Category Archives: Essays

Requiem for a Media: On the Execution of LA Weekly

By John W. W. Zeiser

Americans have a strange and abiding trust in the corporate. There is an inherent problem with this trust, and it’s easy enough to spot, though our legal system has done everything it can to occlude it. Corporations are not people. I repeat: corporations are not people. Actual people, the kind who can be physically placed in a jail cell, are denied the framework to conceptualize this chasm; instead, we tend to transpose our own moral frameworks — the ones that allow us to operate daily with our neighbors, bus drivers, grocery cashiers, our friends — onto corporations. In a recent report from LA Weekly on Invitation Homes, the largest landlord of single-family homes in the city of LA, you can see this logic at work. In the report, a tenant expresses surprise that in the face of crippling rent increases, Invitation Homes wasn’t “negotiating and being nice with each other and com[ing] to an agreement.” Continue reading

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

Why Family Ties Matter in U.S. Immigration Policy

By Michelle Téllez

When I turned 15, my family put together a huge traditional birthday celebration for me, a quinceñeara in my mom’s hometown in Jalisco, México. To prepare for the day my mom and I arrived at least two months early. During those long, hot summer days I developed a beautiful friendship with my cousin who worked about two blocks away from my abuelita’s house. Every single day I would sit with her at the shop where she worked and we would listen to Los Bukis and daydream together about our futures, our present, and our crushes. Soon after my party had passed, it came time for me to leave the life I had created in the pueblo. The day that I left, my cousin and I were crying so hard and holding on to each other so tight that my dad finally had to guide me to the car or we would miss our flight back to the U.S. I remember looking, through my tears, out the back window and waving goodbye one last time to her and all that I was leaving behind. Continue reading

The Real Cut of Diamond Rings

By Amy Guth

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, and blog posts and tweets are doing the virtual equivalent of gathering around the newly engaged couple to get a glimpse of — what else? — the ring.

At the admitted risk of sharing a highly unpopular opinion and the backlash that’s sure to follow, it’s time to rethink our attachment to engagement rings, this last bastion of dowry and bridewealth culture in the west, especially when presented by a man as a token to a woman. Continue reading

Charles Manson and the Apocalypse to Come

By Dan Sinykin

Joan Didion, in “The White Album,” famously identified the Manson Family’s most explosive night of murder as marking the end of the ’60s. “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true. The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.” This timeworn narrative, which Didion also helped codify with her essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” tells us that the idealism of the ’60s descended rapidly into nihilism and violence. Manson — along with the deaths at the Altamont Free Concert and the violence of the Weather Underground — has long served as the periodizing marker for this end. 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

Laying a Groundwork for Hope in Israel-Palestine Through Grassroots Efforts

By Elisha Waldman

This November brings the 70-year anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly partition plan calling for the establishment of two separate states in British mandatory Palestine. As everyone knows, that initiative didn’t work out quite as imagined. Debate over the ongoing conflict that has simmered ever since tends to focus on the military and politics, the violence and the failed negotiations. But what is so often overlooked is the impact the conflict continues to have on the people themselves, the civilians, and especially the most vulnerable among them, children with serious illness. Continue reading