California magazine

Life After Berkeley: How an Alum Survived Running with the Bulls

 I blame Hemingway. Looking for something to read last year, The Sun Also Rises fell into my unwilling hands. I’d never understood why so many people lived and died by his writing, so I decided to offer him a second chance. There it was: the book that brought Pamplona to the world and then the world to Pamplona. Hemingway be damned; I found myself booking a flight to Spain.

I was going to run with the bulls.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Cal Performances Sings the Saga of the Undocumented

Cal Performances isn’t in the habit of weighing in on topical controversies, but when it comes to defending Cal students, the organization decided it was time to raise a voice.

Make that many voices—Cal Performances has assembled a stellar roster of artists to create an oratorio inspired by the stories of undocumented students living in fear that they and their families could be uprooted at any moment.

Cal’s interest in the fate of undocumented students predates the 2016 election by years.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Berkeley Brains of Yore: Wendell M. Stanley & Joel H. Hildebrand

Eureka! The Diving Bell and the Bullet Wound

On August 4, 1919, Berkeley chemist Joel H. Hildebrand (above, right) was shot and wounded by a lab assistant who accused the professor of opposing his application for appointment. Hildebrand survived—fortunately for the Navy. Twenty years later, in 1939, his work on the properties of gasses being dissolved into liquids saved the lives of 33 members of the USS Squalus when their submarine sank.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Gambling and the Inevitable Remorse

So you’re in Vegas at the penny slots, and you promise yourself you’ll only play a dollar. That’s it! No more. Just enough to have the Vegas experience. If you win, you may regret not wagering a ten-spot to get a bigger jackpot. If you lose, you’ll probably regret sitting at the machine at all. But no matter what, you’re gonna be thinking: “Shoulda coulda woulda.” Or at least, that’s what recent findings out of Berkeley indicate.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Necessary Roughness

It was a sunny November Saturday at California Field and the stands brimmed with 20,000 boisterous fans. Banners waved, blue-and-gold streamers unfurled, and the usual cheers of “Oski Wow Wow! Whiskey Wee Wee!” went up as players took the field.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Go Play! You Can Read This Later.

was during the Great Malaise of the Jimmy Carter years that Zippy the Pinhead, clown prince of non sequiturs, first wondered, “Are we having fun yet?” The questioner was a simpleton, but time has endowed his question with the ring of profundity.

Or is that an alarm bell? A warning from our inner child to slow down, ease off, throw our hands in the air like we just don’t care?

Listen up, America. We are failing at play.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Locker Room Talk with the Boys of the Berkeley Gazette

Once upon a time, Berkeley had its own daily newspaper, the Berkeley Gazette, and for a brief, semi-glorious moment, it had two sports-reporting brothers. The paper was small enough that the brothers weren’t exclusively sports-reporters, but being born and bred in Berkeley, with Bear-blood in their veins, they wasted as much ink and newsprint on Cal’s sports program as they could possibly get away with.

Anchor’s Aweigh: Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto Sets Sail, for Good

Say goodbye to another bit of old Berkeley: Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, the oldest restaurant in town, shut its doors on October 24, joining two other landmarks: Brennan’s, which closed in September, and H’s Lordships, which shuttered in June.

Burning Questions: A Quick Guide to Key Wildfire Terms

A week after the eruption of the Camp Fire near the town of Paradise, California, 142,000 acres have burned, setting state records for wildfire destruction.

Despite the hundreds still missing and worsening air quality in much of the state, there has been significant progress in battling the flames. As of this writing, according to Cal Fire officials, the Butte County blaze is now 45 percent contained, with full containment expected by November 30.

How Did the Axe Cross the Bay? A Ferry Tale

For those who know, the Stanford Axe is more than just a trophy. Awarded to the annual winner of the Stanford­–Cal “Big Game” (full disclosure: I’m a Stanford grad), the Axe represents one of the oldest college rivalries in the country, dating back to 1892. The origins of the Stanford Axe have been told again and again, including the infamous heist of the Axe by Cal students in 1899, and subsequent repossession by Stanford 30 years later.

Yet, some mysteries remain.

Five Questions for Cal Band’s New Director, Matthew Sadowski

1. You spent much of your professional life in Oregon and Washington, what inspired you to move to California and UC Berkeley?

I was certainly drawn by the name and the reputation, but also the health of the program, and the fact that the last four directors were here for many years, really their entire careers. Within this kind of profession, that speaks loudly. There’s a lot of support and a lot of opportunity here, and at a certain point it became clear to me that this was the way to go.

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