• Readings

    Ten Illuminating Books for Confusing Times

    From Ghosts to Darwinism to the Spanish Flu, Zócalo's Favorite Nonfiction of 2017


    If 2017 was the year the world stopped making sense to you, Zócalo’s 10 favorite nonfiction books of this new era are exactly what you need. They all, in some way, make sense of phenomena, past and present, that intrigue …

  • Connecting California

    By Joe Mathews

    This week, California should give thanks for Cheech.
        Richard Anthony Marin deserves our gratitude not just because his new autobiography, Cheech Is Not My Real Name … But Don’t Call Me Chong, turns out to be the best California book of the year. And not just because his career should give you hope that no matter how short, bald, or brown you are, …

  • Poetry

    By Alicia Jo Rabins

    This matzah ball soup
    Reminds me of my grandmother
    I’m so close to her here in Brooklyn city of her birth
    Darling as she called everyone
    Let’s be sentimentalists together
    And forget about her personality disorder ...

New at Zócalo


How Norway Taught Me to Balance My Hyphenated-Americanness

A Minnesotan Grapples With Identity in His Scandinavian "Homeland"

By Eric Dregni

During the year I spent studying at the university in Trondheim, Norway, I sometimes learned more about my own country than Norway. One day, in my immigration studies class, my professor David Mauk, who hailed from Ohio, asked, “What does it mean to be American?”
    I braced myself to hear the usual stereotypes from the news from the Norwegian students in my class. Then the professor clarified, “What to you is truly good about ...


Want to Take My Civics Class? Get Ready to Squirm

Learning How America Works Should Be Hard on You, Not Just Good for You

By Sarah Cooper

In many conversations, the topic of civics education comes with its own halo. The conventional wisdom is that it’s good, clean medicine, and if our children just get enough of its inoculation, the American body politic will be healthy enough to survive another generation.
    But after nearly two decades as a middle-school and high-school history teacher, I’ve come to understand through teaching civics—and studying how it’s taught—that learning how to be a citizen doesn’t work like that. Indeed, civics education is best when it’s messy and uncomfortable. ...

Connecting California/Joe Mathews

  • What Californians Can Learn From South Korea's Nuclear Cool

    As the Golden State Frets Over North Korea's Missiles, Seoul Residents Say 'Keep Calm, Study up—and Drink'

    Can Californians learn to be as cool as Koreans in the face of nuclear annihilation?
        Visiting Seoul last week, I asked people how they stay sane while living within ...

  • How Data Is Making California's Water Wars Worse

    An Explosion of Information May Allow Californians to Track—and Fight About—Every Drop

    If you thought California’s famously bitter water wars were hard-fought, just wait until you see our water data wars.
        Californians fight over water because we all need it and there is rarely enough to satisfy the full needs of many competing interests—farmers and fishermen, ...

  • California's Fear of High-Rise Living Is Blocking Our View of the Future

    Tall Residential Housing Would Spur Retail, Ease Homelessness, and Curb Pollution and Traffic

    Want to spook your neighbors this Halloween? Don’t bother with big displays of goblins, ghouls, or ghosts. Instead, just decorate your door with a picture of an eight-story apartment building. ...

Video Highlights