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Birdies, prunes, cheese and whiskey: smiling (or not) for the camera

... in the Victorian era (1837-1901), a small, tightly controlled mouth was considered beautiful. They took their cues from much of Europe's fine-art portraiture. Some say photographers even suggested those posing say "prunes" to heighten the effect. Smiling was something captured on children, peasants and drunkards, hardly something you'd want for your family legacy.

Then, there was the matter of oral hygiene.
Advances in dental care and ubiquitous technology: why people started smiling for the camera, and why we say cheese, with a whistling bird, some whiskey, and a little flash game thrown in for good measure. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 19, 2014 - 9 comments

When FDR moved Thanksgiving

The executive action that tore a nation apart (previously)
posted by Pararrayos on Nov 27, 2014 - 21 comments

Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?

In a wide-ranging discussion about democracy, capitalism, and the American body politic; Chris Hedges interviews political theorist Sheldon Wolin in eight parts. (via) (previously) [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Nov 11, 2014 - 38 comments

"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."

Ken Burns’ new film The Roosevelts is 14 hours long. Which hours should you watch? [vox.com]
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns's latest PBS opus, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. If you'd rather stream, the entirety of the miniseries will be available on PBS.com, PBS member sites, and various PBS digital platforms. (It leaves streaming Friday, Sept. 26, so hurry.) It will also be rerun frequently on PBS and comes out on DVD/BLURAY Tuesday. So that's a whole host of ways to watch. But should you? This sucker, like many of Burns's most famous films, including The Civil War, Baseball, and The War, is really, really long. It's seven installments, of roughly two hours each, so you'll be devoting around 14 hours of your life to this thing. If you really, really like the Roosevelts, that's great, because this is a terrific screen biography of the famous family. But what if you're more Roosevelt-curious?

posted by Fizz on Sep 16, 2014 - 38 comments

Reason magazine and racism

Last week, Pando.com's Mark Ames posted an article on the efforts of the GOP to recruit in Silicon Valley using libertarianism as a wedge and the history of libertarian links, particularly through Reason magazine, to racism. Reason responded, calling Ames a "conspiracy theorist". Ames, who has a history of digging into the seedy history of libertarianism, has responded by posting a copy of Reason's holocaust denial and revisionist history issue, along with profiles of its contributors and their involvement with Reason and late 20th century libertarianism.
posted by Pope Guilty on Jul 25, 2014 - 179 comments

a “Bill of Rights for G.I. Joe and Jane”

How the GI Bill Became Law in Spite of Some Veterans’ Groups
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 13, 2014 - 7 comments

The Honey Makers

F.D.R 's New Deal explained to the public via cartoons, shorts, and newsreels
posted by The Whelk on Jun 12, 2014 - 7 comments

Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States

"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 23, 2013 - 66 comments

Stalwart And Steady And True

The anti-Communist Captain America was ret-conned into being a crazed history graduate student named William Burnside who had himself surgically altered and then dosed with a flawed version of the Super-Serum, which drove him insane to the point where he saw communist sympathizers everywhere. The subtext isn’t particularly thick here: the “Commie-Smasher” was a paranoid wannabe, whereas the real Captain America is the “living legend of WWII” waiting in suspended animation during the Second Red Scare, who emerges back onto the scene with the arrival of the New Frontier and the Great Society. - Why Captain America Is the Progressive-Era Superhero We Need.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 1, 2013 - 80 comments

Queen Elizabeth's nuclear war speech, and other undelivered speeches

"It would have been the Queen’s Speech to end them all. At midday on Friday 4 March 1983, the monarch was due to address the nation to announce that Britain was at war and – due to the “deadly power of abused technology” – a nuclear conflict was at hand." But it was only part of Wintex-Cimex 83, a large-scale annual NATO war game. This is just one example of speeches that were written in case of the worst, but never given. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 1, 2013 - 31 comments

Orson, you're behaving like an asshole.

In the early eighties, Orson Welles was a fixture at L.A.’s Ma Maison, where Wolfgang Puck was the chef before he moved on to Spago. Nearing 70, and 40-plus years removed from Citizen Kane, which he made when he was just 25, Welles was fat and famously difficult, no longer a viable star but still a sort of Hollywood royalty—a very certain sort. The younger director Henry Jaglom was one of many aspiring auteurs who admired him but possibly the only one who taped their conversations. These took place in 1983 over lunch at the restaurant.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 25, 2013 - 67 comments

Shall the artist survive?

In 1934, the Public Works of Art Project was born. It served to offer employment to many artists, and produced thousands of works of art, including 2000 posters and 1100 murals, primarily in post offices, across the United States. [more inside]
posted by frimble on Feb 7, 2013 - 15 comments

The Only Winning Move is to Watch This

Most of us reading on the blue lived through at least a portion of it. Forty-plus years of tension between the world's two superpowers and their allies. That's right: The Cold War. Then, they made a documentary. Aired on CNN in 1998, and never released on DVD, the 24 episode, 20 hour series features tons of archival footage, along with many interviews with individuals directly involved at some of the highest levels. You might not be able to see it on DVD, but you can watch the full series on Youtube, starting with Part 1: Comrades (1917-1945).
posted by symbioid on Mar 27, 2012 - 78 comments

FDR at Harvard

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Harvard man through and through.
"From 1900-1904, young Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with his Groton chum Lathrop Brown, rented rooms in Westmorly Court, (now B-17 of Adams House) the newest and most luxurious building on Harvard's Gold Coast. Equipped with all the latest innovations – central heat, electricity, a modern "hygienic" bathroom – the suite contained over 600 sq. feet of living space spread over 4 rooms, with 14' ceilings, French doors, and a working fireplace. These spacious quarters, which were originally decorated in high Victorian style by FDR and his mother Sara have been recently restored to their pristine Gilded Age condition... [more inside]
posted by vacapinta on Feb 13, 2012 - 13 comments

Who is J.C. Owsley? and why did he pay a 69% tax rate back in 1941?

Think your taxes are high now? A list of the top ten salaries in the US in 1941, and the taxes they paid (spoiler: 65-73% tax rate! but, still doesn't include total compensation, though, which makes it a little sketchy). Interestingly, the NYTimes couldn't figure out two of the names, C.S. Woolman (who is probably C.E. Woolman, one of the founders of delta airlines) and another mysterious name, J.C. Owsley, that seems to be unidentifiable...
posted by yeoz on Dec 1, 2010 - 91 comments

FDR: "People who are hungry, people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."

The United States was engaged in the largest two-front war of its, or any nation's history. Though victory was not yet certain, there were discussions on a multi-national level regarding the future peace, and on the President of the United States was looking to the post-war prospects for the nation. With that in mind, the annual address of the President to Congress and the nation was summed up in one word: Security. "And that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security -- in a family of nations." This was Franklin D. Roosevelt's third-to-last Fireside Chat, presented on Tuesday, January 11, 1944, which included what he proposed to be the Second Bill of Rights. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 16, 2010 - 67 comments

December 5, 1933: The Good Old Days are Back Again

He was elected at the nadir of the worst depression in history; 25% of the workforce was unemployed, two million were homeless. Yet in the face of this, he made us an optimistic and far-reaching New Deal, creating among other programs a federal minimum wage, social security, and the FDIC. He pulled us out of dire financial straits and, when our country was called upon to fight in World War II, he brought us to the cusp of victory. In his unprecedented thirteen years in office, he cemented his undisputed legacy as one of the greatest presidents in American history. But before he could achieve any of this, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a promise to keep — a promise to the "wet vote," whose indispensable support he had called upon in 1932 during his first presidential campaign when he promised to repeal the 18th Amendment and end Prohibition. And thus, as legend has it, immediately after his first fireside chat from the White House in March 1933, Roosevelt turned to his two top aides and said, "I think it's time for a beer." And yes, indeed, it was. [more inside]
posted by churl on Dec 5, 2009 - 32 comments

"Our greatest primary task is to put people to work."

Bridge to Somewhere: Lessons from the New Deal, an American RadioWorks documentary, chronicles Roosevelt's recovery-through-work programs (the CCC, the WPA, and the PWA) and their lasting impact on America's infrastructure. Rich with oral histories and actualities.
posted by Miko on Sep 8, 2009 - 18 comments

Universal Newsreels

More than 600 Universal Newsreels at Internet Archive, both whole and partial reels (the same collection, with a few more newsreels is also on YouTube but it's in lower quality). Newsreels were short collections of current events that ran before feature films. They ran from the start of the film era up into the 1960s. This collection goes from the early 30s through the mid 60s. Here are a few interesting ones: Eleanor Roosevelt tells a joke, 1935 car industry workers strike, Australian who was orphaned in China and raised by Chinese parents returns to Australia, FDR inaugurated, Enos the chimpanzee goes into space and returns to Earth, Vietnam War protest marches in New York, San Francisco and Rome, Busby Babes plane crash, Gagarin hugged by Kruschev, Truman brings the funny, Seattle be-in and Nuremberg trials.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 20, 2009 - 19 comments

Wasting Away in Hooverville

Quit Lying About Roosevelt! "Amity Shlaes, the GOP's Great Depression philosopher-queen, couldn't be more dangerously wrong." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 9, 2009 - 36 comments

Greatest Achievements of American Socialism

Great achievements in American socialism: A slide show of two dozen excellent things the federal government bought with your money.
posted by homunculus on Feb 6, 2009 - 98 comments

The First 100 Days

Oh those vaunted "first 100 days," they are finally upon us. Roosevelt's legendary time period has long been applied to new administrations, but never so emphatically or with such hope as to the Obama administration. And now you can follow them! For commentary, there's The First 100 Days, for mainstream media there's Obama's First 100 Days, for a comparison between old and new there 100 Days: Starting the Job, From FDR to Obama, for new media there's Obama's First 100 Days, and finally, for a government perspective there's First 100 Days. I smell an idea for an ironic t-shirt...
posted by Cochise on Jan 22, 2009 - 13 comments

A few words from a beloved U.S. President on the banking crisis

On the Oct. 7th Daily Show, Sarah Vowell mentioned that she is so desperate for Presidential leadership that she listened to FDR's Fireside Chats (from the Great Depression of the 1930s) and felt a little better. Beginning March 4th, 1933, and running through March 1st, 1945 FDR's fireside chats were a staple in American Homes. The news of the day, brought to you directly from the commander in chief himself. These are those broadcasts. (#2 is his first, on the banking crisis.)
posted by spock on Oct 9, 2008 - 57 comments

This deal here is new

"New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources was created to serve as a starting point for research using Library of Congress collections of New Deal program materials." Includes links to numerous collections of digitized materials, including photos, posters, music, manuscripts and more. [more inside]
posted by dersins on Jul 15, 2008 - 4 comments

Clipperton or bust

1200 kilometers southwest of Acapulco lies the only atoll in the eastern Pacific: one of France's most isolated overseas possessions. First named for an English pirate/buccaneer/privateer, written about here by one John Harris in 1744, the island has changed hands numerous times: claimed by France as part of Tahiti, claimed by the US under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. The island remained uninhabited until 1906, when a British and Mexican mission began mining guano (still in demand today, though sources can now be found a little closer to home). The atoll was thought to have been polished off entirely by an earthquake rumored to have sunk the islands outright in August of 1909. [more inside]
posted by mdonley on Jun 23, 2008 - 11 comments

The Hiding of the President

Keep Bush away from the press. Joe Scarborough (in the news lately for asking rude questions about the President's intelligence) opines that "If George Bush has lost his ability to give a commanding presser, then stage manage him differently. Play to his strengths... Show him only in settings where he is in control." Curiously, while Bush's press conferences have become unsetllingly less coherent in recent days -- even for him -- the so-called liberal media and even the blogosphere have barely mentioned it (perhaps in the spirit of preserving the dignity of the office, like FDR's wheelchair?) Example: watch this video -- what happens at 1:34 or so, right before the President abruptly terminates the questioning? Will Bush in his twilight years, as Foxborough advises, become like Ronald Reagan, protected from public humiliation by his faithful staff?
posted by digaman on Aug 22, 2006 - 156 comments

Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression.

Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression. During the Great Depression over 250,000 young people left home and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Many finally found work and shelter through the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government relief project that Franklin D. Roosevelt established in 1933 as part of the New Deal. From 1933 to 1942, CCC enrollees built new roads, strung telephone wires, erected fire towers, and planted approximately 3 billion trees. By 1935, the program was providing employment for more than 500,000 young men.
posted by matteo on Jul 7, 2006 - 25 comments

The Four Freedoms

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. In his State of the Union address on January 6, 1941 [mp3 of whole speech; Real audio links], President Franklin D. Roosevelt identified four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear (essays from the Carnegie Council's September 2005 Study Guide to the Four Freedoms). Roosevelt's speech inspired a series of paintings by Norman Rockwell. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha on Apr 8, 2006 - 23 comments

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

The New Deal Network from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute has articles, photographs, and other collections of material about the Great Depression and the New Deal. There are selections from the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers Project, an account of the Harlan County mine wars from John Dos Passos, and enough stuff to waste time keep busy for days.
posted by dilettante on Feb 23, 2006 - 8 comments

When Fascism Comes to America...

Corporate Interest Plot to Overthrow US Government. Approximately 72-years ago, the predecessor to the House Un-American Affairs Committee, known as the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, investigated claims made by Marine Corps General Smedley Butler that a vast right-wing conspiracy funded by the American Liberty League (Wiki) (funded by US Steel, Goodyear, DuPont, Morgan-Stanley, Chase-Manhattan, Remington Arms, and others) with backing from some of America's wealthiest citizens (such as Al Smith and Irene DuPont) and various Wall Street interests (1930s American Business seemed to be pro-fascism as a hedge against communists and socialists to protect their own wealth in the face of the Great Depression).  Their goal was to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt and install a military dictatorship in order to stop FDR's New Deal and its "redistribution of wealth" and to enact fascist policies to protect the economy and their investments. [more inside]
posted by rzklkng on Jan 18, 2006 - 51 comments

A date which will live in infamy

December seventh, nineteen forty one. 64 Years ago today, 2,471 people were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In response, one of our greatest leaders made one of his greatest speeches. And you can listen to it here.
posted by Mayor Curley on Dec 7, 2005 - 85 comments

"Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War"

"Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear." He is one of America's great novelists, but you don't expect Philip Roth to be barreling up the best-seller list with a book that hasn't even been published yet. And yet "The Plot Against America" is in the top 3 at amazon.com. It spins a what-if scenario in which the isolationist and anti-Semitic hero Charles Lindbergh runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats F.D.R. "Keep America Out of the Jewish War", reads a button worn by Lindbergh supporters rallying at Madison Square Garden. And so he does: he signs nonaggression pacts with Germany and Japan that will keep America at peace while the rest of the world burns. The Lindbergh administration hatches a nice plan to prod assimilation of the Jews. Innocuously called Just Folks, it's a relocation program for urban Jews, administered by an Office of American Absorption fronted by an obliging and pompous rabbi of radio celebrity. The teenage Roth character is shipped off to a Kentucky tobacco farm, to finally live among Christians. The book is about American Fascism, but while Roth is no fan of President Bush ("a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one"), he points out that he conceived this book (LATimes registration: sparklebottom/sparklebottom) in December 2000, and that it would be "a mistake" to read it "as a roman à clef to the present moment in America." (more inside)
posted by matteo on Sep 28, 2004 - 10 comments

Happy Thanksgiving or Is It?

Happy Thanksgiving or Is It? In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt responed to pressure from the National Retail Dry Goods Association to move the official date of Thanksgiving back one week to the next-to-last Thursday of the month. FDR hoped that this would enliven the economy by adding one week to the Christmas shopping season, but he received considerable political flak for tampering with what many viewed as a sacred religious holiday. (Thanksgiving is considered sacred even though it only became a national holiday due to lobbying by the editor of a 19th century woman's magazine.) New Deal-era Republicans were especially bothered by the calendar change and one essayist at the American Enterprise Institute still seems to carry a grudge. Congress later resolved the issue by passing a resolution in 1941 that designated Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November.
posted by jonp72 on Nov 26, 2002 - 11 comments

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