Arts + Letters

A Rabbi, an Ex-Soldier, a Palestinian and Some Lesbians Walk into a Band…

The American filmmakers knew they were taking risks. They couldn’t expect to smuggle Israelis-passing-as-Americans in and out of the West Bank—not to mention pointing a camera at everything while they were there—without facing any consequences. So when they pulled their car full of women off the road in Nablus to film a b-roll shot, and looked up to see a man walking toward them with a machine gun, they kind of panicked.

As director Jen Heck recalls, “I thought to myself: Tonight is the night I’m going to jail in a Palestinian prison.” Read more about A Rabbi, an Ex-Soldier, a Palestinian and Some Lesbians Walk into a Band... »

The Poll Slayer: New Book Argues that Surveys are Simplistic But Humans are Complicated

It’s virtually impossible these days to imagine an America without those vaunted interpreters of the national mood: polls. They help determine the fate of political contenders, shape social policies, and interpret the mood of the nation. The aggregator realclearpolitics.com lists no fewer than 22 public polls in the past week focused on the Democratic presidential primary alone.

But are polls as useful as we think? Read more about The Poll Slayer: New Book Argues that Surveys are Simplistic But Humans are Complicated »

Art with a Twist: Berkeley Art Museum’s Gala Features Work by Literal Iconoclast

Yes, the new Berkeley Art Museum will be filled with impressive works of art, but how many museums can claim that their fundraiser’s invitations and dishes are becoming collectors’ items? Then again, how many are able to say that their party paraphernalia bears the designs of an American cult figure?

The fold-out invite card and the plates for Thursday’s event feature patterns created by Barry McGee—the man who back in the early 1990s created a name for himself, literally, as a San Francisco graffiti artist who went by the tag “Twist.” Read more about Art with a Twist: Berkeley Art Museum's Gala Features Work by Literal Iconoclast »

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Gets Set to Open in New Digs

The new UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, now in the final stages of construction, exists in the heart of downtown as the large shell of a structure—its insides not yet filled with the art and art fanciers who will flood its halls when it opens to the public on January 31.

Though the new museum is 20 percent smaller than the old Mario Ciampi–designed concrete one, the building comes out to 83,000 square feet and features 25,000 square feet of gallery space. Read more about Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Gets Set to Open in New Digs »

For the Young and the Restless: Why Cal Linguist Declares “Gig” Word of the Year

Each year, UC Berkeley linguist Geoffrey Nunberg chooses a Word of the Year: A word, in other words, that was in particularly wide usage and seems to sum up the zeitgeist. Nunberg had a few good contenders for 2015, including “refugee” (due to the crises in the Middle East and Europe and along the Rio Grande) and “microaggression,” the practice of employing subtle snubs to denigrate or intimidate. Read more about For the Young and the Restless: Why Cal Linguist Declares "Gig" Word of the Year »

Confessions of a Former Fashion Writer: I Knew Nothing About Fashion

Here’s how bad it got. The first morning of my first stay in New York, I was hustled down to a press showing of men’s fur coats. It was 1971, and outrageous flamboyance in dress was the coming thing. I was the principal writer for (and later coeditor of) a counterculture fashion magazine called Rags.

I knew nothing about fashion. Read more about Confessions of a Former Fashion Writer: I Knew Nothing About Fashion »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

He Who Tells the Best Story Wins: Radio and Podcast Host of “Snap Judgment” Talks Shop

In 2007, Glynn Washington was director of a program at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business called YEAH (Young Entrepreneurs at Haas), working to give underprivileged Bay Area youth more opportunities in life, when he seized upon an opportunity of his own. Read more about He Who Tells the Best Story Wins: Radio and Podcast Host of "Snap Judgment" Talks Shop »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Setting Misery to Music: Collaboration Lets Listeners “Hear” Effects of Climate Change

As the 2015 U.N. climate change conference continues in the outskirts of Paris—pursuing a global agreement to slow down the devastating effects of global warming—there will be graphs. There will be charts. There will be slideshows.

But if presenters really want to tug at a world leader’s heartstrings, they might want to bring a violin. Break out a synthesizer, a keyboard, and play a snippet of what climate change sounds like: Earth, out of tune and distorted, an orchestra gone a little haywire. Read more about Setting Misery to Music: Collaboration Lets Listeners "Hear" Effects of Climate Change »

Nesting Instincts: In Japan, Cal Architectural Students Reinvent the Community Center

Imagine a community center that’s not your typical chunk of cinderblock—instead it’s an architecturally avant garde space where neighbors gather to grow, cook and eat food. That’s the concept behind the breezy structure “Nest We Grow,” an experiment designed to connect a community’s social spaces and growing spaces. Read more about Nesting Instincts: In Japan, Cal Architectural Students Reinvent the Community Center »

His Castles Outlive Their Kings: How Cal’s Architect Shaped and Scraped the Skyline

Think of the San Francisco skyline. You’re probably imagining a series of gradual boxes punctuated with a single pointed pyramid. If you’re thinking more expansively, or perhaps you have regular access to a helicopter, you would include the bridges at the bay and the Golden Gate. Read more about His Castles Outlive Their Kings: How Cal's Architect Shaped and Scraped the Skyline »

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