7/27/16

A CELL-PHONE FREE ZONE: NEW YORK, 1900



Were you refreshed by yesterday's views of the cell-free zone that was New York in the 1960s? Well, it only gets better. Moving backward to 1900, we see the then-famous (infamous?) Tammany Hall Politician Dick Croker leaving Tammany Hall, at 14th Street and Irving Place, and taking a walk. The portly politician stops for a moment to chat with his companion. A girl wearing a flowered hat walks by with her mother and is a little perplexed by what's going on--is it the camera she's giving that sidelong glance at? (If alive, she would now be 126 years old). The thrillingly suspenseful action concludes with Croker and friend moving on. A fellow walks behind them, looks to the side and doffs his hat. The End. This has been a Thomas Edison Production. Ta-Da.

Who was Dick Croker? The internet is strangely, peevishly silent on his career though he seems to turn up a lot in a very curious looking book called 'Thirty Years Of New York Politics Up To Date', by Matthew Patrick Breen, published in 1899 'by the author'. (So they had self-publishing back then. Why not?) The book is marvelously obscure and appears to have been rephotographed in an effort to preserve it.

Take a moment to watch the above video and enjoy a cold February day at the beginning of the last cell-phone free century...

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7/26/16

ONE DAY IN NEW YORK (IN 1965)



I can't tell you how Goddam sick I am of walking the streets of New York and getting bumped into by people who are staring at their I-phones. Imagine walking around the most beautiful city in the world and staring instead at that little screen with its ugly e-mail graphics. (When will e-mail's look be updated? It's getting so musty that it almost feels period). I often make a practice of counting the number of people on their phones within a given area. The other day I counted seven on one block. My son and I once did this while walking from West 4th Street to Union Square and by the time we were descending into the subway, had passed one-hundred.

Amazingly, none of this crap was going on before 2008. I can't remember a world anymore where people weren't glued to their phones, but it really wasn't all that long ago. Back up even further into the above video, which shows 8mm home movies of Manhattan in 1965 (when I was one year old and a resident of the island) and you'll enter another age, one of people looking at each other and at passing sites. The home movies are largely of tourist attractions--United Nations, Empire State, Chinatown etc.--but don't get bogged down in that part (unless you're actually interested, that is). Instead, find the shots of the crowds, the faces, the mysterious unknown people moving through their everyday lives on this one day in a Manhattan that looks just a little friendlier, more home-townish and--above all--free of the wretched thing that we are now hopelessly addicted too--the thing that we turn around and head back home for when, God forbid, we forget to take it. I know because I've done this.

By the way--the footage is silent so I suggest playing the below music while watching.




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ONE DAY IN NEW YORK (IN 1965)



I can't tell you how Goddam sick I am of walking the streets of New York and getting bumped into by people who are staring at their I-phones. Imagine walking around the most beautiful city in the world and staring instead at that little screen with its ugly e-mail graphics. (When will e-mail's look be updated? It's getting so musty that it almost feels period). I often make a practice of counting the number of people on their phones within a given area. The other day I counted seven on one block. My son and I once did this while walking from West 4th Street to Union Square and by the time we were descending into the subway, had passed one-hundred.

Amazingly, none of this crap was going on before 2008. I can't remember a world anymore where people weren't glued to their phones, but it really wasn't all that long ago. Back up even further into the above video, which shows 8mm home movies of Manhattan in 1965 (when I was one year old and a resident of the island) and you'll enter another age, one of people looking at each other and at passing sites. The home movies are largely of tourist attractions--United Nations, Empire State, Chinatown etc.--but don't get bogged down in that part (unless you're actually interested, that is). Instead, find the shots of the crowds, the faces, the mysterious unknown people moving through their everyday lives on this one day in a Manhattan that looks just a little friendlier, more home-townish and--above all--free of the wretched thing that we are now hopelessly addicted too--the thing that we turn around and head back home for when, God forbid, we forget to take it. I know because I've done this.

By the way--the footage is silent so I suggest playing the below music while watching.




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7/19/16

THE KINETAPHONE: A THOMAS EDISON DANCE PARTY



In 1894 or 1895 inventor William K. L. DicksonOffsite Link, working for Thomas Edison, made The Dickson Experimental Sound FilmOffsite Link at Edison's Black MariaOffsite Link movie production studio in West OrangeOffsite Link, New Jersey. This was the first known film with live-recorded sound.  It also appears to be the first motion picture made for the Edison-Dickson KinetophoneOffsite Link, the first sound filmOffsite Link system. Why did it not go anywhere? Were people still just getting accustomed to movies in general and the addition of sound seemed to be a bit much? Or was it because of the above-posted movie itself, in which a n0t very good violinist plays a not very interesting riff while two strange men dance with each other? Was this considered normal back then? Or was Edison, always the innovator, predicting the coming of Monty Python?

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7/15/16

1960s COMMERCIAL HOE-DOWN




Above is a very nice reel of 1960s commercials for the typical products of the time--shaving lotion, cigarettes, booze, cereal, space-related stuff. It runs ten minutes which is a relief--oftentimes the diligent Youtubers who lovingly assemble these retro reels go overboard--hour-plus reels, no matter how promising, simply seem like a burden and they tend to go on my to-watch-one-day list, usually never to be visited again.

Some highlights here are a 007 mens luxury cosmetics kit--shaving lotion, cologne etc. that are all somehow Bond inspired (starts at 2:20). (What must this item be worth on E-bay?) This is followed by what is certainly the funniest and most tasteless commercial in the bunch, an Alka-Seltzer ad (of course) that features fat guys who shovel pies in their mouths as some sort of Olympic event. Of further note are a brief glimpse of the tragic Inger Stevens plugging her ABC show 'The Farmers Daughter' (8:50) which is followed by a ludicrous Lucky Strike ad that features a trumpet player (!) plugging his favorite smoke. But best of all is the quite amazing piece of filmmaking that can be found at 6:50. It's for Colt 45 Malt Liquor of all things and that's all I'm saying...
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