Tara Ramroop has laughed, cried, and commiserated with this amazing community from the start. She's been writing for as long as she can remember and riding Muni for more than a decade.

San Francisco Diaries: Finding the silver lining in teaching on Zoom

Educator Kelly Gregor Hartlaub had been a librarian for some time until the pandemic hit, until she was suddenly called back to frontline classroom teaching, on Zoom, for distance learning. Her first task as a Zoom teacher? Sex education. Yikes.

But that wasn’t even the hardest part. In today’s podcast episode, Kelly shares the emotional, mental, and practical challenges of distance learning, how she and fellow teachers kept going, and how an English-learning student having an especially hard time helped her in kind.

Listen to Kelly’s story:

We met Kelly a few years back, and here she is in the photo above (third from left), about to dig into a delicious burrito with some of San Francisco’s bloggerati (including Burrito Justice, Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight from The San Francisco Chronicle and the Total SF project, and yours truly).

We’re always looking for stories about how San Francisco has changed and transformed you, whether it happened on Muni or off. 

If you’ve been inspired by a story on our podcast or gone to one of our storytelling shows and imagined yourself on stage, we are here to help! Please email us your story idea at munidiaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

How the beloved Boat Tram became a real boi

Pic by Adolfo Echeverry Photo for Market Street Railway

People can’t help but smile when they see the Boat Tram, one of the Market Street Railway’s most unique and beloved vehicles. Which is why there’s no better inanimate object to take on an entire online personality.

How timely, as the Boat Tram is back in business by Fleet Weekend for those marking their calendars, according to The Bold Italic. Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays look like your best chance of a sighting or a ride going forward, but like many celebrities, their whereabouts are vague.

In honor of its return, we’re bringing you storyteller Chris Arvin, the person behind Boat Tram’s online persona, AKA Boat Boi. Tune in to hear about how Chris married a keen interest in transit with the power of the internets to turn Boat Tram into a real boy. Er. Boi.

Chris told this story at our 2019 Muni Diaries Live, the last time we were all in the room together, footloose and covid-fancy-free.

A product designer who is passionate about cities and public transit, Chris sits on the SFMTA Citizen Advisory Council and speaks often and strongly in favor of transit-friendly policies and plans. You might also know Chris from the adorable pins, stickers, Clipper card covers they’ve designed at their store, transit.supply.

Listen to their story:

Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisarvinsf, and keep up with Boat Boi @boattramsf: by far the hippest social media presence of a transit vehicle, if you ask me. Here are some of the moments that Chris mentions in the podcast episode:

Though we did not, in fact, see you all in the spring for the next Muni Diaries Live, having Boat Boi on my jacket puts a spring in my step nonetheless.

We are always looking for stories of people who make San Francisco the beautiful city it is today, on and off the rails. If you have a story to share or someone to nominate, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

San Francisco Diaries: Meet a local historian who is anything but jaded

What can history teach us about this pivotal moment as we drop most COVID-related restrictions in San Francisco? Between mask-ne treatments and socializing awkwardly, we chatted with Chris Carlsson, the director of Shaping San Francisco about his experience and his perspective on our reawakening city.

Chris is a writer, San Francisco historian, tour guide, and writer. He recently published a new book, Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories. Chris has seen a few cycles of San Francisco history since the 1970s. He was involved in many activist groups in the city, including a group that modified billboards about Muni fare in the 1980s. Who knew we would still be arguing about Muni fares today.

You might think he has seen it all, but in our conversation about his new book, we found out that this historian is anything but jaded about the future of San Francisco. “The more you understand history, the more you realize there are constant moments of possibility,” he told us—and I’m inclined to believe it’s true.

Listen to his conversation with Muni Diaries here:

We are looking forward to hearing your tales about returning to life, work, and other ways that living in San Francisco means to you now. Submit your own story or photo by tagging us @munidiaries on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Photo by FoundSF.

Welcome back, Muni streetcars!

I commuted on the streetcar from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf for seven years with a dense hodgepodge of locals, tourists, 30-child field trips, and the occasional iguana named Skippy. The experience didn’t often match the old-world charm and good intentions, so complaining incessantly about the F-Market/Wharves became my theme. As a newly minted San Franciscan, it was my duty to find a bug for my bonnet and take to the internet with that rage.

But lots of strained relationships improve with time. I can hear the distinctive “whrrrrrrrrrrr honk honk” from my apartment as streetcars fly along the tracks, and can even tell the difference between the PCCs and the wooden, Milanese ones that kick like bucking broncos. I went public with my change of heart, calling it my favorite line during the TotalSF installment of Betabrand Podcast theater.

So let me acknowledge again that I’ve gotten over my attitude problem and am thrilled that the streetcars are back in commission after a long, covid-prompted hibernation. Check out these recent photos from our enthusiastic transit community, and tag us in your own happy snaps of normalcy @munidiaries on Facebook, Insta, or Twitter.

The story behind @boattramsf AKA Boat Boi, as relayed by Chris Arvin, remains a Muni Diaries Live crowd favorite. Listen for it soon on the Muni Diaries Podcast!

Featured photo by @vickys_photo and @panobug

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.

Transcript

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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.

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