How we invaded Bernal Heights

You may remember Molly from a recent episode of the Muni Diaries podcast. She returns with a throwback story that recalls her eviction from the up-and-coming Castro neighborhood to her new home in the budding lesbian enclave of Bernal Heights.

This is part of our newest project, San Francisco Diaries, which features stories about our city at large that run the same gamut of good, bad weird, gross, great, and poignant. Here’s Molly.

We had been powerless tenants, evicted with no recourse, and then we became agents of displacement. There was no in between.

My collective household of four lesbians had found a place on Castro Street, one of those original Victorians with high ceilings and elaborate wood trim, an abandoned coal fireplace, and a parlor whose big sliding doors opened to double the size of the room. It was rumored that the apartment had come up for rent because the previous tenants had been busted for selling weed and were all in jail. We embellished the story to claim that the famous Brownie Mary had lived there. She may not have lived there, but she had certainly been there in spirit. It was the 1970s; the Castro was becoming a gay men’s mecca. During our time there, a housepainter contracted to paint our building ran a brothel, turning tricks in the building’s storage room. He painted that building for months.

We fondly remember political gabfests at shared dinners, Seders in which we sang all the way through, and inventive costumes at Halloween parties: in the year of Anita Bryant, I came as an ironic lesbian “recruiter” for her hateful cause. For a time, our costume du jour at home was simply a vest, a way to show off a billowing bush and legs as thickly furred as animal pelts (we were hairy and proud!). We danced and sang along to Stevie Wonder and Lavender Jane Loves Women. There was much laughing and also much crying. Passionate love affairs abounded. Creating a new culture calls for invention. We tried out non-monogamy and polyamory. We felt we were on the cutting edge of a cultural transformation.
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The boat is back for Muni Heritage Weekend

Muni heritage is this weekend, when you’ll be able to ride vintage Muni cars including the Boat Tram. On Saturday and Sunday, you can ride vintage streetcars like Streetcar 1, dating back to Muni’s opening day in 1912.

You might also see “Dinky,” or Streetcar 578, built in 1896 in San Francisco and the oldest operating streetcar in the United States.

More from the SFMTA:

Other free vintage vehicle rides departing from the museum include Muni Trolley Coach 776 dating from 1950, and 1975 Muni Trolley Coach 5300 in the classic “Sunset” orange colors created by San Francisco designer Walter Landor. The recently renovated 1956 Mack Motor Coach 2230, 1938 Motor Coach 042 and 1969 Motor Coach 3287 will also be offering free rides.

There’s also a cable car bell ringing demo at noon! Find out more about Muni Heritage Weekend.

It’s all happening this weekend 12-5pm at the San Francisco Railway Museum on 77 Steuart Street (just across from the Ferry Building). If you are lucky enough to get on one of these vintage cars, tag us #munidiaries on Instagram to submit your Muni Heritage Weekend diary!

Photo by @sfmtaphoto

Nail clipper spotted on Muni

…like the actual nail clipping implement, not the offender themselves.

We’ve received nail clipper shaming galore, but this may be a first. Maybe they were so busy sweeping up their own clippings, they forgot the tool used for the job. Or maybe, in a flash of much welcome self-awareness, they dismissed the idea of public nail clipping as quickly as it formed, becoming so distracted they forgot the nail clipper itself.

PSA, clipping your nails on public still isn’t OK, y’all.

h/t reader Marcin.

Got other important dispatches from the wild (and we do mean wild) for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox, muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, is always open!

A tradeswoman explores international relations on the 14-Mission

Muni Diaries podcast

It wouldn’t be a cross-town Muni line if manspreading, drinking, and impromptu history lessons didn’t factor in somewhere, right? Today’s storyteller, Molly Martin, is a tradeswoman and longtime Bay Area resident who takes us back to simpler, but familiar times on the 14-Mission. Here’s Molly:

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Molly previously served san activist and organizer for Occupy Bernal, a neighborhood group focused on fighting evictions in Bernal Heights. She’s currently working on a book about the history of women construction workers in the Bay Area.

We met Molly after she pitched her story to us via email. Be cool like Molly and pitch your own Muni or San Francisco story at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And if you like what you’re hearing, help us keep the lights on at Muni Diaries HQ by supporting us on Patreon

Pic by Flickr user Michael Patrick

Meet the woman behind NYC’s subway tweets

New York City: They’re just like us.

Not really, but they do also have a real-life human behind the service alerts (i.e. bad news) that stymie subway riders on their commutes.

Haley Dragoo writes the transit alerts New Yorkers find on the MTA’s websites, Twitter feeds, and, most recently, an app called MYmta. In this recent New York Times piece, she walks us through her experience engaging with their unique and occasionally pissed off and skeptical ridership. Sound familiar?

“O.K., bot,” someone wrote back recently when Haley Dragoo answered him on Twitter, as if Ms. Dragoo’s message had been generated by a robot. She wasted no time setting him straight: “No, I’m a real person.”

 

In fact, she is a 26-year-old who once described herself as “feisty and opinionated.” “I always keep things light and fun,” she wrote in the same biographical sketch, “and love making people laugh.”

We know that’s pretty hard, but she seems to be keeping her head up.

“I think people think it’s a lot worse than it is, this catastrophic mess all the time,” she said. “I’ve had to put a moratorium on talking about the trains with my boyfriend. We had to say no talking about the trains. He’s part of the public. They just see the bad parts. They don’t see the strides we’re making and how this information that we put out makes a difference. They’re caught up in the negative part.”

As it turns out, the NYC MTA Twitter folks work out of the NASA-like control center and everyone thinks they’re robots.

It is probably no surprise that passengers accustomed to impersonal and often unintelligible communications on the subway sometimes have trouble believing that anyone at the transit agency is actually reading their tweets.

Do you think people also write, “Hey, fuck you!” to @NYCTSubway, or is that just San Francisco?

We got to know Schad Dalton and Rick Banchero, the real humans behind the SFMTA Twitter account on an episode of the Muni Diaries podcast. They told us, “Sometimes people will tell us we’re incompetent, that we should lose our jobs, that we are a failure, and those are just some of the nicer things. Sometimes it is hard and you feel that they are coming at you.” We think that Schad, Rick, and Haley should get together for an epic Happy Hour commiserating session!

Our takeaway: Be nice out there—those humans behind @sfmta_muni might just bend over backward to find that lost item when you least expect it.

Pic by Daniel Hoherd on Flickr

How one woman served sweet, sweet justice on Muni

Gwen Carmen is a survivor: She’s taught middle school and beaten cancer. So you know she wasn’t going to let a creeper on the bus get off easy. When a man’s wandering hands met storyteller Gwen’s seat, she was shocked. But she didn’t spend too much time in wondering WTF—here’s how she tracked him down and got her own version of bus creeper justice.

Gwen told this story at Muni Diaries Live’s 10th anniversary show and our jaws were on the ground. Listen to her story here:

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Gwen is an activist, actress, educator, and writer whose work appeared in Essence magazine, Plexus feminist newspaper, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and numerous other small presses during the ’80s and ’90s. She was the editor/publisher of La Morena Women of Color bilingual newspaper.

Thanks to you, we’ve heard amazing stories of women standing up for themselves and each other—like this tale of riders who, one by one, walked over to support a woman being verbally harassed. Another time, riders on this bus collectively said No Way to body shaming.

Keep it up, San Francisco.

Got your own story to share? We are all ears! Pitch your own Muni or San Francisco story to us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. You can also help us keep the lights on at Muni Diaries HQ by supporting us on Patreon

Photo by Right Angle Images

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