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According to the AP, some members of the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature have alleged that other members are biased towards European writers and against American ones. Supporters of this allegation point to the fact that, of the last twenty Nobel Laureates for Literature, only one was an American while fourteen were from the European continent. They blame American literature’s overly “insular” quality as a result of a shortage of translated literature in the American mass market as the cause of this discrepancy.

Okay, yeah, fourteen out of twenty is a lot. But I think it is worth remembering that Europe is made up of more than one country; while “America” refers to the United States. Is it really fair to compare a continent to a country? Three of the fourteen European wins went to the United Kingdom – if there’s a bias here, I’d say it was in favor of the United Kingdom!

It’s interesting that they are saying that the problem with Americans is our lack of translated literature. If that’s a problem, we’re in good company – out of that same glorious twenty, a full eight of the Laureates wrote in English. The second most common language used was German – with only three occurrences out of the twenty.

Maybe when more translated works start winning, there will be a higher demand for them in the American market.

Next time the Nobel committee wants to find its way into a blog or two, maybe they should do so without weakly accusing each other of biases.

For those of you who are already experiencing the foreboding sense of pressure that is soon to come in the form of midterms and assignments later on in the Spring quarter, the Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection exhibition at LACMA may very well be one of the perfect ways to relax and decompress.

The collection features photography, paintings, videos, and even audio from artists ranging from the 1960s to the present.  I myself have always been somewhat sceptical about modern art (the very idea of signing a ceramic toilet bowl and calling it modern art, for instance, vexes me), but at the same time I must confess that I have been converted during my brief three hour tour of the exhibit in late March.  The displays were all aesthetically pleasing and, in some cases, remarkably provocative.  The collection also does not require the viewer to necessarily possess the professional eye of an artist in order to fully appreciate its merits; one could derive pleasure even from casual viewing.

The exhibition is on display till July 4, 2011.  Tickets cost $10, and free parking is available right across the street.

I recently received an email from the Autry National Center (which is basically a museum about cowboys, indiads, and pioneer women or something like that) about a screening of The Magnificent Seven. Usually their emails are about bead artwork and butter-churning trends among Navajo women and are wholly uninteresting, but a Spaghetti Western based off of the Japanese classic Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa sounded like a winner.

Featuring the likes of Yul Brynner (can you say The King and I?) Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen, this movie is evidently brimming with masculine gunslinging action. I really would have liked to have been able to go, but I will unfortunately have to be working parts of UCLA’s Bruin Day (come check out the Westwind table).

Finally, the Autry, as hokey as it sounds, might actually be cool. It’s in or by Griffith Park and so if you’re a hipster you can go head on over to Los Feliz, Silverlake, or Echo Park immediately afterward and eat something vegan.

Follow this link to see the event info.

Panda Bear–a.k.a. Noah Lennox–the central member, with Avey Tare, of Animal Collective–the king of electro-pop drone, and washes of ambient synesthesia, the creator of cumulus cloud stupor-rock–has finally leaked his new album, Tomboy, to NPR. This is just days before the official release of his much delayed, years-in-the-making sequel to his last solo album, Person Pitch, named one of the top five albums of the twenty-first century’s debut decade by, among other taste-makers, Pitchfork and HRO. The album was originally slated to come out near the end of 2010, then in February, and is now due to hit stores on April 12.

Listen to it here.

This is an album best heard on some sort of transcendental medication–be it chemical or internal–in a dark room at the border of consciousness, all at once, without break or distraction or disturbance. It’s the sound of an increasing detachment, climaxing towards complete absurdist dissociation and unmooring, and followed by a downward spiral of increasing chaos but decreasing care, or even perception–the sound of a mind losing itself and searching so hard that it can’t really find anything after. This is the sound of the space between fuzzy warbles over soft shades ad a self-induced vegetative state as a mode of a final escape, a means of last resort. It’s an oddly comfy but eerie piece–not a collection of tracks, but a progression of frames that lay out the same moment through the lens of a changing spectator–not even a creator, an artist, or a maker, but a watcher of his skin-sack’s obsessions that turn out to be idle hobbies. And then it gives up in holiness bangs and whimpers.

Fans of Panda Bear will not be able to help but love this album–I think it’s a much more honest and powerful, more cohesive and timeless piece than Person Pitch, though Person Pitch has all the melodia and track-based perfection that first attracts people to Panda Bear. If you’ve already heard his work, prepare to see (and I mean see–this is very visual noise) this wordsmith of timbre transform into a conduit of aura-rock. If you’re unfamiliar with his previous oeuvre, I suggest looking up Person Pitch’s songs first, most notably Bros, Comfy in Nautica, Take Pills, and, well, every single other track on the album. But they work individually, and may be less initially overwhelming than an aalbum that, though it has a track named Drone, could have called each and every one that same thing.

image of Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs

Unless you are Emily Dickinson (the alleged solitary genius) or Thomas Pynchon who has barely revealed his face to the light of day, you are a writer looking for people to write with. College is a breeding ground for creative minds and although writing professors give great feedback, it’s the time you share with your fellow writing peers that will really help you find your voice and make connections for the future.

Writing groups on campus have appeared and disappeared throughout the years. For two years, I have been the president of the Society of Poetry, a group of poets that got together for workshopping during the first year and then slowly became an events oriented group. I am soon to graduate, however, and I have not yet seen a new group of writers emerge to keep the UCLA scene cohesive and active through readings, workshops, etc.

You too can be a leader in your writing community and gain valuable support from campus in order to throw events or reserve venues. What would Surrealism be without Breton or other leaders who sought to maintain the movements in conversation and action.

The benefits of creating a group through UCLA is that you get free venues, audiovisual equipment, promotion, and funding. It is a good way to practice before you starts attempting to create movements  in the real world.

Here are some things should be kept in mind when creating your own literary group on campus:

1. Do you want it to be exclusive or inclusive? Exclusive groups are only public to certain people, inclusive groups will send mass emails and have ways in which strangers can engage in the group activities. The quality or ‘high brow’ of your organization may be more difficult to control with the inclusion of strangers, but it may also draw attention of some geniuses that you might not have met otherwise.

2. Do you want to make it a workshop , an events organization, a culture group or all three? Depending on the enthusiasm of your group members, you might be able to exploit all three, but more likely than not, it will be a tiresome task for one person to juggle all three aspects of these outings, which leads me to the next point.

3. Do you have people willing to really help you manage the group? I was the sole leader of Society of Poetry for two years and frankly, it was very limiting when it came to administrative affairs…the group might have been a lot more consistent if I had different people checking and answering emails, making sure that the information on the site was current, taking care of venue reservations and paperwork, and finding out new ideas for outings. In other words: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate and you will be able to do more.

4. Make sure all the paperwork has been done and in a timely fashion!!!! You need to fill out paperwork in order to begin your group, so follow the deadlines. Follow the instructions carefully. You also need two more signatories to support your group, so find those people who believe in your project to co-sign. Everything from funding to reservations needs paperwork.

5. Advertise! You can’t be shy. Send email blasts through your department and people will start finding you. The best way to advertise, though, is by throwing events that make a name for your organization. In no time, people will be contacting you near and far to be part of your group.

6. Know what you’re talking about. People will respect you as a leader if they feel they can learn something from you. Keep updated on literature related news and keep people informed.

7. It’s about the people. Find ways to reach people through email lists, facebook groups, blogs, and make announcements in class to tell them about your new projects. Presence in part of the illusion of success and legitimacy…don’t tell anyone I said that.

New Group Registration begins April 4!!!
For more information, visit your bible of student groups: http://www.studentactivities.ucla.edu/

———————————

Laura V. Rivera

So, if you ever had followed the Westwind blog, you will notice that there hasn’t be a new post since January. But be on the lookout: the blog is back.

At the same time, we’ll shortly be introducing an entirely revamped main Westwind website, mostly thanks to the hard work of senior art editor, Brian Armstrong. And to go along with the new site, we have a new URL (although it currently leads to the old site).

Avoiding the lengthy and confusing strings of HTMLs and words that comprised our two previous URLs, the new one is much simpler and more direct:

westwind.ucla.edu

While this post tends towards announcements like a church bulletin board, you can look forward to future posts, which will cover all the same great arts news, coverage, and pontificating, both local and universal.

And don’t forget to submit.

This really has nothing to do with the changes listed above, but check out this interesting article from 2002 featuring our very own Boris Dralyuk.

At four o’clock in the morning on January 1st, 2011, thousands of Los Angeles residents flocked home from various debaucherous events. Every few miles on the 405, the distinctive whirl of primary-colored police lights could be seen, marking the often unfortunate aftermath of the raucous beginning of a new year.

From the passenger seat of my best friend’s green Ford Echo, I watched older women staggering along the streets in heels much too tall for anyone intoxicated to walk stably in while awkward aging men attempted various forms of flirtation, driven by uncharacteristic boldness solidified by their evening’s drinks. But this was not the first time I had seen these people; I had pushed past them in the crowds earlier that night. This new year’s eve, it seemed that the most stylish events for the ushering in of a new decade were raves.

Electronic music has been around for years but with the advent of dubstep, defined by Wikipedia as “a genre of electronic dance music, originating from Croydon, UK. Its overall sound has been described as ‘tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals,'” the rave has become popular again after a few decades off the map.

Events such as Together As One, HARD, and Electric Daisy Carnival (all well-established raves for either or both coasts), pulled the rave out of the uncool abyss and put artists such as The Bloody Beetroots, Rusko, Crookers, Soulwax, and Mr.Oizo at the front of the now lucrative electronic music scene.

So, this new year’s, I attended HARD New Year’s Eve at the Music Box in Hollywood. However, the rise of the rave’s popularity may not have done it a favor. Sure, the ridiculous fuzzy-booted, almost nude “raver chicks” made their usual appearance, but along with them came some of the strangest people I have ever seen. Sixty year old men hip-thrusted with their denim shirts open, hands out grasping the air, eyes closed. Large, smelly boys who clearly had no idea what HARD truly was, stumbled through the mass of bodies, awkwardly fist-pumping off the beat and spilling their drinks. Goths stood solemn near the front of the stage, and actually barked when we got too close. Still, despite the motley crew of attendees, Mr.Oizo of Ed Banger Records mesmerized the crowd as he always does with his distinctive style and intense beat drops.

HARD Weekend, http://www.hardfest.com/index.php , hits Los Angeles on March 12th, hopefully with fewer sweaty old men.

Eastern Jam by Chase & Status

Positif by Mr.Oizo

In a broadcast interview on Friday, U.S. Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), concluded his discussion on terrorism with the enjoinment that children “go to bed on time because Santa only visits houses where kids are sleeping.” NORAD is a joint organization between Canada and the U.S. that monitors the skies and seas of North America, providing air sovereignty enforcement, defense, and aerospace warning for the two countries. But every Christmas Eve since 1955, this group, one of the most technologically advanced military commands in the world, adds Santa to its list of monitored parties.

Over the last several hundred years, the Santa Claus story has changed very little. From a literary standpoint, the tradition of NORAD Tracks Santa is one of the very few modern additions to the tale that has survived beyond the span of an ad campaign. Taking the element of the narrative that involves Santa’s travels around the globe, NORAD infuses the folk tale with a bit of twenty-first century technology. It is due to traditions like these that Santa and his story continue to not only charm but truly touch so many people. Last year alone, NORAD answered 74,000 phone calls and 3.500 e-mails for Santa. Clearly, NORAD’s techie addition to the tale represents a significant link between the fairy tale of Santa Claus and the children of the Computer Age.

I’m very much a fan of romantic comedies. More specifically, I’m a fan of good romantic comedies, which seem to be a dying breed. When Harry Met Sally, French Kiss…. a couple of my favorites. Made of Honor, for instance, not so much. I know romantic comedies are not exactly searing with truth, or life-changing. But that’s part of why I like them, as long as there is something original or real there, in the characters or the situations, ironic, comedic or otherwise. I like to be diverted. But not nauseated or bored. I haven’t actually seen How Do You Know, but I read a review of it on the New York Times website and watched a few clips. Basically the review assessed the movie as such: trite, with convenient simplified characters and no moving force or substance. Flat. The clips I watched didn’t exactly light me on fire either. A couple of people commented on the review and said that they fell asleep watching it. One person loved it. LOVED. I myself sometimes disagree strongly with reviews, but given the trend of recent rom coms to be stuffed with clichés and sappiness, I think I’ll opt out of buying a ticket to see it. If it eventually makes its way to HBO and onto my television one lonely (and perhaps pathetic) night, I’ll check it out.

The words “Artsy bullshit, L.A.” yield 34,900 results when typed into Google. They yield 2,200,000 results on Yahoo’s search engine. Ask Jeeves, Dogpile, and Bing yield an undisclosed amount, 34, and 2,160,000 results, respectively. For related searches, all the engines give variances of “How to dress artsy?” [unnecessary and grammatically incorrect question mark included] “Artsy Fartsy”Artsy Quotes” “Artsy Boots” “Artsy Nudes” “Artsy Lyrics” “Artsy/Indie” “Artsy/Vintage” “Artsy/Obscure” and “Bullshit.” Bullshit, and especially L.A., seem vastly underrepresented compared to artsy-ness. But artsy bullshit is very well represented in L.A. in a seemingly parasitic type relationship.

It should be noted that each search engine says it’s omitted adult web results, but when I search those, all the results are either completely devoid of adult content or completely devoid of artsy bullshit (though L.A. is a worldwide adult industries hub, so they probably aren’t devoid of that). So for the purposes of the rest of the article, I’ll refrain from referencing said adult results.

Wikipedia has no results for artsy bullshit anywhere, but asks you if you meant to search for arts bullis or Sidney Lumet.

The first result on most of the searches is a blog about arts events that walks the fine line between sincerity and irony to the point where no one can really be sure what they mean by what they write, probably not even the writers themselves, making their praise as scathing as their scorn, and their scorn as lauding as their praise (a good reference for optimists who will tend to see each review for an event as not half bad). It’s called the “Dissinformer –the official diss-iz-it blog…” and has a writer who calls himself Spike Jonze.

Then come the results of actual events, which are, like the related search suggestions, disproportionately focused on artsy-ness over bullshit. Whole slews of artsy happenings in the city of pluralized masculine Hispanic angels—installations, exhibits, concerts, discussions—fine art, street art, graffiti art, sculptures, painting, multimedia and more—countless links to the LA art walk (colloquially dubbed the LA drunk walk/art stumble) through the downtown pop galleries on the first Thursday of every month; news snippets on the weekly Sunday night Venice Beach drum circle (omitted in the snippets: the even larger tourist circle that invariable surrounds it for the half hour it lasts before cops shut it down); the Tuesday Night Café Project (a free weekly reading/live music/performance art/short film/etc. venue at Aratani Courtyard 7:30-10:00); Dreams Deferred, an exhibit at the Chinese American Museum from December 10 to May 22 that hopes to explore and showcase how the immigrant experience has changed as a result of recent legislation (including California’s Prop 187 and Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070); and many, many more events that are nine parts artsy, one part bullshit, and all L.A.

I only listed the very few first results almost randomly, but L.A.’s huge size and diverse demographic provide for numerous other unnamed events; all you have to do to find out about them is search “Artsy Bullshit, L.A.” into an engine of your choosing (preferably not google, since they sell information prevalence to the highest bidder instead of the best provider, and everyone knows real artists are always starving and the best art events are always free). A warning: the further back you go in the archives of the non-google search engine you decide to use or the website you get linked to, the harder the events are to get to… the vast majority of them are only accessible through speeding DeLoreans (which you would be advised not to use because of their ties to Parkinson’s Disease and undeserved celebrity), random unexplained wormholes (which you would be advised not to use because of their ties to angst, alliterative names, overrated movies, and falling parts of jet engines), giant balls of light from a robot-induced apocalyptic future (which you would be advised not to use because of their ties to never-ending sequels and ineffective governing), or other dubious modes of time travel. However, new results are added every day that don’t yet require 4th dimensional movement out of the ordinary to attend, if you can set aside some time, mark your calendar, patiently await their arrival, and even more patiently tolerate the variably sized dab of bullshit that invariably comes with a night of artsy-ness in L.A.