Cal Culture

At Berkeley’s California Typewriter, the Selectrics Keep Humming

I didn’t need a typewriter. I’ve never had an editor request hard copy. These days a typewriter is just a decorative toy and using one an affectation, like Civil War reenactment or home-curing bacon. But when I found a 1940s era manual Remington Rand on Oxford Street in one of those free piles that spring up curbside at the end of the academic year, I couldn’t just leave it there.

The Chalk Market: Where Mathematicians Go to Get the Good Stuff

Filmmaker Kyung Lee never dreamed she’d become a dealer. But bringing her first feature-length documentary to fruition required money she simply didn’t have. What she did have, however, was an idea for getting high-quality product and access to exclusive clientele.

Hagoromo chalk is a bit thicker than standard American chalk. It has been called the Rolls Royce of chalk—even the Michael Jordan of chalk.

Greetings from Willow Creek, Bigfoot Capital of the World

Last year, Krissy Eliot attended the annual Bigfoot Daze Festival in Willow Creek, California, a town known as the “Bigfoot capital of the world.” As we gear up for the 59th annual Bigfoot Daze Festival this Labor Day weekend, we bring you this collection of letters, the first in a series exploring the untrodden, unappreciated, or just unusual corners of California.

“We Are One”: Hundreds Rally to Demand Action on Climate Change

On September 20, 2019, people around the world banded together to demand action against climate change. Protestors in over 180 countries and all seven continents participated in the strike, which may have been the biggest climate demonstration to date. From the small island nation of Tonga all the way to Antarctica, students and community members walked out of their schools and places of work to send a message to world leaders: do more and do it now.

The Book All Freshmen Are Reading

In the early 1930s, Gertrude Stein, Oakland-raised oracle of the Lost Generation, revisited her hometown. It was the trip that inspired her infamous and oft-contested line: “There is no there there.” Stein reportedly gazed upon the site where her house had once been, razed to make way for new developments. “That is what makes your identity,” Stein writes in her autobiography, “not a thing that exists but something you do or do not remember.”

From the Fall 2019 issue of California.

The Element Named After Berkeley

Glenn Seaborg was born too late to have spawned Cal’s spirit cry. It’s coincidence, surely, that his name is an anagram for “Go Bears!” And, although he was definitely a Bears fan and was Chancellor when Cal last made it to the Rose Bowl in 1959, he was never in Oski’s league as a campus celebrity. While others led rallies, he had to settle for spearheading decades of trailblazing nuclear science, endowing UC Berkeley with bragging rights to the discovery of a record 16 new elements.

From the Fall 2019 issue of California.

Living with Delusions: Navigating Mental Illness at Cal

I am susceptible to believing, with complete conviction, things that aren’t true.

All my adult life I have resided on the psychotic spectrum, a set of serious mental disorders that interfere with properly interpreting stimuli, resulting in social, emotional, and cognitive difficulties—what I call my “thought problems.” When I was 21, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, later re-diagnosed to schizoaffective disorder and, eventually and more firmly, to delusional disorder, persecutory type.

From the Fall 2019 issue of California.

Chancellor’s Letter: The Year of Implementation

As you read this, a new academic year is getting underway on the Berkeley campus. It’s a wonderful time of renewal and excitement; an excellent opportunity to reflect on the road we have recently traveled as well as the one that lies ahead.

From the Fall 2019 issue of California.

Editor’s Note

I like to say this magazine is about two things: It’s about the world of UC Berkeley, and it’s about Berkeley in the world. Which is to say, it’s about Cal and its outsize influence on our culture, human knowledge, and global affairs. Our mission, as I see it, is to create a publication anyone would want to read, no matter where they went to school. If you graduated from Cal, we want you to be proud that this is your magazine. If you didn’t and you stumble upon a copy, we want you to wish you had.

From the Fall 2019 issue of California.

Taste the First Flavors of the Bay at Cafe Ohlone

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, Grace Ruano moves along a line of outdoor tables set up behind Berkeley’s University Press Books, meticulously straightening the woven blankets draped over every chair and checking her phone continuously. Lunch service would normally be underway by now, but today the owners are running late.

“We want those of you who are here to know that we’re living, breathing
people.”

From Closet Gamer to Millionaire: How Kevin Chou Made It Big

The only child of Taiwanese immigrants, Kevin Chou grew up bored and lonely in Moorpark, a sleepy middle-class suburb of Los Angeles.

As he recalls it, he spent much of the ’80s in his parents’ dining room playing 8-bit floppy disk games on his father’s IBM XT.

“I had no friends. I had video games,” Chou says today with a wry laugh.

“It’s very surreal,” says Chou, “to go from being a closet gamer to watching a whole generation cheer on, and aspire to be, gamer-athletes—we’ve all won. And it hasn’t been that long.”

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

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