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Posts Tagged ‘James Baldwin

“I don’t think that there is any such thing as an old film; you don’t say, ‘I read an old book by Flaubert,’ or ‘I saw an old play by Moliere.'”*…

 

Stop Motion

 

A reprise of a sort…

If you were going to pick just one silent era stop motion short to watch–just one!–I’d happily recommend an early work by Ladislas Starevich: The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912). Yes, you’re reading that right–from 1912! Because despite being over a century old, it showcases a timeless skill, serves as an excellent introduction to silent era stop motion, and is pretty funny, if you ask me. Plus, depending on how well you know your classic comedies, the story just might be familiar…

 

If Buster Keaton had been Russian… and had worked in stop-motion: “Thoughts On: ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ (1912)

* Alain Resnais

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As we meet the beetles, we might send grateful birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  An essayist,  novelist, playwright, poet, and activist, he explored the intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in essays (as collected, for example, in Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time) and in novels (like Giovanni’s Room and If Beale Street Could Talk, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film).  His unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award–nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro.

In 1965, Baldwin met William F. Buckley at the Cambridge University Union to debate the proposition before the house: “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

Baldwin delivers his remarks slowly, somehow seeming both passionate and cool, like jazz. He is mesmerizing, as shown by the camera cutaways to the audience that sits rapt.

It almost seems unfair, a distortion, to excerpt Baldwin’s remarks because as a work of rhetoric, it surpasses even the best of Martin Luther King or JFK…

Perhaps it was brave of William F. Buckley to rise after Baldwin’s speech and take the opposite proposition, though it was likely far braver for Baldwin to accept the invitation in the first place. History has not provided a transcription of Buckley’s remarks, but in the video we can see that he scores some debaters’ points with some citations to authority and statistics. He garners laughs with a clever line or two. As compared to his 1961 editorial, Buckley’s stance is already moderating, as he never implies that blacks are savage and uncivilized as he does in that document.

In the end, the Cambridge Union Society took a vote on the proposition: “The American Dream is at the expense of the American negro.” The yays outpolled the nays 540-160.

Baldwin in a rout.

source  (see also Baldwin vs. Buckley: A Debate We Shouldn’t Need, As Important As Ever“)

 

 

“Isn’t Baldwin a well-known pervert?”*…

 

Your tax dollars at work: the FBI’s files on James Baldwin…

Baldwin was “Jimmy” to most of his friends and to himself as well when he meditated on the various aspects of his personality. The numerous “strangers called Jimmy Baldwin,” he observed of his own diversity, included an “older brother with all the egotism and rigidity that implies,” a “self-serving little boy,” and “a man” and “a woman, too. There are lots of people there.” This secret FBI summary made the mistake of treating variations on Baldwin’s name and identity as a set of potentially criminal pseudonyms. For the Bureau, “James Baldwin,” “James Arthur Baldwin,” “Jim Baldwin,” and “Jimmy Baldwin” were “aliases” needing correlation and correction.

More memos on “aliases,” sexuality, and The Blood Counters at: “A look inside James Baldwin’s 1,884-page FBI file.”

* J. Edgar Hoover

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As we shake our heads, we might recall that it was on this date in 1868 that Christopher Latham Sholes, Samuel W. Soulé, James Densmore, and Carlos Glidden received the first patent for a commercially-made typewriter.  This early version looked like a piano with ivory keys for the alphabetical keyboard. The patent was sold to Remington & Sons who began production and later developed the Remington Typewriter with the now standard Qwerty layout.

 source

 

Written by LW

June 23, 2017 at 1:01 am

“What’s the point of having great knowledge and keeping them all to yourself?”*…

 

One of the most attractive books in history, a colossal best seller, everybody knows this, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Really successful book, believe me. Why F.? I put my initial in the middle, I think it’s more normal that way, but everybody has his own style…

From the glorious Sherman Oaks Review of Books, an imagination of Donald Trump’s review of The Great Gatsby: “Celebrity Book Reviews: Donald on Scott.”

[image above: source]

* Donald J. Trump, Why We Want You To Be Rich: Two Men, One Message

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As we rethink the classics, we might send send elegiac birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  A novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, he charted the unspoken but palpable intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable tensions.  His essays (e.g., Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time) and his novels (perhaps especially Giovanni’s Room) shaped a generation of writers.  Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison eulogized Baldwin in The New York Times:

You knew, didn’t you, how I needed your language and the mind that formed it? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn’t you, how I loved your love? You knew. This then is no calamity. No. This is jubilee. “Our crown,” you said, “has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do,” you said, “is wear it.”

 source

 

Written by LW

August 2, 2016 at 1:01 am

Covered…

 

Your correspondent is off to Grits-A-Palooza, the annual festival of deep frying held amidst the dunes of the Barrier Islands.  Consequently, regular service will be interrupted until August 12 or so.  But lest readers fret, here is something to occupy the interim:

In February of 1966, Nancy Sinatra released her recording of Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”: an instant success, the single hit #! on the Billboard charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. that same month, and did equally well around the world.

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Since then, the song has taken on a life of its own: it’s been covered and released in styles ranging from country and swing, through metal, pop, rock, and punk, to dance and industrial.  “Dying For Bad Music” has helpfully collected 172 of these versions– all available to hear here.

It’s tough to choose a favorite:  Siouxsie’s version has sentimental appeal; KMFDM sets the industrial standard… but how to understand David Hasselhoff’s version, or Megadeath’s?  In the end, your correspondent has to go with the always-astounding Residents’ version

But, of course, the more important question is:  what do you choose?

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As we tap our (steel) toes, we might send elegant birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  A novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic of extraordinary insight and grace, Baldwin is best known for his novels Go Tell It On The Mountain and Giovanni’s Room, and for essays like those collected in The Fire Next Time.

Baldwin was a friend and collaborator of folks as various as Richard Avedon (his high school classmate), Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Billy Dee Williams, Huey Newton, Nikki Giovanni, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet, Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Rip Torn, Alex Haley, Miles Davis, Amiri Baraka, Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Mead, Josephine Baker, Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison.  Indeed, Nobel Laureate Morrison credits Baldwin with being “her literary inspiration, the person who showed her the true potential of writing”; in her eulogy for Baldwin she said:

You knew, didn’t you, how I needed your language and the mind that formed it? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn’t you, how I loved your love? You knew. This then is no calamity. No. This is jubilee. Our crown, you said, has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do, you said, is wear it.

Carl Van Vechten’s portrait of Baldwin

source

Written by LW

August 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

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