Arts + Letters

Online Hams, With a Side of Wry: How Product Reviews Became Performance Art

When news broke last December that a sick Disneyland visitor sparked an outbreak of measles, opponents of the anti-vaccination movement took to Twitter and Facebook in outrage. But as the disease laid low more than a hundred people in seven states, some turned instead to Amazon.

Arlo Guthrie Brings His Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour to Berkeley

It’s been 50 years since that memorable Thanksgiving Day in 1965 when Arlo Guthrie was busted for littering in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, an event that seemed trivial at the time but eventually led to his being rejected for military service by his draft board—to his great relief—because of that “criminal record.”

The Ballad of John and Helen: Berkeley-Based Meyer Sound Are Global Audio Pioneers

Drop out. It’s such a leaden term. Yes, yes, Helen Brodsky dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1968, dashing the hopes and dreams of her Cal alumni-laden family. Before even declaring a major (she was leaning toward Russian Lit), she and her new boyfriend, John Meyer, an autodidact with a gift for tinkering and engineering, decided that unsettled times called for adventurous spirits, and lit out for the East, ending up in India.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Killing It in Berkeley: Richard Pryor Crushed His ‘Cosby’ to Become Comedy’s Top Badass

Richard Pryor was snoozing, draped across the back seat of a car driven by an erudite, bespectacled white man named Alan Farley. It was February of 1971 and Pryor was fleeing Los Angeles, trailing personal and professional casualties: three children with three different women, a few high-profile onstage breakdowns, two parents recently deceased, a flop debut album, and one angry manager who quit after Pryor pistol-whipped him in a tiff over money.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Resurrecting the Old UC Theatre: Will This Revitalize Berkeley’s Music Scene?

On University Avenue in downtown Berkeley, they’ve erected a shiny new marquee—black, blue and gold, with white lettering that almost seems too clean for the boarded-up building and the street beneath it. Dodge the construction workers and step inside, through a modest lobby and hallway coated in old grime and fresh sawdust, until a door opens up into an enormous old theater. It feels like a huge cave or an underground palace of ancient times. The seats are gone, the floor is gutted, and every construction crash and boom feels like the echo of a long-forgotten memory.

Lost Childhoods: First-of-its-Kind Museum Displays the Artifacts of Foster Care Kids

Buried in the garages of suburbia are boxes of stuffed animals, worn-out sneakers, and abstract crayon drawings—the detritus of ordinary childhoods. The items in a new exhibit at Oakland’s Warehouse 416, “Lost Childhoods,” are a little different: a makeshift menstrual pad constructed from wads of toilet paper stapled together. Underpants from juvenile hall. A tattered bill of Monopoly money, with the phone number of a grandmother in Mexico scrawled on the back.

One Fewer Radical at Berkeley: Emma Goldman Papers Forced to Go Elsewhere

Managing an archive is like herding cats: You think everything is moving in the right direction, and suddenly you’re out wandering around the suburbs, looking for a lost tabby—or in the case of the archivist, the dusty stacks in search of some elusive source material.

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