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Carolyn Chen, a sociologist and professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, argues in her new book "Work Pray Code" that Silicon Valley has become a “techtopia” where workplaces and charismatic leaders now provide for employees' every need. The workplace has become their community, their place of worship, and resulted in the elimination of boundari…
 
Long-time tech journalist Tripp Mickle explains how Steve Jobs’s personality defined Apple. He was both a founder and a legend. But his successors, Tim Cook and Jonny Ive each had their own very different ideas about the company's future. Their battle was so fundamental that it deconstructed the company culture built under Jobs. Mickle tells the st…
 
Lettie Teaque, a longtime Wall Street Journal wine columnist, created a buzz recently with a column about how the Napa Valley may have jumped the shark with respect to pricing and gentrification. It's a look at $10,000 weekends, $1,700-a-night hotels, and $200 tastings that are becoming de rigueur. What might all this mean for our future perception…
 
At 3:15 pm on April 29, 1972, as the verdict came down in the Rodney King beating, Los Angeles exploded with another in a long history of race riots. Everyone knew what might happen, but nothing prepared the city for what came next. Ryan Gattis captured the horror and power of that in his 2015 fictional account "All Involved." The award-winning Los…
 
Long Time Silicon Valley journalist John Markoff unearths the roots of a tree, whose branches include, among others, Ken Kesey, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk. Markoff's new book, "Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand,” examines a Zelig-like character in both California's 1960s counterculture and the ethos of Silicon Valley. Brand’s Whole Earth …
 
Thomas Walsh and Karen Maness are the co-curators of "Art of the Hollywood Backdrop: Cinema's Creative Legacy," an exhibit opening at Boca Raton Museum of Art on April 20. It showcases a collection of monumental scenic backdrop paintings that were an essential part of the filmmaking era that included movies such as "North by Northwest," "The Sound …
 
Vanessa Hua, a Bay Area native and graduate of Stanford and U.C. Riverside, has focused her extensive writing on issues of immigration, identity, diversity, and parenting. Moving seamlessly between short stories, novels, journalism, and her San Francisco Chronicle column, she offers important insights into the Asian American experience. The author …
 
Susan Sorrells has been called the “Queen of the Desert” and among a "shortlist of the most interesting people in California.” The Smith College graduate spent time in Liberia with the Peace Corps, worked for California Sen. Thomas Kuchel in Washington, D.C., and lived for four months in the Soviet Union during the Cold War while considering a care…
 
Libby Schaaf is about to complete her second and final term as mayor of Oakland. Unlike a lot of other political jobs, as Willie Brown once said, mayors are judged by results. When Schaaf took office in 2014, Barack Obama was still president. Today, she presides over a very different city. Homelessness, a new baseball stadium, the creation of a who…
 
Frances Dinkelspiel is working hard to counter the decline of local reporting. The co-founder of Berkeleyside, Oaklandside, and their parent organization Cityside believes it is more important for us to know what's going on in our neighborhoods than what’s happening 6,000 miles away. The longtime Bay Area author and journalist shares her journey an…
 
Peter Hartlaub and the San Francisco Chronicle are inseparable. Peter delivered the Chronicle as a paperboy in the 1980s, went to work there as a journalist in 2000, and 22 years later, continues to put his imprimatur on the paper and the institution. Currently the culture critic, Hartlaub has helped bring the Chronicle into the multimedia age, has…
 
The work of Sebastian Mallaby, a financial journalist and author of the new book "The Power Law," shines a light on how Silicon Valley really operates. The names you know — Zuckerberg, Jobs, Dorsey, Brin & Page — are not really the gatekeepers of the future, he argues. The future of technology rests in the hands of people you’ve probably never hear…
 
Erich Schwartzel has covered Hollywood for the Wall Street Journal for almost a decade. This week, the author of "Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy" joins the California Sun Podcast to talk about how two big stories — Hollywood and the Oscars, and our eyes on China — may have more in common than we thought. …
 
Alice Waters is among the most influential restaurateurs of the last half-century. Her legendary Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse gave birth to farm-to-table cuisine and gave California a global culinary presence. She has nurtured talent that has spread to restaurants around the world. Chez Panisse is now preparing to reopen post-pandemic, and Wate…
 
Mark Fainaru-Wada was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle when he co-authored "Game of Shadows," the definitive book about Barry Bonds, BALCO, and baseball's steroid scandal. An award-winning ESPN reporter since 2007, Fainaru-Wada talks about the ongoing debate over Bonds’ rightful place in Cooperstown and in baseball history.…
 
Marty Nemko is one of the premier career counselors in the Bay Area. The long-time host of “Work with Marty Nemko" on KALW in San Francisco, a long-time regular guest on KGO, and a contributor to Psychology Today, Nemko shares his thoughts on our post-Covid world of work in California. Topics include: why so many don’t want to go back to the office…
 
Elizabeth Weil has had a 25-year relationship with California. She’s written about it for years, and her most recent piece, “This is Not the California I Married," appeared recently in the New York Times Magazine. She’s lived through many California disasters, including fires, droughts, earthquakes, and floods. But today she sees fire differently. …
 
Sammy Potter and Jackson Parell, two Stanford University students, put their pandemic year to good use. While many of us watched too much Netflix, they took the ultimate outdoor adventure. In 295 days, they completed the calendar year triple crown of hiking — a 7,400-mile journey across the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide trails,…
 
Prof. Susan Handy teaches in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at U.C. Davis. With degrees from U.C. Berkeley, Stanford and Princeton, her research focuses on the relationships between transportation and land use. Handy talks about how all the federal infrastructure dollars coming to California, which everyone seems excited about, …
 
Peter Thiel is considered by many the "godfather" of Silicon Valley. His influence, as a venture capitalist, a political contributor, and a leading alumnus of what has been called the PayPal mafia continues to shape the culture of the valley. He mentors new leaders, uses his wealth to reshape politics, and strikes fear into those who oppose him. Th…
 
Mayor Darrell Steinberg knows the levers to pull to operate state government. He was a member of the Sacramento City Council, a member of the State Assembly, and a longtime leader in the State Senate, where he rose to president pro tempore. However, no job was as tough as his current one as Sacramento mayor. Today, amid climate change, Covid, homel…
 
Bob Calhoun reminds us that while we may be alarmed by rising numbers of homicides in the Bay Area today, the region's history has been far worse. Calhoun, the writer of the popular SF Weekly column "Yesterday’s Crime" and author of the new book “The Murders That Made Us,” shares how the Bay Area has been shaped by its most grisly crimes.…
 
Dan Walters, the dean of state capital journalists, joined us in the first week of the pandemic lockdown, back in March of 2020. After twenty months, he joins us once again to offer a post-pandemic view of California's future. He opines on politicians who’ve become fat and lazy, an economy that’s become sluggish, a public education system that can’…
 
Jassen Todorov, a music teacher at San Francisco State, has played the violin on some of the world's greatest concert stages. But years ago he got his airplane pilot's license in case the music career didn’t work out. Along the way, he became a self-taught, award-winning photographer and has combined the artistry of photography, flight, and music. …
 
Nothing defines a culture more than its food. For California, that includes not just California cuisine, but In-N-Out, McDonald's, Bob’s Big Boy, Peet's Coffee, Taco Bell, Pinks, Winchels, Hamburger Hamlet, Fat Burger, and many other restaurants born in California. Restaurant historian and chef George Geary, the author most recently of "Made In Cal…
 
The Palm Spring region has over 120 golf courses, all of which require irrigation, some as much as 1.2 million gallons of water each night. That's even as residential water rationing begins in response to worsening drought conditions, driven by climate change. Doug Thompson and Robin Kobaly, are long-time environmentalists who have, in a recent col…
 
Richard L. Brown is the newly elected leader of California’s largest public employee union, SEIU Local 1000. Brown's controversial campaign promised to take the union, with its more than 100,000 members, out of state and federal politics, and reduce or eliminate dues. He argued that these steps would give the union more power to protect jobs, incre…
 
Michael Hiltzik, an award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter, has been observing and writing about business and technology in California for almost 40 years. In his recent book, "Iron Empires," he writes about the railroad tycoons and robber barons of the last Gilded Age. Then and now, the very rich are similar, he says, and so is our reaction to t…
 
Gene Slater, a long-time advisor on housing for federal, state, and local agencies and the author of "Freedom to Discriminate: How Realtors Conspired to Segregate Housing and Divide America," discusses the outsized historical influence of California's real estate industry. It helped set the stage for many of today's social problems, including homel…
 
Mariam Pawel, a Brown family biographer and New York Times essayist, has some final words on the recall vote and what’s next. She looks at whether any of it matters in the long run, how might it change California politics, will anyone but consultants benefit, and what happens with the critical issues still facing the state.…
 
Woody Hastings and Jenny Blaker didn’t like the idea of a new gas station in a rural area of Cotati, in Sonoma County. Their efforts launched a growing statewide movement to stop the construction of new gas stations and the expansion of existing ones. Both longtime environmental activists, deeply concerned about climate change, they see the once ic…
 
Lizzie Johnson, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter, covered fifteen of California’s deadliest fires. However, none reached the level of death and destruction that she witnessed in Paradise on Nov. 8, 2018. Within two hours of the fire's ignition, the town was engulfed in flames and hundreds were trapped in homes and cars. In her reporting, a…
 
Daniel O'Connell, a labor scholar, and Scott Peters, a professor of global development, talk about the historic battle, from the 1930s to the present, between rural farmers and agribusiness in California's Central Valley. In their new book, "In The Struggle," they examine what they see as the unjust and oppressive structures of the valley by lookin…
 
Mizgon Zahir Darby, a longtime leader in the Bay Area's Afghan community, helps give voice to the large diaspora of Afghans living in California. She says they are in mourning over recent events. Families may never be able to go home again, and they are thinking about refugees that may soon arrive. Listening to her tells us the personal stories tha…
 
Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, based in San Jose. He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana. Doblin has devoted his life to the d…
 
Katie Hill, once a congresswoman and now a private citizen, has seen a lot of politics in her 33 years. In 2019, in the course of ten months, she lived through what some have experienced in an entire career. Now back home in her Southern California district, she candidly shares her personal and political story, as she contemplates her second act.…
 
Matt Haney grew up in the Bay Area. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Stanford and is now a supervisor for San Francisco's 6th district, which includes some of the poorest and wealthiest parts of the city. He talks about San Francisco's lack of long-term planning, its resistance to change, the stubborn consistency of so many of its problems, and …
 
George J. Sanchez, a USC professor and author of the new book "Boyle Heights: How a Los Angeles Neighborhood Became the Future of American Democracy," shares his appreciation for his birthplace, the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. He sees it as a rare living example of the great melting pot of ethnic and cultural diversity that was suppo…
 
Rosecrans Baldwin, a novelist and journalist, adds his unique voice in trying to make sense of what he calls the “city-state” of Los Angeles. He talks about L.A. as welcoming but somehow detached from the rest of America. While Baldwin argues that no single story can possibly represent all of L.A., in his new book "Everything Now," he adds to the c…
 
Steve Wasserman was born and raised in Berkeley, but launched his literary life in Los Angeles, first as deputy editor of the Los Angeles Times then as the long-time editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. He then sampled a rich life among the New York publishing elites. In 2016, Wasserman and his 15,000-book library came home. He talks to us …
 
In January, Colleen McCain Nelson was named executive editor of the Sacramento Bee and the regional editor for McClatchy’s California news outlets, including the Fresno Bee, the Modesto Bee, the Tribune in San Luis Obispo, and the Merced Sun-Star. A journalist since high school, she talks to us about the value of local news, the future of printed n…
 
Mick LaSalle, author of his new book "Dream State," shows how movies have historically captured the essence of California. For almost a century, the movies have defined the California dream and projected it out to the world. The long-time film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle talks about the mythology of California and the big screen, the fut…
 
Justin Zhu was fired from Iterable, the successful marketing startup he founded. The reasons given to him included his use of LSD, inappropriate attire (even by Silicon Valley standards), and giving secrets to a reporter. Unstated, he believes, were issues of race. His story provides a glimpse of what it’s really like in the world of startups — the…
 
Joel Selven, a music journalist and author of the new book “Hollywood Eden," tells the story of the young artists and musicians who came together at the dawn of the 1960s to create the sound of the California dream. It's the story of how West Los Angeles's University High School class of 1958 — which included Jan & Dean and Nancy Sinatra — helped c…
 
The writer Ron Brownstein takes us back to 1974 Los Angeles, a period he views as a cultural and political hinge point. It was during that year — as Brownstein details in his new book, "Rock Me on The Water" — that Los Angeles reached its creative peak, transforming movies, music, television, and politics, and forever cementing the upheaval of the …
 
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