Cal Culture

Radical Roots: Finding Environmentalism Amid the Schisms of mid-’60s Berkeley

The 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement this year is also the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. In the turbulent river of radicalism that reached flood stage in mid-’60s Berkeley, radical environmentalism was just one branch. That is the tributary I want to navigate here. But it is good to sit down at the typewriter—excuse me, the computer—and try to remember that frenzied era in a disciplined way. Ah, the piquancy of the air back then! The smell of tear gas on campus! There were so many flavors of radicalism available that one was forced to focus.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Free Speech Rhetoric and Reality: Why Savio, Kerr and Reagan Were All “Radicals”

Fifty years ago this October 1, thousands of UC Berkeley students spontaneously sat down around a police car on Sproul Plaza and held it captive for 33 hours in protest of a University rule against political activity on campus. Over the next three months, the Free Speech Movement, as it became known, led a series of demonstrations that convulsed the campus and defeated the ban.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

UC’s Two Student Regents—one Muslim, the other Jewish—Seek Common Ground

Sitting around a table together is about to get even more symbolic.

For the first time, two students, one Muslim and one Jewish, will sit together as the two student members of the University of California’s Board of Regents when the board meets in San Francisco later this month. One voted against the other’s appointment and both faced opposition and hard feelings when they were named to what remains, to many, an obscure post on UC’s system-wide governing body.

What Would Buddha Do? Berkeley Econ Class Covers Supply, Demand and Enlightenment

Let the bull market for college-level economics continue. Despite its daunting math, its abstract models, and its 0-for-1 track record in predicting recent worldwide financial catastrophes, economics remains one of the top 10 college majors across the country, according to the Princeton Review. That trend certainly holds at UC Berkeley where, last fall, econ was the second only to electrical engineering and computer science as most popular major. As the fall semester approaches, expect hundreds more undergrads to flock eagerly to the “dismal science.”

Goodbye to the Godfather of Psychedelics: Shulgin Now “Tripping in the Cosmos”

Update: The federal government has just given special permission to a team of Marin County therapists to study whether the party drug Molly or Ecstasy—both street names for the illegal psychoactive drug MDMA—is able to reduce anxiety in people with life-threatening illnesses. (Experts caution that much of the contraban sold as Ecstasy now is mixed with other dangerous substances.) The new willingness to investigative MDMA’s therapeutic potential would have been welcome news to the man credited with synthesizing it for psychiatric use in the 1970s: Alexander Shulgin, who held a Ph.D.

Happiness Isn’t Just a Warm Puppy—UC Berkeley is First to Make it an Online Course

Happiness: So fervently sought, so elusive. But just what the hell is it? Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz expressed his take in 1962 with his book Happiness is a Warm Puppy. That declaration gained a lot of pop (and pup) cultural traction, but it hardly told the whole story. Turns out the nitty-gritty of happiness isn’t quite so simple.

Radicals Revisited: Eyewitnesses to Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement Mark 50th Anniversary

How time flies! This fall will be the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, and FSM veterans will return to campus for a reunion that will feature the usual events, plus some others you might not have anticipated.

For instance, are you ready for FSM: The Musical? Produced by Stagebridge in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the full-length musical production will have its first performance September 27 on Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, with two additional performances the following day.

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.

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.

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