Arts + Letters

Would Twain Have Tweeted?

Would Mark Twain tweet if he were around today? Quite likely—he was an enthusiastic early adopter of the high-tech media of his era and an aphoristic genius. “Not that he’d tell the world what he had for breakfast,” says the Bancroft Library’s Harriet Smith, one of the editors of the two recently published volumes of The Autobiography of Mark Twain. Read more about Would Twain Have Tweeted? »

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Rebecca Solnit: Berkeley adds another “boundary breaker” to its Wall of Fame

Rebecca Solnit has been described as a “cultural historian,” which is probably as good a handle as any, given her investigative ambit. The author of 14 books and numerous awards—including the National Book Critics Circle Award—she has written on art, music, gender politics, peripatetic tourism and urban trends. Read more about Rebecca Solnit: Berkeley adds another "boundary breaker" to its Wall of Fame »

The Dilbert System: Fail until you don’t

The definition of failure is lack of success, but for most people it means much more: Failure destroys hope, it crushes goals, it steals energy, and it strips us bare of our resources. But not everyone sees it that way.   

“I have cultivated a unique relationship with failure. I invite it. I survive it. I appreciate it. And then I mug the shit out of it.” Read more about The Dilbert System: Fail until you don't »

Recipe for Success: Cal alum dishes on the Food Network

Allen Salkin has spent the majority of his career writing about the sometimes bizarre but always fascinating ins-and-outs of American culture. During his tenure at The New York Times, Salkin explored nearly every crevice of popular culture, from the Hollywood “Bling Ring” to Bernie Madoff’s beach house to the real-life adoption of Festivus—a fictional holiday featured in a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.” Read more about Recipe for Success: Cal alum dishes on the Food Network »

Lights, Camera, Economics

If charisma were measured in inches, Berkeley political economist Robert Reich would be a very tall man—but he’s short. Famously so, barely 4’11”. It’s not something he hides. To the contrary, he works his height the way a fat comic works his weight, beginning speeches with deadpan openers like, “As you can see, this economy has really worn me down,” and, “I’ll be short.” Read more about Lights, Camera, Economics »

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

Movie Romance

On a warm summer night in Berkeley, a diverse group of movie­goers congregates on the south side of campus, just off Bancroft, near the entrance to the Pacific Film Archive (PFA) Theater. The building is sort of a hip take on a Quonset hut—intended as a temporary alternative to the theater in the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM), which has been closed for retrofitting since 1999. Yet, like the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, it still serves dutifully, screening films nearly every night of the year. Read more about Movie Romance »

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

The Man Behind the Movies

James Schamus is a rare specimen in the film business. Not only is he a high-powered movie executive—CEO of Focus Features, the art house division of NBC Universal—he is also a writer and producer of the first order, with a long list of credits that include The Ice StormBrokeback Mountain, and Lust, Caution. He received an Academy Award nomination for Brokeback Mountain (Best Picture) and two more for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, including Best Original Song (he wrote the lyrics). And, as if all that weren’t enough, Schamus is also a professor of film theory at Columbia University in New York City. As you might expect from that last item on the CV, he has a Ph.D., but he only finished his dissertation in 2003, after Berkeley asked him to deliver that year’s commencement address to the English Department. Tim Gray, editor-in-chief of Variety, told a reporter, “He’s the only person in the business I’ve ever seen who said, ‘I can’t go to Cannes because I’ve got to work on my doctorate.’” Read more about The Man Behind the Movies »

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

Uncertain Prospects

(Note: In this gritty diary, director Jesse Moss captures his challenges filming “The Overnighters,” which just received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for “intuitive filmmaking” at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Moss, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1993, thanked the festival for “believing in this film when we really needed someone to believe in it.”)


DAY 425

“Get off my property or I’ll shoot you.” Read more about Uncertain Prospects »

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

Finding Her Tribe

One glance at the promo for her TV show was enough to send her heart plummeting like an elevator with snapped cables. The ad depicted a female flight attendant—or stewardess, as they were once universally called—lying in bed, partially draped in a sheet, wearing only a jaunty Pan Am flight cap. To the show’s originator/executive producer, Nancy Hult Ganis ’78, M.J. ’81, it was the utter anti­thesis of her vision. Read more about Finding Her Tribe »

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

The SS vs. Shirley Temple

The collaboration of American movie studios with Nazi Germany was complex and multifaceted, and as the decade progressed, it evolved in a clearly discernible way. More and more, the Nazis dictated the terms of every encounter, and the studios, instead of leaving the German market, did everything they could to remain. As the years passed, fewer American movies were shown in Germany, but as long as the studios pandered to the whims of the Nazi regime, the collaboration remained as strong as ever. Read more about The SS vs. Shirley Temple »

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

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