• Nexus

    Long Before It Was Groovy, LSD Was a Medicine and a Weapon

    How the Positive Side of Psychedelic Drugs Got Lost in the Mayhem of the 1960s

    By Don Lattin

    In the fall of 1965, a 33-year-old father of three named Arthur King—a patient in the alcoholics ward at Baltimore’s Spring Grove Hospital—swallowed an LSD pill and lay back on his bed in a special unit called “Cottage Thirteen.” Sanford …

  • Nexus

    How I Became the Voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    For 47 Years, I've Performed the Words of the Civil Rights Legend

    By Saul Lankster

    A Biblical passage, Luke 12:48, states to whom much is given much is required. That is the attitude I have taken since I learned that I was given the gift of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s voice.
        It was not …

  • Connecting California

    The Slaves of La La Land—and South Los Angeles

    What the Lilting Musical and an Acclaimed Satire Reveal About California’s Dark Heart

    By Joe Mathews

    The brilliant new film musical La La Land is being celebrated as a love letter to Los Angeles. But the darker heart of the movie lies in a brief and devastating critique of Southern California, delivered by the jazz pianist …

  • Small Science

    What Self-Cloning Salamanders Say About Climate Change

    An Evolutionary Outlier Could Inherit the Earth (or at Least Rural Maine)

    By Lisa Margonelli

    Birds do it, bees do it, and so the song goes, even educated fleas do it. But unisexual salamanders don’t.
        These all-female amphibians clone themselves to make eggs—all girls—and they’ve survived this way for five million years. ...

New at Zócalo

Who We Were

Inaugurations Are More Than a Hail to the (New) Chief

How This Enduring Ritual Highlights the Strengths—and Tensions—that Define the American Presidency

By Richard M. Skinner

On Jan. 20, tens of millions of people will watch the pomp and spectacle of a uniquely American tradition. The hushed politicos in the pews of prayer service, the gleaming marching band brass on parade, the holy men and women delivering solemn invocations, the tuxes and gowns dancing their way through evening balls. And, of course, ...


The Cap-and-Trade Solution to Our Trade Dispute With China

Warren Buffett’s Three-Decade-Old Plan Could Finally Be the Right Idea

By Daniel J.B. Mitchell

President-elect Trump’s criticism of our trading relationship with China and our trade deficit with that nation has produced predictable reactions. Economists warn against “protectionism” and the dangers of trade wars. Alarmed diplomats remind us of the American interest in maintaining good relations with China to deal with such matters as North Korea’s threatening behavior. ...

Video Highlights

  • Philosopher Charles Taylor has had a life in politics as well as academia. During the 1950s, when he was studying philosophy at Oxford, he wrote and edited Universities and Left Review, which later became New Left Review, a political …

Open Art

Small Science/Lisa Margonelli

  • Health Care for People on the Edge of the World

    A Clinic on a Fresno Bus Helps IV Drug Users Deal With Infections

    Dan, age 33, woke up one late summer Saturday in Fresno, California with pain in his left buttock.
        Dan is tall, good-looking, and dresses neatly in long shorts, with white socks pulled up, stark white sneakers, and a stylish trucker hat. He has a stoic face and from looking at him I didn’t guess that he was in pain, or that he had an IV drug habit. ...

  • When You Ride the Bus, You Ride With Big Data

    Will Public Transit Apps Create Customers or Citizens?

    When I first arrived in San Francisco in 1988, I often took a bus called the 22 Fillmore, which ran from Potrero Hill, made a right turn near the Castro, and out to the Tony Marina. On one end dwelled ancient socialites in little hats and on the other old longshoremen, with so much wackiness in between that the route was rightly called the “22 Fellini.” It was like the old canard about nudist camps—everyone on the bus ...

  • Why I'm Teaching Myself to Eat Baitfish

    My Small Town's Alewives Are the Fish of the Future

    My town has a fish. Or maybe the fish has us. It’s a herring known as an alewife—about nine inches long, with a forked tail and a belly that shines like hammered chrome. Every spring after the snow melts and before the leaves bud, alewives swim upstream from the Atlantic via the Kennebec River, follow their noses through a small tidal creek, and jump through a culvert, ending up in the freshwater pond where they ...