• Sketchbook

    Joe Rocco is a New Yorker who now lives in Los Angeles. As a boy, he drew constantly, inspired by his heroes—cartoonists like Charles Addams, Gary Panter, Buddy Hickerson, and Georganne Deen. After many years of cartooning, both for TV and print, he is now working on his comic strips “Fluffer and Nutter” and “Enquiring Minds.”
      Each of Joe’s illustrations for Zócalo ...

  • In the Green Room

    Jon D. Michaels is professor of law at the UCLA School of Law and author of Constitutional Coup: Privatization’s Threat to the American Republic. Before joining a Zócalo Public Square/UCLA Downtown panel titled “Are American Presidents Above the Law?” at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown Los Angeles, he spoke in the green room about clerking …

  • Poetry

    by Stacey Balkun

    Possumtown Neighborhood, Piscataway, NJ, one mile
    from the Middlesex Sampling Plant site, where radiation
    cleanup from ore sampling in the 1940’s was projected to be
    completed in 2000

    My best friend and I hover in my driveway,
    hopscotching between maple seeds ...

New at Zócalo

The Takeaway

Civilization Has Always Been Collapsing for Somebody

While the Apocalypse Is Relative, Humanity’s Pursuit of Technology Perpetually Creates and Defuses Existential Threats

by Kianoosh Hashemzadeh

The question of whether civilization is on the verge of collapse may be as old as civilization itself.
  This enduring query brought together a group of panelists that moderator Edan Lepucki called “the most interesting dinner party I’ve ever been invited to” for a Zócalo/Getty event before an overflow crowd at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
  Lepucki, author of the post-apocalyptic novel California, stressed that addressing the event’s title question—”Is Civilization on the Verge of Collapse?”—starts with defining what type of civilization we are talking about. One panelist, University of New South Wales global biosecurity scholar Raina MacIntyre, said it’s clear that our concerns about collapse are centered on technological civilization, which she described as “a fragile ecosystem under threat for ...


How Sicilian Merchants in New Orleans Reinvented America’s Diet

In the 1830s, They Brought Lemons, Commercial Dynamism, and a Willingness to Fight Elites

by Justin Nystrom

When I started writing a book exploring the crucial contributions that Sicilians had made to New Orleans food culture, I sat down to talk with fabled restaurateur Salvatore “Joe” Segreto. “You’re not going to do one of those “who killa da chief?” histories, are you?,” was the first question he asked me.
  Segreto referred to a familiar catcall heard by Italian kids growing up in New Orleans, forged in the bloody aftermath of the assassination of the city’s police Chief David Hennessy in 1890—and the acquittal and mob-lynching of 11 Sicilians for his murder five months later.
  Segreto’s disdain for the topic was justifiable: Popular takes on the Sicilian past in New Orleans often degenerate into reductive tales of Mafiosi and peasants, thanks in part to all-too-frequent retellings of the death of “da chief.” But, as ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews