Undergraduates at UC Berkeley who spend most of their days suffering, cramming, and dozing under the harsh lighting of Moffitt Library may not be aware that its Media Resources Center (MRC) has accumulated one of the largest collections of documentaries on video in the United States -- close to 10,000 titles. Documentary-film enthusiasts -- disabused of any ignorant notions of docs as dry, boring treatises crowding the schedules of film festivals -- appreciate what a treasure is kept in that House of Pain. It's a fabulous resource for undergraduates and specialized researchers of the "primary texts" of our world's history and culture, from the Lumière brothers to Lourdes Portillo.That collection, and the overall history of documentary film and filmmakers, are currently the subject of an exhibit, Reel Life Stories, at Moffitt's more elegant sister, Doe Library. Included are a gallery of posters, photographs, filmographies, filmmaking artifacts, and memorabilia, plus four hours of documentary film history projected on the wall.
Among the artifacts, says MRC director Gary Handman, are technological milestones of documentary filmmaking. There's the famous Auricon camera that enabled the American cinema-verité movement. The most notable film shot with this camera was Primary, an account of the 1960 presidential primary with John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, produced by Robert Drew, Richard Leacock (Louisiana Story), D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop), and Albert and David Maysles (Gimme Shelter).
Less obviously historic but important symbolically are the boots that filmmaker Werner Herzog promised to eat if Errol Morris, then a student, ever completed a film on pet cemeteries, Gates of Heaven. The doc was indeed made in 1978, and Herzog stoically chewed the leather (an act documented, of course, by Bay Area filmmaker Les Blank). In doing this, Herzog hoped to show aspiring independent documentarians, in Roger Ebert's words, "the importance of setting a goal and following a course that you think is right, ignoring the naysayers." It's a credo followed by thousands of documentary filmmakers over the past century. -- Frako Loden
Eat at Joe's
Skin on the walls
Friendly, funky Travelin' Joe's Home Cafe in Berkeley's industrial flatlands looks like the ideal updated truck stop for showing off your brand-new tattoo, so naturally it's the perfect spot for Tattoo Ephemera, a new exhibition of tat-related "paper" -- photos, posters, postcards, signs, and other collectibles -- from the nearby Tattoo Archive on San Pablo Avenue. While you're munching on the delectable Chili Cheese Corn Waffle, check out Tattoo Archive's collection of vintage oddities, history written on the skin of Americans. The show stays on the walls through June 30 at Travelin' Joe's, 900 Grayson St. (on the corner of 7th St.), 510-665-1660. The cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. -- Kelly Vance
Metal of Honor
Take off your beneficial magnet bracelets if you're heading down to the atrium in the State of California Office Building (1515 Clay St., Oakland). Through June 27, the Craft and Cultural Arts Gallery therein is exhibiting bigLITTLE: Jewelers and Sculptors Making It in Metal. 103 metalsmiths from the United States and Canada -- including the East Bay's Curtis Arima, Susan Brooks, Daniela Hoffman, and Miel Paredes -- have contributed a gaggle of gold, scads of silver, and so on, from the pinkiest pinky ring to the most imposing of nonfunctional sculpture. The exhibit is affiliated with the 2003 Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) Conference, taking place in the West Bay in May. -- Stefanie Kalem
Not Your Mama's Lookout
New Wave gets a bit newer when the East Bay's Communiqué and Baltimore's the Oranges Band play the Stork Club (2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). It's a Lookout! Records Showcase, which means, basically, that there will be CD giveaways, and that the quality of the music is pretty much guaranteed. The five-piece Communiqué is on a melodic tip, while the Oranges Band has a more angular style. Also on the bill are East Bay bands Cutlass Supreme (Guided by Voices-style punk pop quartet on Some Records), and cardigan sweater-pop outfit Love Is Chemicals. The show starts at 9-ish, admission is $5, and the Stork is always 21 and up. -- Stefanie Kalem
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