Kent State: The Day the War Came Home

Kent State: The Day the War Came Home

Bullets don’t like people
who love flowers,
They’re jealous ladies, bullets,
short on kindness.
Allison Krause, nineteen years old,
you’re dead
for loving flowers.

May 4th, 2010, will mark the 40th Anniversary of the Kent State Shootings, also known as the Kent State Massacre, which took place at Kent State University in Ohio.  It involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970.  The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon had announced in a television address on April 30.  Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.  There was a significant nation-wide response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States resulting from a student strike of four million students.

Remembering The Kent State Massacre May 4, 1970

Slide Show: Kent State/The Day the War Came Home

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The Old Photomaton: Portraits for the Poor, Rich and Celebrities

The Old Photomaton: Portraits for the Poor, Rich and Celebrities

In 1926, a Jewish inventor from Siberia named Anatol Josepho opened a photo-booth concession, the first Photomaton in the world. Mr. Josepho kept the Photomaton “studio,” as he called it, open 24 hours. In April 1927, Time magazine reported that 280,000 customers had entered his booths in the first six months. It was such an instant hit that the photo booth spread from that spot in Times Square to arcades, amusement parks, state fairs, bus depots and five-and-dimes around the country. Across eight decades it has recorded countless youthful frolics, loving kisses and inebriated indiscretions. Its popularity survived the Depression, the vanishing of the old arcades and five-and-dimes and the proliferation of disposable, digital and cellphone cameras.

But today, the old-fashioned booths with their “dip ‘n’ dunk” chemical developing process and breathless wait for the damp strip of black-and-white images to slide out are disappearing into scrapheaps or into the homes of collectors (Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino among them), giving way to booths that are powered by digital, computerized equipment.

When it first opened, there were people standing all the way around the block. They spent 25 cents each to pose and then wait the eight minutes it took to process a strip of eight small photos. The old photo booths served as little portrait studios for the poor, the rich and even celebrities (in the old days). Among them was New York’s Gov. Al Smith, not the last political figure to step into a photo booth. In 1953, the newlyweds Jack and Jackie Kennedy took glowing self-portraits in one.

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol often used the photo booths tin Times Square to take portraits, including his own, which he incorporated into his art. When Warhol went to a 42nd Street arcade, he always had to try several photo booths so he could find the one that had the right combination of chemicals to produce the best imagery. He was ofent there all day with rolls of quarters, and he was quite choosy about the poses. Warhol’s use of photo booths was consistent with his appreciation of mug shots, snapshots and news photos. Warhol was a great connoisseur of these vernacular types of photography. He wasn’t making judgments. He understood that it doesn’t have to be a work of art to be a great image.

Times Square: A History of the Early Photo Booths

The Comical Side: Photo Booth Pranks

The Avant-Garde: Photo-Silhouette Booth

The Old Photomaton: Portraits for the Poor, Rich and Famous

Read more about the old-timey photo booths here.

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Tempelhof Airport: Fading Memories of The Berlin Airlift of 1948-49

Sometimes you can read a city though a cultural landmark, and for years Berlin’s historic beacon has been Tempelhof Airport. As the 60th anniversary of the historic, American-led airlift to deliver food and supplies to the besieged capital approaches, Berlin’s mayor is going ahead with plans to close the airport by year’s end. Sadly, last-minute campaign by his political opponents to save it through a citywide referendum late last month won a majority, but not enough Berliners turned out to make the vote official.

Once the site of a Prussian parade ground, where Orville Wright showed off his flying machines, “the mother of all airports,” as the architect Norman Foster has called Tempelhof, was one of the world’s first commercial airfields. During the 1930s, Tempelhof was enlarged for Adolf Hitler into what was then the largest building in Europe, a triumphal entrance into the new Germany, right in the very heart of Berlin.

And there it still stands, a short 15-minute taxi ride from the Brandenburg Gate, dozing in the spring sun, the finest work of Berlin architecture surviving from that era. A soaring, light-filled, surprisingly welcoming space, now the main terminal now serves only a dozen or so short-haul commercial flights a day. Most of the huge building, which stretches for blocks, is empty today. But it’s still a glorious time capsule of mid-century, with towering windows, a 1950s neon sign for a defunct restaurant at one end, and a handful of lethargic employees slumped behind their desks, staring into the vastness or skimming the newspaper.

With America’s reputation currently in a nosedive in Germany, the Berlin airport stands as a reminder that American valor has had better days. On June 26, 1948, in response to the Soviet blockade of Berlin, C-47s began landing millions of tons of food, coal and other supplies in an operation centered at Tempelhof Airport. At its height, the airlift landed planes every 90 seconds in West Berlin, along the way dropping handkerchief parachutes of raisins and chocolate into the arms of children. The planes came to be called “Raisin bombers.”

The Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949

Read more from The New York Times here.

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