With the Tales of the City show on Netflix and the Pride flags up on Market Street, we’ve got chosen family on the brain: the people you find by circumstance, often in pivotal times in your life, whom you end up keeping by choice.
On the podcast today, we have musician Colin Daly—incidentally among my own chosen family—who stopped by the studio to share a timely retelling and ode to his time at Camp Folsom: where a room in the Mission was only $300 and life lessons—about money, community, heartbreak, and learning to be a grownup—were included in the rent.
San Francisco Diaries, and our original project, Muni Diaries, are made of your stories and everyone’s experiences. Submit your own tale from the city by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.
Pic courtesy of Brandy, upper left. Colin is in the foreground, and Meghan is behind him.
Storyteller Kathleen Auterio is a longtime Mission resident who got along famously with rival groups staking their claims in the neighborhood—an affable quality that came in handy when she and fellow passengers on the 49 got caught in the crosshairs of a potential firefight.
Everyone drops to the ground with their faces against the Muni floor (ew!), and the typically unflappable Mission expert describes how she handled the tough situation alongside her neighbors.
Growing up in New York, the subway served as training grounds for people watching for artist George McCalman. When he moved to San Francisco, Muni naturally became his first inspiration of observing life in the city. In today’s podcast episode, George shares why he founds Muni riders so fascinating, and how this resulted in his Observed column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
George sent us the drawing of the stylish grandmother he spotted on the bus, and you can see many more of his drawings on and off the bus by following him on Instagram @mccalmanco.
Sketching life on Muni seems to be a favorite past time of many riders and submissions (including this fun time-lapsed video of a portrait on Muni). Perhaps the same fashionable lady was the Muni fashion muse from rider Meli? One can only hope.
Muni Diaries is made of your stories, whether it’s in drawing, prose, or poetry form. Submit your own tale on the bus by emailing us at email@example.com, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.
Transcript of this podcast episode:
I moved to Brooklyn in 1980 with my mother. We moved up to the island of Granada in the West Indies and I was overwhelmed with the sights and the senses and the aesthetics of New York City. I remember going into the subway, and looking around and realizing that I could settle my eyes on the people who were sitting around me.
Meet Letizia and Nathan, a couple traveling the world and Instagramming their adventures along the way. A recent leg of their trip brought them to SF, and it sounds like they experienced some of our most striking dualities. The Mission, they observed, was “where families fight to retain their homes, history, community, livelihoods threatened by increased property prices. Soon signs saying established in 1961 will be taken down and replaced by vegan burger bars frequented by lumberjacks who are yet to fell a tree.”
They wrote us on Facebook because they were lucky enough to meet Muni driver Tammy, hands-down one of the best people we’ve met through Muni Diaries. From their IG post:
On the way home, we connect with the bus driver She had so many questions about why we would travel the world and what prompted us to do this trip. Between stops she told us her story is one of loss, courage, and strength. Losing her son to a drunk driver, she set up a project to help family’s [sic] facing similar pain. Sharing tears and hugs at the end of our ride. What a beautiful, inspiring ‘random’ connection to make!
We’ve known for 11 years (more if you count our pre-Muni Diaries days) that damn near anything can happen on public transit. Today’s story, told by Sureni Weerasekera, contrasts the magic of good juju on BART with a distinctly Bay Area brand of racism and othering.
Sureni was born in Sri Lanka, raised in San Diego, and is currently based in SF doing stand-up comedy, writing, and acting. She’s a contributing writer and actor for “Life of Trying” and runs two of Berkeley’s top comedy shows, “Pizza Party” and “Subhumans.” Follow her on Instagram @sureni, and check out her upcoming shows at: https://surenicomedy.com/.