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the work of history

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    Excerpt from the college diary of Flannery O’Connor.


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    Janet Delaney
    “Office workers on lunch break near the site of the new convention center, 4th at Minna Street,” 1979

    South of Market


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    "10th at Folsom Street,” 1982


    “Langton between Folsom and Harrison Streets,” 1979


    Bobbie Washington and her daughter Ayana, 28 Langton Street, 1982


    Painting Mural, Langton Street, 1980


    Longtime neighbors, Langton at Folsom Street, 1981


    Helen and her husband, Chester, at the Helen Cafe, 486 6th Street, 1980


    Shantiben Dahyabhai Patel, Park Hotel, 1040 Folsom Street, 1980


    Transbay Terminal Newsstand, 1982


    Chinese jumprope in front of Bessie Carmichael School, Folsom Street, 1980


    “Front parlor of one of six apartments from which 90 Fillipinos were recently evicted, Russ Street,” 1980

    These photographs were taken at the cusp of a remarkable transformation. Part of the South of Market District of San Francisco had been altered structurally: 5000 residents and 700 businesses were displaced to make room for a new convention center… I moved to the South of Market in 1978, as the first posts were being poured for San Francisco’s redevelopment project now known as the Moscone Convention Center. I began to ask who had lived and worked in this ten-block area that had been clear-cut and was not a massive hole in the ground. How would this new development affect the lives of my neighbors who had lived in the South of Market for generations?

    Janet Delaney

    South of Market, 1978 to 1986


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    Berkeley Barb Vol. 7, No. 3, July 1968


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    Oliver Nelson
    Skull Session, 1975


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    The Isaac Hayes Movement
    Disco Connection, 1979


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    James Baldwin: From Another Place (1973), Sedat Pakay

    You do what you have to do the way you have to do it… American power follows one everywhere. But I’m not any longer worried much about that, I’m worried about getting my work done, and getting on paper, a certain record – which hopefully will be of some value to somebody someday. And in a way, being out, even temporarily, and with the perfect awareness that one is not really very far out of the United States, one sees it better, from a distance. 

    And you can make comparisons from another place, from another country. Which you aren’t able to make in America because there is nothing to compare America to when you’re there.


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    James Baldwin: From Another Place (1973), Sedat Pakay

    I don’t really know what I am. I don’t consider myself to be a leader, I consider myself to be a kind of witness, I suppose, I don’t know. But my weapon, or my tool is my typewriter, is my pen. It would be a mistake for me to try to play some other kind of role, which I really couldn’t play very well. So there we are, that’s it.


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    In a 1921 lecture to military officers at the General Staff College in Washington, DC, [General Amos Fries] lauded the Chemical Warfare Service for its wartime achievements. The US entered the chemical arms race “with no precedents, no materials, no literature and no personnel.” The 1920s became a golden age of tear gas. Fries capitalized on the US military’s enthusiastic development of chemical weapons during the war, turning these wartime technologies into everyday policing tools. As part of this task Fries developed an impressive PR campaign that turned tear gas from a toxic weapon into a “harmless” tool for repressing dissent.

    The trade press provided the first and largest forum for the spread of the tear gas gospel. In the November 6, 1921, issue of Gas Age Record, Theo M. Knappen profiled Fries, the “dynamic chief” of the Chemical Warfare Service. Knappen wrote that Fries had:

    …given much study to the question of the use of gas and smokes in dealing with mobs as well as with savages, and is firmly convinced that as soon as officers of the law and colonial administrators have familiarized themselves with gas as a means of maintaining order and power there will be such a diminution of violent social disorders and savage uprising as to amount to their disappearance … The tear gases appear to be admirably suited to the purpose of isolating the individual from the mob spirit … he is thrown into a condition in which he can think of nothing but relieving his own distress.

    Under such conditions an army disintegrates and a mob ceases to be; it becomes a blind stampede to get away from the source of torture … Nobody can travel very fast in a narrow street or in the midst of obstacles with streams of burning tears flowing from his eyes … An advantage of the milder form of gas weapons in dealing with a mob is that the responsible officer need not hesitate to use his weapons.

    In the future, Knappen predicted, when breaking up a demonstration,tear gas “will be the easy way and the best way.”

    This early promotional writing struck a careful balance between selling pain and promising harmlessness. Its psychological impact set tear gas apart from bullets: It could demoralize and disperse a crowd without live ammunition. Through sensory torture, tear gas could force people to retreat. These features gave tear gas novelty value in a market where only the billy club and bullets were currently available.

    Officers could disperse a crowd with “a minimum amount of undesirable publicity.” Instead of lasting traces of blood and bruises, tear gas evaporates from the scene. Its damage promised to be so much less pronounced on the surface of the skin or in the lens of the camera […]

    How Lobbyists Normalized the Use of Chemical Weapons on American Civilians: Or, how we learned to stop worrying and love the gas.


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  • 03/14/18--20:18: Zapp album covers1980-1989










  • Zapp album covers
    1980-1989


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    Ingmar Bergman
    Winter Light, 1963


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    Sarah Vaughan
    March 27, 1924 - April 3, 1990

    For Ella Fitzgerald, jazz singing was a way to wallow in joy; Billie Holiday used it to confront her grief. And to Sarah Vaughan, it was a nirvana where everything was possible and nothing went wrong. Vaughan improvised extravagantly melodic lines; she heard all the harmonic choices in a chord and breezed through them at will. Her voice had the textures and colors of an orchestra. And she swung. With so much splendor at her disposal, she was like a child in a candy store; less was seldom more. Her nicknames, “Sassy” and “the Divine One,” suggest the vast range of her musical personality, from playful coyness to diva hauteur.

    A New Biography Looks at Sarah Vaughan, the Singer Known as Sassy


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    Vincent Mentzel
    “Divine” (Sarah Vaughan)
    1969


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    Grant Green
    Goin’ West, 1969


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    Hans Richter
    April 6, 1888 - February 1, 1976

    From the Dadaist pioneer’s 1926 experimental short Filmstudie - featuring the disembodied head of avant-garde photographer Stella F. Simon.


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    It’s hard to imagine the thrill and surprise Galileo must have felt when he first looked up with his new instrument and gazed upon the heavenly bodies— described for centuries as the revolving spheres of the moon, sun, and planets. Beyond were the revolving crystalline spheres holding the stars, and finally the outermost sphere, the Primum Mobile, spun by the finger of God. All of it supposedly constructed out of aether, Aristotle’s fifth element, unblemished and perfect in substance and form, what Milton described in Paradise Lost as the “ethereal quintessence of Heaven.” And all of it at one with the divine sensorium of God. What Galileo actually saw through his little tube were craters on the moon and dark acne on the sun…

    I want to focus now not on the displacement of earth as the center of the cosmos but on the newly conceived materiality of the heavens. Because it was that materiality, that humbling of the so-called heavenly bodies, that struck at the absolute nature of the stars. The demotion started with the observed craters and ruts on the moon… it was for the nature of stars that Galileo’s findings had perhaps their most profound impact […] 

    Thus, when Galileo reported blemishes on the sun, his findings had dramatic implications for all of the stars. The stars could no longer be considered perfect things, composed of some eternal and indestructible substance unlike anything on earth. The sun and the moon looked like other material stuff on earth. In the 1800s, astronomers began analyzing the chemical composition of stars by splitting their light into different wavelengths with prisms. Different colors could be associated with different chemical elements emitting the light. And stars were found to contain hydrogen and helium and oxygen and silicon and many of the other common terrestrial elements. Stars were simply material—atoms.



    - “When the Heavens Stopped Being Perfect: The advent of the telescope punctured our ideals about the nighttime sky,” Alan Lightman.

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  • 04/07/18--10:00: Donald ByrdFancy Free, 1970


  • Donald Byrd
    Fancy Free, 1970


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    The Pretty Things
    Emotions, 1967
    Get the Picture?, 1965


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    Odilon Redon
    Portrait of Yseult Fayet, 1908
    Violette Heymann, 1910


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    Ferdinand von Hochstetter
    Map of New Zealand’s Auckland volcanic field, 1859


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