The year was 1986, and Barbara Feinman Todd was a writer in disguise. Her mission? To crash a party— the 45th wedding anniversary of the director of the CIA, being held at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. No press was allowed, but it was her job to find out who the guests were.
Arts + Letters
1 How did you become the university librarian?
This summer, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will be presenting the first US museum retrospective of artist Charles Howard’s work since 1946, charting the trajectory of his career from the early 1920s to the 1960s. Howard was a prominent figure in the surrealist and abstract art movements, and brought together the European and American movements of his time.
Posted on June 15, 2017 - 3:29pm
In describing poet Tracy K. Smith’s work, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says: “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Hayden named Smith the 22nd U.S. poet laureate this Wednesday.
Posted on June 14, 2017 - 3:56pm
A couples counselor could have warned Vijay Iyer that the relationship was doomed, but he needed to figure it out for himself. When he arrived at UC Berkeley in the summer of 1992 to start a graduate program in physics, Iyer was also nursing a simmering passion for jazz. The pianist quickly started connecting with some of the Bay Area’s leading improvisers, and after two years, he found himself in something of a crisis—uninspired by his academic courses while increasingly drawn to intensive jazz sessions.
Posted on June 5, 2017 - 11:31am
When Rebecca Skloot was 16 years old, her biology teacher wrote a name on the blackboard: “Henrietta Lacks.” He explained that Lacks was a black woman whose surgeon had extracted cells from her tumor in 1951. They turned out to be the first human cells to survive indefinitely in a laboratory. Billions of so-called HeLa cells lived in labs around the world and had helped produce treatments for leukemia, influenza, Parkinson’s disease, and many other ailments.
Posted on May 18, 2017 - 11:42am
Fifty years ago the Oakland Museum of California acquired the largest collection of Dorothea Lange’s photography in the world. It was donated by her husband, Paul Taylor, after Lange’s death in 1965 and contains more than 25,000 negatives and 6,000 prints.
Posted on May 10, 2017 - 12:57pm
Resist and assist: A tidy couplet that captures the spirit of Anti Lab, a self-described “resource center for creative resistance” whose uses, like its political stances, are multiple. Anti Lab, which opened in Oakland in April, is an exhibition space for local artists, a meeting place for organizations that don’t have their own, and a hub for visitors to make use of free art supplies or grab a cup of coffee.
Posted on May 9, 2017 - 7:11pm
Cal Performances will stage the first ever modern-day performance of the original The Temple of Glory, a gem of the music library’s collection, this weekend at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley.
Posted on April 26, 2017 - 2:04pm
Nathalie Rhae—contortionist and assistant director of Circus Spire, a pre-professional youth circus troupe— gives CALIFORNIA a peek behind the scenes of the contemporary circus and shows us why she wants to spread her love of the aerial arts.
Posted on April 17, 2017 - 2:18pm
When Sonia Nazario was 14 years old, she and her mother came across a pool of blood on the sidewalk. It had been about a year since they’d moved from Kansas to her mother’s native Argentina, right at the onset of the country’s “Dirty War.” She asked her mother about the blood. “The military killed two journalists today, for telling the truth about what’s going on here,” Nazario recalls her saying.
Posted on April 6, 2017 - 3:55pm
Feminism has come roaring back, from the recent popular vote to pussy hats and other forms of protest. And so have its opponents. Whether happenstance or part of the Zeitgeist, Counterpoint Press last fall reissued a feminist classic, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. Written by Susan Griffin and originally published in 1978, the book traces the fallout from Western culture’s artificial division between spirit and matter.
Posted on March 28, 2017 - 5:02pm
Seven hours before Shane Bauer was to start his 6 a.m. shift at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana, his wife shook him awake. “Something’s wrong,” she said. His colleague from the magazine Mother Jones, James West, hadn’t returned from shooting nighttime footage of the private prison where Bauer worked. Had officials there discovered that Bauer wasn’t just a regular guard, but an investigative reporter from San Francisco?
I couldn’t decide what made me feel dirtier—looking at hundreds of pictures of naked girls, or rifling through the personal belongings of a man I’d never met. But I was doing both one evening in the Bancroft Library reading room, traversing the late photographer Charles Gatewood’s massive archive chronicling the kink, tattoo, and body modification subcultures of America and especially the West Coast.