Cal Culture

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.

At 50, People’s Park Abides. But How Much Longer?

It’s a quarter past three on a sunny spring Thursday in Berkeley. After weeks of rain, People’s Park is bursting with life: a sea of yellow, purple, and red flowers pours from the gardens on the west side of the 2.8-acre park, while the occasional gust of wind carries the scent of jasmine. People occupy nearly every available picnic table and bench, shedding jackets with gusto; a dozen more bodies sprawl out on the park’s main lawn. A couple of men play conga drums at the curb between the basketball court and the mural-covered bathroom.

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

Get Your Head in the Game: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball

I arrive at Evans Diamond on a chilly Friday night, find a bleacher seat among the 400-plus fans in attendance, put my phone on airplane mode, and pull out my scorebook. This is not my usual ballpark routine, but tonight I’m determined to watch this game through new eyes—or at least, through the eyes of UC Berkeley philosophy professor Alva Noë. I’ve just read his new book, Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark, and have familiarized myself with his particular, even peculiar, way of understanding the game.

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

Chancellor’s Letter: Anxiety and Admissions

Berkeley’s admissions policies for athletes include a number of checks and balances specifically designed to protect the integrity of the admissions process and to ensure that students are qualified both in academics and athletics. There should not be side or back doors for admission to Berkeley. While we are committed to doing what we can to ensure our University won’t fall prey to illegal admissions schemes in the future, I also want to make sure we don’t lose sight of broader, perhaps more significant, issues that have been brought to the fore by this scandal.

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

Editor’s Note: Going Deep

I’ve always loved everything about baseball. Everything except playing it.

It was just never my game. My left eye wandered and I couldn’t hit to save my life. I could throw but tended to overthrow. Worse, I lacked baseball smarts. I remember stealing second once. As I dusted myself off, the shortstop casually informed me I was out. Shrugging, I headed for the dugout.

He tagged me. And then I really was Out!

From the Summer 2019 issue of California.

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 a direct line to the source of 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.

Game Changer: Introducing Cal Alumnus of the Year, Kevin Chou

A lot of people talk about giving back. Kevin Chou did it.

Along with wife Connie Chen, Chou ’02, gave $25 million to his alma mater to help build Haas-Berkeley’s 80,000-square-foot Chou Hall, which is now hailed as a “state of the art learning laboratory” for the renowned business school, and one of the greenest buildings in America.

Meet the Women of Berkeley’s Pop-Up Food Scene

For the five women running the food stalls in UC Berkeley’s Student Union, to cook is to connect, and a quick bite of lunch can hold as much history as it does flavor. As graduates of La Cocina, an SF-based incubator for restaurant entrepreneurs, they’re promised a spot at the Student Union for one academic year. The pop-ups offer a sampling of the Bay Area’s diverse food scene: a Vietnamese joint, a soul food spot, an empanada lady, a Syrian mom-and-pop, and a boutique cake shop.

Incunabula, VHS Tapes, and Silverfish: Unpacking the Bancroft

Sometimes the rough draft of history isn’t a newspaper, but a pile of them. Along with moldering manuscripts, reams of correspondence, posters and handbills, memoranda fastened together with rusty paper clips, all of it stuffed into decaying cardboard boxes. Rodents may or may not be involved.

Hungry for Kiwi…Bots

As the future steadily becomes the present, we often find ourselves disappointed with how little our world resembles … The Jetsons. No flying cars, no 3-D printed meals. And today’s hoverboards? They don’t even hover! But if you’ve spent any time on the Cal campus lately, you’ve likely crossed paths with a KiwiBot, one of 150 fox terrier–sized robots that autonomously navigate the winding paths and hordes of hustling students. The bots are on their quest to deliver lunch. And though a KiwiBot is no Rosey (the Jetsons’ sassy robo-maid), it does have a certain charm.

From the Spring 2019 issue of California.

Chancellor’s Letter: Diversity Initiatives

One of my most important goals for Berkeley is to advance and expand diversity on our campus, in its broadest sense and every form. We are now launching the first wave of new, accelerated efforts to support and expand diversity among our student, faculty, and staff populations.

As these important and exciting initiatives begin, I want to share my perspectives on the values, commitments, and objectives that will guide us on the road ahead.

From the Spring 2019 issue of California.

Pages

Subscribe to Cal Culture