From Bethlehem to Palm Springs, Christmas Belongs in the Desert

During the Holiday Season, Southern California’s Coachella Valley Becomes a Place of Rebirth

If you’re looking for the quintessential Christmas experience, there’s only one place you should go: the Southern California desert.

The Coachella Valley is the Golden State’s very own Yuletide capital—which might make it the capital of Christmas in America, maybe even the world. After all, California popularized Christmas via Hollywood, and still designs it through our toymakers, digitizes it via Silicon Valley, and distributes it through our ports.

Some Scrooges will call this sacrilege, citing our lack of conifers and snow. Leave such people to their ignorance—the desert is already …

California Needs Frank Capra to Rewrite Its Story

The Legendary Film Director Knew That the Golden State Isn’t About Rich Moguls, but About the Struggles and Triumphs of Ordinary People

The California story needs a remake.

Get me Capra!

Frank—legendary director of films including It Happened One Night to It’s a Wonderful Life—has been dead since 1991, you say? No matter! Just …

Can a Troubled Bridge Show California How to Avoid Big Errors?

The Bay Bridge’s New East Span Proves Why Megaprojects Must Be Both Transformational and Functional

How do you learn from a really big mistake?

Walk across it.

Which is why I recently found myself putting on a windbreaker and beginning a long, slow walk across the east …

Do Californians Love Their Houses Too Much?

A Fourth-Generation Homeowner Reconsiders the California Dream

No house on earth means more to me than my paternal grandparents’ small blue home near the bottom of a windswept hill in the Bay Area city of San Mateo.

I’ve …

The 1958 Governor’s Race That Launched a Dynasty

An Internecine Fight Between Two Republicans Opened the Door to Ambitious San Francisco Democrat Pat Brown

As Jerry Brown nears the end of his record fourth term as California governor, his final months are swathed in nostalgia, superlatives, and retrospectives on a remarkable five decades in …

Is Slab City, California the Last Free Place in America?

Dwellers of the Desert Community—Both Exiles and Refugees—Are Staging an Experiment in 'Adaptation and Resistance'

When the alert pinged on my phone, I thought of Austin and his house of wooden pallets. A “wall of dust” roiled toward Slab City and other “impacted locations” in …