The Elbo Room has been the home of Muni Diaries Live for many years, and just before its San Francisco location closed permanently, co-owner Matt Shapiro joined us on stage to share one of the many memorable, behind-the-scenes tales from the famed club. He had worked for years as the manager and booker at the Elbo Room, which housed the legendary lesbian bar Amelia’s in the 1960’s (the bar swaps out its signage for Amelia’s old sign for Pride). In 2010, he and co-owner Erik Cantu bought the bar.
Matt’s San Francisco Diaries story involved Satan, his leather jacket, and the lengths that club owners will go to keep a promise.
Pete Mulvihill is living every book lover’s dream: owning the bookstore he loves. Pete took a winding road to co-owner of the city’s beloved Green Apple Books, and we can’t thank him enough for keeping this space alive.
If you haven’t been to Green Apple Books, you owe it to yourself to make a trip: the sprawling bookstore on Clement Street features both new and used books, with witty staff commentary peppered throughout the shelves and many nooks and crannies (figurative and literal) to explore.
In this episode of the San Francisco Diaries podcast, San Francisco Diaries episode, Pete walks us down that winding road to co-ownership.
Muni made you late for work, you step in shit on your way home, and your local bodega has just turned into yet another artisanal lip balm boutique? If you’re grumpy about San Francisco’s many changes, today’s story about an art project on Market Street might be just the right antidote.
We met storytellers Luke and Chris a few weeks ago — you might know them as Sequoia and The Early Bird on BFF.FM cheery morning radio show, Rollover Easy. Rollover Easy is a morning radio show that has a “healthy dose of positive news, banter, and interviews with interesting San Francisco locals.” Luke and Chris are up every Thursday morning at 8 a.m. to report on and chat with locals over coffee.
They are realists about San Francisco’s changes, but they remain endlessly positive about things that make this city special. You’d think they’d be busy enough with a weekly morning radio show, but these two took it upon themselves to build an art project to celebrate our city. In today’s San Francisco Diaries episode, Luke and Chris share how their mutual love for Herb Caen led to an installation on Market Street. With little construction experience, these two San Franciscans were determined to make Herb Caen come alive to fellow pedestrians.
In this episode of San Francisco Diaries, Louis Evans shares a story of one seemingly uneventful day when he was leaving the underground parking lot at Civic Center, only to learn there was an active shooter situation above ground.
In the confusion that ensued, Louis and his partner sat in their car for hours, turning over doomsday scenarios over in their heads—including their plan of attack if the shooter wandered into the garage. The story took an interesting turn after our heroes realized they weren’t the only people stuck in the garage.
Louis is the host of a new literary event, Cliterary Salon: a show featuring rowdy, original stories about female sexual pleasure, feminism, or really anything in that umbrella, bringing a spirit of fun and sexuality to a literary scene that tends to focus on the cis male experience.
You, too, can add an entry to our collective journal! San Francisco Diaries is our spinoff podcast series, which celebrated its first birthday this month. It’s all about personal stories about why you live here and what makes our city “so San Francisco.” Tag us with your tale on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox is always open, too.
You may remember Molly from a recent episode of the Muni Diaries podcast. She returns with a throwback story that recalls her eviction from the up-and-coming Castro neighborhood to her new home in the budding lesbian enclave of Bernal Heights.
This is part of our newest project, San Francisco Diaries, which features stories about our city at large that run the same gamut of good, bad weird, gross, great, and poignant. Here’s Molly.
We had been powerless tenants, evicted with no recourse, and then we became agents of displacement. There was no in between.
My collective household of four lesbians had found a place on Castro Street, one of those original Victorians with high ceilings and elaborate wood trim, an abandoned coal fireplace, and a parlor whose big sliding doors opened to double the size of the room. It was rumored that the apartment had come up for rent because the previous tenants had been busted for selling weed and were all in jail. We embellished the story to claim that the famous Brownie Mary had lived there. She may not have lived there, but she had certainly been there in spirit. It was the 1970s; the Castro was becoming a gay men’s mecca. During our time there, a housepainter contracted to paint our building ran a brothel, turning tricks in the building’s storage room. He painted that building for months.
We fondly remember political gabfests at shared dinners, Seders in which we sang all the way through, and inventive costumes at Halloween parties: in the year of Anita Bryant, I came as an ironic lesbian “recruiter” for her hateful cause. For a time, our costume du jour at home was simply a vest, a way to show off a billowing bush and legs as thickly furred as animal pelts (we were hairy and proud!). We danced and sang along to Stevie Wonder and Lavender Jane Loves Women. There was much laughing and also much crying. Passionate love affairs abounded. Creating a new culture calls for invention. We tried out non-monogamy and polyamory. We felt we were on the cutting edge of a cultural transformation. Read more
Thea Selby has lived in the Lower Haight (or “Hayes Valley” depending on who you talk to) since 1999. Thea is way busy, as a mom and member of the City College of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees. As you’ll learn in this new podcast episode about the Love in the Lower Haight neighborhood mural, she’s also a tireless advocate for the art and artists that has defined her neighborhood for decades.
This is as much a story about art as the constant regeneration that defines and redefines life in our city year after year. Ears up for mentions of artists Ursula Young, whose piece is pictured above, and Jeremy Fish, who recounted the unexpected drama behind his Silly Pink Bunny on an earlier episode of our podcast.
This story is an installment of San Francisco Diaries, our spinoff series that just celebrated its first birthday! Thanks to your support on Patreon, we’ve been able to record lots of new stories in our podcast studio. If you like what you hear and can spare that coffee money for a day or two, we’d appreciate your help. Find us at Patreon.com/munidiaries.
And if you or someone you know has a great story about San Francisco, we are all ears. Pitch your piece at firstname.lastname@example.org.