San Francisco Diaries: Who gets to define this city?

Smiley Poswolsky left his suit-wearing days behind in Washington, D.C. to start a new life as a writer in San Francisco. Today, he’s an expert on Millennials in the workplace and author of the book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough. A few years in to his life here, he found himself realizing that some of the things he enjoyed about the city were also having a negative impact on his beloved new home. This prompts him to consider a timely question: Who has the right to define a city and what it is (or should be) all about?

This has been a hot topic as of late, even in national news. This prompted us to turn to our listeners: If you could give the city a cultural health score, what would it be and why? 

Listen to his story:

Got something to say about Smiley’s story and the current state of our city? Email us your thoughts at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us #munidiaries on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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.

A surprising reunion at the Castro Safeway

Growing up nerdy is not easy anywhere, especially in Birmingham, Alabama. Storyteller Dhaya Lakshminarayanan thought she’d left those teenage memories behind when she moved to San Francisco. But one day, she unexpectedly reunites with one of her long lost friends who shares those high school memories.

Upon finding each other at the Castro Safeway, Dhaya and her friends embark on a new friendship that involves an urban rodeo and other very San Francisco experiences.

Listen to her story:

This story was recorded at the Betabrand Store on Valencia Street in San Francisco, as the inaugural Betabrand Podcast Theater. She’ll be there this Thursday, April 4, with Muni Diaries Live alum Kristee Ono for “Get Present Immediately: two meditating comedians.

Want more live storytelling on and off the bus? Muni Diaries Live is back this Saturday, April 6! Come on down to Rickshaw Stop to commiserate and celebrate with your fellow riders. Tickets are on sale now.

San Francisco Diaries: Finding Satan’s jacket at the Elbo Room

The Elbo Room has been the home of Muni Diaries Live for many years, and just before its San Francisco location closed permanently, co-owner Matt Shapiro joined us on stage to share one of the many memorable, behind-the-scenes tales from the famed club. He had worked for years as the manager and booker at the Elbo Room, which housed the legendary lesbian bar Amelia’s in the 1960’s (the bar swaps out its signage for Amelia’s old sign for Pride). In 2010, he and co-owner Erik Cantu bought the bar.

Matt’s San Francisco Diaries story involved Satan, his leather jacket, and the lengths that club owners will go to keep a promise.

Listen to his story here:

You can still visit the Elbo Room’s Oakland location in Jack London Square where its old signage is proudly displayed in the front of the building.

Meanwhile, Muni Diaries Live continues! We have found a new home and our next show is on April 6th at Rickshaw Stop in Hayes Valley. Tickets are on sale now.

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.

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

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