Archive for ‘Miscellany’

January 22nd, 2012

Hobos, Youth Movements, & the Warner Bros. Archive

If the embed won’t work for you, watch Riding the Rails on the PBS website.

Welcome back, Recessionistas, I hope you all had a brilliant holiday and an entrance into 2012 worthy of Nick & Nora.  I might as well tell you that I somewhat unexpectedly received a television for Christmas (courtesy of Mama Fierce, who apparently reads the blog!  Hi Mom!), and while as of yet do not have cable, am very happy that my Golden Age viewing is no longer restricted to a laptop screen.

Over the past few months, I have watched many things, but been unbelievably lazy about committing the experiences to paper.  Hopefully I can rectify that, New Year’s Resolution style.  But in the meantime, I’d like to share with you a happy discovery I made last month:  PBS’s American Experience has a smattering of documentaries available for online viewing.  Moreover, their entire series on the 1930s is part of that offering!

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October 8th, 2011

TCM: Be Still My Heart

The Jean Arthur Comedy Collection

The Jean Arthur Comedy Collection: No, this is not a dream. This is real life!

The other day, I took a little trip to do my laundry for free visit Mama Fierce.  Aside from functioning as a de facto laundromat, her place boasts such charming amenities as FOOD and TELEVISION, both of which are practically non-existent in my flat.  Ok, the food part is sort of voluntary, since I’m a terrible cook.  But as far as TV goes, at this point the lack thereof has become something of a lifestyle choice.  There was a time when I truly couldn’t afford it, but now I rather enjoy living a cable-less existence, if only to provide me with one less distraction.

Because let’s face it, I’m distracted at the best of times.

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March 23rd, 2011

Death and Discovery: The Work of Vivian Maier


Men Must Change or Die

This is bit out of our time period, but if you bear with me for a few paragraphs, I think you will find it relevant to our study of how the effects of American economics are represented culturally through visual form.

The photographs on this blog are from one, Vivian Maier, a nanny who spent most of her free time chronicling the streets of Chicago.  They span from the 1950s to the 1960s, and are mainly confined to cityscapes of the Windy City, although several prints from Ms Maier’s travels are included in the collection.  What is interesting about her work is its pressing concern in depicting the reality of daily life against the certitudes of financial hardship.  There is such inherent humanity and dignity about her subjects, that even the bleakest of environs is helpless to erase the voiceless captions.  “I’m here.”  “I’m real.”  “I live this every day.”

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October 28th, 2010

Depression Era Cooking

Clara Cannucciari

Clara, cooking up a storm!

Depression Era Cooking!  Is there anyone who has yet to be introduced to the wonders of Clara Cannucciari?  Being the international super-star that she is, I find it hard to believe.  Yet, from time to time, I get a puzzled look in response to my effusive rhapsodizing over this 94 year old cook and YouTube sensation.  So today, dear readers, I would like to take the opportunity to extol the virtues of Clara!

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September 19th, 2010

What’s Old is New

Chock Full o' Nuts store in the late 1960s

Chock Full O’  Nuts is that heaaaaaavenly coffee!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a new Chock Full O’ Nuts opened its doors on 23rd street last Monday!  Once as ubiquitous in Manhattan as Starbucks, the chain, which began in 1926, fell into obscurity and eventual extinction during the 1980s.  I mean, what kind of self-respecting yuppie would eat at a lunch counter?

Now that times have changed (and boy, how they’ve changed), it seems the owners of Chock Full O’ Nuts are banking on a mixture of nostalgic appeal and good old parsimony to pack their countertops.

“We’re in a recession now, and comfort food is always something that people gravitate to.”

Two donuts are 99 cents.  A regular cup of coffee is $1.55.  And yes, they are still serving their classic nutted cheese sandwiches.

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August 12th, 2010

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943


#10 Drinking on the job! // #70 Serious work, serious times. // #68 Lessons

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog.

It’s a rainy Thursday here, perfect weather to share this wonderful photo blog. These pictures, spanning from 1939 to 1943, were compiled by the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. Offering a glimpse into the lives of rural Americans, they are unique not only for the fact that they’re in color, but because they represent a subset of photography long since past.

Any photographer, amateur or professional, will appreciate the care taken to tell the stories of these people. Today, we live in an age where you can pick up a digital SLR, shoot hundreds of frames in a matter of minutes, and delete them twice as fast. The result is that you lose the ability to think critically, not just about your composition, but about your subject matter. Everything becomes expendable.

Trust me, there aren’t enough filters in Photoshop to re-create what you see here.

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