If one year during the Toronto International Film Festival you’re engaging a Hollywood producer in conversation and have only a few seconds to pitch your action script before the bouncers drag you out from under the door of her bathroom stall, just fire off a three-word description of the two unlikely antagonists. Hollywood loves oddball enemies even more than unlikely buddy cops: cowboys versus aliens, mercenaries versus dinosaurs, Predators versus future governors of American states. Yet, inexplicably, no movie has been made of Toronto’s contribution to the genre: clowns versus firefighters.
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
A Guide to Houses No Gentleman Would Frequent, and more artifacts of history and archaeology that shed some light on the largely-unwritten world of nineteenth-century prostitution in Boston, New York, Washington, DC, and Paris, among other locales. Lest it appear too amusingly salacious, the miserable side.
In December 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's front-page account (paywall) of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program documented their illegal domestic intelligence operations against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States. The article eventually prompted investigations by the Rockefeller Commission and the Church and Pike committees. "There have been other reports on the CIA's doping of civilians, but they have mostly dished about activities in New York City. Accounts of what actually occurred in San Francisco have been sparse and sporadic. But newly declassified CIA records, recent interviews, and a personal diary of [George H. White,] an operative at Stanford Special Collections shed more light on the breadth of the San Francisco operation." SF Weekly: "Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA doped San Francisco citizens with LSD." MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter. (Via)
Teenage bicycle messengers carried messages around American cities in the early 20th century, including red light districts. Social reformer and photographer Lewis Hine documented their lives in image and text.
Meet Dora DuFran and her cat house of Deadwood; Perle De Vere and the working girls of Cripple Creek; Annie Chambers of Kansas City; and Squirrel Tooth Alice of Sweetwater. In the wild west, prostitution was one of the few career options for women. Western history is filled with many colorful tales of shady ladies and legendary madams. [more inside]
Textbook Publishers Learn to Avoid Messing With Texas. "Out of Many," the work of four respected historians, is one of the biggest sellers among American history college textbooks in the United States, but it is not likely to be available to Texas high school students taking advanced placement history. Conservative groups in Texas objected to two paragraphs in the nearly 1,000-page text that explained that prostitution was rampant in cattle towns during the late 19th century, before the West was fully settled.