Thursday, 13 January 2022

do you think there will ever be a time when you’ll be hung as a thief?

On this anniversary of the first day of recording sessions in 1965 at Columbia studios in New York City with the artist producing “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and Subterranean Homesick Blues,” we’re directed towards Bob Dylan’s interview and press-conference held at the end of that same year after going electric. Much more at the link above.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

something just broke

Opening to expected and welcome controversy over the taboo subject in general and some vocal members of the theatre-going public dismissing it as inappropriate for a musical, the Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman collaboration Assassins had its debut on this day in 1990 at the Off-Broadway venue the Playwrights’ Horizons. Despite negative initial reception, the revue-style piece that explored the real and imagined lives, motivations and self-justifications of those who tried (attempted and successful) to kill US leaders, presidential victims and tertiary characters associated perpetrators, the show was reprised many times and during a 2004 revival on Broadway and the West End ultimately won five Tony Awards. The cast of characters include John Wilkes Booth, John Hinckley Jr, and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, president Gerald Ford’s would-be assassins.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

bull market

The iconic Charging Bull bronze—which has become a universally recognised and enduring symbol of capitalism and Wall Street was not a commission of the city of New York or the Parks Service but rather a gift from sculptor Arturo di Modica, inspired to create this work just after the stock market crash of 1987 at significant personal expense, for the city and its residents. Late in the evening on this day in 1989, the statue was illegally trucked in and installed in front of the Stock Exchange. Authorities removed the creature, only to be set up again in Bowling Green a few blocks away and allowed temporary permission to remain due to public outcry over its threatened demolition. Though the status of the grant remains unchanged, it seems to have become a permanent fixture. This tolerance is of course in stark contrast to the reception of the guerrilla public artist Kristen Visbal who created Fearless Girl (previously, ahead of International Women’s Day in 2017), originally facing down the Charging Bull. She was moved next to the Stock Exchange after complaints the she was upstaging, provoking the bull in 2018, though a plaque with her footprints is still in the original spot.

preserved fish iii

Via Super Punch, we learn about the titular whaler (see more about the phenomenon of nominative determinism), New York shipping merchant, director of Bank of America, founding broker of the New York Stock and Exchange board (*1766 - †1846, his blacksmith father and grandfather bearing the same name) and involved in the political machine of Tammany Hall. In the sense of “saints preserve us,” like many in nineteenth century puritanical America, Fish was given an excruciatingly pious name.  Humble Brag.


Sunday, 12 December 2021

8x8

an den mond “genuss, lieber mond”: a completist sorts and ranks every composition of Franz Schubert—via the morning news 

chaotic good: mapping the mythological creatures of the Baltic—via ibฤซdem 

the two-thousand year-old man: more appreciation and acclaim for Mel Brooks 

birds aren’t real: a satirical Gen-Z misinformation campaign (see Poe’s Law) turned merchandising opportunity  

location scout: an assortment of movie maps 

parallel path: rubbish corporatespeak that does not avail itself to the level of jargon and technical terms  

combinatorics: base rate fallacies and why false narratives are easy to frame for the ill-numerate  

sexting: “u ๐Ÿ†™” in the style of several male authors

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

prove to me that you’re divine, change my water into wine—that’s all you need do, then i’ll know it’s all true

Formerly only previewed as a cast recording in limited release over a year prior, the rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber Jesus Christ Superstar was for the first time staged and performed before a live audience in the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway—the famous venue for My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Man of La Mancha which would eventually be consecrated in 1989 as the interdenominational Times Square Church—on this day in 1971. The anachronistic version of the Holy Week narrative, loosely following the books of the gospel and giving an accounting of Jesus and his disciples leading up to his arrest and crucifixion was the longest-running West End musical before being displaced by Cats in 1989. Below is “Superstar,” the penultimate number, with Judas, Soul Sisters and Angels from the 1973 adaptation, filmed on location.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

no one i think is in my tree

On this day in 1985, on what would have been the artist’s forty-fifth birthday, his widow Yoko Ono, who contributed significantly to the landscaping and upkeep through the years, and New York City mayor Ed Koch dedicated the one hectare memorial within Central Park to the memory of murdered former Beatle John Lennon.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

shock theatre

With the debut of the syndicated package of made-for-television monster movies after a few minor roles in a Western series—one being an undertaker—on this day in 1957 in the Philadelphia market, John Zacherle (*1918 - †2016) began a decades’ long career as a horror host, editing a pair of anthologies of ghost stories plus penning a few monster novelty songs. Often filling in for his colleague and fellow Philadelphian broadcaster Dick Clark when touring, Zacherle was the substitute MC for American Bandstand. As a promotional stunt to mark his move to New York, Zacherley staged a presidential campaign in 1960, running as a “cool ghoul” but failing to meet the threshold to get on the ballot in any state. Continuing the same format as Shock Theatre, the interstitial breaks became more and more elaborate with a cast of monstrous characters and branched out into a few motion picture parts as well as hosting a cartoon variety hour and adolescent dance show in New Jersey called Disc-O-Teen. Through the seventies and eighties, Zacherle was a Prog Rock disk-jockey and in an array of b-movies. His success and notoriety helped his niece Bonnie Zacherle develop and successfully pitch her 1982 toy line, My Little Pony—the horror.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

disco ball ceiling, i whisper quietly to myself.

As fellow internet caretaker Things Magazine informs, delightfully McMansion Hell’s yearbook project (previously) has reached 1980 with a piece of real estate on Staten Island whose relatively tame and unified exterior (at least when viewed from the street) conceals a real nightmare going on inside that gets progressively more terrifying as one descends into the house’s depths. More at the links above and be sure to follow Kate Wagner so as to never miss an update.

Friday, 24 September 2021

6x6

social distancing: a racier version of Bernie Sanders inauguration getup (previously)—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

directory assistance: file folders are a foreign concept to younger pupils—via Waxy  

street view: a stroll around New York City in 1914 

the matter of britain: early fragment of the Arthurian legend discovered and translated 

we are on the worst timeline: the future used to be cool 

apocalypse no: as a global community, we have overcome some high-hurdles

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

anatevka

On this day in 1964, the alternatively titled musical Fiddler on the Roof—a collaboration of Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein—premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. The original cast included Zero Mostel as the leading milkman Tevye, Bea Arthur as the matchmaker Yente, Pia Zadora as the youngest daughter, Bette Midler and Leonard Nimoy who all attempt to maintain religious and cultural traditions after being displaced and resettled in Russia counter to a more liberal second generation and threatened with further eviction.

Monday, 20 September 2021

30 rock

Captured on this day in 1932 by the appointed Photographic Director for the documentation of the Rockefeller Center’s construction, Charles Clyde Ebbets (*1905 - †1978) framed Lunch atop a Skyscraper (who took this picture?), depicting eleven workers taking their break on a girder, feet dangling high above New York City streets, from the perspective of the sixty-ninth storey of the neighbouring RCA Building—itself still under construction. The following year Ebbets returned to his native Florida and worked with the Seminole tribe to champion the conservation of the Everglades and promote responsible tourism.

Friday, 10 September 2021

6x6

central solenoid: installation of a powerful giant magnet brings experimental fusion project a step closer to completion 

clรฉo from 5 to 7: discovering an Agnes Varda classic 

la sociรฉtรฉ du spectacle: an update of the 1974 Situationist Guy Debord’s critique of mass marketing and estrangements of modern society  

raise high the roof beam: experience a house inside a barn 

wtc: a profile of architect Minoru Yamasaki, best known for designing New York’s World Trade Center  

ccs: Iceland’s carbon capture and sequestration plant (previously) goes on-line

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

kermit the forg

Thankfully spared this conspiracy theory when it first gained currency and spread memetically, the implication that Kermit the Frog was somehow responsible for the 9/11 Terror Attacks though crass and callous through its ridiculousness (and possibly one of the more pallatable suggestions regarding second-guessing investigative commissions and expert testimony), excelling beyond others in terms of unreality and detachment, does yield some insights into how these ideas form and take hold. The idea stems from a continuity error spotted in a made-for-television retelling of It’s A Wonderful Life aired in 2002. Having wished he were never born after failing to save their theatre, Kermit finds himself in an alternate reality and encountering familiar friends who have taken decidedly different career-paths absent Kermit’s influence. Visiting a decidedly spinsterish Miss Piggy, the Twin Towers are clearly visible from her apartment window for a brief moment, leading some to conclude that in a parallel timeline where there is no Kermit or Muppet Show, there would be no terror attack, assigning blame in this counter-factual situation to a puppet. It’s cringeworthy of course but I wonder how some of our contemporary explanations invoking sinister forces will age. More at MEL Magazine at the link up top.

Monday, 16 August 2021

mind the gap

Featured on Open Culture, we quite enjoyed this audio-sampler of departure and arrivals announcements and assorted warnings, jingles beeps and chimes of mass-transit systems from around the world. While I am grateful for the luxury of choice, I am not quite yet comfortable to go back to taking public transportation regularly but am looking forward riding the bus again and leaving the driving in more capable, punctual hands. Passing by the Bahnhof pretty regularly, I’m often within earshot of the familiar, reassuring bing-boom (I am looking for a single ideophone that embraces all of these automated audio signals) of the train doors closing. Much more at the link up top.  What is your local onomatopoeia?

Friday, 6 August 2021

the nomi song

Born Klaus Sperber in Swรคbish Immenstadt in 1944, aspiring counter tenor who adopted the stage persona Klaus Nomi, worked as an usher in the opera houses of West Berlin, entertaining the crew during set breakdowns with arias and studied music yet was unable to secure a steady position and so switched to the confectionary business which later became somewhat of a trademark. Moving to New York City in 1973, Nomi received more professional training and took various gigs performing and developing his presence. His breakthrough moment came in 1979 when David Bowie engaged Nomi as a background singer during performances on Saturday Night Live as musical guest. Being discovered afforded more venues for his unique shows whose robotic demeanour and elaborate costuming both anticipating and reflected the stage presence of acts like Bowie’s and Peter Gabriel and reinterpreted songs like Marlene Dietrich’s “Falling in Love Again” and Chubby Checker’s “Twist” as well as classical, operatic numbers in an abstract, highly synthesised fashion. The black and white palette complemented by cubist clothes and hair-styles that referenced both the Bauhaus theatre movement, kabuki and the retro-future vision of the 1920s—particularly the film Metropolis. A decade after coming to New York, Nomi was diagnosed with AIDS and though growing sick and weak already embarked on a European tour and the talk show circuit, anticipating it would be his last, Nomi dying of complications of the disease on this day in 1983. One of the first figures from the arts community to publically die from the relatively then unknown illness, Nomi became posthumously the subject of many tributes and homages, acknowledging his stylistic influence.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

looks like a jungle sometimes, makes me wonder how i keep from going under

Released as a single on this day in 1982, we learn from our faithful chronicler, and later featuring on the group’s first namesake studio album in October, The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was among the first hip hop composition to deliver a message of social commentary and the stress of urban blight and poverty. Duke Bootee and Melle Mel were inspired to pen the song two years before during the New York City mass-transit strike.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

deep throat

Written and directed by Gerard Damiano and starring Linda Lovelace—though later reframed by the actress as coercion and sexual assault, considered one of the first pornographic films to include a plot and character development and heralded, along with Behind the Green Door, as “porno chic,” seen as a normalising, legitimising force for the subject matter for conservative US audiences, with many prominent celebrities, public figures and journalists admitting to having watched it, including Truman Capote, Spiro Agnew, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson and Barbara Walters, the title piece premiered on this day in New York City’s New World Adult Theatre, the use of the film as a culture reference and touchstone was cemented almost immediately when the managing-editor of the Washington Post chose “Deep Throat” as the code name for the secret Watergate insider (see also) who informed on Nixon—revealed thirty years later as assistant FBI director W. Mark Felt (*1913 - †2008).

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

american venus

Here pictured in 1915 with Buzzer the Cat, born this day in 1891 (†1996, aged 104), Audrey Marie Munson was considered to be the USA’s first super model, inspiring sculptural works and engravings across the country whose likeness graces many public institutions and endowments.
Discovered whilst window shopping on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan by hobby photographer Felix Benedict Herzog who invited Munson to his studio and introduced her to artist friends, she was immortalised in statuary in courthouse, museums and libraries in New York and was even the model for a commission of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands for an armed Venus de Milo.  Modelling led to four starring roles in silent movies, one appearance was fully nude. 
Lecherously, the landlord of the boarding house where Munson lived with her mother was madly in love with her and murdered his wife so they could be together. Requited or otherwise, this episode compelled Munson to quit her career in 1922 and having attempted suicide herself (the landlord hanged himself in prison awaiting his execution), Munson’s mother had her committed to an insane asylum in upstate New York where she remained for the next six and a half decades, forgotten and with no visitors until a distant relative found her in 1984.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

8x8

such good: a dating app based on shared meme-affinity  

boulevard du crime: a lost Parisien theatre district that specialised in putting on felonious melodramas 

lion city rising: photographer Keith Loutit captures eight years of change in Sinagpore  

lunachicks: a flamboyant punk rock group who are a product of unvarnished New York  

broodclipjes: more fun with twist-ties and related species (see previously)—from Pasa Bon!  

horological constraints: the typography of watches—see also  

 profiles in pride: World of Wonder showcases some of the gay rights movement’s pioneers (see also), starting with Frank Kamey of the DC Mattachine Society  

masterpieces of streaming: a collection of the subtle genius of dumb viral videos—via Waxy