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The five stages of inebriation, a vintage Australian primer in drunkenness
05.14.2014
07:08 am

Topics:
Amusing
Drugs
History

Tags:
Australia
alcohol
temperance


You’re good. No one can tell. You’re a social drinker. Sophisticated. Adult.
 
These hilarious photographs, dated between 1863 and 1868, are believed to be propaganda from a New South Wales temperance group. While some might argue they’re a bit sensational, I’d say that for a certain type of drunk, they’re deadly accurate (Have drunks changed much since the mid 19th century? No, they just have Twitter now). They coincide with the 1866 “Drunkard’s Punishment Bill” of New South Wales, suggesting there was a bit of a local alcoholism problem. The photographer, Charles Percy Pickering, was commissioned by the NSW government. Though he produced a bevy of historic photographs, he went bankrupt multiple times—perhaps it was the drink?!?
 

This is it—the sweet spot. You’re a little sloppy, but charmingly so. You’re funny, cute and less inhibited, but you still have your wits about you.
 

Now we’re approaching the point of diminishing returns. You have begun to voice controversial opinions to a disinterested audience. You’re slightly angry at someone for reasons you will later fail to recall. You feel the need for brutal honesty.
 

“You guys! I find this amaaaaaaaazing wheelbarrow! Let’s take it home! Some one help me take this wheelbarrow home! I neeeeeed it! For… reasons.”
 

You don’t remember this part at all, but you were mumbling at your girlfriend to “just let me sleep here.” Your friends will later tell you they had to beg a cop not to throw you in the drunk tank, assuring him that they’d see you home safely. They even managed to fit your wheelbarrow in the cab. In the cold light of day you no longer want it, but they went to so much trouble you can’t throw it away. You owe everyone an apology.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Beautiful color photographs of life in pre-Revolutionary Russia, 1909-1915
05.09.2014
09:42 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
photography
Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii

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The pioneering color photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii was born in Kirzhachsky District, Vladimir Oblast, Russia in 1863. His parents were of Russian nobility with a long military history. The family moved to St. Petersburg, where Prokudin-Gorskii began his studies in chemistry. He was also interested in the arts, and enrolled for studies in painting.

Prokudin-Gorskii’s interest in chemistry and art fused with the study and practice of photography. By 1905, he had formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advances in color photography to document life in Russia.  Using different techniques, including those first formulated by Scottish pioneer James Clerk Maxwell, Prokudin-Gorskii started taking color pictures of his homeland in 1909.

Tsar Nicholas II supplied Prokudin-Gorskii with a specially designed rail-road carriage which had been converted into a darkroom. Prokudin-Gorskii’s intention in documenting Russian life was to educate children about their country’s rich history and culture. In 1917, the Russian Revolution put an end to Prokudin-Gorskii’s plans, and the photographer left Russia in 1918, eventually settling in France.

These beautiful color photographs were first recorded on glass plates. In 1948 they were purchased by the Library of Congress, who have since scanned the images, through a process called digichromatography, and made them available to the public. 
 
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More beautiful color photos of Imperial Russia, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The U.S. government tries to convince citizens to stay put after nuclear attack, 1951
05.08.2014
07:12 am

Topics:
History
Hysteria
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
propaganda
nuclear war

 
“You know Fred, actually, staying in a city to help after an atomic attack is not nearly as dangerous as a lot of people think. The danger of, well, lingering radiation is not really very serious. After an atomic air burst, the danger of radiation and falling debris is over within… a minute and a half.”

You don’t say?

The Federal Civil Defense Administration produced a glut of Cold War misinformation and propaganda, but 1951’s Our Cities Must Fight is among the most baffling. An attempt to discourage urbanites from abandoning their fair cities after nuclear attack, the film fictionalizes a conversation between two patriotic newspapermen bemoaning the “take to the hills fraternity.” The men go on to imply that leaving a nuked city would be “pretty close to treason,” and then pile on the insane justifications—you couldn’t get through the traffic anyway! We’ll need you to fight fires and keep going to work! Oh, and my favorite—radiation isn’t really that big a deal!

I’m not sure if there really was a totally unrealistic perception that a post-nuclear city could still function, but I can’t imagine most Americans would stick around to polish the brass on the Titanic after an atomic bomb hit it—assuming of course that there were any survivors. With the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh, it’s difficult to believe the FCDA ever thought anyone would stick around because of a silly government film!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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What, no ‘atomic tangerine’? The Pantone Color Guide of the year 1692
05.06.2014
08:02 am

Topics:
Art
Books
History

Tags:
painting
colors
A. Boogert

Boogert
 
A doff of the feathered hat to medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel working at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Last week he posted images on his blog pertaining to a most unusual book he had recently stumbled upon. It dates from 1692 and is credited to one “A. Boogert,” and it has to count among one of the most exhaustive explorations of color ever produced by the human mind. The book’s title is Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst…Tot Delft, gedaen en beschreeven dour A. Boogert or Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau [Treatise of colors used in watercolor painting].

In the book, which has more than 700 pages, Boogert executed a staggeringly impressive series of color samples; there must be several thousand different colors elucidated here. In the bulk of the book, Boogert used the left-hand side of each spread to explain the ratios of pigment and “one, two or three portions of water” to achieve the colors depicted on the right-hand page, usually five colors that are closely related (see picture at bottom for a typical example). The entire book was written entirely by hand, and only one copy of the book is known to be in existence. It’s likely that Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst, even if relatively few painters ever saw it, represented the most comprehensive account of colors ever achieved up to that juncture.

The natural reference point here, for contemporary graphic designers, is the Pantone Color Guide, which first saw print in 1963. I find myself wondering to what hell Glidden would have consigned this author, had they only had the chance.

You can see the entire book here.
 
Boogert
 
Boogert
 
Boogert
 
via Colossal

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Before he skewered McCarthy, Edward R. Murrow told US civilians to watch out for Soviet planes
05.05.2014
07:36 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
nuclear war
Cold War
Edward R Murrow


 
Ah, Edward R. Murrow, the staid, chain-smoking voice of reason with a haircut you could set your watch by! Most famous for his 1954 See It Now exposés on Joseph McCarthy, Murrow produced the first major media critique of the Senator’s Red Scare witch hunt. Not a man to pull punches, he concluded the first of his three episodes on McCarthy with this condemnation: 

“His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”

The next episode focused on Annie Lee Moss, a black army clerk brought to trial by McCarthy under accusations of communist activity. The absurdity of his charges catching up to him, McCarthy made an appearance on See it Now a few weeks later, only to accuse Murrow of communist collusion, accelerating the wane of his creditability. That December, his reputation shot, he was effectively censured by the Senate, thanks in no small part to Murrow’s critical work.

However, like most Americans at the time, Murrow was not immune to the pervasive fears of the Cold War, and was a frequent participant in US civil defense propaganda. His 1953 film, One Plane, One Bomb was made just a year before his indictment of McCarthy, and although the film uses the name and format of his trusted newsmagazine program See It Now, it was commissioned by the The US Air Force and only aired in theaters. For anyone familiar with the genre, the film is a fairly predictable simulation of a terrifying doomsday scenario—New York is bombed for lack of adequate citizen vigilance.

One Plane, One Bomb “encouraged” every day Americans join the Ground Observer Corps, a civilian volunteer program put together in World War Two. Though the Ground Observer Corps reached 750,000 in ranks by 1952’s Operation Skywatch, it’s a little baffling that the US invested so much in training private citizen volunteers to sit at posts and basically “look up,” in hopes of alleviating (or perhaps even preventing) nuclear attack. The film is one of a slew of civil defense videos produced at the time, and while it’s not the only one Murrow had a hand in, it was the only one that conflated a piece of paid military propaganda with actual broadcast journalism. Aside from the obvious conflict of interest in associating a military film with the journalism of See It Now, it’s fascinating to watch Murrow, a man most revered for his cool-headed critique of Cold War panic, producing the very material that exacerbated nuclear anxieties.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Drop down the Internet K-Hole again with a new round of surreal photos
05.01.2014
02:13 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
History
Pop Culture

Tags:
Internet K-Hole


 
I feel like it’s my duty to announce every time Internet K-Hole publishes a new round of photos because they’re so few and far between. Each photo collection is a chock full of nostalgic insanity. They make you pine for the days of hairspray, hanging out in malls, pegged acid washed jeans, scrunchy socks, feathered hair, shitty metal bands, sour beer, black eyeliner, hair crimpers and so on. You get the picture. It’s excellent.

Sometimes it’s even pictures of people that you actually know!

The whole thing’s just inexplicable. It’s uncannily WEIRD. As always, some of the photos are NSFW.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Helen Keller was a militant anti-capitalist radical
05.01.2014
10:22 am

Topics:
Class War
Heroes
History

Tags:
Socialism
Helen Keller


 
Today is International Workers’ Day. Happy May Day comrades!
 

“The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all ... The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands - the ownership and control of their livelihoods - are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.”  — Helen Keller, 1911

This is taken from a short essay about Helen Keller’s political activism found at Dorian Cope’s On This Deity blog. It focuses on the parts of her life story that they didn’t teach us about when we learned about Helen Keller in school… Hey, the blind and deaf chick in The Miracle Worker was a commie!

But what the endless accolades and history books almost always fail to mention is that Helen Keller was a militant radical activist. Her views mirrored the likes of the era’s most notorious dissidents – Emma Goldman and Eugene Debs – who were respectively deported and imprisoned for ten years. “I don’t give a damn about semi-radicals,” she infamously proclaimed; indeed, she leaned so far to the left that the FBI kept a file on her for un-American activities. She was a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union; a lifelong socialist who campaigned for Eugene Debs’ presidential candidacy; a member of the revolutionary Industrial Workers of the World; a suffragist and crusader for birth control; an anti-fascist (the Nazis publicly burned her books); and a pacifist, who condemned America’s imperialistic motives in both world wars. Having benefited from a privileged background, Helen recognised the social injustices facing those denied the same opportunities – and blamed industrialism and capitalism not only as the root of poverty but also disability-inducing disease. Her anti-capitalist and pro-worker stance was such that at the 1919 Hollywood premiere of a silent film about her own life, she refused to cross an Actors Equity Union picket line and joined the striking workers on their march.

I have to interrupt here. Ponder that last sentence for a moment. THAT is what you call a hero.

In her lifetime, Helen Keller was one of the most recognisable women in the world, and those who flocked to bask in the radiance of her fame were positively scandalised by her beliefs. After publicly supporting the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, admiring the Russian Revolution, and fearlessly lambasting the powerful John D Rockefeller for his role in the Ludlow Mine Massacre (“Mr Rockefeller is a monster of capitalism”), Helen’s radicalism became a source of extreme embarrassment to those who required her to be true to The Myth in order that they might gain:

“So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘archpriestess of the sightless’, ‘wonder woman’, and ‘a modern miracle,’” Helen bemoaned. “But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics – that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world – that is a different matter!”

Read the entire essay at On This Deity and watch this amazing footage:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The surreal and just *downright freaky* covers of 60s magazine Midi-Minuit Fantastique (NSFW)


 
Midi-Minuit Fantastique was a French cineaste magazine dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction films of the 1960s to early 70s. It was one of the first “serious” publications to explore genre films. Later on, Midi-Minuit Fantastique dealt with more mainstream culture and subject matters with profiles on directors like Samuel Fuller, Otto Preminger or Federico Fellini.

But honestly, who cares what Midi-Minuit Fantastique wrote about. Just look at these incredible covers! They’re up there with Girls & Corpses (NSFW) magazine!
 

 

 

 

 

 
More covers after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The socialist politician Aleister Crowley nominated as his successor
04.25.2014
07:23 am

Topics:
History
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Tom Driberg

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The name Tom Driberg might not mean much today, but Driberg was at the center of nearly every major political and cultural event during the twentieth century. He was, as his biographer Francis Wheen described him, like Woody Allen’s fictional creation “Zelig,” for Tom had been:

...on the picket lines of the General Strike, in Spain during the civil war, in America for Pearl Harbor, in Paris for the liberation, in Buchenwald just after it was relieved, in Korea with the Royal Marines, in London when it was Swinging.

Driberg was a respected British politician, a member of parliament and Chairman of the Labour Party. He was also a journalist and author. As a young man at Oxford University he had been part of the gilded “Brideshead” generation, alongside Evelyn Waugh, W. H. Auden (who he introduced to T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland), and Cyril Connolly, who later wrote of this privileged group:

“We were the last generation of womanless Oxford. Men who liked women were apt to get sent down.”

At university, Driberg indulged his sexual tastes and formed his political allegiance to the Communist Party. He had a brief career as a poet and became friends with Sacheverell and Osbert Sitwell.

After university he started his career as a journalist establishing and writing the “William Hickey” gossip column for the conservative Daily Expres. Though Driberg married Ena Mary Binfield in 1951, he was gay and lived a dangerously promiscuous life in the decades before homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain. Driberg mixed with a variety of notorious gay underworld figures, including Ronnie Kray with whom Driberg was rumored to have had an affair. He also mixed with royalty and celebrities, such as Mick Jagger with whom he discussed revolution and politics and tried to convince the singer into standing for parliament as a Labour MP.

Driberg was expelled from the Communist party. He had links to MI5, knew double-agent and Guy Burgess and was always suspected of alleged treachery. In later years, Driberg famously supported the legalisation of cannabis and contributed to satirical magazine Private Eye where he compiled the crossword. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore famously satirized Driberg as a lecherous and predatory homosexual in stockings and suspenders.

Driberg may seem like a mythical figure, but this brief summation only skims the surface of his life. Indeed, one of the more incredible tales in Driberg’s biography was his association with Aleister Crowley and how the “Great Beast” chose Driberg to be his successor.

When Driberg was at university his writing came to the attention of Aleister Crowley who for whatever reason took an interest in his verse poem “Homage to Beethoven” and invited the young man to lunch at the Eiffel Tower restaurant.

Crowley was already there when I got to the Eiffel Tower. He stood up, stout, bald and middle-aged, in a well-cut plus-four suit of green hand-woven tweed, and greeted me. Then, as we sat down, he said, in a rather high cracked, donnish voice: ‘Pardon me while I invoke the Moon.’

We did not on this occasion go into these deeper matters. I asked him whether at this time he was performing any magical ceremonies in London. He took the opportunity to explain that they were very expensive to set up—the pentacle must be just so, et cetera, or it could be dangerous. All the same, a lot of rubbish had been written about his magic. Magic was simply ‘the art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.’ It operated in quite everyday ways: when you used the telephone it was magic, or would have been thought so a century ago.

After their lunch together, Driberg saw Crowley again from time to time. The Great Beast was under the misapprehension Driberg was rich, a belief founded on Driberg being part of the “Brideshead” generation at Christ Church college, Oxford. Crowley kept hinting to the young poet about the great works he still had to achieve, and his need of finance.

One day [Crowley] wrote to tell me that he had found a reference to myself in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The actual quote was: ‘From no expected house shall this child come’—and ‘what house.’ asked Crowley, ‘could be more unexpected than Aedes Christi?’ (Christ Church—the House’). It was hard to tell if he were serious or joking, as when, soon after this, he told me that he had decided to nominate me as his successor as World Teacher. He had assumed this role some years earlier, and dated all his letters from the year and the day of his epiphany.

However, Driberg wasn’t too impressed by Crowley’s proclamation as he had heard of one other man to whom Crowley had made the same offer.

...and I hope that he, rather than I, has inherited the burdensome legacy.

A few years later, after Driberg had left Oxford and started his career as the gossip columnist “William Hickey” at the Daily Express, he was contacted by a music-hall illusionist called The Great Cosmo who had acquired a trunk (“either as payment in lieu of rent or in the course of a moonlight flit”) that contained a selection of Crowley’s letters and journals.

I went along to see Cosmo. The letters were not ‘compromising’, but I relieved him of them. He also let me have something much more interesting—a small square volume, bound in red morocco and encased in baroque silver which must once must have held a missal or a breviary: this contained Crowley’s manuscript diary, recording his daily magical and sexual doings, for the period covering Loveday’s death at Cefalu and Mussolini’s subsequent expulsion of Crowley from Italy. (He set up another ‘temple’ in Tunis.) It also contained a number of pages bearing what may be called oaths of allegiance, signed in Crowley’s presence by various devotees.

Amongst these devotees was the journalist and “distinguished mathematician”  J. W. N. Sullivan, and on the front page of the diary Crowley had written all the titles he had given himself “Το Μεγα Θηριον” (“The Great Beast”), “The Eternal Word” and “The Wanderer of the Waste.” Having possession of Crowley’s intimate diary gave Driberg the chance to play a trick on the occultist.

One evening Driberg was invited by Crowley to dinner for curry (cooked by himself) and a few bottles of Moët and Chandon’s champagne.

Then Crowley did what he had often done before: he drew the little diagram known as the pentacle, used for telling fortunes by ancient Egyptians, and asked me to stare into the central space between the lines and tell him what I could see. I had never before seen, or pretended to see, anything: but now I recalled the little manuscript diary—which he did not know that I had—and began, in a trance-like voice, to describe it: the shining baroque silver, a monstrance with a Host on one side of it, the red leather, the writing inside which I could not quite read…I had never seen Crowley so staggered: he leaned forward in desperate eagerness. ‘Go on,’ he said, ‘go on!’ But the vision faded. ‘Try again,’ he pleaded. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I can’t see anything more…though perhaps if we had another bottle of Moët…?’

This was, I fear, a rather mean trick to play on the old boy: I excused it to myself by reflecting that it had given him such obvious amazed delight to see one of his own bits of magic actually coming true.

As Francis Wheen notes about the whole affair in his biography of Driberg:

...it was Tom who made the money out of Crowley, not vice versa. By rather dubious means he acquired Crowley’s manuscript diary…many years later Tom sold this for a handsome sum to Jimmy Page, the guitarist with the rock group Led Zeppelin.

In 1973 Tom raised more money by auctioning at Christie’s several volumes presented to him by Crowley. They included a copy of The Book of the Law, inscribed ‘To True Thomas of Eildon Hills with all best wishes from Boleskine and Alertarff’.

Tom Driberg died of a heart attack in 1976. His autobiography Ruling Passions was published posthumously, and the definitive biography The Soul of Indiscretion by Francis Wheen was published in 1990.

Below, the Great Beast speaks: Here’s Aleister Crowley’s recording of “The Call Of The First Ćthyr.”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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LA Confidential: Vintage crime photographs from the LAPD archives
04.22.2014
11:56 am

Topics:
Art
Crime
History

Tags:
Crime
Police
LAPD


Morgue, man with floral tattoo, 1945
 
Back in 2001, photographer Merrick Morton—who also happens to be a reserve LAPD officer—came upon a massive archive of Los Angeles Police Department crime scene and evidence photos which had been hidden for decades in a huge storage facility in downtown LA. The photos were buried among 150 years of police records in cardboard boxes.

When it was discovered that some of the boxes contained decomposing cellulose nitrate negatives, a serious fire hazard, the Fire Department recommended that all the negatives be destroyed. The team lobbied for the archive to be only selectively destroyed and their efforts paid off; some boxes of images were determined to be unsalvageable and destroyed, while the remaining images were sent to a cold storage facility where they reside today.

Around one million photos have been unearthed so far and choice selections, presented by Fototeka, will be exhibited at Paramount Pictures Studios from April 25-27 in Los Angeles.


Detail of two bullet holes in car window, 1942
 

Shoes, arm, and knife, 1950
 

Victim’s feet hanging off bed, 1934
 

Detail of bullet holes in screen, 1930
 

Onion field reenactment, 1963
 

Bank robbery note, 1965
 
Via Feature Shoot

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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