Watch 31 Buster Keaton’s Films Online: “The Greatest of All Comic Actors,” “One of the Greatest Filmmakers of All Time”

The greatest of the silent clowns is Buster Keaton, not only because of what he did, but because of how he did it. —Roger Ebert

In 1987, Video magazine published a story titled “Where’s Buster?” lamenting the lack of Buster Keaton films available on videotape, “despite renewed interest” in a legend who was “about to regain his rightful place next to Chaplin in silent comedy’s pantheon.” How things have changed for Keaton fans and admirers. Not only are most of the stone-faced comic genius’ films available online, but he has maybe eclipsed Chaplin as the most popularly revered silent film star of the 1920s.

Keaton has always been held in the highest esteem by his fellow artists. He was dubbed “the greatest of all the clowns in the history of the cinema” by Orson Welles, and served as a significant inspiration for Samuel Beckett. (He was the playwright’s first choice to play Waiting for Godot’s Lucky, though he was too perplexed by the script to take the role). In Peter Bogdanovich’s new documentary, The Great Buster: A Celebration, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner discuss his foundational influence on their comedy, and Werner Herzog calls him “the essence of movies.”




For many years, however, the state of Keaton’s filmography made it hard for the general public to fully appraise his work. “The General, with Buster as a train engineer in the Civil War, has always been available,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2002, and has been “hailed as one of the supreme masterpieces of silent filmmaking. But other features and shorts existed in shabby, incomplete prints, if at all, and it was only in the 1960s that film historians began to assemble and restore Keaton’s lifework. Now almost everything has been recovered, restored, and is available on DVDs and tapes that range from watchable to sparkling.”

Access to Keaton’s films has further expanded as a dozen or so entered the public domain in recent years, including two features, Sherlock, Jr. and The Navigator, this year and three more to come in 2021. You can watch thirty-one of Keaton’s restored, recovered films on YouTube, at the links below, shared by MetaFilter user Going to Maine, who writes, “where, oh where, in this modern world, can we find the gems of his golden era? The obvious place.”

Keaton starred in his first feature-length film, The Saphead, in 1920. For the next decade, until the end of the silent era, he dominated the box office, alongside Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, with his canny blend of daredevil slapstick and everyman pathos. After the twenties, his career floundered, then rebounded. His last picture was a return to silent film in Beckett’s 1966 short, “Film,” made the year of his death. Since then, Keaton appreciation has become almost a form of worship.

In 2018, The General came in at number 34 on Sight & Sound’s Greatest Films of All Time list. But the BFI’s Geoff Andrew argued that it deserved the top spot, and Keaton deserves recognition as “not merely the greatest of the silent comedians,” but “the greatest of all comic actors to have appeared on the silver screen… not only a great American filmmaker of the silent era,” but “one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, anywhere.” Andrew likens him to a god, but “unlike gods… Buster has the advantage of being able to make us laugh. And laugh. And laugh.”

Don't we all need a steady supply of that medicine these days? See Keaton’s classic silent comedy The General further up, see his short "The Ballonist" above, and watch 29 more Keaton films at the links below. Many will be added to our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

Short Films

One Week (September 1, 1920)
Convict 13 (October 27, 1920)
Neighbors (December 22, 1920)
The Scarecrow (December 22, 1920)
The Haunted House (February 10, 1921)
Hard Luck (March 14, 1921)
The High Sign (April 12, 1921)
The Goat (May 18, 1921)
The Playhouse (October 6, 1921) (This contains a faux minstrel show segment with blackface.)
The Boat (November 10, 1921)
The Paleface (January, 1922) (Racist depictions of Native Americans)
Cops (March, 1922)
My Wife’s Relations (May, 1922)
The Blacksmith (July 21, 1922)
The Frozen North (August 28, 1922)
The Electric House (October, 1922)
Day Dreams (November, 1922)
The Balloonatic (January 22, 1923)
The Love Nest (March, 1923)

Features

Three Ages (September 24, 1923)
Our Hospitality (November 19, 1923)
Sherlock Jr. (May 11, 1924)
The Navigator (October 13, 1924)
Seven Chances (March 15, 1925)
Go West (November 1, 1925)
Battling Butler (September 19, 1926)
The General (December 31, 1926)
College (November 1927)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (May 20, 1928)

Bonus! Two of Keaton’s Last Films

The Railrodder, for the National Film Board of Canada (October 2, 1965)
Film, directed by Samuel Beckett (January 8, 1965)

Related Content: 

A Supercut of Buster Keaton’s Most Amazing Stunts

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List of Great Public Domain Films 

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

How Bong Joon-ho’s Storyboards for Parasite (Now Published as a Graphic Novel) Meticulously Shaped the Acclaimed Film

In Seoul, where I live, the success of Bong Joon-ho's Parasite at this year's Academy Awards — unprecedented for a non-American film, let alone a Korean one — did not go unnoticed. But even then, the celebration had already been underway at least since the movie won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Something of a homecoming for Bong after Snowpiercer and Okja, two projects made wholly or partially abroad, Parasite takes place entirely in Seoul, staging a socioeconomic grudge match between three families occupying starkly disparate places in the human hierarchy. The denouement is chaotic, but arrived at through the precision filmmaking with which Bong has made his name over the past two decades.

When Parasite's storyboards were published in graphic-novel form here a few months ago, I noticed ads in the subway promising a look into the mind of "Bongtail." Though Bong has publicly declared his contempt for that nickname, it has nevertheless stuck as a reflection of his meticulous way of working.




The son of a graphic designer, he grew up not just watching movies but drawing comics, a practice that would later place him well to create his own storyboards. In so doing he assembles an entire film in his mind before shooting its first frame (a working process not dissimilar to that of Western filmmakers like the Coen brothers), which enables him and his collaborators to execute complex sequences such as what the Nerdwriter calls Parasite's "perfect montage."

With the English translation of Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards now available, video essayists like Thomas Flight have made comparisons between Bong's drawings and the film. Starting with that celebrated montage, Flight shows that, where the final product departs from its plan, it usually does so to simplify the hand-drawn action, making it more legible and elegant. In the short video just above, you can watch one minute of Parasite lined up with its corresponding storyboard panels, one of which incorporates a photograph of the real Seoul neighborhood in which Bong located the main characters' home. This is rich storyboarding indeed, but in his introduction to the book, Bong explains that he doesn't consider it essential to filmmaking, just essential to him: "I actually storyboard to quell my own anxiety." Would that we could all draw worldwide acclaim from doing the same.

Related Content:

The Secret of the “Perfect Montage” at the Heart of Parasite, the Korean Film Now Sweeping World Cinema

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How the Coen Brothers Storyboarded Blood Simple Down to a Tee (1984)

Akira Kurosawa Painted the Storyboards For Scenes in His Epic Films: Compare Canvas to Celluloid

Ridley Scott Demystifies the Art of Storyboarding (and How to Jumpstart Your Creative Project)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

The Internet Archive Will Digitize & Preserve Millions of Academic Articles with Its New Database, “Internet Archive Scholar”

Open access publishing has, indeed, made academic research more accessible, but in “the move from physical academic journals to digitally-accessible papers,” Samantha Cole writes at Vice, it has also become “more precarious to preserve…. If an institution stops paying for web hosting or changes servers, the research within could disappear.” At least a couple hundred open access journals vanished in this way between 2000 and 2019, a new study published on arxiv found. Another 900 journals are in danger of meeting the same fate.

The journals in peril include scholarship in the humanities and sciences, though many publications may only be of interest to historians, given the speed at which scientific research tends to move. In any case, “there shouldn’t really be any decay or loss in scientific publications, particularly those that have been open on the web,” says study co-author Mikael Laasko, information scientist at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki. Yet, in digital publishing, there are no printed copies in university libraries, catalogued and maintained by librarians.




To fill the need, the Internet Archive has created its own scholarly search platform, a “fulltext search index” that includes “over 25 million research articles and other scholarly documents” preserved on its servers. These collections span digitized and original digital articles published from the 18th century to “the latest Open Access conference proceedings and pre-prints crawled from the World Wide Web." Content in this search index comes in one of three forms:

  • public web content in the Wayback Machine web archives (web.archive.org), either identified from historic collecting, crawled specifically to ensure long-term access to scholarly materials, or crawled at the direction of Archive-It partners
  • digitized print material from paper and microform collections purchased and scanned by Internet Archive or its partners
  • general materials on the archive.org collections, including content from partner organizations, uploads from the general public, and mirrors of other projects

The project is still in “alpha” and “has several bugs,” the site cautions, but it could, when it’s fully up and running, become part of a much-needed revolution in academic research—that is if the major academic publishers don’t find some legal pretext to shut it down.

Academic publishing boasts one of the most rapacious legal business models on the global market, and one of the most exploitative: a double standard in which scholars freely publish and review research for the public benefit (ostensibly) and very often on the public dime; while private intermediaries rake in astronomical sums for themselves with paywalls. The open access model has changed things, but the only way to truly serve the “best interests of researchers and the public,” neuroscientist Shaun Khoo argues, is through public infrastructure and fully non-profit publication.

Maybe Internet Archive Scholar can go some way toward bridging the gap, as a publicly accessible, non-profit search engine, digital catalogue, and library for research that is worth preserving, reading, and building upon even if it doesn't generate shareholder revenue. For a deeper dive into how the Archive built its formidable, still developing, new database, see the video presentation above from Jefferson Bailey, Director of Web Archiving & Data Services. And have a look at Internet Archive Scholar here. It currently lacks advanced search functions, but plug in any search term and prepare to be amazed by the incredible volume of archived full text articles you turn up.

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

Why The Wire is One of the Most Brilliant TV Shows Ever

There were a lot of moments during my first view of The Wire when I realized I wasn’t watching the usual cop procedural. But the one that sticks in my head was when an obviously blitzed and blasted McNulty, the Irish-American detective that you *might* think is the hero of the show, leaves a bar, gets into his car and promptly totals it. In any other show this would have been the turning point for the character, either as a wake-up call, a reason for his boss to throw him off the case, or to gin up some suspense. But no. McNulty walks away from the accident and...it’s never really spoken about. The cops took care of their own.

Life does not follow the contours of a television drama, and neither did David Simon’s groundbreaking HBO series. Beloved characters get killed, or not, or they just transfer out of the show as in life. Nobody really gets what they want. Neither good nor evil wins.




As Simon told an audience at Loyola University, Baltimore in 2007: ““What we were trying to do was take the notion of Greek tragedy, of fated and doomed people, and instead of these Olympian gods, indifferent, venal, selfish, hurling lightning bolts and hitting people in the ass for no reason—instead of those guys whipping it on Oedipus or Achilles, it’s the postmodern institutions . . . those are the indifferent gods.”

The Wire still feels recent despite premiering in 2002 and in 4:3 ratio, no widescreen HD here. It feels recent because the problems depicted in the show still exist: corruption at all levels of city government and governance, institutionalized racism, failed schools, a collapsing fourth estate, a gutted economy, weakened unions, and a general nihilism and despondency. Simon may not have seen the Black Lives Matter movement coming, but the recipe for it, the warning of it, is there in the show.

So there’s definitely a reason to give it a re-watch to see how we’ve changed. The above essay from 2019 makes the case for The Wire as a subversion of the usual cop show, with Thomas Flight noting it “doesn’t try to grab and keep your attention. It requires it. And if you give it your attention it will reward you.”

It also reminds us of the literary giants in the writers’ room: crime novelists Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Richard Price were on the team, as was journalist Rafael Alvarez, and William F. Zorzi. That combined with David Simon’s years in journalism covering Baltimore and Ed Burns' experience on the police force meant the show feels right, and the writers did research and actual Baltimore extras were encouraged to speak up if something didn’t.

If that video essay intrigues you, there’s more in the series, though with many more spoilers, such as this one on Character and Theme.

Not long after The Wire finished its fifth and final season, there were plenty of books published on the show. And now we’re nearly two decades in from its premiere, The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill and The Ringer’s Van Lathan decided to spend quarantine kicking off a podcast where the two black cultural critics give the show a spirited re-watch. Does the show feature too much “copaganda” as my leftist critics now contend? Does it hold up like white liberals (its biggest fans, let’s be honest, despite President Obama’s shout out) think it does? The hosts just wrapped up Season Three, but if you’re ready to start the show again with commentary, here’s their first episode:

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Favorite Opera Recordings (and Her First Appearance in an Opera)

U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has thrown an unbearably fraught political year into further disarray, a fact that has sadly overshadowed memorialization of her inspiring life and career. Ginsburg was a personal hero for millions of activists and students—from grade school to law school; an icon casually identified by her initials by those who felt like they knew her. “For many women, and many girls,” Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in a New York Times tribute, her loss is “deeply personal.”

How should we remember such a figure at such a time? If you happen to find the news numbing, full of enervating rancor and alarm…. If you want to bring the focus back to the person we have lost, might we suggest a soundtrack? The suggestions come from Ginsburg herself, from the art form—opera—closest to her heart. “She was our greatest advocate and our greatest spokesperson,” says Francesca Zambello, director of the Washington National Opera, “the ideal attendee… who knows everything but is open to interpretations.”




Ginsburg’s commitment to the opera spans decades. She and her husband Marty were in the audience when Leontyne Price made her debut at the Met in 1961. Forty-seven years later, the Justice had occasion to honor Pryce at a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts luncheon. Also in attendance: Antonin Scalia, Ginsburg’s notorious rival. The only thing the two may have agreed on was a passion for the opera. It formed the basis of a fragile peace, and the subject of its own opera, Scalia v. Ginsburg, that explores extreme judicial differences through “Verdi, Puccini, Christmas carols, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ and jazz.”

Scalia v. Ginsberg composer Derrick Wang heard the grandiosity of opera when he read the fiercely opposing written opinions of the two justices. It’s safe to assume that both were listening to their favorite works while they composed. In 2012, Ginsburg gave her list of favorites to Alex Ross at The New Yorker, who points to other Ginsburg connections to the classical world like her son, James Ginsburg, “proprietor of Cedille Records, an independent classical label based in Chicago.” (Read their statement on Ginsburg’s passing here.)

There is far too much to say about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s judicial influence, and about the power vacuum left behind by her loss. But if we want to understand what mattered to her most as an individual, we should turn to the music she most loved. “Her life was about understanding people’s stories,” says Zambello. The kinds of cases “she made her career of are the stuff of opera.” At the top, see Ginsburg’s first appearance onstage, in a non-singing role as the Duchess of Krakenthorpe in the The Daughter of the Regiment at the Kennedy Center. Just below, see her list of favorite works, peppered with occasional commentary from the late, beloved R.B.G. herself. This list originally comes from The New Yorker. If you have a Spotify account, you can stream the music in this 30-hour playlist.

Verdi, “Aida”; Zinka Milanov, Jussi Björling, Leonard Warren, Fedora Barbieri, Boris Christoff, Jonel Perlea conducting the Rome Opera Orchestra and Chorus (RCA).

Verdi, “Otello”; Plácido Domingo, Renata Scotto, Sherrill Milnes, James Levine conducting the National Philharmonic and Ambrosian Opera Chorus (RCA).

Dvořák, “Rusalka”; Renée Fleming, Ben Heppner, Dolora Zajick, Franz Hawlata, Charles Mackerras conducting the Czech Philharmonic and Kühn Mixed Choir (Decca).

Handel, “Julius Caesar”; Norman Treigle, Beverly Sills, Maureen Forrester, Beverly Wolff, Julius Rudel conducting the New York City Opera Orchestra and Chorus (RCA).

Justice Ginsburg comments: “Listened to LP recording many times. Production was Julius Rudel’s triumph, opened in the State Theatre the year the Met moved to Lincoln Center. Met opened with the not at all triumphant production of Barber’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’ Next, my two best-loved operas.”

Mozart, “Don Giovanni”; Cesare Siepi, Fernando Corena, Suzanne Danco, Lisa Della Casa, Anton Dermota, Hilde Gueden, Walter Berry, Kurt Böhme, Josef Krips conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus (Decca).

Mozart, “The Marriage of Figaro”; Samuel Ramey, Lucia Popp, Thomas Allen, Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Kurt Moll, Robert Tear, Georg Solti conducting the London Philharmonic and London Opera Chorus (Decca).

Strauss, “Der Rosenkavalier”; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Teresa Stich-Randall, Otto Edelmann, Eberhard Wächter, Ljuba Welitsch, Nicolai Gedda, Herbert von Karajan conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus (EMI).

Tchaikovsky, “Eugene Onegin”; Thomas Allen, Mirella Freni, Neil Shicoff, Anne Sofie von Otter, James Levine conducting the Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Radio Chorus (DG).

Puccini, “Tosca”; Maria Callas, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, Victor de Sabata conducting the La Scala orchestra and chorus (EMI).

Menotti, “The Medium”; Joyce Castle, Patrice Michaels, Lawrence Rapchak conducting the Chicago Opera Theatre (Cedille).

Kurka, “The Good Soldier Schweik”; Jason Collins, Marc Embree, Kelli Harrington, Buffy Baggott, Alexander Platt conducting the Chicago Opera Theatre (Cedille).

Justice Ginsburg comments: “Glimmerglass Opera later mounted ‘Schweik’ with perfect-for-the-part Anthony Dean Griffey.”

Stravinsky, “The Rake’s Progress”; Philip Langridge, Samuel Ramey, Cathryn Pope, Stafford Dean, Sarah Walker, John Dobson, Astrid Varnay, Riccardo Chailly conducting the London Sinfonietta and Chorus (Decca).

Britten, “Billy Budd”; Nathan Gunn, Ian Bostridge, Gidon Saks, Daniel Harding conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Virgin Classics).

Justice Ginsburg comments: “Two Lieder recordings I now and then play when working at home: **Schubert, ‘An mein Herz,’ with Matthias Goerne; and songs by Brahms, with Angelika Kirchschlager.”

via The New Yorker

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

Blockbuster Courses on the U.S. Presidential Election Getting Started at Stanford Continuing Studies This Week


This fall, Stanford Continuing Studies presents 150+ courses in the Liberal Arts & Sciences, Creative Writing, and Professional Development, including two major courses on the U.S. presidential election. Taught by Pamela Karlan (Stanford law professor) and James Steyer (CEO, Common Sense Media), Election 2020: A Panoramic View of America's Decisive Election will feature a lineup of distinguished guest speakers--from Bill Clinton and Kara Swisher, to Steve Schmidt, David Plouffe and Andrew Yang. The other course focuses on Technology and the 2020 Election: How Silicon Valley Technologies Impact Our Elections and Shape Our Democracy. Taught by professor Rob Reich and Dutch politician Marietje Schaake, the course will feature visits from Roger McNamee, (author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe), Alex Stamos (Former Chief Security Officer, Facebook), Shoshana Zuboff, (Harvard author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism), Michael McFaul (former ambassador to Russia), and more.

These live online courses are open to adults. Although the courses aren't free, they're timely and bound to engage. Election 2020 starts today. Technology and the 2020 Election starts on Wednesday. Explore the entire Continuing Studies catalogue here.

Note: High school students can also enroll in both of these election courses. To explore that opportunity, follow these links:

Election 2020: A Panoramic View of America's Decisive Election

Technology and the 2020 Election: How Silicon Valley Technologies Impact Our Elections and Shape Our Democracy

If Werner Herzog Reviewed Trader Joe’s on Yelp: “Madness Reigns. The First Challenge Your Soul Must Endure Is the Parking Lot”

I like the Internet for various things, but it’s limited. I’m not on social media, but you will find me in the social media. There’s Facebook, there’s Twitters, but it’s all not me.

—Werner Herzog in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

The night before his 2016 documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World premiered at Sundance, director Werner Herzog declared himself “still a liberated virgin” with regard to his reliance on the Internet:

I think we have to abandon this kind of false security that everything is settled now, that we have so much assistance by digital media and robots and artificial intelligence. At the same time, we overlook how vulnerable all this is, and how we are losing the essentials that make us human. That’s my advice … Cook a meal at least three times a week. Play a musical instrument. Read books and travel on foot.

That said, he’s not immune to the rejuvenating effects of random cat videos at the end of a tiring day, as he told Studio 360's Kurt Andersen during a promotional visit for 2018’s Meeting Gorbachev:

Perhaps guessing that Googling his own name is not one of Herzog’s preferred online activities, Anderson took the opportunity to hip his guest to comedian Paul F. Tompkins' Teutonic-inflected recitation of a notorious Yelp review of Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake.

To the untrained ear, Tompkins’ Herzog is pitch perfect.

The spoof's subject suggested that the accent could use improvement, but agreed that the text is “very funny.”

And it is, especially given the pedestrian tenor of the same Trader Joe’s other 5-star reviews:

This is the best Trader Joe's location I've been to! Been coming here since I was a kid! (I'm 25 now) I've moved out of this area but still come to this location just because it beats the rest of them. - Debbie G

TJ is the best!! I've been coming here for many years, and the food is great!! The employee's are awesome! Some of the many things I love to purchase here are: salmon balls, smoothies like the chia seed strawberry, protein almond butter drinks, coconut smoothie, cashew yogurt, south western salad that comes in a bag is BOMB.COM! - Raymond M

Tompkins tapped Herzog’s fascination with man's animal nature and the brutality of existence for another Yelp review, awarding three stars to San Francisco’s Hotel Majestic and attributing it to Werner H:

Tompkins clearly savors the opportunity to channel Herzog, logging 16 appearances for the character on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, including episodes wherein he discusses working with Tom Cruise and his desire to be cast as a clueless suburban husband in an appliance commercial. Find them all listed here.

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

The Life, Work & Philosophy of Bill Murray: Happy 70th Birthday to an American Comedy Icon

Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

"Bill Murray is to me what calculators are to math," Jason Schwartzman once said of his esteemed colleague. "I never knew math before calculators, and I never knew life before Bill Murray." Having been born in the 1980s, a decade Murray entered already well-known after three early seasons of Saturday Night Live, I could say the same. Through characters like Nick the lounge singer and half a nerd couple with Gilda Radner, Murray established himself on that show as a goofball, but a goofball of a higher order. As the 80s got into full swing, Murray got into the movies, and ever more prominent roles in the likes of CaddyshackStripes, and Ghostbusters assured him a permanent place in the pantheon of American comedy.

For those who cared to look, there has long been evidence of concentrated thought and feeling behind the deadpan impulsiveness of Murray's onscreen persona: his supporting turn as Dustin Hoffman's lemon-eating playwright roommate in Tootsie, his passion-project adaptation of Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, his post-Ghostbusters escape to the Sorbonne.




It was in Paris that Murray studied the work of the Greco-Armenian Sufi mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, who describes a path to enlightenment called "the way of the sly man," one who makes maximum use of "the world, the self, and the self that is observing everything." This concept, according to the Wisecrack video above, has become integral to Murray's distinctive way of not just acting, but being.

That counts as just one of the theories advanced over the decades to explain the curious phenomenon of Bill Murray. The man has also been called upon to explain it himself now and again, as when an interviewer at the Toronto International Film Festival asked what it feels like to be him. His response takes the audience into a guided meditation meant to make everyone listening understand how it feels to be themselves, right here, right now.




Maintaining this sense of the moment, as Murray later explained to Charlie Rose, is one of the goals of his own life — and presumably not an easy goal to achieve for someone who's been so famous for so long, a condition he addresses in the 1988 interview animated for Blank on Blank below. "I'm just an obnoxious guy who can make it appear charming," he says in summation of his appeal. "That's what they pay me to do."

That same year, they paid him $6 million for his role in Scrooged (playing, incidentally, the most obnoxious character of his career). He'd already been cautioned against the dangers of such rapidly acquired wealth and fame by the fate of his fellow Chicagoan and SNL alumnus John Belushi, who by that time had already been dead for five years. Murray had also, he says, undergone a "spiritual change" that showed him "there was some other life to live. It changed the way that I worked," giving everything "a different presence, a different tension." Onscreen, this change culminated in the roles he took on after putting broad comedies behind him beginning with 1999's Rushmore, the breakout feature by an up-and-coming director named Wes Anderson.

Casting Murray opposite the teenage Schwartzman, Rushmore showed that he could be more affecting — and indeed funnier — in minor emotional keys. A few years later, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation took him to Japan, where he drew an Academy Award nomination with his performance from the depths of cultural and personal disorientation. Today, on Murray's 70th birthday, his fans impatiently await his appearances in Anderson's The Paris Dispatch and Coppola's On the Rocks, both of which come out next month. Having long since become an institution (albeit an insistently unconventional and unpredictable one) unto himself, Murray can surely look to the heavens and say what, with uncharacteristic earnestness, he told his SNL audience he wanted to say 33 years ago: "Dad, I did it."

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

A Long, Guided Tour of New York City Captured in Original Color Film (1937)

So much classic black and white footage has been digitally colorized recently, it’s hard to remember that the Eastman Kodak Company's Kodachrome film debuted way back in 1935.

The above footage of New York City was shot by an unknown enthusiast in and around 1937.

Dick Hoefsloot, the Netherlands-based videographer who posted it to YouTube after tweaking it a bit for motion stabilization and speed-correction, is not averse to artificially coloring historic footage using modern software, but in this case, there was no need.

It was shot in color.




If things have a greenish cast, that’s owing to the film on which it was shot. Three-color film, which added blue to the red-green mix, was more expensive and more commonly used later on.

Hoefsloot’s best guess is that this film was shot by a member of a wealthy family. It's confidently made, but also seems to be a home movie of sorts, given the presence of an older woman who appears a half dozen times on this self-guided tour of New York sites.

There’s plenty here that remains familiar: the Woolworth Building and the Metropolitan Museum of Arttrussed up Christmas trees propped against makeshift sidewalk stands, the New York Public Library’s lions, Patience and Fortitude.

Other aspects are more a matter of nostalgia.

Over in Times Square, Bulldog Drummond Comes Back starring John Barrymore was playing at the Criterion (now the site of a Gap store), while the Paramount Theater, now a Hard Rock Cafe, played host to True Confession with Barrymore and Carol Lombard.

Oysters were still food for the masses, though records show that locally harvested ones had been deemed too polluted for human consumption for at least a decade.

A bag of peanuts cost 15¢. A new Oldsmobile went for about $914 plus city tax.

Laundry could be seen strung between buildings (still can be on occasion), but people dressed up carefully for shopping trips and other excursions around town. Heaven forbid they step outside without a hat.

Though the Statue of Liberty makes an appearance, the film doesn’t depict the neighborhoods where new and established immigrants were known to congregate. Had the camera traveled uptown to the Apollo—by 1937, the largest employer of black theatrical workers in the country and the sole venue in the city in which they were hired for backstage positions—the overall composition would have proved less white.

The film, which was uploaded a little over a year ago, has recently attracted a fresh volley of attention, leading Hoefsloot to reissue his request for viewers to “refrain from (posting) political, religious or racist-related comments.”

In this fraught election year, we hope you will pardon a New Yorker for pointing out the legion of commenters flouting this polite request, so eager are they to fan the fires of intolerance by expressing a preference for the "way things used to be."

With all due respect, there aren’t many people left who were present at the time, who can accurately recall and describe New York City in 1937. Our hunch is that those who can are not spending such time as remains rabble-rousing on YouTube.

So enjoy this historic window on the past, then take a deep breath and confront the present that’s revealing itself in the YouTube comments.

A chronological list of New York City sites and citizens appearing in this film circa 1937:

00:00 Lower Manhattan skyline seen from Brooklyn Heights Promenade

00:45 Staten Island steam ferry

01:05 RMS Carinthia

01:10 Old three-stack pass.ship, maybe USS Leviathan

01:28 One-stack pass.ship, name?

01:50 HAL SS Volendam or SS Veendam II

02:18 Westfield II steam ferry to Staten Island, built 1862?

02:30 Floyd Bennett Airfield, North Beach Air Service inc. hangar

02:43 Hoey Air Services hangar at  F.B. Airfield

02:55 Ladies board monoplane, Stinson S Junior, NC10883, built 1931

03:15 Flying over New York: Central Park & Rockefeller Center

03:19 Empire State Building (ESB)

03:22 Chrysler building in the distance

03:26 Statue of Liberty island

03:30 Aircraft, Waco ZQC-6, built 1936

03:47 Reg.no. NC16234 becomes readable

04:00 Arrival of the "Fly Eddie Lyons" aircraft

04:18 Dutch made Fokker 1, packed

04:23 Douglas DC3 "Dakota", also packed, new

04:28 Green mono- or tri-engine aircraft, type?

04:40 DC3 again. DC3's flew first on 17 Dec.1935

04:44 Back side of Woolworth Building

05:42 Broadway at Bowling Green

05:12 Brooklyn across East River, view from Pier 11

05:13 Water plane, Grumman G-21A Goose

05:38 Street with bus, Standard Oil Building (R)

05:40 Truck, model?

05:42 Broadway at Bowling Green

05:46 Old truck, "Engels", model?

05:48 Flag USA with 48 stars!

05:50 Broadway at Bowling Green, DeStoto Sunshine cab 1936

05:52 Truck, "Bier Mard Bros", model?

05:56 Ford Model AA truck 1930

05:58 Open truck, model?

06:05 Standard Oil Building

06:25 Bus 366 & Ford Model A 1930

06:33 South Street & Coenties Slip

06:35 See 07:19, Black car?

06:45 Cities Service Building at 70 Pine St. right. Left: see 07:12

06:48 Small vessels in the East River

06:50 Owned by Harry F. Reardon

07:05 Shack on Coenties Slip, Pier 5

07:12 City Bank-Farmers Trust Building, 20 Exchange Place

07:15 Oyster bar, near Coenties Slip

07:19 South Street, looking North towards the old Seaman’s Church Institute

07:31 Holland America Line, Volendam-I, built 1922

07:32 Chrysler Plymouth P2 De Luxe

07:34 Oyster vendor

08:05 Vendor shows oyster in pot

08:16 Wall st.; Many cars, models?

08:30 Looking down Wall st.

08:52 More cars, models?

09:00 Near the Erie Ferry, 1934/35 Ford s.48 De Luxe

09:02 Rows of Christmas tree sales, location?

09:15 Erie Railroad building, location? Quay 21? Taxi, model?

09:23 1934 Dodge DS

09:25 See 09:48

09:27 Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad

09:29 Clyde Mallory Lines

09:48  South end of West Side Highway

09:4910:0810:1110:45 Location?

10:25 Henry Hudson Parkway

11:30 George Washington Bridge without the Lower Level

12:07 Presbyterian Hospital, Washington Heights

12:15 Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research

12:49 New York Hospital at 68th St. & East River

13:14 ditto

13:35 ditto

13:42 Metropolitan Museum of Art

14:51 Rockefella Plaza & RCA building

16:33 Saint Patrick's Cathedral

16:50 Public Library

17:24 Panoramic view, from ESB

17:45 RCA Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza

18:16 Original Penn Station

19:27 Movie True Confession, rel. 24 Dec.1937

19:30 Sloppy Joes

20:12 Neon lights & Xmas

26:34 Herald Square

29:48 Police Emergency Service (B&W)

31:00 SS Normandie, French Line, Pier 88

32:06 RMS Queen Mary, White Star Line, Pier 92

32:43 Departure Queen Mary

33:45 Italian Line, Pier 84, Terminal, dd.1935

34:00 SS Conte Di Savoia, Italian Line, Pier 84

34:25 Peanut seller, near the piers

34:35 Feeding the pidgeons

34:52 SS Normandie, exterior & on deck

35:30 View from Pier 88

35:59 Interior

37:06 From Pier 88

37:23 Northern, Eastern, Southern or Western Prince, built 1929

37:32 Tug, William C. Gaynor

38:20 Departure

38:38 Blue Riband!

39:15 Tugs push Normandie into fairway

39:50 Under own steam.

40:00 Statue of Liberty

40:15 SS Normandie leaves NYC

View more of Dick Hoefsloot’s historic uploads on his YouTube channel.

Related Content: 

A Trip Through New York City in 1911: Vintage Video of NYC Gets Colorized & Revived with Artificial Intelligence

A New Interactive Map Shows All Four Million Buildings That Existed in New York City from 1939 to 1941

The Lost Neighborhood Buried Under New York City’s Central Park

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

Free Jazz Musicians Intentionally Play Terrible Music to Drown Out the Noise of a Danish Far-Right Politician

Art makes a way where politics fail. I don’t mean that in any mawkish sense. Sure, art brings people together, encourages empathy and common values. Those can be wonderful things. But they are not always necessarily social goods. Violent nationalism brings people together around common values. Psychopaths can feel empathy if they want to.

When faced with fascism, or neo-fascism, or whatever we want to call the 21st century equivalent of fascism, those who presume good faith in their opponents presume too much. Values like respect for human rights or rules of logical debate or use of force, for example, are not in play. Direct confrontation usually provokes more violence, and corresponding state repression against anti-fascists.




Creative thinkers have devised other kinds of tactics—methods for meeting spectacle with spectacle, disrupting and scattering concentrated fear and hate by use of what William S. Burroughs called “magical weapons.” Burroughs meant the phrase literally when he aimed his occult audio/visual magic at a gentrifying London coffee bar. But he used the very same ideas in his novels and manuals for overthrowing corrupt governments.

One might say something similar about the pioneers of free jazz, a product of Black Power politics expressed in music. Coltrane drew on Malcolm X when he divested himself of western musical constraints; Ornette Coleman established “harmolodic democracy” in place of Eurocentric structures. These were inherently revolutionary forms, responding to repressive times in new languages. They were not, as many people thought then, just jazz played badly.

But, as it turns out… free jazz deliberately played badly makes quite an effective rejoinder to fascism, too. So a group of Danish jazz musicians discovered when they began crashing the staged events of far-right politician Rasmus Paludan, founder of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party. As Vice reports:

[Paludan] is notorious for organising “demonstrations” in neighbourhoods with large immigrant populations, where he burns, throws, and stomps on Qurans behind walls of police officers. A self-proclaimed “guardian of freedom” and “light of the Danes,” Paludan considers immigrants and Islam enemies of the Danish people, as well as the country’s values, traditions and general way of life.

Does one respectfully argue with such a person? Try to breach the line of cops and knock them out? Hear out their point of view as they inspire acts of violence? Or show up “armed with trumpets, bongo drums and saxophones” and play right in his face, or at least “loudly enough to drown out his voice or draw attention away from him”?

The collective “Free Jazz Against Paludan” takes the magical weapon of Situationist free jazz public and radicalizes harmolodic democracy (done very, very obnoxiously badly on purpose, we must emphasize) for street action. “We’re fighting noise with noise,” one saxophonist and self-described “old man turned activist” says. “I’m of the opinion that rhetoric like his should not be ignored. You have to protest against it, but in a way that is not destructive and violent.” Except that it is destructive—to Paludan’s weaponized ignorance. [Paludan was recently sentenced to jail on racism and defamation.] The revolving collective of activist musicians makes this plain, stating on their Facebook page, “Anyone can join, with the exception of just him. He cannot.”

What gives them the right to exclude him! one might cry indignantly. That’s the game Paludan wants to play. “What he wants is to get beaten up by some immigrants, get some close-ups of a soap eye or a broken arm—that’d be great for him,” says protestor Jørn Tolstrup. “So this is great, because here we have an idiot who won’t shut up, and now we’ve found a way to take his foot off the pedal.” It’s creative de-escalation and redirection. And, we might say, not so much a public “cancelling” as the free expression of opposing ideas.

via Vice

Related Content:

How Ornette Coleman Freed Jazz with His Theory of Harmolodics

How William S. Burroughs Used the Cut-Up Technique to Shut Down London’s First Espresso Bar (1972)

William S. Burroughs’ Manifesto for Overthrowing a Corrupt Government with Fake News and Other Prophetic Methods: It’s Now Published for the First Time

How Music Unites Us All: Herbie Hancock & Kamasi Washington in Conversation

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





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