How extra-SF are you getting with your Halloween costume?

A friend grew up in the Castro, in the ’80s. Adorably, she thought trick-or-treating was something kids only did on TV.

Celebrating Halloween in the Castro was more than just fucking around in the city. The party raged for decades, and many touted it the best Halloween celebration in the country. When I worked at The Examiner in 2006, the party turned deadly, and its status as a city-sanctioned event was canceled from then on. In 2007, additional evening reporters were planned to cover a night of adjacent festivities that, fingers crossed, didn’t turn into calls to the local police stations.

But celebrating Halloween in the city was exactly that: celebrating. And by god, we love celebrating in costume. What’s the most extra-SF Halloween costume you can think of this year? Wrap yourself in gray chiffon as Karl the Fog? Or go all out as the Golden Gate Bridge?

Photo by @Best San Francisco

Or, pull a really punny costume about Muni that only you can enjoy. Via @mcsheffrey

Let’s keep San Francisco’s Halloween a damn good party where everyone also makes it out in one piece. Don’t forget to send us your San Francisco Halloween pics, whether you’re walking your costumed kids around their elementary school or crushing a box of Franzia on Muni Metro. Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com is always open!

Pic by Ken Banks on Flickr

Like walking on a terrible Tilt-a-Whirl: Loma Prieta at age 8

A friend, then a KCBS Radio reporter, recently shared how “life in the Bay Area stood still for days” in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which shook Northern California 28 years ago today.

On Oct. 17, 2017, fires ravage our northern neighbors and ash dusts our windowsills and sneaks into our lungs. Thousands are impacted by the literal loss of life and property as a sense of loss and anxiety hovers over the region—just as it did nearly three decades ago. But as one disaster seems to follow another in 2017, I’m thinking today of our ability to come together when shit gets really, really bad.

I turned eight two days before Oct. 17, 1989, in time for my first and, so far, only experience in a massive quake. At 5:04 p.m., I was sitting on my couch in South San Francisco, flipping between reruns of Silver Spoons and the Giants-A’s World Series pregame. Everyone at my elementary school wanted the Giants to win, so, of course, I did, too.

My dad had just come home from work and the little girl my mom babysat was eating a snack. The metal windows in our ’70s condo started rattling slightly, and the sounds of vibrating porcelain knick knacks quickly followed suit.

Instead of a shudder that rippled through the house and then stopped, the rattling sounds combined audibly and sickeningly with a rumble I imagined was like thunder—I hadn’t really experienced that, either.

It was like walking on a terrible Tilt-a-Whirl, being unable to get myself in a straight line from the couch to where my dad was losing balance in a doorway.

After everything stopped moving, we spilled into my street in the Westborough neighborhood of town, along with all of our neighbors. Every single person backed into the middle of the street, facing our houses, expecting them to fall down right in front of us.

I was terrified to cross the eastbound span of the Bay Bridge for months, which we did pretty regularly—kid logic concluded that being on the upper deck meant we had a greater chance of living if we fell into the lower one vs. into the Bay. Oddly enough, I was driving on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge during the next-largest earthquake to hit the Bay Area nearly two decades later.

I and many others I knew were lucky. As Diana’s story reminded me, 42 people lost their lives in the Cypress Structure alone. Had I been a digital-era adult when this happened, I wonder if I’d have had a heightened capacity to understand and collectively grieve those losses, while also feeling the impact of communities coming together in the time of need. My world was much smaller then; I think it was smaller for all of us, whether we were one or 100 in 1989. As I scroll through my news sources and friend feeds on the tiny computer in my pocket, I am glad to see plenty of evidence that the Bay Area is still in it together.

Pic by sanbeiji on Flickr.

“Life in the Bay Area stood still”: A reporter’s recollection of the ’89 earthquake

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. As we look back over the 28 years since the temblor, Bay Area native Diana Gapuz walks San Francisco Diaries past the Battle of the Bay World Series, the ill-fated Cypress Structure, and a surreal commute in the aftermath to the KCBS newsroom in this firsthand account. We’ve all been supporting friends and family impacted by the fires in Northern California, and it’s reassuring to know that San Franciscans have always supported one another when disaster strikes. Here’s Diana:

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We were rushing to get out the door, to watch Game 3 of the A’s-Giants World Series with friends. Several sharp jolts stopped us in our tracks. My husband, Marc, picked up our 17-month old daughter Emma, and we stood in a door frame.

The ground stopped moving. After years in news radio, hyperconscious of time, I nailed the length of the quake — 15 seconds. I called into my station, KCBS, first on the air to describe what I felt on rock-solid Albany Hill. Maybe spoke for 15 seconds. Then the anchor moved on to a reporter in the field.

Time to get on the road. Emma and I were heading to Berkeley to hang out with my morning co-editor, Christina. Marc was meeting friends in Oakland. By the time we reached Christina’s house, we were slowly realizing this wasn’t your usual tremor. Reporters from across the Bay were describing frightening scenes and frightened people. Read more

Animal magnetism: The undeniable pull of underground SF

Sometimes opportunity knocks. Other times, you inadvertently stumble through its door. That’s what storyteller Steve Pepple discovered, when an unmarked door at a SoMa diner turned out to be a portal to a mysterious underground scene.

A designer at OpenGov, Steve works toward making cities (including our favorite one) more livable, whether he’s working on a budget or a bus. Podcast listeners, here’s Steve’s story:

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Since we expanded our storytelling lens in August, you’ve submitted amazing stories like a day in the life of a Nob Hill employee, the secret history behind the Transamerica building, and how a Bernal shopkeeper survived losing her lease. Remember to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode!

You can also catch Steve telling a new story live at Muni Diaries Live on Nov. 4; tickets are on sale now.

For your reading pleasure, here’s a transcript of Steve’s story: Read more

Listen up: The hottest new hip-hop tribute to San Francisco is here

You heard it here first: the newest hip-hop tribute to our City by the Bay. This new song by longtime denizen J. W. Friedman is a musical diary entry encapsulating why a lot of us chose to live (and stay) here. Add this to your essential Yay Area playlist ASAP.

The exclusive new jam name-checks all things local: layering (seriously, you have to), intersections all over town, and the barge in the Bay just outside of AT&T Park.

Muni Diaries Live attendees might remember as J as Satellite High, who first blew our minds with a whole album dedicated to Muni (read the interview here and watch this live performance). Sharp-eared podcast listeners may also recognize his name and style from our theme music.

Take a listen to the new tune:

J is also the cohost of the wonderfully snarky podcast, I Don’t Even Own a Television, wherein he and cohost Chris Collision read terrible books from beginning to end just so they can review them for the masses. To get an IRL sense of their sense of humor, come see Chris Collision at our Muni Haiku Battle, LitCrawl Edition this Saturday at Clarion Alley.

So does your street or Favorite SF Something get a shout-out in J’s new song? He sent us the lyrics so you can find out:

Read more

Heart-eyes for my hood: Upper Maltese Falcon


Photo from Tara’s IG profile @roopisonfire

Some thought my move from La Mision to downtown amounted to trading an interesting neighborhood for not a neighborhood at all.

Not quite.

An area I christened “Chinunionob” upon arrival, I found blocks of apartment buildings teeming with character. I became a regular at the oldest dim sum house in the city, and I learned just how happy the Tunnel Top bar makes people when I mention that it’s my local.

Dashiell Hammett’s universe from The Maltese Falcon is inextricably connected to this part of the world, exciting for history buffs, noir fanatics, or anyone, which is a lot of us, who is drawn to art that imitates life in San Francisco.

Burritt Street borders a store that sells “Shit, I need a tomato” tomatoes, last-minute runs for Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road, and bestickered bottles of wine, from which I’ve peeled many stubborn price tags en route to dinner. This same alley is where Hammett’s Miles Archer was “done in” by fictional femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy.

My trusty sedan occasionally sleeps on Dashiell Hammett Street, so named after a successful effort by City Lights Booksellers & Publishers owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti to honor San Francisco writers.

Considered through this historical Viewfinder, my life in Chinunionob sparkles a little brighter knowing that it moved one of the most celebrated noir storytellers of our time. More than an intersection of Chinatown, Union Square, and Nob Hill, it’s become a personal crossroads of inspiration, motivation, civic pride, and love.

Add Don Herron’s Maltese Falcon Tour, in its 40th year, to your to-do list. I certainly am.

Tara Ramroop is Hamster 1 of 2 keeping the San Francisco Diaries wheel in motion. She has hella heart-eyes emoji for SF, even when she’s walking up those pee-pee stairs on Stockton and Bush Streets. Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with your tale.

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