California magazine

Black Hole: The Injustice of Wrongful Incarceration Doesn’t End When the Prison Doors Open

Danny Brown was in prison for almost two decades for a rape and murder he didn’t commit, and he has evidence to prove it: a host of eyewitness accounts validating his alibi, a polygraph test he took, and passed, at the prosecution’s request, and DNA from the crime scene matching that of another man who is currently serving time for a factually similar rape and murder.

He was released from prison in 2001 at the age of 45.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Mind Tricks: Bishop Berkeley and the Idea of Everything

Lately, I’ve been spending time at Founders’ Rock trying and mostly failing to get a grasp on reality.

Founders’ Rock is an outcropping at the northeast corner of the UC Berkeley campus, where Gayley Road and Hearst Avenue meet, a lonely spot shaded by toyon, oak, and eucalyptus. The rock itself—lichen-encrusted and moss-fringed—is an unassuming jumble.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Editor’s Note

Every weekday, the dog and I head up a very steep hill for a compulsory early morning walk, an essential daily ritual for wearing out a highly energetic adolescent canine and fending off decrepitude in his older human companion.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Stronger Together? A Blueprint for a Blue State Alliance

Few pollsters on either side of the political aisle really expected a Trump win on November 8th. And while pundits and prognosticators were somewhat less certain about the outcome of state races, many were surprised—or shocked—that Republicans held on to the Senate and the House and improved their standing in state governments. Republicans now claim governorships in 34 states, up from 31.

Pierced in St. Petersburg

One of the best things about our deceptively drab, Soviet-style building on the western edge of Vasilievsky Ostrov was that it was filled with artists. There were at least seven floors of actors, puppeteers, set designers, acrobats, dancers, and musicians, and we were all training at the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts in Saint Petersburg. No matter how hard our masters worked us at the academy, something exciting was always happening back in our rooms late at night. I was the only Amerikanka that year, and that was also pretty cool.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Paint by Numbers: Algorithms for the Artistically Challenged

As a 10-year-old growing up in Shanghai, Jun-Yan Zhu often avoided homework with furtive doodling. He’d sketch comics or movie characters in pencil, then erase the evidence before his mother saw it. Much as he loved drawing, however, he wasn’t very good at it. He dreamed of a world where everyone, even those who lacked the talent, could easily communicate in pictures.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Flu Vaccines: A Long Shot, But Better Than Nothing

With the CDC admitting that last year’s flu shot was a considerable bust and other emerging research challenging the shot’s efficacy, some are questioning if they should even bother. As a spritely 20-something who feels like she’s made of steel and impervious to all disease, I planned to meet in person with Dr. John Swartzberg, UC Berkeley professor of public health and Editorial Board Chair of Berkeley Wellness, to discuss the controversy.

Fish Gotta Swim: But Maybe Not in the Delta

When Donald Trump barnstormed through California during the recent presidential campaign, he declared that the California drought was a myth, a canard promulgated by conservationists to protect a “three-inch fish”—i.e., the endangered delta smelt. He huddled with San Joaquin Valley farmers, taking on their cause as his own, and declared we’d have plenty of water if we didn’t “shove it out to sea” in efforts to protect the fisheries and ecosystems of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

Harmonious Memories: The Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra Turns 50

Fifty years after its founding as a program of the Berkeley Adult School, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra (BCCO, for short) is going stronger than ever by remaining true to its two founding principles: amateurs only, and no auditions. Membership has zoomed from 20 people to 220, and there would be even more if BCCO could find a larger rehearsal space. And the quality of the musicianship has never been higher.

Good Job, Brain! How to Create a Pub Trivia Podcast

What radio podcast has three words, one exclamation point, mines the game Trivial Pursuit for questions, and has been produced by three UC Berkeley alums and their pal for the past four years? It’s Good Job, Brain! But if you’re a trivia buff you probably already knew that.

Steady Crawl: The Life of an Elite Swimmer Mom After the Olympics

In the afternoons, Dana Vollmer, 7-time Olympic medalist, takes her kid to the playground near their house in Danville. Sometimes people recognize them. But not usually.

“It’s always the moms,” she says, who recognize her. Or more accurately recognize her and her 19-month-old son, Arlen, together.

All Aboard: Cal Grad Petitions For More Corporate Diversity

Olga Mack was 13 when she accompanied her political refugee parents as they touched down on American soil in San Francisco. She was in an alien world and didn’t speak the language. On the day she registered to attend Washington High School, she was overwhelmed by feelings of being out of place and without a voice. Years later, she stood on stage as a Valedictorian at her UC Berkeley commencement and delivered a speech. “There’s nothing like an audience of over 10,000 people to make you feel you have a voice!” she said.

Pages

Subscribe to California magazine