The Americans: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

Danny Lyon: Turn of the Century Brownstone Apartments, Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Life on Bond Street in Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Boy Against Yellow Platform, Kosciusko Swimming Pool, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Children at Reis Park, a Public Beach in Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: People Watch Boats on the East River, Manhattan Bridge and NYC in the Background, 1974

The Americans: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

A Brooklyn Summer, 1974 is a beautiful collection of vintage photos of Brooklyn taken in the summer of 1974 by photographer Danny Lyon, and the vintage tone of these summertime photographs makes everything look so much hotter. Lyon spent two months snapping pictures of the daily life in the borough, exploring Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Green, Park Slope and other neighborhoods. Lyon captured the photographs of inner-city life while on assignment for Documerica, a project of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970s.

Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, Danny Lyon received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1973. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lyon made a name for himself covering life in Chicago’s impoverished Uptown neighborhood and the Southern Civil Rights movement. Lyon went on to give the world three incredible works: The Bikeriders, in which he chronicled his travels as a member of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, documenting the large-scale demolition of our country’s greatest city back in 1967, and Conversations with the Dead, in which he photographed and wrote about Texas inmates in 6 different prisons.

Lyon’s work has been frequently exhibited and collected; he is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grants in both film and photography.

You can read more about Danny Lyon’s work in The New York Times here.

The Museum of Photographic Arts: A Look at Danny Lyon

Photo-Gallery: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

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Jasper, Texas: The Hidden Half of a Small Texas Town

Parade, 1950s

J.H. Rowe High School Marching Band Led by Annie Clyde Dacus, ca. 1958-59

Jesse Brook (Second From Left) and Others Dancing, 1950s

Wedding Preparations, Bonnie Mitchell and Her Sister Ida Mae Mitchell, 1957

James Byrd Jr. (central portrait), 1967 Graduate of J. H. Rowe High School

Jasper, Texas: The Hidden Half of a Small Texas Town

In 1998, the small East Texas town of Jasper was shaken by the brutal, racially motivated killing of a forty-nine-year old African American named James Byrd Jr. The international coverage of that traumatic race-crime did not, for the most part, reveal the stark past and complicated social life of this historically segregated community. For example, little notice was paid to the photographs of Alonzo Jordan (1903-1984), a local photographer who had made Byrd’s high school graduation portrait, and who had worked for more than forty years to document African Americans in Jasper and in the surrounding rural areas. Jordan’s photographs are the subject of an exhibition, Jasper, Texas: The Community Photographs of Alonzo Jordan, presently on view at The International Center of Photography in New York City from January 21 to May 8, 2011.

Like many small-town photographers, Alonzo Jordan fulfilled various roles in the community. A barber by trade, Alonzo Jordan was also a Prince Hall Mason, a deacon in his church, an educator and a local leader, who took up photography to fill a social need he recognized. Over the years, he chronicled the everyday world of black East Texas, especially the civic events and social rituals that were integral to the daily life of the people he served. In addition to revealing the African American culture of Jasper during the Civil Rights era, this exhibition challenges existing formalistic approaches to the study of vernacular photography. It considers Jordan’s distinguished career as a “community photographer.”

In communities across the nation, photographs of this kind have been proudly displayed for decades in people’s homes, local churches, businesses, civic buildings and schools, because they document groups and individuals who are held in high esteem. Frequently, the photographer is not identified or credited, because the emphasis is upon the family, social and professional groups, and the recognition of the community infrastructure.

Jasper’s Journey: The Life of James Byrd Jr.

Slide Show: Jasper, Texas/The Hidden Half of a Small Texas Town

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Tattooed Under Fire: Fort Hood, War Experiences Inked on the Body

Tattooed Under Fire: Fort Hood, War Experiences Inked on the Body

American’s are deeply saddened by the shooting tragedy at Fort Hood, an attack by Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan on Thursday that killed 13 people and wounded 30 others on the Texas base.  Fort Hood is the largest U.S. military facility in the world and a major center for soldiers being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  It also houses the Army’s Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, which helps soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress when they return.  In both cases, upon deployment and return home, soldiers attempt to deal with serious emotional issues and many seek tattooing as a way to express them or even see the process as therapy.

Tattooed Under Fire is a documentary directed by Nancy Schiesari, a film that follows the young men and women at Fort Hood who seek solace at the tattoo studio, confessing fears, expressing anger, sharing secrets and relaying personal stories about the war.  Watching clips from the film now, seeing young, buzz-headed men and women describe their motivations for getting inked with caskets and corpses, one can’t help but to begin getting a feel for the intense experiences that become material for their body art.

The film was created long before Thursday’s mass shooting; isn’t a retroactive explanation for the shootings on Thursday.  But the film may nevertheless offer some insight into the tragedy in its depiction of the stress and anguish of military duty, of the horrors of war even in the relative comforts of home.  As one soldier explains, “The more times I go over, the more of Iraq’s going to come back with me.”

Tattooed Under Fire will begin airing on PBS stations starting November 8th.  It airs on Texas’s television station KLRU, which co-produced the documentary, at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10th.

Tattooed Under Fire: Fort Hood, War Experiences Inked on the Body

Viewers can read more about this riveting documentary here.

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Obama: Still Ready for America’s Next Great Chapter

After Hillary Clinton had put together a humiliating primary and caucus losing streak that stretched to her last twelve contests against Barack Obama, she managed to rebound on Tuesday night with wins in Ohio, Rhode Island and the Texas primary. Nevertheless, Obama picked up two more wins, with a victory in the Vermont primary and what currently appears to be a win in the Texas post-primary caucuses. Most political observers believe that Clinton will probably lose the next two contests, in Wyoming next Saturday and Mississippi on Tuesday.

Even after Clinton’s wins on Tuesday, Obama felt that the night had been a successful one for his supporters. “No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning,” he told a crowd outside the imposing Municipal Auditorium, down the block from the Alamo. “And we are on our way to winning this nomination.” Despite the losses on Tuesday, Obama still leads in the national popular vote and has also won more states than Clinton has nationwide to date.

Obama: Turning the Page

Music Video: We Are The Ones

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The New Bush Presidential Library: Bunkers, Crosses and Outhouses

The New George W. Bush Presidential Library

Now that the George W. Bush presidency is almost over, the world needs a place to archive the legacy of the 43rd president. That place will be at Southern Methodist University, in a building that will be designed by Robert A.M. Stern of Yale University. That new building will probably cost $500-million dollars. The agreement to house Bush’s Presidential Library at SMU has been met with much dismay by some of the university’s faculty and by disapproval from the United Methodist Church.

To some faculty members at Southern Methodist, the most troubling element of the project is a conservative policy institute that will be affiliated with the library and museum. Unlike similar think tanks and academic units connected to the presidential libraries of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, the institute created by George W. Bush will not be governed by Southern Methodist. Instead, the institute’s personnel will report only to the Bush foundation.

The Chronicle of Higher Education invited its readers to send in their own ideas about how that building should be designed, and invited people to send in their designs on the backs of envelopes. About 120 people sent in sketches that were good, bad, serious, humorous, abstract or really angry. Their designs took the form of toilets, bunkers, crosses, and W’s, some crudely drawn and some very elegant.

A sampling of those designs is displayed in The Chronicle on these pages.

The New Bush Library: Bunkers, Crosses and Outhouses

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Texas Students Forced to March Seven Miles to Vote for Obama

This is a political story that touches the heart. Founded in 1876, Prairie View A&M is a historically Black university in Prairie View, Texas. The school is home to about eight thousand students studying in a range of fields, most notably engineering, nursing and agriculture. They have a famous marching band called The Marching Storm, which, as you’ll see in the video below, is pretty appropriate.

The student body represents a large constituency of Democratic voters, and, that being the case, they don’t have it so easy. Texas Republicans, who run the electoral show, have historically gone out of their way to hinder Democratic voters, and the whole state was gerrymandered back in 2003. For the students of Prairie View, the Republicans in the state located their early-polling place more than seven miles from the school. As it turned out, this was just a minor inconvenience to the student body well-taught by their own Marching Storm.

Texas College Students March Seven Miles to Vote

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The Austin Debate: Clinton’s Attack Unveils Her Vulnerability

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: The Austin (TX) Presidential Debate

Senator Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton met at the University of Texas in Austin (TX) last night for a 90-minute debate, the 19th in their periodic series of debates and forums that has ranged from highly civilized to highly personal and hotly confrontational encounters. The first half of this first Austin debate was a relatively civil meeting. The two candidates agreed that high-tech surveillance measures are preferable to construction of a fence to curtail illegal immigration, disagreed on the proper response to a change in government in Cuba subsequent to Fidel Castro’s resignation and sparred frequently about health care, a central issue of the campaign.

The Austin Presidential Campaign Debate

Clinton had gone into last night’s debate knowing that she needed to somehow change the course of the campaign. She appeared to wait patiently like a fox for an opening to try to deprecate Obama, who was sitting just inches away from her on the stage. As the second half of the debate began, Clinton said, “I think you can tell from the first 45 minutes Senator Obama and I have a lot in common.” Hardly pausing to take a breath, she went on to say that, on the other hand, there were differences. In a moment that Clinton had clearly planned ahead, she raised the issue of Obama’s use in his campaign speeches of words first uttered by his friend, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

If your candidacy is going to be about words then they should be your own words,” she said. “Lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.” Her charge had a perhaps unexpected response, drawing jeers and boos at her from the debate audience. When Obama dismissed the charge out of hand, he turned the catcalls to applause by replying that, “What we shouldn’t be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up.”

Clinton Charges: Obama Copies His Words

That exchange marked an unusually combative moment in an otherwise generally respectful meeting. By the end of the debate, Clinton offered a comment of unprompted praise about Obama, saying that, “No matter what happens in this contest, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama.” A remarkable moment of Clinton vulnerability. She has revealed the paradoxical dilemma which confronts her: she still thinks that she can win the nomination, but at the same time she also knows that more likely than not, she won’t.

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