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Posts Tagged ‘Max Fleischer

“I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money. They said, ‘What for?’ I said, ‘I’m going to buy some sugar.”*…

 

 

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Sugar is sprinkled everywhere in our language. When children are good and happy, they are cutie pies. Cool stuff can be “sweet, man.” Our crush is a sweetheart, and our sweetheart might be our honey. “A spoonful of sugar,” as Mary Poppins croons, is a bribe, something to help “the medicine go down.” Sugar is leisure and celebration — what British birthday would be complete without the stickiness of cake frosting on fingers? It is, according to Roland Barthes, an attitude — as integral to the concept of Americanness as wine is to Frenchness. In the 1958 hit song “Sugartime,” to which Barthes was referring, the sunny, smiling McGuire Sisters harmonize sweetly, filling their mouths with honey: “Sugar in the mornin’ / Sugar in the evenin’ / Sugar at suppertime / Be my little sugar / And love me all the time.”

And like anything pleasurable, sugar is often characterized as a vice. The flood of industrial sugar into packaged food has real public health consequences, but predictably, the backlash has taken on a puritanical zeal far beyond reasonable concerns. Sugar is “America’s drug of choice,” one headline claimed. “Is sugar the world’s most popular drug?” wondered another. Even those selling sugary food winkingly parrot the language of addiction — consider Milk Bar’s notoriously sticky, seductively sweet Crack Pie. A drug that decimated predominantly poor, black American communities is now a punchline for middle-class white indulgence.

For black Americans, sweetness was an essential ingredient in Jim Crow-era stereotypes designed to keep newly emancipated people from their rights. Those stereotypes persist — and even generate profit — today…

Sugar is survival. It is a respite for palates swept clean of childish joy for too long. It is sexual desire and pleasure, and also temptation and sin. And it is a commodity, one historically produced with some of the most brutal labor practices on the planet. In the Western imagination, sugar is pleasure, temptation, and vice — and in modern history, it is original sin…

How a taste for sweetness, developed for survival, became a stand-in for everything good — and evil — about our culture: “Sugartime.”

* Steven Wright

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As turn to the tart, we might send bodacious birthday greetings to that most fabulous of flappers, Betty Boop; she made her first appearance on this date in 1930.  The creation of animator Max Fleischer, she debuted in “Dizzy Dishes” (in which, still unevolved as a character, she is drawn as an anthropomorphic female dog).

 

Written by LW

August 9, 2018 at 1:01 am

The Museum of Talents Past…

Ability to draw easily and well on the blackboard is a power which every teacher of children covets. Such drawing is a language which never fails to hold attention and awaken delighted interest.

From Blackboard Sketching (1908), a book by Massachusetts based artist and teacher Frederik Whitney (1858-1949) on the lost art of blackboard drawing.

Via the fabulous Public Domain Review, which is currently also featuring such glorious arcana as what is probably the first animated film, produced by Emil Cohl, considered the “father of animation” also in 1908 (readers may recall Cohl’s influence, as seen in “Meet the Beetles“)…

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And also a series of animated GIFs like the one below excerpted by Okkult Motion Pictures from Max Fleischer’s Bubbles, part of his “Out of the Inkwell” series, which also includes The Tantalizing Fly.

Many more treasures at Public Domain Review.

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As we pay retrospective respect, we might improvise some birthday greetings for Thelonious Sphere Monk; he was born on this date in 1917.  A jazz pianist and composer, Monk contributed an incisively-improvisational style and a number of beloved compositions to the jazz canon (e.g., “Round Midnight,” Straight, No Chaser”).  Indeed, Monk is the second-most recorded jazz composer (after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70).  Monk is one of five jazz musicians (so far) to have been featured on the cover of Time (after Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and Duke Ellington, and before Wynton Marsalis).

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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Written by LW

October 10, 2013 at 1:01 am

Relatively speaking…

Max Fleischer and his lady love (source)

Max Fleischer and his brother Dave were giants in the history of animation.  The most significant competition to Walt Disney in the formative years of the art, they created Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, and brought Bimbo, Popeye, Superman, and Gulliver’s Travels to the screen.  Along the way, they invented a number of technologies and techniques that have become essential to the form.

Rotoscope by Max Fleischer, patent drawing from 1914

But possibly the the strangest– and arguably the most wonderful– thing they ever did was this 1923 short film blithely and elegantly explaining the concept of relativity:

TotH to Curiosity Counts.

As we await the animators of our new paradigms, we might wish a minimal(ist) birthday to Philip Glass, award-winning composer and first cousin once removed of (R)D friend and hero Ira Glass; Philip was born on this date in 1937.

Philip Glass

 

 

 

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