San Francisco Diaries: Discovering The Secret Alley

“I hear the door swing open, I take off my headphones, and all of a sudden I hear, ‘This is why I love San Francisco!’ ‘OMG, this makes me so happy!’ It never gets old, and it sends shivers up my spine.”

Who actually hears things like this about their office (home or regular)? It’s par for the course when you work at The Secret Alley, which Thrillist once described (accurately) as ” a private artist workshop-cum-performance space-cum-office park-cum-clubhouse o’ fun built inside of a second-floor walk-up in the Mission.”

We’re ever so glad to take a break from pandemic stories to listen to how this special place came to be. In today’s podcast episode, we learn about how The Secret Alley made a space in a nondescript building into such a unique community hotspot.

Secret Alley cofounder Noel Von Joo shared his tale on stage at Muni Diaries Live in 2019. Listen to his story here:

It might be a while before we can return to this wonderful space, where our friends at BFF.fm and Roll Over Easy also broadcast their shows. But we are going back to our roots, collecting and publishing stories for the ol’ internets about the people and places that make our city what it is today. If you have a story to share, please email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And it would absolutely make our entire day if you review us on Apple Podcasts and shared this podcast with your friends.

Three mood-improving Muni storytellers to help you shelter in place

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.

So first, put on your earbuds for Rachel Lark, the singer/songwriter who says her music is “weird, disruptive to the patriarchy, and sexually explicit.” Sign us up! The music videos are NSFW gems: Warm, Bloody, and Tender (featuring current Muni Haiku champ Wonder Dave!), and my personal favorite, It’s Hard to be a Feminist and Still Want Dick (featuring Muni Diaries alum Kate Willet).

How to support: Rachel has a Patreon! You can find her on Bandcamp or Spotify.

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.

Listen to Nato’s stories: Nato Green on San Francisco Diaries podcast. You can also follow him on @natogreen.

How to support: Buy his comedy albums: The Nato Green Party and The Whiteness Album.

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.

Listen to Joyce’s stories: Joyce Lee at Muni Diaries Live. Also check out her story called Mad Love from Tourettes Without Regrets (highly recommend!)

How to support: Joyce has a new book of poetry called Dancing in the Presence of Men: a book of Love & Lovers, and you can get the book on Amazon here.

And, we are still collecting your stories daily about our lovely city. Our inbox is always open for you at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Photo by Right Angle Images.

The city gardener’s family shares the tale of the AIDS Memorial Grove

Before the area was named the AIDS Memorial Grove in the 1990’s, San Franciscans knew the wooded grove as DeLaveaga Dell. To Leef Smith, the area held special memories because his father was a city gardener who took care of the city’s parks. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, Leef shares his childhood memories of growing up in San Francisco as the family of a city gardener, and how his childhood and this beautiful garden change when the AIDS crisis hit San Francisco.

Leef spent his childhood in DeLaveaga Dell playing with other children, wearing his mom’s homemade costumes and celebrating birthdays and other occasions there. As he was coming of age during a tumultuous in San Francisco, he recalls how a teacher came out to his class, and how DeLaveaga Dell became a symbol of the times to come.

Listen to Leef’s story here:

Leef kindly shared some of his childhood photos from De Laveaga Dell with us. Do you have stories of San Francisco during this time period? We want to know! Share your stories with us at muni.diarie.sf@gmail.com.

Want to hear more stories like this live? We are having two events this fall: a live podcast recording at the Betabrand Podcast Theater on Thursday, Oct. 3, and our Muni Diaries Live fall show at Rickshaw Stop on Saturday, Nov. 2. Tickets are on sale now!

San Francisco Diaries: Check your assumptions in the checkout line

I can’t think of how many times I’ve thought of a witty comeback too late, especially when someone behaves badly in public. But have you ever imagined what it would be like if you actually said what you wanted to say in that moment? Storyteller Justina Wu shares a story of an encounter when she spoke her mind in the moment, with some surprising results.

Listen to her story:

Justina is a writer, storyteller, and producer of Beyond Borders Storytelling, a series of travel-themed workshops and story jams. Justina was on stage at Muni Diaries Live a few years ago (check out her first story in episode 12 on Apple Podcast or Google Play.) And mark your calendars for the next show on August 14 at PianoFight in the Tenderloin.

Featured photo by @saintsimonanu. Post photo by @roopisonfire.

If you have your own San Francisco story to share, email us your pitch at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com! And please share this podcast with your friends and rate is on Apple Podcast!

San Francisco Diaries: Listeners sound off on the city’s existential crisis

sunset sky 10th and Market San Francisco

Our previous episode featured Smiley Poswolsky, a self-described Millennial workplace expert who quit his stuffy Washington, D.C. job to become a writer in San Francisco. His story about personal growth and change, with NOPA/Western Addition in a prominent guest-starring role, really got our listeners talking more broadly about the state of our city—a hot topic lately.

For this episode, we invited Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight from The San Francisco Chronicle, and Bernalwood blog founder Todd Lappin, to give us their take on San Francisco’s oft-discussed existential crisis, and to share their own experiences with this town we call home.

Got something to say about Smiley’s story or the state of our city? Email us your thoughts at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us #sanfranciscodiaries on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Pic by roopisonfire

San Francisco Diaries: Who gets to define this city?

Smiley Poswolsky left his suit-wearing days behind in Washington, D.C. to start a new life as a writer in San Francisco. Today, he’s an expert on Millennials in the workplace and author of the book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough. A few years in to his life here, he found himself realizing that some of the things he enjoyed about the city were also having a negative impact on his beloved new home. This prompts him to consider a timely question: Who has the right to define a city and what it is (or should be) all about?

This has been a hot topic as of late, even in national news. This prompted us to turn to our listeners: If you could give the city a cultural health score, what would it be and why? 

Listen to his story:

Got something to say about Smiley’s story and the current state of our city? Email us your thoughts at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us #munidiaries on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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