A new mom’s gratitude for Muni drivers

Muni is the lifeline that powers our city, and its importance in everyday life stands out especially in a time of crisis. We recently got a letter underscoring this fact from new mom Cole Brennan, whose newborn was in the ICU for two weeks. Sharing her letter with us via Instagram, she says:

Dear Muni Operators,
When I yell “Thank You!” to you, through my double masks from the back door at the stop at 3rd & 20th, please know it is the most sincere thanks I’ve ever given a stranger.


It’s true that I’m the sort of person who always thanks the bus driver. And it’s true that after many months of not riding the bus I was likely to feel an extra surge of gratitude once I finally started riding again. But the gratitude I’ve felt for you this month goes well beyond my usual thankfulness.


For two weeks you helped me get to the Children’s Hospital so I could visit my newborn in the Intensive Care Nursery.

You, Muni operator, are part of a small galaxy of helpers that held my little family be together during the longest weeks of my life.

Thank you.

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Limp Bizkit, Live 105, and Muni walk into a time machine…

@pfungcollects shared a relic from when we partied like it was 1999 with Limp Bizkit and Live 105 at the Family Values Tour—founded by nu-metal sensation Korn—and a grumpy Muni bus headed to the Cow Palace.

Yikes. I challenge anyone to come up with a more “Bay Area in the late-’90s” sentence than that. ^^

I can’t say I’m surprised to see Muni sneaking into the mix; from “My Neighbor Totoro” Catbus t-shirts to a cameo in Sister Act 2, Muni has always found a way into the spotlight.

Speaking of the ’90s, it was also preserved and well in my family home in South City. Yes, that’s a pristine collection of KMEL and Wild 107 stickers hoarded carefully in a drawer for two decades.

Shout out to the Bay Area kids who remember pre-Wild 94.9, all the way on the far side of the radio dial.

From transit ephemera to relics of Bay Area gone by, we want to see it, hear it, and know about it. Tag us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox is always open, too.

Muni Art: “San Francisco United” takes the mobile stage

Local art and public spaces go hand-in-hand, and we’re glad that Muni will once again serve as a mobile gallery for the citizens of San Francisco.

SFMTA is partnering with San Francisco Beautiful and The Poetry Society of America to showcase the work of five local artists and five local poets on our hella local public transit system. In its sixth year, the Muni Art theme is, appropriately, “San Francisco United.” Look for the works on display inside 100 Muni buses through April.

The 2021 Muni artists are:

The 2021 Muni poets are:

Congratulations to all the winners! Learn more about the 2021 Muni artists, poets, and poems here.

Though the city is quieter (disquieting at times), storefronts have shuttered, and anxiety pervades our everything, I’m thankful that creativity is still coursing through this town. United, we’ll get through.

The Muni Diaries and San Francisco Diaries podcasts feature stories about life around town—on and off the bus. We’re Muni Diaries on all your favorite listening platforms, so don’t forget to subscribe today.

Pic: SF Beautiful

Your 2020 commute in 10 memorable moments

Here at Muni Diaries HQ, we usually end the year with a fun and lighthearted “Top Most WTF Moments of the Year” type of countdown. But in 2020…where do we even start?

As shelter-in-place became a more permanent fixture of our lives, documenting life in San Francisco, especially via commute tales, took on a different meaning. We saw the uphill battle faced by so many small businesses and venues (like our beloved Rickshaw Stop), and the struggles of essential workers, particularly Muni operators and first responders—many of whom relied on Muni to get around. We’re grateful that we could help share those stories.

So here are some highly memorable moments from your commuter tales, in this Dumpster fire of a year.

Listen to the podcast episode:

Featured photo by @murkyvillagesf

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“Hearts in San Francisco” to inaugurate newest member

If you think San Francisco needs to gripe less and do more, look no further than artists Kurt Schwartzmann and Deirdre Weinberg.

Listeners may remember Schwartzmann from Muni Diaries Live, where he shared his moving story of how Muni drivers provided his only refuge when he was unhoused. Schwartzmann, who lost sight in one eye due to complications from AIDS, dedicated his art series, “Yellow Line,” to the Muni drivers whose empathy helped him survive those difficult times.

He has since paid artistic tribute to other facets of San Francisco life with artist Deirdre Weinberg, who has created public art for more than two decades. The duo first collaborated on beautifying the outdoor dining space for the iconic Buena Vista cafe this summer, and now they’ve partnered on the newest of the Hearts of San Francisco—which have benefited the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation since 2004.

In this week’s podcast episode, we chat with the artists about how they became stewards of a beloved San Francisco tradition.

Listen to Kurt Schwartzmann and Deirdre Weinberg, interviewed by Muni Diaries cofounder Tara Ramroop:

Schwartzmann sent us photos of the heart in progress, from the day that the plain, unadorned, and apparently heavy and rather “voluptuous” heart was delivered to his garage, to the colorful paint drip that the two artists painstakingly created. He sent us photos of the heart in progress:

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Paul Madonna on finding the “Spirits of San Francisco”

Bagging on San Francisco is one of our city’s most time-honored traditions. In a time when negativity might reign especially supreme, two chroniclers of San Francisco got together to create a new book that encourages people to see the familiar in a new way.

This week on the podcast, we chat with artist Paul Madonna, who has just illustrated a new book called Spirits of San Francisco: Voyages through the Unknown City, written by Gary Kamiya. The book features vignettes of the history and topography of 16 different locations in the city. 

Madonna created drawings of San Francisco ranging from a well-known views spanning over the Embarcadero (above), or more obscure corners of the city like Calhoun Terrace in North Beach on Montgomery and Union (see below). You might know Madonna from his series in the San Francisco Chronicle, “All Over Coffee,” which ran for 12 years. As he draws en plein air—from real life rather than photographs—Madonna had to find just the right time of day to depict his subject. Sometimes, he and Kamiya even found themselves in places they weren’t really supposed to be for the good of their project.

We chat with Madonna about bringing San Francisco to life in his art, his choice of depicting city scenes without people, and why he says San Francisco is “never a jealous friend.”

Listen to the conversation with Paul Madonna and Muni Diaries cofounder Tara Ramroop:

Find your own copy of Spirits of San Francisco at your favorite local bookstore. We are bringing you stories of the people and places that make San Francisco the place we call home. Submit your own story to us by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Images by Paul Madonna.

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