Neil Gaiman Reads Bad, Fake Neil Gaiman Stories

The American Public Media show, “Wits,” asked its listeners to write their “poorest imitations of Neil Gaiman’s writing.” And then they got Gaiman himself to read the best/worst submissions. You can watch the results above, and hear the complete radio show here.

To watch/listen to Gaiman reading stories that he actually wrote, see this collection where Neil reads eight works, including the entirety of The Graveyard Book.

via @Electric Literature

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

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Albert Camus: The Madness of Sincerity — 1997 Documentary Revisits the Philosopher’s Life & Work

Opening with a childhood story from his life, the documentary above, Albert Camus: The Madness of Sincerity, tells us that the philosopher/journalist/novelist’s first love was “the howling and the tumult of the wind.” It’s a beautiful image for a writer who confronted the pain, joy, and confusion of human existence without the ready-made props of religious belief, nationalist allegiance, or ideological conformity. Camus’ “madness of sincerity” produced enduring work like The Stranger, The Plague, The Rebel, The First Man, The Outsider, and The Fall and won him a Nobel Prize in 1957. His conviction also cost him friendships as he turned away from mass movements and pursued his own path. It was a cost he was prepared to bear. As he would write in The Fall in 1956, “How could sincerity be a condition of friendship? A liking for the truth at all costs is a passion that spares nothing and that nothing can withstand.”

After the wind, of course, Camus had many more loves, and many lovers. A few of them appear above, along with Camus’ daughter Catherine and son Jean to discuss the great themes of his work in three chapters: the Absurd, Revolt, and Happiness. With discussion and excerpts—read by narrator Brian Cox—from Camus’ work, the documentary traces his life from birth and a difficult childhood in French Algeria, to his daily editorials for Combat during the French Resistance, his turn against Communism and decision to live in near-exile in the ‘50s, and his premature death in a car accident in 1960 at the age of 47. All in all, the documentary leaves us with the impression of Camus as a magnetic individual, and a deeply principled one, who held true to the words quoted from his Nobel acceptance speech early in the film about the writer’s task, which is always, he said, “rooted in two commitments… the refusal to lie about what one knows, and resistance to oppression.”

Find more thought-provoking films in our collection, 200 Free Documentaries Online.

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

Lynda Barry’s Wonderfully Illustrated Syllabus & Homework Assignments from Her UW-Madison Class, “The Unthinkable Mind”

Lynda Barry Syllabus

Our reverence for cartoonist Lynda Barry, aka Professor Chewbacca, aka The Near Sighted Monkey is no secret. We hope someday to experience the pleasure of her live teachings. ’Til then, we creep on her Tumblr page, following with homework assignments, writing exercises and lesson plans intended for students who take her class, “The Unthinkable Mind,” at the University of Wisconsin.

And now, those course materials have been collected as Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, an old fashioned, tangible book. It’s like a paper MOOC!

(Yes, we know, MOOCs are free. This will be too, if you add it to your holiday wish list, or insist that your local library orders a copy.)

Barry 2

Barry’s marching orders are always to be executed on paper, even when they have been retrieved on smartphones, tablets, and a variety of other screens. They are the antithesis of dry. A less accidental professor might have dispensed with the doodle encrusted, lined yellow legal paper, after privately outlining her game plan. Barry’s choice to preserve and share the method behind her madness is a gift to students, and to herself.

barry homework

As Hillary L. Chute notes in Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics:

 The decontextualization of cheap, common, or utilitarian paper (which also harkens back to the historical avant-garde) may be understood as a transvaluation of the idea of working on “waste” –a knowing, ironic acknowledgment on Barry’s part that her life narrative, itself perhaps considered insignificant, is visualized in an accessible popular medium, comics, that is still largely viewed as “garbage.”

Working on “garbage” must come as a relief for someone like Barry, who has talked about growing up under a hostile mother who saw her daughter’s creative impulses as a “waste” of paper:

I got screamed at a lot for using up paper. The only blank paper in the house was hers, and if she found out I touched it she’d go crazy. I sometimes stole paper from school and even that made her mad. I think it’s why I hoard paper to this day. I have so much blank paper everywhere, in every drawer, on every shelf, and still when I need a sheet I look in the garbage first. I agonize over using a “good” sheet of paper for anything. I have good drawing paper I’ve been dragging around for twenty years because I’m not good enough to use it yet. Yes, I know this is insane.

Sample assignments from “The Unthinkable Mind” are above and below, and you will find many more in Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor. Let us know if Professor Chewbacca’s neurological assumptions are correct. Does drawing and writing by hand release the monsters from the id and squelch the internal editor who is the enemy of art?

Barry 1

Barry 3

Barry 4

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

Crash Course Big History: John Green Teaches Life, the Universe & Everything

If you don’t understand big history, you’ll never understand small history. That idea hasn’t yet attained aphorism status, but maybe we can get it there. Last month, we featured a free, Bill Gates-funded short course on 13.8 billion years of “Big History”. Back in 2012, we featured well-known online educator (and now even better-known young adult novelist) John Green’s Crash Course on World History. Now these worlds, or rather these histories of the world, have collided in the form of  Crash Course Big History, a web series “in which John Green, Hank Green, and Emily Graslie teach you about, well, everything.” In true fashion of the biggest possible history, the Crash Course crew begins at the beginning — the real beginning, the Big Bang, which the first fifteen-minute episode gets into above.

“Mr. Green! Mr. Green!” exclaims Green at himself, momentarily taking on his signature secondary pushy-student persona. “That’s not history, that’s science.” Returning to his cool-professor persona, Green lays it out for himself: “Academics often describe history as, like, all stuff that’s happened since we started writing things down, but they only start there because that’s where we have the best information. The advent of writing was a huge deal, obviously, but as a start date for history, it’s totally arbitrary. It’s just a line we drew in the sand and said, ‘Okay, history begins now!'” In order to push that line as far back as possible, history must fuse with science, allowing the study of the past to best incorporate and contextualize all it can about (and students of Green had to know he would quote Douglas Adams on this) “Life, the Universe, and Everything.”

Seven episodes in and underway right now, Crash Course Big History has gone on to cover not just the universe, but the sun and the Earth, the emergence of life, the epic of evolution, and how that process produced humans. Having arrived at the appearance of Homo sapiens, Green and company cover, in the freshly released seventh episode, the process of “humanity conquering the Earth. Or at least moving from Africa into the rest of the Earth,” going on to reach “a critical mass of innovators” and develop “collective learning.” And amid the grand sweep of planetary movement, evolution, and mass migration, we continue to find new ways to collectively learn all the time — of which the Crash Courses represent only one particularly entertaining variety.

You can watch future Crash Course Big History videos by following this playlist on Youtube. It’s also worth mentioning that Bill Gates has helped fund these Crash Course videos, just as he has helped fund the larger Big History Project mentioned in our previous post.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

16,000 Pages of Charles Darwin’s Writing on Evolution Now Digitized and Available Online

Darwin Tree of Life

The Darwinian theory of evolution is an amazing scientific idea that seems, at least to a layperson like me, to meet all the criteria for what scientists like Ian Glynn praise highly as “elegance”—all of them perhaps except one: Simplicity. Evolutionary theory may seem on its face to be a fairly simple explanation of the facts—all life begins as single-celled organisms, then changes and adapts in response to its environment, branching and developing into millions of species over billions of years. But the journey Darwin took to arrive at this idea was hardly straightforward and it certainly didn’t arrive in one eureka moment of enlightenment.

darwin Notebook D

The process for him took over two decades, represented by the hundreds of pages of notes he left behind, all of which will be freely available online at the Darwin Manuscripts Project at the American Museum of Natural History in 2015. This means 30,000 digitized documents, like the naturalist’s first “Tree of Life” at the top of the page, from a July 1837 notebook entry, and Transmutation Notebook D above, the first notebook in which Darwin began working on the theory of natural selection.

The Museum has currently announced that it is a little over the halfway point, with just over 16,000 digitized documents that cover, they write, “the 25-year period in which Darwin became convinced of evolution; discovered natural selection; developed explanations of adaptation, speciation, and a branching tree of life and wrote the Origin [of Species].” Director of the project David Kohn describes that latter famous work as “the mature fruit of a prolonged process of scientific exploration and creativity that began toward the end of his Beagle voyage… and that continued to expand in range and deepen in conceptual rigor through numerous well-marked stages.”


Now historians of science can trace those stages as though they were a fossil record, starting with that famous H.M.S. Beagle voyage, in which the young Darwin sailed from South America to the Pacific Islands—stopping at numerous sites, including the Galapagos Islands of course, and collecting samples and making observations. The journey produced a lively account, 1839’s Voyage of the Beagle, prelude to the fully developed theory presented 20 years later in On the Origin of Species. Looking into the Beagle voyage section, you’ll find hundreds of pages of notes, like that above on Galapagos mockingbirds. Darwin’s handwriting will present a challenge, which is why, Hyperallergic tells us, the project is “adding transcriptions and a scholarly structure to its high-resolution images.”

darwin Children's drawing

Hyperallergic also sums up the remaining contents of the huge archive, which in addition to the Beagle material will feature everything “from the rest of his life, which he spent defending his work.” This means “scribblings in books he studied, abstracts, his own book drafts, articles and their revisions, journals he read, and his notebooks on transmutation.” You’ll also find “some charming oddities” like drawings by the scientist’s children (above) on the back of original Origin manuscript pages. Learn much more about the archive, and Darwin’s lifelong work, at the American Museum of Natural History’s Darwin Manuscript Project site.

via io9/Hyperallergic

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

Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow Finally Gets Released as an Audio Book

gravity's rainbow original cover

A quick heads up for Thomas Pynchon fans. Four decades after its publication, you can finally get Gravity’s Rainbow as an audio book — possibly even as a free audio book.

According to The New York Times, “Since the mid-1980s, a George Guidall recording [of the 1973 novel] has been floating around, like some mythical lost rocket part — no one had heard it, but all Pynchon fans knew someone who knew someone who had — but in October a new version, authorized and rerecorded… — hit the stands.”

The new release, which runs 40 hours and 1 minute, is also narrated by Guidall. It’s available on (Hear an audio sample below.) And there’s a way to get it for free. As we’ve mentioned before, Audible lets you download an audio book for free if you sign up for their 30-Day Free Trial. And, keep in mind, whenever someone signs up for a free trial, it helps support Open Culture. Learn more about the Free Trial program here, and to get Gravity’s Rainbow, simply click here and then click the “Learn how to get this Free” link on the right side of the page.

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120 Artists Pick Their Top 10 Films in the Criterion Collection


Some of us get our education at film school. More of us get it from The Criterion Collection, that formidably cinephilic restorer, curator, and packager of classic motion pictures from every era. In addition to their elegant, supplementary material-rich home video releases — they’ve put them out on Laserdisc, on DVD, on Blu-ray, streaming over the internet, and will presumably continue to do so on whichever formats come next — they also do intriguing collaborations with the various cultural figures with whom they’ve worked, such as asking them to name their ten favorite Criterion releases. You may recall that, back in June, we featured actor, director, and 1990s “Indiewood” icon Steve Buscemi’s Criterion top ten list, which included such choice pieces of film history as Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, Franco-Dutch horror classic The Vanishing, and long-unreleased “faux-documentary” Symbiopsychotaxiplasm.

Of the many more lists offers, you can find this surprisingly classic-oriented one from Richard Linklater, maker of films like Slacker, the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight trilogy, and this year’s Boyhood (and another architect of Indiewood):

  1. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)
  2. Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson)
  3. The Flowers of St. Francis (Roberto Rossellini)
  4. Day of Wrath (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  5. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
  6. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese)
  7. Unfaithfully Yours (Preston Sturges)
  8. Fanny and Alexander – The Television Version (Ingmar Bergman)
  9. Pickpocket (Robert Bresson)
  10. I Know Where I’m Going! (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)

Or this one by four members of the New York no-wave rock band Sonic Youth, who turned the whole top-ten list concept up to twelve, giving their props to Ozu like Linkater and The Vanishing like Buscemi (“It gets veeerrry weird,” adds guitarist Thurston Moore):

  1. Floating Weeds (Yasujiro Ozu)
  2. Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman)
  3. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainier Werner Fassbinder)
  4. Masculin féminin (Jean-Luc Godard)
  5. Double Suicide (Masahiro Shinoda)
  6. The Vanishing (George Sluizer)
  7. Mamma Roma (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  8. Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus)
  9. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder)
  10. Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch)
  11. Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat)
  12. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick)

Or lists from vital creators who have more recently arrived on the scene, such as this one from Tiny Furniture director and Girls creator Lena Dunham, an inveterate fan of Agnès Varda (who “manages to be both deeply emotional and utterly in control of the technical elements of filmmaking [ … ] that had seemed to me to be an impossible line to straddle, and she does it so beautifully”). She also makes room for Malick’s Days of Heaven, (also a pick of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon), two from Fassbinder (also a director of choice for Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo), and one from Bergman (who should make everyone’s favorite-films lists, but also made Linklater’s):

  1. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)
  2. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick)
  3. Broadcast News (James L. Brooks)
  4. Weekend (Andrew Haigh)
  5. La Pointe Courte, Cléo from 5 to 7, Le bonheur, and Vagabond (Agnès Varda)
  6. The Marriage of Maria Braun and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainier Werner Fassbinder)
  7. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir)
  8. Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah) and Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg)
  9. Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman)
  10. The War Room (Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker)

D.A. Pennebaker, by the way, has his own Criterion top ten list, as do other filmmakers named here, like Andrew Haigh and Martin Scorsese. But this leaves me with one burning question: if directors like Ozu and Fassbinder had lived to see The Criterion Collection, which volumes would they have put on their own DVD shelves?

Enter the complete collection of Criterion Top Tens here.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Oh My God! Winston Churchill Received the First Ever Letter Containing “O.M.G.” (1917)

omg letter 1

Winston Churchill is one of those preposterously outsized historical figures who seemed to be in the middle of every major event. Even before, as Prime Minister, he steeled the resolve of his people and faced down the Third Reich juggernaut; even before he loudly warned of the Nazi menace before it was polite to do so; even before he was pilloried in the press for the disastrous Gallipoli invasion during WWI, Churchill was a famous and controversial figure. As a young cavalry officer, he left his post in India to report on the bloody colonial campaign in the Swat Valley in present-day Pakistan. His hugely popular articles pushed the military slang word “sniper” into popular use. During the second Boer War, Churchill was not only captured at gunpoint by future South African prime minister Louis Botha but he managed to successfully escape from his POW camp. And after being pushed out of the government following Gallipoli, he returned to the military as a Lieutenant Colonel and commanded a battalion of troops in France. He also won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 and was, as we’ve recently seen, a pretty good painter too.

Add to this one more triumph: he unwittingly had a hand in shaping the speech patterns of teenaged girls some 50 years after his death. Churchill was the recipient of a missive containing the first ever usage of the oft-texted acronym “O.M.G.”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, O.M.G.’s origins can be traced back to a letter to Churchill from Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher, sent on September 9, 1917. After complaining about the state of affairs of the Navy during the war, Fisher closes with the following lame joke: “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis – O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) – Shower it on the Admiralty!!”

Churchill’s relationship with Fisher was complex. While he was the First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill brought Fisher out of retirement in 1911 to head the royal navy. Their relationship went south in 1915 following the failure of the Dardanelles campaign. Churchill was still roundly blamed mostly because of Fisher’s loud, public protestations. (In fact, had the naval officers pushed through the Dardanelles to Constantinople, as Churchill commanded, the war would have likely ended years earlier than it did.) Yet, much to his wife’s dismay, Churchill remained cordial enough with Fisher to exchange friendly notes.

The first online usage of O.M.G., by the way, came on a usenet forum about soap operas in 1994. Churchill does not appear to be connected to that instance.

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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 badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Behold a Beautiful Archive of 10,000 Vintage Analog Cameras at Collection Appareils


Digital photography has bestowed many gifts, and some few horrors: selfies, naturally, as well as even less dignified self-portraits, of the sort certain politicians send out; mass surveillance, as well as the ability of average citizens to produce important pieces of evidence and to document history; hard times for professional photographers, as well as the full democratization of the medium. What it has almost rendered obsolete is the mechanism that enabled photographic images in the first place. In place of cameras, we have smartphones, the hated Glass… maybe sometime in the future no external device at all. Given this trajectory, it’s entirely understandable that all sorts of people—steampunks, antiquarians, Luddites, analog fetishists, middle-age hipsters, etc.—would grow nostalgic not only for the cracked, striated monochrome patina of vintage photographs, but also for the boxes—large and small, simple and highly complicated—that produced them.

Argus A

And what wonderful boxes they were! Before the onslaught of identical, cheap consumer point-and-shoots and (gasp!) disposables, or the utilitarian bricks of professional gear, the camera was very often a work of art in its own right. Today, we bring you a sampling of these objets—elegant, intricate, streamlined, and downright adorable. These are but a tiny fraction of the vintage camera treasures you’ll find represented at Collection Appareils, an online reference of 10,000 analog cameras run by Sylvain Halgand, a Frenchman sorely afflicted with the “insidious disease” of collecting.

Witness at the top the Photosphere No. 1, manufactured by the Compagnie Francaise de Photographie in 1899—a truly beautiful artifact. No less stylish, but far more camera-like to our eyes, see the Argus A above. Made in the U.S. between 1936 and 1941, this may have been the most popular 35mm of all time. Though not as well known as the Leica A, “it’s a safe bet that Argus sold more cameras in their first twenty years than Leica has sold in their first 70 years.”

Gap Box

Above, we have the first “point and shoot,” the Gap Box 6×9, a curiously attractive device made in France in 1950. This camera “played a very important role by making photography accessible to the general public,” allowing “anyone to take pictures at the lowest price and in the most simple way.”

The Compass

Then there are the stylized and the streamlined. Just above, see a very fine machine called The Compass, manufactured by Swiss watchmaker Le Coultre between 1937 and 1940. And below, gaze upon the graceful Haneel Tri-Vision, made in Los Angeles in 1946.


Almost equally appealing in their design simplicity are the irresistibly cute miniature cameras, such as the “Mickey Mouse” below. Manufactured in Germany in 1958, these tiny things—despite the “copyright” notice on the lens—may have disappeared quickly “due to them not actually being sanctioned by the Disney Corporation.” They were, however, sold with a “large cardboard Mickey Mouse that ‘held’ the camera.”

Mickey Mouse

See also the Coronet Midget. Made in England in 1934, this 5-shilling camera “must be one of the most popular of all small cameras to collect.” The company marketed its own 6-exposure film for the Midget, which came in a choice of five colors.

Coronet Midget

Coronet Midget 2

From the couture to the high-tech to the quirky and inventive (like the Lark “Sardine Can” below), the French vintage camera archive makes available a visual history of the camera that may exist nowhere else. It is the history of an object that defined the 20th century, and that may fully disappear sometime soon in the 21st. And while we can spend several hours a day marveling over the products of these fine devices, it’s a rare treat to see the things themselves in such an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and degrees of design ingenuity. Take some time to get acquainted with the evolution of the handheld camera before digital technology finally renders it extinct.

Lark Sardine

Via Laughing Squid/ Messy Nessy Chic/PetaPixel

Images courtesy of Collection Appareils.

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

Watch Dragnet’s 1967 LSD Episode: #85 on TV Guide’s List of the Greatest Episodes of All Time

Jack Webb’s seminal cop show Dragnetwhich first ran on television through most of the ’50s, was known for its gritty realism. In every episode, the show’s robotic, laconic lead, Detective Joe Friday, would navigate the seedy underworld and eventually get his man.

Though Dragnet rivaled only I Love Lucy in popularity, Webb pulled the plug on the series in 1959. But he couldn’t stay away.  In January 1967, Webb launched a reboot of Dragnet. This time, Friday, quite possibly the squarest person on the planet, takes on youth culture. Case in point, the series’ inaugural show, which you can watch above, where Friday and his new partner Bill Gannon stumble upon that strange new societal scourge LSD. Incidentally, this is also the first episode of Dragnet to be shot in color. Make of that what you will.

When Friday and Gannon investigate a complaint about someone eating bark, they discover a teenager who painted his face Braveheart-style and is babbling about the pilot light at the center of the Earth. This is Blueboy AKA Benjamin Carver and clearly, he is tripping. He’s also selling lousy acid to Marcia Brady look-alikes.

The show is a fascinating time capsule on a number of levels. First, this episode was made while LSD was still legal. (Acid was banned California in October 1966. Not long, one imagines, after the episode was shot.) Friday and Gannon shake their heads in frustration over their legal impotence, especially later when they discover Blueboy dead from an overdose. Just in case you didn’t get the show’s moral (drugs = bad) Webb lards the episode with terrifying facts about the drug. “LSD is so potent that a single pound of the preparation can turn every person in Los Angeles county into a total psychotic. The population of the county – seven million people.”

Media critic Michele Hilmes argues, however, that the show might just be speaking out of both sides of its mouth. To an older generation, Dragnet is a cop show preaching law and order. To the younger generation, Webb’s heavy-handedness crosses the line into parodic camp.

Jack Webb so embodied the role of Joe Friday that he all but became the LAPD in the popular imagination. When Webb died in 1982, he was buried with full police honors and his badge number, 714, was officially retired from the force. It’s curious that a cop so unrelentingly smug would become the paragon of LA’s finest.

Thom Andersen memorably summed up the series in his seminal essay film Los Angeles Plays Itself. “Dragnet admirably expressed the contempt the LAPD had for the law-abiding civilians it was pledged ‘to protect and to serve.’ It protected us from ourselves, and it served us despite our best efforts to make the job more difficult. … Friday’s heavy-handed irony never lets up. None of the witnesses or suspects he questions penetrates his wall of condescension. Of course, Dragnet isn’t a documentary portrait of the LAPD, and its detectives weren’t really like Joe Friday. What’s scary is that he represented the department’s ideal.”

According to Andrew Graham’s Dragnet blogTV Guide voted this episode #85 on its list of the greatest TV episodes of all time.

via Neatorama

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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 badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.