Racial Injustice in ‘Heart’ and ‘Ragtime’

Two classic American novels, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Ragtime, expose an ongoing American tragedy.

The novels The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Ragtime appear as different as night and day. Carson McCullers’s Heart takes place in the post-war Georgia circa 1930, E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime the pre-war New York City of 1902-1912; Heart revolves around solitude among outcasts in a rural berg, Ragtime around glitzy dreams in a churning, syncopated metropolis. Yet both books’ plots are propelled by a black man’s thwarted quest for justice — a sad story that continues to be told today.

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Friday Mood Music: Chuck Berry


It’s Friday! It’s also the first day of Black History Month.

That said, there is no better fit for this week’s “Friday Mood Music” than Chuck Berry, the St. Louis-born musician whose regarded as the unofficial father of rock and roll. This here footage’s from a 1965 performance for the French program, Face au Public, and the tracks include “Promised Land” and, of course, “Johnny B. Goode.”

Have a great weekend!

Found in the LOC: 13 Woodcuts from 1720

For this week’s Found in the LOC, I present 13 gorgeous woodcuts by Tachibana Morikuni.

Information on Morikuni is few and far between, but I learned he was born in 1679 in Osaka, and was trained in the art of woodcutting by a man named Tsuruzawa Tanzan. I also discovered Morikuni published three books: 1714’s Ehon kojidan (Old Stories about Illustrated Picture Books), Ehon utsushi takarabukuro (A Treasure Pouch of Picture Book Sketches) in 1720, and Unpitsu soga (Strokes of the Brush and Rough Pictures), posthumously, in 1749, one year after his death.

His legacy, however, lived on his apprentice and son, Tachibana Yasukuni, whose work is also in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress dates the Morikuni images here circa 1720. Featuring foxes, rams,  horses, cats, and even boars, Morkikuni’s art is quite the menagerie. Above you see “Domestic cat nursing kittens.” Some beauty never goes out of style.

And click here for more Found in the LOC.

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Found in the LOC: 13 Bill Perkins Costume Designs

For 2019’s first Found in the LOC, feast your eyes on these 13 thirties-era costume sketches by designer William Perkins.

I haven’t found too much  information about Perkins, but he clearly had a knack for the theatric and an eye for alluring style. Below, you’ll find costumes Perkins designed for a production of William Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, as well as some for Jack Erman’s  The Mystery of the Broadwalk Asylum, a sci-fi tale that, if the notes are correct, starred Martha Wright before she became Broadway sensation.

Most notable are Perkins’ designs for the 1938 premiere of activist Arthur Arent’s One-Third of A Nation.

Produced by the New Deal-era Federal Theater Project, One-Third condemned political leaders for the affordable housing crisis in New York City and other urban areas. The general message: slums and other dilapidated dehumanized and endangered innocent people for capitalist gain. It drew 270,000 viewers in the city alone, and even more once it toured across major urban areas.

You can imagine how this went over in DC: Conservative lawmakers were so incensed that they rallied their forces against the Federal Theater Project and forced its closure the next year.

Above, Perkins’ 1937 sketch of Winter’s Tale‘s Antigonus, the poor schmuck who gets eaten by a bear while abandoning a baby on the king’s orders. But at least he was wearing a gorgeous robe before becoming the beast’s dinner!

See more of Perkins’ mesmerizing sketches AFTER THE JUMP.

And click here for more Found in the LOC.

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ICYI 2018 Year in Review

Whoa. Where did 2018 go? I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s nearly done now. To celebrate, here are ten of my favorite stories from ICYI over the past twelve months, in no particular order.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Drinking Problem

Join, or Die, America’ First Meme

All the LGBT Books Around My House

Was Pocahontas Her Real Name?

Lyndon Johnson Hated The Graduate

“Daybreak,” Over and Over.

16 Posters By Graphic Great Lester Beall

The Incredible Arthur Ellerman

Found in the LOC: A Cat’s Autobiography

Paul Revere: Art Thief

Found in the LOC: 11 Winter Scenes for the Solstice

“Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Frozen ground,” Marjory Collins, 1943

Winter has arrived, and while the days will now get longer, the season’s here to stay for a minute.

To prepare us what’s to come, here are eleven gorgeous winter scenes captured between 1860-1943, including a shot from ICYI favorite Marion Post Wolcott, a few of a frozen-solid Niagara Falls, two showing the eerie, frost-bitten aftermath of the 1912 Equitable Building fire, and a 1901 shot of DC under deep freeze, which is perfect considering we’re currently this close to a government shutdown.

Ch-ch-check out all the frosty shots AFTER THE JUMP.

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Found in the LOC: 20 Old Newsstands, 1937-1943

(“Chicago, Illinois. Newsstand in Union Station train concourse, 1943,” Jack Delano)

Newspapers have played a central role in the American narrative since colonial days, when editors, writers, and just plain average folk used the media to make change. And papers remain just as important to our democracy today, as Trump and his allies try to twist reality to their own interests. And the American people know this; that’s why, even as print versions suffer and shutter, digital subscriptions to outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal continue to soar – We want the truth!

To celebrate the newspaper and its essential place in our culture, here are 20 images of newsstands across America, from 1937-1942, taken by some of the greatest names in photography: Marjory Collins, Russell Lee,  Edwin Locke, Arthur Rothstein, and John Vachon.

What’s so incredible here is the wide, only-in-America spectrum of representation: From Japanese Americans reading magazines to Mexican Americans selling diarios, from Baltimore workers reading news about World War II to a New Yorker newsie lost in dozens of titles; from Minnesota to Memphis, Texas to Oregon, these are snapshots of America as it is and as it should always remain.  And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some early editions of Detective Comics and Action Comics!

(“Los Angeles, California. Newsstand on a street corner, 1942,” Russell Lee)

Check out the whole collection AFTER THE JUMP!

And click here for more Found in the LOC!

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