San Francisco Diaries: When true love leaves you in stitches

Storyteller Kathleen Auterio moved to San Francisco from Massachusetts to do new things, just like in the Bee Gees song. It was the year 2000, and everything seemed to be on track: she had an apartment, a roommate, and a job at SF Weekly managing the adult ads in the back of the paper—a job that accepted her as a proud metalhead. After meeting a new guy at the paper, though, they would soon come face to face with a relationship trust exercise involving a field hospital surgery.

(We can’t wait for you to listen to the episode so you can fully get all the puns we stuffed into this post. Our mouths are still agape.)

Kathleen is also one of our esteemed Muni Diaries Live alum. You can hear her story about an eventful Muni ride on Episode 81 of the podcast. 

Listen to Kathleen’s story:

We want to hear your story about how San Francisco changed you—or vice versa! If you have a story to share or know someone who does, pitch us your story idea by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of these true tales from the city.

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A new mom’s gratitude for Muni drivers

Muni is the lifeline that powers our city, and its importance in everyday life stands out especially in a time of crisis. We recently got a letter underscoring this fact from new mom Cole Brennan, whose newborn was in the ICU for two weeks. Sharing her letter with us via Instagram, she says:

Dear Muni Operators,
When I yell “Thank You!” to you, through my double masks from the back door at the stop at 3rd & 20th, please know it is the most sincere thanks I’ve ever given a stranger.


It’s true that I’m the sort of person who always thanks the bus driver. And it’s true that after many months of not riding the bus I was likely to feel an extra surge of gratitude once I finally started riding again. But the gratitude I’ve felt for you this month goes well beyond my usual thankfulness.


For two weeks you helped me get to the Children’s Hospital so I could visit my newborn in the Intensive Care Nursery.

You, Muni operator, are part of a small galaxy of helpers that held my little family be together during the longest weeks of my life.

Thank you.

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Limp Bizkit, Live 105, and Muni walk into a time machine…

@pfungcollects shared a relic from when we partied like it was 1999 with Limp Bizkit and Live 105 at the Family Values Tour—founded by nu-metal sensation Korn—and a grumpy Muni bus headed to the Cow Palace.

Yikes. I challenge anyone to come up with a more “Bay Area in the late-’90s” sentence than that. ^^

I can’t say I’m surprised to see Muni sneaking into the mix; from “My Neighbor Totoro” Catbus t-shirts to a cameo in Sister Act 2, Muni has always found a way into the spotlight.

Speaking of the ’90s, it was also preserved and well in my family home in South City. Yes, that’s a pristine collection of KMEL and Wild 107 stickers hoarded carefully in a drawer for two decades.

Shout out to the Bay Area kids who remember pre-Wild 94.9, all the way on the far side of the radio dial.

From transit ephemera to relics of Bay Area gone by, we want to see it, hear it, and know about it. Tag us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox is always open, too.

Muni Art: “San Francisco United” takes the mobile stage

Local art and public spaces go hand-in-hand, and we’re glad that Muni will once again serve as a mobile gallery for the citizens of San Francisco.

SFMTA is partnering with San Francisco Beautiful and The Poetry Society of America to showcase the work of five local artists and five local poets on our hella local public transit system. In its sixth year, the Muni Art theme is, appropriately, “San Francisco United.” Look for the works on display inside 100 Muni buses through April.

The 2021 Muni artists are:

The 2021 Muni poets are:

Congratulations to all the winners! Learn more about the 2021 Muni artists, poets, and poems here.

Though the city is quieter (disquieting at times), storefronts have shuttered, and anxiety pervades our everything, I’m thankful that creativity is still coursing through this town. United, we’ll get through.

The Muni Diaries and San Francisco Diaries podcasts feature stories about life around town—on and off the bus. We’re Muni Diaries on all your favorite listening platforms, so don’t forget to subscribe today.

Pic: SF Beautiful

Paul Madonna on finding the “Spirits of San Francisco”

Bagging on San Francisco is one of our city’s most time-honored traditions. In a time when negativity might reign especially supreme, two chroniclers of San Francisco got together to create a new book that encourages people to see the familiar in a new way.

This week on the podcast, we chat with artist Paul Madonna, who has just illustrated a new book called Spirits of San Francisco: Voyages through the Unknown City, written by Gary Kamiya. The book features vignettes of the history and topography of 16 different locations in the city. 

Madonna created drawings of San Francisco ranging from a well-known views spanning over the Embarcadero (above), or more obscure corners of the city like Calhoun Terrace in North Beach on Montgomery and Union (see below). You might know Madonna from his series in the San Francisco Chronicle, “All Over Coffee,” which ran for 12 years. As he draws en plein air—from real life rather than photographs—Madonna had to find just the right time of day to depict his subject. Sometimes, he and Kamiya even found themselves in places they weren’t really supposed to be for the good of their project.

We chat with Madonna about bringing San Francisco to life in his art, his choice of depicting city scenes without people, and why he says San Francisco is “never a jealous friend.”

Listen to the conversation with Paul Madonna and Muni Diaries cofounder Tara Ramroop:

Find your own copy of Spirits of San Francisco at your favorite local bookstore. We are bringing you stories of the people and places that make San Francisco the place we call home. Submit your own story to us by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Images by Paul Madonna.

Election special: What every transit rider should know about this year’s ballot

With just a few days until the election, we invite San Francisco Examiner transit reporter Carly Graf to talk about this year’s ballot measures that can change the landscape of public transportation as we know it today.

Sure, the pandemic has severely reduced ridership and budget, but public transit’s woes started way before that. With the proliferation of Lyft and Uber, Muni was no longer the only way everyone can reasonably get around town. And on this year’s ballot, Prop 22 stands to change the operations of these ride share companies in a big way. We chat with Graf about how Prop 22 can impact economic disparity, whether Prop B can fix the toxic workplace that was the Department of Public Works, why you should get to know the BART board of directors, and more.

Listen to the interview:

If you haven’t done your early voting, now is the time. And while you’re at it, here’s an idea: Find three people who haven’t voted yet, and help them get to their polling place. Let’s make it happen.

What do you think of their take on the transit-related props on the ballot? We want to hear from you: email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Photo by @krobinsonphotos

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