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Another place I Will Never Live - The Chelsea Hotel

Interiors of the Chelsea Hotel
posted by y2karl on Oct 16, 2013 - 30 comments

 

Sleepy John Estes with Yank Rachell - Mailman Blues & African African

Sleepy John Estes with Yank Rachel - Mailman Blues
More about Sleepy John Estes
From Stephan Wirz - American Music: Illustrated Sleepy John Estes discography
See also The Tennesseean Encyclopedia - Sleepy John Estes [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Apr 5, 2009 - 9 comments

'Where Yesterday Began' --More about Edith Macefield and the Little House In Ballard

'Where Yesterday Began'

More about Edith Macefield and the Little House in Ballard. [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Dec 29, 2008 - 42 comments

Vintage Musical Americana featuring The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection

Here is Naomia Wise from The Max Hunter Folksong Collection. Folk songs, more or less, sung by real folks, collected in Arkansas by Max Hunter between 1956 and 1976. On a related tip, here is Historic Music--recorded popular music from the 1920s, with a large selection devoted to music from the First World War. And here, from Manufacturing Memory: American Popular Music in the 1930's, are the Popular Music Jukebox 1930-1934 and the Popular Music Jukebox 1935-1939 to complete this day's vintage musical Americana experience.
The Max Hunter songs are in RealAudio. Realplayer haters can use Real Alternative aka Media Player Classic.
posted by y2karl on Nov 27, 2007 - 9 comments

The Little House In Ballard

Edith Macefield is stubborn. Man, is she stubborn. That's what her mother told her when she was a little girl back in the 1920s. It's a characteristic that has followed her all her life. Now that unrelenting stubbornness has won the 86-year-old woman admirers throughout Ballard. Macefield refused to sell her little old house where she has lived since 1966 to developers, forcing them to build an entire five-story project, which includes a grocery store, fitness club and parking garage, around her. She was offered $1 million to leave. She turned it down flat.
Old Ballard's new hero
Newsfilter, local interest filter, too, but, oh, man, it lifts the spirits. Her's is the last house on the block, the one in which she grew up, the one her mother died in. She is going to be surrounded by five storys of shopping mall but she isn't moving. It's like The Little House come to life. And bonus points: Mike's Chili Parlor, the other hold out on the same block, is the bomb. So you get two Old Lost Seattle treasures in one post.
posted by y2karl on Oct 15, 2007 - 81 comments

English ? Scottish ? Irish ? What's the difference ?

...Historians teach that they are mostly descended from different peoples: the Irish from the Celts and the English from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from northern Europe and drove the Celts to the country’s western and northern fringes. But geneticists who have tested DNA throughout the British Isles are edging toward a different conclusion. Many are struck by the overall genetic similarities, leading some to claim that both Britain and Ireland have been inhabited for thousands of years by a single people that have remained in the majority, with only minor additions from later invaders like Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans. The implication that the Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh have a great deal in common with each other, at least from the geneticist’s point of view, seems likely to please no one.
A United Kingdom? Maybe
See also Myths of British ancestry
In the words of one well known Basque cultural icon: HA Ha!
posted by y2karl on Mar 9, 2007 - 40 comments

Regarding Paramount Records

...In 1924 New York Recording Laboratory decided to expand its reach into that market by purchasing the Black Swan label. Founded in 1920 or 1921 by black entrepreneur Harry H. Pace, the pioneering company recorded everything from ragtime to grand opera, as long as it was sung by African-Americans... Paramount's biggest star was Ma Rainey, a blues moaner who influenced the legendary singer Bessie Smith... Paramount did not neglect male blues singers, who tended to be folk artists in the sense that their music was made initially for the entertainment of isolated rural communities. These included the singers and guitarists Charlie Patton... Blind Lemon Jefferson...
Compliments of the Season from ParamountsHome--where, among many other things, one can find an online copy of David Evans's biography Charley Patton in Parts 1, 2 and 3 or look at a picture of Skip James in 1932, not to mention a view of Paramount's promotion of Patton as the Masked Marvel. And that is not, as they say, all...
posted by y2karl on Dec 18, 2006 - 14 comments

The Gospel of YouTube according to y2karl

Five Blind Boys Of Alabama - Too Close
Supreme Angels - Hush Hush
Soul Stirrers - Listen To The Angels Sing
King Louis Narcisse - This Little Light Of Mine
Goldia Hayes with the Harmonizing Four - Beams of Heaven
Sister Rosetta Tharpe & Choir - Up Above My Head
Hall Johnson Choir - Little Black Sheep
Norfleet Brothers - I Am A Pilgrim And A Stranger
Caravans - No Coward Soldier
Soul Stirrers - I'm A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord
Gospel Paraders - Have You Got Good Religion
Pilgrim Jubilee Singers - Testify
Imperial Gospel Singers - The Lord Will see You Through
Lucy Rodgers Singers - Hold To God's Unchanging Hand

YouTube in the Holy Spirit--mostly old school black gospel...
posted by y2karl on Dec 4, 2006 - 53 comments

This is a historian’s dream, more than four hours of never-before-seen film...

Currie Ballard, a historian in Oklahoma, has just made what he calls “the find of a lifetime”—33 cans of motion picture film dating from the 1920s that reveal the daily lives of some remarkably successful black communities.
A Find of a Lifetime
Twelve different short excerpts of the film are linked
posted by y2karl on Sep 16, 2006 - 20 comments

From Good Cheer to "Drive-By Smiling": A Social History of Cheerfulness

The history of emotions has yielded substantial studies on love, anger, fear, grief, jealousy, and many other discrete emotions. However, there is no particular study of cheerfulness, a rather moderate emotion, which, for reasons that I will discuss further, has remained unnoticeable to the scholarly eye. Based on much of the historical literature on emotions, some primary sources and some other areas of cultural history, I outline here the social use and conceptualization of cheerfulness over the last three centuries. I argue that, in the modern age, cheerfulness rose in value and became the most favored emotion for experience and display; as such, it was individually sought and socially encouraged until it became the main emotional norm of twentieth-century America.
From Good Cheer to "Drive-By Smiling": A Social History of Cheerfulness
And the Taxonomy of Emotion Terms there is of interest on its own.
posted by y2karl on Mar 13, 2006 - 10 comments

The Lost Museum

On July 13, 1865, one of the most celebrated institutions in the United States, the American Museum, burned to the ground. But thanks to the wonders of technology, it has been rebuilt—sort of—on a Website called The Lost Museum... As it was managed by Phineas T. Barnum, the original American Museum was located in lower Manhattan and presented an ever-growing collection of wonders across five floors, ranging from "cosmoramas" and wax figures, to aquariums and live-animal specimens, to "moral representations" in the Lecture Room.
Via the incomparable Common-place's Finding Barnum on the Internet.
posted by y2karl on Oct 6, 2005 - 8 comments

Political killing in the cold war [and thereafter]

Modern history is replete with assassinations that have a dramatic impact on national and international politics: the killing of Alexander II by anarchists in 1881 unleashed repression and anti-semitism in the Russian empire; the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in June 1914 in Sarajevo sparked the "great war" that drowned Europe in blood and inaugurated what Eric Hobsbawm calls "the short 20th century"; the assassination of the liberal Colombian politician Jorge Gaitan in 1948 (a day after he had met a Latin American youth delegation that included the 21-year-old Fidel Castro) helped spark a civil war – the violencia – that continues to this day and the shooting down on 6 April 1994 of the plane carrying Rwanda's and Burundi's presidents, Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira precipitated the Rwandan genocide.

Political killing in the cold war [& thereafter] provides an outline of the aftereffects of assassinations, covert killings, state and judicial executions.
posted by y2karl on Aug 24, 2005 - 37 comments

The Smash of Civilizations

'...Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire. In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, World Monument Fund has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites.'
The 2003- Iraq War & Archaeology
The Smash of Civilizations
posted by y2karl on Jul 8, 2005 - 11 comments

Visions of Vintage Americana

Uncommon Places brings to mind A Short History of America.
It must be all those wires.
Via Archphoto and The Crumb Museum

posted by y2karl on Jun 16, 2005 - 4 comments

The Minstrel Show 2.1 - William Henry Lane & Pattin' Juba

Single shuffle, double shuffle, cut and cross-cut; snapping his fingers, rolling his eyes, turning in his knees, presenting the backs of his legs in front, spinning about on his toes and heels like nothing but the man’s fingers on the tambourine. Dancing with two left legs, two right legs, two wooded legs, two wire legs, two spring legs–all sorts of legs and no legs–what is this to him? And in what walk of life, or dance of life does man ever get such stimulating applause as thunders about him, when, having danced his partner off her feet, and himself too, he finishes by leaping gloriously on the bar-counter, and calling for something to drink, with the chuckle of a million of counterfeit Jim Crows, in one inimitable sound!

Dancing Across The Color Line.   In 1842, Charles Dickens came to New York City, where initally, he was wined, dined and theatrically entertained by the upper crust. Afterwards, he then went slumming and soon saw William Henry Lane, aka Master Juba, a man of whose dancing a number of historians say is where tap dance began, step lively in a cellar in the neighborhood called Five Points--the very same neighborhood creatively misrepresented recently by one Martin Scorcese in Gangs of New York. The dance he did was known as Pattin' Juba and the first time it's rhythm--which we think of as the Bo Diddley beat--was used on a sound recording was in 1952, when Red Saunders and his Orchestra, with Dolores Hawkins and and the Hambone Kids recorded Hambone. Continued within
posted by y2karl on Apr 4, 2005 - 3 comments

The Minstrel Show 2.0: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter

Jump Jim Crow, through the hoops of one Robert Christgau's erudition as he surveys the literature extant in In Search of Jim Crow: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter, through multiple readings of Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World and and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Consider, too, The Minstrel Cycle from Reading The Commitments and other various and sundry attempts to peek inside the minstrel mask—all multiple readings reading blackface minstrels from the pejorative to the explorative, subversive to oppressive, past to future, unfolding tesseractly, if not exactly, with singing, dancing and extraordinary elocutions. Buy your tickets and step within for The Meller Drammer of Minstrelsy in The Minstrel Show 2.0
posted by y2karl on Mar 31, 2005 - 17 comments

Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 & The reparations Question Revisited

Otis Granville Clark is a wonder. At 102, the former butler of Joan Crawford - who served Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin - still drives, lives on his own and twice a week attends church in his home city of Tulsa, Oklahoma... Today his blue eyes have gone milky but they still sparkle, his wiry frame remains agile, and his most painful memories are still fresh - even after 83 years. Coiled on the edge of an understuffed sofa, Clark leans back and screws his eyes tight to summon up "that day". It remains the most vivid of his life... Historians call the firestorm that convulsed Tulsa from the evening of May 31 into the afternoon of June 1 the single worst event in the history of American race relations. To most Tulsans it is simply "the riot". But the carnage had nothing in common with the mass protests of Chicago, Detroit and Newark in the 1960s or the urban violence that laid siege to Los Angeles in 1992 after the white police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted. The 1921 Tulsa race riot owes its name to an older American tradition, to the days when white mobs, with the consent of local authorities, dared to rid themselves of their black neighbours. The endeavour was an opportunity "to run the Negro out of Tulsa". Burnt Offerings
.See also The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 or the tale of the lost city or another The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. See also Frequently Asked Questions from the Tulsa Reparations Coalition. Previous post by allaboutgeorge re: Tulsa Race Riot Reparations on March 1, 2001 .
posted by y2karl on Feb 22, 2005 - 172 comments

Ragtime, Cakewalks, Coon Songs and Vaudeville, Barbershop Quartets & etc.

While culling my clippings file for the big move, I came across Ragtime: No Longer a Novelty in Sepia, which led me to the The Rag-Time Ephemeralist, a labor of love by one Chris Ware , whose 'The Acme Novelty Library' and Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy In The World I had long admired. The Ragtime Ephemeralist's mention of Out of Sight - The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895---here's a review from Musical Traditions--and, its very own links page, as a consequence, led to this post about Ragtime, Cakewalks, Coon Songs and Vaudeville, with a slight nod to Barbershop Quartets. There's more, of course...
posted by y2karl on Jan 21, 2005 - 27 comments

Alas Babylon

The damage wrought by the construction of an American military base in the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory. And all the more so because it was unnecessary and avoidable... but given that it was, the US authorities were very aware of the warnings of archaeologists of the historic importance of the site. Yet, as a report by Dr John Curtis of the British Museum makes clear, they seem to have ignored the warnings. Dr Curtis claimed that in the early days after the war a military presence served a valuable purpose in preventing the site from being looted. But that, he said, did not stop "substantial" damage being done to the site afterwards not just to individual buildings such as the Ishtar Gate, "one of the most famous monuments from antiquity", but also on an estimated 300,000 square metres which had been flattened and covered in gravel, mostly imported from elsewhere. This was done to provide helicopter landing places and parking lots for heavy vehicles that should not have been allowed there in the first place...

Cultural vandalism. Months of war that ruined centuries of history. American graffiti.
posted by y2karl on Jan 15, 2005 - 62 comments

Penny Postcards

OK, Seattleites, see the American flag here ? On the sidewalk below is where your 3rd & Pine McDonalds now sits. Man, I can see five buildings here that are still standing, but that red brick one at the lower right got replaced early. Now here's the Northern Life Tower. Note how the bricks lighten towards the top, so as to make it look taller from below--very subtle, that. It's one of Seattle's two Art Deco buildings, the other being the Exchange Building. You can cut through that one, coming off the ferry at First Avenue and take the elevator to walk out on Second Ave rather than climb that steep hill, you know.
     And consider on what playground equipment our grandparents got to play. Lucky stiffs--you can't even find a decent 50s era swing set in a park in this town anymore. Penny Postcards From King County, from Penny Postcards of Washington, from Penny Postcards. Man, I loves me some vintage postcards. And if you do, too, check that last link--it's got all 50 states.
posted by y2karl on Dec 19, 2004 - 17 comments

Japan's Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power, 1900–1945

Japan's Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power, 1900-1945 During the years 1900-1945, the question that motivated Muslims and some Japanese was whether Japan could be the "Savior of Islam" against Western imperialism and colonialism if this meant collaboration with Japanese imperialism. Even during the 1930s, when there was little hope left for prospects of democracy and liberalism in Japan (for that matter in Europe as well), the vision of a "Muslim Japan" was so compelling to many Muslims in Asia and beyond, even among black Muslims of Harlem, as a means for emancipation from Western hegemony/colonial reality that it justified cooperation with Japanese intelligence overseas. Okawa Shumei, the major intellectual figure of Pan-Asianism, the "mastermind of Japanese fascism" in the Tokyo trials, who justified Japan's mission to liberate Asia from Western colonialism by war if necessary, saw Islam as the means. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the relationship transformed into a major Japanese military strategy as the Japanese government began to implement its Islamic policy by mobilizing Muslim forces against the United Kingdom, Holland, China and Russia in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.      Alternately, The Fukuwaza Doctrine
posted by y2karl on Nov 12, 2004 - 11 comments

Chain Letters in History & The Paper Chain Letter Archive

Luck Chain Letters Predecessors: Ancient documents that advocate their own perpetuation. The Letters from Heaven. Transitions to chain letters.--from Chain Letter Evolution, which is part of the Paper Chain Letter Archive via History News Network's Cliopatria
posted by y2karl on Nov 7, 2004 - 4 comments

Carlo Ginzburg

On The Dark Side of History - The historian Carlo Ginzburg talks about his publications and his historical method of microhistory which he pioneered. Ginzburg's most famous work is The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller--here's a review from the Journal of Peasant Studies in pdf form. Simon Schama listed it among his favorite history books, saying How can you not love a book which takes the cosmology of a heretical 16th-century miller who believes that God created the world as a kind of indeterminate cheese from which came angelic worms, and makes you believe in its plausibility ? Domenico Scandella ­ known as Menocchio is now a hero in his ancestral village and the subject of Menocchio, a play by Elizabeth Groag. And here is a review of Ginzburg's The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. See also The Benadanti, New Age Travellers and Medieval Night-Riders and On Hereditary Italian Witchcraft and Menocchio's Books--now there's an odd lot of fellow travellers.
posted by y2karl on Oct 12, 2004 - 5 comments

Iraq, Manchuria, Askari Street--It's The History News Network!

From Nanjing 1937 to Fallujah 2004; Is the U.S. Repeating the Mistakes of Japan in the 1930s?; Attempting Analogy: Japanese Manchuria and Occupied Iraq and Manchuria and Iraq, 1932 and 2004: you can kiss that Vietnam analogy good bye--when historians talk history, they range farther afield. I ♥ the History News Network! Here is food for thought at an all night, all you can eat smorgasbord--those who teach history are condemned to discuss it and we're all the better for it.

For example, Hala Fattah's Askari Street is my current favorite Iraqi weblog. She gives us the history of the Arab horse, the Pachachi family, the Shammar tribe and Kirkuk, and its place in Iraqi History and she has barely begun to write.
HNN: oh, it's an embarrassment of riches and a fount of endless fascination.
posted by y2karl on Jun 11, 2004 - 23 comments

Bayard Rustin - Uncredited architect of the Civil Rights Movement & the March on Washington

Hidden Sides, Hushed Ideals of a Civil Rights Strategist
Bayard Rustin - Quaker, former Young Communist cum anti-communist socialist, advocate of non-violence, ''known homosexual'' , architect of the March on Washington and, it goes without saying, great American. A critical socialist take on Rustin. Here, for our resident Malcolm X man, a debate between Rustin and X in 1960--do note the latter's views evolved greatly between then and his assassination--and here is Nat Hentoff on Rustin. A recent P.O.V. fim on Rustin - Brother Outsider.
posted by y2karl on Aug 25, 2003 - 9 comments

The Origins of Bohemian

bohemian rhapsody!
posted by y2karl on May 4, 2003 - 17 comments

University of California Press Public Only Subject List

Religion in Hellenistic Athens, A Medieval Mirror, Losing Face: Status Politics in Japan, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982 , Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture , Freud and His Critics and Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982 --all are entire online books from the public section of the University of California Press.

I am, like, going so nutso--Jackpot!
posted by y2karl on Apr 3, 2003 - 25 comments

Historical Jesus Theories

Jesus H. Christ: That's H for Historical. A person of interest to several schools of inquiry, historical whereabouts unknown, somewhere between palimpsest and projection. You have your Jesus Seminar, for one. Earl Doherty asks Was there no historical Jesus? Mystae's The Jesus of History and Archeology is a bit more on the X files tip. A decidedly nonbeliever overview is Infidel.org's The Search for the Historical Jesus. And Gospel.Net provides Jesus of Nazareth in all gospels known to have been written within 200 years of Jesus' birth, a number considerably larger than the canonical four.
That should be enough for a start. Now go in peace and sin no more.
posted by y2karl on Jan 30, 2003 - 26 comments

Into The Gnostic

Out of the mist of the beginning of our era there looms a pageant of mythical figures whose vast, superhuman contours might people the walls of another Sistine Chapel. Their countenances and gestures, the roles in which they are cast, the drama which they enact, would yield images different from the biblical ones on which the imagination of the beholder was reared, yet strangely familiar to him and disturbingly moving. The stage would be the same, the theme as transcending: the creation of the world, the destiny of man, fall and redemption, the first and the last things. But how much more numerous would be the cast, how much more bizarre the symbolism, how much more extravagant the emotions!
                                                                                                        Hans Jonas

Into the Gnostic.

Of magicians, miracle workers, saints and sinners of early Christianities and other mystery religions--including but not limited to Valentinus, Simon Magus, Mithras, Marcion, Manicheans, Mandeans, the Winged Hermes, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary, among many other Apocrypha and Pseudepigraphica, the Cathars and Apollonious of Tyana. Not to mention Philip K. Dick.
posted by y2karl on Nov 30, 2002 - 11 comments

Gone To Croatan: Runaway Slaves, Lost Tribes, Tri-Racial Isolates & Hi, Iconomy!

In the late 18th or early 19th century a group of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky into the Ohio Territory, where they inter-married with Natives and formed a tribe - red, white & black - called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels (who seem to have been Islamically inclined) followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels. They were polygamists, and drank no alcohol. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.

But eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the ~official~ pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by "civilization." Now it was a ~slum~.


Maroons, Ramapaughs, Jackson Whites, the Moors of Delaware, Melungeons, the Ben Ishmaels--hat tip to Footnotes of History on that last--Red Bones, Brass Ankles, Turks, Lumbees, Croatans and other lost tribes and rebel slave communities.

The questions raised are what is race, tribe and family ...among others.

Included by extension are Hakim Bey, The Moorish Orthodox Church, various tribes of Black Indians, Jukes, Kallikaks, Margaret Sanger, The Bell Curve and Heather Locklear. (Step within the tent for the latter's interpetive dance)
posted by y2karl on Nov 15, 2002 - 38 comments

White Blues, The Death of Living Blues, Demythologizing the Blues - Who's Blues Are They?

Demythologizing The Blues. Blues reseacher and scholar David Evans breaks it down. Country blues as a living tradition tied to a rural black culture - there is something of that culture left - I think it's essentially over.--that's from this interview with David Evans--scroll past the autobiographical details for the meat and potatos. Paul Garon, of Race Traitor and Living Blues, has strong feelings about White Blues. Similarly, black writer Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor feels a chill amidst a white blues audience and asks Whose Blues Are They? Also, n a related and timely topic, here's Elvis Presley and the Impulse Towards Transculturation. (Hint: Elvis didn't sound black. Well, duh...) Originally in the NYT--no password needed now!--The Blues Dying In The Land Where It Was Born, and as a bonus, the New Yorker profile on an outfit I love to loathe, Fat Possum. Is is this guy's fault? And if you want to make the pilgrimage, let Junior's Juke Joint be your guide! (don't forget to make that unannounced drop in on raysmj!) Added bonus: R. Crumb's Charley Patton.
posted by y2karl on Aug 22, 2002 - 34 comments

The Sybil on Solvents--An Archeological Update on the Oracle of Delphi

The Sybli's raving mouth, according to Heraclitus, speaks without mirth or adornment or perfume: with the help of the god her voice continues for a thousand years: Plutarch - Why The Pythia No Longer Prophesies In Verse... So, what kinda gas was she huffin'? The Sybil on solvents--an archeological update on the Oracle of Delphi (NYT: you know the drill...)
posted by y2karl on Mar 19, 2002 - 7 comments

The Minstrel Show: Academic Histories of Blackface Minstrelsy

The Minstrel Show The Minstrel Show presents us with a strange, fascinating and awful phenomenon. Minstrel shows emerged from preindustrial European traditions of masking and carnival. But in the US they began in the 1830s, with working class white men dressing up as plantation slaves. These men imitated black musical and dance forms, combining savage parody of black Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms. By the Civil War the minstrel show had become world famous and respectable. Late in his life Mark Twain fondly remembered the "old time nigger show" with its colorful comic darkies and its rousing songs and dances. By the 1840s, the minstrel show had become one of the central events in the culture of the Democratic party.. The image of white men in blackface, miming black song, dance and speech is considered the last word in racist bigotry for some. And yet, standing at the crossroads of race, class and high and low culture, blackface minstrelsy is one fascinating topic in academic circles. It’s history is intertwined with the rise of abolitionism, the works of Mark Twain and the histories of vaudeville, American vernacular music, radio, television, movies, in fact all of what is called popular culture. Details within.
posted by y2karl on Mar 13, 2002 - 26 comments

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