From the literal mailbox: Quantum physics meets Pulp Fiction on Muni

Dana Grae Kane, 72, is a self-described scarred veteran of the L-Taraval, having spent 29 years on that Metro line commuting between the Sunset and FiDi. Now retired and recovering on the Oregon coast, (pass the Pinot Noir!) she graciously took the time to send us a story, via snail mail y’all, from her Muni-riding past. 

One morning in the 1990s, a young heterosexual couple sat across from me, each engrossed in reading a book.

He was about 6’4″ and 250 lbs. of muscle, dressed in a T-shit and Gorilla work jeans, arms showing serious tough-guy tattoos, wearing a hard hat and massive steel-toed boots.

Diametrically opposed, she appeared to be an archetypically fluffy delicate flower—frail, pale, and fragile—probably often suffering categorization among “dumb blondes.”

I could hardly contain my surprise and delight when I realized what each was reading. She was engrossed in something that resembled Annals of Physics published by the Max Planck Society, while he was riveted in a romance novel of lurid cover, something that could easily be called Passion Under the Plum Trees by an author named Euphorbia Spindrift.

Thus, we may, after all, be able to judge books by their covers, but not so Muni riders.

As true today as it was 20 years ago, San Franciscans rarely fit into Column A or Column B—more often than not, you’ll find that we sample a little bit of both, and then some.

Extra thanks to Matt from the Elbo Room, where we hold our live storytelling shows twice a year. Ms. Kane addressed her typed and printed story, with impeccable cursive on the envelope, to Muni Diaries Live, and Matt was kind enough to forward it on:

Is your own so-San Francisco story burning a hole in your pocket? Share your tale with the world by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Or, our email inbox, muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, is always open! And, for the record, so is our P.O. Box:

Muni Diaries
P.O. Box 640084
San Francisco, CA 94164

Top photo: juicyrai on Flickr

Being an ally in the fight against homophobia…in San Francisco

San Francisco-raised Nato Green is a comedian, union organizer, dad, and, per The East Bay Express, a “political sparkplug.” He’s also a Muni Diaries Live alum, where he threaded the needle with a comic spin on a BART strike.

Nato is on the podcast today with a story that takes us back to the early-1990s in San Francisco, when the city was still hitting its progressive stride. As the city celebrates Pride month, Nato recalls some way-early childhood memories at what was then called the Gay Freedom Day parade, as well as his experience in the fight against homophobia at San Francisco’s Lick-Wilmerding High School.

Listen and/or download here:

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Check out Nato’s new album, The Whiteness Album, and follow him on Twitter @natogreen.

If you liked what you heard today, please support Muni Diaries on Patreon to help us keep telling stories from everyday San Franciscans.

Photo by RightAngleImages: Nato in 2013, performing at Muni Diaries Live at the Elbo Room.

Everything you need to know before riding all Muni lines in one day

No one’s can-do spirit (and tolerance for municipal mishaps) is stronger than that of tenacious journalists. Enter San Francisco Chronicle reporters Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub with a not-so-simple goal: riding all of the Muni lines in one day.

They called it, appropriately, #TotalMuni2018. In today’s podcast episode, the intrepid pair walks us through the who, what, why, and how of this very ambitious goal. You’ll hear all the important Muni codes they learned (the most important one being the bathroom break code!), and how they plotted this day.

Listen to their story:

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Peter and Heather said that #TotalMuni2018 was actually one of the most incredible days they have had in San Francisco, where riding the bus actually was a “reminder of how amazing San Francisco and San Franciscans are.” That’s exactly what we think too.

You might also remember that Peter is no stranger to the Muni Diaries universe. You can hear his first Muni Diaries Live story here, when he took the last Muni ride to Candlestick Park.

If you liked what you heard on our podcast, subscribe on iTunes and Google Play so you don’t miss an episode. You can now support our endeavor on the Muni Diaries Patreon page, where the lowest membership level is cheaper than a Muni ride!

Photo by Right Angle Images

How a fistfight on the 22-Fillmore ended with a FaceTime video from mom

What would you do if saw something going sideways on Muni? Rider Brian Cunnie was on the 22-Fillmore when he and a couple of other riders stood up for a young woman when they saw her boyfriend’s threatening behavior. Brian ended up taking some punches for the stranger, but bus justice ruled the day. Here’s his story:

I hadn’t gotten into a fight in 30 years until last Thursday evening on the 22-Fillmore. A young couple came on the bus, and he started yelling at her and punching the bus next to her head, and I asked him to please take it outside, and he asked me what I said, and I repeated, “Please take it outside.”

And then he punched me in the face: left fist, right fist, left fist again. I tackled him. It wasn’t a perfect rugby tackle — I wrapped his midsection instead of his waist — but it was enough to bring him down. Two fellow passengers helped subdue him while we waited for the cops to show up. The cops moved us apart and one of the officers kept asking me if I needed an ambulance. Then they asked if I wanted to press charges. I said that if he said he was wrong for punching me, I wouldn’t press charges.

So the young kid came out and looked me in the eye and said he was wrong to punch me and that he was sorry. I nodded, we shook hands and did a half-hug. One of the cops said, “That’s beautiful, man.” And then his girlfriend showed a FaceTime video of his mom thanking me for not pressing charges.

It was incredibly exhilarating and I would have easily spent hundreds of dollars for that experience. I mean, it was awesome.

The guy I’m in the picture with — the guy on the left, I think his name is Taylor — is one of the passengers who held the guy down. Heroic.

My name is Brian Cunnie, I’m a 54-year-old software developer in San Francisco who plays rugby.

This reminds me of the time when riders stood up against a Muni creeper, and when another group of riders put an end to some asswipe who thought body shaming was OK. It’s good to know that we’ve got each other’s backs when it comes to bad behavior.

Got other important stories for your fellow riders? Muni Diaries only exists because of your stories and submissions, so tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox (muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com) is always open, too.

The ONE thing you shouldn’t do on BART

Reporter Vivian Ho has produced lots of serious journalism, having covered everything from the Mario Woods shooting, to the San Francisco Police Department, to wildfires. She also authored an incredible investigative piece called “A Life on the Line.” But there’s this one story that was a bit of a departure from her usual beat that has followed her around.

It starts something like this: “If you miss BART during the strike, this might make you miss it a bit less: A man accused of trying to make love to a train seat was acquitted of felony indecent exposure and released from San Francisco jail Monday.”

Now, there’s a lede.

If you’re a regular Muni Diaries reader, you’ll know that BART’s seats are no stranger to the naked pretzel, making “NSFW twerking” possibly the most searched keyword we’ve seen on our site yet. But this one takes the cake.

Listen to Vivian’s story here:
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Vivian also told a sweet story about a pair of pigeons in her apartment in this San Francisco Diaries story earlier this year on the podcast. If you liked this episode, we have a little favor to ask: Won’t you let us know what you think on iTunes by leaving a review? It’ll make our day.

Photo by Right Angle Images, featured photo via BART.gov

Prying eyes find family ties on Muni


It’s hard not to peek at someone else’s phone on Muni, even though we know should keep our eyes in our lane. When storyteller Senait Hailemariam glanced over at her commute neighbor, she found a touching departure from the normal social scrolling. Here’s her story:

I was reading my book when I heard the woman sitting next to me on the bus make a loving sound, half a chuckle and half an ‘aww’. I glanced out the corner of my eye to see her kiss the tip of her finger and lightly touch her phone screen.

Stealing glances at her phone I realized she was watching security footage from a camera perched above a liquor store or bodega of some kind and the object of her affection was a young boy in a striped shirt who made an appearance in the frame.
Continuing my prying, I noticed the time stamp was set for an hour ahead. I assumed she was watching her family, who lived somewhere other than California, as they worked into the night.
I couldn’t help but cry watching this woman quietly warming her heart on the commute home.
Maybe I’m just emotional, but I thank the universe for this beautiful example of love.

Senait was also a recent storyteller at Muni Diaries Live, and you can hear her story on the Muni Diaries podcast.

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. Our email inbox is always open!

Photo by @yellow_line_art

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