Poetry in motion on Muni

Sometimes when you see something that really speaks to you—you gotta have it. Rider David G. sent us the story of how he came to own a piece of honest-to-goodness Muni poetry, and we’re convinced it was meant to be. Here’s his story:

In the ’90s, the group Streetfare Journal and bus-advertising company TDI placed literary placards on Muni buses, streetcars, and cable cars. When visiting a friend’s apartment, I saw one of the posters. It featured a poem about fascist leaders and was written by the Serbian poet Aleksandar Ristovic. The last three lines read: 

Time of fools is coming, 

time of the know-nothing teacher 

and the book that can’t be opened at either end. 

I loved it and asked where she found it. Were they selling them? 

She chuckled and described how she saw the poster while riding the 30-Stockton through the Marina. She was struck by the words and so she asked a random fellow rider to hold her coffee. Then she simply took it down — in a bus full of commuters no less. She said that people stared, but no one uttered a word. “If you’re nonchalant, no one will do anything,” she suggested. 

Being less adventurous, I didn’t follow her advice. Of course, one day all the placards were removed. 

I was living in a residence hotel and taking the California cable car to work. Months later on my morning commute, to my utter surprise I saw the Ristovic poster. They obviously missed this one. Unfortunately, there was no chance of stealing it: in the closed confines of a cable car, both Muni operators were nearby.  

I resolved to go to the cable car barn that evening and see if I could ask someone for it. I  believed it was my last chance. 

Not knowing what to expect, I walked into the barn and was met with strong welding fumes. I gingerly stepped between rows of vehicles sitting on tracks. A middle-aged mechanic was on duty and he emerged from under the tracks. Nervously, I explained the situation: I’m looking for poetry.

He seemed surprised but he told me to “look around and take whatever you need,” and returned to his tools. My footsteps echoed as I explored the empty carriages. I finally found the poster and tucked it under my arm.

On the way out, I noticed the mechanic in street clothes and cleaning his work area. We nodded to each other as I departed. Not only did I walk out with the Ristovic poem; I also found one with a verse excerpt from Muriel Rukeyser

Time comes into it. 

Say it. Say it. 

The universe is made of stories, 

not of atoms.

Thank you, David, for submitting this story, especially in the midst of missing Muni—and all semblances of normal life—lots. Fun fact: For Muni’s centennial in 2012, we partnered with SFMTA for a “100 Days, 100 Muni stories” competition, where the most quotable winner earned placement on a placard just like these.

Since the universe is made of stories, we know there are many untold ones in our corner of the world. Indulge us with that tale that’s been burning a hole in your pocket by emailing muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or by connecting with us @munidiaries on all the socials.

Photo by Views from the Grip

“What’s up with your little hat?” A multicultural conversation on Muni

Photo by @jjinsf

We like to say that Muni is San Francisco’s living room, and you never know where a conversation with a fellow bus rider will lead. We’re unearthing some favorite stories from our archives, and in today’s podcast episode, rider Timo shares a story about the time when someone on the bus asked him why he was wearing his yarmulke. 

Listen to Timo’s story:

Muni Diaries is made of stories by everyday San Franciscans, and in these times, your stories are more important than ever. We will continue to publish stories from our archive and hope this takes some stress off of your day while sheltering in place. If you have stories you’d like to share, our inbox is always open! Email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Cupid’s arrow hits commuting pair on the 30x

@themarinabambino met his wife thanks to Muni. Recalling that fateful day(s), he says:

We met in August, 2011. It was her first day at a new job. I saw her on the 30X, she turned around and apologized because she was “probably going to fall on me.”

I saw her again the very next day (which…how does that even happen?) and we started chatting. I got her number on that day and the rest is history! We got married last August and had a 30x shaped cake at our wedding!

@themarinabambino

Pics or it didn’t happen, you say? We asked and here is a pic of the adorable Muni-riding couple at their wedding, complete with the 30X cake!

Read more

It’s a small world after all: Mini F-Market scene in incredible model railroad

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!

Harvey Simon

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!

A Muni streetcar cat’s secrets to life

To help get us over the hump of hump day, let’s take a page out of streetcar cat’s book, shall we?

Firstly, seize any opportunity to mix and mingle with nice people. Oh, and remain anchored for safety on a moving vehicle, especially if that vehicle is Muni.

Secondly, lean in to life’s simple pleasures. You deserve it.

Thirdly, pay your fair share. Streetcar cat sees you trying to sneak in the back.

h/t friscolala on Instagram; thanks for sharing!

We’ve had a punk cat, a cat that brought their own damn cat tree and snacks on the Metro—shoot, even the bus itself turned into a cat once (kind of). Got important news (CATS COUNT) for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox, muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, is always open!

This public transit plus Pride mashup sticker is 100% awesome

The good folks that brought you these fun transit enamel pins have a mashup for you this Pride weekend: these “Gay for Transit” stickers celebrate our love for public transit and features accurate (and adorably illustrated) vehicles in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

What’s even better is that all the profits made by June 30 will be donated to local Bay Area orgs that support LGBTQ+ people: Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Larkin Street Youth Services and Trans Lifeline.

The San Francisco stickers are also available with a BART design, as well as in t-shirt form if you so desire.

Thanks to rider Lauren P. for tipping us off the transit.supply store goodness.

How do you express your pride? Join us to add an entry to our collective journal. Tag us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter—or, our email inbox is always open to hear your Pride weekend stories!

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