Boston's brutalism

Cast in Concrete: Boston's Brutalism

In Boston, Brutalism is tied closely to City Hall, but the infamous building is far from the only “concrete monstrosity” in the city. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, top architects from around the world took advantage of a rebuilding Boston to design and build what they saw as futuristic, expressive works of art. Brutalism hasn’t gained many fans since then, but public opinion may slowly be changing.

Boston’s City Hall reminds me a lot of the old Central Library in Birmingham (UK, since demolished in 2016) thanks to its inverted ziggurat structure.

Black Archives: a multimedia showcase of the Black experience

Archiving is so important in an information era that favours the new and quickly discards the old when it’s deemed surplus to requirements (read: it’s not making profit). This is especially true for Black cultures and Black Archives works to change that.

[…] Through an evolving visual exploration, Black Archives provides a dynamic accessibility to a Black past, present, and future.

Going beyond the norm, its lens examines the nuance of Black life: alive and ever-vibrant to both the everyday and iconic — providing insight and inspiration to those seeking to understand the legacies that preceded their own.

Besides archiving, Black Archives also offers:

  • Content creation and visual curation
  • Archival research and licensing
  • Social strategy and creative direction

For more, check out the Black Archives website.

How did Frasier afford his Seattle apartment on a radio show host's wage?

During my Frasier journey, I found myself asking certain questions time and time again. Will Frasier ever stop getting hoisted by his own petard? How did the dog who plays Eddie become such a good actor? Why is this fake National cover of the Frasier theme song better than every other National song? God, Niles is so horny. (More of a comment than a question.) And, most importantly: How the hell did Frasier afford his apartment?

Update: Apparently, a Frasier writer revealed why: they decided he’d “invested the money from his Boston practice very wisely (perhaps in a friend’s Seattle software start-up)”. Thanks to @scottgal for the info and the article he referenced!

(via GQ)

Nina Banks on Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander and her ideas on economic justice

For The Washington Post, Nina Banks (associate professor of economics at Bucknell University) paid tribute to Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American to gain a doctoral degree in economics. She suggested that Alexander’s ideology could be the key to solving various problems in the US, particularly for African-Americans:

As a proponent of economic justice, Alexander believed that all people had a right to jobs that paid livable wages, and she viewed this as an essential foundation for enjoying democratic rights. As such, she called on the government to provide an equitable distribution of national income and to create public works programs that addressed urgent social needs tied to poverty and deprivation.

In the 1960s, Black anger over mistreatment in urban slums, where decades of White racial hostility and public policy had confined them, and a lack of economic access erupted in a string of uprisings in cities of all shapes and sizes.

Alexander saw the moral dimension of the civil rights cause, but uniquely, she also understood the economic dynamic, thanks to her training. She knew that despite White claims to the contrary, economic uncertainty among Whites was not the cause of racial violence plaguing Black lives. Rather, it merely acted as an accelerant that intensified their scapegoating and racial animus toward Black Americans.

Yet, Alexander’s work and advice got largely ignored.

I've loved seeing Black people rollerskating everywhere

Via gal-dem:

Videos of carefree roller skaters began to dominate social media feeds over the last year. In the first lockdown, after dismissing it as something I was too old for, I caved to the social pressure and downloaded TikTok. Soon my feed was filled with bite-sized videos of skaters who looked like me effortlessly flowing, swaying and sashaying with little regard for the downward pull of gravity. Their joy was infectious – roller skating looked like fun I didn’t know I was allowed to have as an adult. 

Zakiya Dalila Harris on her debut novel, 'The Other Black Girl'

Novelist Zakiya Dalila Harris spoke to Orange County Register about her new book ‘The Other Black Girl‘, racial diversity within fiction, and influences on her work such as James Baldwin and Jordan Peele:

Code-switching maybe matters less now than it would have two years ago because of George Floyd. On positive days, I think these conversations are allowing Black people to speak up more. On negative days, I think that’s only because it’s in vogue for now and you can only speak up so much. 

We know why diversity is important in a lot of ways, but I wanted my book to look at how it influences each person on an individual level.

Q. Were you worried about pulling the rug out from under readers or was that the goal?

It’s my first book, so I’m not saying it’s perfect. But I love twist endings and “The Twilight Zone,” and “Get Out” was definitely an inspiration. I definitely knew where it was going when I started writing. I love the end of “Night of the Living Dead,” which is so realistic about Black experience. It’s still America, so stuff is going to happen to you if you’re Black. 

People asked, “Are you sure about this ending?” Yeah, I think it’s pretty necessary. Any other ending wouldn’t be as impactful. I really want people to talk about what happens to Nella and what could her [White] co-workers have done if they’d really been listening. 

When I was a kid, I used to love the Goosebumps series, and they had a choose your own adventure and I loved that there were multiple possible endings; I left some things open with this book so readers can think about it. I didn’t want to tie the ending in a neat bow. 

12 alternative versions of famous monuments

These are incredible from oobject.

Included here among various alternatives for Tower Bridge, the Washington Monument, The Chrysler building and St. Paul’s Cathedral are proposed extensions to the White House, a 5 million tomb alternative to London’s famous Victorian cemeteries and a particularly uninspiring second place entry for the Sydney Opera House competition. My personal favorite, however is the Triumphal Elephant which could have capped off the Champs Elysees in Paris. If someone could only find the rejected competition entry for what became the Eiffel Tower, which consisted of a giant replica of a Guillotine.

Some I wish existed, some I’m glad didn’t become reality, and some I would like to see and then never see again.

Who wants a Darth Vader helmet house for $4.3m?

Known to many as “The Darth Vader House,” this contemporary masterpiece is one not to miss. Over 7,000 sq. ft. of living area, principal bedroom down, open rooms, massive windows, a museum home setting on a prestigious West University street. Custom throughout with ample closets, 4-car garage, versatile living spaces, large lot. Nothing else like it in the area. Come visit us Thursday, 12-2.

I find its lack of taste disturbing.

Spend a night in Monica and Rachel's apartment from Friends

So booking.com, in collaboration with Superfly X is offering The FRIENDS™ Experience and a chance to stay overnight in Monica and Rachel’s apartment visit the place where Ross said “PIVOT!”, and relax on Joey and Chandler’s Barcaloungers.

As much as I loved the show and reference it frequently, I’m so over these Friends fan experiences. The show ended 17 years ago; it’s been off-air longer than it was on-air. And, yes, I know they’re doing a reunion series, and this is good for business but I’m tired. But I did realise one thing: the apartment decor was awful. Purple and yellow with a random assortment of furniture? What were they thinking? I guess that passed for decor in the 90s but looking at it now, it’s bad.

Friends related: A semi-alphabetical listing of Black actors with speaking roles on Friends

Room Rodeo: a Chicago student’s film about Black cowboys

Bill Pickett

I watched Concrete Cowboy a few weeks ago and while I liked it and found it interesting, I felt like it was missing something. It’s by no means the first movie about Black cowboys (see: The Black Cowboy, Harlem Rides the Range, and Black Rodeo) it’s the most high-profile, mixing Hollywood actors with IRL cowboys.

But next week, there’ll be a new film putting its hat into the ring so to speak and it’s called Room Rodeo.

The film is about Jamil, a Chicago boy trying to prove he is a descendant of Bill Pickett, a Black cowboy, rodeo, actor, and ProRodeo Hall of Famer. It stars D’Andre Davis as Jamil, and mixes drama with documentary interviews and footage of Black cowboys and historians.

His dad stands him up. He acts out. Now Jamil is on punishment in his room. He’s also finally reached the fifth grade and has a history project due.

If only his dad would tell him about his great grandpa, rodeo star Billie P – like he promised. But just when Jamil’s dad calls and things begin to look up, the cool kid from class calls with a humiliating declaration: Black cowboys aren’t real. Now, Jamil must drum up the courage to embark on a quest to discover the truth on his own – all from the comfort of his room. With some help from a dubious heirloom, Jamil puts aside whispers of doubt to venture into a fantasy dreamscape where he claims authorship of his own story.

Room Rodeo will be screened online for 24 hours as part of the creator’s thesis requirements, starting on 12th May at 7 pm. A virtual Q&A session will follow on 13th May, also at 7pm.

A Tribute to Karl Hubenthal, One of the All-Time Great Sports Cartoonists #

Through pure coincidence, I’m posting this on what would have been Karl Hubenthal’s 104th birthday.

This from Bob Staake:

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s, there were two types of people — those who read the Los Angeles Times, and those who read the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner — and our family was of that latter persuasion — Dad not knowing that the “Herald” wasn’t the best of papers, Mom not really caring, and me delighted just to be able to see Hubenthal’s cartoons each day.

Hubenthal. I’d heard it said as “hoo-ben-thal” once or twice, yet Dad had always pronounced it (rightly) “hugh-ben-thal”, and while at the time I wasn’t sure which was correct, one thing was certain: this Hubenthal could draw.

The Brady-Nixon Connection #

The Brady-Nixon Connection

Before Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block of adult programming, there was Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite, launched in 1985. The programming block, which is still on the air today, caters for older audiences isn’t as loose as Adult Swim in terms of risqué content but it’s far from puritanical.

Back in 1999, there was a short called The Brady-Nixon Connection which looked at certain similarities between The Brady Bunch and President Nixon. In truth, there was no connection but it served as a unique way of promoting the show which aired in 1995, 1998–2003, and 2012.

(h/t Boing Boing)

African Americans in Soviet Russia

George Tynes, flanked by Soviet army cadets

Zakkiyah Job wrote an interesting piece on the great African American escape to Soviet Russia.

Under Stalin’s de facto policy of ethnic cleansing, it’s hard to picture the USSR as any kind of paradise for persecuted minorities, but in stark contrast to the trauma and systemic oppression that people of colour had long-faced in the many parts of the western world, Mother Russia poised itself as a beacon of equality, ahead of the historical curve.

The likes of Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Dorothy West found themselves in the USSR, much to the chagrin of the American federal government. But the history of Black people in Russia goes further back to include people such as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, a Cameroonian aristocrat who started an Afro-Russian dynasty in the 18th century.

After Ottoman forces kidnapped him as a boy from Cameroon, he was sold to a Russian diplomat and “gifted” to Peter the Great, who publicly adopted and freed him. Abram became a military engineer, a high-ranking general and a nobleman. He is also a maternal great-grandfather to the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

For more on the subject, check out the following list of texts:

A brief history of DisneyQuest

Cancelled - Disney Quest

Bright Sun Films‘s Cancelled series looks at various projects that were cancelled for one reason or another. In S1E2, they looked at DisneyQuest, an ambitious Disney theme park that I had the luxury of visiting twice before it shut down (once in 2010, once in 2016).

Disney planned to build DisneyQuest theme parks across the US, starting with a park in Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs and my visits were before and after the name change) in 1998 and Chicago in 1999. However, low attendance at the Chicago site resulted in its closure 2 years later and the project was ultimately cancelled. But the main Downtown Disney site remained open until it finally closed in 2017.

It’s one of Disney’s many project failures but because Disney owns everything and earns billions from its successes, it’s not so bad! I liked DisneyQuest at least.