"Wrestling with God" book with Barbara Falconer Newhall

Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith

"Any seeker of any faith will be blessed to read the words of this fine author and observer."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Click to learn more about "Wrestling with God"

Regulations: Will Trump’s Slash and Trash Deregulation Put Americans at Risk?

Our future after regulation 'reform'? More scenes like the Oakland Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 mostly young people, artists, musicians, LGBTQ folks. A few days after the fire, it was cordoned off as a "crime scene." Photo by Barbara Newhall

Our future after regulations ‘reform’? More scenes like the Oakland Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 mostly young artists, musicians and party goers? A few days after the fire, the street was cordoned off as a “crime scene.” Whose crime? Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Why bother with regulations? Why not just slash them and trash them, as Donald Trump has decided to do at the federal level?

Why bother? Because regulations, federal, state and local, keep people safe. Because without carefully conceived and implemented regulations, people die. People like the 36 artists, musicians and party goers who perished on Dec. 2, when Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse-turned-artists-loft burst into flames.

As Julie Prodis Sulek pointed out in a Dec. 15 article in the East Bay Times, the Ghost Ship warehouse fire “was no natural disaster, no earthquake, no [Read more…]


Jesus Was a Loser — Does That Make Donald Trump a Winner?

Barbara Falconer Newhall with Scott Dikkers, editor of "Trump's America: The Complete Loser's Guide" at Book Expo America 2016. Photo by Barbara Newhall

One of the fun people I met at Book Expo America in Chicago was Scott Dikkers, editor of “Trump’s America: The Complete Loser’s Guide.” I went home with a copy of his belly laugh of a book. Barbara Newhall photo

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Does this sound like Donald Trump talking — “Jesus was a loser, a nobody who couldn’t keep his hair out of his eyes and whose apostles were a bunch of weirdos and lowlifes.” As for God, “he was a Grade-A loser who couldn’t control his brand.”

If it does sound like The Donald bloviating on the topic of faith, that’s because no less a comic light than Scott Dikkers, founding editor of The Onion, [Read more…]


Amazing Places: A Walk Around Oakland’s Jingletown

First panel of the murals along Rue de Merde in Jingletown, an Oakland, CA, neighborhood is by Bill Silveira. It shows the words "Oakland Riviera." Photo by BF Newhall

Bill Silveira’s mural is the first of many along Peterson Street, nicknamed Rue de Merde in honor of its role as a popular dog walk . Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Is Oakland the next Brooklyn? Lots of people are saying so. [Read more…]


Actor Robert Morse – Sweaty at 36, Sublime at 83

A scene from Mad Men TV series where Robert Morse playing Bert Cooper sings and dances surrounded by dancing secretaries for Don Draper.

Robert Morse as Bert Cooper sings and dances. AMC photo

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The last time I saw Robert Morse there were beads of sweat on his forehead. It was 1967 and he was working the crowd on the set of a local TV comedy show. [Read more…]


I Can’t Believe I Got in the Water With That 1400-Pound Whale

17-foot pilot whale Koko swimns close to reporter barbara falconer newhall at Marine World-Africa USA in 1979. San Francisco Chronicle photo by John O'Hara

Koko, the 17-foot whale, swam within inches of me in the small tank at Marine World-Africa USA. It was all I could do to hold still and not kick him. San Francisco Chronicle photo by John O’Hara

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Last weekend I watched the trailer for the CNN documentary “Blackfish” and saw a Sea World trainer attacked and pulled underwater by an out-of-control killer whale. I had to wonder — could that have been me?

3 bottle-nosed dolphins look at camera at Marine World-Africa USA in 1979, including Spock and mate Shiloh. San Francisco Chronicle photo by John O'Hara

When I asked to meet these dolphins, I didn’t know about their 1400-pound tank mate. SF Chronicle photo by John O’Hara

“Blackfish” traces the deadly history of  killer whales at places like Sea World, and watching that footage brought back memories of  the day I found myself in a tank of water with a killer whale cousin — a 1400-pound pilot whale named Koko.

It was 1979. I was young and fearless.

And like a lot of people, I entertained some big fat romantic notions about the soulfulness of dolphins. [Read more…]