The San Francisco we’re thankful for


This year we celebrated 10 years of telling your Muni tales, and one whole year of sharing more San Francisco stories that happen off the bus. Your stories have a way of reminding everyone why San Francisco is still alright after all.

Because of you, our listeners, readers, and supporters, we hosted two of our local bookstore heroes in studio: Alan Beatts of Borderlands Books and Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books (look out for his episode in the coming weeks!) And we got Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight in front of a live audience to preview their epic, around-the-world-in-one-day-style trip on Muni.

Because more than 4,000 of you submitted stories to us every day for the last 10 years, we were able to celebrate our 10th birthday exactly how we wanted: with a packed room filled with friendly faces—shouts out to our artist and photographer friends who, until then, we had never met in real life but came bearing birthday presents of Muni art and photos. We even learned from the door staff at Elbo Room that some of you insisted on paying for your ticket even as someone donated their extra. These kindnesses are not lost on us even in the busy shuffle of show night.

This year, we’re so, so thankful for those of you that took out your wallets and supported us on Patreon: we know it’s expensive to live here, and your willingness to help us keep the lights on (and replace those microphone cables that the cats chewed up) is appreciated.

We were able to have one more evening at the Elbo Room, where Nuala Sawyer shared a story of one small moment that made a big difference—encapsulating why we do what we do.

And let’s not kid ourselves: because of you, all of our Muni rides are a little better, or at least a little funnier. Without this comMUNIty, we wouldn’t know that the trending hashtag for the N is #NJudas, and the correct way to haul your new cat tree is on an LRV, with a kitten on a leash eating out of a little bowl perched on said cat tree (true story).

So, from the Muni Diaries headquarters, thank you for sharing, riding, listening, reading, and contributing in your own way to life in the best city in the world.

Photo by @gurpreetz

Free Muni Friday, because bad air quality

The air quality went from red (bad) to purple (even worse) today due to the wild fires up north, and the SFMTA announced that Muni will be free Friday, per the mayor’s request. You won’t need to tag your Clipper cards or use a transfer tomorrow, according to the SFMTA’s announcement. Hopefully this limits your traveling outdoors, and please keep those windows closed when you board.

All schools within the San Francisco Unified School District are closed, as is with most colleges in the city.

Stay safe out there, everybody.

Photo by @SanFranciscoCityandCounty.

How a bear bar helped one visitor give SF another chance

San Francisco can be a tough city to navigate, especially if you’re a visitor who is already having a hard time. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, storyteller Baruch Porras-Hernandez shares an exchange that he had with a visitor while working at one of the longest-running gay sex clubs in San Francisco. Upon realizing that the visitor was having some internal struggles, Baruch gives him a list of place of where to find like-minded people in the city. But after Baruch leaves work, the visitor returns to the club and gets some alarming information.

Listen to his story:
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Baruch is a writer, performer, host, storyteller, and regular KQED community events host based in San Francisco. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry and regularly organizes poetry shows in the Bay Area. Follow Baruch on Instagram (@baruchporrashernandez) to get the latest show updates.

Trigger warning: Please note that this story has themes about suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals: 1-800-273-8255.

You, too, can add an entry to our collective journal. San Francisco Diaries is looking for your personal stories about what it means to live here, and what makes our city “so San Francisco.” Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—or, our email inbox is always open!
Photo by Thomas Hawk

7 reminders from Muni Diaries Live about why you still love San Francisco

Last Saturday, 200 Muni riders squeezed into a crowded and hot space (for fun!), and they weren’t even cranky about it (we think). We’re talking about Muni Diaries Live, our fav night of the year where we celebrate the human-to-human moments that happen as we move from point A to point B.

We laughed, we cried (really, there were surprise tears), and our storytellers reminded us why we chose to live here after all. For our 20th show, singer/songwriter Rachel Lark (above) cracked everyone up with songs that so many of us can relate to, including “It’s Hard to be a Feminist and Still Love Dick,” which is still in my head two days later. Check out this version of the song she did with Muni Diaries Live alum Kate Willet.

We opened the show with a special story in poetry form from Alexandria Love, standup comedian and writer from Oakland. True to our San Francisco roots, the poem is an ode to our dear Karl the Fog.

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The secret in the basement at Borderlands Books

Borderlands Books is a gem in the city: a bookstore and cafe that specializes in new and used science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you’ve been around these parts 10 or more years, you might remember their sphinx kitties roaming the store, and a sign that told everyone when the cats were in.

Though there are plenty of spooky books on the shelves at Borderlands, the staff actually discovered something quite unsettling in real life, in the newly excavated basement of the bookstore. Some of you might remember that the Borderlands Cafe was a later addition to the shop, and during construction, co-founder Alan Beatts found something in the basement that sent the crew running.

Hear what happened in this week’s San Francisco Diaries episode (scroll down for transcript):
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Alan sends us this bonus photo of the basement. See the tree trunk on the right? It’s not going anywhere!

The bookstore also serves as an inspiration of a successful grassroots business: the beloved bookstore faced a likely closure a few years ago. Amazingly, and in true San Francisco fashion, they raised $2M via a grassroots campaign to buy a building on Haight Street, where they will relocate as soon as construction there is complete. Borderlands also has an ongoing sponsorship program that keeps their doors open.

This is definitely the preferred ending to You’ve Got Mail I’d been looking for.

Want to hear more great stories like these live on stage? Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

Episode Transcript

Thanks to reader Chris L. for transcribing this episode!
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New fare box serves up surprising Muni transfer

Wait, what? Rider Loren Kraut got this “Jan 1, 1970” time-stamped ticket from one of the new fare boxes just the other day, and we’re paging Marty McFly for an explanation.

Yes, OK, we know it’s the UNIX Epoch (hi, nerds!), but we prefer to think this is a subtle reminder of when you could ride Muni for $0.25 while wearing your polyester bellbottoms.

If you’re curious about what the proof of payment really looked like in 1970, though, we’ve got you covered. If you were really traveling in 1970, you’d get a transfer that looks like the left-most ticket here:

The transfer used in the early 1970s was the Form 2A. This transfer was used from 1950 to about 1972, and should be familiar to many longtime San Franciscans.

Check this post out for more Muni transfer history.

Got more Muni happening to share? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com is always open.

Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

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