San Francisco Diaries: How I met the pigeon version of me

Being an adult isn’t easy, especially when you live in San Francisco where “everyone is perpetually in their late-twenties to mid-thirties.” So when you end up in San Francisco alone when you’re 22, you do what anyone would do: go wild and make age-22 type of mistakes.

“Looking back now, it’s a miracle I didn’t die. I got in a lot of shady situations. I lost my beloved leather jacket. I left my Blackberry in a cab. In recovery, they say you have to hit rock bottom before you can get better. But my rock bottom just kept getting lower and lower. I drunkenly ran through the surf on Ocean Beach at 1 a.m. and almost got swept out to sea. I hooked up with a Santa Con Santa on the back patio of Mad Dog in the Fog. I was 22 and alone and nobody was around to stop me so I kept going and kept pushing the limits of what I could get away with and still live.”

Today’s story is from Vivian Ho, who you may remember was the criminal justice reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle from 2011 through 2017. She’s reported on the Mario Woods shooting, the San Francisco Police Department, wildfires, and she recently published an incredible investigative piece called “A Life on the Line.”

She’s seen a lot of San Francisco, from the incredibly serious and life-and-death moments to the more quirky and offbeat happenings around town. This story falls under the more quirky side of the spectrum—and we’ve never felt more spiritually connected to the cooing pigeons on our fire escapes.

Listen to her story here:

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Special thanks to Vivian for sending over the first photo she’s ever taken with Drew, before the pigeons came into their lives.

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!

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Why talking to a stranger on Muni isn’t always a bad idea

Always terrible with his sense of direction, comedian Tirumari Jothi takes the K instead of the M, and suddenly finds himself at Balboa Park station at 1 a.m. A conversation with a stranger helps him find his way back home to Park Merced, but not before the chat involved topics he never thought he’d hear.

Tirumari has been performing comedy for six years, with stand-up as his first love, but he also loves improv and sketch acting . You can find him either performing with the geeky comedy group he co-founded, Komedio Comedy, or acting on stage with Killing My Lobster (find him at Sketchfest 2018). You can find him on Twitter @tirumari.

Listen to Tirumari’s story here:
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Photo by Right Angle Images

B is for Burning Man: How Stuart learned his SF ABCs


Who gave you your first “San Francisco education”? Broke-Ass Stuart tells us that his city primer came at the age of 23, when he was living on Golden Gate Avenue, in a house full of artists, thinkers, and some of Burning Man’s original participants.

The house on Golden Gate was a short-lived experience for Stuart, because six months into living there, the housemates were evicted. Never a group to go out with a whisper, they put on a “rent party,” where throngs of people showed, three bands played, and, at some point, an art car rolled by.

As short-lived as it was, Stuart says that this house was extremely important to him—and to our whole San Francisco community:

It was the spiritual home for so many people. Living that house prepped me for San Francisco because that place embodied all the things I love about being here. It was weird, it was a collection of all different ages, queer and straight…it was art for art’s sake and that’s the thing I love about San Francisco. It was weird for weird’s sake.

I’ve always been attracted to the other…all of a sudden I was in a house of people who lived that way. Their religion was, “Why Not?”

It was a primer for me into learning what San Francisco meant as an idea, a concept, a feeling.

Listen to Stuart’s entire story in today’s podcast:
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Stuart’s housemate P Segal ended up writing a series, The City That Was, about this period in their lives and the budding Cacophony Society. Read more

When fellow women are your first line of defense on Muni

In these #MeToo times, it’s inspiring to see women speaking up for themselves and standing up, sometimes literally, for one another. Here’s Muni rider Teresa with a disturbing but empowering commuter tale from the 1-California.

I take the 1 home from work every day around 6 p.m.

I’m usually pretty aware of my surroundings, but I had a particularly rough day at work, so I had my headphones in and I was seriously zoning out.

As I’m almost falling asleep, I hear this particularly loud voice above my music, and it starts to wake me up. I take off my headphones to find the source of the angry voice.

I looked toward the front of the bus and quickly realized that a man was yelling something at a woman. I listened a little harder, and I start hearing what he’s saying to her. I’m not going to repeat it, but it was some horrible stuff.

I’m no stranger to catcalling or street harassment, but this was on another level.

This is something that I can’t stand for. Any time I see some asshole intimidating a woman on the street or on Muni, I have to step in. It’s gotten me into a lot trouble, but I cannot just walk away. Most of the time, I’m the only one. I’ve never been helped when some dude is harassing me, and there are very few times when I’ve seen another person step in.

So, I put my phone in my backpack and zip it up thinking “OK, here we go again.” And my brain starts running through all the possible scenarios: “What if he attacks me? Does he have a weapon? What if he goes after someone else?”

As I’m about to get up and confront him, another woman pushes past me, walks directly up to the woman being harassed, and simply says “Do you feel safe?”

At this point, the woman at the front of the bus is shaking so hard she can’t even speak. So the other woman put her hand on the lady’s shoulder and said “Come to the back of the bus with me, we can sit together.”

As the two women are walking to the back of the bus, that guy gets up and tries to follow them, yelling vile comments the whole time. But as he’s trying to get to them, a few other women stand up, and they block his path. Then, I got up and stood with them. And before I knew it there were six or seven women creating this barrier.

That man looked at us, yelled one last shitty thing, and got off at the next stop. Because he realized there was no way he could win against all of us.

Immediately after he leaves, the woman he was harassing bursts into tears. He had been following her for 10 blocks. She didn’t know what to do, so she got on the bus. She was five months pregnant. We all just listened to her and after she stopped crying, she thanked us. The woman who came to her rescue sat down next to me. My stop was the next one. As I left, the only thing I could do was look at her and say thank you. After I got off the bus, I started crying. I was sad because we have to deal with situations like this ALL the time, but I was crying happy tears because, for once, I felt like I wasn’t alone, and I felt how powerful we are when we stand together.

Props to these women for being the first and only line of defense during this scary encounter.

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!

Pic by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Sexual Folklorist Dixie De La Tour on the magic of tele-personals

Dixie De La Tour is the founder of Bawdy Storytelling (“The Moth for Pervs,” per LA Weekly), America’s Original Sex+Storytelling series featuring Real People & Rockstars sharing their bona fide sexual exploits, live onstage. In this podcast episode, she reaches back in time to those bad old days without Tinder, and you have to call the tele-personals to find Mr. Right/Mr. Right Now.

Instead of swiping left or right, you had to call the tele-personals to listen to voice messages, leave a voicemail to someone you fancy, then hope they leave you a voicemail with their phone numbers eventually. Dixie met one gentleman who fell in love with her voice, and he chose an interesting venue for their first meeting. Three guesses where?

Listen to her story here:
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Dixie’s next show is this Thursday, November 16th, at the Verdi Club. The theme is “Hurt So Good.” Tickets are on sale now so you can see her in person.

If you like what you’ve heard on the Muni Diaries podcast, please share our podcast and rate it on iTunes so other people can find it too. It would really make our day!

You too can add an entry to our collective journal. We’re 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! Got a Muni or BART story? We’re all ears too!

Photo by Right Angle Images. Featured photo via @bawdystorytelling.