S.V. in L.A.

Oh really? Yes, I am currently blogging from the greater Los Angeles area, and will be doing so for the coming week.


1. I anticipate having some updates on the Robert Park story. His parents live just down the road from my spot in southern Orange County, the Korean community centered on Wilshire Blvd. is getting mobilized, and the local media stories have much more detail than the big papers at the moment. (For instance, interviews with his father confirmed that the U.S. is going through “a European embassy in Pyongyang” [almost certainly Sweden] to get information from the North Koreans about Park’s case.) Robert Park, should you have forgotten, is the Korean-American missionary who walked into North Korea from China on Christmas Day demanding Kim Jong Il open the border and repent. To my point of view, this is an important story on many levels which deserve our attention.

2. I’m struck by the quality of prose out here, particularly as regards the contemporary art scene.

The Germans have gone completely wild for Los Angeles (but how could it be better than Berlin here? I mean, c’mon: better than Berlin?) and its commitment to contemporary art. The LA Times Culture Monster blog carries this story on post-socialist art and the Gao brothers, whose work I last saw exhibited in Montreal:

The Gao brothers with "Lenin and Lady Mao," in Vancouver

And have you seen a better paragraph in years? I loved reading this one from an unbeatable (and short) Culture Monster post entitled “Being an Artist Now“:

So, even in the face of prolonged war and bitter recession, it seems 2010 is a pretty great time to be a young artist. Ubiquitous communication and cheap digital technologies are empowering the striving middle-class artist who steadily cultivates his or her craft, and challenging the cliché of the starving bohemian, or the superstar. At the same time, say many artists, an avalanche of output and constant accessibility might also push them to rediscover the merits of handcrafted work, the necessity of disconnected contemplation and the joys of face-to-face human contact.

3. Southward border-jumping is possible. There’s nothing like comparison and movement to get a sense of uniqueness or borderline bromide. That is to say, having stitched my way along the Sino-North Korean frontier and still writing about it, I’ll make an effort to get down to Mexico for at least a few hours (family obligations unfortunately preclude a week-long stint to Mexico City!) and have a short report on how wretched or glorious it is at the given moment.

4. Ronald Reagan is on the membrane

The man’s papers on Afghanistan and China are vibrating in a bunch of boxes up in Simi Valley. A major distraction when multiple other near-finished manuscripts beckon, shouting to be liberated from my hard drive forever. Nevertheless, a pelerinage (pilgrimage) might be in order.

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