Happy New Year, Muni Diaries fam! 2023 was an exciting year for us as we celebrated 15 years of sharing your Muni stories. We hosted a special anniversary live show in November and designed a limited edition Muni Diary for you to document your transit stories. Our second annual Muni Diaries Art Market in December was another huge hit. The stories we shared this year ranged from hilarious to poignant, from chilling to inspiring: a bus operator’s ghost story; spoken word poetry on race and displacement through the lens of a Muni window; the ongoing search for a special Muni operator; an ode to a transit system that is at times barely navigable yet somehow manages to bring us together. We were also thrilled to share a two part series featuring San Francisco high school students performing their own original Muni poetry.
A heartfelt thanks from all of us at Muni Diaries to everyone who shared your Muni stories with us in 2023, sent us your bus photos, tuned in to the podcast, attended our live shows and art market, and helped us celebrate 15 years of Muni Diaries. What started as a college project has grown into an online journal of our shared experiences as transit riders and San Franciscans, and it’s still going strong 15 years later thanks to our irreplaceable community. We couldn’t do it without you.
We’ve got stories from our November live show, exciting in-person podcasting events, and more already queued up for you in 2024. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on deck:
Tanea Lunsford Lynx joined us at Muni Diaries Live in April 2023 to perform I Used to Live Here, her poem evoking the magic of relatives living a mere Muni ride away, the otherworldly dimension between West Portal and Van Ness Stations, and the soothing something about 24-hour Church Street Safeway light. She was one of the San Francisco-born-and-raised artists featured in Muni Raised Me, an exhibit exploring what truly public transit means to those who depend on it—and are ultimately shaped by it.
Tanea, an artist and educator, gave me chills with her delivery and lyrical gift. She also left me hopeful that the city she “used to” live in and the characters she described can thrive in present-tense San Francisco, too.
You might remember Tanea from Muni Diaries podcast Eps. 140 and 141, featuring Tanea and her students at performing original poetry about our everyone’s favorite school bus. And don’t forget to check out Muni Raised Me co-curator Meymey Lee in Ep. 144.
Muni Diaries is 15 years old! Forget a birth-month, we’ve made it a birth-year. Join us Nov 2 for the festivities at a special Muni Diaries Live. Tickets are available now (but going fast!) on Eventbrite.
Paving over the past to make way for the future is a story we know well in San Francisco. But few people I know have taken the time to understand what lies beneath the streets of San Francisco: who those people were, and the impact they had on the birth and growth of neighborhoods and infrastructure. Local author Beth Winegarner is the exception.
San Francisco’s Forgotten Cemeteries: A Buried History is Beth’s newest book, and it’s out now. Beth stopped by the Muni Diaries podcast to discuss how the city’s dead have impacted some of our most well-traveled roads and public transit, early NIMBY antics from our Victorian forebears, and our civic responsibility to residents who’ve passed on.
Beth is a journalist, author, essayist and pop-culture critic who has contributed to The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The San Francisco Examiner—where she first met me in the paper’s Peninsula bureau. She is the author of several books, including Sacred Sonoma, Beloved, The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in the Crossfire and Why Teens are Taking Them Back, and Tenacity: Heavy Metal in the Middle East and Africa.
When we get together, the conversation often veers toward San Francisco politics and socioeconomics, and this more “official” talk wasn’t much different. Here’s Beth in conversation with … me!
In the last few weeks we have all been re-examining social justice in our communities, and on our Facebook Page and Twitter, you’ve brought up great discussions around the role of public transit in race and class in San Francisco. We’ll continue these conversations while still bringing you stories of people connecting in the city and on Muni.
Today’s story is from a submission by Muni Diaries reader Wil. How often do you let a moment of connection pass you by? In this story, Wil shares a conversation with a stranger on the bus. This story is read by Dayne W.
Sure, everything feels like this right now. But there is is still beauty to be had if we all look closely — or if you’re, say, just wandering around in Colusa County.
Hat tip to Jack, who found the mother lode of Bay Area ruin porn by doing just that. He said this appeared to be a facility where they restore buses, but he’s keeping the exact location close to the vest to protect the undoubtedly very cool work being done here.
This treasure trove featured old Muni buses — including the 18-Sloat pictured above; the artist currently known as the 18-46th Avenue, the East Bay’s AC Transit, and even the ye olde Key System.
The life of a Muni transfer ain’t easy, especially if you’re bigger than everybody else. Mike Torchia and John Espey blew up a Muni transfer to take it around town, and fellow passengers acted like it’s no big deal. Which is why I love San Francisco, really.
But will station agents let these filmmakers catch a ride using their life-size transfer? One way to find out, if you’ve got 10 minutes handy for this ode to the humble transfer.