click here to skip the menu and go to the page content

rebecca's pocket

about / archive / syndicate

.: archive --> Culture --> historical


An Aesthetics of Everyday Life

» A little weekend reading: I haven't read it yet, but this looks like the kind thing Pocket readers go for: An Aesthetics of Everyday Life – Modernism and a Japanese popular aesthetic ideal, “Iki” by YAMAMOTO Yuji. (Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, University of Chicago).   [ 06/08/07 ]

A Timeline of Poisoning

» The History of Poisoning Timeline from ancient times to the 20th century. (via br [ 05/30/07 ]

Archaeologists unearth oldest writing in Western Hemisphere

» Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be the oldest writing in Western Hemisphere, and it's in a language they don't know.  [ 09/18/06 ]

Why African-Americans Can't Swim

» Why African-Americans can't swim [ 08/18/06 ]

1956: The British House of the Future

» The British House of the Future, circa 1956. "All electric power is drawn from a nearby atomic power station. [...] A short-wave transmitter with push buttons controls all electronic equipment. We’re sure you’ll be interested to know that the shower stall has jets of warm air for drying and the sunken bathtub rinses itself with detergent. No bathtub rings left for Mother." (via aaa)  (1) Comments  / [ 08/18/06 ]

Are State Fairs dying?

» State Fairs, once a staple summertime activity, are going out of style. This article speculates that they are just not as attractive as they once were to an audience that now has the choice of everything from casinos to water parks. But I think there's something deeper at work.

I think it has to be connected, to some extent, to the loss of the family farm. Farming used to be embedded in American life. If you weren't a farmer, you knew a farmer. State and county fairs weren't just entertainment: they were industry events. They were a chance to show off your skill, your expertise, your talent, whether that was raising pigs, growing zucchini, or making jam. (Compare log-rolling—once a chance to test a real work skill against other practitioners—and now just a quaint novelty, performed by people who have only ever rolled logs to entertain, not to actually cross the river in the course of their work).

And because farming days are necessarily spent cultivating crops in the field and processing food in the home (both surrounded by acres of farmland) farming can be a lonely life. I once knew a woman who used to show horses. She told me she learned a trick one summer. In the middle of the day when she got hungry, she would stop her trailer in front of any farmhouse she came upon. She said that invariably, the woman inside—husband out in the fields for a long day of work—would come out to see what was the matter, and then, starved for company, invite her in for lunch.

With so many farmers now just cogs in the industrial US farming machine, perhaps the same pride of work just isn't there anymore. Maybe even farmers have lost their connection to farming.

I love the State Fair. I grew up going every year, and we would walk through every barn and look at every exhibit and admire every piece of livestock. Then there was the pavilion filled with the hawkers, fast-talking pitchmen with a gadget to sell. And the food, and and the wildlife exhibits, and the butter cow. Every year, the butter cow and then ice cream. Salt-water taffy on the way out. No rides. Put up overnight, as they were, my father considered them unsafe. I love the fair. I don't want it to go away. (8) Comments  / [ 08/18/06 ]

State Fair Food Cooking: Still Competitive

» On the other hand, State Fairs are updating their food competitions by introducing contests for items like biscotti and bagels and specifically including men: in men-only baking contests, events pitting local firefighters against the sheriff’s department in Iron-Chef contests featuring local ingredients, and spectator events like chicken wing cook-offs and barbecue contests. "Cooking and gardening are almost hobbies now, not necessary for survival as they were when the fairs began. But the spirit is just as competitive as it always has been." Diane Roupe, a longtime judge at the Iowa fair.  [ 08/18/06 ]

The Spanish conquest of North America

» Tony Horwitz on the early Spanish conquest of what is now the United States.

Two iconic American stories have Spanish antecedents, too. Almost 80 years before John Smith's alleged rescue by Pocahontas, a man by the name of Juan Ortiz told of his remarkably similar rescue from execution by an Indian girl. Spaniards also held a thanksgiving, 56 years before the Pilgrims, when they feasted near St. Augustine with Florida Indians, probably on stewed pork and garbanzo beans.
The early history of Spanish North America is well documented, as is the extensive exploration by the 16th-century French and Portuguese. So why do Americans cling to a creation myth centered on one band of late-arriving English—Pilgrims who weren't even the first English to settle New England or the first Europeans to reach Plymouth Harbor?

 (2) Comments  / [ 07/10/06 ]

Tropical Stonehenge found

» Tropical Stonehenge found in the Amazon basin. "The traditional image is that some time thousands of years ago small groups of tropical forest horticulturists arrived in the area and they never changed—(that) what we see today is just like it was 3,000 years ago. This is one more thing that suggests that through...thousands of years, societies have changed quite a lot." Michael Heckenberger, Assistant Professor, University of Florida Department of Anthropology. (1) Comments  / [ 06/28/06 ]

The Caliphate would unite world Muslims

» The Caliphate: One nation, under Allah, with 1.5 billion Muslims [ 05/23/06 ]

The re-emergence of Acoustic-Era Pop

» How Pop Sounded Before It Popped describes the resurgence of interest in turn-of-the-20th-century pop music, long shunned by roots enthusiasts for its crass commercialism — and for the uncomfortable questions it raises about the artistic merit of entertainment that is based on racial stereotyping. "Acoustic-era music is the historical underdog. These are scratchy records, with 19th-century aesthetics, with racist material all over the place, with artists you've never heard of. This stuff is completely unknown, and it's a treasure trove." Richard Martin, co-owner of Archeophone Records, a label that specializes in acoustic-era pop.  [ 03/22/06 ]

The Smithsonian's Travelling American Food Exhibit

» Key Ingredients: America by Food is the website companion to the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition of the same name. It features an American Food Timeline, a collection of recipes and stories from across the USA (contribute your own!), and an exhibition schedule [ 03/21/06 ]

Chinese First Skiiers?

» Northwestern Chinese peoples living in the remote Altay mountains of Xinjiang province practice a unique style of skiing, and use skis whose design dates back 2,000 years. Since I am in the section of Guns, Germs, and Steel that describes the domestication of animals, I was particularly interested in the description of the days-long Altaics elk hunts, which end in them tiring the animals so much the can capture them and keep them captive. It's like a little glimpse of history.  [ 03/16/06 ]

Non-Dairy Rich

» Obituary, Robert Rich: How a war-time ice-cream manufacturer invented a soy-based, frozen topping and coffee creamer, fought off 42 separate lawsuits from enraged dairy men, and created the biggest family owned food-service company in America.  [ 02/28/06 ]

Lomax Recordings: Jelly Roll Morton

» The Economist: Jelly on a roll tells the story of folklorist Alan Lomax's encounter with Jelly Roll Morton, and the amazing recordings they made together.

So fans of jazz, music in general, or just the incomparable richness of the human scene can relish Morton's musings complete, in state-of-the-art sound. Softly strumming the keys like a singer of tales, he recalls the "tough babies and sweet mamas" of the fabled red-light district of Storyville, and such denizens as Sheep Bite, Toodlum Parker and Chicken Dick. He conjures up a New Orleans funeral, from the wailing dirge to the graveyard to the raucous march back to the wake, with all its sorrow and jubilation—in his words, "the end of a perfect death". [...]
Throughout, he uses these sessions as a platform to demonstrate his views on jazz—not loud and blaring in the modern style, but subtle and melodious, with an irresistible beat and ample scope for dynamics and imagination.

(via dm [ 02/10/06 ]

AFC Lomax Collection

» The American Folklife Center's Lomax Collection contains 70 years of Alan Lomax's work.

Included in the collection are sound recordings of traditional singers, instrumentalists, and storytellers made by Lomax during numerous field trips to the American South, the Caribbean, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and Italy; original video footage, shot in the South and Southwest, Washington, D.C., and New York City, that was used as the basis of Lomax's American Patchwork television series, as well as videotapes of all the programs in the series; 16mm footage of performances by Howling Wolf, Son House, and others during the Newport Folk Festival in 1966; videotape of folk dance performances; and work elements and originals of numerous films made by Lomax.

  [ 02/10/06 ]

Rounder Records Lomax Collection

» Rounder Records is producing the Lomax Collection.

The Collection begins with Lomax’s first field trips with his father in the penitentaries of the American South in the 1930s, and follows his journeys throughout Haiti in 1936 and 1937, Great Britain, Italy and Spain in the 1950s, his subsequent trips throughout the American South in the late 1940s and again in 1959 and 1960, and his visits to the islands of the Caribbean in 1962 and 1967.

  [ 02/10/06 ]

Do the Watusi

» Learn the steps to your favorite Sixties dance crazes. The Chicken, the Blue-beat, and the Watusi, here we come. (via rw [ 01/30/06 ]

How to Camp Out, Gould, 1877

» A Little Weekend Reading: The 1877 manual, How to Camp Out by John M. Gould. (via rw [ 01/27/06 ]



» primary link / supplemental information / internal link

my book

» the weblog handbook
amazon editors' best of 2002, digital culture

recent posts

» Questions about the safety and efficacy of sunscreens, and what the FDA needs to do about it
» Does remembering alter memories?
» African Garden Pests
» Summer Reading - 07/05/10
» Cameras offer an animal's eye view of the world
» Italy for the Gourmet Traveler Q & A
» Publishers to use e-novellas to promote new novels