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Selling Singles Day — An Origin Story

By Alec Ash

Every November 11th, while Brits wear poppies to remember the dead of WWI, the China news cycle rotates back around to Singles Day or “Double Eleven” — the online shopping bonanza, Black Friday on acid, pioneered by e-commerce company Alibaba. This year, observers were especially wide-eyed as Alibaba reported sales of 121 billion yuan ($18 billion), a 32% increase on the year before. But Singles Day hasn’t always been about sales, and the only figure worth crunching when it started was the loneliest number, the number one. Continue reading

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Jerusalem Re-enchanted

By Sara Lipton

Nineteenth-century travelers to Jerusalem were notoriously disappointed by what they found. Herman Melville complained in his Journal of a Visit to Europe and the Levant (1857) that “the color of the whole city is grey & looks at you like a cold grey eye in a cold old man … Judea is one accumulation of stones — stony mountains & stony plains; stony torrents & stony roads; stony walls & stony fields, stony houses & stony tombs; stony eyes & stony hearts. Before you and behind you are stones. Stones to the right & stones to the left … No country will more quickly dissipate romantic expectations than Palestine — particularly Jerusalem.”[1] Albert Rhodes, American consul to Jerusalem in the 1860’s, was equally disenchanted with the denizens of the city: “monks ignorant of the elementary principals of their faith; Jews living three thousand years ago; natives with minds of children; all sitting, eternally sitting, and none working.”[2]
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Breakup Sex in a Hamlet-Mobile

By John W. W. Zeiser

We climbed onto pillows, pushed up against the back of the driver’s and passenger’s seats, as the doors to the van closed. Hamlet lay on the floor, drinking a beer and wearing sock garters that I don’t think were holding anything up. He didn’t speak. Was he sizing us up, maybe waiting to see if we would say something first? Or was he just catching his breath? He was halfway through a three-hour marathon of performing the same 15-minute show on repeat; perhaps all his psychic energy had been drained by our 9:30 slot. Continue reading

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The Election: Let’s Gather

Join LARB and Skylight tonight, November 14, at 7:30 PM at Skylight books.

All of us at LARB and Skylight are reeling. We’re furious. We’re saddened. And we’re more determined than ever to fight the good fight to protect voices, to defend the power of art, and to disseminate the widest possible array of what can be thought and written, mobilized and empowered, in reaction to this moment.

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Shocked Silent

By Rubén Martinez

I write these words with a profound sense of the altered order of things, the subjectivity of rupture and woundedness that we have plunged into. I register shock, sadness, anger, pain, fear, helplessness. And also, strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, a sense of wonder, similar to the feeling that comes from walking down a street you’ve never been on before, being surrounded by a language that you don’t speak, a first encounter with a stranger. Continue reading

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Beware of Black Ops Advertising

By Andrew Lipstein

If the term “Black Ops” conjures images of boots on the ground, assassination plots, Rainbow Six, or Edward Snowden, you’re forgiven — but prepare yourself for evils far more banal. That is: native advertising, content marketing, big data. In Black Ops Advertising, Mara Einstein (a professor of media studies at Queens College, City University of New York) constructs a clear, if occasionally slanted, window into the world of marketing in the digital age. In Einstein’s eyes, we’re all part of an invisible warzone, with businesses battling over a trifecta of bounty: our eyes, clicks, and wallets. Continue reading

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Anti-Trump Protests, Anti-Park Protests, and the Koreanization of American Politics

By Colin Marshall

Since the election of Donald Trump last Tuesday, protesters across the United States, thousands of them in downtown Los Angeles alone, have taken to the streets to make their displeasure heard. Coincidentally, anti-presidential protests have also erupted in South Korea own over the past few weeks, culminating in the unrelieved crush of humanity, comprising 500,000 to one million demonstrators — an astonishing number, even in a country with a rich tradition of protest — that filled downtown Seoul on Saturday night. They came not to object to an undesireable president-elect, but to demand the resignation of Park Geun-hye, the president of more than three years who stands accused of having handed the reins of power to an unelected and previously obscure confidante, herself the daughter of a religious cult leader. Continue reading

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L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants

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Why “Race Riot”? On the Need to Change a Misleading Term

By Steve Light

In memory of Thelma Foote, ever in affection and gratitude.

Among events known as race riots in U.S. history, the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, i.e. the destruction by whites of the African-American district of Greenwood, is among the most calamitous, albeit that all such events are immeasurably calamitous. But knowledge of and about this event from the moment of its occurrence until recent times was willfully suppressed in Tulsa and in the country as a whole. Continue reading