Need a place to find yourself? Try Muni (really).

Muni is the through line in this week’s podcast story from Simone Herko Felton, a senior at Lowell High School in San Francisco. Simone has lived here all her life and takes the 23-Monterey to go to school daily. She explains what it’s like to be a high school student in San Francisco taking this cross town bus, and why this particular line is symbolic of her multi-ethnic identity.

Listeners who went to high school in the city will especially appreciate Simone’s call out to how to pronounce “Lowell” in the appropriate San Francisco accent.

Listen to her story here:

We’re always looking for great stories from San Franciscans! If you have a story to share on the podcast, pitch your story to us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, and as always, add your own diary entry by tagging us @munidiaries on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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Artist tips his cap to Muni, a refuge in tougher times

As he carted his belongings to the bus stop, Kurt Schwartzmann knew that he relied on the kindness of the Muni driver, lest he face another cold night on the streets of San Francisco. When the bus door opened on one particular night, he was relieved to see the familiar face.

This was a lifetime ago, before Schwartzmann conquered his struggle with drug addiction, found his way as an artist, and met his now-husband. While he was homeless, Muni had become the refuge for Schwartzmann.

Schwartzmann, who has lost sight in one eye due to complications to AIDS, dedicated his art series, “Yellow Line,” to the Muni drivers whose empathy helped him survive those difficult times. His art has been exhibited at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and at City College of San Francisco.

We first met Schwartzmann on Instagram when he posted about his art series, and we were thrilled that he told his story at Muni Diaries Live in April at Rickshaw Stop.

Growing up in Fresno as a young gay man, Schwartzmann said that San Francisco had always been a symbol for “freedom of expression and refuge from intolerance.”  In honor of Pride weekend, we are sharing his story in today’s podcast episode. Take a listen:

If you have your own Pride story to share, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Photo credit: RightAngleImages.

How a bear bar helped one visitor give SF another chance

San Francisco can be a tough city to navigate, especially if you’re a visitor who is already having a hard time. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, storyteller Baruch Porras-Hernandez shares an exchange that he had with a visitor while working at one of the longest-running gay sex clubs in San Francisco. Upon realizing that the visitor was having some internal struggles, Baruch gives him a list of place of where to find like-minded people in the city. But after Baruch leaves work, the visitor returns to the club and gets some alarming information.

Listen to his story:
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Baruch is a writer, performer, host, storyteller, and regular KQED community events host based in San Francisco. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry and regularly organizes poetry shows in the Bay Area. Follow Baruch on Instagram (@baruchporrashernandez) to get the latest show updates.

Trigger warning: Please note that this story has themes about suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals: 1-800-273-8255.

You, too, can add an entry to our collective journal. San Francisco Diaries is looking for your personal stories about what it means to live here, and what makes our city “so San Francisco.” Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—or, our email inbox is always open!
Photo by Thomas Hawk

Being an ally in the fight against homophobia…in San Francisco

San Francisco-raised Nato Green is a comedian, union organizer, dad, and, per The East Bay Express, a “political sparkplug.” He’s also a Muni Diaries Live alum, where he threaded the needle with a comic spin on a BART strike.

Nato is on the podcast today with a story that takes us back to the early-1990s in San Francisco, when the city was still hitting its progressive stride. As the city celebrates Pride month, Nato recalls some way-early childhood memories at what was then called the Gay Freedom Day parade, as well as his experience in the fight against homophobia at San Francisco’s Lick-Wilmerding High School.

Listen and/or download here:

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Check out Nato’s new album, The Whiteness Album, and follow him on Twitter @natogreen.

If you liked what you heard today, please support Muni Diaries on Patreon to help us keep telling stories from everyday San Franciscans.

Photo by RightAngleImages: Nato in 2013, performing at Muni Diaries Live at the Elbo Room.

How a fistfight on the 22-Fillmore ended with a FaceTime video from mom

What would you do if saw something going sideways on Muni? Rider Brian Cunnie was on the 22-Fillmore when he and a couple of other riders stood up for a young woman when they saw her boyfriend’s threatening behavior. Brian ended up taking some punches for the stranger, but bus justice ruled the day. Here’s his story:

I hadn’t gotten into a fight in 30 years until last Thursday evening on the 22-Fillmore. A young couple came on the bus, and he started yelling at her and punching the bus next to her head, and I asked him to please take it outside, and he asked me what I said, and I repeated, “Please take it outside.”

And then he punched me in the face: left fist, right fist, left fist again. I tackled him. It wasn’t a perfect rugby tackle — I wrapped his midsection instead of his waist — but it was enough to bring him down. Two fellow passengers helped subdue him while we waited for the cops to show up. The cops moved us apart and one of the officers kept asking me if I needed an ambulance. Then they asked if I wanted to press charges. I said that if he said he was wrong for punching me, I wouldn’t press charges.

So the young kid came out and looked me in the eye and said he was wrong to punch me and that he was sorry. I nodded, we shook hands and did a half-hug. One of the cops said, “That’s beautiful, man.” And then his girlfriend showed a FaceTime video of his mom thanking me for not pressing charges.

It was incredibly exhilarating and I would have easily spent hundreds of dollars for that experience. I mean, it was awesome.

The guy I’m in the picture with — the guy on the left, I think his name is Taylor — is one of the passengers who held the guy down. Heroic.

My name is Brian Cunnie, I’m a 54-year-old software developer in San Francisco who plays rugby.

This reminds me of the time when riders stood up against a Muni creeper, and when another group of riders put an end to some asswipe who thought body shaming was OK. It’s good to know that we’ve got each other’s backs when it comes to bad behavior.

Got other important stories for your fellow riders? Muni Diaries only exists because of your stories and submissions, so tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox (muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com) is always open, too.

Listen up: The hottest new hip-hop tribute to San Francisco is here

You heard it here first: the newest hip-hop tribute to our City by the Bay. This new song by longtime denizen J. W. Friedman is a musical diary entry encapsulating why a lot of us chose to live (and stay) here. Add this to your essential Yay Area playlist ASAP.

The exclusive new jam name-checks all things local: layering (seriously, you have to), intersections all over town, and the barge in the Bay just outside of AT&T Park.

Muni Diaries Live attendees might remember as J as Satellite High, who first blew our minds with a whole album dedicated to Muni (read the interview here and watch this live performance). Sharp-eared podcast listeners may also recognize his name and style from our theme music.

Take a listen to the new tune:

J is also the cohost of the wonderfully snarky podcast, I Don’t Even Own a Television, wherein he and cohost Chris Collision read terrible books from beginning to end just so they can review them for the masses. To get an IRL sense of their sense of humor, come see Chris Collision at our Muni Haiku Battle, LitCrawl Edition this Saturday at Clarion Alley.

So does your street or Favorite SF Something get a shout-out in J’s new song? He sent us the lyrics so you can find out:

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