Though the city’s charms were sometimes “charms” on the wrong day or in the wrong moment, we knew what we signed up for. For me, anyway, that includes the normalcy of playing standing Twister on a packed bus that only got fuller with every stop. Indeed, in the not-so-distant past, the Muni Metro platform looked like this and manspreading earned you a ticket to hell.
Amanda Staight, stalwart San Franciscan and Muni fan, put her thoughts on the matter into verse for the podcast. Amanda is also a great friend of Muni Diaries, a lover of neighborhoods, communities and casual conversations. Her favorite seat on the bus is next to the rear door, up the little steps in the back—I kinda like that one, too.
Scroll down to see the transcript of this episode.
We’re four-plus months into SIP. How are you keeping your corner of San Francisco alive? Share your San Francisco stories, from on the rails or off, at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the socials @munidiaries on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Over on the Muni Diaries Twitter wire, readers tipped us to Michael’s late-night N-Judah Muni tale, which he captured in his Flickr account. Oh, how we miss the after hours “Temporary Autonomous Zone” on Muni, where you never know who you’ll meet or what will happen.
It was just after closing time at the bar, and two groups of skaters got on the bus along with a host of other characters. Somehow, different strangers on the bus offer our narrator drugs, booze, and a surprisingly thoughtful detail for both. Here’s Michael’s story:
Both of my preferred seats are occupied so I’m sitting in the last row + middle seat. There’s Junkie Guy to my left who is sitting in the corner seat and has turned the seat between us into his living room where all of his worldly possessions are spread out as he frantically rearranges his living space. A bunch of skaters in their 20s get on and sit in front of me and one of them starts playing a country western type song on his phone and they all start singing along to lyrics that are all about a love song to cocaine.
Junkie Guy instantly looks up and starts asking if any of the skaters have cocaine and they’re all, “No, it’s just a song.” Then they further explained that the guy singing on the phone does not have any cocaine to share either. Sorry, Junkie Guy, false alarm.
Then another group of skaters with a case of beer get on the back of the bus. They recognize the first group of skaters and start talking about their night. I get the impression that their paths crossed earlier in the day and now they are crossing again on the Night Owl on the way home.
I really like those moments where everyone’s story comes full circle and these different storylines converge, like the end of Dazed & Confused. I also like getting to know all of my neighbors that keep the same hours that I do but are part of different scenes.
Here we all are, the disco queens, the punk rockers, the junkies, the preppies, it’s the 2AM Breakfast Club. This is where we all End Up. All the people that did not feel like paying money to take an Uber home in a timely fashion, all on the crazy train headed off into The Sunset, all in the No Man’s Land Temporary Autonomous Zone / wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the back of the bus.
“I was open late one mid-December night when a guy walked in, and right away, I knew he was going to rob my business.”
Eden Stein, the owner of Secession Art and Design, has seen the ups and downs of San Francisco in over a decade. Her shop is an art gallery and boutique that represents over 60 artists. In this podcast episode, Eden shares how she kept her shop afloat and what happened that one December evening.
Eden recorded this story in her home during sheltering in place, so you might hear the cooing of her new baby in the episode here. She says that she is transitioning from in-store to online sales these days. In the past, 80 percent of her sales came from people shopping at the store in person, and it’s been a major change to transition to an online-only business. You can find Secession’s online catalogue as well as their GoFundMe campaign at SecessionSF.com.
San Francisco is still a city teeming with thousands stories. We’re not letting up on documenting the ins and outs of living here, starting with life on public transit and expanding into the life off the bus lines. If you believe that these real-life tales can help us care for our city, we would love your support on our Patreon page. Your support will help us keep the lights on until we can bring you these stories on stage live.
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.
Finishing off week two of sheltering in place, we’ve gathered some fun stories from Muni Diaries Live alums for this weekend. The weather forecast predicts rain, and we hope these podcasts give you a little reprieve, and if you are able, please do support these storytellers and projects.
Learn more about San Francisco history with Shaping San Francisco. The good folks behind Shaping San Francisco are putting their walking and biking tours on pause, but you can enjoy being an armchair historian by listening to their free public talks at home. Topics range from “hidden San Francisco” to “Valencia Street as a Lesbian Corridor: Living Memories” and more.
Enjoy comedic podcasts hosted by reigning Muni Haiku champion Wonder Dave: Mental Health Comedy Hour and Nerd Rage: the Great Debate. Wonder Dave has reigned supreme with his 5-7-5 rhymes, but when he’s not writing public transit poems (which he really just does twice a year), he’s hosting some very funny, and very nerdy podcasts. Tune in to those podcasts to debate timeless topics like, “Which female superhero reigns supreme in the world of DC comics?”
An ode to Muni and BART operators who are working every day to get people from one essential task to another: listen to Kurt Schwartzmann’s story at Muni Diaries Live. Kurt told this story last summer about how Muni drivers provided him the only refuge when he was living on the street.
In these shelter-in-place times, don’t you almost kind of almost miss the gallows humor of our commute? We’ve got a fix for that.
Follow three Muni Diaries Live alums whose stories and music will temporarily transport you back to the old normal. As many of our storytellers and favorite venues are severely impacted by COVID-19, we’ve also included how you can support them during these tough times.
San Francisco-raised Nato Green is a comedian, union organizer, dad, and, per The East Bay Express, a “political spark plug.” On our San Francisco Diaries podcast series, he shared a tale of how high school students figured out how to be an ally before the word became a regular part of our vernacular.
And lastly, let us take you back to 2011 when Muni Diaries Live was at its first home at the Make-Out Room. Storyteller and poet Joyce Lee shared the story of taking Muni with her mom, who gave the kids on the bus an earful.