Check back next week for the next episode in this series.
In her own words, Linda Johnson "always had a passion for city life."
In this podcast, the executive director of Creativity Explored shares her life story with us. She grew up in Ohio, graduated college with degrees in English and creative writing, got her master's in Iowa in social work and poetry, and moved to San Francisco in the early Nineties on a hunch.
After working at a number of different places, Linda combined her loves of social work and the visual arts with a job at Creativity Explored. Before that, she had worked at Streetside Stories, a program that helps young people tell their life stories. From there, she worked for the city of Walnut Creek, what Linda describes as "an incredibly arts-focussed city." She managed arts programs there.
She shares the story of first falling in love with Creativity Explored, many years before working there. It was back in the day when you had to be somewhere, in person, to see and buy art. She remembers the big sales that CE would host and what enriching experiences they were. While at the City of Walnut Creek, Linda told herself, 'My dream job would be executive director of [Creativity Explored].'
When its then-ED was retiring, the person doing the outreach to find a replacement just happened to live in Walnut Creek and found Linda through her work there. It was like a dream come true.
Linda tells us in her own words what Creativity Explored is and what the non-profit's vision and outlook are. A big part of CE's future is moving more deeply into a "community with" type of organization and away from an "in service to" operation.
She goes on to talk about how proud she is of CE's artists. Some have been collected or gone on to show in museums and galleries around the world.
Please visit Creativity Explored's website here, where you can sign up for their newsletter and never miss any of the things they're doing. You can also donate to the non-profit there.
Check back next week for another episode in our series with Creativity Explored.
We recorded this podcast at Creativity Explored in the Mission in December 2021.
Kim Shuck's parents met on Market Street in the late-1950s when her dad wrestled an ocelot away from its grips on her mom.
In this podcast, the San Francisco poet laureate emerita talks about the five generations of San Franciscans on her mom's side. Her dad joined the Navy partly to get out of Oklahoma. He was "career" for a while, but then left that to become an electronics engineer in Silicon Valley.
Her San Francisco grandparents (maternal) met at the Polish Hall in the Mission. Kim spent significant time with both sets of grandparents—both her in The City and in Oklahoma.
When she was young, Kim's mom started working as a special needs para at a school near their home. She was also a founder of Noe Valley Nursery School, one of the first such co-ops in The City and also where Kim went to nursery school. Kim tells stories of the no longer extant Noe Valley Street Fair, which was a fundraiser for the school.
Kim spent most of her years growing up in the Mission, Noe Valley, and the Castro. She lists the different public schools she went to. She reminisces about growing up in the Sixties and Seventies in San Francisco, with an emphasis on the way people used to paint houses in The City in vibrant color and with many hand-painted details (see our episode with Bob "Dr. Color" Buckter)
We eventually get around to stories about outdoor music shows and her memories of seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe when she was young. We also spend a good amount of time talking about her love of roller skating (see our podcasts last week with David Miles, Jr., of the Church of 8 Wheels).
Ruth Asawa was a neighbor and (probably) Kim's first art teacher at Alvarado Elementary School. Later in her life, Kim did origami and became friends with Ruth again.
Like so many guests of this show, Kim went to college at SF State. She recounts all the academic and social movements that have origins at the school, including ethnic students, free speech, and the American Indian takeover of Alcatraz.
One theme Kim keeps coming back to is the cyclical nature of things, especially pertaining to creativity and art in San Francisco. "One step forward, one step back. We're cha-cha-ing."
We end Part 1 with Kim going into her Cherokee heritage and then more of the story of her decision to stay in town and go to college at SF State.
David G. Miles, Jr., is the godfather of skate in San Francisco.
In this podcast, the founder of the Church of 8 Wheels joins us to share his life story. David came from a multi-ethnic family and grew up in Kansas City. On one side, his grandparents were Irish and Indian, while his dad's family hailed from the South. His single mom, a nurse, raised David and his sisters. The Black baseball legend Satchel Paige lived in their neighborhood.
His parents had divorced when David was 6 or 7 and he wasn't close with his dad at all. It was the Sixties and he didn't care much about differences in people. His mom eventually fell in love with her high school sweetheart and moved to San Francisco to marry him when David was 20.
"Kansas City is a place you leave," according to David. And so, after a bit of urging from his mom and a brutal winter in Kansas, he saved up bus fare and got a one-way ticket out west.
The bus dropped David and the other passengers at Seventh and Market, which was quite the contrast from anything he'd seen before. His new step-dad drove him around town as a welcome to San Francisco.
The family lived in Daly City at first and David was infatuated with BART. He recounts his first visit to Golden Gate Park shortly after his arrival here in February 1979. Folks lying on the grass in front of the Conservatory of Flowers didn't impress him much. But what did catch his eye was thousands of roller skaters in the park that day. He was hooked.
Roller skating was huge in those days, but there was a growing drumbeat of outrage and bans were being threatened. It was around this time that David met Rose, whom he courted and eventually married.
Kitten on the Keys's musician dad was born with crossed-eyes.
In Part 1, Kitten, a musician in her own right, traces her story back to her parents. Both were born and raised in southeastern Missouri. Her dad made his way out as a traveling musician when he was 14. Her mom took a job after college in Washington, DC.
Eventually, the two made their ways back to their shared hometown: East Prairie, MO. They got married and came to the Bay Area because her dad wanted to become a music teacher. Then they moved to Lafayette, where Kitten (née Suzanne) was born. She says her dad worked hard during the week and then gigged hard on the weekends. "He was always gone."
Thanks mostly to her mom, Kitten grew up singing in the Lutheran church. In her teen years, she went with the church on several trips to Mexico. She shares a pretty out-there story from those journeys south.
She was in a Christian dance troupe called "The Earthen Angels." But the group eventually got shut down because, with the A/C in the church cranked, their leotards were allegedly too revealing.
Kitten and her siblings all took music lessons, but she says she was never good at any instruments when she was young. In fact, she says, she's shocked that she's a musician today. Once she able to start choosing her own music (you gotta hear a great story about a switcheroo involving "Bohemian Rhapsody"), she enjoyed playing.
We end Part 1 with Kitten sharing stories of her earliest and fondest memories of visiting San Francisco, including taking classes at ACT and meeting all sort of punk kids and seeing some legendary bands.
One side of Matt Sterling's lineage is a big, Irish Catholic family.
In Part 1, the bartender and pub quiz host delves into his family's history in San Francisco. Three generations ago, great-grandparents came here from Ireland, established their roots, and had kids. Matt's maternal grandma was one of them.
She grew up in Ingleside and raised seven kids of her own, including Matt's mom. Matt says that on his mom's side, he's got 23 cousins and he knows them all pretty well. Through his mom and his aunts and uncles, Matt shares stories from the neighborhood back in the 1960s. He describes Thanksgiving dinners, first at his grandmother's house and then at his own home, where somewhere around 50 family guests showed up.
Matt's dad came to the US from the Philippines when he was 22. He got married and had three kids, but that marriage ended in divorce. Then Matt's parents met when they both worked for the SFPD. His dad was an officer and his mom worked a desk job. The couple had Matt and his sister for a total of five kids.
His dad worked many different beats around The City in the thirty-plus years he worked as a cop. As his family started to grow with the arrival of Matt and his sister, his dad found a larger home in Daly City. Matt tells us some of his earliest memories, including going to Catholic school in South San Francisco and later, Sacred Heart in SF. He ran cross country, which helped him get to know San Francisco really well.
Matt ends Part 1 talking about various excursions in The City that sealed the fate of his moving here for him.
This podcast is almost totally about Shizue Seigel's ancestors.
In Part 1, the poet and author digs deep into her family's history, which goes back to Japan just two generations ago. Sakuichi Tsutsumi and Umematsu Yokote Tsutsumi were from Kyushu, a large island in the south of Japan. Irene Yoshiko Tsutsumi Saiki, Shizue's mom, was born in Hawaii. Her family moved there to work on sugar plantations, but the conditions were brutal and they weren't able to save money thanks to the sugar companies' "company store" operations. Also, conditions in the cane fields were dangerous. The family went back to Japan.
Sakuichi moved to San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California. He and his cousins bought some land and used their knowledge of irrigation to help them grow produce. Thanks to an oil boom in the area, the town of San Luis was growing and its population needed vegetables. Now successful, it was time to send for his wife back in Japan.
Shizue shares the incredible story of finding the tiny mountain village and home where Sakuichi's family lived. It's one of those "you have to hear to believe" tales.
Shizue's mom, Irene, was born in 1920. Shizue shares many stories of her mother's family and the Japanese community in and around San Luis Obispo where she mostly grew up, notably before World War II.
Her dad's family moved from Hiroshima to Hawaii with his two older brothers. Life was tough there for them as well, and so it was decided that her grandfather, Yasaburo, would go ahead to California while her grandmother, Shige Matsuoka, took their children back to Japan. Shige waited for two years with no word back from the US. She left her two kids with in-laws and decided to come over to track her husband down. Her journey east is another amazing tale you just have to hear.
Andrew St. James's birth mom was a tour caterer for the Rolling Stones.
In Part 1, the musician traces his lineage back to his being adopted by a young San Francisco couple. Carol moved to San Francisco in 1971. She worked at the Gap and what used to be Live 105 and KMEL. Nathan was born in Brooklyn to Holocaust survivor parents. After his New York marriage fizzled, he hopped on a motorcycle and rode to San Francisco in 1978. Nathan and some friends opened the original Captain Video stores. The two met when Nathan went to buy radio advertising from Carol.
The couple lived in Glen Park when they adopted Andrew, then they all moved to the Sunset District, where Andrew was raised. Andrew shares early memories from both neighborhoods.
He sang in the San Francisco Boys Choir for a number of years before getting jaded at a young age. He decided to branch out more on his own, and so he bought an organ. He soon began playing rock music with friends roughly his age—12.
Andrew got into Urban High School, which he shares the background and philosophy of for us. Andrew says that by the time he entered high school, in the late-2000s, that philosophy had more or less gone by the wayside.