When BART Board Director Janice Li saw a fight break out on the bus, she took matters into her own hands. But what she saw after making a public information request for the bus footage (which anyone can do, BTW) was something else entirely.
Keep up with Janice on Twitter @JaniceforBART, and check out janiceforbart.com to learn more about her platform, why she cares so much about public transit, and what she’ll continue to do as a director if reelected!
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.
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?”
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.
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:
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.