By Mail or Meals: The Cost of Human Contact Is Priceless

By Lauren Anderson

It was a handwritten letter, in clear block printing, with an unfamiliar return address. Somewhat ironically, it was from our mail carrier, Richard, who had been switched off our New Haven, Connecticut route weeks ago.

He was writing to say that he missed delivering to our neighborhood, had started a new book and watercolor class, and sometimes ate lunch nearby in case we wanted to join him. It was an unexpected but characteristically human gesture. Continue reading

Art Inside: Fieldnotes

By Annie Buckley, for the “Art Inside” series

“It’s crazy how art can actually make you feel something.” I smile and nod. It is crazy, isn’t it? And yet sometimes — in the flurry of making and discussing, marketing and analyzing — we forget that primal aspect of art. But not here, never here: on the inside, where art is a lifeline like nowhere else. When I hear this comment, I am sitting with a group of men at a small table, one of multiple clustered around the large gymnasium. We are in a prison, one of four where I created and now oversee what has become an expansive and collaborative art program with 20 teaching artists facilitating multiple weekly classes in four prisons. At this table, we are looking at the men’s artwork and talking about their progress. One of the men, Shaun (all names are changed), has been with our program since the beginning and has taken nearly all of our classes. He recalls that when he started, one of our teaching artists looked at his colorful psychedelic drawings and said, “You’re an artist, man, you have to own it!” Shaun beams as he recalls this and proceeds to help the newer students look at one another’s art and express what they see. Continue reading

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932-2017): An Echo Out of the Past

By Ross Kenneth Urken

In the summer of 2007, in Moscow, when I was 21, my Russian host brother, Volodya Volkov, took me to the Polytechnic Museum to see the annual birthday reading of famed poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who died Saturday in Oklahoma at 84. Afterwards, while drinking Baltika 4 outside with friends, we saw a black Jaguar crawling by. We rushed it and knocked on the tinted windows. The car stopped. The back window slid down and Yevtushenko gazed at us with raised eyebrows. I explained in Russian that I was an American student and journalist working in the city for the summer. Volodya noted he was “bezrabotny” (unemployed), but that we both wanted to be writers. Continue reading

Junot Díaz Talks Civic Duty, Dystopias, and Lunching with Obama

By Pamela Avila 

Sinkholes, mudslides, and the closing and flooding of freeways in L.A. didn’t stop a crowd from filling up every single seat at Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) on February 17. It was a full house, with more waiting in the standby line for tickets; it seems no one minded the trek to DTLA for an evening with current Katie Jacobson Writer-In-Residence at CalArts, Junot Díaz. Continue reading

The March of Fools: a College Comedy Darkened by Dictatorship

By Colin Marshall

This is one in a series of essays on important pieces of Korean cinema freely available on the Korean Film Archive’s Youtube channel. You can watch this month’s movie here and find links to previously featured movies below.

Mixers, sports matches, drinking contests, brushes with the law, anxiety about the future — Western audiences have come to expect all these elements from college comedies over the past half-century, and they’ll recognize them all in The March of Fools (바보들의 행진), a movie that belongs to essentially the same tradition. But it renders its college-comedy tropes a few shades darker to better reflect the reality of mid-1970s South Korea, a time and place caught between the demands of a very old social culture and the equally rigorous ones of the relatively new dictatorship intent on developing the country’s economy and keeping its people in line. Its hapless freshmen protagonists may get into as much trouble as the denizens of Delta House, but those guys never had to look into quite so deep an abyss. Continue reading

April Horoscopes

By Ichrak Dahou

April is a month of mixed progress. While new beginnings, proper to the Spring season, arrive with enthusiasm and spirit, the retrograde movement of key planets this month will delay robust and firm establishment. Therefore, be sure to give your situations additional thought, care, and consideration. This is more an extended season of seeding than getting brand new ventures off the ground. Continue reading

Standing with Standing Rock: Chiefs, Veterans, and Reconciliation

By Brendan Clarke

The following article is the fourth in a five-part series about the movement at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The mobilization, of people and resources, which was spurred on by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, began an unprecedented convergence of hundreds of Indigenous Tribes, and thousands upon thousands of people. The series, which was originally written as a single piece, offers the reflections of Brendan Clarke, who traveled to Standing Rock from November 19th through December 9th to join in the protection of water, sacred sites, and Indigenous sovereignty. As part of this journey, which was supported by and taken on behalf of many members of his community, Brendan served in many different roles at the camps, ranging from direct action to cleaning dishes and constructing insulated floors. He, along with the small group he traveled with, also created a long-term response fund, which they are currently stewarding. These stories are part of his give-away, his lessons learned, and his gratitude, for his time on the ground. Continue reading

Battle Fatigue: Why It’s Your Civic Duty to Get Some Rest in Trump’s America

By Amy Newlove Schroeder

We all know that life has changed since Election Day — and those changes have not solely occurred on the national stage. Trump’s election has affected the way many of us face our daily lives, causing deep and granular alterations in behavior. Instead of greeting the day with a steaming cup of joe and a casual perusal of my Facebook news feed, I now start the morning by immediately turning on CNN and pulling up the New York Times on my phone .I only read the articles about Trump, because every other piece of news seems like small potatoes. I used to get most of my news from NPR: now I subscribe to three newspapers. I used to channel surf when I got home from work. Now I go straight to MSNBC. There has been so much news, and all of it is bad: false claims of Obama wire taps; Jeff Sessions; the travel ban; Australia; Mexico; Ivanka Trump’s pumps; Russia, Russia, and more Russia. If you’re anything like me, you can’t look away. Continue reading

Best of March

Dearest supporters, readers, and friends:

Wondering what you missed this month? Besides a zillion completely wrong March Madness brackets, a winter storm nobody could stop talking about, and three steps backward for Obama’s climate change policies, there was also a heck of a lot of rigorous writing on literature, culture, and the arts. We present to you the Best of March; at least, according to us, your friends at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Continue reading

-- LW --