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The 5 Best Noir Films in the Public Domain: From Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street to Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker

4 hours 46 min ago

I try to catch the Noir City film festival whenever it comes through Los Angeles, not just because it uses the Egyptian, one of my favorite theaters in town, but because it comes curated by the experts. You’d have a hard time finding any group more knowledgeable about film noir than the Film Noir Foundation, who put Noir City on, and anyone in particular more knowledgeable than its founder and president, “noirchaeologist” Eddie Muller. The talks he sometimes gives before screenings give a sense of the depth and scope of his knowledge of the genre; you can sample it in a video clip where he introduces Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker (above) at last year’s Noir City Seattle.

You may remember Muller’s name from our post featuring his list of the 25 noir films that will stand the test of time. I do recommend Noir City as the finest context in which to watch any of them, but you don’t have to wait until the festival comes to your town to see a few, such as Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street and Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour. (2nd and 3rd on this page.) They and various other important pieces of the film noir canon have fallen into the public domain, making them easily and legally viewable free online. Watch The Hitch-Hiker that way after you’ve seen Muller’s introduction, and you can replicate a little of the Noir City experience in the comfort of your own home.

Other public-domain noirs of note include Orson Welles’ The Stranger, a subject of controversy among Welles fans but one about which Noir of the Week says “you couldn’t make a better choice if you’re looking for a conventional, fantastic looking film noir thriller.”

And as the name of the festival implies, when we talk about such a highly urban storytelling tradition as noir, we very often talk about the city as well. Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A. includes as a particularly vivid depiction of 1940s Los Angeles and one of the more dramatic uses of the beloved Bradbury Building in cinema history. These five pictures should put you well on your way to a stronger grasp of film noir, and no doubt get you ready to explore our list of 60 free noir films online.

Related Content:

25 Noir Films That Will Stand the Test of Time: A List by “Noirchaelogist” Eddie Muller

The 5 Essential Rules of Film Noir

Roger Ebert Lists the 10 Essential Characteristics of Noir Films

Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins & Grace Jones To Star in Gutterdämmerung, “The Loudest Silent Movie on Earth!”

8 hours 42 min ago

Once upon a time, Joe Strummer wrote and directed Hell W10a silent black & white film featuring the music of The Clash. And the Pixies’ Black Francis created a driving, jangling soundtrack for one of Weimar Germany’s finest silent films, The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920).

If the melding of vintage and modern aesthetics appeals, then get ready for Gutterdämmerung. Directed by the Belgian-Swedish visual artist Björn Tagemose, Gutterdämmerung promises to be “the loudest silent movie on earth,” with Iggy Pop, Grace Jones and Henry Rollins playing starring roles. BEAT describes the premise of the film as follows:

The film is set in a alternate reality where God has saved the world from sin by taking from mankind the Devil’s Evil Guitar. As a result the Earth has been cleansed into a puritan world with no room for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (boo). [Queue] Iggy Pop as the punk angel Vicious, who secretly sends the Evil Guitar back to Earth, unleashing all manner of sin upon mankind.

Things get even crazier when Henry Rollins, as the puritan priest, coerces a girl to destroy the guitar, a quest that see’s her face the most evil rock ‘n’ roll bastards on the planet. Grace Jones plays the only person capable of controlling all the testosterone of all the no good rock ‘n’ rollers – obviously.

The director and cast set the scene a little more in the “launch video” above. To be honest, the video feels a bit like a spoof, making me wonder whether this is all a big put on. But they’ve certainly set up a respectable web site where, each week, they’ll announce other personalities starring in the film. So, stay tuned…

via Pitchfork

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Related Content:

Watch the German Expressionist Film, The Golem, with a Soundtrack by The Pixies’ Black Francis

The Clash Star in 1980’s Gangster Parody Hell W10, a Film Directed by Joe Strummer

101 Free Silent Films: The Great Classics

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7 Female Bass Players Who Helped Shape Modern Music: Kim Gordon, Tina Weymouth, Kim Deal & More

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 - 1:49 pm

If you follow music news, you’ll have read of late more than a couple stories about two former members of two highly influential bands—Jackie Fox of the Runaways and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. Fox’s story of exploitation and sexual assault as a sixteen year-old rock star comes with all the usual public doubts about her credibility, and sadly represents the experience of so many women in the music business. Gordon’s numerous stories in her memoir Girl in a Band document her own struggles in punk and alt rock scenes that fostered hostility to women, in the band or no. The discussion of these two musicians’ personal narratives is compelling and necessary, but we should not lose sight of their significant contributions as musicians, playing perhaps the least appreciated instrument in the rock and roll arsenal—the bass.

Members of bands that routinely become the subject of petitions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Fox and Gordon represent just two of hundreds of women bass players, many thumping away in obscurity and no small number achieving success in indie, punk, metal, and jazz bands, as solo artists, or as sessions musicians. Gordon’s low end helped drive the sound of nineties alt-rock (see her with Sonic Youth at the top), and Fox’s basslines underscored seventies hard rock (with the Runaways above).

Before either of them picked up the instrument, another hugely influential bassist, Carol Kaye, played on thousands of hits as a member of L.A.’s top flight session musicians, the Wrecking Crew. A trained jazz guitarist, Kaye’s discography includes Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” the Beach Boy’s “California Girls,” the Monkees “I’m a Believer,” Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright”… and that’s just a tiny sampling. (See Kaye give Kiss’s Gene Simmons a bass lesson, above, and don’t miss a lengthy interview with her here.)

Kaye could, and did, play almost anything; she is an exceptional—and exceptionally gracious—musician. And while few bass players can match her when it comes to musical range and ability, many share her talent for writing simple, yet unforgettable basslines that define genres and eras. Alongside Kim Gordon’s aggressively melodic bass playing in Sonic Youth, Kim Deal of the Pixies gave us massive 90s alt-rock hooks and, like Gordon, shared or took over vocal duties on some of the band’s biggest songs. (See them do “Gigantic” live in 1988 above.) Although they may not seem to have much in common, both Deal and Kaye mastered the art of simplicity, paring down what could have been overly busy basslines to only the most essential notes and rhythmic accents. (Deal discusses her approach in an interview here.)

Like Kim Deal’s playing in the Pixies, Tina Weymouth’s bass in Talking Heads worked as both a rhythmic anchor and a propulsive engine beneath the band’s angular guitars and synths. (See her awesome interplay above with the band and guest guitarist Adrian Belew during the Remain in Light tour in Rome.) Weymouth not only comprised one half of the funkiest art rock rhythm section in existence, but she wrote what is perhaps the funkiest bassline in rock history with her own project Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” It’s almost impossible to imagine what the 80s would have sounded like without Weymouth’s bass playing (though we could have lived without her dancing).

No list of classic female bass players will ever be complete—there’s always one more name to add, one more bass riff to savor, one more argument to be had over who is over- and underrated. But it should provoke no argument whatsoever to point toward Meshell Ndegeocello as not only one of the most talented bass players, but one of the most talented musicians period of her generation. See her and band above play “Dead End” live on KCRW. Unlike most of the players above (except perhaps Carol Kaye), Ndegeocello is a highly technical player, but also a very tasteful one. Much of her music flies under the radar, but most people will be familiar with her cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Nights” with John Cougar Mellencamp and her neosoul hit “If That’s Your Boyfriend.”

Again, this is only the briefest, smallest sampling of excellent female bass players—in rock, jazz, soul, etc. An expanded list would include players like Melissa Auf der Maur, Esperanza Spalding, and many more names you may or may not have heard before. One you probably haven’t, but should, is the name Tal Wilkenfeld, an Australian prodigy who has played with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, the Allman Brothers, and Jeff Beck. (See her absolutely kill it in a performance with Beck above from 2007.) Like Carol Kaye many decades before her, Wilkenfeld made her name at a very young age, playing guitar in jazz clubs, and quickly became a highly in-demand player called—at age 21—“the future of bass.” Are there any other women players out there deserving of the title, or of inclusion in a bass playing Hall of Fame? Let us know in the comments, and include a link to your favorite live performance.

Related Content:

Meet Carol Kaye, the Unsung Bassist Behind Your Favorite 60s Hits

Four Female Punk Bands That Changed Women’s Role in Rock

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The Story of the Bass: New Video Gives Us 500 Years of Music History in 8 Minutes

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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Hear All of Mozart in a Free 127-Hour Playlist

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 - 1:00 pm

“You can’t have Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart as your favorite composers,” said conductor and San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas. “They simply define what music is!” True enough, though it doesn’t seem to have stopped anyone from, when asked to name their classical music of choice, unhesitatingly respond with the names of Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart — and Mozart most often. So why does the man who composed, among other works, the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, the Symphony No. 40 in G minor, and Don Giovanni still command such instinctive allegiance nearly 225 years after his death?

“Mozart did not come from nowhere,” writes New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. “He was the product of a society that was avid for music on every level, that believed in the possibility of an all-encompassing musical genius. The society we live in now believes otherwise; we divide music into subcultures and subgenres, we separate classical music from popular music, we locate genius in the past.” But as past geniuses go, we’ve picked a good one in Mozart to carry forward with us into our technological age: the kind of age where you can listen to an 18th-century composer’s collected works with the simple click of a mouse.

The simple click of a mouse, that is, onto this Spotify playlist of the complete Chronological Mozart, brought to you by the same folks who put together the playlists we’ve previously featured of 68 hours of Shakespeare and the classical music in Stanley Kubrick’s films. (If you don’t yet have the free software needed to listen, download it here.) A few tracks have vanished since the playlist’s creation (such are the vicissitudes of Spotify) but it still offers about 127 hours of the (mostly) complete works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the aforementioned famous pieces and well beyond. Listen and you’ll not only understand why Mozart defines what music is, but — apologies to Michael Tilson Thomas — why you, too, should number him among your favorites.

Related Content:

Leck Mich Im Arsch (“Kiss My Ass”): Listen to Mozart’s Scatological Canon in B Flat (1782)

German String Quartet Performs Vivaldi & Mozart in Delightfully Comical & Acrobatic Routine

Newly Discovered Piece by Mozart Performed on His Own Fortepiano

Read an 18th-Century Eyewitness Account of 8-Year-Old Mozart’s Extraordinary Musical Skills

The Recycled Orchestra: Paraguayan Youth Play Mozart with Instruments Cleverly Made Out of Trash

The Classical Music in Stanley Kubrick’s Films: Listen to a Free, 4 Hour Playlist

Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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Harper Lee Gets a Request for a Photo; Offers Important Life Advice Instead (2006)

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 - 11:51 am

Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960. More than a half decade later, the novel remains one of the most widely-read books in American classrooms. And students still write the 89-year-old author, requesting photographs and autographs.

Occasionally, they get a little more than they bargained for. Take, for example, a student named “Jeremy,” who wrote Lee in 2006 and requested a photo. In return, he got something more valuable and enduring: some pithy life advice. The letter Harper sent to Jeremy reads as follows:

06/07/06

Dear Jeremy

I don’t have a picture of myself, so please accept these few lines:

As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, “I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal.”

(Signed, ‘Harper Lee’)

Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, was just released last week — 55 years after her debut. You can read the first chapter (and also hear Reese Witherspoon read it aloud) here.

via Letters of Note

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Miles Davis Covers Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” (1983)

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 - 1:00 am

What happens when the Prince of Darkness covers the King of Pop?

Miles Davis’ decision to record a studio version of Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit, “Human Nature,” caused Al Foster, his friend and drummer, to walk out mid-session, thus putting an end to their longtime collaboration. Davis chalked it up to Foster’s unwillingness to “play that funky backbeat,” and brought in his nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., to finish the job.

Foster must’ve really hated that song.

Say what you will, “Human Nature” is–like most Jackson hits–an ear worm.

Depending on who you talk to, Davis’ studio track, above, is a either a straightforward homage in which his horn recreates “Jackson’s breathy intimacy” or “flat, schmaltzy elevator music.”

People’s feelings for it tend to echo their response to Jackson’s original, to which Davis cleaved pretty closely.

“Human Nature” was written by Toto’s keyboardist Steve Porcaro, the son of a jazz musician who idolized Davis. He was understandably honored that his dad’s hero chose to cover his work along with Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time,” on 1985’s You’re Under Arrest, one of the prolific artist’s final albums.

Davis’ association no doubt contributes to the tune’s ongoing popularity. Those who want to compare and contrast, can take their pick of reggae, hip-hop, electronica and funked up New Orleans brass versions.

But back to “Human Nature” as rendered by Miles Davis. Most critics prefer the live version, below, captured July 7, 1988, at Montreux. Slate’s Fred Kaplan described it as “an upbeat rouser” through which Davis “prances.”

As Davis himself explained in a 1985 interview with Richard Cook:

On a song like “Human Nature,” you have to play the right thing. And the right thing is around the melody. I learned that stuff from Coleman Hawkins. Coleman could play a melody, get ad-libs, run the chords – and you still heard the melody. I play “Human Nature,” varies every night. After I play the melody, that tag on the end is mine to have fun with. It’s in another key … uh, D natural. Move up a step or so to F natural. Then you can play it any way you want to.

Another remark from the same interview proved prescient:

You don’t have to do like Wynton Marsalis and play “Stardust “and that shit… Why can’t “Human Nature” be a standard? It fits. A standard fits like a thoroughbred. The melody and everything is just right, and every time you hear it you want to hear it some more. And you leave enough of it to know what you want to hear again. When you hear it again, the same feeling comes over you. 

Related Content:

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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1,000,000 Minutes of Newsreel Footage by AP & British Movietone Released on YouTube

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 - 2:03 pm

Both Faulkner and the physicists may be right: the passage of time is an illusion. And yet, for as long as we’ve been keeping score, it’s seemed that history really exists, in increasingly distant forms the further back we look. As Jonathan Crow wrote in a recent post on news service British Pathé’s release of 85,000 pieces of archival film on YouTube, seeing documentary evidence of just the last century “really makes the past feel like a foreign country—the weird hairstyles, the way a city street looked, the breathtakingly casual sexism and racism.” (Of course there’s more than enough reason to think future generations will say the same of us.) British Pathé’s archive seems exhaustive—until you see the latest digitized collection on YouTube from AP and British Movietone, which spans from 1895 to the present and brings us thousands more past tragedies, triumphs, and hairstyles

This release of “more than 1 million minutes” of news, writes Variety, includes archival footage of “major world events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, exclusive footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.” And so much more, such as the newsreel above, which depicts Berlin in 1945, eventually getting around to documenting the Potsdam Conference (at 3:55), where Churchill, Stalin, and Truman created the 17th parallel in Vietnam, dictated the terms of the German occupation, and planned the coming Japanese surrender. No one at the time could have accurately foreseen the historical reverberations of these actions.

Another strange, even uncanny piece of film shows us the English football team giving the Nazi salute in 1938 at the commencement of a game against Germany. “That’s shocking now,” says Alwyn Lindsay, the director of AP’s international archive, “but it wasn’t at the time.” Films like these have become of much more interest since The Sun published photographs of the royal family—including a young Queen Elizabeth II and her uncle Prince (later King, then Duke) Edward VIII—giving Nazi salutes in 1933. Though it was not particularly controversial, and the children of course had little idea what it signified, it did turn out that Edward (seen here) was a would-be Nazi collaborator and remained an unapologetic sympathizer.

This huge video trove doesn’t just document the grim history of the Second World War, of course. As you can see in the AP’s introductory montage at the top of the post, there is “a world of history at your fingertips”—from triumphant video like Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, above, to the below film of “Crazy 60s Hats in Glorious Colour.” And more or less every other major world event, disaster, discovery, or widespread trend you might name from the last 120 or so years.

The archive splits into two YouTube channels: AP offers both historical and up-to-the-minute political, sports, celebrity, science, and “weird and wacky” videos (with “new content every day”). The British Movietone channel is solely historical, with much of its content coming from the 1960s (like those hats, and this video of the Beatles receiving their MBE’s, and other “Beatlemania scenes.”)

Movietone’s one nod to the present takes the form of “The Archivist Presents,” in which a historian offers quirky context on some bit of archival footage, like that above of the Kinks getting their hair curled. The completely unironic lounge music and casually sexist narration will make you both smile and wince, as do Ray Davies and company when they see their new hair. Most of the films in this million minutes of news footage (and counting) tend to elicit either or both of these two emotional reactions—joy (or amusement) or mild to intense horror, and watching them makes the past they show us feel paradoxically more strange and more immediate at once.

Related Content:

Free: British Pathé Puts Over 85,000 Historical Films on YouTube

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700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc. 

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

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A Master List of 1,150 Free Courses From Top Universities: 35,000 Hours of Audio/Video Lectures

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 - 2:00 pm

During these summer months, we’ve been busy rummaging around the internet and adding new courses to our big list of Free Online Courses, which now features 1,150 courses from top universities. Let’s give you the quick overview: The list lets you download audio & video lectures from schools like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford and Harvard. Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites, and you can listen to the lectures anytime, anywhere, on your computer or smart phone. We didn’t do a precise calculation, but there’s probably about 35,000 hours of free audio & video lectures here. Enough to keep you busy for a very long time.

Right now you’ll find 133 free philosophy courses, 85 free history courses, 120 free computer science courses, 71 free physics courses and 55 Free Literature Courses in the collection, and that’s just beginning to scratch the surface. You can peruse sections covering Astronomy, Biology, BusinessChemistry, Economics, Engineering, Math, Political Science, Psychology and Religion.

Here are some highlights from the complete list of Free Online Courses. We’ve added a few unconventional/vintage courses in the mix just to keep things interesting.

The complete list of courses can be accessed here: 1,200 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

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Björk Presents Groundbreaking Experimental Musicians on the BBC’s Modern Minimalists (1997)

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 - 11:01 am

Experimental music, by its very nature, stays out of the mainstream. All styles of music begin as experiments, but most sooner or later, in one form or another, find their way to popular acceptance. But if one living musician personifies the intriguing borderlands between the popular and the experimental, Björk does: since at least the 1980s (and, technically, the 1970s), she has steadily put out records that constitute master classes in how to keep pushing forms forward while maintaining a wide fan base, seemingly giving the lie to John Cage’s dictum that making something 20 percent new means a loss of 80 percent of the audience.

Cage, an icon of minimalist experimental music who still caught the public ear now and again, doesn’t appear in the BBC’s Modern Minimalists [part one, part two], but only because he died in 1992, five years before it aired. But this Björk-hosted whirlwind tour through the company of a selection of innovative minimalist composers of the day actually feels, at points, a bit like Cage’s 1960 performance of Water Walk on I’ve Got a Secret: we not only hear them talk, but we hear their music, see them make it, and get an insight into the way they work and — perhaps most importantly — the way they think.

“When I was asked to do this program,” Björk says in her distinctive Icelandic inflection, “it was very important for me to introduce the people I think are changing music today.” That roster includes Alasdair Malloy from Scotland, Mika Vainio from Finland, and, most famously, Arvo Pärt from Estonia. Björk not only draws out their musical philosophies, but responds with a few of her own. “People have moved away from plots and structures, and moved to its complete opposite, which is textures,” she says over a series of postmodern landscapes, “A place to live in, or an environment, or a stillness.” And the role of the musician in that modern reality? “To take these everyday noises that are ugly, and make them beautiful. By this, they’re doing magic.”

via Network Awesome

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Watch Björk’s 6 Favorite TED Talks, From the Mushroom Death Suit to the Virtual Choir

Hear the Album Björk Recorded as an 11-Year-Old: Features Cover Art Provided By Her Mom (1977)

A Young Björk Deconstructs (Physically & Theoretically) a Television in a Delightful Retro Video

Björk and Sir David Attenborough Team Up in a New Documentary About Music and Technology

John Cage Performs Water Walk on US Game Show I’ve Got a Secret (1960)

Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

%%POST_LINK%% is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents a Brief History of Everything in an 8.5 Minute Animation

Fri, 24 Jul 2015 - 5:30 pm

Patreon, a crowd funding site where fans can automatically tithe a set amount to their fave artist every time that person uploads content, is a great way for passionate, under-recognized individuals to gain visibility and a bit of dough.

So what’s astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson doing there? He’s already famous, and one would think his gig as director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium, coupled with the proceeds from his books and dvds, would prove sufficient to any financial needs.

(Is it some sort of Amanda Palmer thing?)

Nope. Turns out Dr. Tyson is there on someone else’s behalf, narrating an episode of Harry Reich’s Minute Physics. The video series often employs whiteboard animations to explain such scientific phenomena as dark matter, wave/particle duality, and bicycles.

The latest Tyson-narrated episode, above, shoots the moon by cramming the entire History of the Universe (and some complimentary Stravinsky) into an 8.5-minute framework (a negligible amount when you consider phenomena like light years, but still many times the series’ standard minute).

Thus far, 1075 fans of Minute Physics have anted up, resulting in a take of $2,992.66 per video. (Click here to see how that amount compares to the various wages and salaries of Dr. Tyson’s coworkers at the American Museum of Natural History…it’s clear Reich devotes a lot of labor to every episode.)

If you’re feeling flush (or nervous about the upcoming school year), you can join these 1075 fans, earning admission to a supporters-only activity feed where you can ask questions, watch outtakes, preview upcoming attractions, and possibly even get your name in the credits.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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How ABC Television Introduced Rap Music to America in 1981: It’s Painfully Awkward

Fri, 24 Jul 2015 - 8:30 am

Of all the various types of professional explainers out there, none may come across as more clueless than the television news reporter faced with a minority youth culture and trying to account for its existence—one he or she had previously been unaware of. Every description gets reduced to the broadest of judgements, easy stereotypes fill in for appreciation. The larger the media outlet, the more these tendencies seem to manifest; in fact a string of such sensualized reportage put together seems to constitute both the rise and the fall of a corporate news career.

All of the above should prepare you for what you are about to see in ABC’s 20/20 special “Rappin’ to the Beat” from 1981. Investigative reporter Steve Fox journeys into the world of rap music, a form—his condescending co-anchor tells us in a back-handed remark—“so compelling, you’ll never miss the fact there’s no melody.” “It’s a music that is all beat,” he says, “strong beat, and talk.” With the tone established, enter Fox to tell us that Blondie’s “Rapture” is the main reason rap caught on. It only gets worse. I suppose you could blame Debbie Harry, but she didn’t ask to be the first voice of rap we hear in a 20/20 special. That decision was the special purview of “Rappin’ to the Beat”’s producers.

But like all archival film and video of emerging creative movements, these clips redeem themselves with footage of the scene’s pioneers, including a performance from a 22-year-old Kurtis Blow and some early breakdancing—or, as one NYC Transit cop calls it, a riot. The second part, above, gives us some insightful commentary from NYC radio DJ Pablo Guzman, folklorist John Szwed (who wrote the definitive biography of Sun Ra), and syndicated rock columnist Lisa Robinson, who reminds us of how “very black and very urban” rap is, then goes on to say, “people hated rock and roll 15 years ago.”

It’s certainly true that 15 years or so after this clumsy attempt at capturing the moment, rap and hip-hop became ubiquitous—at a time when punk rock also hit the suburbs. Punk also had its 20/20 moment in the late 70s (above); it symbolized, the announcer tells us, “the dreadful possibility of riot which has always seemed to cling to rock and roll.” Metal got the Geraldo treatment in “Heavy Metal Moms”—the examples abound. Which of them is more banal, condescending, or just painfully awkward is impossible to say, but they make fascinating windows onto the media’s consistently weirded-out response to outsiders they can’t ignore. As a counterpoint, check out the way Fred Rogers welcomed to his show a 12-year-old breakdancer or a couple of experimental electronic musicians, making no effort to be cool, knowledgeable, or detached, only kind and curious. It’s just my opinion, but I always thought TV news needed more Mr. Rogers and less…. whatever the journalistic approach in “Rappin’ to the Beat” is supposed to be.

via Mental Floss

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

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Read Online Haruki Murakami’s New Essay on How a Baseball Game Launched His Writing Career

Thu, 23 Jul 2015 - 9:50 pm

For years, it was hard to come across Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973, Haruki Murakami’s first and second novels, unless one wanted to pony up something between $250 and $400 at Amazon for their Kodansha English editions. The author has long dismissed them as juvenilia, though he was far from a juvenile at that time, and was actually managing a jazz bar on the outskirts of Tokyo with his wife and writing his first works at their kitchen table. He was searching for a style as a novelist, and it was once he wrote A Wild Sheep Chase that Murakami became the writer he envisioned.

On August 4, Knopf will publish both novels in a single volume with new translations by Ted Goossen, so readers can make up their own minds on whether Murakami is being too hard on himself. A lot of the familiar Murakami elements and themes are there: a nameless narrator who likes his beer and smokes, cats, music, literature, spaghetti, mysterious appearances and disappearances, loneliness, and his poetic observations of nature.

Now that Murakami has relented on the book’s publication, he has penned an introduction that explores the beginning of his writing career, chance decisions, his sometimes blind search for a style, and the baseball game that changed his life:

I think Hiroshima’s starting pitcher that day was Yoshiro Sotokoba. Yakult countered with Takeshi Yasuda. In the bottom of the first inning, Hilton slammed Sotokoba’s first pitch into left field for a clean double. The satisfying crack when the bat met the ball resounded throughout Jingu Stadium. Scattered applause rose around me. In that instant, for no reason and on no grounds whatsoever, the thought suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.

I can still recall the exact sensation. It felt as if something had come fluttering down from the sky, and I had caught it cleanly in my hands. I had no idea why it had chanced to fall into my grasp. I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now. Whatever the reason, it had taken place. It was like a revelation. Or maybe epiphany is the closest word. All I can say is that my life was drastically and permanently altered in that instant—when Dave Hilton belted that beautiful, ringing double at Jingu Stadium.

After the game (Yakult won as I recall), I took the train to Shinjuku and bought a sheaf of writing paper and a fountain pen. Word processors and computers weren’t around back then, which meant we had to write everything by hand, one character at a time. The sensation of writing felt very fresh. I remember how thrilled I was. It had been such a long time since I had put fountain pen to paper.

Each night after that, when I got home late from work, I sat at my kitchen table and wrote. Those few hours before dawn were practically the only time I had free. Over the six or so months that followed I wrote Hear the Wind Sing. I wrapped up the first draft right around the time the baseball season ended. Incidentally, that year the Yakult Swallows bucked the odds and almost everyone’s predictions to win the Central League pennant, then went on to defeat the Pacific League champions, the pitching-rich Hankyu Braves in the Japan Series. It was truly a miraculous season that sent the hearts of all Yakult fans soaring.

You can read the rest of Murakami’s introduction over at Lithub. And pre-order the new translation of Wind/Pinball here.

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A Dreamily Animated Introduction to Haruki Murakami, Japan’s Jazz and Baseball-Loving Postmodern Novelist

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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The Delightful TV Ads Directed by Hayao Miyazaki & Other Studio Ghibli Animators (1992-2015)

Thu, 23 Jul 2015 - 1:00 pm

Last week, we featured a trio of ridiculously cute commercials about a cat called Konyara. The company that made them was none other that Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki’s animation shop. Those commercials, drawn in an elegantly simple style that recalls traditional Japanese sumi-e illustrations, had the same meticulous attention to detail and fluid movements that are Miyazaki’s trademark.

As it turns out, Ghibli didn’t restrict its commercial endeavors to cartoon cats. Above are a bunch of commercials the company did over the years stretching all the way back to 1992. The ads range from ones about bread to banks to green tea. There are also quite a number of tie-ins from the studio’s movies, like an ad for Lawson’s convenience stores that features collectible dolls from Spirited Away. What is fascinating about these ads is the range of styles they exhibit. Many are done in a way that clearly recalls Miyazaki’s movies, others look much more minimal and much more gestural.

In other Miyazaki related news, it turns out that the master isn’t retiring after all. Following the release of his feature The Wind Rises in 2013, Hayao Miyazaki announced he was getting out of the animation biz. But as with his numerous declarations of retirement in the past, it didn’t take.

Miyazaki is reportedly making a 10-minute long animated short called Kemushi no Boro (Boro the Caterpillar). The director describes the short as “a story of a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers.” He has been developing on the idea for a couple decades now and, in spite of the short’s length, the film is projected to take three years to make.

What might be surprising is that the film will be entirely computer generated. Miyazaki is perhaps the world’s most famous proponent of hand-drawn cel animation. As a younger man, he railed against CGI calling the method “shallow, fake.” Over the years, however, his feelings evolved.

“If [hand-drawn cel animation] is a dying craft we can’t do anything about it,” he told The Guardian back in 2005. “Civilization moves on. Where are all the fresco painters now? Where are the landscape artists? What are they doing now? […] Actually I think CGI has the potential to equal or even surpass what the human hand can do. But it is far too late for me to try it.”

Apparently it is not.

Boro will screen exclusively in his Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, so if you want to see the master’s next work, be prepared to fly to Japan.

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

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Allen Ginsberg’s Top 10 Favorite Films

Thu, 23 Jul 2015 - 11:00 am

Before Netflix killed Blockbuster, Blockbuster killed the mom and pop video store. Maybe you had your favorite ma and pa shop, where under the surface of new releases you’d find the quirky, curated selections that reflected the mind of the owner.

When Allen Ginsberg lived in New York’s East Village, it was Kim’s Video, opened in 1987 by Yongman Kim. With so many artists frequenting its St. Marks Place location, Kim asked its more famous customers to share their lists of top ten favorite films. Ginsberg obliged. And you can now find his top 10 list online (in two parts: Part 1Part 2) thanks to The Allen Ginsberg Project.

Ginsberg’s oldest choice is Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 Battleship Potemkin, which you can watch above. One must wonder if it was the very poetic editing that drew Ginsberg to the film, or something else, perhaps, maybe the film’s revolutionary nature?

Many of Ginsberg’s choices reflect his interest in poetic realism, the French film movement that combined stories of real folks with sometimes very impressionist camera work. Three of its most famous proponents, Julian Duvivier, Jean Renoir, and Marcel Carné appear on the Ginsberg list.

Julian Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko (1937) is set in that most wonderful location for the Beat poets, Tangiers, and inspired Graham Greene to write The Third Man. Marcel Carné’s classic Children of Paradise (1945) makes the list, as does his 1938 film noir Port of Shadows. Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion, which still tops many top 10 film lists today, is here too.

Another Frenchman, Jean Cocteau gets on the list twice, with two films from his Orphic trilogy, The Blood of a Poet (1930) and Orpheé (1950). The mix of the dreamlike and the erotic make a perfect choice for the poet.

Ginsberg saves space for Beat cinema, a lot of which is still not on DVD. Ron Rice’s The Flower Thief (1960) is often called one of the main films of the Beat Generation, a largely improvised, low budget film about the artists and writers of San Francisco. It sadly remains unavailable on DVD, and one wonders if the film was even available at Kim’s, as it doesn’t appear to be on VHS either.

More available are his final two choices, Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s Pull My Daisy (1959), which was named after (and executed in a style similar to) an Exquisite Corpse-style poem written by Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Neil Cassady in the late ‘40s. Also largely improvised, the film involves bohemian party crashers who make life complicated for a man and wife trying to impress a respectable bishop who’s come for dinner.

Lastly, Ginsberg names Harry Smith’s visionary cut-up animation masterpiece Heaven and Earth Magic (1957 – 1962), which you can see above. Smith was not just a superb filmmaker, but a great influence on the Beats through his interest in psychedelics and mysticism, as well as the man behind the American Anthology of Folk Music on Folkways records. A great friend of Ginsberg, Harry Smith gets the final tip of the hat.

via The Allen Ginsberg Project

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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Jean-Paul Sartre Reviews Orson Welles’ Masterwork (1945): “Citizen Kane Is Not Cinema”

Thu, 23 Jul 2015 - 4:55 am

You may recall our posting last year of Jorge Luis Borges’ review of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane — surely one of the most Open Culture-worthy intersections of 20th century luminaries ever to occur. Borges described Welles’ masterwork as possessed of one side that, “pointlessly banal, attempts to milk applause from dimwits,” and another, a “kind of metaphysical detective story” whose “subject (both psychological and allegorical) is the investigation of a man’s inner self, through the works he has wrought, the words he has spoken, the many lives he has ruined.” On the whole, the author of Labyrinths called the picture “not intelligent, though it is the work of genius.”

Not long after our post, the Paris Review‘s Dan Piepenbring wrote one that also quoted another, later review of Citizen Kane by none other than Jean-Paul Sartre:

Kane might have been interesting for the Americans, [but] it is completely passé for us, because the whole film is based on a misconception of what cinema is all about. The film is in the past tense, whereas we all know that cinema has got to be in the present tense. ‘I am the man who is kissing, I am the girl who is being kissed, I am the Indian who is being pursued, I am the man pursuing the Indian.’ And film in the past tense is the antithesis of cinema. Therefore Citizen Kane is not cinema.

The 1945 review originally ran in high-minded film journal L’Écran français under the headline “Quand Hollywood veut faire penser … Citizen Kane d’Orson Welles,” or, “When Hollywood Wants to Make Us Think … Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.” According to The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre: A Bibliographical Life, “in re-reading this [review], which he did not remember at all, Sartre hardly recognized his style and expressed some doubt about the authenticity of his signature. On the other hand, he did find in it the ideas Citizen Kane suggested to him when he first saw it in the United States. After he saw the film again in France, Sartre had a slightly more favorable opinion of it, but he still thinks it is undoubtedly no masterpiece.”

But at the time, writes Simon Leys, “the impact of this condemnation was devastating. The Magnificent Ambersons was shown soon afterwards in Paris but failed miserably. The cultivated public always follows the directives of a few propaganda commissars: there is much more conformity among intellectuals than among plumbers or car mechanics.” Or at least the cultivated public did so in 1940s Paris; the mechanics of culture have changed somewhat since then, but as far as Citizen Kane goes, high-profile opinions about it have grown only more positive over time. Sure, Vertigo recently knocked it down a peg in the Sight and Sound poll, but that just makes me wonder what Sartre thought of Hitchcock’s masterwork — a film that might have had a resonance or two in the mind of an existentialist.

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Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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David Bowie Becomes a DJ on BBC Radio in 1979; Introduces Listeners to The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Blondie & More

Wed, 22 Jul 2015 - 8:30 am

Cast your mind back to 1979, a time before Internet radio, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social networks beginning with the letter T. And now imagine that you’d never heard the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Blondie, Roxy Music, hell, even Bruce Springsteen—all of whom were just beginning to break through to mainstream consciousness. Now imagine your introduction to these artists comes from none other than Ziggy Stardust himself—or the Thin White Duke—David Bowie, immersed in his Berlin period and recording a trilogy of albums that together arguably represent the best work of his career. That would be something, wouldn’t it?

Perhaps some of you don’t have to imagine. If you had tuned into BBC Radio One on May, 20 of that year, you would have heard David Bowie DJ his own two hour show, “Star Special,” playing his favorite records and jovially chatting up his audience. “There are some famous names here,” says an announcer introducing Bowie’s show, “some you’ve never heard of before.” Bowie laughs at his own jokes, and obviously takes great pleasure in sharing so many then-obscure artists. “You can hear that deep need to show,” writes Dangerous Minds, “to bring listeners something new, in every word Bowie utters.” He doesn’t mind bringing them his own new stuff either, playing “Boys Keep Swinging” and “Yassassin” from that year’s Lodger.

Track listing

The Doors, “Love Street”
Iggy Pop, “TV Eye”
John Lennon, “Remember”
? & The Mysterians, “96 Tears”
Edward Elgar, “The Nursery Suite” (extract)
Danny Kaye, “Inchworm”
Philip Glass, “Trial Prison”
The Velvet Underground, “Sweet Jane”
Mars, “Helen Fordsdale”
Little Richard, “He’s My Star”
King Crimson, “21st Century Schizoid Man”
Talking Heads, “Warning Sign”
Jeff Beck, “Beck’s Bolero”
Ronnie Spector, “Try Some, Buy Some”
Marc Bolan, “20th Century Boy”
The Mekons, “Where Were You?”
Steve Forbert, “Big City Cat”
The Rolling Stones, “We Love You”
Roxy Music, “2HB”
Bruce Springsteen, “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”
Stevie Wonder, “Fingertips”
Blondie, “Rip Her To Shreds”
Bob Seger, “Beautiful Loser”
David Bowie, “Boys Keep Swinging”
David Bowie, “Yassassin”
Talking Heads, “Book I Read”
Roxy Music, “For Your Pleasure”
King Curtis, “Something On Your Mind”
The Staple Singers, “Lies”

See a complete playlist of Bowie’s “Star Special” above, and hear the entire show at the top of the post. It’s a great listen even with the benefit of hindsight, but if you can put yourself in the place of someone who’d never heard Lou Reed mumble and moan his way through “Sweet Jane”—or for that matter never heard the still-obscure experimental punk band Mars—it’s even better. For other excellent examples of British rock stars as radio tastemakers, hear the Sex Pistols’ John Lydon introduce an audience to Can, King Tubby, Nico, Captain Beefheart, and more in this 1977 Capital Radio interview. (Lydon says he loves “Rebel Rebel,” but thinks Bowie is “a real bad drag queen.”) And don’t miss Joe Strummer’s eclectic 8-episode BBC Radio Show “London Calling” from 1998/2001.

via John Coulthart/Metafilter/Dangerous Minds

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

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Listen to 188 Dramatized Science Fiction Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard & More

Wed, 22 Jul 2015 - 4:40 am

We here at Open Culture believe that, as far as science-fiction delivery systems go, you can’t do much better than radio drama. We’ve previously featured quite a range of it, from the classic 1950s series Dimension X and its successor X Minus One to adaptations of such classic works as Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and, most recently, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Now we’ve opened up another treasure trove of sci-fi radio in the form of the archives of Mind Webs, originally broadcast on Madison, Wisconsin’s WHA-AM, starting in the 1970s.

One old-time radio site describes Mind Webs as “not really audio drama in the strict sense of the definition,” but “readings of science fiction stories by some of the genre’s best writers [ … ] enhanced by music, periodic sound cues, and the occasional character voice.” As the collector who made his recordings of the series available to the Internet Archive puts it, Mind Webs “stands as a testament to not only some of our greatest speculative fiction authors, but just how well simple dialog and music minus major sound effects can convey stories so well.”

Which authors counted as great enough for inclusion into the Mind Webs canon? Some of the names, like Ursula K. LeGuin, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury, you’d expect to find in this archive, but others go farther afield: the series also features stories by the likes of Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, H.P. Lovecraft — writers who, each in their own way, bent the boundaries of all known fiction, science- or otherwise — and even such supposedly traditional storytellers as John Cheever and Roald Dahl who, in these selections, put their own spin on reality.

Listen to enough episodes of Mind Webs, and you may get hooked on the voice and reading style of its host Michael Hanson, a fixture on Wisconsin public radio for something like forty years. Back in 2001, just after wrapping up his career in that sector, Hanson wrote in to the New York Times lamenting the state of public radio, especially its program directors turned into “sycophantic bean counters” and a “pronounced dumbing down of program content.” Mind Webs, which kept on going from the 70s through the 90s, came from a time before all that, and now its smart storytelling has come available for all of us to enjoy.

The playlist above will let you stream all of the stories — roughly 88 hours worth — from start to finish. Or you can access the audio at Archive.org here.

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Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

School Teachers Turn Old Lockers Into Literary Works of Art

Wed, 22 Jul 2015 - 12:30 am

At Biloxi Junior High School, the teachers are spending their summer pretty productively. They’re taking an entire hallway lined with dull green (currently unused) lockers and they’re repainting each and everyone of them — 189 in total. By the time students return in the fall, each locker will look like the spine of a famous book, and the hallway will be known as the “Avenue of Literature.” One teacher told WLOX, “We want students to come back to school in August and … be absolutely amazed with what we’ve done and be curious. We want that to be the spark for reading in our classrooms… We’re hoping the students come and they become completely immersed in a collection” that contains everything from Watership Down and Johnny Tremain to books in the Twilight series, reports Electric Lit.

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The Story of Bluesman Robert Johnson’s Famous Deal With the Devil Retold in Three Animations

Tue, 21 Jul 2015 - 12:30 pm

So many hugely successful and talented musicians have died at age 27 that it almost seems reasonable to believe the number represents some mystical coefficient of talent and tragedy. But several decades before Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, or Amy Winehouse left us too soon, Robert Johnson—the man who pioneered selling one’s soul for rock and roll—died in 1938, at age 27, under mysterious and likely violent circumstances. He was already a legend, and his story of meeting Satan at the crossroads to make an exchange for his extraordinary talent had already permeated the popular culture of his day and became even more ingrained after his death—making him, well, maybe the very first rock star.

Johnson’s few recordings—29 songs in total—went on to influence Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, 27 club member Brian Jones and so many others. And that’s not to mention the hundreds of Delta and Chicago blues guitarists who picked Johnson’s brain, or stopped short of selling their souls trying to outplay him. But Johnson, begins the animated short above (which tells the tale of the bluesman’s infernal deal) “wasn’t always such an amazing guitarist.” Legend has it he “coveted the talents of Son House” and dreamed of stardom. He acquired his talent overnight, it seemed to those around him, who surmised he must have set out to the crossroads, met the devil, and “made a deal.”

The rest of the story—of Robert Johnson’s fatal encounter with the jealous husband of an admirer—is a more plausible development, though it too may be apocryphal. “Not all of this may be true,” says the short film’s title cards, “but one thing is for certain: No Robert Johnson, No Rock and Roll.” This too is another legend. Other early bluesmen like Blind Willie Johnson and Robert’s hero Son House exerted similar influence on 60s blues revivalists, as of course did later electric players like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B.B. King. Johnson was a phenomenal innovator, and a singular voice, but his repertoire—like those of most blues players at the time—consisted of variations on older songs, or responses to other, very talented musicians.

Most of the songs he recorded were in this vein—with at least two very notable exceptions: “Cross Road Blues” (or just “Crossroads”) and “Me and the Devil Blues,” both of which have contributed to the myth of Johnson’s pact with Lucifer, including the part about the dark angel coming to collect his debt. In the latter song, animated in a video above, Satan comes knocking on the singer’s door early in the morning. “Hello Satan,” says Johnson, “I believe it’s time to go.” Much of what we think about Johnson’s life comes from these songs, and from much rumor and innuendo. He may have been murdered, or—like so many later stars who died too young—he may have simply burned out. One blues singer who claims she met him as a child remembers him near the end of his life as “ill” and “sickly,” reports the Austin Chronicle, “in a state of physical disrepair as though he’d been roughed up.”

Johnson scholar Elijah Wald describes his history like that of many founders of religious sects: “So much research has been done [on Johnson] that I have to assume the overall picture is fairly accurate. Still, this picture has been pieced together from so many tattered and flimsy scraps that almost any one of them must to some extent be taken on faith.” Johnson’s “spiritual descendants,” as Rolling Stone’s David Fricke calls his rock and roll progeny, have no trouble doing just that. Nor do fans of rock and blues and other artists who find the Robert Johnson legend tantalizing.

In the film above, “Hot Tamales,” animator Riccardo Maneglia adapts the myth, and quotes from “Crossroad Blues,” to tell the story of Bob, who journeys to the crossroads to meet sinister voodoo deity Papa Leg, replaying Johnson’s supposed rendezvous in a different religious context. In “Crossroad”‘s lyrics, Johnson is actually “pleading with God for mercy,” writes Frank DiGiacomo in Vanity Fair, “not bargaining with the devil.” Nonetheless—legendary or not—his evocation of devilish deals in “Me and the Devil Blues” and gritty, emotional account of self-destruction in “Crossroads” may on their own add sufficient weight to that far-reaching idea: “No Robert Johnson, No Rock and Roll.”

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

Creative Commons Launches Its First-Ever Kickstarter Campaign to Write a Book About Open Business Models

Tue, 21 Jul 2015 - 11:04 am

At Creative Commons, a lot of the work we do to support the commons is in the background. We write and steward copyright licenses that help fuel the open web. We help push through open policies at the government, university, and foundation level to increase access to academic, scientific, cultural and other types of content. We fight for sensible copyright reform. All of this work is important, and we’re going to continue to do it.

But we also want to try our hand at something more visible. Our plan is to spend the next year collaboratively researching and writing a book about business models that involve Creative Commons licensing. Even our funding strategy for this project is public-facing and collaborative. Last week we launched our first-ever Kickstarter to raise money for the project, and we hope you’ll become a part of it all by making a pledge at any amount.

Crowdfunding this project is a way to kick off the project in an open and visible way, and to gather support and excitement for our work. But it is also a way to get first-hand experience with a business model that involves Creative Commons. As we raise funds to support the development of a book we will ultimately give away for free under a CC license, we are a case study for our own book. We’re off to a strong start and we’re learning as we go.

And we’re going to do it entirely in the open. We’ve started a Medium publication called “Made with Creative Commons” to use as our digital whiteboard. Throughout the year, we’ll be writing there about the things we learn, the questions we have, the problems we face. We’re hoping to make the research and writing process as collaborative as possible. Kickstarter backers can also become co-creators of the book to receive early drafts of our writing as we go and provide input to help shape the book.

We’re really excited about this ambitious project. Creating and sharing is what CC is all about, and as we do it, we’re hoping to reveal strategies that other creators and businesses can use for their own work. We hope you’ll join us!

–Sarah Hinchliff Pearson is Senior Counsel at Creative Commons.