Finishing off week two of sheltering in place, we’ve gathered some fun stories from Muni Diaries Live alums for this weekend. The weather forecast predicts rain, and we hope these podcasts give you a little reprieve, and if you are able, please do support these storytellers and projects.
Learn more about San Francisco history with Shaping San Francisco. The good folks behind Shaping San Francisco are putting their walking and biking tours on pause, but you can enjoy being an armchair historian by listening to their free public talks at home. Topics range from “hidden San Francisco” to “Valencia Street as a Lesbian Corridor: Living Memories” and more.
Enjoy comedic podcasts hosted by reigning Muni Haiku champion Wonder Dave: Mental Health Comedy Hour and Nerd Rage: the Great Debate. Wonder Dave has reigned supreme with his 5-7-5 rhymes, but when he’s not writing public transit poems (which he really just does twice a year), he’s hosting some very funny, and very nerdy podcasts. Tune in to those podcasts to debate timeless topics like, “Which female superhero reigns supreme in the world of DC comics?”
An ode to Muni and BART operators who are working every day to get people from one essential task to another: listen to Kurt Schwartzmann’s story at Muni Diaries Live. Kurt told this story last summer about how Muni drivers provided him the only refuge when he was living on the street.
In these shelter-in-place times, don’t you almost kind of almost miss the gallows humor of our commute? We’ve got a fix for that.
Follow three Muni Diaries Live alums whose stories and music will temporarily transport you back to the old normal. As many of our storytellers and favorite venues are severely impacted by COVID-19, we’ve also included how you can support them during these tough times.
San Francisco-raised Nato Green is a comedian, union organizer, dad, and, per The East Bay Express, a “political spark plug.” On our San Francisco Diaries podcast series, he shared a tale of how high school students figured out how to be an ally before the word became a regular part of our vernacular.
And lastly, let us take you back to 2011 when Muni Diaries Live was at its first home at the Make-Out Room. Storyteller and poet Joyce Lee shared the story of taking Muni with her mom, who gave the kids on the bus an earful.
Aw man. We’re sad to say that we’re postponing Muni Diaries Live, scheduled for April 4. We don’t have a new date in mind yet, but we’ll be watching the advisories closely to make sure we’ve cleared any danger zones. As battle-hardened as we all feel by riding public transit in San Francisco, a pandemic is something else entirely. We’ll announce our new date as soon as we can, whenever we can safely celebrate life in this weird, wonderful city over anxiety-free drinks and stories.
Twice a year we celebrate the surprising stories that happen between strangers on Muni and BART, and we are returning to Rickshaw Stop on April 4th to celebrate 12 years of documenting commuter life in San Francisco. Tickets to Muni Diaries Live are on sale now, and we can’t wait to see you there!
Our stellar lineup:
Dushka Zapata is a Quora superstar and author of Amateur: An Inexpert, Inexperienced, Unauthoritative, Enamored View of Life and Love Yourself and Other Insurgent Acts That Recast Everything, and more. Having worked in the communications industry for more than 20 years, she helps companies and people put into simple terms who they are, what they do, and where to go next.
Becca Henry is San Francisco born, raised by wolves, and got her start on stage performing comedic burlesque before buying new bras and making her way into standup. Known for her distinctive voice and commanding presence, Becca brings her brand of fierce, awkward humor and tales of personal chaos to take audiences through her debased thoughts, unique perspectives and impressive range of octaves.
Lia Smith has been published in Ms., Seventeen, and literary magazines Bamboo Ridge and Other Voices. She’s been riding Muni since she first arrived in San Francisco at age seven. She is currently collaborating with her artist husband, Keith Ferris, on an art book about Muni, a collection of portraits and interviews of operators and drawings of passengers. Muni has always been a lifeline for her: No matter how long or inconvenient the wait, once the bus arrives, all my cares drop away.
Rachel Swan covers transportation for the San Francisco Chronicle. She was born in Berkeley and grew up riding BART, Muni, and AC Transit. Now she takes mass transit with her two daughters.
Jesús U. BettaWork is a local comedian who has performed throughout the Bay Area and beyond. He hosts the “You Betta Work Comedy ¡Fiesta!” at the San Mateo County Pride Center every third Friday.
Wonder Dave is a writer, comedian and performer from Minneapolis, MN, now living in California. He has toured the country performing at poetry venues, schools, cabarets, science fiction conventions, burlesque shows, bowling alleys, and independent wrestling shows. He has been a featured storyteller on the Risk podcast. Dave’s poetry has been published in anthologies by Write Bloody, Lethe Press, and Sibling Rivalry Press.
The weather forecast calls for three more days of rain, which could mean 72 more hours of improper umbrella use on Muni. Let’s review some important rainy-day etiquette: umbrellas are still best used outdoors rather than deployed inside the bus to deter people from sitting next to you, as in the above photo from Aaron on Twitter.
Fewer people than we thought got the memo…
Once you do board with your brolly, remember to keep it folded up, no matter how outdoorsy it might be.
There is, however, one acceptable circumstance for an indoor umbrella on Muni…
Muni rider Maureen Bogues didn’t think a ride back from a baby shower would be quite so eventful. Staring into screen-addicted oblivion on the way home, a mugger grabs her phone and takes off. Fueled by a combination of adrenaline and reflex, she chases after them. What would you do in this situation?
In this week’s podcast, Maureen shares the details of that eventful ride, culminating in a truly unexpected journey home.
We’ve heard of other riders taking bus justice into their own hands, and while a lot of those tales had happy endings, we wouldn’t go so far as to recommend that approach. Like the bus robot says, when in doubt, “keep your eyes up and your phones down when riding a Muni vehicle.”
This podcast episode was recorded at Muni Diaries Live last month at Rickshaw Stop. But you don’t have to be a stage alum to land on our podcast; our inbox is open if you have a Muni tale to share. Pitch your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like a scene right out of Richard Scarry’s Busytown, this incredible railroad model perfectly captures the F-Market as it goes past the Castro Theater. Look closely and you’ll see details on the F car, including its overhead wire power lines. The model is built by Muni rider Harvey Simon, whose son, Dave, posted about it on Instagram. This is what Harvey had to say about his project:
I’ve been involved in the model railroading since my teenage years, and when Dave and his wife, Jennifer, settled in Oakland I decided to build a working model of the F-line. My layout is about 2/3 finished—the Castro and downtown San Francisco sections—with the unfinished area what will eventually become Fisherman’s Wharf.
You’ll notice that the cars are models of the actual cars that serve passengers today on the F-line. I built the orange Milan, Italy car using parts I obtained from various suppliers, and was able to also include lights and sound in the car. Looking at the video, you’ll see how the car gets its power from the overhead wire, just like the real ones.
The hobby is wonderful, and provides a very rewarding creative outlet. I can’t imagine not having something like this to keep me busy during my retirement years. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue with it the next several years, provided my eyesight holds out!
If you’re also a fellow model railroad fan, you can read more about it in Simon’s article in the July 2018 issue of Model Railroader magazine. Thanks, Dave and Harvey, for pointing us to this delightful mini Muni world.
Our fall show is back next Saturday at Rickshaw Stop! Join us at Muni Diaries Live on Nov. 2 to celebrate (and commiserate) the strange and wonderful tales from our commute. Tickets are on sale now!