Cal Culture

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.

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.

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.”

Greetings From Willow Creek

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.

Friday, August 31, 2018
11:00pm

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.

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