Artist tips his cap to Muni, a refuge for tougher times

As he carted his belongings to the bus stop, Kurt Schwartzmann knew that he relied on the kindness of the Muni driver, lest he face another cold night on the streets of San Francisco. When the bus door opened on one particular night, he was relieved to see the familiar face.

This was a lifetime ago, before Schwartzmann conquered his struggle with drug addiction, found his way as an artist, and met his now-husband. While he was homeless, Muni had become the refuge for Schwartzmann.

Schwartzmann, who has lost sight in one eye due to complications to AIDS, dedicated his art series, “Yellow Line,” to the Muni drivers whose empathy helped him survive those difficult times. His art has been exhibited at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and at City College of San Francisco.

We first met Schwartzmann on Instagram when he posted about his art series, and we were thrilled that he told his story at Muni Diaries Live in April at Rickshaw Stop.

Growing up in Fresno as a young gay man, Schwartzmann said that San Francisco had always been a symbol for “freedom of expression and refuge from intolerance.”  In honor of Pride weekend, we are sharing his story in today’s podcast episode. Take a listen:

If you have your own Pride story to share, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Photo credit: RightAngleImages.

Camp Folsom: ‘You were chosen, and they had your back no matter what’

With the Tales of the City show on Netflix and the Pride flags up on Market Street, we’ve got chosen family on the brain: the people you find by circumstance, often in pivotal times in your life, whom you end up keeping by choice.

On the podcast today, we have musician Colin Daly—incidentally among my own chosen family—who stopped by the studio to share a timely retelling and ode to his time at Camp Folsom: where a room in the Mission was only $300 and life lessons—about money, community, heartbreak, and learning to be a grownup—were included in the rent.

Here’s his story:

San Francisco Diaries, and our original project, Muni Diaries, are made of your stories and everyone’s experiences. Submit your own tale from the city by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Pic courtesy of Brandy, upper left. Colin is in the foreground, and Meghan is behind him.

Toeing the thin red-blue line on the 49

Storyteller Kathleen Auterio is a longtime Mission resident who got along famously with rival groups staking their claims in the neighborhood—an affable quality that came in handy when she and fellow passengers on the 49 got caught in the crosshairs of a potential firefight.

Everyone drops to the ground with their faces against the Muni floor (ew!), and the typically unflappable Mission expert describes how she handled the tough situation alongside her neighbors.

Here’s Kathleen’s story, told originally at Muni Diaries Live in April 2019:

If you liked this episode, please rate us on iTunes and help us spread the word about the city’s original, rider-powered online journal!

What did you see on your commute today? Submit your own tale on the bus by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Photo credit: Right Angle Images

Bonding over Grand Master Flash on Muni

There is no age limit or generational requirement to appreciate Grand Master Flash, especially on Muni. From rider Ramona Soto via the Muni Diaries Facebook Page (which, of course, you are following, right?).

On the 14 Mission bus, a middle-aged man was blasting Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message.” Nobody was paying much attention to him. But just before getting off the bus, an older woman with a walker looked back and shouted, “Who’s playing that music?”

He shouted back, “Me!”

We all wondered what would come next, as she obviously had few inhibitions herself. Would she start screaming at him? Would he get violent?

Instead, she replied, as she hobbled toward the door, “Good! I LIKE that music.”

Then, still muttering as she exited the bus at 7th Street… “Yeah, I’M close to the edge. That’s RIGHT. You’d better believe it!”

Music does often unite riders, like we saw in this podcast episode where Aretha Franklin concert attendees banded together on BART. What did you see on your commute today? Submit your own tale on the bus by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Photo credit: @DJFlash4Eva