Donald Trump begins and ends each of his presidential campaign rallies with “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera and “Memory” from Cats. [more inside]
"There was power in a name, and I figured if mine were Elizabeth, maybe the blue eyes and blonde hair would follow. I would look more like her. My mother. She has stories of walking around—me in her arms, my brother in a stroller—and people asking what country we were adopted from. My mother is too polite to say things like, The country of my vagina." "Where I'm Writing From" by Onnesha Roychoudhuri.
You know, a little known fact about the Greeks is that they invented The Sequel. So, in the finest tradition of their ancestors, the Portokalos family will be returning to the big screen in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, this coming March. [more inside]
Michael Twitty is becoming one of the most transformative figures in the world of food. Reinterrogating and recreating African-American history in the context of American culinary history through his blog Afroculinaria, Twitty argues for "culinary justice" in food writing and the conversation on food history. His project (and forthcoming book of the same name) The Cooking Gene is in part a product of his Southern Discomfort Tour, a journey retracing the preservation and transmission of culinary knowledge before, during and beyond slavery. [more inside]
Scott Waters is a 66 year old American, artist, photographer and ex-Apple Computer employee. He recently took a trip in England (Portreath, Redruth, Wadebridge, Padstow, Ashby de la Zouch, Little Eton, and Oxford) and listed his observations on Facebook. It went viral; coverage in Cosmopolitan, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, and the Metro. Naturally, some people disagree. [more inside]
I've listened to most of the Wartime podcast and enjoy it. But there is one episode that really caught my attention. As a Canadian, I don't know a great deal about the American Revolution and I had no idea that a huge number of Germans fought for the British. This episode gives a fascinating glimpse into who these Germans were. Check it out.
The Tangled History of Barbed Wire by Robert Zaretsky [Boston Globe]
“Like inventors from Joseph Guillotin to Alfred Nobel, whose creations escaped their original purpose and were yoked to evil ends, Joseph Glidden would have been shocked at what became of his. In 1874, the Illinois farmer and New Hampshire native, fastening sharpened metal knots along thick threads of steel, created barbed wire. Thanks to its high resilience and low cost, the rapid installation of the coils and lasting dissuasion of the barbs, the wire transformed the American West. Ranchers could protect their cattle against predators, both wild and human, as they pushed the frontier ever further west. The wire itself came to be called 'devil’s rope.'”Previously. Previously. Previously.
In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another. The Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment (2/7) was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2008. During eight months of combat, the unit killed hundreds of enemy fighters and suffered more casualties than any other Marine battalion that year. When its members returned, most left the military. Seven years later, at least 13 of the 1200 members of that battalion have killed themselves in the interim: two while on active duty, the rest after they left the military. That is nearly four times the rate for young male veterans as a whole and 14 times that for all Americans. (This story discusses self-harm, suicide and suicidal ideation. Some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
“I didn’t take him seriously,” is what Joey says again and again to the people who keep asking the same questions again and again, including investigators who arrived at the trailer after one of the most notorious mass killings in recent American history. Why did he do nothing? they asked. What kind of people would do nothing? (Longform WaPo)
The staggering reality of America's post-9/11 era of perpetual war: For every active duty soldier killed in combat, twenty veterans died by their own hand. This is Daniel Wolfe's story. (This story discusses self-harm, suicide and suicidal ideation. Some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
“If you wanted to dismiss something, you would say ‘this is horiatiki,’ to mean, this is not good,” says Kremezi. “So for a salad to succeed with that name, it must have been a great salad!” Greek The Salad - Dan Nosowitz on authenticity, history, Greek salad, and the very idea of"American Food" (plus two recipes)
"They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing... Once allied with but now increasingly hostile to the Republican hierarchy, conservative media is shaping the party’s agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections."
A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.
Great Confrontations at the Oxford Union: That Englishmen are Funnier Than Americans was the third in a series of debates held at the Oxford Union debating hall in 1986, attempting to settle the debate over who is funnier, the Americans or the British. [more inside]
Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature's Most Epic Road Trips
"The...map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel...and maps the authors' routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer's descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times."[more inside]
Was the American Revolution a mistake? A counterfactual examination.
Juan Felipe Herrera, From Farm Fields to Poet Laureate [New York Times]
The Library of Congress announced on Wednesday that Juan Felipe Herrera, a son of migrant farmworkers whose writing fuses wide-ranging experimentalism with reflections on Mexican-American identity, will be the next poet laureate. The appointment of Mr. Herrera, who will succeed Charles Wright, comes as the country is debating immigration, a recurring subject of his work, which has been collected in books like “Border-Crosser With a Lamborghini Dream” and “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border.”[more inside]
Many American, Canadian, and British military veterans opposed to the actions of ISIS in Iraq have been, individually, going over to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga for some time now, bringing thousands of dollars of military gear and irreplaceable training. There have been so many of them fighting that the Peshmerga are now actively recruiting military veterans online. Not to be internet-outdone, military veterans have begun investigating forming units of their own to fight ISIS -including notable and controversial science-fiction author John Ringo, who suggested trying to crowdfund for 'a brigade of soldiers'. [more inside]
[E]ven though the restaurant's cartoonish decor bordered on offensive, it was still a temple to a people and a cuisine that America couldn't ignore. Taco Bells were everywhere. In every strip mall. Off every highway exit. Even the racists, the immigrant-haters, the people who'd laugh at my elementary-school stand-up comedy routine would run for the border.John DeVore writes about finding the "unexpected, self-affirming solace" of home... at Taco Bell. [more inside]
You can laugh or sneer at Taco Bell. Shake your head at its high fat and salt content. Go ahead and lecture on what true Mexican food is. My mom would probably just roll her eyes at you, and take a broken yellow shard of crispy taco shell and use it to scoop up the pintos, cheese, and salsa.
"These vintage GE appliances are original to my house circa 1956. The house was never occupied and appliances were never used. The manuals were still taped to the appliances..." (Flickr) Welcome to the New Frontier - as defined by mid-century American suburbs. via
Um, here’s an, uh, map that shows where Americans use 'um' vs. 'uh.' "Every language has filler words that speakers use in nervous moments or to buy time while thinking. Two of the most common of these in English are 'uh' and 'um.' They might seem interchangeable, but data show that their usage break down across surprising geographic lines. Hmm." And these lines may give evidence of the so-called Midland dialect. [more inside]
Since the controversial 2010 takeover of the British company Cadbury, by the makers of processed cheese slices Kraft, consumers of chocolate have been dismayed at the many changes brought in by the new owners. But the breaking point of many has been reached as the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs in the UK is changed, replacing dairy milk chocolate with standard cocoa mix chocolate. To add insult to culinary injury, Mondelez International, owned by Kraft Foods, is also introducing five eggs in a pack instead of three and six-packs. The opinions of actors and wallpaper designers. [more inside]
"For any given profession, it turns out that there are certain names that appear more often in that profession than in the general population. Here's a chart with 6 of the names that are the most disproportionately common in 37 professions." [more inside]
Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of the slipperiest holidays in the American tradition. Costumed masquerading and trick-or-treating used to happen on Thanksgiving, while Halloween was mostly devoted to vandalism. As Americans did they best to stamp out the vandalism, they also cleaned up the unruly traditions of Turkey Day, banishing the Thanksgiving Ragamuffins to October. [more inside]
Chapman University has released The Chapman Survey on American Fears, a comprehensive, scientific survey of 1500 Americans on what they fear the most. [more inside]
Gun Wars: the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from "29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21. [more inside]
The shortening leash on American children: We heard a lot about sneaking out, petty theft, amateur arson, drugs, and sexual experimentation from our older respondents. But as time passes, the picture of childhood looks a lot less wild and reckless and a lot more monitored. We asked parents how they would react if they caught their kids doing what they had done as kids. A typical response: "I'd probably freak out and turn my home into a prison."
Looking for American recipes to take to tonight's 4th of July party? It's easy to find historic recipes. But why not look to America's great fiction writers instead? [more inside]
Envisioning the American Dream is "a visual remix of the American Dream as pictured in Mid-Century media" that discusses topics such as Man and Machines, Vintage Advice for Cheaters, and Suburbia for Sale, amongst many others.
The strange, tragic story of the Brothers Muse. The sideshow called them Eko and Iko, cannibal savages from Borneo, sheep-headed men, ambassadors from Mars, highlighting their signature white dreadlocks in every poster. In reality, they were George and Willie Muse, taken from their parents in 1899 in rural Roanoke, Virginia by bounty hunters working for sideshow producers fascinated by their albinism. [more inside]
For the past two weeks, the back of my mind has been occupied by thoughts of how to start writing about my experience as a white man in India. The list of potential anecdotes is interminable. Perhaps a theoretical grounding would prove a more incisive framework. Or maybe I need to talk about everything that I am. I am more than a skin colour. I am a gender. I am a nationality. I am a language. I am a class. I am a sexual orientation. The overlapping privileges encompassed in a straight, white, English-speaking, relatively affluent American man can be more difficult to disentangle than one might imagine.
Portrait of a Young Man with Down Syndrome. A father reflects on his son's search for employment.
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]
The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide series is "Segregation Now," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law." [more inside]
In the face of racism, the great African-American jazz saxophonist Lester Young was “cool.” Credited with bringing the word into the modern American vernacular, “I’m cool” wasn’t Young’s reference to the sunglasses he wore day and night on stage, or the saxophone slung across his shoulder. It was his response to a divided society, a way of saying that he was still in control...
In 2011, the upscale White Flint Shopping mall was closed and planned for demolition, but not before someone went in and photographed the interior and food court in all its pastel-neon-plastic 80s glory.
Americans Try To Place European Countries On A Map, Brits have similar results attempting to place US States on a map.
I.F. Stone's Weekly, a 1973 documentary about one of the greatest American journalists of the 20th century (Part 1). Part 2 of 6 here (incomplete). Isidor Feinstein "Izzy" Stone discusses how he exposed widely-accepted fictions about the Vietnam War and the escalation of the Cold War—merely by reading what the government published. He was blacklisted in 1950 and began his own newsletter, which railed against McCarthyism, racial discrimination, and the complacent establishment media. [more inside]
Native Americans call themselves many things. (YouTube). An ad you won't see during the big game, "Proud to Be." From changethemascot.org.
"....many a tragic episode in family life is superinduced by the baleful influence of a tortured stomach. Mighty is the hand that holds the ballot-box, but mightier is the hand that wields to advantage the pepper-box, the salt-spoon, and the sugar-shaker." read the entirely of Maud C. Cooke's, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper; or, What To Eat and How To Prepare It (1897) online and enter a world of home remedies, large scale recipes, sound advice, leftover wizardry, squirrel stews, scientific digestion, and horrible things done to vegetables.
I wallow on my knees in thick mud, hoedag in hand slogging up a near vertical hillside, napalmed bare... rain whistling sideways so hard it bores through my hermetic, vulcanized head-to-toe rainsuit. I look like an astronaut traversing across an eerie, silent moon crater rhythmically bending over to scrape the ground every 6-9 steps... That was 1978 when I was a migrant treeplanter; a job the Oregon State Employment Service lists as the hardest physical work known to this office.., one person in fifty succeeds the three week training period. Like thousands of other college grads that year, I was the product of a liberal education promising an exciting, good job as reward for four years of costly training. So what the hell was I doing planting trees and eating mud for a living? Well I'll tell ya, being a rowdy forest worker in a self-managed collective of modern gypsies traveling the beautiful hinterlands of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and northern California made career pursuits or regular employment look awfully dull. Hoedad's Stories and Poems - the rise and fall of an American reforestation cooperative. [more inside]
♪ "Believe it or not, I'm walkin on air.
I never thought I could feel so free....
Flying away on a wing and a prayer,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me." ♫ [more inside]
I never thought I could feel so free....
Flying away on a wing and a prayer,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me." ♫ [more inside]
Each of Historian Barbara Wells Sarudy's six blogs contains a wealth of esoteric treasures: "President John Adams declared, “History is not the Province of the Ladies.” Oh well, I'll give it a try." [more inside]
American myths and mystery allisonmeier "You'll see a good share of serpent-like animals of the Loch Ness Monsters variety, such as Isabella of Bear Lake in Idaho who was spotted by a Mormon pioneer in the 19th century and even had Brigham Young himself send a hunting party after the possible plesiosaur. There's also the famed Champ of Lake Champlain, possibly the most famous of American lake monsters, and the Lake Dillon monster in Wyoming that some think is being suppressed by a secret society."
The Fed Up project has collected over 7000 student-submitted photos of school lunches from across the US. They'll be used to create a map and report to make a case for better school lunches. [more inside]