The First Contact Sheet of the Counterculture

“It was a typical Village Voice front page from 1967: Over the left two columns, a street portrait of the ‘dean of American pacifists,’ A.J. Muste; over the right two, an action shot of police arresting Charlotte Moorman, the Juilliard-trained cellist who was a must-see on the downtown art and music scene — not least because she sometimes performed nude. Both photographs were snapped by the Voice’s always-on-the-scene Fred W. McDarrah. ‘The Voice of the Village: Fred W. McDarrah Photographs,’ featuring many of the Voice staffer’s up-close-and-personal shots of the cultural and political luminaries of the 1960s and ’70s, opens today at the Museum of the City of New York. As we wrote in an earlier Voice archive piece, ‘If reporters are charged with providing ‘the first rough draft of history,’ the ground-level, street-smart photojournalist McDarrah gave us some of the first contact sheets of the counterculture.’ It is hard to open one of the green-bound Voice archive volumes from those tumultuous decades and not see, after a few turns of the pages, a ‘Voice: Fred W. McDarrah’ credit line. Born in Brooklyn in 1926, McDarrah served in the Army with the occupation forces in Japan after World War II. When he returned to New York, he began photographing the downtown demimonde, which he termed, ‘The most colorful community of interesting people, fascinating places, and dynamic ideas.’ In the August 23, 1962, issue of the paper, it was official. Fred W. McDarrah had become the Village Voice’s staff photographer. The announcement appeared on page 2 of that issue, surrounded by ads for galleries, bookshops, bars, and health-food stores. McDarrah’s name now appeared on the masthead, which was on page 4, surrounded by letters to the editor about the Voice’s coverage of the suicide of Marilyn Monroe and the trial of the murderous Nazi bureaucrat Adolph [sic] Eichmann. McDarrah, the native New Yorker, could be found on the spot, all over the city. His main subject, however, remained the creative vanguard of downtown, including a compelling 1966 portrait of LeRoi Jones, the poet, theater director, and activist later known as Amiri Baraka. The tenor of the times McDarrah was capturing can also be felt on these pages in ads for jazz innovators Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, as well as in calls to redeem war bonds as a way to protest war in Vietnam. …”

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Anti-Intellectualism in American Life – Richard Hofstadter (1963)

“Different moments that are chronicled in this exhibition point up the tensions and ambiguities that characterize the role of the intellectual in a democratic society. For instance, is the American intellectual ultimately responsible to the public, or to the freedom of the intellect itself? Does the ‘engaged intellectual’ risk sacrificing their independence? Conversely, does distance from ‘the people’ necessarily imply a haughty – and anti-democratic – refusal to participate in the civic life of the community and the nation? Hofstadter, as we have seen, willingly participated in the radical social movements of the 1930s, but by the middle of the 1950s he had come to fear the ‘dark side’ of mass politics — especially the dangerous hostility towards intellectuals that often accompanied it. He had never regarded the average citizen with disdain; indeed, as this exhibition demonstrates, he was quite willing to intervene in public debate and to engage a broad audience. Hofstadter was nonetheless concerned with the degradation of the public sphere and with the growing contempt for reasoned debate during the McCarthy years. It is clear in hindsight that when he completed his 1963 work, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, an ambitious study of the (often tenuous) social position of American intellectuals, the disconcerting experiences of the previous decade greatly informed it. Hofstadter began by acknowledging that the intellectuals in midcentury American society enjoyed an unprecedented level of privilege and power. No longer confined to the university lecture hall or the bohemian fringe, academicians were now enmeshed in the workings of big business, military research, and government policy. (Perhaps nothing symbolized this more than the 1961 appointment of Hofstadter’s colleague, the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., as Special Assistant and adviser to President John F. Kennedy). Paradoxically, Hofstadter argued, that coveted status was the very source of the intellectuals’ vulnerability: as their influence grew, so did popular resentment of ‘the experts.’ Demagogues, like the Republican Senator Joe McCarthy, could easily use this to their advantage, ‘arousing the fear of subversion’ with an appeal that blended anti-elitism with widespread anxieties relating to ethnic difference and outside influence over domestic affairs. …”
Anti-Intellectualism In American Life (1963)
W – Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, W – Richard Hofstadter
Commentary (Sep, 1963)
Is Anti-Intellectualism Ever Good for Democracy?
Columbia Journalism Review: The Tea Party is timeless
YouTube: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963)

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“Goldfinger” 1959-1965

“In late 1964 a memorable James Bond movie named Goldfinger arrived in U.S. theaters.  It was the third in a series of films featuring British secret agent James Bond, then played by Scottish actor, Sean Connery. The Bond films, produced by British filmmaker EON Productions, were based on the novels of British writer, Ian Fleming, a WWII-era Royal Navy intelligence officer.  Fleming penned the famous spy novels in the 1950s and early 1960s.  His first ‘Bond book,’ Casino Royale, published in 1953, introduced the James Bond character, also known by his code name, ‘007.’  More Bond books followed, as did films, making for a famous series of both. In all, Fleming wrote a dozen Bond books between 1953 and 1966, among them: Live and Let Die (1954), Moonraker (1955), Diamonds Are Forever (1956), From Russia with Love (1957), Dr. No (1958), Goldfinger (1959), For Your Eyes Only (short story collection, 1960), Thunderball (1961), The Spy Who Loved Me (1962), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963), You Only Live Twice (1964), and The Man with the Golden Gun (1965). There were also two additional collections of short stories: Octopussy and The Living Daylights published in 1966.  … The James Bond entertainment empire has become one of the world’s most valuable, with its books, films, and music continuing to sell to the present day. Initially, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels were not bestsellers in America.  In the U.K., Fleming’s books enjoyed a popular following and mostly positive reviews through the 1950s – especially his first five books: Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia, with Love.  But beginning around March 1958, about the time Dr. No was published, he began to receive some unfavorable reviews from book critics, one saying his Bond books suffered from ‘the total lack of any ethical frame of reference.’ … In early 1961, after one of Fleming’s Bond books was mentioned by Life magazine’s White House reporter Hugh Sidey in an article about President John F. Kennedy’s reading habits, sales of all Fleming’s novels took off in America.  Sidey’s article in the March 17, 1961 issue of Life had listed Fleming’s From Russia With Love as one of Kennedy’s ten favorite books.  Sidey’s piece also mentioned that the President had invited Fleming to the White House for dinner. …”
The Pop History Dig (Audio)

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Shirley Chisholm

“Shirley Chisholm stares out from the side of a dozen coffee mugs these days, her epochal glasses, brocade dresses and distinct crown of curls recognizable trademarks of the most regenerative political figure in modern American culture. As a number of new congresswomen begin to emerge in her image, Ms. Chisholm, who 50 years ago began her service as the first African-American woman in Congress, representing Brooklyn’s 12th District, is enjoying a resurgence of interest 14 years after her death. The actor Viola Davis is producing and starring in a feature film about her, ‘The Fighting Shirley Chisholm,’ and the congresswoman will be portrayed by the actress Uzo Aduba in the upcoming series ‘Mrs. America,’ which chronicles the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The Shirley Chisholm State Park — the largest state park in New York City — opened July 2 in Brooklyn. The congresswoman will soon be the first female historical figure to have a public monument in Brooklyn. Representative Yvette Clarke, who holds the seat held by Ms. Chisholm, is working to get a statue of her placed in the United States Capitol. This month, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, another Brooklyn Democrat, had a portrait of her made to hang in the office of the House Democratic Caucus — which he heads — on Capitol Hill. ‘The social, economic and social-justice fights that Shirley Chisholm once led have sharpened in the Trump era,’ Mr. Jeffries said. Those forces have converged, he added, with ‘the logical attention to her 50th anniversary of becoming the first African-American woman in Congress.’  John Stanton, a writer in New Orleans, recently had a replica of the 2008 portrait of Ms. Chisholm that hangs in the Capitol tattooed on his knee. ‘People want heroes right now,’ Mr. Stanton said, ‘and they’re looking for heroes that aren’t just straight white men.’ Before the feminist movement fueled a slow wave of new women into Congress, Ms. Chisholm was a one-woman precursor to modern progressive politics. A community activist and educator who served briefly in the State Legislature, Ms. Chisholm decided to run for a House seat in 1968, her campaign centered squarely on gender; her primary opponent repeatedly suggested that a man was better suited to represent the area in Washington. …”
NY Times: 2019 Belongs to Shirley Chisholm
W – Shirley Chisholm
12 Facts About Shirley Chisholm, The First African-American to Run For President
YouTube: Women in politics remember Shirley Chisholm


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Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (1969)

“Neil Young’s music has been a unique landscape of musical terrain across five decades. His catalog is large and for those unfamiliar, it can loom unapproachable. As with most things, it’s easy to start at the beginning. His 1969 self-titled debut is a bright start—a collection of songs with many colors, shapes, and textures mimicking the geometric, psychedelic portrait of Young on the LP’s cover. If you’re familiar with any other Neil Young, whether or not it’s within the Buffalo Springfield or CSNY universes, listening to it is like reading a beloved author’s lesser known work. It’s not as tight or fully realized, but it provides a groundwork of expectations to launch Neil Young as a solo artist. He clearly had a lot on his mind as his first two solo records were released in 1969. His sophomore LP and first with his famous backing band Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, turns 50 this week. And more so than his debut, it’s an excellent record to start with for new listeners and great to return to for fans. With only seven tracks, Everybody Knows only logs forty minutes, but it’s a ripe forty at that. Four of the songs became favorite standards for Young and the band, a practiced group that would play with or without Young for decades. The only two consistent Crazy Horse members, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina on bass and drums respectively, would share vocal duties with all the other members who came and went through the years, a rotating cast of eleven men. Crazy Horse fluffs up Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere comparatively to Neil’s self-titled from short stories to a full-fledged novel, replete with characters we’d return to as listeners eager to hear different sides of their stories through different versions and arrangements. Everybody Knows starts with ‘Cinnamon Girl,’ one of Neil’s most famous tunes. He shares vocal duties with Crazy Horse’s Danny Whitten, whose voice soars higher than Young’s deep range. The familiar greasy riff kicks us into gear with an instant downbeat clap track pushing into Young’s daydream to find a Cinnamon Girl. …”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ Turns 50 (Video)
W – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Spotlight: Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

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The Clowns – Federico Fellini (1970)

“From his childhood days in Rimini, Fellini was fascinated by circuses, clowns and itinerant performers, and they figured in his films from his directorial debut, Variety Lights, onwards. They featured most famously perhaps in La Strada and Otto e Mezzo, and most explicitly in I Clowns, his second film financed by TV, which opened simultaneously on the small screen and in cinemas at Christmas 1970. Fellini saw himself as both a clown and a ringmaster and the circus as a metaphor for life itself, and The Clowns, which puzzled and disturbed audiences with its bitterness, ambivalence and obsession with death, is an uncategorisable combination of documentary, memoir and classic clowning, a sort of fantasia about the history and nature of a dying art form. Anticipating Amarcord, his autobiographical masterpiece of 1973, it begins by recreating eight-year-old Federico’s first experience of the circus as a dream that merges into nightmare and identifies the clowns with every small town’s grotesque outsiders. It then becomes a fake documentary in which Fellini himself and a crew of incompetent assistants investigate the state of the profession in Paris and Rome with retired practitioners and historians, most of them sad and pessimistic. When an interviewer confronts the director to ask him what is the film’s message, a bucket falls over Fellini’s head before he can speak and another over the interviewer’s. This is a question we must articulate for ourselves. Finally the movie modulates into an extended performance by a team of clowns built around the funeral of a great star of the big top. It’s a beautifully made movie with ravishing colour of a kind not normally seen on TV in 1970 and a haunting, eclectic score by Nino Rota. Far from being an offhand minor work by a maestro, it is one of Fellini’s most complex, allusive and elusive pictures, of which Sam Rohdie writes in his Fellini Lexicon: ‘I Clowns is a memorial to a childhood of clowns and the enchantment of clowns, including the terror of them. The film is their requiem and their return to life. It is thereby a reconciliation.’ The disc also contains Adriano Aprà’s ‘visual essay’ Fellini’s Circus, an illuminating and informative analysis of I Clowns that’s half as long as the film itself. …”
Guardian: I Clowns review – Philip French on Fellini’s beautifully made 1970 documentary/memoir
W – The Clowns
I clowns: Fellini’s Mockumentary
YouTube: The Clowns – Federico Fellini – Clip with English Subs

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The Summer Game – Roger Angell (1972)

June 11, 1972: “The Summer Game provides such finely observed and finely written reportage on major‐league baseball during the past decade that I hope it will triumph over certain of its disadvantages. One is that it is a collection of pieces. Collections don’t sell unless they have an obvious gimmick, and I don’t see any in sight for Roger Angell’s witty but tactful coverage. Still, The Summer Game is a genuine book, unified by its ongoing account of the new developments and distortions of the sport and integrated by Angell’s consistent ability to capture the ‘feel’ of the player, the game, the series, the pennant race, and by his articulate and imaginative defense of the sport itself against its adversaries, beginning with the major league owners. All of this creates a second liability: Angell’s book is written for the sophisticated fan rather than for the adolescent one—chronological or arrested—that most sports books are aimed at. A writer concerned with the nature and nuances of baseball space and baseball time, or with the social and psychological differences between the pastoral old ball parks and the new programed stadiums, or who refers, however naturally and aptly, to the ‘Caligulan whims’ ot the owner of the Oakland A’s, or who elegantly sums up the Mets in 1968 as a team that ‘went on winning, sometimes implacably, sometimes improbably,’ is not likely to reach many of the heavy consumers. There have been a few relatively adult baseball books such as Ball Four and now The Boys of Summer which make the best‐seller lists, mostly because they cater to the contemporary penchant for candor or nostalgia or both, and satisfy the fan’s perennial question of what So‐and‐So is ‘really like.’ Angell has none of this; his base of observation is behind first base rather than in the clubhouse or hotel room. He will tell you that Choo Choo Coleman, a catcher for the early Mets, ‘handles outside curve balls like a man fighting off bees,’ but nothing about his sex life or racial attitudes. Angell’s book has the further misfortune of following in the wake and glare of the similarly titled The Boys of Summer, by another Roger (Kahn) to boot. …”
NY Times (June 11, 1972)
The Interior Stadium – Roger Angell
New Yorker: Looking at the Field – Roger Angell (February 25, 2017)

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