In the Current Issue: Epic Tales of Survival

Inside the Spring 2023 edition of Alta Journal.

alta, issue 23, cover, epic tales of survival


Tales of Survival

carmel artist colony
Laura Pérez

Look Out or You’ll Be Poisoned

A tale of love, tainted marshmallows, and murder at the Carmel artist colony. By Joy Lanzendorfer • Illustrations by Laura Pérez

repo illustrations
Mark Smith

No Pity

In Portland, a band of fed-up citizens are fighting back against car thieves and chop shops. They’ll step in where law enforcement can’t and do repos on behalf of crime victims. By David Wolman • Illustrations by Mark Smith

honey anne haskin illustration
Hokyoung Kim

The Bullfighter Draws Her Sword

In her quest to become the first matadora in modern Spain, 23-year-old Honey Anne Haskin gave the performance of a lifetime. By Geoffrey Gray • Illustrations by Hokyoung Kim

thirst illustrations
John Mattos


In 1905, prospector Pablo Valencia survived a week without water as he walked—and stumbled, and crawled—more than 100 miles in the Sonoran Desert. Seventy-five years later, high school teacher Bill Broyles retraced his route and lived to talk about it. By Julian Smith • Illustrations by John Mattos

p22 illustrations
Zoe Matthiessen


Hazards stalked him every day. But somehow, Griffith Park’s big puma survived in the wild for more than a decade. His death devastated the city he called home. By Denise Hamilton • Illustrations by Zoe Matthiessen

flyboarding, columbia river, hood river, oregon
getty images

Alta Picks: Venture at Your Own Risk

There’s nothing like surviving a terrifying plummet into chilly Northern California waters or dodging a falling stalactite deep beneath the earth’s surface in Utah. If danger calls to you, here are six activities to try this spring. But we must warn you—these thrills are not without peril, so proceed with caution. By Jessica Blough, Elizabeth Casillas, Nasim Ghasemiyeh, Aaron Gilbreath, and Ajay Orona


jay mcinerney, malibu colony
Gregg Segal

The Magic of Malibu Colony

Inside a gated haven where movie stars, rock stars, and wealthy nonconformists roam the streets—and the beach. By Jay McInerney • Photos by Gregg Segal

a visitor to yellowstone bear world in rexburg, idaho, has an up close encounter with a grizzly, californians could have similar experiences if the iconic creatures are reintroduced to the state
Joel Sartore

The Grizzly Next Door

Researchers show that it is possible to reintroduce the iconic brown bear to California. Will people go for it? By Ajay Orona • Photos by Gordon Wiltsie

monica corcoran harel spars with fellow student belinda chen while training in the self defense practice of krav maga
Christina Gandolfo

A Superhero on Steroids

In response to grim statistics on abuse, one woman learns to defend herself so that she may “walk in peace.” By Monica Corcoran Harel • Photos by Christina Gandolfo

alene lee, illustration, james ransome
James Ransome

The Search for Mardou Fox

She was the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s The Subterraneans, but who was Alene Lee? By Lynell George • Illustrations by James Ransome

harold bell wright
Steve Carroll

Imperial Dreamer

More than a century ago, Harold Bell Wright’s bestseller The Winning of Barbara Worth promised California it could make its deserts bloom. Now we’re paying the price. By Peter Fish • Illustrations by Steve Carroll


eugene s robinson
Carolyn Fong

A Punk’s Progress

Sometimes it can take a lifetime to learn how not to throw a punch. By Eugene S. Robinson • Photos by Carolyn Fong

a statue of confederate general thomas “stonewall” jackson in charlottesville, virginia, was taken to storage on july 10, 2021

The Slag Heap of History

Stonewall Jackson’s statue should be melted down. Instead, the Confederate general is bound for Los Angeles. By Tim Wendel

jules gill peterson, an associate professor of history at johns hopkins university, has written a book about trans history
Melissa Golden

The Transgender Experience in California

The state likes to see itself as a sanctuary. But its past—and present—doesn’t always support that ideal. By Jules Gill-Peterson • Photo by Melissa Golden

eht scientists revealed the first ever image of a black hole, at the center of galaxy m87, 55 million light years from earth, in april 2019
National Science Foundation

How to See a Black Hole

The Event Horizon Telescope has given us the first-ever images of these mysterious phenomena. Next, the James Webb Space Telescope will join this project to better understand their behavior, including their eating habits and how they’ve shaped the cosmos. By Sarah Scoles • Photos by Scott Baxter

members of california’s heritage emergency response team practice packing and preserving wet documents during an exercise at camp san luis obispo in fall 2022
Penni Gladstone

California’s Monuments Men and Women

During wildfires and other natural disasters, art and artifacts often get left behind. Colonel Kirk Sturm and his team aim to rescue these cultural treasures. By Katya Cengel • Photos by Penni Gladstone

erick mikiten
Penni Gladstone

Trailblazer: Erick Mikiten

Designing without compromise. By Jessica Klein


claudia rankine
Caleb Lee Adams

Because Here Is Nowhere Steady

By Claudia Rankine

Why You Should Read This: Citizen

By David L. Ulin

percival everett
Dustin Snipes

A Conversation with Percival Everett

By David L. Ulin

Why You Should Read This: Telephone

By David L. Ulin

charles yu
Dustin Snipes

A Conversation with Charles Yu

By David L. Ulin

Why You Should Read This: Interior Chinatown

By David L. Ulin

terry mcdonell, irma
Thomas McDonell

The California Gaze

Together with his novel and earlier memoir, Terry McDonell’s Irma defines a uniquely West Coast perspective, one of perpetual curiosity and self-discovery. By Will Hearst


getty images

Poetry: “Sunflower Poem”

By Matthew Zapruder

hunter saxony iii
Christie Hemm Klok

“The Last Black Calligrapher in San Francisco”

Hunter Saxony III relies on centuries-old calligraphic techniques to create conceptual art that explores identity, justice, and mortality. By Jessica Zack • Photo by Christie Hemm Klok

gloria tamerre petyarre’s leaves, a 13 foot long aboriginal australian masterpiece, compels perri lynch howard to consider the spiritual and environmental realities of a place when painting landscapes
© Copyright Agency; Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2022, IMAGE COURTesY OF Seattle Art Museum

Why This Art: The Phenomenology of Place

By Perri Lynch Howard

mike vanata, left, and brian harrington founded western af to promote americana singers and songwriters
Erik Stenbakken

We’re Western AF

A Wyoming YouTube channel is helping to drive the Americana music resurgence. By Meredith Lawrence • Photo by Erik Stenbakken

bike crash
getty images

Poetry: “Supernova”

By Thea Matthews

breakdown in the right lane, illustration
Victor Juhasz

Fiction: “Breakdown in the Right Lane”

By Rachel Howzell Hall • Illustrations by Victor Juhasz

In Every Issue

EDITOR’S NOTE: S for Survival

By Blaise Zerega



Advertisement - Continue Reading Below