After Yun Dong-ju
From the floor of my room in a foreign land. Morning breaks open
with newspapers, each one with terrible promises
of deportation and imprisonment and murder of my friend, a poet,
then another, until they are all gone.
I ran out into the streets though it was not enough.
I screamed out in horror though it was not enough. The sun began
to sink faster, …
The United States has a special history, and thus bears a unique stake, when it comes to the flight of foreign refugees, particularly those seeking sanctuary from oppression and violence. Political asylum has long been a defining element of America’s national identity, beginning most forcefully in 1776 with Thomas Paine’s pledge in Common Sense that independence from Great Britain would afford “an asylum for mankind.” …
The Ralph M. Brown Act, first approved in 1953, is celebrated for its supposed guarantees that we citizens have a voice in the decisions of all our local governments.
But today, it is little more than a gag rule.
Over the past six decades, the Brown Act—famous for its guarantee of a 72-hour notice for public meetings—has become a civic Frankenstein, threatening the very public participation it …
This time of year, the swallows return to Capistrano, and I return to my birthplace, San Francisco, for the city’s annual pre-budget finance conference. For the last few years I have kicked things off with an economic outlook for the coming year, replete with a discussion of risks. This being San Francisco, naturally, I had to talk about the high costs of housing as one …
At some time in the evolution of the human organism, the gene that had allowed the body to synthesize vitamin C mutated, and the liver enzyme responsible for the synthesis ceased to work. The change had no known negative effect in humans, except when diets were restricted and fresh food was not readily available, as in famines, sieges, sea voyages, and polar explorations.
Last month, the Bulgarian-French intellectual Tzvetan Todorov died. A scholar on the history of thought, his writings influenced fields as disparate as anthropology, literary criticism, and history. His death was, of course, tragic for family and friends: Stricken by Parkinson’s, he was gone more suddenly than any of us had anticipated. But it was also tragic for readers and citizens who had never met him. …
& you take me to the field’s heart,
all golden & consumed, This is not
yours; you take me to the house
doubling over on itself; we wade
ditch grasses & overgrowth to push
a battered door; we walk wall
papered halls, the peel of peel, &
you run your fingers over chips in
railing, This is not yours; you walk me
down the gravel road, palms tight,
wind everywhere, & this?
Felicia Zamora’s books include …
When Barnum and Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” rolled into American towns in the 1880s, daily life abruptly stopped. Months before the show arrived, an advance team saturated the surrounding region with brilliantly colored lithographs of the extraordinary: elephants, bearded ladies, clowns, tigers, acrobats, and trick riders.
On “Circus Day” (as it was known), huge crowds gathered to observe the predawn arrival of “herds and …
Californians used to envy residents of our beautiful, wine-and-wealth-drenched Central Coast. Now we have reason to pity them.
And not just because Nicole Kidman has thrown her star power into producing a TV series based on the premise that Monterey’s women might be murderers.
The past year has brought one calamity after another. Last summer’s Soberanes Fire burned a vast swath around Big Sur for 83 days, …
California has benefitted greatly from globalization—from cheap T-shirts, to leaps in technology, to proximity to Asia, to its agricultural exports. Why, then, is it disparaged by political leaders—as dissimilar as President Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders—as a boon to very few, at the expense of most? This was the question at the heart of a lively Zócalo/UCLA event entitled “Does Globalization Only Serve Elites?” before …
News with an element of sensation becomes breaking news today. Sensation sells. Everything is made sensational even if it is not.