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Oh California, Will You Take Me As I Am?

By Annie Buckley

The week before the world changed, I was in Nashville, Tennessee for the National Conference on Higher Education in Prisons, where I was struck by a realization that my experiences here in California were quite different from those of my colleagues in other states. The most poignant example came in a workshop I took with Reforming Arts of Georgia. The facilitators asked us to share something about the place we come from. We started with the concrete — geography, neighborhood — and gradually moved into more nuanced areas — identity, values — and, as each person shared, those who agreed with the statement or had had similar experiences moved to a new spot. Continue reading

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The President-Elect and the Generalissimo

By Daniel Knorr

In the lead up to and immediate wake of the U.S. presidential election, commentators have frequently cast Donald Trump as an unprecedented political figure. Others have noted, though, that the President elect shares key traits with a wide variety of charismatic candidates and populist power holders.  This pattern continues.  Among current power holders, suggested analogues include Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Rodrigo Duterte, and Xi Jinping. Historical comparisons have been more controversial, with both amateur and professional historians turning to two fascist figures whose personality cults flourished in the 1930s: Italy’s Benito Mussolini and Germany’s Adolf Hitler. Continue reading

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Construction Sites of Los Angeles: Regional Connector Transit Corridor, 1st and Alameda

By Ellie Robins

Underworld. In London in 1863, sulphurous gas belched from the new Tube tunnels up to the streets, and families feared they’d be poisoned. In Portland in 1870, a hole could open under a robust young man, and he’d be whipped into the Shanghai Tunnels and out to indentured servitude at sea. Here in downtown Los Angeles, 11 miles of secret subterranean passages once trafficked prisoners, secret money, and mob victims’ corpses. It’s dark down there. Continue reading

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Making White Supremacy Respectable. Again.

By Katherine Franke

Last Friday, two tweets were posted to my feed within minutes of each other. David Duke tweeted: “Bannon, Flynn, Sessions – Great!  Senate must demand that Sessions as AG stop the massive institutional racism against whites!” (Yes, I follow David Duke on Twitter — I now follow many right wing sites, I learn more from them than I do from the echo chamber of Facebook), and the New York Times tweeted out Mark Lilla’s opinion piece, “The End of Identity Liberalism.”  In the new political climate we now inhabit, Duke and Lilla were contributing to the same ideological project, the former cloaked in a KKK hood, the latter in an academic gown.  Both men are underwriting the whitening of American nationalism, and the re-centering of white lives as lives that matter most in the U.S.  Duke is happy to own the white supremacy of his statements, while Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable.  Again. Continue reading

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The Politics of Parading

By Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo

Almost everyone knows Oscar Wilde’s dictum that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life” — and almost everyone believes anything that escaped from Oscar Wilde’s lips. So why was almost everyone so vexed by what happened in Mexico City early this month? The city’s government organized the first-ever Day of the Dead parade very much reproducing the at-the-time fictional parade featured in the opening of the most recent 007 film Spectre. Life imitating art, by definition — or, at least, reality imitating fiction. Continue reading

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Finding Breezy Humor at the End of the World: the Stories of Kim Mi-wol

By Charles Montgomery

Quietly, even sneakily, Kim Mi-wol is becoming a must-read Korean author in translation. Clever readers may have noted a point that has been beaten to death on this blog: younger female writers are leading the charge in Korean literature’s overnight success. From my perspective this is a wonderful thing, but also, by its nature, a limited thing. Because most of these authors come from similar demographics and deal with similar themes (alienation, the quotidian oppression of women, etc.), there is a thematic similarity to their work. Continue reading

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Nick van der Kolk of Love and Radio Relishes Ambivalence

By Hannah Harris Green

Love and Radio is a podcast with episodes that, like good art films, you can return to again and again and always find details you missed. It’s the opposite of the radio documentary that assumes listeners are only half there; every bit of the story structure and every bit of the sound design is meticulously crafted, so you don’t want to miss a single detail. The show covers a broad range of people: a “humiliatrix”; a former bicycle racer and reformed bank robber; a black pianist who befriended and convinced KKK members to give up their robes; a writer with poetic voyeurism. Continue reading

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A Call to White Allies

By Sophie Browner

A beautiful thing has happened. In the ten days since Donald Trump was elected as president, a new rhetoric has emerged to counter the neofascism that the people who voted him into office have seemingly normalized. On Wednesday of this week, I organized a protest with several members of my community against Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist. For those not familiar with Bannon’s background, he is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative American commentary website. To give you a sense of Breitbart’s politics, previous headlines featured on the site: “Hoist it High and Proud: The Confederatre Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage”; “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy”…You get the point. Bannon refers to himself as a member of the “alt-right,” which critics have rightfully picked up as a euphemism for white nationalism. Continue reading

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Stories Don’t Argue With You: An Interview With Doug McGray of Pop-Up Magazine

By Sean McCoy

When I found Doug McGray after the Pop-Up Magazine show in Los Angeles on November 3, he was surrounded by a queue of eager attendees. They approached and he shook hands in bunches, chatting and fielding questions. His voice was hoarse by the time I pulled him aside, but what he lacked in his vocal cords he made up for with enthusiasm, seeming to channel the energy around us — the throng pressing close, vibrating with cheer, while people threaded the lobby in search of friends, performers, another drink from the bar. 
Continue reading