Cal

Thousands Gather to March for Black Lives in Berkeley

On Saturday, a crowd of about three thousand met at Grove Park in South Berkeley to march down Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Berkeley Police headquarters and City Hall. The march, organized by UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union (BSU), was one of several concurrent demonstrations in Berkeley protesting police brutality and systemic racism, following weeks of nationwide protests inspired by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police.

“Release Your Genius”: Remembering John Bishop on Bloomsday

I arrived at UC Berkeley in the fall of 1980 set on earning my PhD in astrophysics, and left five years later with an English degree and a burning passion for writing and reporting. What happened? John Bishop happened. One brilliant teacher, kind and absurdly generous, lit an internal flare inside of me that illuminated my imagination from within, with arc-welder intensity.

What Comes After the Pandemic?

“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.” 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

A “Killer-Type Virus” Ends the World!

LATELY, I’VE BEEN COLLECTING NEWS of wildlife appearing in deserted towns and cities around the world: Wild goats roaming shuttered Welsh villages, jackals skulking in the streets of Tel Aviv, Indian bison ambling along vacant highways in New Delhi, coyotes howling in North Beach. As we shelter in place, the animals are rushing into the void. And not just the charismatic megafauna, either. Witness the legions of dumpster-deprived rats battling nightly on Bourbon Street. 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom.

ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.  

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

A (Virtual) Day in the Life of A Berkeley Student

Under shelter-in-place our lives have gone digital: distance learning, virtual conferences, online cocktail hours, and more. As Internet usage is up, bandwidth has been strained. According to BroadbandNow, which provides comparison data about Internet service providers, average download speeds in Berkeley dropped 15 percent between February and March. At least we have ways of staying connected while remaining physically distant—even if it means some buffering. Here we imagine a day in the life of a Berkeley student.

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Eddie Hart Almost Became the World’s Fastest Man

I FOUND OUT VERY EARLY ON THAT I COULD RUN FAST. Shell, the company my dad worked at for 40 years, hosted these annual picnics where they’d put on a 50-yard dash for the kids. I’d win every year, my dad bragging, “That’s my boy!” Now, if it had been up to him, I would have played third base for the Giants. But at age 13, I pledged the next decade of my life to becoming the world’s fastest human.

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Chancellor’s Letter: How Berkeley Is Responding to COVID-19

The last literary essay I wrote was about dystopian fiction. At the time, in 2016, I had been struck by the publication, within the space of a few months, of a large number of novels offering visions of the future in which some catastrophe—climate change, natural disaster, financial collapse, a pandemic—destroys society as we know it, plunging humankind back into a nightmarish anti-Eden. I was curious about what such novels—written by authors who did not characteristically write science fiction—said about our current state of mind, our anxieties and fears.

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Editor’s Note: Adjust Your Eyes.

Let me begin with heartfelt congratulations to the 2020 graduates of Berkeley who, like their peers across the country, were deprived of their commencement ceremonies by the coronavirus and the need for social distancing.

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

COVID-19 Has Hit African Americans the Hardest. Here’s Why.

As the death toll for COVID-19 crosses 100,000 people in the United States—the highest number of any country in the world—African Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by the virus. Nationally, African Americans are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as would be expected based on their share of the population according to an NPR analysis.

Coronavirus Has Changed the Game for Alumni Travelers

In January of 2014, a woman in her 80s, who sometimes used a cane to walk, stood on a platform hundreds of feet up in the canopy of a Costa Rican forest, getting ready to leap into the sky.

“Nobody thought it was a good idea,” says Darek DeFreece, who was president of the Cal Alumni Association at the time. CAA was leading the trip through its Cal Discoveries Travel program. “I went and talked to her, and she said, ‘Look, I’ve got one more chance to do this in my life, and I want to go.’”

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