What I Pledge Allegiance To. "I am a black Mississippian. I am a black American. I pledge to never be passive, patriotic, or grateful in the face of American abuse. I pledge to always thoughtfully bite the self-righteous American hand that thinks it’s feeding us. I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean. Nor is it great. Nor is it innocent." -- Author Kiese Laymon, Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi [more inside]
Wandering New York is a blog where amateur photographer Joseph Raskin posts new photos of various New York City neighborhoods every night.
Queer Theatre at La MaMa (1962-1980): This exhibit, which was created by Pooja Desai, a student in NYU’s Program in Archives/Public history, looks at theatrical experiments from La MaMa’s early years (1962-1980) through a queer lens. Using objects from La MaMa’s Archives, Desai reconstructs a history of the plays, production companies, playwrights, and directors who presented work on La MaMa’s stages that either reflected a “queer sensibility” or were relevant to queer/trans/LGBTQA audiences.
The New York Public Library has digitized the diary of one Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker as part of their Early American Manuscripts Project. Bleecker wrote about her life in New York City for seven years, beginning in 1799 when she was eighteen years old and ending in 1806.
A few weeks earlier, the male elders of their caste had decreed that village women working at nearby meat-processing factories should leave their jobs. The reason they gave was that women at home would be better protected from the sexual advances of outside men. A bigger issue lay beneath the surface: The women’s earnings had begun to undermine the old order. It came as a surprise when seven of the women, who had come to rely on the daily wage of 200 rupees, about $3, refused to stop. The women would have to, the men said, blocking the lane with their bodies. They did not expect the women to go to the police. (SLNYTimes). [more inside]
Gay City News profiles Robert Woodworth, on his retirement after thirty-two years at New York’s LGBT Community Center.
The Heslington Brain is a well-preserved 2600 year old brain that was found in an Iron Age excavation site in York in 2008. Its preservation was likely due to the low-oxygen environment of the mud in which it was found. The fact that the man was decapitated and the body disposed of elsewhere protected the brain from the ravages of gut bacteria as well. [more inside]
When Kirby came to the neighborhood in 1979 she was a community organizer trying to save buildings from abandonment or neglect. Part of her job was begging businesses to re-occupy the empty storefronts along Bedford Avenue, where Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks now pay premium rents. At the end of a long day, Teddy's was her local bar. When dinner time rolled around, Mary and Teddy would lock the door and say, "Watch the place." They'd be back in ten minutes with white bread and bologna for sandwiches.
Porters, Bouncers, and Bartenders, third installment of the amazing Terminal Bar film series. For ten years, Sheldon Nadelman took thousands of black and white photographs while bartending at the Terminal Bar, Times Square's most notorious watering hole of the 1970s. Murray Goldman, the bar's owner since 1957 was Sheldon's father-in-law as well as the filmmaker's grandfather. The Terminal Bar was featured in Martin Scorsese's film Taxi Driver. [more inside]
Meet the people hanging out in Times Square late at night. Over 330,000 people pass through Times Square every day. Here you can see the Times Square eccentrics in the 90s before the corporations took over.
"Nowadays, we tend to eat biscuits with beverages like tea and coffee. But in the past they were an important element of the dessert course and were dipped into sweet wine." - Food History Jottings (previously) on the strange world of Regency biscuits. (Cookies to you US types.)
Last week, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project uploaded a YouTube video of Laverne Cox reading a letter written by a New York State inmate named Synthia China Blast, who described living in solitary confinement for the last decade. However, that video has since, at Cox's request, been taken down. (TW: descriptions of murder, sexual violence) [more inside]
The New York Times came out today endorsing marijuana legalization. The New York Times’ editorial board on Saturday called on the federal government to legalize marijuana. Citing alcohol prohibition, social costs and states’ movements, the board argued “after a great deal of discussion” that “the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization.”
Slate's article on the photojournalist Brenda Ann Kenneally's Upstate Girls project article sparks huge internet backlash. Brenda spent ten years documenting the lives of five women in Troy through photography. Slate published an article about the project and then the Facebook comments rolled in. For perspective, take a look at the interview with Brenda about the project and New York Times original showcase of the project.
No Your City In a city of over 8 million people, it is impossible to walk the streets without running into interesting New Yorkers with unique relationships to the city. Whether it is Don Ward, the best shoe-shiner in Manhattan or Te'Devan the 6'7" Nomadic-Jewish-Healing-Freestyler. Everyone has a story that is worth hearing, but unfortunately most of them go unheard. New York City is the busiest place on earth and it is rare for someone to take a few minutes out of their schedule to stop and chat with a fellow New Yorker. No Your City is an 8-part documentary series that offers a glimpse into the lives of these extraordinary New York City inhabitants. [more inside]
The American Museum of Natural History will unlock thousands of old photos from their vault, they announced this week. The new online image database (officially launching on Monday the 28th) will take you behind the curtain, delivering images that span the 145-year history of the Museum. The collection features over 7,000 images—many never before seen by the public—and includes photos, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, art, and Museum memorabilia. They say "it’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing a long ago NYC or just catching glimpses of ghosts from a forgotten world now seen only by researchers and Museum staff." Previously. [more inside]
Up Close on Baseball's Borders is a detailed, zoomable interactive map which uses data from Facebook to present the team preferences of baseball fandom in the United States. Around the end of March, Facebook had released a map using the same data which despite being touted as most accurate ever, had significant problems. The most notable of these issues was a colorshift introduced as the main graphic went viral, rendering the map illegible. [more inside]
New York once had a concentration of type foundries near City Hall. "What did they find so vital about this one neighborhood?"
Editta Sherman was a portrait photographer who shot celebrities from Elvis Presley to the young Angela Lansbury to Andy Warhol to Joe DiMaggio to Tilda Swinton. [more inside]
Visiting the Big Apple? "Don't ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won't know. No New Yorker knows anything about New York." And another kind reminder: "Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable, notwithstanding and nevertheless. They are also smart." Advice from Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book, published in 1920. [more inside]
For many students in New York, the approach of spring means getting ready for standardized test season. However, many parents, with the encouragement of their children's teachers and administrators, are opting out. [more inside]
A Speck in the Sea [NYTimes.com]: John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place.
Bearing Arms: [New York Times] Articles in this series examine the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America. [more inside]
Most Friday nights at 10 PM EST, the guitarist of the New York Dolls hosts a "Rampage of Songs" on the band's Facebook page [more inside]
Robert is a little known artist and long time resident of Franklin New York. In the late nineties, Robert began constructing fantastic stone castles and keeps from native stone, in his small backyard. He has since created amazingly unique works at the homes of several Franklin residents. But, Robert's artistic interests and instincts go way beyond his stonework in ways that are surprising and very enlightening.
The Talk Shop is the world's first conversation salon. An artist opened up a space in Manhattan where patrons spin a conversation wheel to talk with total strangers.
"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons." Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
"Them and Them." "Rockland County, New York's East Ramapo school district is a taxpayer-funded system fighting financial insolvency. It is also bitterly divided between the mostly black and Hispanic children and families who use the schools and the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jewish majority who run the Board of Education and send their children to private, religious schools." Also see: A District Divided. [more inside]
Recalling 1993 lets you "Step back twenty years into New York City's past. Call from any NYC pay phone to hear what was happening on that block in 1993." Other notable public history projects include the History Pin app and Shimon Attie's installations in Berlin and Rome.
In 1962, fifty years ago this month, striking union printers shut down four New York City newspapers in resistance to computerized, automated technologies that were being introduced in newsrooms across the country. Five other area papers shut down voluntarily. The strike lasted 114 days and sounded the death knell for four newspapers. For a brief period, New York was a laboratory that demonstrated what can happen when newspapers vanish. Today, new technology is again shaking American newspapers as the Internet drains away more and more advertising revenue. Is this The Long Good Bye? [more inside]
Hurricane Sandy's proximity to Election Day means that the response to it is highly politicized. [more inside]
Tyler DeAngelo and some of his friends have hacked a classic 1980's Frogger arcade game - with real cars.
The Titanic Guide to New York City. An exploration of traces of the disaster, revealing history still written on the landscape.
Kill Bill, Parts 1 & 2, in One Minute, in One Take, produced by the University of York Filmmaking Society.
In 1783, John Jacob Astor set out for the United States with $25 and five flutes. Upon his death in 1848, he was the wealthiest person in the US, having amassed a fortune of at least $20,000,000, making him the third wealthiest person in American history (measuring wealth as a fraction of GDP). [more inside]
Life as an Italian American Sikh Female Taxi Driver Maria Provenzano Singh is an ordinary Italian American woman who married a Sikh man and became a taxi driver.
HappeningRightNow-Filter: New York's Wordless Music Orchestra is premiering an orchestral arrangement of William Basinki's Disintegration Loops live from The Temple Of Dendur. Stream here.
New York based Google engineer decides to go 'a little bit over the top' and propose to his girlfriend via Google maps and a treasure hunt. Awww....geek love. [Via]
Hipsters on the Hudson. The NYTimes is at it again, reporting on "Hipster Sprawl" (??).. yes, I made up that term.
Norman Mailer's apartment. Available now.
Portrait of an Immigrant Detainee as a Young Man. Meet New York bike-scene fixture Pablo Airaldi. He made friends with everyone—except ICE officials.
Pizza! Slice Harvester is one man's quest to taste and review every pizza slice offered by NYC's pizzerias. His mission statement reads, "...I'm going by neighborhood, starting in Manhattan, getting a plain slice at every place. I am f***ing sick of the current trend in Pizza Journalism that's all about f***ing artichoke guacamole tahini pizza on rice dough. That s*** isn't pizza. Sorry."
The comic series Ex Machina [PDF preview] was started in 2004, created by Y: The Last Man writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Tony Harris. The main character, Mitchell Hundred, is an ex-superhero who hangs up his jetpack and successfully runs for mayor of New York City in an alternate post-9/11 timeline. The last issue (#50), released this week, concluded the series with a harsh yet wonderfully written view of Hundred's political fate. BKV talks about the final issue with IGN [Spoilers].
New York's MTA has a YouTube channel that features some pretty great historical videos from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. [more inside]
The New York Times has compiled a list of the 50 words which are most frequently queried in their stories. Mirabile dictu (no. 19) that it's redoutable (no. 17)!