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

Portraits of Muni and BART riders in space

We’ve all had those “anywhere but here” moments of fantasy on Muni. But artist Kevin Lewis took his commute one giant leap beyond merely a daydream. He recently finished illustrating and writing a sci-fi graphic novel/adult picture book (tentatively titled “BARTians”), featuring 70 drawings of his fellow Muni and BART passengers. Instead of portraying them staring at their phones, Kevin transformed these passengers into doing so much more, literally above and beyond planet San Francisco.

You’d think she was riding BART, but through Kevin’s creative eyes, this young lady is actually on her way to a coronation to continue (or upend) her mother’s legacy.


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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

Mona Lisa takes a ride on the M

This doppelgänger for the famed Leonardo da Vinci painting was seen riding public transit with a serene smile. Shall we caption this…the Muni Lisa?

(We’ll be here all week, folks.)

OK, OK, judging from the fabric of the seat we know this is another public transit system altogether, but it’s just too good not to share. Not for nothing, we’ve spotted other celebrities on Muni like Justin Bieber and Fabio. It’s a regular day of “Celebrities, They’re Just Like Us” here at Muni Diaries headquarters.

Thanks for the submission, reader Nandita D., via Fernando Meisenhalter on Facebook.

Got other important news for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com is always open!

Artist Jeremy Fish finally shares the story of the Silly Pink Bunny heist

Some of you may remember Silly Pink Bunny, a sculpture by local artist Jeremy Fish, which held court in the Lower Haight until 2013. Jeremy joined us on the podcast to tell the story, in his own words, of the bunny’s evolution from a goofy pink (and occasionally peed-on) neighborhood fixture to the revered bronze bunny sculpture it is today.

Jeremy himself says that the story behind the bunny is almost more interesting than the actual piece of art. Seeing as how this story connects art, taggers, grand theft bunny (that’s a thing, right?), crowdfunding, community, and condos, we’re inclined to agree.

Listen and/or download here:

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Spoiler alert: Though the demise of the original Silly Pink Bunny was captured on video for posterity, many (us included) were very curious about how the icon was preserved. Read more

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