Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Don’t Be Afraid, We Are Only Approaching the Outside World! — Curating Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo

By Charles Shields

Khalid Qassim and Ahmed Rabbani will starve as I remember waking up under an archway of tall pine. The smell of coffee. The up and down of steep roads. NPR playing softly, it seemed, from somewhere outside the car. We were in the Appalachian Mountains. The dark was vaguely green and here and there a star shone through the trees. I had just gotten out of juvie, and my new guardians were taking me on a road trip from Michigan to Long Island to meet the guardian’s extended family, which was now also mine.  Continue reading

Viewer Beware: We Need More LGBTQ TV Role Models for Kids

By Erik McIntosh

Disney introduced for the first time a storyline for a gay character on the fan favorite tween TV show, Andi Mack. Not everyone is happy. One Million Moms recently released a warning to parents, saying Disney has abandoned its “family-friendly entertainment” and sacrificed “children’s innocence.” Rev. Franklin Graham stated Andi Mack was dangerously trying “to influence the youth of today to accept and to be a part of the destructive LGBT lifestyle.” Kenya’s Film Classification Board cited the need to “protect children from exposure to harmful film and broadcast content” and Andi Mack from their television screens. Continue reading

If They Were Émigrés: Drawing Inspiration from Old Political Cartoons

By Sasha Razor, Gala Minasova, Vladimir Zimakov

A hundred years ago, give or take a few days, the October Revolution (which actually took place in November — don’t ask) forever changed the political landscape of the world. The ensuing Civil War (1918-1921) shifted the boundaries of Russia, displacing two million refugees: blue-blood aristocrats, White Army generals, a future laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and many a cabaret dancer and peddler of bagels. By 1921, the population of Russian exile became so massive that the League of Nations created the first international special commission for coordinating efforts to assist refugees. In the years that followed, the colonies of Russian émigrés kept growing in China, France, and Turkey — the latter serving as a transit point to the United States. The exodus even reached our fair city; Los Angeles was home to over 2,000 Russian expats in the 1920s. Continue reading

Yoo Jae-ha’s K-Pop Masterpiece Because I Love You, 30 Years After His Untimely Death

By Colin Marshall

Thirty years ago this month, a Korean singer-songwriter by the name of Yoo Jae-ha died at the age of 25. Had the car accident that killed him happened a few months earlier, before he released his first and only album Because I Love You, Korean pop music, now better known as “K-pop,” might have taken a different sonic direction entirely. Though he died believing it had failed, his record has not just risen to the status of a beloved pop masterpiece but emanates an influence still clearly heard in hit songs in South Korea today. The posthumously granted title “Father of Korean Ballads,” as well as a music scholarship and yearly song contest, honor his memory, but on some level they also acknowledge that Korean pop music may never see — or more importantly, hear — an innovator like him again. Continue reading

The New Appeal of Blake Shelton

By Erin Coulehan

This week, Blake Shelton was named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2017. The annual honor reflects the cultural standards and general mood of the country. Past winners include stereotypical Hollywood heartthrobs like Brad Pitt and George Clooney (who’s received the honor not once, but twice) that showcase the values of virility at the particular moment. In light of Shelton’s newly acquired “sexiest man” status, well…welcome to Trump’s America. Continue reading

The Grotesque Aesthetic Morality of The Florida Project

By Geoff Nelson

Near the end of director Sean Baker’s recent critically-acclaimed film The Florida Project, the vulgar and precocious seven-year-old Moonee, played by Brooklynn Prince, and her mother Halley, played by Instagram star Bria Vinaite, attempt to clean the motel room they call home. Halley sprays the room’s window with glass cleaner, an allusion to the movie’s opening scene where Moonee and her feral friends spit on, and then are forced to clean, a car windshield. In the world of the film, it matters what’s dirty, what’s clean, who does the dirtying, and who cleans up. The circumstances of this instance of straightening up are bleak — a visit from Child Protective Services visit in which custody of Moonee will be decided looms — but the cleaning subplot reveals many of the embedded questions of Baker’s film. The aesthetic circumstances of child-rearing prove to be decisive in The Florida Project, in which Baker suggests that of all the terrible consequences of late-stage American capitalism, the worst may be how its aesthetic ugliness forces people into moral corruption. Continue reading

“The Joshua Tree” to the Grand Canyon: A Road Trip

By Channing Sargent

In August of 1987, my parents, my older sister and I drove from Riverton, Utah to the Grand Canyon. U2’s The Joshua Tree had come out in March. It was one of only two albums we had in the car with us. The other was Paul Simon’s Graceland, released exactly one year earlier. My sister, who, at 15, epitomized New Wave, with multi-hued, brow-high eyeshadow and sky-high winged bangs, insisted on U2 over Simon, always concerned with her cool-factor. In our white 1984 Toyota Tercel, we turned the cassette tape over and over again, listening to it repeatedly.

I have scaled these city walls / Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for Continue reading

The Beirut-Paris Express: Yasmine Hamdan on Tour

By Jordan Elgrably

When we spoke, Yasmine Hamdan was on her way to major concert dates in Oslo and Copenhagen, before heading to a five-city U.S. tour and then on to Germany and Russia. She is an Arab singer-songwriter with a haunting voice and the personality of a social critic. To hear her tell it, she has fiercely marched to her own beat since she was an unruly “weird” child growing up in Beirut, Kuwait, and Greece. Yet you may not know her name, unless you spotted her as the sultry singer in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire flick, Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). Continue reading