Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Talking on Muni

Last night, I was chatting with my friend Tim about Thanksgiving dinner menus and this woman stepped between us. Was she inserting herself to make us shut up? (Perhaps she was offended by my anti-turkey stance?)

I said, "You can stand here." And I gestured toward the spot to my right.

She looked at me blankly, but I'm certain that she understood the situation.

"You should stand here so I can stand next to my friend," I said.

Reluctantly, she moved.

Tim cracked up. "I can't believe you," he said.

"Clearly you're from California," I said.

So today my friend Jen was telling me about people holding hands on N Judah this morning. They were positioned so that they blocked the door. For other passengers to enter or exit, they had to say "excuse me" to the hand holders. The N Judah must carry only Californians. Try that in NY and you're going to get your ass kicked.

Sometimes I miss the east coast. Then it snows and I don't. Also, Muni is way cheaper than NY or Boston.

Today's Stats:
Wait time: 1 minute
Ride time: 15 minutes
Muni Reading: New Yorker, again. Fiction by Roddy Doyle. It kind of bored me.
Irritation level: Very low. I was riding the J Church because I got my teeth cleaned in Noe Valley this morning. I love riding past Dolores Park.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

DiFi Disappoints, Again

At the risk of cursing the public transport goddesses, I'll report here that the past few weeks have been pretty pleasant on Muni. In fact, today's irritation has nothing to do with Muni. But it has everything to do with our world.

For the past three weeks, Dianne Feinstein has let San Francisco, California and Democrats down again and again. She has repeatedly voted as if she were powerless in the face of the Bush administration. She seems to forget that she's in the majority. Her lame excuse is generally, "We have to pick the lesser evil because Bush will find a way to make this happen anyway."

Sure he will, with spineless senators like Feinstein rolling over for him again and again.
This week alone she's expressed herself appallingly on two crucial issues:
The Attorney General: Waterboarding? Oh, whatever. Welcome Mukasey.
FISA: Spying on Citizens? Well, we need to protect our telecom companies from lawsuits.

She also had a predictably wimpy response to the disastrous oil spill in SF Bay.

I'm a lifelong Democrat. I have NEVER not voted in my life. I read the voter manuals. I write to my representatives. I have a stronger aversion for "direct democracy." But I've also had enough of Feinstein's bullshit. A quick Google search of "Recall Feinstein" reveals that I am not alone.

The thing is, a recall amendment would eventually turn federal electoral politics into a bigger version of screwed up California electoral system. So what do we do? There's some great discussion on Kos today.

I will protest, write, withhold money, organize, and foment dissent as best I can. Join me. Dianne doesn't deserve a free ride until the end of her term. Visualize ZZTop playing songs of protest at full blast outside of her mansion as she plots more ways to please the greedy corporate titans who feed her a neverending supply of greenbacks. It won't stop her from ignoring the values of her constituency, because she doesn't understand our values. But it will irritate the hell out of her.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hungry? Wait Until You Get Off Muni!

Jen arrived at the office this morning with a story about a man who was eating on the N Judah. He was dipping his head into the bag and coming up with mouthfuls of cornflakes. Some might laud this as a sanitary way of eating on the bus. After all, the bus germs get on your hands, not your mouth. (Unless you put your mouth on the rail as I've seen people do.) Jen & her fellow N Judah passengers had to watch this guy, dipping his face in and out of his bag as cornflake detritus fell on his belly, the seat and the floor. It stuck to his wet jowls. And he chewed with his mouth open.

It reminded me of an episode I witnessed on Tuesday evening. A woman passed through the turnstyles at Montgomery eating a green apple. The station agent called out, "No eating on Muni." Apple eater shot her a dirty look, bit defiantly into her apple and headed for the stairs.

Next, the agent is on the p.a. "No eating on Muni. Please put that apple away!"

Still, Apple Eater is chewing away on this massive green apple. I'm thinking about that guy in Florida who was tasered for asking John Kerry too many questions. Who knows what Apple Eater is thinking.

The M arrives and A.E., still chewing on the fruit, steps on. A security guard follows, honing in on A.E. as the train heads toward Powell. Perhaps we'll never know if the security guy let A.E. go, or if he tasered her, or if she gave him a bite of her apple and they discussed creation myths like a subterranean Adam & Eve.

Here's the thing. There are many reasons that you shouldn't eat on public transportation. The bureaucrats would probably cite cleanup costs or some obscure health code violation.

For me, though, it's simple. I don't want to watch you eat while I'm commuting. I don't need to see you chew. I don't want to step on your cornflake crumbs. I don't want to site on your discarded apple core. And a sure as hell don't want to be held up while you argue with the driver or the security guard about eating on Muni. Just don't do it. It's gross.

In election news - they're going to be counting ballots for days. I still hope that this stupid Prop A goes down. How come all the supposed progressives think that this is good? You want to be a progressive? Pressure your elected officials to make a stand about more than slogans and "free" Muni improvements. SFist has an interesting take on all this.

Today's Stats:
Wait time: 5 minutes
Ride time: 18 minutes.
Muni Reading: New Yorker - The Mitt Romney article. Man that guy bugs me.
Irritation level: Very low. My favorite driver made his usual announcements - "Through no fault of my own, traffic is heavy in the tunnel." and "The computer will not open the doors until we have arrived at the proper place on the platform." It makes me happy to hear this. It also makes me happy to parse his voice. Today, I hit on this: A mix between Truman Capote and R&B impresario Johnny Otis.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Good Morning Gavin

Like a lot of ladies and gentlemen in the city, I find the idea of "Good Morning Gavin" kind of appealing. I'd say good morning to him, he'd hand me a cup of coffee, and we'd peruse the morning paper. We'd shake our heads ruefully over Ed Jew's latest trouble and chuckle at Leah Garchik's overheard item. Then it'd be off to the shower for us......

This morning's "Good Morning Gavin" was a bit different. My child and I were entering the subway at Castro and Gavin was there campaigning alongside the ever-cheerful Bevan Dufty and the diminutive Aaron Peskin who had wisely positioned himself several yards uphill from our tall-drink-of-water mayor.

Gavin, as always, had a spanking white shirt on. He's moved on from the dark solid suit and wore a fetching striped number. I didn't notice the tie, because I was completely focussed on his impeccable shave and large, soft hands. All this at 7:45 a.m. I guess he's still on the program.

I wished Gavin good luck tomorrow and expressed my disappointment that he was campaigning for Measure A. Rather than get into a discussion about the importance of representational democracy, Gavin engaged my child in a brief discussion about the importance of equality for all robots. Charming.

Then I had an idea. If Muni really wants to delight customers, they should make Gavin an official greeter. He could be like those chunky erstwhile boxers stationed outside of the high-roller sections of casinos. You know it might not be good once you get inside, but you feel pretty special after your brief brush with glory.

I hope Gavin's still there when I go home tonight. Then I'll live out the second half of the collective San Francisco dream.

"How was your day, Gav?" I'll ask.

He'll smile quietly and point to his throat as we wait in vain for the 24 Divisadero.

"Sore throat, again?" I'll ask. "A steamy shower should help."

And even though we'll have to forgo the evening martini, it'll still be quite nice.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow. No on everything except Measure D Renewing Library Preservation Fund.

Oh yeah. And yes on Gavin. Definitely yes on Gavin.

Today's Stats:

Wait time: 3 minutes
Ride time: 15 minutes. Could have been longer. I was dazzled.
Muni Reading: New Yorker - Roger Angell on baseball. He's great.
Irritation level: Zero! Thanks, Gav!