Perspectives

Greetings from Willow Creek, Bigfoot Capital of the World

Last year, Krissy Eliot attended the annual Bigfoot Daze Festival in Willow Creek, California, a town known as the “Bigfoot capital of the world.” As we gear up for the 59th annual Bigfoot Daze Festival this Labor Day weekend, we bring you this collection of letters, the first in a series exploring the untrodden, unappreciated, or just unusual corners of California.

Living with Delusions: Navigating Mental Illness at Cal

I am susceptible to believing, with complete conviction, things that aren’t true.

All my adult life I have resided on the psychotic spectrum, a set of serious mental disorders that interfere with properly interpreting stimuli, resulting in social, emotional, and cognitive difficulties—what I call my “thought problems.” When I was 21, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, later re-diagnosed to schizoaffective disorder and, eventually and more firmly, to delusional disorder, persecutory type.

From the Fall 2019 issue of California.

Attention Everyone: That Manhole Is Now a Maintenance Hole

In Berkeley, even construction sites are woke. Last month, the Berkeley City Council approved an ordinance to change the language in the city’s municipal code to be gender neutral. That’s not a manhole over there, it’s now a maintenance hole. And that policeman? They are a police officer. Speaking of “they;” the pronouns “they” and “them” will be used in place of gendered language, including when referencing a single individual. You think that vase was man-made? Wrong again—it was human-made. Unless of course it was machine-made.

Editor’s Note: Up in Smoke

One day, California will fall into the sea. That’s what we used to say, anyway.

It’s an idea that goes back to huckster-clairvoyant Edgar Cayce. It had nothing to it, of course, but has kept circulating. I suppose that’s partly because so many people are jealous of California—from the beginning an imagined paradise, the domain of Queen Calafia—but also because the state really is a dangerous place, given to flooding and drought, eruptions and landslides, earthquakes and fire.

From the Spring 2019 issue of California.

To Hell and Back: A Paradise Educator Reckons with the Fire

That day started out as any other for Ambrosia Krinsky. She woke up in her Chico home, dropped her four-year-old off at day-care, then drove up The Skyway, the road that connects Chico to the smaller city of Paradise. Even before she got into town, she knew something was amiss: The sky was turning red. Paradise was burning. She sped to the town’s high school, where she teaches biology and English.

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.

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.

Polling in PJs: A Day in the Life of an Election Worker

Tonight, I’m cleaning out my garage. Not because it’s dirty or cluttered, but because I’m expecting a lot of guests tomorrow. I need to move some boxes, sweep the floor, finally put those pots and pans on the shelf. I also need to set up the tables, lay out the reading material, and hang some signs. Cleaning is deceptively relaxing; tomorrow has the potential to be hectic, and there’s a lot at stake. I don’t know exactly who’s going to show up—certainly some people I’ve never met before—but I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

After the Playa: Decompressing with Burning Man’s Lawyer

Every morning on the playa, Ally Deraps wakes up in her trailer and stumbles outside into the dust to make breakfast, joining friends climbing out of tents and teepees for a bowl of oatmeal in the shade. She chooses an outfit for the day, usually something bright or themed. Then, around 10:30, she grabs a can of coffee and her Motorola radio and hops on her playa bike (furry purple seat, powder blue frame, strung with colored lights and sparkly pipe cleaners) for the 20-minute commute across Burning Man to work.

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