Camp Folsom: ‘You were chosen, and they had your back no matter what’

With the Tales of the City show on Netflix and the Pride flags up on Market Street, we’ve got chosen family on the brain: the people you find by circumstance, often in pivotal times in your life, whom you end up keeping by choice.

On the podcast today, we have musician Colin Daly—incidentally among my own chosen family—who stopped by the studio to share a timely retelling and ode to his time at Camp Folsom: where a room in the Mission was only $300 and life lessons—about money, community, heartbreak, and learning to be a grownup—were included in the rent.

Here’s his story:

San Francisco Diaries, and our original project, Muni Diaries, are made of your stories and everyone’s experiences. Submit your own tale from the city by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Pic courtesy of Brandy, upper left. Colin is in the foreground, and Meghan is behind him.

Girls to the front: A women-only train experience

Living in the city in which “Muni humper” incidents polluted our transit experiences not once (the first we were tipped off was in 2009), not twice (2017), but three times (2017 the sequel), I’m more than a little wary of crotch-to-shoulder distance. I’m also more than a little wary, full stop.

Japan, Mexico, and Brazil, among other nations, recognized this pervasive (and disgusting) problem and did something about it with women-only trains. In Osaka recently with girlfriends, I finally got to experience one of these myself—and it’s as good as I thought it would be.

In addition to beholding the wonder of trains running like clockwork, amid a culture that demonstrated an amazing level of public politeness and modesty, I appreciate the acknowledgement that the female experience on public transit —or at work, or in our home lives, or, or, or…—can be different in a bad way. Also them seats were heated and Hello Kitty is on the train car wrapper.

San Francisco ladies have a lot to be proud of in spite of the occasional frotteurism that can taint (as it were) our journeys. One Muni hero looked an attacker right in the eyes in defense of a fellow passenger and an entire set of women formed a literal line of defense between another Muni passenger and her assailant.

Not everyone knows (or believes) it, but Muni Diaries is a lady-driven venture. Join us this Saturday at Muni Diaries Live for IRL stories and merriment. Tickets and details in the link.

Pics by roopisonfire and travel buddy Ericka.

Of all the best pickup lines happening on Muni…

Comedian Dominique Gelin has given every sign on public transit to say, “Go Away.” She’s sat in the most strategic seat to avoid strangers, avoided eye contact, and yet, it doesn’t always work.

In today’s story, Dom walks us through how one crucial mistake led to her meeting a smug pickup artist on Muni. You can listen to her story by downloading the epidoes below, or just search for Muni Diaries on any of your favorite podcast apps:

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Speaking of pickup lines, maybe what Dom needed was a burrito as a prop, as another Muni rider so aptly illustrated in an earlier story? Follow Dom on Twitter at @heydomgelin.

And for podcast listeners, today’s episode has a special discount code for Muni Diaries Live tickets! Our 10th anniversary show is just two weeks away, so be sure to get a ticket here. We want to celebrate with you!

Photo by Right Angle Images

Alexandria Love’s not-quite love story with bonus transit twist

This tale about relationshipping in your Roaring 20s hits home for all of us who wished we could find love—or that it would find us, as promised in the RomComs—but kept looking for it in all the wrong places.

Oakland native Alexandria Love is on the podcast today with her personal, cringe-worthy story from that time in her life, which comes with a bonus transit twist. When she’s not prompting us to marvel in half awe, half horror over our early-20s life choices, Alex is also a stand-up comedian, podcaster, and writer. She’s performed at some of the best venues in California, including Tommy T’s, The San Jose Improv, and Cobb’s Comedy Club. She is the current reigning champion of Tourettes Without Regrets’ Dirty Haiku battle with 5 victories under her belt. She was the sleeper hit at the Muni Haiku Battle at Lit Crawl in 2017, which led her to snatch top honors during a reprise performance at Muni Diaries Live.

Listen to Alex’s story here:
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Got your own very-SF strange and wonderful ritual, with or without Bay Area transit twists? 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. Our email inbox is always open.

Pic by Right Angle Images

San Francisco Diaries: How I met the pigeon version of me

Being an adult isn’t easy, especially when you live in San Francisco where “everyone is perpetually in their late-20s to mid-30s.” So when you end up in San Francisco alone when you’re 22, you do what anyone would do: Go wild and make age-22 type of mistakes.

“Looking back now, it’s a miracle I didn’t die. I got in a lot of shady situations. I lost my beloved leather jacket. I left my Blackberry in a cab. In recovery, they say you have to hit rock bottom before you can get better. But my rock bottom just kept getting lower and lower. I drunkenly ran through the surf on Ocean Beach at 1 a.m. and almost got swept out to sea. I hooked up with a Santa Con Santa on the back patio of Mad Dog in the Fog. I was 22 and alone and nobody was around to stop me so I kept going and kept pushing the limits of what I could get away with and still live.”

Today’s story is from Vivian Ho, who you may remember was the criminal justice reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle from 2011 through 2017. She’s reported on the Mario Woods shooting, the San Francisco Police Department, wildfires, and she recently published an incredible investigative piece called “A Life on the Line.”

She’s seen a lot of San Francisco, from the incredibly serious and life-and-death moments to the more quirky and offbeat happenings around town. This story falls under the more quirky side of the spectrum—and we’ve never felt more spiritually connected to the cooing pigeons on our fire escapes.

Listen to her story here:

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Special thanks to Vivian for sending over the first photo she’s ever taken with Drew, before the pigeons came into their lives.

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. Our email inbox is always open!

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Coveting thy neighbor’s Walkman on Muni

We don’t usually know how close we came to getting jacked on the bus. One rider, Curtis Richard Tom does. He recalls a unique o/h on Muni conversation that provided oddly, unsettlingly intimate insight into a would-be theft. Here’s Curtis:

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This happened back when cassettes were the main mechanism in personal music devices. I was using a recordable Walkman, with manual/auto level record, pitch/speed control.

I had some blank space at the end of a tape. I hadn’t had a chance to flip the cassette yet, so I still had my headphones on. Through the foam ear pads, I could hear the couple in front of me having a quiet argument.

“Yeah, it’s a nice one, but no,” said the girl.

“Why not?” Asked the guy.

“You see how tight it’s strapped up under his armpit?” My Walkman was webstrapped pretty close.

“Yeah, so?” he countered.

“You’re not getting it from him unless you knock him out. Subduing him might be possible, but it wouldn’t be trivial. Forget it.”

He looked me in the eye once. “Yeah, fine.”

I was done listening to the silent hissing of my blank spot of tape and finally flipped it like I hadn’t heard them.

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More overheard convos:
A misinterpretation of your “meaning”

Photo by @zacharyzito

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