Arts + Letters

Beyond GamerGate: Berkeley “Queerness and Games” Con Targets Homophobia, Stereotypes

At the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Manveer Heir gave a speech that could be seen as an indictment of the videogame world—not only for misogyny and racism, but also homophobia. A gameplay designer at BioWare, he had analyzed characters in the top 25 games from 2013. Read more about Beyond GamerGate: Berkeley "Queerness and Games" Con Targets Homophobia, Stereotypes »

Comic Outrage—The Real Saga of the Afghan Interpreter John Oliver Hailed on HBO

Like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, John Oliver has made a career of deconstructing the news into its absurdist bits and serving it back up as a steaming hash liberally sauced with irony and outrage. Plus, because his Sunday show, “Last Week Tonight,” is broadcast on HBO, he gets to say the “F word” a lot. Read more about Comic Outrage—The Real Saga of the Afghan Interpreter John Oliver Hailed on HBO »

Bearing Witness: Filmmaker Tells Story of Diverse Nazi Victims Branded by “Triangles”

The horrors of the Holocaust have inspired countless films, but award-winning documentary filmmaker Ann Meredith thought she had something unique to offer. She wanted to tell not just the stories of the millions of Jews who were killed, but also those of the lesser-known victims of the Nazi death camps, including Gypsies, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, gays, lesbians and transgendered people.

The resulting documentary “Triangles: Witnesses of the Holocaust” is scheduled to premiere in Los Angeles next month. Read more about Bearing Witness: Filmmaker Tells Story of Diverse Nazi Victims Branded by "Triangles" »

The Story of Ten Couples Who Fought Costa Rica’s Ban on in Vitro Fertilization

Andrea, a Costa Rican mother, stands in court before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C., testifying against her country’s ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sitting across the courtroom is Martha Garza, a U.S. anti-abortion doctor, arguing for protection of the embryos’ rights. The year is 2008, eight years after Costa Rica became the first country to ban IVF, and the ten couples who have sued their government for violating their right to have a family, have not lost strength or hope. Read more about The Story of Ten Couples Who Fought Costa Rica's Ban on in Vitro Fertilization »

Germany’s Beating Heart: Berlin’s Turbulent Past Gives Rise to Exuberant Culture

“Berlin ist eine Reise wert”—Berlin is worth a trip. That tepid marketing blurb from the 1950s was meant to lure reluctant tourists to the divided city still recovering from the devastation of World War II. No such encouragement is needed today. Twenty-five years after the destruction of the infamous Berlin Wall, tourism is a leading industry in Germany’s booming capital. Last year alone, more than 11 million people visited. Read more about Germany's Beating Heart: Berlin's Turbulent Past Gives Rise to Exuberant Culture »

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

The Thing Is—Who Knows? It’s a Periodical Package and a Total Mystery

Here’s the thing about The Thing: It is almost impossible to define. It’s a periodical, but unlike any magazine you’ve seen before. It’s a piece of art, but it’s nothing you’re going to hang on your wall. It’s a functional object, but possibly one you’ll be reluctant to ever use. Subscribe to The Thing Quarterly, and you’ll receive a plain brown-paper package four times a year, the contents of which will be a mystery until you open it. Read more about The Thing Is—Who Knows? It's a Periodical Package and a Total Mystery »

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Math Rock Fans, Rejoice: A Minor Forest Has Reunited, Will Play in Berkeley

Math rock fans of the 1990s will remember A Minor Forest, the trio of Bay Area musicians renowned for their aggressive, rhythmically technical style of playing and intense live shows. (Not to mention imaginatively crass song titles like “No One Likes an Old Baby” and “Jacking Off George Lucas.”) Read more about Math Rock Fans, Rejoice: A Minor Forest Has Reunited, Will Play in Berkeley »

Mural Madness: Can Walls of Art by Jess in Pauline Kael’s Old Berkeley Home Be Saved?

In 1956, the artist Jess Collins returned to the Bay Area from Europe with his partner, poet Robert Duncan. He needed money, and Berkeley cineaste-cum-seamstress, cook and part-time copywriter Pauline Kael hired him to execute a series of murals on the walls of her brown-shingled home in Berkeley.  Read more about Mural Madness: Can Walls of Art by Jess in Pauline Kael's Old Berkeley Home Be Saved? »

Game of Allophones: Word Whiz Creates Languages for Shows Like Game of Thrones

David Peterson has never been interested in fantasy films or literature. The 33-year-old dismisses the genre as “fantastical people who do fantastical things.” So it may be surprising to learn that for the past five years, the 2003 Berkeley graduate has been creating languages for the fantastical worlds of TV shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones and movies such as Thor: The Dark World.  Read more about Game of Allophones: Word Whiz Creates Languages for Shows Like Game of Thrones »

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Project Nile: Africa is Divided by a River, but United by a New Musical Collaboration

Africa has its share of environmental problems, and the Nile River is a prima facie case in point. The longest river in the world, its basin supports about 300 million people. The demands on the Nile and its major tributaries are extreme—for urban water supplies, for agriculture, for hydropower and fisheries—and they are growing. And as the demands grow, the potential for conflict grows with it. Some of the flash points are especially fraught: A dam under construction in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile is the largest hydro project in Africa, and has enraged Egypt. Read more about Project Nile: Africa is Divided by a River, but United by a New Musical Collaboration »

Enter Gotanda: Ground-breaking Playwright Becomes a Ground-breaking Professor

The Professor enters talking, students in tow, his short-brimmed straw hat at a tilt. Windows are thrown open and spring air floods the classroom. The atmosphere is so unstuffy you’d hardly guess the teacher is one of the most influential American playwrights of his generation. Read more about Enter Gotanda: Ground-breaking Playwright Becomes a Ground-breaking Professor »

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Cari Borja’s Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers

Racks of gowns, manikins, and sewing machines crowd the edges of Cari Borja’s design studio, but a huge dining table occupies the center. It’s where she holds the dinners that resemble the fieldwork of an anthropologist outside the Ivory Tower. For a series of 52 meals—44 already served—she has transformed her studio into a salon where guests, from the famous to the unknown, discover connections and savor a slow meal. Read more about Cari Borja's Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers »

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