How the beloved Boat Tram became a real boi

Pic by Adolfo Echeverry Photo for Market Street Railway

One can’t help but smile when they see the Boat Tram, one of the Market Street Railway’s most unique and beloved vehicles. Which is why there’s no better inanimate object to take on an entire online personality.

How timely, as the Boat Tram is back in business by Fleet Weekend for those marking their calendars, according to The Bold Italic. Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays look like your best chance of a sighting or a ride going forward, but like many celebrities, their whereabouts are vague.

In honor of its return, we’re bringing you storyteller Chris Arvin, the person behind Boat Tram’s online persona, AKA Boat Boi. Tune in to hear about how Chris married a keen interest in transit with the power of the internets to turn Boat Tram into a real boy. Er. Boi.

Chris told this story at our 2019 Muni Diaries Live, the last time we were all in the room together, footloose and covid-fancy-free.

A product designer who is passionate about cities and public transit, Chris sits on the SFMTA Citizen Advisory Council and speaks often and strongly in favor of transit-friendly policies and plans. You might also know Chris from the adorable pins, stickers, Clipper card covers they’ve designed at their store, transit.supply.

Listen to their story:

Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisarvinsf, and keep up with Boat Boi @boattramsf. By far the hippest social media presence of a transit vehicle, if you ask me. Here are some of the moments that Chris mentions in the podcast episode:

Though we did not, in fact, see you all in the spring for the next Muni Diaries Live, having Boat Boi on my jacket puts a spring in my step nonetheless.

We are always looking for stories of people who make San Francisco the beautiful city it is today, on and off the rails. If you have a story to share or someone to nominate, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

San Francisco Diaries: Opening night at Rickshaw Stop

After shuttering for more than a year since the start of the pandemic, San Francisco venues finally opened their doors to indoor events last week. We talk to Dan Strachota, the talent buyer and managing partner at Rickshaw Stop to hear about their first indoor show about a week ago. Rickshaw Stop is also the home of Muni Diaries Live, so we were especially relieved to know that the venue is back in business.

Dan shares the behind-the-scenes details of their first show (featuring local bands Zola and Zelma Stone), and all the unexpected things that happen after 16 months in hibernation.

Dan has been the managing partner at Rickshaw Stop for nearly a decade, and the talent buyer for 17 years and counting. He has been an outspoken advocate for independent venues in San Francisco.

Listen to the interview:

We’re always looking for stories from people who love and care about San Francisco. If you have a story to share, or want to nominate someone to be on the podcast, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And keep up with your Muni musing with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Support these SF AAPI orgs and stop telling the Muni ‘chicken story’

San Francisco is approximately 37% AAPI*, and here at Muni Diaries, we are 2/3 Asian women, the first-generation American children of immigrants, and proud of our heritage. We’ve spent more than a decade documenting life in San Francisco because we love our city. But that love letter can be harder to write in the shadow of violent crimes against Asians in San Francisco and a mass shooting targeting Asian women in Atlanta.

Like all people of color, we were hardly surprised—this is the reality of being non-white in the United States. But we were horrified for the victims, current and future. As Asian women, public transit enthusiasts, and longtime urban adventurers, we wonder how easily it could have been one of us.

Even in our tiny universe of collecting your stories on Muni, race has been a constant. We started the conversation about race on Muni Diaries in 2009 after an audience member made fun of a Chinese stereotype at our live show (henceforth named the Muni Chicken Story Incident). And we continue having these conversations with one another and within our community today.

Early in the pandemic, our Asian-American readers asked, “Do you feel that people are glaring at you on Muni?” We were almost relieved because we were experiencing the same.

The issue of race remains one of our most frequent editorial judgements in story submissions; ethnicity is often included as a descriptor when relaying a tale, even if it doesn’t add anything to the story. It usually seems unintentional, but from our perspective behind the scenes, it highlights how descriptors of “others” are noteworthy, whereas descriptors of the perceived default—white—are not.

Every incident reminds us that we can’t only be philosophically against AAPI hate, we actually have to do something about it every single day. We will continue to make Muni Diaries a fair and inclusive place to talk about our city, and we encourage you to support these San Francisco-based Asian-American organizations who are on the front lines of advocacy.

If you have other organizations to add, and other actions to share, our comments section and inbox are always open to your point of view.

Photo by Right Angle Images.

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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Photo by Amanda Roosa.

Predicted time for Muni Diaries Live is a little longer than we thought

Aw man. We’re sad to say that we’re postponing Muni Diaries Live, scheduled for April 4. We don’t have a new date in mind yet, but we’ll be watching the advisories closely to make sure we’ve cleared any danger zones.  As battle-hardened as we all feel by riding public transit in San Francisco, a pandemic is something else entirely. We’ll announce our new date as soon as we can, whenever we can safely celebrate life in this weird, wonderful city over anxiety-free drinks and stories.

Originally:

Twice a year we celebrate the surprising stories that happen between strangers on Muni and BART, and we are returning to Rickshaw Stop on April 4th to celebrate 12 years of documenting commuter life in San Francisco. Tickets to Muni Diaries Live are on sale now, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Our stellar lineup:

Dushka Zapata is a Quora superstar and author of Amateur: An Inexpert, Inexperienced, Unauthoritative, Enamored View of Life and Love Yourself and Other Insurgent Acts That Recast Everything, and more. Having worked in the communications industry for more than 20 years, she helps companies and people put into simple terms who they are, what they do, and where to go next.

Becca Henry is San Francisco born, raised by wolves, and got her start on stage performing comedic burlesque before buying new bras and making her way into standup. Known for her distinctive voice and commanding presence, Becca brings her brand of fierce, awkward humor and tales of personal chaos to take audiences through her debased thoughts, unique perspectives and impressive range of octaves.

Lia Smith has been published in Ms.Seventeen, and literary magazines Bamboo Ridge and Other Voices. She’s been riding Muni since she first arrived in San Francisco at age seven. She is currently collaborating with her artist husband, Keith Ferris, on an art book about Muni, a collection of portraits and interviews of operators and drawings of passengers. Muni has always been a lifeline for her: No matter how long or inconvenient the wait, once the bus arrives, all my cares drop away.

Rachel Swan covers transportation for the San Francisco Chronicle. She was born in Berkeley and grew up riding BART, Muni, and AC Transit. Now she takes mass transit with her two daughters.

Jesús U. BettaWork is a local comedian who has performed throughout the Bay Area and beyond. He hosts the “You Betta Work Comedy ¡Fiesta!” at the San Mateo County Pride Center every third Friday.

Wonder Dave is a writer, comedian and performer from Minneapolis, MN, now living in California. He has toured the country performing at poetry venues, schools, cabarets, science fiction conventions, burlesque shows, bowling alleys, and independent wrestling shows. He has been a featured storyteller on the Risk podcast. Dave’s poetry has been published in anthologies by Write Bloody, Lethe Press, and Sibling Rivalry Press.

Grab a ticket today and see you at the show!

Muni Diaries Live

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Doors: 5:30 p.m. Show: 6:30 p.m.

The Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell Street, San Francisco

Take Muni there: 21, 47, 49, F, J, K, L, M, N, T. Or take BART: Civic Center Station.

Special thanks to Secession Art and Design for generously sharing their wonderful Bernal store space for our show rehearsal. Photo by Right Angle Images.

Law and Order, Muni Style

Muni rider Maureen Bogues didn’t think a ride back from a baby shower would be quite so eventful. Staring into screen-addicted oblivion on the way home, a mugger grabs her phone and takes off. Fueled by a combination of adrenaline and reflex, she chases after them. What would you do in this situation?

In this week’s podcast, Maureen shares the details of that eventful ride, culminating in a truly unexpected journey home.

Hear her story:

We’ve heard of other riders taking bus justice into their own hands, and while a lot of those tales had happy endings, we wouldn’t go so far as to recommend that approach. Like the bus robot says, when in doubt, “keep your eyes up and your phones down when riding a Muni vehicle.”

This podcast episode was recorded at Muni Diaries Live last month at Rickshaw Stop. But you don’t have to be a stage alum to land on our podcast; our inbox is open if you have a Muni tale to share. Pitch your story at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Photo by Amanda Roosa

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