Arts + Letters

Together, Apart: A Musical Reunion Rings in the Solstice

Almost two decades after graduating, a group of 2002 UC Berkeley alums received an email from their old music professor. Would they like to get together again—at least, virtually—to create a video that might give people comfort during the pandemic? Nineteen of them responded with an enthusiastic “yes!”

It was April, and Marika Kuzma, professor of music emerita and director of the University Chorus and Chamber Chorus from 1990 until 2016, knew that the coronavirus would continue to prevent choirs from congregating—perhaps indefinitely.

“Release Your Genius”: Remembering John Bishop on Bloomsday

I arrived at UC Berkeley in the fall of 1980 set on earning my PhD in astrophysics, and left five years later with an English degree and a burning passion for writing and reporting. What happened? John Bishop happened. One brilliant teacher, kind and absurdly generous, lit an internal flare inside of me that illuminated my imagination from within, with arc-welder intensity.

A “Killer-Type Virus” Ends the World!

LATELY, I’VE BEEN COLLECTING NEWS of wildlife appearing in deserted towns and cities around the world: Wild goats roaming shuttered Welsh villages, jackals skulking in the streets of Tel Aviv, Indian bison ambling along vacant highways in New Delhi, coyotes howling in North Beach. As we shelter in place, the animals are rushing into the void. And not just the charismatic megafauna, either. Witness the legions of dumpster-deprived rats battling nightly on Bourbon Street. 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

One Man’s Search for Baseball’s Underdogs

Of all the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, the delay of the Major League Baseball season ranks pretty low on the list, closer to the cancellation of Coachella than the shuttering of all public schools. And yet for many people sports would have been the ideal distraction from the stress and uncertainty of the present moment. Alas, baseball is just one of a long list of things we must do without for the foreseeable. But remember, baseball is America’s most written-about sport.

Quarantine Culture: Essential Recipes for Desperate Times

Cooking has taken on new significance as we shelter in place. As always, we turn to the kitchen for comfort, creativity and sustenance but now also with renewed gratitude for the people who grow, harvest, prepare and sell us our food. For this installment of Quarantine Culture, we asked esteemed chefs and cookbook authors from the Cal community to share with us some simple recipes for these times, when runs to the grocery store are kept few and far between and the pantry staples are calling our attention. Give thanks and bon appetit!

Alice Waters Talks Food and Hope in Hard Times

Restaurateur and food activist Alice Waters is holed up in her Berkeley home amidst shelter-in-place orders, but she is hopeful about the future. Waters discovered her passion for the culinary arts in the late 60s when she left UC Berkeley to study abroad in France.

Quarantine Culture: Essential Jazz for Desperate Times

Music uplifts the spirit, so we asked soul singer Kim Nalley what to listen to (and watch) while sheltering in place. A die-hard multi-tasker, the Berkeley Ph.D. candidate took a break from cooking, writing, and keeping up with her two kids’ education (she says “Disney+ streaming has been a life saver”) to tell us what she’s into.

He’d Lost Faith in Journalism. Then He Started Teaching in Prison.

In 2012, William Drummond had begun to lose faith in journalism. A changing media landscape in the age of the Internet had led to what he saw as an abandonment of the fundamentals. So when the Berkeley journalism professor was invited to teach a class at the San Quentin State Prison and become an advisor at the San Quentin News, the renowned paper published by inmates, he saw an opportunity to do something meaningful and decided to put his students to work at the paper as well.

From the Spring 2020 issue of California.

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