If You're in Washington Tonight: 'California State of Mind'

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California_State_of_Mind_01.jpgIf I were back in DC today, which I'm not, I would be going to the National Archives for the premiere screening of California State of Mind, a documentary about former governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown by his granddaughters Sascha Rice and Hilary Armstrong (plus Julia Mintz and others). Pat Brown is best known these days as the father of the past-and-present governor Jerry Brown -- officially, Edmund G. Brown Jr. (at right, the two Governors Brown) -- but he is known to me and other Boomer-era Californians as the man who presided over the age-of-abundance California of the post-World War II decades. This was the period of all-fronts ambition for public wealth of all sorts in California: K-12 schools, the three-tier California university system*, new freeways, new parks, new hospitals, new water systems, new everything.

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The subject -- including its budgetary implications, which were the backdrop to the second Gov. Brown's stint in office --  has been examined before, for instance in Kevin Starr's Golden Dreams. But I'd love to see this film about the elder Brown and what he tried to create. If you're in the vicinity, check it out. In the meantime, trailer is here.
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* As we learned in our "state civics" class, itself a quaint concept now, the California higher ed system was intended to provide an integrated ladder-up for students of a wide range of ambitions and preparation levels from across the state. The first tier was the network of JC's and community colleges, matched to each high school district. Then, the Cal State system; and at the top, the mighty UC system, which was expanding so rapidly that two entire new campuses, at Irvine and San Diego, opened in one year while I was in high school. At the time, it seemed a perfectly normal level of ambition and growth -- sort of like the cities of Beijing and Shanghai opening entirely new subway lines year by year while we were living there.



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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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