The Golden Gate Bridge: A 75th Anniversary Birthday Party

Photography by: Thomas Hawk, California

The Golden Gate Bridge: A 75th Anniversary Birthday Party

This week marked the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday, and there was a day-long party in San Francisco to mark the occasion. The celebration culminated in a massive fireworks display and light show, and the old bridge looks as beautiful as ever bathed in the light of the fireworks. The bridge, which opened on May 27th 1937, is a wonder of engineering and was named one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Seventh Movement has created The Golden Gate Way, a beautiful time-lapse short film to celebrate the Golden Gate’s Anniversary, with music by Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker, Scott McKenzie and others. It’s a wonderful video postcard of the celebration!

The Golden Gate Way by The Seventh Movement

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen with Scaling Off)

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Homophobia: Pathos and the Culture of Fear

Homophobia: Pathos and the Culture of Fear

Homophobia is an intensely dramatic short film by Austrian writer-director Gregor Schmidinger, which was released last week in support of The International Day Against Homophobia. The film deals with a theme that’s of major concern in our present-day political and social worlds: homophobia, the fear of homosexuals and of their way of life. Homophobia also deals with a perhaps even deeper issue: the fear of oneself being homosexual.

The film tells the story of an adolescent boy serving in the Austrian Military Forces, who experiences homosexual feelings towards one of his comrades. It’s their last night serving on the Austrian-Hungarian border, where they are socially isolated and armed with loaded weapons. On their final patrol, underlying tensions reach a climax, and the young boy must confront both the judgements of others and his own self-understanding.

Homophobia explores the difficulties faced by many young homosexuals, and, in a wider sense, by outsiders who have to fight against social disapproval. While the subject of fear, persecution and coming out is familiar territory in gay cinema, Homophobia takes this important topic and, by telling a compellingly intense story focused on a single main character, is successfully able to universalize it.

Thanks to Georg Csarmann at Short of the Week.

Homophobia: Pathos and the Culture of Fear

(Best Watched in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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The Studs Terkel Centenary: Chicago Celebrates Legendary Studs Terkel

The Studs Terkel Centenary: Chicago Celebrates Legendary Studs Terkel

May 16th marks the 100th anniversary of Studs Terkel’s birth and an occasion to memorialize one of the most prolific writers and cultural critics in the history of Chicago letters. As an author, broadcaster and oral historian, legendary Chicagoan Studs Terkel celebrated the lives of ordinary Americans. Some of Terkel’s many friends and fans are hoping to return the favor with a series of events marking the 100th birthday of a man whose work is a chronicle of the 20th century.

The Studs Terkel Centenary, a group headed up by Terkel’s friends, including Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Kogan, on Saturday will rededicate the Division Street Bridge, which was named after Terkel 20 years ago. On Wednesday, The Newberry Library will host a birthday party featuring guest speakers who will share stories about Studs. Terkel’s friends will ensure that his memory lives on with a day of Studs-only programming on WFMT-FM on his birthday, with performances of passages from Terkel’s 2001 book Will the Circle Be Unbroken? at Steppenwolf Theatre next week and by phoning in personal anecdotes about Terkel to a hotline set up by Chicago’s Hull House Museum.

A Tribute: Remembering Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel: The Human Voice (StoryCorps)

Remembering Studs Terkel: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

The New York Times reported that Chicago’s legendary Studs Terkel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the enthusiastic host of a popular nationally syndicated radio show on WFMT-FM in Chicago, died at his home at the age of 96.

In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his effusive but gentle interviewing style to bring forth in rich detail the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. For more than the four decades, Studs produced a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

Division Street: America (1966), his first best seller, explored the urban conflicts of the 1960s. Its success led to Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970) and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974).

Mr. Terkel’s book The Good War: An Oral History of World War II won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. In Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times (1977), Terkel turned the microphone on himself to produce an engaging memoir. In Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992) and Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It (1995), he reached for his ever-present tape recorder for interviews on race relations in the United States and the experience of growing old.

In 1985, a reviewer for The Financial Times of London characterized his books as “completely free of sociological claptrap, armchair revisionism and academic moralizing.” The amiable Mr. Terkel was a gifted and seemingly tireless interviewer who elicited provocative insights and colorful, detailed personal histories from a broad mix of people. “The thing I’m able to do, I guess, is break down walls,” he once told an interviewer. “If they think you’re listening, they’ll talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview.”

Readers of his books could only guess at Mr. Terkel’s interview style. Listeners to his daily radio show, which was first broadcast on WFMT-FM in 1958, got the full flavor as Studs, with both breathy eagerness and a tough-guy Chicago accent, went after the straight dope from guests like Sir Georg Solti, Muhammed Ali, Mahalia Jackson, the young Dob Dylan, Toni Morrison and Gloria Steinem.

The entire New York Times article can be read here.

Rick Kogan has written a detailed article in The Chicago Tribune, which can be read here.

Studs Terkel’s website at The Chicago Historical Society can be accessed here.

Studs Terkel’s (1970) WFMT-FM radio interview with me (Patrick Zimmerman) can be heard here. Parts of this radio interview later become a selection (pp. 489-493) in Terkel’s acclaimed book, Working:

Audio: Part I of The Radio Interview

Audio: Part II of The Radio Interview

Studs Terkel: Remembering His Life and Times

Conversations about Studs Terkel (2004)

Studs Terkel: About the Human Spirit (2002)

Studs Terkel: The Pioneering Broadcaster

Music Audio: Mavis Staples/Hard Times

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Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings $37 Million

Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings

An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol went for $37 Million when it hit the auction block tonight at Sotheby’s. The life-size 1963 silkscreen ink and spray paint piece, Double Elvis (Ferus Type), epitomizes Warhol’s obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby’s. Previously estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it was included in the auction house’s May 9th sale of post-war and contemporary art. Art auctions have turned into freak-show casinos, spectacles where the uber-rich can act out as much in public as possible, trying to buy immortality, become a part of art history, make headlines and create big profits. They are despicable for what they do to art, for the bad magic of making mysteriously powerful things turn into numbers.

The silver background of Double Elvis (Ferus Type), along with the subtle variations in tone is said to give the serial imagery a sense of rhythmic variation that recalls the artist’s masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, completed the previous year. That work soared to nearly $44 million or four times its estimate in 2009 and achieved the highest price of any work at the fall auctions. But it was a work from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series that set the artist’s record, which still stands. Green Car Crash (Green Car Burning), also from 1963, more than doubled its estimate and sold for $71.7 million in 2007, at the height of the art market boom.

In the Double Elvis work, Presley is dressed as a cowboy, shooting a gun. Sotheby’s describes him in the work as “a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the sixties.” The double in the title refers to a shadowy image of Presley in the same pose that appears next to him in the work.

Bob Dylan Holding “Double Elvis” at The Factory, NYC, 1965

On an eagerly-awaited visit to The Factory in 1965 for one of Warhol’s “Screen Test” sessions, Bob Dylan and his crew, along with their host Andy Warhol, were photographed on the set. At the session, Andy gave Dylan a great double image of Elvis. Dylan departed, having tied the Elvis image to the top of his station wagon, like a deer poached out of season. Much later, Dylan said that he’d traded the “Double Elvis” (now worth millions) to his manager for a couch!

Bob Dylan’s Screen Test, The Factory, NYC, 1965

Andy Warhol’s “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” at May 9th Sotheby’s Auction

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a leading figure in the visual pop art movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement. He worked in a range of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, film and music. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio in New York City, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy patrons.

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

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Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

On Wednesday, President Obama ended the nearly two years of his “evolving” on the issue of same-sex marriage, publicly endorsing it in a television interview and taking a definitive stand on one of the most politically charged social issues of the day.

At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Mr. Obama said in an interview that came after the president faced mounting pressure to clarify his position.

Public support for same-sex marriage is growing at a pace that surprises even professional pollsters, as older generations of voters who tend to be strongly opposed are supplanted by younger ones who are just as strongly in favor. Same-sex couples are featured in some of the most popular shows on television, without controversy.

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, called the president’s statement “a watershed moment in American history” that would aid efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York said, “No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people, and I have no doubt that this will be no exception.”

Chad Griffin, incoming President of the Human Rights Campaign, said that, “President Obama’s words today will be celebrated by generations to come. For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, President Obama’s words provide genuine hope that they will be the first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream. Marriage, the promise of love, companionship, and family, is basic to the pursuit of that dream.”

Read more about President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage in the New York Times here.

Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

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Never Before Seen Photographs of the Young Andy Warhol

Warhol Behind His Marilyn Print

Warhol Editing Film at The Factory in NYC

Warhol Filming at The Factory with His Assistant, Gerard Malanga

Warhol With All-American Faces

Never Before Seen Photographs of the Young Andy Warhol

Before They Were Famous: Behind The Lens of William John Kennedy is an extraordinary collection of images by the photographer William John Kennedy, which is currently on exhibition at the new gallery Site/109 in New York City. The collection presents a number of never-before-seen photographs of Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana, among them Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and Indiana’s LOVE, taken by Mr. Kennedy in the mid-60’s when they were both just emerging American artists.

The fact that these early images of the two iconic American artists happened isn’t necessarily the exciting part. It’s that the amazingly early, naïve portraits of the artists with their own works were created before they were famous. These early images sat untouched for over 50 years, until Kennedy uncovered them within his archives and decided it was time to finally print this project.

Full Circle: Before They Were Famous

William John Kennedy’s Photographs of Andy Warhol

Photo-Gallery: Before He Was Famous: Andy Warhol

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Here’s our toast to freedom,
To human rights and dignity,
Love, respect and forgiveness,
United in the dream for victory.”

Toast to Freedom is a music video dedicated to human rights activism around the world. Nearly 50 artists contributed to the video, celebrating Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary. The basic tracks for Toast to Freedom were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. One of the last studio recordings by the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Levon Helm, it was also one of the closest to his heart.

The song continues a long relationship between Amnesty International and the creative community, which has helped spread the word of its mission almost from the start in 1961. Artists contributing to Toast to Freedom included: Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Angelique Kidjo, Ewan McGregor, Saul Hernandez, Donald Fagen, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Eric Burdon, Taj Mahal, Florent Pagny, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Birkin, Jimmy Barnes, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Mullins, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Gentleman, among others.

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

The Making of “Toast to Freedom”

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

Toast to Freedom (Long Version)

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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