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2011 Summer The Soundtrack of Berkeley

Rockin’ the Plaza

In Lower Sproul, free concerts are a long (and loud) tradition. At five past noon, 15 students wait patiently at the south end of Lower Sproul Plaza. They stand facing an empty stage and, behind it, a quiet Eshleman Hall. Ferraby Lionheart is due to play. The assembled audience is small by any measure, but nonetheless […]

Spirit on a Shoestring

They may be poor, but the Cal Band is still the pride of California. Down in the basement of Cesar Chavez Student Center, students are gearing up for rehearsal. Instrument cases cover the floor and balance atop lockers. In what looks like a modern art installation, mounted sousaphones snake up and down the far wall. Robert […]

Off the Charts

How the forced eclecticism of KALX has forged a culture KALX, Berkeley’s campus radio station, broadcasts from a subterranean redoubt in the basement of Barrows Hall, in what used to be the business school’s career counseling center. These days, there is no number on the door, just a sentry window and a keypad on the wall. The […]

The Sound of Musicology

The Department of Music goes beyond performance To speak the words Berkeley and Music together is to risk a misspelling in the mind of the listener, who may hear B-e-r-k-l-e-e, as in the famous school of music in Boston. The confusion is unfortunate, since B-e-r-k-e-l-e-y‘s Department of Music is consistently ranked among the best in the […]


Most people make mix tapes. Warren Hellman threw a music festival and invited his friends. Warren Hellman was driving home to San Francisco from Stinson Beach a while back when he saw a woman hitchhiking. He pulled over. “I said, ‘Are you an axe murderer or anything?’ She said, ‘No, I’m OK, are you?’ So she […]

Mix and Map

How can one communicate the essence of a city in 200 pages or fewer? Coming in at 157 pages exactly, Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, published by UC Press in November 2010, eschews the prepackaged narrative of Love and Haight and unveils the boundless complexity of the City by the Bay. This […]

Stepping Up

The AileyCamp summer program teaches kids more than dance. For the past ten years, about 80 middle-school kids have descended on Zellerbach Hall for six weeks during the summer. They dance as hard as they can all day, eat at the campus dining halls, and generally take over. They study modern, ballet, jazz, and African dance, along […]

Getting the Picture

A Berkeley rhetorician investigates a group of infamous photographs from the Cambodian Genocide. An estimated 1 to 2 million Cambodians perished under the rule of the Khmer Rouge Communist Party between 1975 and 1979, the victims of starvation, crude medicine, or political executions. Perhaps the best-known artifacts from the genocide are the mug shots of inmates […]

Counting the Days

How estrogen changes the way we think Any married man knows better than to blame a woman’s mood on her menstrual cycle. He also knows better than to tell his wife that her hormones are making her irrational. Now a new study suggests that the menstrual cycle may in fact affect a woman’s cognitive ability, but not […]

All Work and All Play

Berkeley graduate students discover a true calling for two orphaned dogs. As Allison Bidlack, Ph.D. ’07, bounced a tennis ball in front of the cages of an animal shelter, she caught sight of an energetic, brown pit bull/terrier mix named Seth. It was one of many days in 2004 that Bidlack spent scouring pounds, searching for […]