Posts Tagged: History
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42 Crosby Street, New York City

November 26, 1873:

May 15, 1887:

March 1897:

August 3, 1898:

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Random Acts of Preservation

The big ugly Kentile sign, emblem of a lost industrial Brooklyn and Instagram subject for commuters coming to and from their much more beautiful neighborhoods, is done: The scaffolding has gone up, the letters are coming down.

Who is nostalgic for Kentile, the company that manufactured asbestos-laden flooring and collapsed under the weight of lawsuits two decades ago? Nobody: This is about the object. The sign's appeal was that it was very large and conspicuously old, and it had decayed, naturally, just so, in a location where such a thing would never be built today. It is the most general possible signifier of change and history, and one more [...]

1

Robopoetics: The Complete Operator's Manual

Here’s a game: which of these poems was written by a human, and which by a computer?

A wounded deer leaps highest, I've heard the daffodil I've heard the flag to-day I've heard the hunter tell; 'Tis but the ecstasy of death, And then the brake is almost done, And sunrise grows so near sunrise grows so near That we can touch the despair and frenzied hope of all the ages.

vs.

Red flags the reason for pretty flags. And ribbons. Ribbons of flags And wearing material Reason for wearing material. Give pleasure. Can you give me the regions. The regions and the land. The regions and wheels. All [...]
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How Can Unions Win?

Kevin Bacon’s new video imploring millennials to raise their 80s awareness did not mention Billy Bragg’s 1986 song “There Is Power in a Union,” but the idea that there is any power in a union probably seems as remote to many millennials as parachute pants or the White Pages. Actually, this is probably true of anyone born after about 1965. It’s been a long time since we have thought that most workers can realistically be something other than lone and lonely individuals forced to accept whatever terms of employment they can find and hope not to get fired.

Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity [...]
2

I Was A Love-Letter Ghostwriter

Nine years ago, I answered an ad on Craigslist and was hired by artist Jana Leo de Blas. Jana was a tiny woman of indeterminable age with a dandelion puff of hair. I arrived at her bright, high-ceilinged studio in the old I.S.C.P. building in midtown Manhattan; she had built a platform in the middle of the room. I climbed the few steps, settled at the desk with my laptop and coffee and tried to remember some poetry to quote in case I choked. That morning was the start of a weekend of open studios, but Jana wanted to be sure we didn’t limit ourselves to visiting art fans, so [...]

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The Shape Of Clues To Come: The Crossword At 100

Crossword puzzle from April 25, 1965, found by David Prasad.

The crossword puzzle, which turns one hundred years old this Saturday, is a native New Yorker. Contrary to popular belief, it was not born in the virtuous, cosmopolitan New York Times but in the back pages of the now long-defunct yellow-journalism daily The New York World, among the ads for breast-augmentation serums. In 1913, The World was one of scores of city papers grabbing at readers with sensational and morbid hooks, high-contrast photos of men in hats standing over fresh corpses, headlines about the secret lechers and killers of the grim urban anonymous. These were the [...]

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The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

An abridged version of this article first appeared in the October 1984 issue of The Atlantic Monthly as the cover story "The Politics of the Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?" It is republished here, in its entirety, for the first time.

For anyone with insomnia in the New York metro area, the ads have become ubiquitous: three middle-aged men dressed in cornflower blue lab coats, holding mysterious technical equipment, and offering the owners of haunted houses (or haunted anything, really) their unique ghost capture and removal services.

I first saw one after falling asleep to the dulcet drawl of Charles Rose on "CBS News Nightwatch." [...]

2

Greeting the World's Largest Dinosaur, Then and Now

Now:

Then, 1905:

Now: "Dreadnoughtus schrani"

Then: "Tyrannosaurus Rex"

Now: It stood two stories high at the shoulder. Its tail was almost as long as a city bus. And it tipped the scales at some 65 tons – heavier than a fully loaded semi-truck.

Meet Dreadnoughtus schrani, a newly discovered dinosaur and one of the most massive land animals of all time. And it's not just a heavyweight. Never before has anyone found so many representative pieces of a super-large dinosaur.

Then:

6

Giving An 'F': Rewriting The History Of FSG

My understanding of what it means to be a publisher has been skewed ever since I first heard the word. My mom was reading A Wrinkle in Time to me—I must have been around 8—when she explained that my great-grandfather had published the book. She told me how Madeleine L'Engle had taken the story of Meg Murry, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe to publisher after publisher, only to repeatedly be rejected. After being turned down by 26 or so houses, the book came to my mom’s grandfather, who read it and loved it, but "was afraid of it," L'Engle later said. He did say he would buy the book, [...]

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Breaking Language News: "Feels" Dated To 1782

INTERNETS "FEELS" HAS BEEN A LEGIT TERM SINCE AT LEAST 1782. pic.twitter.com/iaC1UJr2Yw

— Karen Healey (@kehealey) March 17, 2014

Important historical research has been performed by author Karen Healey. Her research has led her to this letter from Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, from 1782, noted in Amanda Foreman's The Duchess. Today is a day to celebrate.

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"Burn Hollywood Burn" v. "12 Years A Slave"

Nestled midway on "Fear of a Black Planet," Public Enemy's 1990 platinum album—and one of the greatest musical releases of all time—comes "Burn Hollywood Burn." (Halfway between "911 Is A Joke" and "Fight the Power"! I mean!)

The track is notable not just for rhyming "burn" TERM and "perm" (important correction!) but for the collaboration with Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane—the only guest stars on the album. "Butlers and maids," slaves and hoes" is how Kane describes available Hollywood roles for black people.

Here we are in the future, 24 years later! How did the fellas take last night's best picture win for 12 Years A Slave, in [...]

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An Oral History Of Gawker, By Reddit

When the history of the web is written, the final word will obviously belong to Reddit. What else will be left?

And: what will we remember of a network of blogs called "Gawker Media"? Here is the collected wisdom on the topic of Gawker from Reddit over the years, in the words of Redditors themselves.

WHAT WAS GAWKER

Do you guys even remember how Gawker got started? The original website was called gawker stalker and it was supposed to be a TMZ type of site that would provide the location and info of celebrities in NYC. The foundation of the brand was started by a celebrity stalker.

[...]
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Back Gotten

Look, I know we are all groaning under the weight of the current cultural condition that insists our obsession with the past can be best conveyed by forcing us to contend with all oral history everything all the time, but if this collection of personal reminiscences from the principals behind Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" video isn't the best piece of ass music reportage that you see today I implore you to please send me an email letting me in on what other websites you are regularly reading so that I may add them to my media diet.

1

Rich People Looking At Art

While the herds fight over art and VIP access down at Art Basel Miami Beach, a reminder that some things never change.

This was it, the start of the Biennale proper: the onset of party-anxiety and invite-envy, the fear that there were better parties you’d not been invited to, a higher tier of pleasure that was forbidden to you…You could be at a tremendous party, full of fun people, surrounded by beautiful women, booze flowing, totally happy– but part of you would be in a state of torment because there was another party to which you’d not been invited. There was nothing to do about it.

5

Fear of a Rich Foreign Buyer

The most recent New York mag cover story is a fascinating and seemingly overdue look at the flood of foreign money into the New York real estate market, and in particular at "stash pads," which are, despite their prime locations, little more than apartment-shaped financial contrivances. It's got it all! High-rise towers in which the majority of tenants are simply presumed foreign, since their identities are masked by shell corporations; whispers of international crime syndicates; blind money men sending buyer-tourists to make all-cash deals that squeeze even affluent city-dwellers out of the market; a subtext (possibly the PRETEXT for the piece, also?), of course, about the loss, under the [...]

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"Illmatic" At 20, Nas At 40

The problem for living legends is that they have to live with their legends. This is especially so when their legend was a product of their youth and its mindset, which they outgrow, becoming legendary, but which you still see in them, knowing their legend much more than you know them. Imagine Achilles enfeebled. Imagine his pain and confusion if, having grown out of his strength, he looked still like a breaker of men.

Like this is Nas, who became famous with his second album, in 1996, but who made his name with his first album, "Illmatic," twenty years ago, and likes to rap about how he still [...]

6

What Time Is "Primordial Gravitational Waves"?

Later today, science-type people are going to make an announcement that they promise is super-exciting and also possibly intelligible to the non-science community. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the rumors have it, will be talking about evidence for "primordial gravitational waves." Now is the time to bone up on your weird science, so that you can have an opinion about it, or what else is the point of living?

Here's an explanation from a few years back: So-called gravitational waves are a prediction of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity—moving objects perturb spacetime, generating waves like a boat moving across a lake….Such primordial waves might offer [...]

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Will The Real Zodiac Killer Please Stand Up?

On Wednesday, the identity of the Zodiac Killer was finally revealed: It was Louis Myers, only 17 when he began the killings, who confessed from his deathbed back in 2001. In 2012, the identity of the Zodiac Killer was finally revealed: It was George Russell Tucker, a pseudonym for a then-recently-diseased 91-year-old former real estate salesman from Fairfield, California. In 2009, the identity of the Zodiac Killer was finally revealed: It was Guy Ward Hendrickson, a carpenter who brought his 7-year-old along for the ride during the killings.

It's worth pointing out that last year, Dick Van Dyke also confessed.

Every cycle through the calendar brings [...]

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No, BuzzFeed Did Not Invent Native Advertising

News curmudgeons relish blaming the internet for things they don’t like, a pastime that is maddening, a little sad, and just ironic. These people who fetishize print media's past are often selective in their memories of it.

For instance, BuzzFeed didn't invent coverage of silly animals, and it certainly didn't invent native advertising—that is, advertising with a narrative structure that mirrors surrounding editorial content. (You might also call this “sponsored content" or “advertorial.")

Much of the recent media chatter about native ads makes it sound as though sponsored content was just invented. But what we now call native advertising has deep roots in print journalism—as do [...]

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Did The CIA Propagate Rock 'n' Roll?

Pretty much every government uses culture as propaganda, so it should not be surprising that the United States did so throughout the Cold War. As a superpower involved in a multi-pronged proxy war for the hearts and minds of each and every inhabitant of Earth, how could it not? And the CIA was behind most of it.

While Hoover and his FBI men were busy red-baiting, tapping phones, and compiling dossiers on just about any American with even the most minuscule of leftist leanings, the CIA was simultaneously funding and promoting art by many of the same people the FBI was watching. Meanwhile, Joe McCarthy was attacking anything [...]