The secret in the basement at Borderlands Books

Borderlands Books is a gem in the city: a bookstore and cafe that specializes in new and used science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you’ve been around these parts 10 or more years, you might remember their sphinx kitties roaming the store, and a sign that told everyone when the cats were in.

Though there are plenty of spooky books on the shelves at Borderlands, the staff actually discovered something quite unsettling in real life, in the newly excavated basement of the bookstore. Some of you might remember that the Borderlands Cafe was a later addition to the shop, and during construction, co-founder Alan Beatts found something in the basement that sent the crew running.

Hear what happened in this week’s San Francisco Diaries episode (scroll down for transcript):
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Alan sends us this bonus photo of the basement. See the tree trunk on the right? It’s not going anywhere!

The bookstore also serves as an inspiration of a successful grassroots business: the beloved bookstore faced a likely closure a few years ago. Amazingly, and in true San Francisco fashion, they raised $2M via a grassroots campaign to buy a building on Haight Street, where they will relocate as soon as construction there is complete. Borderlands also has an ongoing sponsorship program that keeps their doors open.

This is definitely the preferred ending to You’ve Got Mail I’d been looking for.

Want to hear more great stories like these live on stage? Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

Episode Transcript

Thanks to reader Chris L. for transcribing this episode!
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New fare box serves up surprising Muni transfer

Wait, what? Rider Loren Kraut got this “Jan 1, 1970” time-stamped ticket from one of the new fare boxes just the other day, and we’re paging Marty McFly for an explanation.

Yes, OK, we know it’s the UNIX Epoch (hi, nerds!), but we prefer to think this is a subtle reminder of when you could ride Muni for $0.25 while wearing your polyester bellbottoms.

If you’re curious about what the proof of payment really looked like in 1970, though, we’ve got you covered. If you were really traveling in 1970, you’d get a transfer that looks like the left-most ticket here:

The transfer used in the early 1970s was the Form 2A. This transfer was used from 1950 to about 1972, and should be familiar to many longtime San Franciscans.

Check this post out for more Muni transfer history.

Got more Muni happening to share? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com is always open.

Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

Strange but adorable cargo: cat tree (with cat!) on the N-Judah

Muni riders have seen it all, and we can probably all agree that cat on a leash riding Muni is totally normal, and well-behaved felines in a stroller is only slightly weird (if not completely awesome). We’d probably not even bat an eye when we see our furry overlords riding atop someone’s shoulder on Muni. But bringing a full size cat tree on the N-Judah, complete with a kitten on a leash?

We haven’t seen it all!

Behold our best strange cargo discovery yet, courtesy of the Bay City Beacon. Meet the kitten, Gizmo:

Gizmo and Gizmo’s human: our hats (and cat lady sweaters) off to you!

Thanks to rider Steve P. for the tip.

We have lots of cute animals riding Muni, as well as our strange cargo report for you to amuse yourself on this gray Monday.

Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

San Francisco Diaries: How two BFF.FM radio hosts brought Herb Caen to Market Street

Muni made you late for work, you step in shit on your way home, and your local bodega has just turned into yet another artisanal lip balm boutique? If you’re grumpy about San Francisco’s many changes, today’s story about an art project on Market Street might be just the right antidote.

We met storytellers Luke and Chris a few weeks ago — you might know them as Sequoia and The Early Bird on BFF.FM cheery morning radio show, Rollover Easy. Rollover Easy is a morning radio show that has a “healthy dose of positive news, banter, and interviews with interesting San Francisco locals.” Luke and Chris are up every Thursday morning at 8 a.m. to report on and chat with locals over coffee.

They are realists about San Francisco’s changes, but they remain endlessly positive about things that make this city special. You’d think they’d be busy enough with a weekly morning radio show, but these two took it upon themselves to build an art project to celebrate our city. In today’s San Francisco Diaries episode, Luke and Chris share how their mutual love for Herb Caen led to an installation on Market Street. With little construction experience, these two San Franciscans were determined to make Herb Caen come alive to fellow pedestrians.

Listen to their story:

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Here’s Luke at the Herb Caen typewriter installation:

We will be at the Roll Over Easy studio next Thursday, October 25, with Luke and Chris in real life! Tune in and tweet to @rollovereasy and @munidiaries to tell us about your morning.

Got a San Francisco diary you’d like to share? Email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com to submit your own! 

Photo by Luke Spray

Muni Diaries Live is back on Nov. 3!

Our favorite night of the year is back on Saturday, Nov. 3, but this time we will have to say goodbye to the Elbo Room, which has been the home of Muni Diaries Live for nearly ten years. The Elbo Room building is on the market, and the beloved bar will be closing in Jan, 2019. Won’t you come and help us give them a proper send-off?

Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite. Stay tuned for details on our new venue for 2019 and beyond.

A sneak peek of our lineup:

– Alexandria Love is a writer from Oakland and also the current reigning champion of the Dirty Haiku Battle at Oakland’s Tourette’s Without Regrets. You can also follow her writing on her website, hereswhythatsfunny.com.

– Irene McCalphin is a writer, singer, burlesque dancer, model, speaker, kinkster, and geek.

– Joe Kukura is a long-time San Francisco journalist whose work you have seen in Thrillist, SF Weekly, SFist, and more.

– Matt Shapiro is a musician and the co-owner of the Elbo Room. After working at the Elbo Room for years as the manager and booker, Matt and co-owner Erik Cantor purchased the bar in 2010.

– Nuala Sawyer is the news editor at the SF Weekly. She writes about a little bit of everything: City Hall, the courts, homelessness, immigration, housing, crime and transportation.

– Rachel Lark is a San Francisco based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her music has been featured on The Savage Lovecast and Salon.com and she tours regularly throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Grab a ticket, and we’ll see you at the Elbo Room on Nov. 3!

Muni Diaries Live 

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 (tickets)

Doors: 6 p.m.
Show: 7 p.m.

Elbo Room
647 Valencia Street, San Francisco

Take Muni there: J-Church, 12, 14, 22, 33, 49, or BART: 16th or 24th St. Stations

Photo credit: Right Angle Images

Mom of the year makes Muni birthday cake dreams come true

This is gonna make you want to be a kid all over again: train-obsessed kid (and pro Muni rider) Calvin just celebrated his birthday with possibly the most best cake ever. Mom Sonia presented him with this adorable mini Muni bus cake, complete with the 23-Monterey line sign and his name on the side. How awesome is this? The look on his face says it all.

Let’s take a close look at the edible version of the 23:

Once more, from the side.

Sonia tells us that the cake is by My Favorite Bite, and it was wholly approved by the birthday boy.

We’re just suckers for Muni-themed stuff, like this birthday party (with BART temporary tattoos!) and even this racing car from a couple of pretty cool Bernal dads.

If you’ve spotted some more Muni or BART-themed goodies in the wild, you know who to call! Email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

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