Joe Gould died well over half a century ago after having been gone from his haunts in Greenwich for half a decade. He had been a fixture in the Village for decades, friend to famous writers and artists, living in penury while saying he was working on a massively long work called Oral History of Our Time (coining the term [pdf] "oral history" in the process) from which only a few short pieces were ever published. In the 40s he became famous thanks to a profile called "Professor Sea Gull" written by star New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell. After Gould's death, Mitchell wrote another profile in 1964, "Joe Gould's Secret", where Mitchell said that the Oral History only existed in Gould's mind. After that article, Mitchell never published again in his lifetime despite being on The New Yorker's staff until his death in 1996. Since then, various further secrets have been unearthed about Gould, diaries from the 40s, the identity of Gould's mysterious patron, and now New Yorker writer Jill Lepore has written about Gould's whereabouts in the last years in his life, and much else, in a sad profile called Joe Gould's Teeth. [Joe Gould previously]
The Stonehill Jewish Song Collection is a website by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance containing songs sung by Jewish refugees in Hotel Marseilles in New York in 1948. All songs include the original lyrics and translations into English. Not all the songs have been digitized and translated already, but there is a variety of themes already, with more on the way soon. The songs were collected and recorded by Ben Stonehill who went to the refugees and asked them to sing anything they like.
Uneven Terrain is a series of short documentaries about urban exploration, about 10-15 minutes long each. There are six so far, about monumental ruins in New York, Centralia, the Pennsylvania town where an underground coalseam has been on fire since the 1960s, abandoned missile silos in the US and how they're being turned into homes, oil drilling in Los Angeles, the Teufelberg listening station and the abandoned bunkers under Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and pirate radio in London and on the old Redsand sea forts. Each short doc has a different presenter. All have accompanying photo galleries. [These are produced for the bootmaker Palladium, but it's pretty low-key]
Luna Commons is a database of sixteen free digital image collections built using Luna Imaging's Insight software. And there's a lot of cool stuff, well over a hundred thousand images all available for download in good resolution. Here are some of the collections featured: Pratt Institute Fashion Plate Collection, The Farber Gravestones Collection, Maps of Africa, Cornell Political Americana Collection and the The Estate Collection of art by HIV+ artists. The advanced search allows you to search across all collection, for example seeing everything across all collections about animals or New York or your birthyear. Whatever you look for, it's gonna bring up a boatload of interesting images.
Frank O'Hara was a New York poet, even though he lived less than half of his 40 years in the city. He grew up in Grafton, MA, was a sonarman in WWII and roomed with Edward Gorey at Harvard before moving to the city he would forever be associated with. Naturally, there was am article on him in The New Yorker a couple of years ago. We're lucky enough to have a number of videos of O'Hara, including a reading of the lovely "Having a Coke with You. There's also quite a bit of audio of him, and I can't but recommend this mp3 of John Ashbery, Alfred Leslie, Bill Berkson and Michelle Elligott reminiscing about O'Hara at the MOMA, where he worked. And there are quite a few of his poems available online, as well as five of the poem-paintings he did with Norman Bluhm. [more inside]
As They Say is a 20+ minute musical composition by Icelander Ólöf Arnalds, where she plays and sings all the parts herself in nine-fold splitscreen. She created the piece from interviews with 17 New Yorkers, each of a different nationality, and she sings in all 17 languages. Other Ólöf Arnalds videos: 11 minute documentary, 4 songs live on KEXP, covering That Lucky Old Sun, original song that morphs into Springsteen's I'm on Fire live, new song, an interview broken up into 17 chunks and a 10 minute documentary. The interview, the first of the documentaries and some songs are in English. [Ólöf Arnalds previously on MeFi]
Luc Sante has started a blog (according to Sasha Frere-Jones). Two entries so far, the first on a book cover from the 60's and the second on a picture of a rockabilly band. From the 2nd blog post: And that is why we come here once a year to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown rockabilly band: to persuade them to rest, and lay off the young. But just have a look at them--they were never meant to be! They should never have tried occupying the same stage, and they should have left music to find its own way home. The piano player, with his incipient Mickey Mouse ears, was clearly destined for a career working with puppets. The twins on guitar and bass were natural-born casino greeters. The other guitarist has the fine tapered hands of a pest-control agent specializing in silverfish. And the drummer--he was meant as an example. What happened to him should have been shown to driver-safety classes in every high school in the country. [more inside]