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Preview: SFGate: Sam Whiting

Sam Whiting


Noted falcon preservationist killed in Tubbs Fire

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 02:14:22 UT

Monte Neil Kirven, a wildlife biologist credited with helping ban DDT in order to save the Peregrine Falcon, was among those killed in the Tubbs Fire. He was 81 and lived in the Mark West Springs Road area of Santa Rosa, where he died in bed, according to multiple postings on Facebook. “The Bureau of Land Management is saddened at the loss of our former colleague, Dr. Monte Kirven, who as a wildlife biologist dedicated his life to the recovery of the American Peregrine Falcon,” said Serena Baker, public affairs specialist at the agency’s central California district in El Dorado Hills. Baker had been informed by former colleagues and BLM retirees that Mr. Kirven had died in the fire.

Noted North Bay sculptor’s art wiped out in wildfire

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 01:46:23 UT

In the back of a buddy’s police car, Boback Emad rode up into the hills of the evacuation zone of Santa Rosa to see what was left of his 30-year career as an artist. He already knew what was left of his two-story home/studio, his Picasso, his Miro and his Dali, his own hot-tar paintings, his delicate aluminum mobiles, the 1973 Porsche 911 parked in the garage and the Airstream tricked out for Burning Man parked in the driveway. “Absolutely nothing,” he said to a reporter who had hitched along. “I’m just trying to hold it together.” Still, there was hope for his own art.

Artists putting their stamps on Polk Street’s ‘Passports’

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:15:13 UT

San Francisco artist Lynn Kirby has been going to the Russian Hill Bookstore since it opened 24 years ago. So when she was invited by the San Francisco Arts Commission to design a unique ink stamp for any business on Polk Street, she requested the bookstore. Come by on Sunday, Oct. 22, and Kirby will be at a desk stamping books just like Marian the Librarian in “The Music Man.” Her stamp is a spin on the ex libris bookplates that link a book to its owner. “I like to make work that is related to a place and has a history,” says Kirby, who is one of 16 local artists participating in “Passport,” a one-day scavenger hunt on Middle Polk, between California and Green streets.

Bill Turnage, who managed Ansel Adams and ran Wilderness Society, dies

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:38:44 UT

Bill Turnage, a former president of the Wilderness Society who also became a force in photography through his control of Ansel Adams’ publishing rights, died Sunday at his home in Mill Valley. The cause of death was stomach and esophageal cancer, said his brother, Robert Turnage. He was 74. Mr. Turnage was a graduate student running a fellowship program at Yale College in 1970 when he invited the famed California nature photographer to the campus to give a week of lectures. The two got along so well that Adams later invited Mr. Turnage to move to Carmel and manage his business affairs.

3 siblings suffer together after loss of their Santa Rosa homes

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 04:30:02 UT

When the Tubbs Fire blew toward the Coffey Park subdivision after midnight last Monday, three cell phones came alive with brothers and sisters frantically calling each other, the first warnings of the disaster that would strike one Santa Rosa family. The phones belonged to Kathy Braly and her two brothers, Mark and Mike Deas. All three lived within a mile of each other. All three were warned to get out, and all three of their families did. Their homes, identical with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, were gone by daybreak.

Art and Suiko Grant: A decades-long love story ends in the Tubbs Fire

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 03:28:46 UT

When the Tubbs Fire reached the hilltop property of Art and Suiko Grant in Santa Rosa, the couple gathered their small pet dog and took refuge in the wine cellar of their home of more than 45 years. This is where they died together last Monday, according to their daughter Trina Grant. He was 95 and she was 75. Mr. Grant was a retired captain with Pan American World Airways who had met his Japanese-born wife in Honolulu while working for the airline. “It was a true love-at-first-sight story,” said Trina Grant, by Facebook Messenger. “He found the most beautiful gal in the world to marry.” Arthur Tasman Grant grew up in Point Arena, one of 13 kids on a dairy farm.

Fewer than 20 residents remain in Calistoga as Tubbs Fire inches closer

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:41:50 UT

In the midday haze, a lone figure wearing a mask and neon safety vest walked down the yellow lines dividing the empty main street of Calistoga. It was Mayor Chris Canning. He was making house calls. About 40 people defied an all-city mandatory evacuation order issued Wednesday to spend the night in their homes, to sleep in their beds. By Thursday afternoon, about half of the holdouts had gone, leaving roughly 15 remaining residents in a town with a population of 5,400. Neon X’s spray-painted on the front walkways of homes marked the spots where residents had refused to leave, even after several visits from authorities. First came the firefighters. Then police and correctional officers.

Navy veteran, wife among 10 newly identified victims of Wine Country fires

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 04:46:37 UT

A Navy war veteran and his wife were among 10 residents of Sonoma County who were identified Thursday as victims of the devastating Wine Country fires. Arthur Tasman Grant, 95, and Suiko Grant, 75, died when the Tubbs Fire tore through northern Santa Rosa early Monday. Their daughter Trina Grant posted on Facebook that they had been unable to escape the fire in the Mark West Springs Road area. Grant said her father had served as a lieutenant in the Navy and trained as a fighter pilot both Hellcats and Corsairs in World War II, but the war ended before he saw combat. After the war, he flew for Pan Am as a commercial pilot and met his future wife in Honolulu.

Sculpture mixes surplus office furniture with biodiesel grease

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 21:13:41 UT

In addition to all the working people put out on the curb by the Internet economy, there is a lot of working furniture. A startup will burn through its funding and shut down. All those ergonomic chairs and whiteboards have to be be offloaded, and standing by is Patricia L. Boyd. But Boyd is a sculptor, not a scavenger. “My work has to do with cycles of boom and bust,” Boyd says shortly after arriving from her Hoboken, N.J., studio to oversee installation of her latest work at California College of the Arts’ Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. “It’s the way that things become extremely disposable in an economy that is continually trying to reinvent new value.

Long-lost Cassady letter to Kerouac finally finds a home

Mon, 2 Oct 2017 23:25:43 UT

After a legal battle over its ownership and one failed auction attempt, a long-lost letter mailed from Beat legend Neal Cassady to author Jack Kerouac has been acquired by Emory University in Atlanta. The 18-page single-spaced typed document was known as the “Joan Anderson Letter.” It was the inspiration for the spontaneous prose style Kerouac made famous in his masterpiece “On the Road” and was purchased at auction. The sale to Emory was confirmed to The Chronicle by Jim Sampas, literary executor for the estate of Jack Kerouac. The price was $206,250, according to published reports — one-tenth the price it was originally said to be worth.

Harvey Milk Plaza to get rainbow light installation

Sun, 1 Oct 2017 23:37:56 UT

Harvey Milk Plaza, a dated transit hub and gathering place at the intersection of Market and Castro streets, will soon be lit in white neon and an array of rainbow colors shooting into the sky to honor the slain San Francisco supervisor. The two light sculptures by the nonprofit Illuminate will be unveiled Nov. 8 at a free public ceremony to honor the 40th anniversary of Milk’s election to the Board of Supervisors, which made him the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. The artwork and dedication were initiated by the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza as the beacon for a planned multimillion-dollar remake of the public space outside the Castro Muni Metro Station.

Ambulance and fire vehicle collide in Vallejo

Sun, 1 Oct 2017 02:17:18 UT

Two Vallejo emergency response vehicles driving to to separate emergencies collided in an intersection Saturday morning. According to a news release issued by Vallejo Police, at 9:48 a.m. a Medic ambulance headed to one call on eastbound Florida Street crashed into a Vallejo Fire Department Ford Explorer headed to another call on southbound Sonoma Boulevard. The two met at the intersection of Florida and Sonoma. Three emergency personnel were transported to the hospital and later released with minor injuries. A Nissan Altima also got tangled up in the mess but the driver was uninjured. Cause of the crash is under investigation.

Man hit and killed by car in Vallejo

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 21:40:38 UT

A 60-year-old Vallejo man was struck and killed by a vehicle Friday night while trying to cross the street. As first reported by, the incident happened at 8 p.m. when the pedestrian was struck by a 1999 Chevrolet Camaro traveling west on Lewis Brown Drive, east of Sonoma Boulevard, in Vallejo. The victim was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. His name has not been released pending notification of next of kin, according to the Solano County coroner’s office. The driver of the vehicle was identified as a 32-year-old Vallejo man, who was uninjured. — Sam Whiting,

Man shot dead in San Jose

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 21:38:29 UT

A 26-year-old San Jose man was fatally shot Friday evening near the Mayfair North neighborhood of San Jose, just north of Interstate 680. Police officers responded to a call at 6:25 p.m. to the 100 block of S. Jackson Avenue. They found the victim, later identified as Jesus Ayala-Melchor, suffering from at least one gunshot wound. Ayala-Melchor was taken to a hospital where he died overnight, according to the Santa Clara County coroner’s office. No suspects have been identified or apprehended. Anyone with information is asked to call the San Jose Police Department homicide unit at (408) 277-5283 or Crime Stoppers, an anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.

Film, live event rolled out to celebrate the classic typewriter

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 00:11:20 UT

Walk the ninth-floor hallway of the historic Flood Building on Market Street and you may detect an office sound that has all but vanished, even from the Flood, which has not changed much since 1904. It is the frantic staccato of twin IBM Selectric II typewriters, their typeballs pressing letters into a page at 60 words per minute. The symphony comes from the offices of Minard Capital, which sends out 1,000 letters per year, individually typed, folded, sealed in wax and posted in the U.S. Mail. On Tuesday evening, Sept. 26, that same music will be created by an impromptu orchestra of manual and electric at California Typewriter, a holdout of a repair shop in Berkeley.