Arts + Letters

Through the Lens of Hope: Obama’s Videographer Debriefs

Most of the people who follow the President of the United States wherever he goes are there to protect his life. But Hope Hall has a different job: to document it.

For the last six years, she’s been Barack Obama’s presidential videographer (think of her as the national fly on the wall). She doesn’t shoot videos for the official record; that’s the job of the White House Communications Agency, which documents every public event in which the President participates. Her assignment is to film the President in his more informal moments.

Milo’s Wild Ride, Now Featuring Campus Tour and Book Deal

If Donald Trump has his Boswell, it could well be Milo Yiannopoulos. The proudly gay Brit-born scribe has disrupted expectations on what it means to be a far-right provocateur, styling fabulous fashions and a smashing haircut even as he excoriates feminism, multiculturalism, environmentalism, and globalism—pretty much any ism that isn’t nativism. He is a champion of President-Elect Trump—whom he has been known to call daddy—and if he isn’t a white supremacist, he has undeniably given white supremacists a platform.

Filmmaker Dan Krauss Documents Ethical Quagmires

Moral complexity often rests at the heart of truly great films, and Dan Krauss has consistently gravitated toward documenting powerful stories on dubious ethical ground, where we see shades of grey, rather than sharp black and white.

Waxing Poetic: New Tech Revives Sounds from Past Treasures

In a corner of the Digital Imaging Lab in the basement of UC Berkeley’s Moffitt Library, recent graduate Olivia Dill is checking on the latest shipment of fragile wax recordings from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. These hard wax tubes, invented by Thomas Edison in the 1880s, are one of the earliest sound recording media.

Christmas at the Kingfish

Like most businesses this time of year, the Kingfish Pub in North Oakland is decked out for the Holidays, strung with lights and garlanded with pine boughs. There’s a neon sign in the window advertising Anchor Steam Christmas Ale and a wreath hangs in the middle of the marquee that juts out from the low-slung, conifer-green facade and sags like the bow of a foundering ship. It almost looks as if the whole place might sink beneath the pavement. But while many another watering hole has sunk and vanished over the years, the Kingfish abides.

WATCH: Inside Children’s Fairyland

Martin Snapp, Children’s Fairyland’s unofficial historian and, arguably, its biggest fan, leads us on a a brief tour of the Oakland institution. You can read his colorful history of Fairyland, which includes appearances by Walt Disney, Mayor Libby Schaaf, and the inventor of the magnetic key card, here.

The Struggle Continues: Checking in With Revolution Books

Many Americans are fired up in a bad way about Trump getting elected, and the Revolutionary Communist Party, aka RevCom, founded in 1975 by UC Berkeley grad and party chairman Bob Avakian, are particularly vocal about it. A stroll by Revolution Books, in the alleyway just west of Telegraph, between Durant Avenue and Channing Way, will tell you as much. Outside the store sits a signboard with a large poster of Trump in a KKK cap, complete with Hitler-stache—an image made all the more sinister by the gloom of the dark, rainy skies that have been drowning the Bay in the wake of the election.

The Original Happiest Place on Earth

Seated in her office behind a door bearing signs reading, “Warning: I have flying monkeys and I’m not afraid to use them!” and “What happens over the rainbow stays over the rainbow,” C.J. Hirschfield, the executive director of children’s Fairyland in Oakland, smiled as the sounds of toddlers gleefully sliding down one of the park’s newest attractions, the Jack and Jill Hill, a gently sloped mound covered with AstroTurf, filtered through her window.

New Luster for an Ancient Legend

Not everyone would choose as feminist hero a beleaguered wife who goes through a test of fire to prove her purity. Sally Sutherland Goldman has convincingly argued just that in her essay for the catalogue of The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum through January 15.

“An abused wife and yet a feminist heroine, she possesses a voice that continues to be heard as a powerful index to cultural norms, anxieties and resistances,” Goldman writes at the end of her essay, “A Heroine’s Journey.”

Harmonious Memories: The Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra Turns 50

Fifty years after its founding as a program of the Berkeley Adult School, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra (BCCO, for short) is going stronger than ever by remaining true to its two founding principles: amateurs only, and no auditions. Membership has zoomed from 20 people to 220, and there would be even more if BCCO could find a larger rehearsal space. And the quality of the musicianship has never been higher.

Making Believe: Actor Robert Sicular’s Devotion to Berkeley, the Bard, and The Bay

Born and raised in Berkeley, Robert Sicular feels sorry for people who didn’t grow up here. He even loved his time in high school, which he remembers as full of opportunities–not just in academics, but in sports and music and the arts. When he went there, Berkeley High School’s commitment to drama was clear—there was a theater technician and costumer along with the two drama teachers—all full-time.  

New Life: A Documentary on Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch Revives Both Filmmakers and Subject

When filmmakers Carrie Lozano and Charlotte Lagarde approached jazz pianist Fred Hersch about making a documentary, they intended to capture the making of his ambitious new multimedia production, My Coma Dreams. What started as an investigation into the fantastical creations of Hersch’s unconscious mind turned into a sumptuous celebration of his entire musical world.

Pages

Subscribe to Arts + Letters