Friday, May 24

How Data (and Some Breathtaking Soccer) Brought Liverpool to the Cusp of Glory

"Jürgen Klopp was in his third week as Liverpool’s manager, in November 2015, when the team’s director of research, Ian Graham, arrived at his office carrying computer printouts. Graham wanted to show Klopp, whom he hadn’t yet met, what his work could do. Then he hoped to persuade Klopp to actually use it. Graham spread out his papers on the table in front of him. He began talking about a game that Borussia Dortmund, the German club that Klopp coached before joining Liverpool, had played the previous season. He noted that Dortmund had numerous chances against the lightly regarded Mainz, a smaller club that would end up finishing in 11th place. Yet Klopp’s team lost, 2-0. Graham was starting to explain what his printouts showed when Klopp’s face lit up. 'Ah, you saw that game,' he said. 'It was crazy. We killed them. You saw it!' ..."
NY Times

100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs

"As Bob Dylan turns 75, he shows no signs of slowing down. The American icon is gearing up for a summer tour with longtime friend Mavis Staples and has just released Fallen Angels, his 37th LP and second straight Sinatra-inspired album of American Songbook classics. For generations to come, other artists will be turning to Dylan’s own catalog for inspiration. From the Sixties protest anthems that made him a star through to his noirish Nineties masterpieces and beyond, no other contemporary songwriter has produced such a vast and profound body of work: songs that feel at once awesomely ancient and fiercely modern. Here, with commentary from Bono, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz, Lucinda Williams, Sheryl Crow and other famous fans, are Dylan’s 100 greatest songs – just the tip of the iceberg for an artist of his stature. ..."
Rolling Stone (Video)

The New German Anti-Semitism

Sigmount Königsberg, the Anti-Semitism Commissioner for the Jewish Community of Berlin.
"One of Wenzel Michalski’s early recollections of growing up in southern Germany in the 1970s was of his father, Franz, giving him some advice: “Don’t tell anyone that you’re Jewish.” Franz and his mother and his little brother had survived the Holocaust by traveling across swaths of Eastern and Central Europe to hide from the Gestapo, and after the war, his experiences back in Germany suggested that, though the Nazis had been defeated, the anti-Semitism that was intrinsic to their ideology had not. This became clear to Franz when his teachers in Berlin cast stealthily malicious glances at him when Jewish characters — such as Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice' — came up in literature. 'Eh, Michalski, this exactly pertains to you,' he recalls one teacher telling him through a clenched smile. Many years later, when he worked as an animal-feed trader in Hamburg, he didn’t tell friends that he was Jewish and held his tongue when he heard them make anti-Semitic comments. And so Franz told his son Wenzel that things would go easier for him if he remained quiet about being Jewish. ..."
NY Times
NY Times: The Prophet of Germany’s New Right (Oct. 10, 2017)

A monument to Jewish victims of the Holocaust outside the Old Jewish Cemetery in Berlin.

Thursday, May 23

Sonny Rollins - Freedom Suite (1958)

"Nowadays, the place of Freedom Suite in the pantheon of influential musical statements of black consciousness is safe and secured. Back then, it was a bold stroke from a successful, innovative jazz artist who allegedly had trouble finding a decent apartment in New York City due to white racism. The message is hard to overlook. In the original sleeve notes, a statement from Sonny Rollins is included:
America is deeply rooted in Negro culture: its colloquialisms, its humor, its music. How ironic that the Negro, who more than any other people can claim America’s culture as its own, is being persecuted and repressed, that the Negro, who has exemplified the humanities in his very existence, is being rewarded with inhumanity.
The image of Sonny Rollins on the front cover might be explained as the visual companion to his written words. Rollins, half-naked, cast in shadows, with a hurt, yet defiant countenance, looks purported to resemble a slave. It connects with the parts of the suite that bear an eerie resemblance to chain gang songs. ..."
Flophouse Magazine (Audio)
W - Freedom Suite
YouTube: Freedom Suite ( Full Album ) 41:22

2012 September: The Singular Sound of Sonny Rollins, 2012 December: Village Vanguard, 2015 September: Rollins Plays for Bird (1957), 2016 February: Saxophone Colossus (1956), 2016 May: Plus 4 (1956), 2017 June: Inside Sonny Rollins’s Jazz Archive, Headed Home to Harlem, 2018 April: Tenor Madness (1956), 2017 May: Moving Out (1954), 2018 November: The Bridge (1962), 2019 March: Newk's Time (1959)

Emily Sprague

"... The process eclipses the need for a final product. You get that sense from watching the videos that document Emily A. Sprague’s own evolving modular setup. Take a clip like 'Modular ‘Piano’ Music ~ Eurorack Ambient': A metal box brimming with knobs, tangled wires, and multi-colored LEDs sits on a desk, spilling forth a soft, burbling sequence of tones. The sound is too organized to scan as totally random, but it’s too random to be properly composed. Every now and then, Sprague briefly enters the frame to twist a knob, though the effect on the sound is often imperceptible. The sound (the 'patch') could conceivably keep doing what it’s doing until the power grid goes down, and it’s so pleasant you could listen for almost as long. Like Eno said of ambient music, it’s the perfect combination of ignorable and interesting, and much of its generative magic would be lost in the translation to a finished recording. ..."
Pitchfork (Audio)
bandcamp: Water Memory (Audio)
You Can Make Anything Into Music: An Interview With Emily Sprague
Soundcloud (Audio)
YouTube: Emily Sprague

Mayor and ‘Foreign Minister’: How Bernie Sanders Brought the Cold War to Burlington

Mr. Sanders campaigned for governor in 1986.
"BURLINGTON, Vt. — For Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, the summer of 1985 was to be a moment of extraordinary triumph. In July, on the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, Mr. Ortega would address a crowd of hundreds of thousands with a message of defiance for his political nemesis, Ronald Reagan, and the Contra militias waging war on him with support from Washington. Amid the festivities, Mr. Ortega would also meet with the mayor of Burlington, Vt. Bernie Sanders, then 43, journeyed for 14 hours to reach Nicaragua — switching planes in Boston, Miami and San Salvador — and made a truncated tour of the violence-stricken country before the grand event in Managua. Aspects of the trip might have unsettled another visitor. A reporter who traveled with Mr. Sanders wrote of strict limits on the taking of photographs. ..."
NY Times

Wednesday, May 22

Redux: Summer Surprised Us

"This week at The Paris Review, we’re preparing for our summer softball season and thinking about baseball and the great outdoors. Read Donald Hall’s Art of Poetry interview, as well as Tony Sanders’s poem 'The Warning Track' and Kelli Jo Ford’s short story 'Hybrid Vigor.' If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to read the entire archive? You’ll also get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door. ..."
Paris Review

National liberation skirt

Wikipedia - "A national liberation skirt (Dutch: nationale bevrijdingsrok) or national celebration skirt (Dutch: nationale feestrok) is a style of skirt, handmade of patchwork and embroidery, in celebration of Dutch Liberation Day on 5 May 1945. The style was invented by resistance fighter and feminist Mies Boissevain-van Lennep. The feestrok has been described as 'a female mode of political expression ... [which] explicitly linked gender to the reconstruction of a ravaged country and the general striving for breakthrough and social renewal.' Boissevain-van Lennep had been imprisoned in 1943 for her involvement with the Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. Soon after, a scarf was smuggled into her cell that had been constructed of textile patches of personal significance—including a piece of her first ballgown and pieces from her children's clothing. ..."
Liberation skirts: how post-war upcycling became a symbol of female solidarity

Songs From the Sun Ra Cosmos - The Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra (2019)

"Garage & soul screamer Barrence Whitfield channels the Saturnian ruler of the omniverse with a soul-tripping exploration of Sun Ra favorites—from the explosive “Nuclear War” to the shimmering exotica of 'Love In Outer Space' to the Funkadelicized 'Everything Is Space.' Since the 70s, lucky concert goers have witnessed the adrenaline mainlined madness that is a Barrence Whitfield performance. That brand of madness has been captured on hundreds of feet of magnetic tape and mutated into this studio recording over 25 years in the making–which somehow manages to be at times mellow, and at others completely explosive. Barrence Whitfield has channeled the late Sun Ra and delivers what we can best assume Sun Ra would sound like if he had amphetamines kicking up his synaptic dopamine and norepinephrine concentrations in his striatum!"
A retro-afrofuturist tribute to Sun Ra: rock and soul act Barrence Whitfield and the Savages (Audio)
bandcamp (Audio)
YouTube: Songs From the Sun Ra Cosmos 9 video

Monday, May 20

Jane Jacobs Walk

"Who was Jane Jacobs? Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail, that now seem like common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists. Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centred approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. ..."
Jane Jacobs Walk - Who was Jane Jacobs?
Jane Jacobs Walk
An Illustrated Guide to Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs, born 100 years ago today! Celebrate with a weekend walk.
[PDF] 10 Tips for Jane Jacobs Walk Participants
YouTube: Create a Google Map for your Jane Jacobs Walk, Jane Jacobs on urban design of Toronto & Montreal circa 1969

2018 April: The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)

Arthur Russell - Another Thought (1994)

"During his lifetime, the classically trained composer, cellist and disco artist Arthur Russell studied and performed with a wide variety of musicians and artists such as Ali Akbar Khan, Allen Ginsberg, John Hammond, David Byrne, Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Garret List, Frank Pagano, Andy Paley, Leni Pickett, and Peter Zummo. As a solo act in the 1980’s, Arthur Russell produced successes such as 'In the Light of the Miracle' and the album 'World of Echo' which incorporated many of his ideas for pop, dance and classical music for both solo voice and cello format. When Arthur Russell died in 1992 at the age of 40, the Village Voice wrote: 'his songs were so personal that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music.' The re-release of 'Another Thought' by Orange Mountain Music is a celebration of this collection of Arthur Russell songs and tribute to a great musical innovator. ..."
Holland Tunnel Dive
YouTube: Byrne, Glass, Ginsberg on Arthur Russell 'Another Thought' EPK
YouTube: Another Thought [full album] 14 videos

2015 November: Love Of Life Orchestra ‎– Extended Niceties EP (1980), 2015 September: Arthur Russell, 2017 January: Instrumentals (2007), 2017 April: The Infinite Worlds of Arthur Russell, 2018 December: The World Of Arthur Russell (2004)

How New York City Became the Epicenter of Jazz

A nighttime look at 52nd Street, former hotbed of jazz, circa 1948.
"Jazz has gone global. Just like your job, your mortgage and the cost of gas at the pump, the music now responds to global forces. As a jazz critic, I now need to pay attention to the talent coming out of New Zealand, Indonesia, Lebanon, Chile, and other places previously outside my purview. Almost every major city on the planet now has homegrown talent worthy of a worldwide audience. Yet one thing hasn’t changed on the jazz scene: New York still sits on top of the heap. Great jazz artists often don’t come from Manhattan, but they struggle to build a reputation and gain career traction if they don’t come to Manhattan. ..."
Observer (Video)

American jazz band leader and composer, Duke Ellington.

Collected Stories of William Faulkner (1950)

"Forty two short stories which reveal a much broader scope of matter and manner than the average reader expects of William Faulkner. An interesting editorial approach breaks the stories into six groups. The first, The Country, includes a number of stories set in his familiar back country area of the Deep South, regional in both character and characters. Read Shingles for the Lord for the characteristic twists of sardonic humor, the unsentimental but understanding study of the poor whites. The Village raises the level of social standing, and A Rose for Emily is a gem of perceptive handling of small town attitudes. Personally, I found The Wilderness with its very stylized Indian and frontier tales the least interesting group of the lot. The last three sections, The Wasteland with its war stories (read Victory), The Middle Ground, and Beyond show some very different facets of Faulkner, a kind of sophistication, and surprising variety of mood and tempo. An important book in the Faulkner picture, and for short story enthusiasts, it offers rich fare."
Kirkus Reviews
W - Collected Stories of William Faulkner
[PDF] NY Times: The Dark, Bright World of Faulkner (1950)

2011 September: Southern Gothic, 2014 February: William Faulkner, 2015 October: William Faulkner Draws Maps of Yoknapatawpha County, the Fictional Home of His Great Novels, 2015 November: Interviews William Faulkner, The Art of Fiction No. 12, 2016 April: Absalom, Absalom!! (1936), 2016 May: The Sound and the Fury (1929), 2016 October: The Snopes Trilogy (1940, 1957, 1959), 2016 December: Light in August (1932), 2017 February: As I Lay Dying (1930), 2017 June: The Wild Palms (1939), 2017 August: Sanctuary (1931). 2017 September: The Unvanquished (1938), 2017 October: 20 Pieces of Writing Advice from William Faulkner, 2017 November: Yoknapatawpha County, 2018 February: Go Down, Moses (1942), 2018 June: Flags in the Dust (1973)

Sunday, May 19

“I stand behind DIY as an ethos and a sound”: Interpreting Carla dal Forno

"Inspired by the spare instrumentation of post-punk and revelling in ideas of voyeurism and ambiguity, Carla dal Forno’s song craft invites varied interpretation. From Blackest Ever Black to her own Kallista Records, dal Forno tells James Hammond about the independent spirit that underpins her work. Steeped in a love of post-punk, the tradition of home studio recording, and an exploration of alluring sonorities, Carla dal Forno’s solo releases (in tandem with her excellent NTS radio show) evoke an obfuscated soundworld that lets her voice move as deftly through the shadows, as it does into the foreground. ..."
Vinyl Factory (Audio)
Boiler Room: DJ Set - Carla dal Forno (Video) 46:13
Pitchfork (Audio)
Soundcloud: Carla dal Forno (Audio)
Discogs (Video)

"The Paranoid Style in American Politics" - Richard J. Hofstadter (1964)

"'The Paranoid Style in American Politics' is an essay by American historian Richard J. Hofstadter, first published in Harper's Magazine in November 1964; it served as the title essay of a book by the author in the same year. Published soon after Senator Barry Goldwater had won the Republican presidential nomination over the more moderate Nelson A. Rockefeller, Hofstadter's article explores the influence of conspiracy theory and "movements of suspicious discontent" throughout American history. The essay was adapted from a Herbert Spencer Lecture that Hofstadter delivered at Oxford University on November 21, 1963. An abridged version was first published in the November 1964 issue of Harper's Magazine, and was published as the titular essay in the book The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and Other Essays (1964). ..."
W - "The Paranoid Style in American Politics"
W - Richard Hofstadter
Harpers: "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" By Richard Hofstadter (November 1964)
NY Times: The Paranoid Style - Paul Krugman (Oct. 9, 2006)
New Republic: Trump’s Cult of Personality Takes Paranoia to the Next Level (Jan. 26, 2018)

Everton Dacres - Jah Jah Ah Come (1977)

"Monster roots from 1977. Everton Dacres, cousin to Barrington Levy and member of the Mighty Multitudes group along with Barrington, cut only a few tunes as a solo artist and this is one of them. Produced by Lloyd 'Charmers' Tyrell, issued on his LTD label."
Sounds of the Universe (Audio)
YouTube: JAH JAH Ah Come + Version Ah Come

Saturday, May 18

Venezuela’s Collapse Is the Worst Outside of War in Decades, Economists Say

In Maracaibo, men searching for refuse that can be salvaged or recycled.
"MARACAIBO, Venezuela — Zimbabwe’s collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba’s disastrous unraveling in the 1990s. The crumbling of Venezuela’s economy has now outpaced them all. Venezuela’s fall is the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 years, economists say. 'It’s really hard to think of a human tragedy of this scale outside civil war,' said Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. 'This will be a touchstone of disastrous policies for decades to come.' To find similar levels of economic devastation, economists at the I.M.F. pointed to countries that were ripped apart by war, like Libya earlier this decade or Lebanon in the 1970s. But Venezuela, at one point Latin America’s wealthiest country, has not been shattered by armed conflict. Instead, economists say, the poor governance, corruption and misguided policies of President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, have fueled runaway inflation, shuttered businesses and brought the country to its knees. And in recent months, the Trump administration has imposed stiff sanctions to try to cripple it further. ..."
NY Times
***NY Times: Venezuela’s Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó May Negotiate With Maduro

An oil barge tugging Toas Island’s broken-down ferry to the mainland to fetch meager amounts of subsidized food.

2016 November: Venezuela, a Failing State, 2017 July: The Battle for Venezuela, Through a Lens, Helmet and Gas Mask, 2018 November: The Politics of Food in Venezuela, 2019 February: Venezuela’s Very Normal Revolution, 2019 March: Venezuela’s Deadly Blackout Highlights the Need for a Negotiated Resolution of the Crisis, 2019 May: Crisis in Venezuela: What We Know So Far

The Notebook of William Blake

"The Notebook of William Blake (is known also as the Rossetti Manuscript from its association with its former owner Dante Gabriel Rossetti) was used by William Blake as a commonplace book from c.1787 (or 1793) to 1818. The Notebook [Butlin #201] consists of 58 leaves and contains autograph drafts by Blake of poems and prose with numerous sketches and designs, mostly in pencil. Containing two pages of preface, alongside 94 pages of sketches, each page is approximately 159 x 197mm. The original leaves were later bound with a partial copy (ff. 62–94) of 'All that is of any value in the foregoing pages' that is Rossettis' transcription of Blake's notebook (added after 1847). At first the Notebook belonged to Blake's favourite younger brother and pupil Robert who made a few pencil sketches and ink-and-wash drawings in it. After death of Robert in February 1787, Blake inherited the volume beginning it with the series of sketches for many emblematic designs on a theme of life of a man from his birth to death. ..."
British Library: Introduction (Audio)
British Library: The Notebook of William Blake
British Library: Read

2009 April: William Blake, 2010 December: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 2011 June: The Ghost of a Flea, 2012 August: Isaac Newton (1795), 2015 November: America a Prophecy (1793)

Friday, May 17

The definitive guide to Buenos Aires’ best record shops

Jarana Records
"Digging for all tastes in the Argentine capital. Few cities in South America can match the vibrant cosmopolitanism of Buenos Aires, which acts as a hub for people from all across the continent. A symbolic bridge between Latin America and Europe, Argentina’s capital presents a somewhat contradictory proposition for record buyers. With a rich musical culture leaving plenty to discover across the city, the notoriously unstable economy makes Buenos Aires a relatively treacherous place to run a business as precarious as a record shop. While it’s famous for its football, steak and myriad of architectural styles, the city’s record culture can be a littler harder to locate. Scratch below the surface though and it becomes clear that as the rock-obsessed home of tango with a party scene built for insomniacs, Buenos Aires is also an electric environment for music. One of the few cities in Latin America which still houses a record pressing plant of its own, the ‘Reina del Plata’ was one of the foremost producers of vinyl on the continent, and has retained no shortage of second-hand jewels from Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay and elsewhere. We pick out nine shops from across genres to get you started. ..."
Vinyl Factory
The Current State of Record Stores in Buenos Aires

El Agujerito

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, May 17 – 25

Before dawn on the morning of Monday the 20th, you'll find Jupiter left of the Moon and Antares farther to the Moon's lower right (for North America).
"... Saturday, May 18. Full Moon (exact at 5:11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time). The Moon rises around sunset. After dark it hangs above the rising head of Scorpius, flooding it with moonlight. Can you see any stars of Scorpius at all? The brightest is orange Antares, about 10° below the Moon. Second brightest is Delta Scorpii, nearer the Moon. Sunday, May 19. The Moon, a day past full, forms a wide triangle with Jupiter to its lower left and Antares to its right. Monday, May 20. The bright 'star' upper right of the Moon late this evening is Jupiter. The giant planet is 40 times larger in diameter than the Moon but is currently 1,700 times farther away. ..."
Sky & Telescope

Pet Shop Boys - It's A Sin (1987)

Wikipedia - "'It's a Sin' is a song recorded by English synthpop duo the Pet Shop Boys which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in 1987, and was their third top ten in the US when it reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. ... Released in June 1987, it became the duo's second UK number one single. ... A demo of the track was first cut in 1984 with Bobby O, and the song's form in the demo remained intact to the final version, although the released production is far more dramatic. The song is a description of Tennant's Catholic upbringing and education at St Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle upon Tyne, implying that everything that is perceived to be pleasurable in life is regarded as sinful. The song uses extensive samples from Latin masses (specifically, Tennant reciting a part of the Confiteor, and other sounds recorded at locations such as Westminster Cathedral) and religious imagery throughout to reinforce the feel of the song. Tennant has said that he wrote the lyrics in 15 minutes, purging his emotions in a moment of frustration and anger. ..."
It Was 30 Years Ago Today: Pet Shop Boys, It’s A Sin
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: It's A Sin, It's a Sin (live) 1991

2008 September: Pet Shop Boys, 2010 November: Pet Shop Boys - 1985-1989, 2011 January: Behaviour, 2011 May: Very, 2011 December: Bilingual, 2012 March: "Always on My Mind", 2012 August: Nightlife, 2012 September: "Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes off You)", 2012 December: Release, 2013 March: Pandemonium Tour, 2013 November: Leaving, 2014 April: Introspective (1988), 2014 August: Go West, 2015 January: "So Hard"(1990), 2015 February: "I'm with Stupid" (2006), 2015 July: Thursday EP (2014), 2016 May: "Twenty-something" (2016)

Thursday, May 16

Chet Baker - Italian Movies (2014)

"Before delving into the music on this collection, it's important to offer a note of caution to Chet Baker fans: Italian Movies is not a really a compilation of the trumpeter's work, so much as a series of film scores by the great composer Piero Umiliani between 1958 and 1964 on which he is featured either as a soloist or as part of the orchestra. It might better have been marketed to Umiliani fans, but it's tough to fault label Moochin' About for a little creative license when repackaging a previous issue of this music that appeared on Liuto Records -- that one was co-billed to the pair. Other than on disc three -- where Baker doesn't get to solo until track nine in the score for 1962's Smog, yet is still featured for 20 minutes -- there is plenty of him to go around as he works amid his Italian contemporaries. Despite the period, one in which his drug addiction was particularly difficult to manage, his playing is taut, muscular, and inventive throughout. His solos bear the entire strength of his phrasing signature. ... Italian Movies is handsomely packaged with iconic photos of Baker, includes full credits, and comes at a reasonable price."
Piero on Chet
Italian Movies by CHET BAKER/PIERO UMILIANI (Audio)
YouTube: Piero Umiliani & Chet Baker - Italian movies (Live)
YouTube: Chet Baker Italian Movies

I Dream of Wires

"I Dream of Wires is the incorrect title for that great documentary on modular synthesizers. It should be titled: Couldn’t Sleep Because I Read Manuals Too Late at Night and My Brain Wouldn’t Stop Patching. In the meanwhile, here is where my system is currently at (or will be when two of those modules arrive from, respectively, Poland and down in Southern California). The blank space at the bottom is, indeed, bank. Likely other modules will go before it is filled. We’ll see. ..."
disquiet: Sleepless in San Francisco
Waveshaper Media (Video)
YouTube: I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary
vimeo: I Dream Of Wires 23 Videos

Wednesday, May 15

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

The Black Atlantic (1500 – 1800)
"... Into the breach has stepped Henry Louis Gates Jr., assisted by dozens of historians. His six-part series, 'The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,' beginning on Tuesday on PBS, aims to chronicle 500 years of black history. The program starts with Juan Garrido, a free black man whose 1513 expedition with Spanish explorers in Florida made him the first known African to arrive in what is now the United States, and ends with Barack Obama in the White House in 2013, a time of complexity and contradictions for black Americans. In between, Professor Gates, director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, draws on the latest scholarship to put flesh on characters like the resilient South Carolina slave girl Priscilla as well as her descendants. ..."
NY Times: Black History’s Missing Chapters
W - The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
YouTube: The African Americans
Episode 1: The Black Atlantic (1500-1800), Episode 2: The Age of Slavery (1800 -1860), Episode 3: Into the Fire (1861-1896), Episode 4: Making a way Out of no way (1897-1940), Episode 5: Rise! (1940 - 1968), Episode 6: A More Perfect Union (1968 - 2013)

Priscilla, a Slave

When Neon Owned the Night

While neon was a fixture of cities nationwide, Las Vegas was in many ways its spiritual home. Feb. 17, 1972.
"Before evolution hit a snag, and we reverted to slouching and staring at our phones, human beings walked with their eyes up, looking at things. In the countryside, people contemplated church steeples, maple trees, clouds. In cities, they gaped at neon — and it was everything. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, neon signs were a potent American symbol for both glamour and depravity, hope and desolation. In movies, how many star-struck ingénues have gazed up at the bright lights of Broadway? How many down-and-out characters have checked into a seedy hotel and found a malfunctioning sign buzzing like a bug-zapper outside their window? ..."
NY Times

The night-as-day feel of Times Square was partly a result of neon signage. Dec. 11, 1948.

Tuesday, May 14

Tangled Up in Blue: Deciphering a Bob Dylan Masterpiece

"Dylan’s 'Tangled Up in Blue' strikes a middle point between his more surreal lyrics of the ‘60s and his more straightforward love songs, and as Polyphonic’s recent video taking a deep dive into this 'musical masterpiece' shows, that combination is why so many count it as one of his best songs. It is the opening track of Blood on the Tracks, the 1975 album that critics hailed as a return to form after four middling-at-best albums. ... Blood on the Tracks is one of the best grumpy, middle-age albums, post-relationship, post-fame, all reckoning and accountability, a survey of the damage done to oneself and others, and 'Tangled' is the entry point. Dylan’s marriage to Sara Lowndes Dylan was floundering after eight years--affairs, drink, and drugs had estranged the couple. Dylan would later say that 'Tangled' 'took me ten years to live and two years to write.' It would also take him two studios, two cities, and two band line-ups to get working. ..."
Open Culture (Video) 13:03
W - "Tangled Up in Blue:"
Tangled Up in Blue: Bob Dylan’s utterly transformed “Real Live” version
YouTube: Tangled Up in Blue (Live), Tangled up in Blue

An 1840s Road Trip, Captured on Lustrous Silver

Girault de Prangey’s image of the Roman Forum, viewed from the Palatine Hill in 1842.
"... In dozens of cases, that first photographer was Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892), a Frenchman of astonishing artistic ambition and considerable tech savvy. In 1842, three years after his countryman Louis Daguerre unveiled the world’s first practical camera, Girault set out on an epic adventure across Europe and into the Middle East, lugging custom photographic equipment that weighed more than a hundred pounds. He returned with over a thousand photographic plates, including the first surviving daguerreotypes made in Greece, Egypt, Anatolia, Palestine and Syria. ..."
NY Times
Metropolitan Museum of Art (Video)
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Five Things to Know about the Monumental Journey and Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey
W - Girault de Prangey
amazon: Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey

Ayoucha, 1842-43

Monday, May 13

A midcentury artist’s New York from her window

New York From My Window
"Born in 1887 in Vienna, Emma Fordyce MacRae grew up in early 20th century New York—attending the private Chapin and Brearley Schools before enrolling in the Art Students League in 1911 and studying with John Sloan. She made a name for herself as a member of the Philadelphia Ten, a group of female artists who exhibited together. As the 20th century went on, MacRae married and moved to 888 Park Avenue. She apparently never stopped painting, keeping a studio at 12 West 69th Street, according to her New York Times obituary in 1974. New York From My Window was painted between 1957 and 1962. It’s a deceptively simple work depicting a streetscape under blue skies almost empty of traffic and people. What I want to know is, where exactly is the window she painted from, and what sliver of New York did this artist who should be better known immortalize? ..."
Ephemeral New York
W - Emma Fordyce MacRae

New England Coke, Gloucester

Sabroso Guaguanco Vol.8 / Vol.9

"... I have actually bought all 10 Sabroso Guaguanco compilations and I have to tell you they are a treasure. I do not doubt that some Colombians pirated this music but it does not bother me. My wife is from Cali Colombia and I just came back from a 3 week visit there. And you know what?, Colombians are crazy about this music and most recording artists from Puerto Rico that can't get work anymore in Puerto Rico because they are too old fill up concerts wherever they go in Colombia. So maybe big labels like Fania lose that don't even provide benefits for all the artists that made them rich. But Colombians keep the original artists employed when they were ignored by everyone else. I got 2tb's of music from 1 fan in Colombia and most of the music you can't even find in any format. So I thank them for keeping this beautiful music alive and giving their creators some dignity. Viva la salsa dura!! ..."
Holland Tunnel
iTunes: Sabroso Guaguancó, Vol. 9
YouTube: Sabroso Guaguancó, Vol. 8, Sabroso Guaguancó, Vol. 9