Monthly Archives: April 2006

Going Off The Rails In A Crazy Train (Station)

Muni Street Theater seemed to be on hiatus for a while, but the other day we had a new performance art troupe set up shop at Powell Street.
Recently I took on a client that required me to be on site for a short term basis over in the east bay, which has meant I have to get up rather early to get out to Lafayette by 7:30am. So, I find myself going through at least two downtown BART-to-Muni stations daily, which is great because as we all know, all Bay Area mass transit agencies work together to ensure a seamless travel day and get you on your way. Oh, did I mention the crack they sell on the BART really helps make the ride smoother?
But back to Muni Street Theater. I decided (foolishly) to get off BART on the way home at Powell St. instead of my usual stop for some unknown reason. As I got up the escalator I could hear noise. Then yelling. Then LOTS of noise and yelling. I had to see what was up.

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Who’s Your Favorite Muni Driver?

Notable neighbor Craig of Craigslist made a mention of one of the more popular N-Judah Muni drivers on his blog last week, the unnamed driver who reminds us all that “Muni Loves You”. Other blogs have noticed our happy driver as well.
I was on the N yesterday on the way home from a medical supplies run to Safeway on Market Street. I’d been sidelined by one of the worst allergy attacks I’ve had since I was a kid, and graced fellow riders with my red-eyed, runny self on the way and back. I’m sure they loved that.
Anyway, on the way back from said supply run, I had another driver (or maybe it was the same one) who was lightening up the mood by not turning off his microphone right away after announcing each stop. What was really funny was his reaction to a myriad of incompetent double parkers and bad drivers who were driving around like maniacs in front of an oncoming train.
“MOVE OVER RED ROVER!” he boomed at one point, and followed it up with “Please move aside, thank you sir!” and so on. It was one of those “had to be there moments” but it was pretty funny.
This reminded me of a conversation I overhead between two women commuting home one day, also noting the different kinds of drivers on the Muni, and one suggested someone come up with trading cards of popular Muni folks.
Interesting idea, eh? What kinds of trading cards could you come up with for Muni?

Simple Equation for No-Cost Fun In San Francisco

A simple equation for a no-cost afternoon in rainy San Francisco with a friend:
N-Judah to Powell + Powell/Hyde Cable car to Lombard = BYOBW (Bring Your Own Big Wheel)
Truly a San Francisco moment. I mean, racing Big Wheels (and their variants) down the crookedest street in the world, made even more entertaining by the slick surface caused by our own monsoon season? Combine that with semi-grouchy to semi-amused residents, bewildered tourists, and whole lotta folks just having some good clean fun, and you have a great Sunday. Besides, where else can you see a guy riding a Barbie Big Wheel, or the drama of using the Cable Cars to block the oncoming traffic to allow for the race to start? NOWHERE, that’s where!
It was a lot of fun, especially when the rainbow showed up for a short time by Coit Tower. Afterwards, my photographer/videographer and I went to Kennedys for some Indian food and
, as it turns out many of the others watching and participating did as well. And thanks to my good friend VisualVixen, you can watch a short video by clicking here!

Free Rides on Muni for Earthquake Day

Hey San Franciscans (and visitors too) – tomorrow, April 18th, you can ride Muni for FREE! Since there will be all sorts of big events for Earthquake Day, Muni has announced that all buses and Munis are free so you don’t have to drive to anything.
Communters beware that there will be some delays, and some stops will be relocated so beware. And enjoy the parade and festivities too!

N-Owl Nightlife Guide: John Colins on Natoma St.

First in a series of reviews of nightspots easily accessible via Muni
Last Friday I had dinner with a cool friend of mine at Osha Thai (previously mentioned on this site). As always it was great food at a great price, and this time we tried out the fried banana dessert. Not only did it taste good, but check out the amazing presentation on the plate. When it arrived I’d assumed it was a painted design on the plate itself!
Afterwards we went to a cocktail mixer hosted via Bay Area Linkup at a bar on Natoma @ 2nd (just a couple of blocks from the N’s Montgomery St. Station) called John Colins. I’d never been there before, and although it is not my usual style of bar to hang out at on a Friday night, I was willing to give it a try, especially since it was located literally around the corner from the Thai place.
From the outside it is a very unassuming little place, but the inside of the bar is very cozy, and can get quite crowded at happy hour.
However, despite this, I didn’t mind the crowds that much. The atmosphere was quite fun, wasn’t nearly as pretentious as some other downtown-y bars can get, and as the meet-up time of 8:30 p.m. approached, the crowd thinned out just enough for our group to find each other just fine and have enough breathing room to socialize.
My good friend took some pictures of the decor in the bar, which had a sort of subdued tiki islander theme, as did the drink menu.
The thing that really stood out for me was how friendly, efficient and skilled the bartenders were at John Colins. Their drink menu is really interesting, and though a bit more pricey than I’d usually like, were well worth it. I ended up trying a few different ones, and as you can see in this lovely candid shot of me with a Mojito they’re rather potent, as well.
All in all, if you’re looking for a place downtown to meet someone after work before heading out to places in the neighborhood, or on points accessible by our trusty downtown Muni streetcars, John Colins is a good place to go. Places like this get an extra level of scrutiny if they are out of my normal bounds of nightlife, and it passes the test with flying colors. Much of the credit goes to the hardworking bartenders who know to stock more than a couple of brands of rum, and take pride in their work and maintaining a fun place to check out. And being just blocks away from Muni, you can get home safely as well!
Pictures copyright 2006 by Visual Vixen
Got a suggestion for a future review? Email me your suggestions for fun, interesting, and cool places to go that are easily accessible by our beloved Muni!

A Moment of Sun on the N and the 43

As you all know, we’ve been getting some rain this past month. No, make that a lot of rain. Day after day of dreary skies and wet days. It’s been driving me nuts – I’m one of those people who really needs to be in the sun daily, otherwise it starts to affect me a little.
So yesterday, when I got an unexpected call from a friend who was in town, I decided to leave my home office early (around 3pm) and get outside. Plus, thanks to the inventors of this gadget I got way ahead on some work I was doing, so I was out of the office.
Immediately I felt better. So, I decied to meet my friend at USF, which usually calls for a 43 to campus. I got on the N to get to 9th Avenue, but started to wonder…should I get on the 43 at 9th, or should I stay on the famous N to Carl St. and Cole St.?
These are the questions someone who’s been inside too long starts to debate in their head.
I decided on the latter, not realizing I was about to participate in a realtime comparitive test of the Muni system. You see, a couple of the more wildly dressed “youths” got off the train at 9th and Irving. The only reason I really noticed was because they were dressed in such a way you couldn’t notice them. Longtime SF residents know exactly what I’m talking about.
Anyway, I got off the N at Carl and Cole and waited for a 43. When I finally got on the 43 I walked ot the back and whom did I run in to? The two youths who got off at 9th and Judah to take the 43! So the results of the unintended experiment were in – it made no difference which way I went – the timing was exactly the same!
I met up with my friend at USF, and we ended up stopping off at Tommy’s Joynt before he headed off to some diplomatic affair at the German Consulate. If you haven’t walked by this place, you really should sometime. Located on Jackson St., It looks like it belongs in a Le Carre novel or a James Bond movie. I kept expecting a clown to crash through the window with secret codes or something.
Thanks to Daylight Saving Time and the sun, I didn’t feel like running home right away so I ended up taking a walk and ended up at Kennedy’s on Columbus, had a Guinesss ($2!) and took a cable car back to Powell Station and talked to some of the day’s tourists, and some natives catching a ride thanks to their Muni Pass. It was fun.
The sunlight and exercise and the Guinness moved me out of winter blahs and into a near euphoria by the time I got home. My roommate probably thinks I’m insane by now since I was so “up” when I got home. But that’s what a little bit of sunlight can do for some folks.!

Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants….and Dear Mr. Ford…

If you’re going to the big game today, be sure to take the N-Judah to the ballpark. It’ll drop you off right in front of the stadium so you don’t have to worry about parking, etc.
Also, be aware that you can no longer buy a return fare outside the stadium before the game like you could in the past. You’re better off just paying at the farebox with your quarters and dollars instead, I think.
And, if you’re connecting to BART or other transit don’t forget to take advantage of these little incentives that’ll shave oh, a quarter or so off your return fare home.
Enjoy the game and this window of good weather we’re having…it’s supposed to start raining again fairly soon!
PS: Be sure to check out the latest Dear Mr. Ford column at for some interesting photos of Muni arrival times…