Stan Brakhage – Mothlight (1963)

“Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight is an experimental testament to the broad interpretation of’ ‘anything’ in Holis Frampton’s quote, ‘It seems that a film is anything that may be put in a projector that will modulate the emerging beam of light.’ For Mothlight, Brakhage used dead moths, flowers, and glass in order to create an entirely camera-less movie. The result is a visually daring film that highlights the filmmaker’s style and theory. The film can be seen as a prime example of Brakhage’s attempt to overcome the conventions and stereotypes of cinema and the act of seeing. As the director famously wrote in Metaphors on Vision,

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.

Mothlight is essentially this ‘adventure of perception.’ Out of the context of the film’s title or Brakhage’s commentary, it is hard to discern any ‘objects’ or put linguistic labels on the images seen. Thus the film achieves the director’s desire to transcend the shackles of language and conventional ‘compositional logic.’ This compositional logic refers to the the way we recognize objects in everyday life, but also about the conventions of cinema, which Brakhage challenged radically with Mothlight and his other works. According to zoologist Andrew Parker and his light switch theory, vision first appeared 543 million years ago, and was responsible for the great life diversity that appeared during the Cambrian explosion. The McGurk effect, on the other hand, showed the dominance of vision over the other senses and the sensory illusions that this can cause. Mothlight depicts an almost primordial image of abstract expressionism outside of the linguistic realm, and extends vision to non-human terms. It is the natural tendency of the moths to strive towards the light that ultimately causes their destruction. But it is the film light that causes their resurrection. …”
Stan Brakhage: Mothlight, Death & Cinema Resurrection
W – Mothlight
W – Stan Brakhage
YouTube: Mothlight

Posted in Movie, Documentary | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Blues People: Negro Music in White America – LeRoi Jones (1963)

Blues People: Negro Music in White America is a seminal study of Afro-American music (and culture generally) by Amiri Baraka, who published it as LeRoi Jones in 1963. In Blues People Baraka explores the possibility that the history of black Americans can be traced through the evolution of their music. It is considered a classic work on jazz and blues music in American culture. The book documents the effects jazz and blues on American cultural, at musical, economic, and social levels. It chronicles the types of music dating back to the slaves up to the 1960s. Blues People argues that ‘negro music;—as Amiri Baraka calls it—appealed to and influenced new America. According to Baraka, music and melody is not the only way the gap between American culture and African-American culture was bridged. Music also helped spread values and customs through its media exposure. Blues People demonstrates the influence of African Americans and their culture on American culture and history. The book examines blues music as performance, as cultural expression, even in the face of its commodification. To Baraka, Blues People represented ‘everything [he] had carried for years, what [he] had to say, and [himself]’. The book is deeply personal and chronicles what brought him to believe that blues was a personal history of his people in the United States. The resonance and desperation of this type of music is what compelled Baraka to learn about the history of blues music. He learned through his studies that the ‘Africanisms’ is directly related to American culture, rather than being solely related to Black people. Baraka dedicates the book ‘to my parents … the first Negroes I ever met’. …”
NYBooks: The Blues – Ralph Ellison
NPR – Black History Meets Black Music: ‘Blues People’ At 50
[PDF] Blues People: Negro Music in White America

Posted in Books, Jazz, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Daley

Richard Joseph Daley (May 15, 1902 – December 20, 1976) was an American politician who served as the 38th Mayor of Chicago for a total of 21 years beginning on April 20, 1955 until his death on December 20, 1976. Daley was the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee for 23 years, holding both positions until his death in office in 1976. Daley was Chicago‘s third consecutive mayor from the working-class, heavily Irish American Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, where he lived his entire life. Daley is remembered for doing much to avoid the declines that some other ‘rust belt‘ cities like Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit experienced during the same period. He had a strong base of support in Chicago’s Irish Catholic community, and he was treated by national politicians such as Lyndon B. Johnson as a pre-eminent Irish American, with special connections to the Kennedy family. Daley played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and of Hubert Humphrey in 1968. … While many members of Daley’s administration were charged with corruption and convicted, Daley himself was never charged with corruption. … In August, the 1968 Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago. Intended to showcase Daley’s achievements to national Democrats and the news media, the proceedings during the convention instead garnered notoriety for the mayor and city, descending into verbal outbursts on the part of politicians, and a circus for the media. With the nation divided by the Vietnam War and with the assassinations of King and Robert F. Kennedy earlier that year serving as backdrop, the city became a battleground for anti-Vietnam war protesters who vowed to shut down the convention. In some cases, confrontations between protesters and police turned violent, with images of this violence broadcast on national television. Later, anti-war activists Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and three other members of the ‘Chicago Seven‘ were convicted of crossing state lines with the intent of inciting a riot as a result of these confrontations, though the convictions were overturned on appeal. …”
W – Mayor Daley
W – 1968 Democratic National Convention protest activity
An excerpt from Battleground Chicago, The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention – Frank Kusch
NY Daily: ‘Chicago 1968’ the most controversial convention of them all
YouTube: Ribicoff vs. Daley at Democratic National Convention 1968

Posted in 1968 DNC, Chicago Eight, Hippie, Jerry Rubin, John Kennedy, Lyn. Johnson, Vietnam War | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


“The C-Ration, or Type C ration, was an individual canned, pre-cooked, and prepared wet ration. It was intended to be issued to U.S. military land forces when fresh food (A-ration) or packaged unprepared food (B-ration) prepared in mess halls or field kitchens was not possible or not available, and when a survival ration (K-ration or D-ration) was insufficient. .. The C-Ration was replaced in 1958 with the Meal Combat Individual (MCI). Although officially a new ration, the MCI was derived from and very similar to the original C-Ration, and in fact continued to be called ‘C-Rations’ by American troops throughout its production life as a combat ration (1958–1980). … End of the C-Ration. At its introduction, the QMC stated that the Type C ration was intended for short-term use for periods not to exceed three days. After the war, in light of field evaluation reports of monotony, the QMC Food Services Branch used this limitation as a defense to the largely negative response to the C ration during the war, while at the same time advocating standardization on the C-Ration as the sole individual packaged ration for U.S. troops. Not only did the QMC decide not to develop or introduce new alternative lightweight individual rations, it successfully campaigned for the elimination of alternatives, including the K-ration, Mountain ration, Jungle ration, and even the 10-in-1 group ration (which had proven somewhat useful in boosting nourishment and alleviating complaints of monotony for men living for extended periods on C-Rations or K-Rations). Instead, the C-Ration, still designated as a packaged ration intended for infrequent or short-term use, went through a series of largely unsuccessful minor revisions. … Primarily implemented due to cost concerns, the selection of a heavy canned wet ration resulted in a severe weight penalty for troops marching on foot and forced to carry a multi-day supply of rations. The overuse of the canned wet ration reached an extreme during the Vietnam War, where American troops resorted to placing stacked ration cans in socks to save bulk and reduce noise on patrol, while their enemy increased their mobility by carrying lightweight rations of dry rice. The Quartermaster Branch’s insistence on canned wet rations for all postwar field issue, and the failure to develop a suitable lightweight dehydrated or other dry ration for jungle and other extreme environments led directly to the hurried development of the LRP ration or Long Range Patrol ration in 1966. …”
W – Meal, Combat, Individual ration
9 Unforgettable Survival Lessons From The Army’s C-Rations (Video)
YouTube: 1969 Vietnam Meal Combat Individual C Ration Spaghetti Vintage MRE Review Oldest War Food, 1964 Vietnam C Ration Ham & Lima Beans Vintage MCI MRE Review Oldest Cigarette War Food Tasting

Posted in Vietnam War | Tagged | Leave a comment

With the Weathermen: The Personal Journal of a Revolutionary Woman – Susan Stern (1975)

“Drugs. Sex. Revolutionary violence. From its first pages, Susan Stern’s memoir With the Weathermen provides a candid, first-hand look at the radical politics and the social and cultural environment of the New Left during the late 1960s. The Weathermen–a U.S.-based, revolutionary splinter group of Students for a Democratic Society–advocated the overthrow of the government and capitalism, and toward that end, carried out a campaign of bombings, jailbreaks, and riots throughout the United States. In With the Weathermen Stern traces her involvement with this group, and her transformation from a shy, married graduate student into a go-go dancing, street-fighting ‘macho mama.’ In vivid and emotional language, she describes the attractions and difficulties of joining a collective radical group and in maintaining a position within it. Stern’s memoir offers a rich description of the raw and rough social dynamics of this community, from its strict demands to ‘smash monogamy,’ to its sometimes enforced orgies, and to the demeaning character assassination that was led by the group’s top members. She provides a distinctly personal and female perspective on the destructive social functionality and frequently contradictory attitudes toward gender roles and women’s rights within the New Left. Laura Browder’s masterful introduction situates Stern’s memoir in its historical context, examines the circumstances of its writing and publication, and describes the book’s somewhat controversial reception by the public and critics alike. …”
U. Richmond
W – Susan Stern
[PDF] With the Weathermen: The Personal Journal of a Revolutionary Woman

Posted in Black Power, Books, Feminist, SDS, Weather Underground | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Easy Pieces – Bob Rafelson (1970)

Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 American drama film written by Carole Eastman (as Adrien Joyce) and Bob Rafelson, and directed by Rafelson. The film stars Jack Nicholson, with Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Ralph Waite, and Sally Struthers in supporting roles. The film tells the story of a surly oil rig worker, Bobby Dupea, whose seemingly rootless, blue-collar existence belies his privileged youth as a piano prodigy. When Bobby learns that his father is dying, he goes home to see him, bringing along his pregnant girlfriend, Rayette (Black), a waitress. … Most of Bobby’s time is spent with his waitress girlfriend, Rayette, who has dreams of singing country music, or in the company of Elton, with whom he bowls, gets drunk, and has sex with other women. Bobby has evidently not told Elton that he is a former classical pianist who comes from an eccentric family of musicians. … Reaching his destination, Bobby, embarrassed by Rayette’s lack of polish, registers her in a motel before proceeding to his family home on an island in Puget Sound. …The chicken salad sandwich scene. A famous scene from the film takes place in a roadside restaurant where Bobby tries to get a waitress to bring him a side order of toast with his breakfast. The waitress refuses, stating that toast is not offered as a side item, despite the diner’s offering a chicken salad sandwich on toast. Bobby appeals to both logic and common sense, but the waitress adamantly refuses to break with the restaurant’s policy of only giving customers what is printed in the menu. Ultimately, Bobby orders both his breakfast and the chicken salad sandwich on toast, telling the waitress to bring the sandwich to him without mayonnaise, butter, lettuce, or chicken, culminating in Bobby’s responding to the waitress’ incredulity at his order to ‘hold the chicken’ with ‘hold it between your knees!’ The waitress then indignantly orders them to leave, and Nicholson knocks the glasses of water off the table with a sweep of his arm. …”
Bob Rafelson’s ‘Five Easy Pieces’ is the quintessential film of the so-called American New Wave (Video)
Roger Ebert
One for the road: Bob Rafelson and ‘Five Easy Pieces’
TCM: Five Easy Pieces — (Movie Clip) Open, Stand By Your Man
YouTube: Trailer – (1970), Hold the Chicken

Posted in Movie | Tagged | Leave a comment

We choose to go to the Moon

“On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech about the effort to reach the Moon, to a large crowd gathered at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. It was one of Kennedy’s earlier speeches meant to persuade the American people to endorse the Apollo program, the national effort to land a man on the Moon. When John F. Kennedy became president during January 1961, many Americans perceived that the United States was losing the Space Race with the USSR, which had successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, almost four years earlier. The perception increased when during April 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space before the U.S. could launch its first Project Mercury astronaut. Convinced of the political need to make an achievement which would decisively demonstrate America’s space superiority, and after consulting with NASA to identify such an achievement, Kennedy stood before Congress on May 25, 1961, and proposed that ‘this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.’ Kennedy’s goal gave a specific mission to National Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s Apollo program. This required the expansion of NASA’s Space Task Group into a Manned Spacecraft Center. Houston, Texas was chosen as the site, and the Humble Oil and Refining Company donated the land during 1961, with Rice University as an intermediary. Kennedy took advantage of the 1962 construction of the facility to deliver a speech on the nation’s space effort. …”
John F. Kennedy Moon Speech – Rice Stadium
YouTube: We Choose to go to the Moon

Posted in John Kennedy, Project Mercury | Tagged , | Leave a comment