Chronicle reporter shares BART busker afterstory

A lot of concerns in the Before Times seems silly now, but one of them stands out in particular: when BART director Deborah Allen tried to ban panhandling on BART, which included busker activity. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Rachel Swan was reporting on the ordinance when she met rapper Tone Oliver, whose story became symbolic of how an anti-panhandling ordinance can impact artists like him.

As commuters ourselves, we know that musicians and performers on public transit often provide us with that surprising and delightful moment from the daily grind. And many buskers have left a lasting impression on their audience, like Jesse Morris who was known as punk rock Johnny Cash, or Ron Kemp, whose gentle voice you know from Powell station. But at the end of the day, the ordinance perhaps wasn’t about buskers at all.

The ordinance didn’t pass (and Allen would go on to make other controversial statements in 2020 about BART police), but Oliver achieved local fame and even garnered the attention of the ACLU. In today’s podcast, Swan describes the aftermath of what happened after her coverage put Oliver in the limelight.

Listen to her story:

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Muni Diaries podcast to keep up with more first-person stories about life in San Francisco. And if you have your own story to contribute, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Photo by Lea Suzuki, San Francisco Chronicle

A new anthem for Muni riders

Remember those days when our biggest problem was getting this oversized dresser out of the train at Civic Center Station, or figuring out the best angle to film a wriggling dildo stuck in a bus stop? We miss those days, too. Today, we celebrate the 100th episode of the Muni Diaries podcast, featuring a hilariously NSFW ode to being considerate to fellow humans on the bus.

This episode features songwriter Jefferson Bergey, a professional musician based in Oakland and a regular performer at Bawdy Storytelling. He wrote a new song called “Give Up Your Seat” just for Muni Diaries, and even added a sexy love song about BART as a bonus to this episode. We highly recommend you put on those headphones (or blast it at full volume!) to add some levity to your day—especially now that “NSFW” is mostly “Are your kids in the room?”

Listen to our 100th episode:

While many of us haven’t been on a bus lately, we will continue to bring you stories from everyday San Franciscans. Nothing says “we’re in it together” more than that collective shout of, “Back door!” forever burned into our brains and hearts.

Send your stories to muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Photo by Amanda Roosa.

Of ‘ladyspreading’ and leggings on BART with Annette Mullaney

Storyteller Annette Mullaney is a standup comic based in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle named her one of six “comics to catch” in the Bay Area. She describes her comedy as self-deprecating, feminist, existentialist, smart, vulgar, and full of big words to prove she’s been to grad school (fair, I’d do it, too). In this episode, she shares an emotional rollercoaster of a BART story that took a long time to see the light of day. But we’re so glad she worked up the courage to share.

This recording is from Muni Diaries Live in November 2019, when Annette regaled the crowd with this tale. We promise you’ll never think of feminism, laundry day, or leggings the same way. Here’s Annette:

Photo by Amanda Roosa

Man, beast occupy official BART cuddle zone

The human is breaking a couple cardinal rules of transit etiquette, but we are open to bending the rules from time to time, depending on the circumstances.

In this situation, I say let sleeping dogs lie. Thanks to submitter and blog homie @cappstreetcrap.

Because we love you, I invite you to check out the treasure trove of dog-on-Muni content in our archive. It’s also a popular Instagram submission—you’re following us there, right?

Speaking of ways to keep in touch…Got other important news for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox, muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, is always open, too.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T meets B-A-R-T after Aretha Franklin’s final concert in OAK


Gwen Carmen is a cancer survivor and longtime teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District—but some of her best stories come straight off our own local transit. In this episode, Gwen tells a story about taking BART to see one of Aretha Franklin’s final performances at the Oakland Coliseum. On her journey home from the concert with a group of fellow riders, Gwen finds herself in the middle of a crime scene that brings the journey to a halt—but not the end.

You might remember Gwen from the live shows or from Episode 62 of this podcast, in which she told a story about serving sweet, sweet justice to a bus creeper while riding the 24.

Listen to her story:

Want more Muni Diaries podcast goodness? We’re having our first podcast event at the Betabrand Podcast Theater this Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m.! Tickets on sale now.

Photo by @rj3

If Taco Bell Built BART

Every transit system starts with a dream, and over there in Reddit-land, the catalyst for the dream was the Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. Reader Kini S. sent over this tip: A super fan of the fast food chain created a Taco Bell transit map on Reddit to visualize what it’d be like if we had a transit system that connected all the Taco Bell locations in the Bay Area.

This map includes the Most Beautiful Taco Bell location in the country in Pacifica just off of the Linda Mar stop, where rumor has it that you can get a beer or a slushy fortified with booze along with your Taco Bell Chalupa or Gordita. Reddit commenters noted the lack of Taco Bell locations in poor, poor Marin, with only three locations before you get up to Petaluma. Though, as one commenter says, just seeing BART up in the North Bay is indeed enough to bring tears to your eyes.

BART maps seem to inspire all kinds of day dreaming. Once upon a time someone mashed up Mario Kart with BART, dreamed up a complete North Bay BART system, and renamed BART stations based on Hamilton, the musical. If you’re still in the fast food frame of mind, check out “subwaysubway” on Reddit, where folks have created subway maps that connect locations of the sandwich chain. We see what you did there.

Got a hot tip for your fellow transit riders? Tag us @munidiaries on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

You can support the city’s original online transit journal by subscribing to our podcast or helping us on Patreon or our Etsy store where you can find our super-SF Fast Pass goodies on sale right now.

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