Cal Culture

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.

Not Holding Their Tongues: Can the Commencement Speech Be Saved?

When a band of student protesters booed and heckled UC President Janet Napolitano at Laney College over the weekend—to the point where graduates could barely hear her—she became but the latest in a series of invited speakers who’ve suddenly found themselves in the thick of guerilla war over commencement addresses.

POSTERity: Hunt for Depression-era National Park Posters Leads to Berkeley

It all started 43 years ago. Doug Leen was working as a seasonal ranger at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and his supervisor told him to clean out a complex of outbuildings south of Jenny Lake. Leen began hauling junk out of a barn when he saw it hanging from a nail: an old cardboard government poster featuring the park’s rugged peaks.

NPR’s White House Reporter Tells Grads A Secret to Her Success: Not Realizing Limitations

Tamara Keith—National Public Radio’s new White House correspondent—told graduating philosophy majors that when she received her UC Berkeley degree in philosophy 15 years ago, her dream job was to cover presidential campaigns for MTV.

“But,” she quipped, “covering the White House for NPR would have been a very close second.”

As the department’s distinguished alumni speaker, she offered graduates the following triad of advice: “Never give up. Don’t take no for an answer. Seek out mentors.”

Hyena Heave-Ho: Time’s Up for UC Berkeley’s Unique Captive Research Colony

What Berkeleyite has not heard them, hooting and gibbering at twilight across the East Bay hills? As the romance novelists might say, it sent a frisson down your spine, made you somehow feel that you were an early hominid on the African veldt, vulnerable to large and toothy predators.

All That Jazz: Conservatory Is Nation’s First Independent Degree-Granting Institute Devoted to Jazz

Some early New Orleans jazz trumpeters performed with a handkerchief draped over their fingers, to prevent anyone from stealing their hottest licks. Other musicians more generously shared their hard-won knowledge, but for most of the music’s history, aspiring jazz players picked up information wherever they could, observing more experienced players at work on the bandstand and memorizing solos by wearing out the grooves on treasured recordings.

Aiming To Be a Small World After All: Cal’s Plan to Shrink a Big, ‘Impersonal’ Campus

Peter Chernin loved his time as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The media mogul—who served as president and chief operating officer of News Corp for more than a decade, and now owns his own media, technology and entertainment group—has attributed his success in part to the English degree he earned in 1974: To be a good leader, he’s said, you need empathy, and the best way to learn empathy is to study literature.

When Cal’s Human-Powered Vehicle Snapped in Two, Nobody Expected How it Would End

Things were looking bleak for the UC Berkeley Human Powered Vehicle Team last weekend, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.

The team, all engineering majors, were on the verge of their big competition: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Human Powered Vehicle Competition West, in Santa Clara. Rider Andrew Taylor had just started his practice run on Saturday morning when Reuben, the state-of-the-art vehicle that he and his cohorts had spent seven months building, crashed on the first lap.

Cal Architecture Grad Asks Fellow Alums to Urge Toy Titan: LEGO My Campanile

Michael Lin liked playing with Legos as a kid. In fact, he couldn’t get enough of the strangely compelling little plastic building blocks. Literally.

“My family wasn’t wealthy, so I never had as many as I wanted,” Lin recalls. “But I was fascinated with them, with their possibilities.”

Igniting Protest: Will UC Make History By Pulling the Plug on Fossil Fuel Investments?

When 29-year-old UC Berkeley student Ophir Bruck spotted Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, on her way to a University of California Regents meeting, he was holding on to a key that he hoped she wouldn’t refuse.

“We’re here to call on the UC Regents to take bold action on climate change,” Bruck told Lansing last May, as she walked past 58 chanting students chained to two homemade structures designed to represent oil drilling rigs. “Will you symbolically unlock us from a future of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos?”

Going to Bat for Earl Robinson: “We’ve Got to Do Something to Help Robbie.”

Update: A memorial service for Earl Robinson, who died on Independence Day from complications of congestive heart failure, was held last Friday, July 25, at the site he selected before his death: the Cal Alumni House. The attendees, numbering in the hundreds, used up all the available seats and standing room, finally spilling out onto the Alumni House patio.

Whatever Floats their Boat: Cal Team’s Canoe of Concrete Edged Out in Competition

Update: Well, you can’t win ‘em all. The Cal Concrete Canoe team finished fourth at the Mid-Pacific Regional Competition at Cal State Fresno on April 5, behind third place finisher Sacramento State; second place finisher Tongji University from Shanghai, China; and the Golden Bears’ arch-rivals, the University of Nevada-Reno Wolfpack. The fourth place finish means the record-winning Bears will miss this year’s national competition. “Considering all the challenges we faced, we’re not too surprised,” says team leader Alvin Wong.

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