Top Moments from Alta Live in 2021

Relive the digital magic of Alta Journal’s weekly event series with a roundup of highlights.

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Alta

Even as we slowly began to emerge from our pandemic pods in 2021, Alta Live, our weekly live event, continued to thrive in the digital space, welcoming viewers from all over the world every Wednesday. In fact, streaming interviews and discussions with Alta Journal contributors and subjects allowed us to share some pretty incredible moments and conversations with our audiences. Here are some favorites from the past year.

ALTA LIVE: BIRD-WATCHING GOES BOTH WAYS

Bird-watching is wildly popular, and according to ornithologist Dan Cooper, the spectating goes both ways. Cooper joined Alta contributor Jason G. Goldman and Alta editor at large Mary Melton for a detailed discussion on Los Angeles’s winged watchers and the people who flock to observe them.

ALTA LIVE: ARTIST CHRIS SICKELS

It’s difficult to put the magic of Chris Sickels’s work into words, so we asked Alta’s Spring 2021 cover artist to show us it. Direct from his studio in Indiana, Sickels shared his process, works in progress, and surprising inspiration in this decidedly colorful Alta Live.

ALTA LIVE: JAMES CAGNEY

Poet James Cagney brightened our spring by reading from his own work in this special episode of Alta Live. The Oakland resident sat down with fellow poet and Alta contributor Matthew Zapruder for a fascinating conversation, but it was hearing Cagney recite his poetry that really knocked our socks off.

ALTA LIVE: HERITAGE BARBECUE FOUNDER DANIEL CASTILLO

Daniel Castillo’s delicious California barbecue includes brisket, ribs, sausage—and a whole lot of heart. The chef joined Alta contributor Gustavo Arellano for a special episode filmed live at San Juan Capistrano’s Heritage Barbecue. Warning: this interview will make you hungry.

ALTA LIVE: MARK BITTMAN AND ALICE WATERS

Who better to talk to us about food than experts and pioneers chef Alice Waters and author Mark Bittman? The pair joined Alta publisher Will Hearst for a conversation on their respective new books and the future of food, and to reveal a few pro tips. Hint: put lemon zest on your pizza.

ALTA LIVE: MAX CHAFKIN ON PETER THIEL

Author Max Chafkin joined Alta Live to kick off the launch of The Contrarian, his definitive biography of Silicon Valley powerhouse Peter Thiel. Chafkin discussed the highly controversial figure—and the enormous power he wields—with Alta newsletter editor Matt Haber. Even for those who knew a few things about Thiel, this interview was an eye-opener into his influence over our lives.

ALTA LIVE: PACIFIC CREST TRAIL TRAGEDY

The response to Louise Farr’s award-winning feature on the death of Trevor Laher on the legendary Pacific Crest Trail was overwhelming, but it was his father’s appearance on Alta Live that stopped us in our tracks. Doug Laher and rescue volunteer Cameron Dickinson joined Farr for this powerful interview.

ALTA LIVE: PHIL ROSS, THE MUSHROOM MAN

If anyone can transform the way we look at (and use) mushrooms, it’s Phil Ross. The artist and entrepreneur’s passion for spores is contagious. Irreverent, brilliant, and blunt, Ross joined Alta contributor Adam Fisher for a fascinating look at fungi and, believe it or not, high fashion.

ALTA LIVE: SHARK LAB

Alta Live has welcomed interesting experts on all sorts of animals, including butterflies, bees, and condors, but it was a special treat to welcome Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab director Dr. Chris Lowe for a deep dive into the white sharks swimming off California’s coast. We had a ton of shark questions for Lowe, whom we found to be exactly as cool as one might expect the director of a place called the Shark Lab to be.

ALTA LIVE: STANFORD MURDER MYSTERY

California history, a slideshow of vintage photographs, and a conversation on murder most foul with author Julia Flynn Siler: what more could one ask for? Siler joined Alta Live for an examination of the murder of Stanford University cofounder Jane Stanford. Who killed her and why? We have some theories.

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