Issue 18: The New Hollywood

Inside the Winter 2022 edition of Alta Journal.

alta, cover, winter 2022



olympia oysters grown by hog island oyster co in marshall, california
Penni Gladstone

Olympian Dreams

The West Coast’s only native oyster has a colorful history that appears to have been embellished for dramatic effect. But the true story is just as compelling. By Lydia Lee • Photos by Penni Gladstone

singer and musician lucía obregón matzer of san francisco describes her first experience with psilocybin, the shrooms allowed me to feel more empowered in my roots
Jason Henry

The Gentrification of Consciousness

San Francisco’s Mission district has become synonymous with well-paid tech workers displacing non-white longtime residents. It’s now the setting for a new battle, as the coming psychedelic-industrial complex threatens to strip hallucinogenic drugs of their historical and religious significance. By Roberto Lovato • Photos by Jason Henry

hector arias’s doordash sponsored mural in boyle heights depicts papel picado, perforated paper banners, to celebrate latinx culture
Christina Gandolfo

Street Fight

Boyle Heights’ DoorDash-sponsored murals and the backlash against fnnch’s honey bears reveal the polarizing rifts in the California guerrilla art community. By Ajay Orona • Photos by Christina Gandolfo

da rhods
Mark Smith

She Has a Name

Veteran investigator Steve Rhods helped take down the Golden State Killer. But solving the identity of his first Jane Doe murder case has proved even more vexing, and reveals a larger problem: Why does society so easily overlook missing women of color? By Louise Farr • Illustrations by Mark Smith

mark twain
Steve Carroll

When Mark Twain Canceled Bret Harte

Despite their shared history of condemning bigotry, anti-Chinese racism fueled the falling-out between two of California’s biggest writers. By Joy Lanzendorfer • Illustrations by Steve Carroll

victor villaseñor and editor marc jaffe
Gregg Segal

A Literary Odd Couple

Writer Victor Villaseñor and editor Marc Jaffe’s working partnership spans 50 years—and 3,000 miles. By Jesse Katz • Photos by Gregg Segal

jim bailey as judy garland
Philip Burke

The Man That Got Away

Jim Bailey spent his career impersonating Judy Garland, leaving a biographer to ponder: Where did that leave him? By Sam Wasson • Illustration by Philip Burke

william wurster

San Francisco’s Debt to Finland

Eighty years ago, two California designers traveled to Helsinki to see master architect Alvar Aalto. The trip launched lifelong friendships and helped shape the ranch house aesthetic of West Coast subdivisions in the 1950s and ’60s. By Daniel P. Gregory

The New Hollywood

greig fraser
Chia Bella James/Warner Bros. Pictures

Image Makers

Three top directors of photography on filming for screens—big and small—in stressful times. Moderated by Tim Greiving

spring 2021 runway shows owed a debt to costume designer ellen mirojnick, who created 7,500 period pieces for the hit netflix series bridgerton

Fashion Gone Streamable

Will film ever make us play dress-up again? By Monica Corcoran Harel

broken oscars

Play It as He Lays

The Academy Awards represent the last gasps of a morally decrepit version of Hollywood. By Will Self • Illustration by Red Nose Studio

veteran development executive amy baer heads landline pictures, a new division of independent studio mrc that is devoted to the over 50 demo
Christina Gandolfo

Acting Your Age

Hollywood is finally falling for the middle-age meet-cute. By Monica Corcoran Harel

los angeles filming locations illusr
Martin Gee

Keeping Hollywood in Hollywood

California is tired of losing big money to runaway production—so it’s fighting back. By Robert Ito • Illustration by Martin Gee

dark illustration
Matt Mahurin

What Shall We Do in Our Dark?

The screen reflects our anxieties about community, technology, and, perhaps, the end of the world. By David Thomson • Illustration by Matt Mahurin

i may destroy you
Natalie Seery/HBO

Why I Love This Show

    alta picks, influencers

    Alta Picks: An Influencer’s Guide to the New Hollywood


    zanjero sergio lopez returns to his truck after adjusting an irrigation gate during his morning rounds in the imperial valley, which produced more than $2 billion in crops in 2019
    Tod Seelie

    The Gatekeepers

    For centuries, zanjeros have controlled the waters of California. By Marcela Davison Avilés • Photos by Tod Seelie

    a proposal to introduce 
an endangered species to a group of california islands challenges assumptions about native habitats under global warming
    Zoe Matthiessen

    Birds of Passage

    A proposal to introduce an endangered species to a group of California islands challenges assumptions about native habitats under global warming. By Scott Addeo Young • Illustrations by Zoe Matthiessen

    danielle bergstrom, founder of fresnoland, a nonprofit media and policy lab, sees journalism as a direct way to fight for social justice
    Penni Gladstone

    Fresno on Her Mind

    Urban planner Danielle Bergstrom has taken an unlikely route to combating social inequities in the Central Valley: she started a nonprofit newsroom. By Brad Balukjian • Photo by Penni Gladstone

    delia  dee dominguez, a member of the kitanemuk and yowlumne tribes who gives talks on toypurina’s legacy she holds a bowl she made full of white clamshell beads, traditionally used as money
    Dustin Snipes

    Storming the Mission

    Toypurina, a female shaman who led a revolt against Spanish rule, emerges as a cultural icon. By Denise Hamilton • Photos by Dustin Snipes

    lauren esposito, trailblazer
    Cayce Clifford

    Trailblazer: Dr. Lauren Esposito

    Turning invisibility into community. By Jessica Klein


    shadows of people holding hands
    Niall Majury

    Poetry: ‘Our Son Comes Over’

    By David L. Ulin

    pierre auguste renoir’s landscape at beaulieu
    FINE ARTS MUSEUMS OF SAN FRANCISCO, Mildred Anna Williams Collection

    Personal Favorite: Landscape at Beaulieu

    Renoir sparks in me an all-consuming urge to paint. By Guimi You

    night time sky

    Poetry: ‘Take to the Days a Fist of Starlight’

    By Mai Der Vang

    conductor jessica bejarano founded the san francisco philharmonic, which she aims to fill with accomplished, diverse musicians

    The Sisterhood of the Baton

    Jessica Bejarano is on a quest to become one of the few women to lead a top-tier orchestra. She’ll rely on hard work, supportive allies, and the music she loves. By Catherine Womack

    mona vaughn scott ,seated, the black repertory group’s executive director and artistic director, and her son, sean vaughn scott, the theater company’s development director, are flanked by photos of their parents and grandparents, respectively, the organization’s founders
    Craig Lee

    A Tale of Two Theaters

    In a city renowned for its progressive values and support of the arts, the Black Repertory Group struggles and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre thrives. It’s business as usual for Black theater. By Ishmael Reed • Photos by Craig Lee

    he dreams about the bunny ranch illustration
    Victor Juhasz

    Fiction: ‘He Dreams About the Bunny Ranch’

    By Allie Rowbottom • Illustrations by Victor Juhasz


    sarah shun lien bynum
    Dustin Snipes

    The Form of a Sentence

    Sarah Shun-lien Bynum on finding thought in language—or is it the other way around? By Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

    Why You Should Read This: Likes

    By David L. Ulin

    natalie diaz
    Deanna Dent/ASU Now

    The Practice of Poetry

    Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natalie Diaz explores the power of language and images in her work. By Natalie Diaz

    Why You Should Read This: Postcolonial Love Poem

    By David L. Ulin

    karen tei yamashita

    ‘Year of the Monkey’

    An excerpt from I Hotel. By Karen Tei Yamashita

    Why You Should Read This: I Hotel

    By David L. Ulin

    tracy k smith

    To See ‘Such Color’

    Tracy K. Smith’s new and selected poems show her gracefully pivoting between
    light and dark and channeling grief into joy. By John Freeman • Photos by Erin Clark

    In Every Issue

    Publisher’s Note: Audience Is the Future

    By Will Hearst



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