Arts + Letters

Sex, Drugs, Revolution: 50 Years On, Barbarians Gather to Recall The Berkeley Barb

The inaugural edition of The Berkeley Barb hit streets on Friday, August 13, 1965—incendiary times. It was the first days of the Watts riots, and the conflict in Vietnam was beginning to play out in living rooms on the nightly news. That week TV viewers watched as American GIs casually torched Vietnamese villages with their flamethrowers and Zippo lighters. Meanwhile, all across the United States, disillusioned young men were beginning to take those Zippos to their draft notices.

Speech Saver: Anticipating Upheavals, Project Aims to Preserve the World’s Languages

You’ve probably experienced that unique combination of loss and rage when your computer’s hard drive suddenly crashes, erasing years of work files, financial records, and precious photos in an instant. What if that happened, asks linguist Laura Welcher, of the nonprofit Long Now Foundation, on a civilizational scale?

“Over the span of millennia, you have to expect there to be upheavals in society, times when knowledge is lost,” she says. (Think the Library of Alexandria.) How do we safeguard human knowledge from these future upheavals?

From the Summer 2015 Confronting the Future issue of California.

When Cancer Strikes Twice: “Being a Dancer Has Saved My Life in So Many Ways”

Brianna Mercado is tired of telling the same old story.

“It’s a cookie-cutter cancer story and I’m so much more than that,” she told a crowd last year at a TEDx talk.

Today, the 24-year-old UC Berkeley graduate and inspirational speaker has been asked to tell the story so many times that it’s become rote. But how can you truly express the fears and pain of knocking on death’s door not once, but twice? How do you verbalize it in a way that can make people understand the trauma and the terror?

Saving Carnaval: The Woman Enticing the Mission’s Tech Newcomers into the Samba Spirit

Raffaella Falchi is the epitome of a Renaissance woman: The quadrilingual dancer, architect, educator, and director is artistic director of the Sambaxé Dance Company, which will be parading through San Francisco’s Mission District during this weekend’s Carnaval. For the past decade, Carnaval has become a place where she can combine all of her artistic interests and professional strengths.

Online Hams, With a Side of Wry: How Product Reviews Became Performance Art

When news broke last December that a sick Disneyland visitor sparked an outbreak of measles, opponents of the anti-vaccination movement took to Twitter and Facebook in outrage. But as the disease laid low more than a hundred people in seven states, some turned instead to Amazon.

Arlo Guthrie Brings His Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour to Berkeley

It’s been 50 years since that memorable Thanksgiving Day in 1965 when Arlo Guthrie was busted for littering in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, an event that seemed trivial at the time but eventually led to his being rejected for military service by his draft board—to his great relief—because of that “criminal record.”

The Ballad of John and Helen: Berkeley-Based Meyer Sound Are Global Audio Pioneers

Drop out. It’s such a leaden term. Yes, yes, Helen Brodsky dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1968, dashing the hopes and dreams of her Cal alumni-laden family. Before even declaring a major (she was leaning toward Russian Lit), she and her new boyfriend, John Meyer, an autodidact with a gift for tinkering and engineering, decided that unsettled times called for adventurous spirits, and lit out for the East, ending up in India.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Killing It in Berkeley: Richard Pryor Crushed His ‘Cosby’ to Become Comedy’s Top Badass

Richard Pryor was snoozing, draped across the back seat of a car driven by an erudite, bespectacled white man named Alan Farley. It was February of 1971 and Pryor was fleeing Los Angeles, trailing personal and professional casualties: three children with three different women, a few high-profile onstage breakdowns, two parents recently deceased, a flop debut album, and one angry manager who quit after Pryor pistol-whipped him in a tiff over money.

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

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