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Contributors
“Farewell, Frieda,” page 110 You’ve profiled so many people in your career. How is it a different experience when you’re writing about someone who’s passed, as you do this month in your appreciation of produce pioneer Frieda Caplan, a.k.a. the “Kiwi
Journal of Alta California13 mnt membacaBotany
A Giant Question
It’s the last day of the dry season. The winds herald a coming Sierra storm—they blow the golden leaves off a black oak along the trail to the Boole Tree, a giant sequoia and the world’s sixth-largest tree. I first made the trek to the Boole in 1989.
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The Horse Whisperer
When Ginger Gaffney arrives to consult at an alternative-sentencing program on a ranch in New Mexico where the inmate-residents have lost control of their horses, she feels, understandably, overwhelmed. Not only are the horses in a state of overt reb
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The Little Bookstore That Could
Last summer, when British nature writer Robert Macfarlane launched the American tour for his book Underland: A Deep Time Journey, appearances were mostly limited to big-city hubs like Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., and Powell’s City of Books
Journal of Alta California2 mnt membacaPsychology
The Science of Publishing
Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. —RICHARD FEYNMAN There is a long-established theory of publishing that the real goal is to attract a vast audience and then assemble, dissect, and merchandise that audience for advertisers. It’s not
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Tiny Bottles Of Nirvana
When Minh Pham was 7, he’d be sitting near his mother, coloring in a book, breathing in the fumes of acetone while she bent over a woman’s hand and painted flower petals smaller than a grain of rice onto her fingernails. His mother would murmur to hi
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Stars and Bars
William T. Vollmann writes in sheets of sound, creating psychosexual, historical, and theological narratives that can test patience but reward endurance. Surely the only contemporary novelist to reveal himself as a Unabomber suspect, the Sacramento-b
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It’s All In The Details
Dance: Los Angeles International Dance Festival • Screens: Newly Restored Foolish Wives • Art: Frida Kahlo • Architecture: L.A.’s 2028 Olympics • Picks: Fire Lookout Camping and Tulips • Tools: In-Home Battery Power Dust kicks up on a bumpy road that
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Journal of Alta California
Editor & Publisher William R. Hearst III Managing Editor: Blaise Zerega Creative Director: John Goecke Editor-at-Large: Mary Melton Books Editor: David L. Ulin Digital Editor: Beth Spotswood Editorial Operations & Research Director: Lindsey J. Smith
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The Redacted
IT WAS THE SUMMER OF DEAD BABIES. At night I sat drowning in coroners’ reports and case files. Coyotes frolicked in the wash behind my house. Dry by summer, it held remnants of snow play—bright yellow and electric-blue plastic bits of toboggans. Brit
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Rishi Reddi
What does it mean to write a story about immigration in our current political climate? The results of the 2016 election made me mold the novel in a more concrete way. I suddenly had something crucial and urgent that needed to be conveyed. What can we
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Happy Feet
When the most prominent names in the Los Angeles dance scene convened for a panel discussion last year at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, an offhand comment inspired the city’s single largest dance event: the ina
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The Bells Toll. But for Whom?
If you’ve driven California highway 101 or 82, you’ve seen them: cast-iron and concrete bells, standing miles apart like sentinels, from San Diego to Sonoma. The road has another name—a once and future name—recalling cruelty carried out at a king’s c
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What Lies Beneath
A Berkeley submarine collective goes deep. The Community Submersibles Project wants to make the wonders of the deep sea “available to the not-rich wonderers of the world.” Over the past two years, it has taken regular citizens to the depths of the Sa
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California Dreaming
Rishi Reddi’s first novel, Passage West, is an audacious piece of work. On the one hand, the author situates her story in a California most of us won’t recognize: the Imperial Valley early in the previous century, when South Asians worked the irrigat
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Hollywood’s First Million-Dollar Movie
California has always been the land of personal reinvention. Few, however, have taken that notion as seriously as Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim. After emigrating from Europe in 1909, he rose to become a fabled Hollywood director and actor
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Oakland’s Stealth Arborist
Last fall, two very different approaches to addressing climate change unfolded in the Bay Area. One Atmosphere commissioned a 60-by-30-foot mural of climate activist Greta Thunberg for San Francisco’s Union Square. Painted on the side of an eight-sto
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This Stream Is A Flood
The great disruption in consumer home entertainment that is now being labeled the Streaming Wars began for me almost 20 years ago. In December 2000, I signed up for a Netflix account. Receiving DVDs by mail in those iconic red envelopes was a revelat
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Fiction Picks
• By Alexandra Chang • Ecco, 320 pages, $26.99 This tender and candid first novel is narrated by a Chinese American woman named Jing Jing. She plays multiple roles here: grown daughter in a broken immigrant family, technology reporter in Silicon Vall
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More Than an Icon
In November 1930, a diminutive 23-year-old woman from the village of Coyoacán, just outside Mexico City, arrived in San Francisco with her new husband, a celebrated artist 20 years her senior. It was her inaugural visit abroad. “San Francisco is very
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Background Art
I’m sitting on the last stool at the bar. My drink sits in front of me. I’m waiting for a man who isn’t my husband to fill the next seat over. It’s 10:30 a.m. I’ve been here for an hour. The bar, like any good dive, has a pool table. There are 12 or
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Good Taste
When I ask Rafael Payare which composers he’s feeling particularly drawn to these days, he answers without skipping a beat. “I really love Mahler, Brahms, Beethoven, Schuman, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Ravel, Debussy, Wagner, S
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Ways of Seeing
Elizabeth Wetmore’s debut novel, Valentine, takes place in Odessa, Texas, in the months following a Mexican American girl’s rape by a white oil rigger. It’s 1976, and an oil boom has made Odessa bright and cruel, a place where “we are all praying for
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The Gold Won’t Go to L.A.
For all their fame, tradition, and monumentality, the Olympic Games are fickle. Cities vying to host the summer Olympics have always lined up and competed with one another ferociously, promising stadiums and arenas that would rejuvenate neglected nei
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Constant Gardeners
A 320-foot stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in San Francisco had been a popular dumping ground for years. It wasn’t unusual to see abandoned sofas, TVs, and other appliances amid the wild fennel that flourished along the fence above the Caltrain embank
Journal of Alta California2 mnt membacaEarth Sciences
Unexpected Beauty
Since we often look to artists to help us see the otherwise unremarkable—a tree, a stone, a wave—with newfound wonder, it’s fitting that San Francisco photographer Josie Iselin recalls the exact moment she first became captivated by a marine element
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My Brilliant Career
I bend the truth constantly when I want something,” admits Prue Van Teesen, the narrator of Anna Dorn’s electric debut novel, Vagablonde. And Prue wants something constantly—she has a loving girlfriend and a promising career, but the 30-year-old Los
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Alta Picks
In 1956, Jack Kerouac spent 63 days as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in Washington State. His time at a tiny cabin perched at an elevation of 6,102 feet in the Cascade Range helped inspire his novels Desolation Angels and The Dharma Bums. While t
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Bukowski by Bus
I think it was my second day as a Christmas temp that this big woman came out and walked around with me as I delivered letters. What I mean by big was that her ass was big and her tits were big and that she was big in all the right places. She seemed
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Answer
I WAS HERE BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE. I DIDN’T HATE SCHOOL, I especially didn’t hate learning. The main thing they taught me, yelling into my face, was that I was wasting their time and money. It did take me a few incidents, and growing years, to allow
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