Eugenia Chien has been eavesdropping on the 47, 49, or 1 lines since the mid-90's. She lives by the adage, "Anything can happen on Muni" (and also, "That's not water.")

A print magazine of our very own: Meet The San Franciscan

Proving that San Francisco is still a place that celebrates grassroots efforts, locals Erica Messner and Amanda Legge have launched a new magazine about our city, The San Franciscan. Launching a magazine (a print one, at that) is no small feat, especially as the pandemic pushed us farther from each other. In this episode of the podcast, Erica and Amanda call us back around the campfire to share how they made their dream into reality, despite a little legal hiccup from their other favorite urban mag. 

Amanda and Erica have a new issue out, and the cover features a scene from our preferred mode of transportation. You can get a copy of it, featuring work from 30+ local artists and writers, at local favs spots like Green Apple Books, Dog Eared Books, and Alley Cat Bookstores and Gallery.

Listen to their story:

In their retelling, Amanda and Erica mention this cartoon—which was (foolishly!) not accepted by The New Yorker—that started it all.

We’re so glad to see friends getting together to create something for the city we all love—it certainly sounds familiar to us here at Muni Diaries HQ.

As always, we are looking for stories about people who love and care about our city. If you have someone to nominate to be on our podcast, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

San Francisco Diaries: Opening Night at Rickshaw Stop

After shuttering for more than a year since the start of the pandemic, San Francisco venues finally opened their doors to indoor events last week. We talk to Dan Strachota, the talent buyer and managing partner at Rickshaw Stop to hear about their first indoor show about a week ago. Rickshaw Stop is also the home of Muni Diaries Live, so we were especially relieved to know that the venue is back in business.

Dan shares the behind-the-scenes details of their first show (featuring local bands Zola and Zelma Stone), and all the unexpected things that happen after 16 months in hibernation.

Dan has been the managing partner at Rickshaw Stop for nearly a decade, and the talent buyer for 17 years and counting. He has been an outspoken advocate for independent venues in San Francisco.

Listen to the interview:

We’re always looking for stories from people who love and care about San Francisco. If you have a story to share, or want to nominate someone to be on the podcast, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And keep up with your Muni musing with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Support these SF AAPI orgs and stop telling the Muni ‘chicken story’

San Francisco is approximately 37% AAPI*, and here at Muni Diaries, we are 2/3 Asian women, the first-generation American children of immigrants, and proud of our heritage. We’ve spent more than a decade documenting life in San Francisco because we love our city. But that love letter can be harder to write in the shadow of violent crimes against Asians in San Francisco and a mass shooting targeting Asian women in Atlanta.

Like all people of color, we were hardly surprised—this is the reality of being non-white in the United States. But we were horrified for the victims, current and future. As Asian women, public transit enthusiasts, and longtime urban adventurers, we wonder how easily it could have been one of us.

Even in our tiny universe of collecting your stories on Muni, race has been a constant. We started the conversation about race on Muni Diaries in 2009 after an audience member made fun of a Chinese stereotype at our live show (henceforth named the Muni Chicken Story Incident). And we continue having these conversations with one another and within our community today.

Early in the pandemic, our Asian-American readers asked, “Do you feel that people are glaring at you on Muni?” We were almost relieved because we were experiencing the same.

The issue of race remains one of our most frequent editorial judgements in story submissions; ethnicity is often included as a descriptor when relaying a tale, even if it doesn’t add anything to the story. It usually seems unintentional, but from our perspective behind the scenes, it highlights how descriptors of “others” are noteworthy, whereas descriptors of the perceived default—white—are not.

Every incident reminds us that we can’t only be philosophically against AAPI hate, we actually have to do something about it every single day. We will continue to make Muni Diaries a fair and inclusive place to talk about our city, and we encourage you to support these San Francisco-based Asian-American organizations who are on the front lines of advocacy.

If you have other organizations to add, and other actions to share, our comments section and inbox are always open to your point of view.

Photo by Right Angle Images.

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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Your 2020 commute in 10 memorable moments

Here at Muni Diaries HQ, we usually end the year with a fun and lighthearted “Top Most WTF Moments of the Year” type of countdown. But in 2020…where do we even start?

As shelter-in-place became a more permanent fixture of our lives, documenting life in San Francisco, especially via commute tales, took on a different meaning. We saw the uphill battle faced by so many small businesses and venues (like our beloved Rickshaw Stop), and the struggles of essential workers, particularly Muni operators and first responders—many of whom relied on Muni to get around. We’re grateful that we could help share those stories.

So here are some highly memorable moments from your commuter tales, in this Dumpster fire of a year.

Listen to the podcast episode:

Featured photo by @murkyvillagesf

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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.

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