How one Bernal Heights shop survived the unexpected

Over the last few weeks, many of you already submitted San Francisco Diaries entries, ranging from a first job at the Nob Hill Theater to the secret history behind the Transamerica Pyramid. At San Francisco Diaries — home of Muni Diaries — we will still feature your Muni stories (after all, how can you talk about San Francisco without talking about Muni?) alongside stories about what makes San Francisco oh-so-SF.

Today’s San Francisco Diaries entry is from Eden Stein, who gives us an intimate look at what it’s like to nearly lose the business that you created, and how she survived nearly a decade as its owner.

Eden’s store, Secession Art & Design, is Bernal Heights’ neighborhood art gallery and indie artist collective, which recently, quietly, moved to a new location. You might have seen Eden out and about in the neighborhood, saying hello to the folks at Ichi Sushi or tending to her shop on Mission Street. Owning an independent gallery (or any small business, for that matter) in San Francisco is no easy feat, especially in these changing times.

In the summer of 2014, my heart dropped when I got a letter from my landlord saying that they decided not to renew my lease at the gallery I built, but gave me an option to stay by renting my storefront month to month. For any small business, this is the red flag: that you have no rent protection or rights. Secession Art & Design was just about to celebrate its 7th anniversary. After tears and some whisky, I realized I would have to walk away from what I had created. I picked myself up and started the quest for a new gallery and boutique location for myself and more than 60 independent artist and designers I represent.
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Unearthing hidden history underneath the Transamerica Pyramid

You’ve likely passed this spot a thousand times and probably never realized that, in its heyday, it was a one hell of a bohemian hot spot. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, writer Hiya Swanhuyser shares how she found this piece of history and why she’s been obsessed with it ever since.

Hiya is working on a book about a lost piece of San Francisco history, the Montgomery Block building, which stood where the Transamerica Pyramid stands today. It was there for 107 years, and was a crucial gathering place for artists and writers, including Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and thinkers and political types such as Emma Goldman and Sun Yat-Sen, among many many others.

Listen to the episode:

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Here’s what the Montgomery Block building looked like in its glory days:
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Lessons from my first year in SF

If you’re not a San Francisco native, you’re, well, like a lot of people who currently call the city home. Though one of your Diaries editors entered this brave new world at the old Mount Zion Hospital on Divisadero, and the other has been here for two decades and counting, we are both constantly discovering gems — hidden, reimagined, or in plain view — of neighborhoods old and new. People and communities build a city, and we’re lucky to learn from each other, whether we’re standing shoulder to shoulder on Muni, in the protest line, or at the bar.

One thing is certain: we all learned tons during our first year in San Francisco. Take it from reader Andy W. and his wife, Katie, who moved here a year ago.

Being a new transplant these days can be controversial, but we think there’s no better time to explore what we want out of life in San Francisco, as well as what we can all bring back to it.

Today marks Katie and my one-year San Franciscoversary, and I like to think I’ve learned a few things about this complex but amazing city, beyond your basic “DON’T CALL IT SAN FRAN” citywide mandate.

1. People who live here mark the passage of time by commenting on all the restaurants that have closed, and the inferiority of what has replaced it.
2. Some parts of the city smell like pee. Some parts smell like flowers. Sometimes at the same time.
3. It only took me a year to compulsively carry a light jacket or hoodie with me where ever I go. No matter how hot it is. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW.
4. If you wear a bright blue article of clothing, people assume you’re a huge Warriors fan and are suuuuper nice to you.
5. There are incredible breathtaking views at the end of so many streets.
6. Even for someone with as much privilege as I have, it takes an enormous amount of intention to live here. It takes a lot of energy to move around this tiny, 49 square-mile city among 850,000 of your neighbors.
7. It’s worth it. And I still have so much to learn.

Andy also runs a blog about pencils! You can find him at @woodclinched on Twitter.

So, what did you learn in your first years here? 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!

Reer: Catty Muni bus ain’t having none of it

This 47-Van Ness:

a) is taking its Catbus aspirations way too far.

b) finally found a way to react to being San Francisco’s punching bag day in and day out.

Punk rock cat was more punk rock than all y’all, and nothing was cooler than Sunglass cat’s medically necessary duds, but we never quite expected one of our transit chariots to actually become a cat.

Thanks for the tip, @jchrthomas.

Have a favorite story on (or along) the 47? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with your favorite tale (or tease to a tale) about SF living.

Eyes open and elbows cocked: Muni ‘humper’ on the 48

Muni rider Kyle tipped us off to some upsetting news: it appears another Muni humper is on the loose. As Kyle said in his Facebook post:

This disgusting POS was high as a kite and humping the bus, then tried to move onto a couple of women standing next to me. I managed to pull one of the women away. The other was not as lucky, although she did call him out! He exited the bus (48 quintara) at the next stop. Warning: video shows him humping the bus just before he moved over to the first woman.

Kyle’s public post includes the aforementioned video.

Earlier this year, rider/reader Courtney recounted her one-on-one with a Muni frotteur for us—a suspect was arrested shortly thereafter. In 2009, Muni Diaries readers helped SFPD nab another man who was “humping” the shoulders of female riders. That story started as a horrified account from an N-Judah rider; after publication, more readers shared similar experiences that helped point police in the right direction.

Sure, we all giggle like 10-year-olds over the word “humper,” but all transit riders should note that this is a serious, illegal, and absolute bullshit proclivity. We’re sad to see that it’s still happening today.

If you have information for the police, here’s the SFPD tip line.

Sergio, a baguette, and a photographer walk into a Muni Metro Station

A post shared by Muni Diaries (@munidiaries) on

You might have seen this photo, by sharp shooter @kevinkelleherphotography, on our Insta feed last month. We were particularly taken with Sergio, the subject, with his winning smile, jaunty ‘fit, and morning-in-Paris-style baguette over the shoulder.

Kevin was kind enough to give us some surprising back story on his photo:

Please note that Sergio was out and about super casual like NBD at 12:50 a.m…the baguette threw me, as I literally thought I missed a few hours and it was first thing in the morning. He never mentioned where it came from but was out partying!

For serious? Because if I was in the Metro station at 12:50 a.m., I definitely wouldn’t be this photogenic. Or have such seeming command of my faculties. Or have gotten my hands on a baguette, though hypothetical me would probably love a baguette (which would definitely be eaten like a burrito) in this hypothetical situation.

Got other important news for your fellow San Franciscans? We’re expanding our scope to include stories that happen citywide: on or off the rails. So, spin that yarn, tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or feed our always-hungry inbox: muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. 

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