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.

A new anthem for Muni riders

Remember those days when our biggest problem was getting this oversized dresser out of the train at Civic Center Station, or figuring out the best angle to film a wriggling dildo stuck in a bus stop? We miss those days, too. Today, we celebrate the 100th episode of the Muni Diaries podcast, featuring a hilariously NSFW ode to being considerate to fellow humans on the bus.

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?”

Listen to our 100th episode:

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.

Send your stories to muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on FacebookTwitterInstagram.

Photo by Amanda Roosa.

Muni Diaries is turning 12!

Today is Muni Diaries’ 12th birthday! It seems like only yesterday it was born as a scrappy little blog. Today, it’s almost a teenager and has certainly developed that snarky veneer we all so appreciate in tweens. Watch out, world!

Even in these times of sheltering-in-place and newly reduced Muni service, your stories remind us that, just like on the bus, we’re all in it together.

By the numbers, we’ve held 23 live shows, tweeted more than 27K times about your hilarious commute, and counted more than 4,000 of you who told us your commute stories.

These are a few of our favorite tales over the years:

We couldn’t have done this without you, the story-submitters, the Muni riders, the San Franciscans who, for no other reason than to share experiences, contributes to this collective storybook. To the next 12—we really, truly, can’t wait to be riding Muni again once this is all over.

As always, we are here for your tales which you can submit by finding us as @munidiaries on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us at muni.dairies.sf@gmail.com.

Photo of Alexandria Love at one of our many Muni Haiku Battles, taken by Right Angle Images.

“What’s up with your little hat?” A multicultural conversation on Muni

Photo by @jjinsf

We like to say that Muni is San Francisco’s living room, and you never know where a conversation with a fellow bus rider will lead. We’re unearthing some favorite stories from our archives, and in today’s podcast episode, rider Timo shares a story about the time when someone on the bus asked him why he was wearing his yarmulke. 

Listen to Timo’s story:

Muni Diaries is made of stories by everyday San Franciscans, and in these times, your stories are more important than ever. We will continue to publish stories from our archive and hope this takes some stress off of your day while sheltering in place. If you have stories you’d like to share, our inbox is always open! Email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

A plea for better distancing, from a friendly Muni driver

A second Muni operator has tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, and we are hearing from our operator friends that they’d really, really like you to be mindful of everyone on the bus when riding Muni.

One driver who contacted Muni Diaries said that while they always remind passengers that they want to keep everyone safe, not all passengers are as careful as they could be. “We have many passengers who don’t take this seriously,” this driver confirms, and we can only imagine how much more stressful it is to drive Muni under these circumstances.

Earlier last week, several operators took matters into their own hands to protect themselves on the job, as reported by The San Francisco Examiner. Drivers were taping fare boxes close and shutting the front door to try to keep riders at least six feet away. Recently the SFMTA announced that backdoor boarding is required except for those with accessibility needs, which we hope would help with keeping safe rider-driver distance on the bus.

Our driver asks that if you ride public transit to get to your jobs or other essential services, please practice the recommended measures, like covering your mouth while coughing, keeping at least six feet of distance from others, and stay home if you feel ill. And of course, if you can avoid touching surfaces on the bus (which, even in peace time, we would recommend because of stuff like this), that would be extra great.

p.s. If you haven’t already, take a minute to read up on the service changes: there is no subway service, and some rapid routes have been cancelled for the time being.

Photo by @kevinkelleherphotography

Your weekend podcast list, Muni Diaries edition

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.

How to support: Become a patron at Shaping San Francisco’s Patreon page.

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?”

How to support: Become a patron on Wonder Dave’s Patreon page.

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.

We’ll keep the stories coming here on MuniDiaries.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo by @mwichary.

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