Arts + Letters

An Entomological Etymology

Over the centuries, bug has become an astonishingly versatile little word, with roughly six common meanings and 170 slang uses. But why? Where did the word come from and how did it manage to so infest the English language?

The question was buggin’ me, so I called up Geoffrey Nunberg, renowned linguist and professor at the Berkeley School of Information, to see what he could tell me.

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

A Disruption in The Force: Peter Nicks’s New Documentary Has a Hella Big Plot Twist

Pete Nicks thought he knew what he was getting into when he started filming the Oakland Police Department in the fall of 2014. The department had long been under the thumb of a federal judge due to a series of lawsuits exposing poor management and pervasive abuses, but the OPD had a new chief who seemed poised to reform the troubled department.  

Spirited Away: the Life of the Ghostwriter

The year was 1986, and Barbara Feinman Todd was a writer in disguise. Her mission? To crash a party— the 45th wedding anniversary of the director of the CIA, being held at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. No press was allowed, but it was her job to find out who the guests were.

From the Summer 2017 Adaptation issue of California.

WATCH: Flashback to When the New US Poet Laureate Read at Cal

In describing  poet Tracy K. Smith’s work, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says: “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Hayden named Smith  the 22 nd U.S. poet laureate this Wednesday. 

Vijay Iyer Jazzes Up the Ojai at Berkeley Music Festival

A couples counselor could have warned Vijay Iyer that the relationship was doomed, but he needed to figure it out for himself. When he arrived at UC Berkeley in the summer of 1992 to start a graduate program in physics, Iyer was also nursing a simmering passion for jazz. The pianist quickly started connecting with some of the Bay Area’s leading improvisers, and after two years, he found himself in something of a crisis—uninspired by his academic courses while increasingly drawn to intensive jazz sessions.

Q&A: Rebecca Skloot on Seeing “Henrietta Lacks” Come To Life Onscreen

When Rebecca Skloot was 16 years old, her biology teacher wrote a name on the blackboard: “Henrietta Lacks.” He explained that Lacks was a black woman whose surgeon had extracted cells from her tumor in 1951. They turned out to be the first human cells to survive indefinitely in a laboratory. Billions of so-called HeLa cells lived in labs around the world and had helped produce treatments for leukemia, influenza, Parkinson’s disease, and many other ailments.

Portrait of a Nation: Dorothea Lange Photo Exhibit at OMCA

Fifty years ago the Oakland Museum of California acquired the largest collection of Dorothea Lange’s photography in the world. It was donated by her husband, Paul Taylor, after Lange’s death in 1965 and contains more than 25,000 negatives and 6,000 prints.

Anti Lab: A Resource Center for “Creative Resistance”

Resist and assist: A tidy couplet that captures the spirit of Anti Lab, a self-described “resource center for creative resistance” whose uses, like its political stances, are multiple. Anti Lab, which opened in Oakland in April, is an exhibition space for local artists, a meeting place for organizations that don’t have their own, and a hub for visitors to make use of free art supplies or grab a cup of coffee.

WATCH: The Music Keeper

Cal Performances will stage the first ever modern-day performance of the original The Temple of Glory, a gem of the music library’s collection, this weekend at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. 

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