Sunday links

10th May 2020

John Wyver writes: another group of articles, along with three videos and even a Twitter thread, that have engaged me, and just occasionally enraged me too, over the past week.

• We are witnessing a national catastrophe: Alastair Campbell writing for Tortoise Media; he offers a strong historical framework for what’s happening, and I have found – especially in the last week because of the VE Day anniversary – but also more generally, that I have been reading some excellent writing by historians, including…

Taking exception: … Charlotte Lydia Riley, University of Southampton, on British exceptionalism as part of History Workshop’s series Radical History after Brexit, and…

• How the myth of ‘Britain alone’ overshadows VE Day: … David Edgerton, King’s College London, for New Statesman – a brilliant analysis, and…

Must we mention the war?: … Chris Grey’s The Brexit Blog (he’s based at Royal Holloway University of London) is essential reading every Friday, and this week’s post offered a new intro to a newly topical contribution from September 2018, and…

Reflections on VE Day 75: … related thoughts from conservation and environment campaigner Miles King, and…

The story of the Golden Fleece – a study in political economy: … a rather technical but really interesting post by Nick Pearce, University of Bath, about ‘the industrial technique of “melt-blowing” thermoplastics to form microfibres’, the Cold War and Covid-19.

Watch Robert Fripp and Toyah perform Heroes for VE Day: from Louder’s Prog, details of this, which is really rather lovely…

Streaming Shakespeare: the theatre industry in lockdown: moving on from the historians, University of Nottingham’s Peter Kirwan reflects on the lessons we might learn from the current plenitude of streamed performance:

By reflecting on the ways in which both theatres and audiences are experiencing and creating togetherness through theatre streaming and media engagement, the activity generated by these strange circumstances will be driving the questions about what theatre means for a post-COVID-19 world.

Endgame for end times: Isabel Stowell-Kaplan, University of Bristol, on watching the Old Vic’s streamed version of Beckett’s masterpiece: ‘For me, to view Endgame in these end times helped to make new sense of the Endgame and the (End) times.’

Questions about the cultural sector’s pivot to digital: challenging questions about the arts in The After from Chris Unitt at Cultural Digital newsletter.

Coronavirus notebook – finding solace, and connection, in classic books: a beautiful New York Times essay that shows just why it’s so good to have Michiko Kakutani back writing about literature.

‘New York, New York’: part of the brilliance of Spike Lee’s 3-minute poem with Sinatra is that starts somewhat conventionally and quickly becomes strange and disorienting before blossoming into a truly moving montage.

Hatot-Breteau: two Lumière filmmakers in Paris c.1897: Wow! here’s a truly wonderful rabbit-hole to escape down, that – as the Cine-tourist‘s Roland-François Lack says – starts out by ‘looking at the Paris exteriors of a handful of films made by Georges Hatot (1876-1959) and Gaston Breteau (1859-1909) for the Lumière company in 1897,’ but ends up as much, much more (including a cornucopia of stand-out stills and frame enlargements).

‘Have you had the new Influenza yet?’: The Bioscope, the cinema and the epidemic, 1918-19: a fascinating post by Lawrence Napper, drawing on the trade magazine The Bioscope, for his blog At the Pictures.

Flick lit! 100 great novels about cinema: from Nick James, the BFI and Sight & Sound, this is simply awesome – it’s not until No. 8 that there’s one I’d even heard of, and not until No. 20 (Stephen Volker’s Dark Masters trilogy, including Whitstable), is there one I’ve actually read. So, so much more to discover!

Leo Hurwitz: I wrote a recent post about the early ‘direct cinema’ documentary Emergency Ward, 1952, co-directed by Fons Ianelli and Leo Hurwitz, and now (thanks to Richard Brody at The New Yorker) I’ve been exploring this truly exceptional web resource dedicated to Hurwitz and his films, with many of them freely available to stream – including the other joint project of Ianelli and Hurwitz, The Young Fighter, 1953, which I’ve embedded below. There are numerous other classic documentaries to watch at the site – and do also read Brody on why Hurwitz matters today.

An ode to running in the movies: this is a tiny joy – James Parker for The Atlantic, including:

like ballet dancers, the great runners in movies express character through movement, through the whirling and thumping of their limbs. Matt Damon, as Jason Bourne, is a brain-wiped super-soldier having an identity crisis, so he runs like a frightened washing machine.

What happened to Val Kilmer? He’s just starting to figure it out: a brilliantly written profile of the actor by the exceptional Taffy Brodesser-Akner for The New York Times Magazine.

The BBC is back: Matthew d’Ancona for Tortoise Media on the complexities of corporation’s future in a Covid-19 world.

Little Richard put wild sex into the Top 40 for good: trust me, for all sorts of reasons, this Bill Wyman tribute for Vulture is the piece you need to read about the late ‘King and Queen of rock’n’roll’.

Europe endless – remembering Florian Schneider: Jude Rogers for The Quietus on the key Kraftwerk member, who also died this week.

Climate change has already transformed everything about contemporary art: William S Smith reflects productively for Art in America on a host of recent projects, and concludes ‘the future defined by an altered climate is already permeating the work of the present.’

Brooklyn Bridge, star of the city – here’s a tour: for The New York Times, Michael Kimmelmann is once again out and about, virtually, walking into lower Manhattan across the great bridge in the company of architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi; I so hope these richly rewarding columns are going to be turned into a book.

Saturday morning street lighting nerd club: I’ve only recently worked out how to embed Twitter threads here, and this is a particular current favourite – nerdishness with a glorious quotient of delight.

World Cup questions: what did Zidane’s head-butt in Berlin mean?: the exceptional writer Barnay Ronay contributes to the Guardian a wonderfully evocative and forensic look back to the defining moment of the 2006 World Cup (I vividly recall watching this in a roadhouse bar in West Virginia):

Football changed in that instant: a moment of progress, but also of intrusion, a moment when professional sport edged closer to becoming an arm of our shared 24-hour digital surveillance.

Header image: a GEC Z9494 street lamp, from the LCC municipal Twitter feed, which I have embedded above.

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