A Muni-themed poetry throwdown because San Francisco

If you’ve been to our live shows, you know one of the highlights is the Muni Haiku Battle: a Muni-themed poetry throwdown. Suffice it to say we have had some intense 5-7-5 syllable battles onstage, covering the gamut of topics (see: bodily fluids on seats) and stuff you might encounter on Bay Area public transit.

To give you a taste of what it’s all about (and entice you to see it in person at our next show Nov. 3!), this podcast episode features our most recent battle from start to finish. That battle of wills, which took place at our 10th anniversary show in April, pit reigning champion Alexandria Love against challenger Jessica Cohen. Jessica is an illustrator and self-described infrequent performer/fortune teller. She grew up in the East bay and went to college in San Francisco. Alexandria is a writer from Oakland and also the reigning champion of our inspiration: the Dirty Haiku Battle at Oakland’s Tourette’s Without Regrets

You can see our next Muni Haiku Battle at our fall show: Muni Diaries Live, Nov. 3, 2018 at the Elbo Room (tickets on sale now!). Alexandria goes up against challenger, local writer/journalist Joe Kukura.

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Photo by Right Angle Images.

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!

Meeting Joan Didion in San Francisco right after 9/11: One grad student’s tale

How do you go from humble grad school student to being on stage with one of America’s literary icons, all in a matter of days—especially when those days are ones following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001? This is exactly what happened to one San Franciscan, who met his intellectual idol, Joan Didion, who was speaking at City Arts and Lectures soon after the towers fell.

Our storyteller, Judson True, was a journalism grad student at the time. After a series of nerve-wrecking events, he ended up interviewing Didion on stage at the Herbst Theater. For this podcast episode, he unearthed an ancient email thread from his Yahoo inbox, taking us back to how he got plucked from his classroom and placed onstage with his favorite writer.

Having moved from the midwest to San Francisco, Judson says that “everyone has their own San Francisco. That’s one of the great things about a real city.” Meeting Didion that day marked a significant moment in his time here that defined what San Francisco was, and is, to him.

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You might remember Judson from one of our early Muni Diaries Live shows, which took place right after he left his post as the SFMTA spokesperson (perhaps one of the most stressful city jobs ever?). He’s currently the chief of staff for California State Assemblyman David Chiu.

This story is an installment of San Francisco Diaries, our spinoff series, which just celebrated its first birthday! Thanks to your support on Patreon, we’ve been able to record lots of new stories in our podcast studio. If you like these stories and can spare your coffee money for a day or two, we’d appreciate your help. You can find us at Patreon.com/munidiaries.

Know someone with a great story about San Francisco? We are all ears—submit your own story at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Photo by @goincase

=== Transcript ===

I found out about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, from my wonderful but soon to be ex-girlfriend who had just moved to Taiwan on a Fulbright. She lived in the future, so she saw the attacks on TV while I was sleeping. She called and told me what was happening and I turned on the news in my rented San Francisco apartment. I spent those devastating hours in shock with the rest of the world. Read more

Muni says sorry for serious summertime service fail

Blame it on the dog days of summer, but Muni issued an apology for its system-wide service failure, admitting that “Muni service in the past few months has been performing below our 98.5% service goal.” That’s probably putting it mildly, as earlier this summer, The SF Examiner reported that “On any particular weekday almost a hundred buses — ones meant to run — sit unused due to a lack of operators.”

[We’ll pause here for the jokes and snark.]

Mission Local obtained the missed hours of service of every Muni bus or train line for every Monday going back eight months. Some buses missed almost a third of their scheduled service time on certain days.

Thanks to this diligent local journalism, we at least know it wasn’t just our imagination. Muni’s apology included several solutions that they want to implement, such as converting part time drivers to full time and speeding up new driver training.

It is not yet clear when these measures will impact our commute, but if you do see any improvement, please let us know @munidiaries on Twitter or Facebook.

Photo by @kateconger.

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