Arts + Letters

Get Your Head in the Game: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball

I arrive at Evans Diamond on a chilly Friday night, find a bleacher seat among the 400-plus fans in attendance, put my phone on airplane mode, and pull out my scorebook. This is not my usual ballpark routine, but tonight I’m determined to watch this game through new eyes—or at least, through the eyes of UC Berkeley philosophy professor Alva Noë. I’ve just read his new book, Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark, and have familiarized myself with his particular, even peculiar, way of understanding the game.

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

“Our Democracy Is on the Line”: Q&A with Cartoonist Darrin Bell

Darrin Bell was about 5 years old when he discovered political cartoons. He was living in Southern California, and he came across the work of Paul Conrad while leafing through issues of the Los Angeles Times.

“I was just a little kid, but I learned about the Iran hostage crisis through Conrad,” Bell recalls. “I loved his images, and I asked my parents what they meant. They explained them to me, and I followed them avidly. I knew I wanted to do that kind of work someday.”

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

Burning Passion: Photographer Noah Berger on Shooting Fire

Noah Berger admits he wasn’t the most diligent student when he attended UC Berkeley back in the early 1990s. He simply didn’t feel cut out for academe. In fact, there was only one thing that really engaged his interest during his freshman year in 1992: taking photographs for the Daily Californian.

And the Rest Is (Oral) History

Among those appalled by the 2014 publication of Forcing the Spring was Martin Meeker, a historian with UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center. Subtitled Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, the book, by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jo Becker, spotlighted high-profile attorneys and what proved a limited, statewide victory.

Incunabula, VHS Tapes, and Silverfish: Unpacking the Bancroft

Sometimes the rough draft of history isn’t a newspaper, but a pile of them. Along with moldering manuscripts, reams of correspondence, posters and handbills, memoranda fastened together with rusty paper clips, all of it stuffed into decaying cardboard boxes. Rodents may or may not be involved.

Strokes of Genius: Hans Hofmann’s Gift to Berkeley

Hans Hofmann, the great abstract expressionist painter and teacher, might never have made his indelible imprint on 20th-century American art, first on the West Coast and ultimately across the U.S., had it not been for two summers teaching at UC Berkeley. The invitation came from Worth Ryder, an art department faculty member and former Hofmann student, and without it, it’s possible there wouldn’t even be much of a Berkeley Art Museum.

From the Spring 2019 issue of California.

Photojournalist Wesaam Al-Badry on the Dignity in Suffering

Bright, sherbet colors form the palate of Wesaam Al-Badry’s newest exhibit, a series of portraits that features Muslim women in traditional garb—with a twist. Instead of the usual neutral-toned veil, the women don designer scarves, made by brands like Gucci and Chanel, that have been repurposed as high-fashion niqabs.

Not Just Refugees: Photo Exhibit Documents a People in Crisis

Chris Beale doesn’t call himself a photographer. Or a journalist. Or an activist. When asked his profession, the 42-year-old is quiet for a moment before replying, “Gardener. I’m a landscape gardener.”

Cal Performances Sings the Saga of the Undocumented

Cal Performances isn’t in the habit of weighing in on topical controversies, but when it comes to defending Cal students, the organization decided it was time to raise a voice.

Make that many voices—Cal Performances has assembled a stellar roster of artists to create an oratorio inspired by the stories of undocumented students living in fear that they and their families could be uprooted at any moment.

Cal’s interest in the fate of undocumented students predates the 2016 election by years.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

He Left El Salvador as a Boy. He Returned Home a Poet.

Javier Zamora, a Salvadoran-American poet who lived for most of his life sin papeles, doesn’t care too much for labels. Or borders for that matter.

Born in El Salvador and educated at UC Berkeley, Zamora immigrated to the U.S. when he was only 9 years old. Since then, his literary success has earned him new titles—immigrant activist, hero of the American Dream, and very recently, with his new EB-1 visa, a person with “an extraordinary ability.”

From the Fall 2018 Culture Shift issue of California.

This Cal Grad Is Out to Change The Rules of Comedy

Comedian and Cal grad Zahra Noorbakhsh is a self-described “pork-eating, alcohol-drinking, premarital sex-having, bisexual feminist Iranian Shi’a Muslim.” That is, she doesn’t fit neatly into any one box.

Spanish Professor Speaks the Language of the Blues

UC Berkeley grad and Spanish professor at Diablo Valley College, Marina Crouse has recently found remarkable success in her long-forgone passion for music. With the release last month of her debut album Never Too Soon (Little Village Foundation), the late-blooming singer is starting to earn national attention. And in just a few short years Crouse has become one of the most powerful new voices in the Bay Area music scene.

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