Author Visit, Documentary Screening and Punk Concert: James Spooner, Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries & 924 Gilman

Contact: Tess Mayer
Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library
(510) 981-6100

Author Visit, Documentary Screening and Punk Concert
James Spooner, Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries & 924 Gilman

Berkeley, California (June 16, 2023) – On Saturday, June 24 at 2pm, meet the award-winning author, tattoo artist, illustrator, and filmmaker James Spooner. He will be in conversation with Justin Hall, celebrated San Franciscan academic and cartoonist.

Spooner’s coming-of-age memoir, The High Desert: Black. Punk. Nowhere., depicts his reckoning with identity, racism, clumsy teen love and belonging in an isolated California desert town and in the punk community. It was named in Publisher’s Weekly best of 2022 and received the Alex Award in 2023.

The author talk will conclude with a book signing and then a live musical performance by special guests, Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries, whose punk shows have been described by the Los Angeles Times as “…scaffolded by rage, humor and joy… celebrating queer life while shouting down sexism, racism, fatphobia and homophobia.”

This Library event is being held at Berkeley’s iconic Alternative Music Foundation, better known as 924 Gilman or just “Gilman.”

“We love being able to partner with the Library and provide a space to center artists of all kinds,” says Lexi vdV, community coordinator of The Alternative Music Foundation, “And, we are looking forward to the event so we can get our copies of The High Desert signed!”

The event will last from 2pm-5pm. Walk-ins may be accommodated the day of the event, but reserving FREE tickets is highly recommended:

“When I was a teen, DIY punk venues were a lifeline,” says teen librarian Brianna Arellano-Meli. “Having accessible, creative spaces to meet and make friends, see and play shows, and make and enjoy a variety of art practices are values of community building and resource-sharing fundamental to libraries as well. This is going to be a very special, fun and loud community event!”
James Spooner helps host another library event, earlier in the week, as well.

On Tuesday, June 20 at 5:30pm, attend a film screening at the Central Library of his award-winning 2003 documentary, Afro-Punk, that celebrates the contributions and talent of African American punk musicians and activists. A live virtual presentation and Q&A session with him will follow.

Learn more about Spooner’s career and 924 Gilman event details on the Library’s website.

For questions about these the film screening and author event, please contact Brianna Arellano-Meli at (510) 981-6238.

For questions about additional Library events, services, hours and locations, please call (510) 981-6100 or visit