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‘Good… and long’: Blaxploitation ads for Winston cigarettes, 1970-1973

The term ‘Blaxploitation’ was coined by NAACP head/film publicist Junius Griffin in the early 1970s to describe the genre of African American action films that followed from the examples set by Cotton Comes to Harlem and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, but the term certainly could have had other applications—racially targeted marketing that sought to move destructive commodities like malt liquor and menthol cigarettes to underclass populations has long been, and justifiably remains, a highly contentious matter, and is inarguably more literally exploitative than any “exploitation” film. compiled a lode of eye-popping examples from a print campaign for Winston cigarettes.

After World War Two American tobacco companies started to explore new markets to maintain their not insubstantial prosperity. The growth in urban migration and the growing incomes of African Americans (called at the time the “emerging Negro market”) gave the tobacco companies what was sometimes called an “export market at home”. Additionally, a new kind of media started to appear after the war when several glossy monthly magazines including Negro Digest (1942, renamed Black World), Ebony (1945) and Negro Achievements (1947, renamed Sepia) began to be published.

These relatively expensively produced magazines were far more attractive to the tobacco advertisers than the cheap ‘negro’ daily newspapers of the pre-war era, with glossy pages and a far wider national distribution. The magazines meant for a purely African American audience also meant that advertisers could produce adverts aimed and featuring African Americans away from the eyes of white consumers.


“Rich.” “Long.” Got’cha. Wink wink.

The juxtaposition of aspirational fashion, rogue-ish male confidence, and burning cigarettes carries an unmistakable message so old it’s hardly worth spelling out. The longing looks from the women in the near-backgrounds aren’t terribly nuanced in their subtext, either. But all the problematics of death-dealing aside, these are objectively awesome photos, amazing snapshots of a time and place when African American culture was asserting a more prominent place in the US mainstream. Airbrush out the cigarettes (or don’t) and change the captions, and these would be amazing menswear ads, too.


More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Anti-capitalist artist trolls Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger AND IT IS DARK and EPIC

A couple weeks ago the most amazing thing started to percolate around social media, but then it was apparently stopped by lawyers from Kellogg’s. The “amazing thing” I refer to is the ultra-elaborate trolling—allegedly orchestrated by the brilliant Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen—of Kellogg’s and their Tony the Tiger mascot.

For generations, kids the world over have grown up eating Kellogg’s sugary, nearly nutritionless breakfast cereal and getting positive reinforcement from Tony’s “They’re GRRRREAT!” catchphrase, but some of the child actors who were actually in these commercials have apparently had tragic difficulties later in their lives.

Each new video that appeared saw Tony addressing the problems—via the use of his simplistic catchphrase basically—of a prostitute, a brutal cop and a suicide bomber.

Here’s the first one, launched on October 7th:

What Leinonen (I’m pretty confident he’s the mastermind)—whose “School of Disobedience” show is currently on exhibit at the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma—has done is, well, as I said before, ultra-elaborate trolling. Culture jamming of the Banksy or Ron English school and of the highest order, not only in terms of the wit employed, but in how perfectly this prank was pulled off. What you are about to see aren’t some amateurish commercial parodies, they are as professionally realized as something that you might see on Saturday Night Live, or indeed, as any “real” TV commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I used to work at a commercial production studio in New York that specialized in mixing live action and animation, usually in the employ of selling sugar to children, natch, and lemme tell ya, back then this would have taken a small army to pull off. This guy is a maniac! I really admire his dedication and work ethic. He might want to destroy capitalism—but Jani Leinonen is anything but lazy. He must be the hardest working anti-capitalist around.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Make Life Worth Living’: A look at Scotland’s grim tenement slums, 1969-72
09:53 am

Class War

Nick Hedges

For a large swathe of the UK’s population, life in the swinging sixties was not all miniskirts, psychedelia and Beatle wigs—it was hard dismal work, poverty, unemployment: a life crammed in overcrowded slums, with few amenities or pleasures. This was true for many who lived in the country’s former industrial heartlands—Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow—the war damaged cities that were being slowly gutted and replaced by equally oppressive concrete tower blocks and uniform housing schemes in new towns.

In 1968, photographer Nick Hedges was hired by housing charity Shelter to document the “the oppressive and abject living conditions being experienced in poor quality housing in the UK” in order to “raise consciousness about the extent of unfit living conditions and to illustrate, in human terms, what the real cost of bad housing was.”

Hedges arrived in Glasgow to find it a “devastating city,” full of grim deprivation and brutality—on his first night he witnessed two youngsters rob a blind beggar of his takings. Hodges began by photographing the tenement slums of the city’s Gorbals area—once the most populated district—before heading north and west to the equally overcrowded Maryhill, where an army garrison had been kept until the 1960s as a force against any possible communist revolution. Hedges then photographed East Kilbride—one of the many new towns built after the Second World War to deal with the slum clearances—the movement of people out of places like Anderston, Gorbals and Maryhill to a better life in specially built towns. Hedges also photographed tenement life in Edinburgh, where many of the poor where decamped in the 1970s to Wester Hailes.

The wrecking ball of the 1960s and 1970s did little to ease poverty and unemployment, but it did start a new decade of house building for those in direst need. Hedges photographs powerfully document the reality of tenement life for many Scots during this era, and the endemic poverty that affected their lives, as Hedges writes:

The thing about people living in slum housing is that there is no drama…it’s about the absolute wearing down of people’s morale in a quiet and undemonstrative way.

An exhibition of Nick Hedges’ photographs for Shelter, Make Life Worth Living, is currently showing in Edinburgh till 31st October.

One day I travelled around Glasgow’s charming, ancient underground railway to Cessnock, and walked down to the Govan shipyards. I found a children’s playground in the shadow of cranes, running down to the edge of the Clyde.

Nick Hedges


Glasgow tenement backs 1970

They are the grimmest environment that I’ve encountered. This has something to do with the size of the stone used in their construction, the entry to them through the cave like entrances, the deep and dark stairwells and the relentless pattern of streets.

Nick Hedges


Father and children Gorbals tenement 1970


Sisters sharing a chair in a Gorbals slum tenement 1970

Mr and Mrs C lived with their large family in what was virtually a derelict flat in one of the last Gorbals Tenements. “There’s nothing now that you can get angry about. You’ve said it all before”. Two of the elder girls in the family. One was unemployed, the other about to leave school with no prospect of a job

Nick Hedges

More of Nick Hedges powerful photographs, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Donald Trump Photoshopped into horror movie stills wins the Internet today

Few horror movies have ever really scared me. Many have repeatedly startled me with cheap jump-scares, and plenty have mortified me with visceral gore, but not many movies have really, truly, haunt-my-dreams-for-years SCARED me. Reality scares the absolute living shit out of me every day,and I can’t go to the lobby for a drink or hit a pause button when the intensity gets ramped up. And few things in reality currently scare me into near-paralysis like the idea of President Donald Trump.

And that right there is the key to the humor in DesignCrowd’s recent contest, “Photoshop Donald Trump into famous horror movie scenes.” I’m always a sucker for a ‘shop contest, whether it’s for pros and advanced amateurs like on Worth 1000, or just for top shelf anonymous wise-asses like the users of Fark and Something Awful, but this one reaches some dizzying heights of prime Internet smartassery. We’ve selected some favorites to show you here, but DesignCrowd has several pages of contenders.







Via iHorror

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Noam Chomsky on Donald Trump: No different from the rest of the Republicans

After his talk at the New School in New York City on Saturday, Noam Chomsky took questions from the audience. This is one of those questions:

“What do you think about the antics of Donald Trump, in tangent to your earlier idea about American exceptionalism?”

Chomsky’s reply:

“Well, actually, I think we should recognize that the other candidates are not that different. I mean, if you take a look at—just take a look at their views. You know, they tell you their views, and they’re astonishing. So just to keep to Iran, a couple of weeks ago, the two front-runners—they’re not the front-runners any longer—were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. And they differed on Iran. Walker said we have to bomb Iran; when he gets elected, they’re going to bomb Iran immediately, the day he’s elected. Bush was a little—you know, he’s more serious: He said he’s going to wait ‘til the first Cabinet meeting, and then they’ll bomb Iran. I mean, this is just off the spectrum of not only international opinion, but even relative sanity.

This is—I think Ornstein and Mann are correct: It’s a radical insurgency; it’s not a political party. You can tell that even by the votes. I mean, any issue of any complexity is going to have some diversity of opinion. But when you get a unanimous vote to kill the Iranian deal or the Affordable Care Act or whatever the next thing may be, you know you’re not dealing with a political party.

It’s an interesting question why that’s true. I think what’s actually happened is that during the whole so-called neoliberal period, last generation, both political parties have drifted to the right. Today’s Democrats are what used to be called moderate Republicans. The Republicans have just drifted off the spectrum. They’re so committed to extreme wealth and power that they cannot get votes, can’t get votes by presenting those positions. So what has happened is that they’ve mobilized sectors of the population that have been around for a long time. It is a pretty exceptional country in many ways. One is it’s extremely religious. It’s one of the most extreme fundamentalist countries in the world. And by now, I suspect the majority of the base of the Republican Party is evangelical Christians, extremists, not—they’re a mixture, but these are the extremist ones, nativists who are afraid that, you know, “they are taking our white Anglo-Saxon country away from us,” people who have to have guns when they go into Starbucks because, who knows, they might get killed by an Islamic terrorist and so on. I mean, all of that is part of the country, and it goes back to colonial days. There are real roots to it. But these have not been an organized political force in the past. They are now. That’s the base of the Republican Party. And you see it in the primaries. So, yeah, Trump is maybe comic relief, but it’s just a—it’s not that different from the mainstream, which I think is more important.”


Bingo. In fact, his racism and xenophobia aside—which I realize, of course, is a very big “but…”—Trump’s positions aren’t even all that conservative and are often in fact legitimately “populist” in a crude (and notably nonspecific) sense when he makes comments about excessive executive pay being out of control, the need for progressive taxation and how hedge fund managers are simply lucky paper pushers.

Below, video of the above remarks and more on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Sad Truth: Nauseatingly profound illustrations of what the world is turning into

Everything that’s bleak about the modern world is wrapped-up like a perfect, little package with these illustrations by London-based artist and animator, Steve Cutts. Rampant consumerism. Shitty jobs. Environmental devastation. Disinformation. Nonsense. Billionaire psychopaths. Overcrowded cities—all present and accounted for. We’ve featured Cutts’ work here on DM before with his dark animation about the current lives of ‘80s cartoon characters.

If a picture paints a thousand words, these pieces are Molotov cocktails for the mind.



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bernie nooooooo!!! Bernie Sanders released a pretty terrible spoken word folk music album in 1987
11:27 am

Class War

Bernie Sanders
folk music

Cassette cover for Bernie’s album
Since Bernie Sanders announced his run for President of the United States of America, his lack of polish has been far more endearing to the public than his detractors ever imagined. He’s not a slick baby-kisser; the man talks serious social democratic policy and stays on message with a self-possessed intensity. However, if Bernie’s impersonal style has given the impression he’s completely devoid of sentimentality, “Brothers and Sisters,” let me assure you otherwise! In 1987, Bernie Sanders released a spoken word album of lefty folk standards, and it is bad—positively Shatneresque, if you will.

According to Vermont blog Seven Days, Burlington-based musician Todd Lockwood got in touch with Sanders out of the blue to pitch the idea—they had never met before. At this point Bernie was the Mayor of Burlington, so Lockwood just called the Mayor’s office and left a message with a secretary describing the project. To his surprise, Bernie set up a meeting, later telling Lockwood, “I have to admit to you this appeals to my ego.” Originally, Bernie was supposed to actually sing the songs, but they quickly realized he can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so they went with spoken word. You can hear samples of the results below; all I can say is that it’s good that he’s never run on anything but the issues, because he is not winning any votes with his musical talent.

If you’re just dying to hear the whole thing (for who doesn’t require a recording of an old Brooklyn Jew sternly intoning the words to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”), you can actually purchase the entire album, We Shall Overcome, on Amazon.

Via Talking Points Memo

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Take a look at the real ‘Warriors’ from the 1993 documentary film ‘Flyin’ Cut Sleeves’
10:09 am

Class War

Flyin' Cut Sleeves

Savage Skulls gang, Bronx NY
Members of the Savage Skulls circa late 60’s, early 70’s
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, gangs not unlike the ones featured in Walter Hill’s The Warriors owned the streets of New York City. The 1993 documentary film Flyin’ Cut Sleeves takes a look back at the volatile years that eventually culminated in a truce and subsequent “peace meeting” held at the Hoe Avenue Boys Club in 1971 by the gangs themselves. The real-life events are strikingly similar to the storyline from Hill’s 1979 film.
Young members of the Savage Skulls gang
Young members of the Savage Skulls
According to the statements made in Flyin’ Cut Sleeves, in 1969 the NYPD put the number of organized gangs at 100, with membership as high as 11,000. Many gang members were just kids, barely in high school. Some of the most compelling footage in the film comes from interviews that were shot by Rita Fecher, a schoolteacher working at that time in the South Bronx. From her interviews with her students, Fecher was able to glean that the vast majority of her pupils were also active gang members. It is a gritty and dark exploration of a desperate time in New York City—Fecher notes at one point in the film that she received an absence note from a family that could not send their child to school because he had no shoes.

Flyin’ Cut Sleeves was released on DVD in 2010, and you can score a copy here. I’ve included a slew of vintage images of many of the gangs featured in the film as well as Flyin’ Cut Sleeves in its entirety. There’s also a brief NSFW video that was shot at the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting for you to check out.
Gangs of the South Bronx in the 1970's
Sagave Skulls gang members
After the jump, more remarkable images of the Flyin’ Cut Sleeves gangs as well as the full movie (and a bonus video too).....

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Leon Trotsky’s run-down mansion only $4.4 million—FOR THE PEOPLE!
12:30 pm

Class War

Leon Trotsky

After his exile from the Soviet Union in 1929, Leon Trotsky, having served as the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs and the People’s Commissar for Army and Navy Affairs from 1917 to 1925 and having generally been the Marxist revolutionary and theorist par excellence, moved to a decidedly un-humble three-story villa located on Büyükada Island near Istanbul.

This week the mansion—which boasts 38,750 square feet and 18 rooms and 5 bathrooms, was put up for sale for the affordable sum of $4.4 million. However, if you’re contemplating running a refurbished luxury hotel called The Trotsky Arms or whatnot, know that the property is protected from such renovations as a historical landmark.

Located in the Sea of Marmara, Büyükada is a popular day-trip destination and is accessible via ferry from the Turkish metropolis. Trotsky arrived there in 1929 after being deported by Joseph Stalin. According to Hürriyet, he lived in the house for four years with his second wife, Natalia, and his grandchild, Sieva. Trotsky eventually moved to Mexico, where he was murdered in 1940.

Photo: Selj via Flickr
The Hanifi family, which currently owns the house, has requested that the buyer preserve the Trotsky name; they had hoped that the Culture and Tourism Ministry would purchase the house to turn it into a museum.

“It is falling into ruins and needs thorough works,” said Mustafa Farsakoglu, a former mayor of Büyükada. “If the Turkish ministry of culture could give the money, it could be bought, renovated and turned into a cultural centre or museum. ... In any case, it is a classified building and whoever builds it can’t turn it into apartments, or a hotel, or a restaurant.”

According to a real estate agent familiar with the situation, “It’s actually not the first time there has been an attempt to sell this house, but no one wants it. Its owner, who lives in Istanbul, has not carried out the necessary works.”

Photo: Pinterest

via artnet

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
U.S. healthcare is a crime: Dick Dale should be retired, not touring with cancer & renal failure
10:46 am

Class War

health care
Dick Dale

In an interview with the Pittsburgh City Paper last week, Dick Dale made a seemingly hyperbolic statement: “I can’t stop touring because I will die.” It’s the sort of thing you hear often from an active man disregarding his suggested retirement age, but Dale followed it up with, “Physically and literally, I will die”: the 78-year-old is literally playing shows to stay alive.

Dale has extreme health problems—painfully damaged vertebrae, diabetes, renal failure, and rectal cancer that has left him with a colostomy bag. Dale has insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything, and little luxuries like changing a colostomy bag more frequently require him to work through the pain and discomfort. The hospital has advised him to stay thrifty, despite the risk of infection that has left him incredibly ill in the past:

“The hospital says change your patch once a week. No! If you don’t change that patch two times a day, the fecal matter eats through your flesh and causes the nerves to rot and they turn black, and the pain is so excruciating that you can’t let anything touch it. That has happened to me because I was following the orders of the hospital.

Once, his colostomy bag broke before a show, leaving his wife Donna (also very ill, with multiple sclerosis) to do the last-minute work of a nurse:

I had diarrhea coming all down my legs into my clothes and my pants, and my shirt. m supposed to be up on stage and I had to call [my wife] Lana and go into the bathroom.  Lana washed my clothes out in the sink, I wrung them out and put them back on and did an hour-and-a-half show soaking wet, and then I signed autographs for five-and-a-half hours after.

Dale is currently on a 25-city, three-month tour across this godforsaken country, so if you’re able, check out Dick’s tour schedule and try to catch a show. Not only will you be seeing an absolutely brilliant legend, you’ll be helping a man raise the $3,000 a month he requires to stay alive and live with a reasonable amount of dignity. God bless America, land of the greatest health care on earth… if you got the money.

via Pittsburgh City Paper

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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