How we invaded Bernal Heights

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.
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When your Muni driver hands out unexpected treats

Just when you think Monday is getting you down, this Muni driver’s random kindness can cheer anyone up. From the Muni Diaries Instagram submission box, @Bloom_reports says:

My Muni driver was handing out 🍒 earlier today. Carried ’em home in my pocket. Love this city.

A few years ago a Muni operator told us that he would hand out candy when he’s driving on Halloween night to sooth the mood on the bus if anyone belligerent gets on. So sweet. Do you have a driver story to share? Someone who made your day? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox is always open!

Your 2017 Bay to Breakers Costume Inspiration

muni door closing bay to breakers costume
Photo by Lindsay N

It is my firm belief that if you’ve lived in San Francisco for
a few years, you probably have a section in your wardrobe dedicated to costumed events, like Bay to Breakers this Sunday. If you are still looking for inspiration, look no further than our public transit system. Our current favorite is the young woman dressed up as “that painfully embarrassing Muni door moment,” above.

And despite drunken partiers, Bay to Breakers is also a quintessential San Francisco event that can change your experience of living here. In this week’s Muni Diaries podcast, storyteller (and Elbo Room sound man) Gabriel Armstrong shares his story of what happened when he carried his broken down B2B vehicle home on Muni, and scaring little kids on the way. Listen to his tale on iTunes and Google.

bay to breakers muni
Photo by Nick Fisher

More costume inspirations:

Photo by Octoferret

Photo by prawnpie

And an awesome costume in action:

Want to show off your cool costume or spotted an especially creative B2B outfit on its way to the race? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox is always open!

Muni Diaries in the News

Muni Diaries is making local and national news, and partnering with awesome people all over town! Pic by Noah Berger for The San Francisco Chronicle “Joyful, weird San Francisco is back. These big community events are just what we need.” – San Francisco Chronicle “Collectively, in San Francisco, there were all these things that we live here to do that […]

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Muni stop trick or treat? (No, really?)


Muni — and San Francisco — love Halloween. To make sure we really get into the spirit of things (ha! ha! ha…), someone either awesomely or creepily (depending on what kind of day you’re having) left some Tootsie Rolls, wrapped and all, at this Muni stop.

One of my favorite Halloween stories involves a Muni driver handing out candy to her beloved passengers on the 33, so I’m going to err on the side of “awesomely” to describe this admittedly strange cargo. Especially since far worse has been left behind at a Muni stop.

Hear our best Muni stories live on stage! Muni Diaries Live is back on Nov. 5 at the Elbo Room. Tickets on sale now!

Peek at an old Muni driver manual

old muni driver manual muni diaries

Derek from 4fifeen Clothing is a San Francisco native who makes great tees and hats showing some serious city pride. It turns out he had even more reason to claim SF street cred: His dad was a Muni driver and has the operator’s manual to prove it!

My pops’ old #sfmuni #amgeneral operator’s manual. #woodsdivision Born and raised in #sf.

Here’s what Muni’s driver recruitment looks like today, and the Muni operator’s handbook, all 155 pages on the mechanics of being a Muni driver. A fascinating read for any transit geek, really.

More insider driver tales:

What do Muni drivers really think of you?
Muni driver reveals behind the scenes stories
An oldie but a goodie: Muni driver decorates bus for Halloween

Photo via @4fifteen.

Love these Muni moments? Come to Muni Diaries Live on Apr. 16 at the Elbo Room to hear our best stories live! Tickets.

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