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Reading Roundup: World Cup, Summit Humor, Notable Firsts, More

June 16, 2018
by Pat Joseph

Break out the vuvuzelas

The World Cup is underway in Russia, and the Americans aren’t there. Team USA failed to qualify after losing to Trinidad and Tobago. As some wag observed, it clearly wasn’t fair: We shouldn’t have to play two countries at once.

For American soccer fans wondering who to root for, the Daily Cal’s Rory O’Toole suggests a few possibilities, including the hirsute Icelanders. For my part, I’ll be cheering on Peru, which qualified for the first time in 36 years. For all you Spanish speakers out there, former UC Berkeley lecturer and novelist Daniel Alarcón has the story at Radio Ambulante. For a slightly different take, in English, check out his segment on This American Life. (Full disclosure: Dani is my brother-in-law. But I root for Peru anway.)

Beaches, not bombs

Nicolle Wallace, a Berkeley alumna and former White House advisor to President George W. Bush, made headlines for laughing at President Trump’s remarks after the North Korea summit. What had the news commentator cracking up? It was the following observation by our Commander in Chief, delivered at a press conference:

“They [North Korea] have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at that! Wouldn’t that make a great condo!’ And I explained, I said, you know, ‘Instead of doing that, you could have the greatest hotels in the world.’ Think of it from a real estate perspective.”

The three-state solution

Venture capitalist Tim Draper wants to split California into three states and has managed to get the measure on the November ballot. Secession is not a new idea in the Golden State—more like one that won’t die. UC Berkeley political scientist Jack Citrin told USA Today, “It’s hard for me to see this going anywhere. But it does tell you one thing about California politics: With enough money you can probably put anything on the ballot.”

Rent control

It’s official: London Breed is the Mayor of San Francisco and the first African-American woman to head up SF City Hall. She succeeds late Mayor Ed Lee, a Boalt alum who graduated from Berkeley Law in 1978 and went on to become San Francisco’s first Asian-American mayor.

In the latest issue of California, we interview Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguín, himself a former Cal student and the city’s first Latino mayor. (That’s a lot of firsts, no?) One of the surprising details that emerged from our talk with Mayor Arreguín: He’s a renter.

“My rent is $600 a month, roughly, but I share a three-bedroom apartment with two other friends…I’m one of those many renters that can’t afford to move anywhere else. And, like a lot of people in my generation, I certainly can’t afford to buy a home. A majority of Berkeley residents are renters, and I am the first renter who has been the mayor of Berkeley in probably 30 years. Definitely that informs my perspective on housing policy.”


The Summer issue is called “Our Town,” by the way, in a nod to Berkeley High graduate and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder. In it, we shift our focus slightly, from Berkeley the campus to Berkeley the city, starting with a story that blends local architecture and Berkeley’s bohemian roots, which you may be surprised to learn, run far deeper than the Beats or the Hippies.

We hope you enjoy it and that you find it “Berkeley enough.”

Enjoy the weekend.

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