An anonymous letter about the no good very bad year (and A+ Muni story)

You might remember storyteller Nuala Sawyer, News Editor at SF Weekly and haver of what most of us would agree was a pretty shit year back in 2013. She told the story on stage at Muni Diaries Live in November 2018, and it gave us not-so-surprise tears again when we added it to our podcast lineup recently.

The podcast episode ended up having an impact on an anonymous podcast listener, too. That person sent Nuala this handwritten letter to SF Weekly and, just when you think you’re out of Muni-related surprise tears…

“Thank you for telling it. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for placing yourself in a vulnerable position with the man and with the audience of Muni Diaries. As you impressively seem to know, honesty and vulnerability change [sic] people—us as well as those around us,” the listener wrote. We couldn’t agree more, Listener. Thanks, Nuala, for sharing—in more ways than one.

Listen to Nuala’s podcast episode here.

Top photo by Right Angle Images; letter image courtesy Nuala Sawyer

See Muni Diaries at the Betabrand Podcast Theater on March 7!

We’re coming out of our humble podcast studio, rosé in hand, to record our first live episode at the Betabrand Podcast Theater! On March 7, we’ll bring our podcast live to you at the Betabrand store on Valencia Street, where you’ll hear hilarious and true stories from on and off the rails, and watch us chat live with some of San Francisco’s most seasoned commuters.

You’ll hear tales from storyteller Dhaya Lakshiminarayanan and The San Francisco Chronicle’s Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub. And just for the Betabrand Podcast Theater, we’ll bring you a new segment called “Ask Driver Doug” featuring longtime Muni operator Doug Meriwether.

Tickets are only $5 for our first live podcast event, so get ’em while they last!

Betabrand Podcast Theater presents: Muni Diaries

Tickets: $5

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Doors: 6:30 p.m., Show 7 p.m.

Betabrand

780 Valencia Street (between 18th and 19th Streets)

San Francisco, CA 94110

Take Muni there: 12, 14, 22, 33, 47, 49. Or take BART: 16th Street Station.

San Francisco Diaries: How a bookstore clerk became the owner of Green Apple Books

Pete Mulvihill is living every book lover’s dream: owning the bookstore he loves. Pete took a winding road to co-owner of the city’s beloved Green Apple Books, and we can’t thank him enough for keeping this space alive.

If you haven’t been to Green Apple Books, you owe it to yourself to make a trip: the sprawling bookstore on Clement Street features both new and used books, with witty staff commentary peppered throughout the shelves and many nooks and crannies (figurative and literal) to explore.

In this episode of the San Francisco Diaries podcast, San Francisco Diaries episode, Pete walks us down that winding road to co-ownership.

Listen to his story:

Want more bookstore tales? Check out our earlier episode with Alan Beatts of Borderland Books.

If you liked what you heard on our podcast, please consider supporting us on Patreon! Every dollar helps us keep the lights on and get even more stories into your ears.

Photo by Lynn Friedman.

What was your worst year in San Francisco?

Storyteller Nuala Sawyer was having a terrible year in San Francisco: an accident that broke her arm, being laid off from her job, and a terrible breakup on top of it all. It was one of those times in your life when you think things couldn’t get any worse. Then, a man on Muni shared a vulnerable moment with her that changed her perspective.

Nuala is the News Editor at SF Weekly. She writes about a little bit of everything: City Hall, the courts, homelessness, immigration, housing, crime and of course, transportation.

Listen to Nuala’s story:

You can follow Nuala on Twitter at @TheBestNuala, or hear her on Rollover Easy Thursday mornings at bff.fm.

If you have a story to share, whether it happened on or off the bus, we want to know! Submit your own diary entry to the Muni Diaries podcast by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook

How a bear bar helped one visitor give SF another chance

San Francisco can be a tough city to navigate, especially if you’re a visitor who is already having a hard time. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, storyteller Baruch Porras-Hernandez shares an exchange that he had with a visitor while working at one of the longest-running gay sex clubs in San Francisco. Upon realizing that the visitor was having some internal struggles, Baruch gives him a list of place of where to find like-minded people in the city. But after Baruch leaves work, the visitor returns to the club and gets some alarming information.

Listen to his story:
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Baruch is a writer, performer, host, storyteller, and regular KQED community events host based in San Francisco. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry and regularly organizes poetry shows in the Bay Area. Follow Baruch on Instagram (@baruchporrashernandez) to get the latest show updates.

Trigger warning: Please note that this story has themes about suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals: 1-800-273-8255.

You, too, can add an entry to our collective journal. San Francisco Diaries is looking for your personal stories about what it means to live here, and what makes our city “so San Francisco.” Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—or, our email inbox is always open!
Photo by Thomas Hawk

The secret in the basement at Borderlands Books

Borderlands Books is a gem in the city: a bookstore and cafe that specializes in new and used science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you’ve been around these parts 10 or more years, you might remember their sphinx kitties roaming the store, and a sign that told everyone when the cats were in.

Though there are plenty of spooky books on the shelves at Borderlands, the staff actually discovered something quite unsettling in real life, in the newly excavated basement of the bookstore. Some of you might remember that the Borderlands Cafe was a later addition to the shop, and during construction, co-founder Alan Beatts found something in the basement that sent the crew running.

Hear what happened in this week’s San Francisco Diaries episode (scroll down for transcript):
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Alan sends us this bonus photo of the basement. See the tree trunk on the right? It’s not going anywhere!

The bookstore also serves as an inspiration of a successful grassroots business: the beloved bookstore faced a likely closure a few years ago. Amazingly, and in true San Francisco fashion, they raised $2M via a grassroots campaign to buy a building on Haight Street, where they will relocate as soon as construction there is complete. Borderlands also has an ongoing sponsorship program that keeps their doors open.

This is definitely the preferred ending to You’ve Got Mail I’d been looking for.

Want to hear more great stories like these live on stage? Muni Diaries Live is back on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elbo Room. Help us give the Elbo Room a proper send-off! Tickets are on sale now.

Episode Transcript

Thanks to reader Chris L. for transcribing this episode!
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