Journal of Alta California5 min de lecture
Yvon Chouinard Tells Some Stories
The global brand Patagonia grew out of Yvon Chouinard’s first business: forging pitons—the steel blades climbers of the era would drive into cracks in the rock with a heavy hammer to anchor themselves to the wall. Chouinard writes, “My first blacksmi
Journal of Alta California4 min de lecture
The Gray Area
In the early 1990s, Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami—then a graduate student studying linguistics in Los Angeles—found herself filling out administrative paperwork at the University of Southern California so she could teach Arabic and French to u
Journal of Alta California1 min de lecture
Robert Hass
What is your favorite place in the West? My home country is the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada. How has your translation work affected the poems you create? From the beginning. The language of the Old and New Testaments that has filled
Journal of Alta California4 min de lecture
Byoc
On a Monday morning in downtown San Francisco, the Blue Bottle on Second Street, like all Blue Bottles (and Starbucks and Peet’s and Dunkin’ and independent coffee shops everywhere), is packed. People sitting at blond-wood counters with coffee in pap
Journal of Alta California1 min de lecture
Downhill White Supremacists March on Sacramento
High in the Sierragreen summer aspenwhisper to the lake.The snowpack glitters.Over the passesWinnebago thunderout of the wide red flats of Nevada.Huge crooked knuckles,the dark screes loom.Deep in the roadbeds,the bones of the Irish& Chinese workersw
Journal of Alta California3 min de lecturePoverty & Homelessness
Conditional Citizens
It occurs to me now that poverty is often associated with parasites—and not just in literal ways. In every election, I can count on one or another politician to rail against people who “live off” taxpayers’ money, receiving food stamps, rent assistan
Journal of Alta California1 min de lecture
Summer Storm In The Sierra
The world goes silver when a storm comes up—a sudden silvery green. Not sure what the verb is for cottonwoods in a princeling wind. Their trunks never seem to stand so still as when the leaves leap and shudder on their stems. Shiver on their stems. T
Journal of Alta California11 min de lecture
The Most Interesting Machine In The World
Quantum computing—magnificent in conception though embryonic in performance—is being touted as the next great information-technology revolution. Enthusiasts are predicting that quantum machines will solve problems beyond the reach of conventional com
Journal of Alta California4 min de lectureHistory
Burn, Baby, Burn
Mike Davis and Jon Wiener’s Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties is both a fierce political and cultural history and a geographic corrective. The Los Angeles of the 1960s is so much more than the hilly bohemia of folk-rock balladeers, their liv
Journal of Alta California2 min de lecture
Lives Of The Poet
Bob Kaufman had been everywhere, man. Born in New Orleans in 1925, he joined the merchant marine when he got out of high school and saw the world for much of the 1940s. He took his mail in New York, but by the late 1950s he’d also called San Antonio
Journal of Alta California13 min de lecture
The Hopis Of Alcatraz
On the rainy morning of January 3, 1895, a group of Hopi men waited on San Francisco’s Clay Street wharf for the prison boat to Alcatraz. Wrapped in striped blankets, the 19 Indians stood out, even in a city like San Francisco, filled with people fro
Journal of Alta California2 min de lecture
Truth or Dare
Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames per second.” Jean-Luc Godard’s famous, albeit miscontextualized, remark is cited twice in Jon Wilkman’s Screening Reality: How Documentary Filmmakers Reimagined America. If Wilkman doesn’t actually quote Godard’s
Journal of Alta California4 min de lecture
From the Outside In
Lidia Yuknavitch is known for placing those we don’t see or choose not to see at the center of her work. In novels such as The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children and her memoir, The Chronology of Water, she gives life and agency to characte
Journal of Alta California3 min de lectureCrime & Violence
Rough Sketch Of A Serial Killer
On the morning of January 27, 1974, at approximately 1:25 a.m., police dispatch received a phone call reporting the discovery of a corpse at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. “I believe there might be a dead person,” the caller said in a calm, male-soundi
Journal of Alta California2 min de lecture
Monsters of Our Own Making
Alifer stood up to read his writing after 15 weeks of sitting in a creative writing class I facilitated at a classroom in a maximum-security yard of Lancaster State Prison (California State Prison, Los Angeles County). It was our last day of that ses
Journal of Alta California4 min de lectureEarth Sciences
The Consolations of Cartography
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to give United States Marine Corps general Anthony Zinni a ride from a bookstore in Pasadena to a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills, up a tangle of narrow streets. This was before the ubiquity of Waze or Goo
Journal of Alta California10 min de lecture
Fire Power
Anna Colegrove-Powell is setting the woods on fire. Her drip torch streams diesel onto dry leaves and twigs, and its flaring tip sets them ablaze. Soon, a line of orange flame sweeps through the underbrush along the thickly forested Klamath River, ig
Journal of Alta California1 min de lecture
Luis J. Rodriguez
How does a fixation on borders undermine the idea of identity and culture? Nations and borders are relatively new concoctions in the history of humanity. They emerged as capitalism stretched out from Europe. I’m interested in the larger idea that all
Journal of Alta California2 min de lecture
Body and Soul
It’s difficult to be interested in modern American culture and not be at least nominally aware of Miranda July. The New York Times Magazine has called her a “prolific polymath.” That’s often shorthand for “dilettante,” but July is in no way trifling:
Journal of Alta California16 min de lecture
London’s Newest Queen
It was in May 1976 that Mary Ann Singleton, who had arrived in San Francisco as a tourist from Cleveland, decided she would make the city her new home. So began the initial installment of Armistead Maupin’s beloved Tales of the City. Serialized in th
Journal of Alta California2 min de lecture
Nonfiction Picks
• By Dinah Lenney • Bloomsbury, 192 pages, $13.45 Your morning cup of joe is more complicated than it looks. Just ask Dinah Lenney, author of Coffee, the latest in Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series—which asks writers to ruminate on ordinary things i
Journal of Alta California1 min de lecture
Miranda July
How does it feel to see your work collected in this book? The whole time I was making it, I would remind myself: “You’d love a book like this, a book about a woman artist that was so intimate.” To make a work about work…it’s like a hall of mirrors. W
Journal of Alta California4 min de lecture
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 min de lectureBotany
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.
Journal of Alta California2 min de lecture
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
Journal of Alta California3 min de lecture
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 min de lecturePsychology
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
Journal of Alta California4 min de lecture
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
Journal of Alta California3 min de lecture
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
Journal of Alta California7 min de lecture
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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