20,000 Americans Hold a Pro-Nazi Rally in Madison Square Garden in 1939: Chilling Video Re-Captures a Lost Chapter in US History

Our country’s bipartisan system ensures that every election will give rise to a winning side and a losing side—and depressingly, a sizable group who refrained from casting a vote either way.

There are times when the divide between the factions does not seem insurmountable, when leaders in the highest positions of authority seem sincerely committed to reaching across the divide….

And then there are other times.

Earlier in the year, the Women’s March on Washington and its hundreds of sister marches gave many of us reason to hope. The numbers alone were inspiring.

But history shows how great numbers can go the other way too.




With many American high school history curriculums whizzing through World War II in a week, if that, it’s doubly important to slow down long enough to watch the 7 minute documentary above.

What you’re looking at is the 1939 "Pro-American Rally" (aka Pro-Nazi Rally) sponsored by the German American Bund at Madison Square Garden on George Washington’s 207th Birthday. Banners emblazoned with such slogans as “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans,” “Wake Up America. Smash Jewish Communism,” and “1,000,000 Bund Members by 1940" decorated the great hall.

New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia—an Episcopalian with a Jewish mother—considered canceling the event, but ultimately he, along with the American Jewish Committee and the American Civil Liberties Committee decreed that the Bund was exercising its right to free speech and free assembly.

A crowd of 20,000 filled the famous sports venue in mid-town Manhattan to capacity. 1,500 police officers were present to render the Garden “a fortress impregnable to anti-Nazis.” An estimated 100,000 counter-demonstrators were gathering outside.

Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine bragged to the press that “we have enough police here to stop a revolution.”

The most disturbing moment in the short film comes at the 3:50 mark, when another security force—the Bund’s Ordnungsdienst or "Order Service” pile on Isidore Greenbaum, a 26-year-old Jewish worker who rushed the podium where bundesführer Fritz Julius Kuhn was fanning the flames of hatred. Valentine’s men eventually pulled them off, just barely managing to save the “anti-Nazi” from the vicious beating he was undergoing.

Reportedly he was beaten again, as the crowd inside the Garden howled for his blood.

The uniformed youth performing a spontaneous hornpipe in the row behind the Bund’s drum and bugle corps is a chilling sight to see.

Director Marshall Curry was spurred to bring the historic footage to Field of Vision, a filmmaker-driven documentary unit that commissions short films as a rapid response to developing stories around the globe. In this case, the developing story was the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, which had occurred a mere two days before.

“The footage is so powerful,” Curry told an interviewer, “it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. But I think the rally has slipped out of our collective memory in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget. We’d like to think that when Nazism rose up, all Americans were instantly appalled. But while the vast majority of Americans were appalled by the Nazis, there was also a significant group of Americans who were sympathetic to their white supremacist, anti-Semitic message. When you see 20,000 Americans gathering in Madison Square Garden you can be sure that many times that were passively supportive.”

Field of Vision co-founder Laura Poitras recalled how after meeting with Curry, “my first thought was, 'we need to put this film in cinemas,' and release it like a newsreel.”'  The Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain screened it before features on September 26 of this year.

The Atlantic has photos of the "Pro-American Rally" and other German American Bund-sponsored events in the days leading up to WWII here. Also read an account that appeared in a 1939 edition of The New York Times here.

The International Socialist Review covers the counter-demonstrations in many eyewitness quotes.

via PaleoFuture

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

New Documentary on a Weird & Wonderful Dutch Library Now Free to Stream on Amazon Prime

BoingBoing recently ran a short profile on a new documentary that takes you inside the intriguing Ritman Library. Located in Amsterdam, the library houses 23,000 rare books from hermetic/esoteric/occult traditions--Alchemy, Hermetica, Cabala, Magic, Rosicrucianism, Mystic, Theosophy, Freemasonry, Pansophy and much more.

You can watch the trailer for the documentary above. But, even better, you can now stream the complete 90-minute film on Amazon Prime for free. If you have an Amazon Prime account, just click here to start watching. If you don't, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial, watch the doc, and then decide whether to remain a subscriber or not. It's your call. (Note: they also offer a similar arrangement for audiobooks from Audible.)

The same deal applies to other films we've featured during the past year. Jim Jarmusch's new documentary Gimme Danger--his "love letter" to punk icons Iggy Pop and The Stooges. And also Long Strange Trip, the new 4-hour documentary on the Grateful Dead.

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The Smithsonian Presents a Gallery of 6,000+ Rare Rock ‘n Roll Photos on a Crowdsourced Web Site, and Now a New Book


Rock photography is an art form in itself, as demonstrated by books and exhibitions of some of its masters like Mick Rock, Jenny Lens, Pennie Smith, and so many others. But two years ago, the Smithsonian turned to the crowd, to the fan, to the amateur photographer, with a call to submit photos from over six decades of rock and roll that weren’t hanging on gallery walls, but sitting in a shoebox somewhere. From fans with instamatic cameras to amateurs covering concerts for their school paper, the Smithsonian wanted another angle on our cultural obsession.

Many of the contributions now live on a crowdsourced website. And a resulting book Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen collects the best of these in a chronological history of the genre, from post-war blues to the late 20th century. It will be officially released on October 24, though you can pre-order now.




Websites Mashable and Dangerous Minds present a selection of photos from the book, such as a shot of Sly Stone at the height of his powers (and belt buckle size), a pic of the Talking Heads on stage in Berkeley, 1977; a dark and mysterious glimpse of Bonnie Raitt, circa 1974; and a shot of Cream playing the Chicago Coliseum taken from the side of the stage, with Ginger Baker’s head a complete blur. Also find Joni Mitchell at Kleinhans Music Hall. And The Ramones in Tempe, Arizona, circa 1978.

Bonnie Raitt at the Harvard Square Theatre, by Barry Schneier/Smithsonian Books

It’s a reminder of how unpretentious these live shows could be, happening in a world with the simplest of lighting rigs and decades from the big screen projections even up-and-coming bands now indulge in. For the most part, this was an intimate contract between the artist and the audience, all crammed into small clubs with smoke, sweat, heat, and, most importantly, electricity in the air.

The new book also features tales from the people who took the photos, along with some more professional photos to “flesh out this overview of rock and roll,” according to the introduction by organizer Bill Bentley. He adds: "The results, spanning six decades, aim for neither encyclopedic authority nor comprehensive finality, but rather an index of supreme influence."

The Ramones in Tempe, Arizona, by Dorian Boese/Smithsonian Books

That supreme influence continues to be felt, for sure. Although the submission window is now closed, the Smithsonian's website allows you to look through the hundreds of submissions to the project.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Three New Prequels Get You Ready to Watch Blade Runner 2049: Watch Them Online, Then See the New Film on Friday

Even if you've spent each and every day since you first saw Ridley Scott's Blade Runner waiting for a sequel, you still might not be fully prepared for Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 when it opens in theaters this Friday. The 1981 original took place in the Los Angeles of the then-far-flung future of 2019, meaning that 30 years have elapsed in the Blade Runner universe between its first feature film and its second. Much has taken place over those three decades, some of it portrayed by the three official short prequels released to the internet over the past month. Today we present them all in chronological order to catch you up with what happened after Harrison Ford's Blade Runner Rick Deckard picked up that origami unicorn and left the building.

In 2020, the year after Blade Runner, the artificial-being-making Tyrell Corporation introduces a new model of replicant, with a longer lifespan, called the Nexus 8S. Two years later comes "the Blackout," an electromagnetic pulse attack that destroys all technology within its reach. You can see it happen in Blade Runner Black Out 2022, the short at the top of the post directed by respected Japanese animator Shinichiro Watanabe (and featuring a score by Flying Lotus as well as a reprisal of the role of the quasi-Esperanto-speaking police officer Gaff by Edward James Olmos).




Replicants having taken the blame for the Blackout, their production gets legally prohibited until the efforts of an organization called the Wallace Corporation get the ban overturned in 2030. The man at the top of the Wallace Corporation, a certain Niander Wallace, first appears in 2036: Nexus Dawn (middle video), directed by Ridley Scott's son Luke.

In that prequel we see Wallace, who rose to prominence on his company's solution to global food shortages, submitting for approval his latest replicant, the Nexus 9 (although his negotiation strategy leaves little room for compromise). The younger Scott's 2048: Nowhere to Run (below), which introduces a new and imposing replicant character by the name of Sapper Morton, takes place just a year before the sequel, by which time, according to the timeline unveiled at this past summer's Comic-Con, "life on Earth has reached its limit and society divides between replicant and human." Enter Ryan Gosling's K, one of a new generation of replicant- hunters, who goes out in search of a predecessor who went missing some 30 years ago. All of this, of course, still leaves questions unanswered. Chiefly: will Blade Runner 2049 deliver what we've been waiting even more than three deacades for?

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include 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 or on Facebook.

An Intimate Look at Alberto Giacometti in His Studio, Making His Iconic Sculptures (1965)

A visit to an artist’s studio can shed light on his or her work.

The British Arts Council’s short film above affords an intimate glimpse into Alberto Giacometti’s studio in Montparnasse circa 1965, the year when he was the subject of major retrospectives at both the Tate Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The artist passed most of his working life in cramped space at 46 rue Hippolyte. Early on, he entertained plans to relocate “because it was too small – just a hole."




Others visitors to the studio described the artist’s environs in more literary terms:

In a charming little forgotten garden he has a studio, submerged in plaster, and he lives next to this in a kind of hangar, vast and cold, with neither furniture nor food. He works very hard for fifteen hours at a stretch, above all at night: the cold, his frozen hands – he takes no notice, he works. Simone de Beauvoir

And:

This ground floor studio... is going to cave in at any moment now. It is made of worm-eaten wood and grey powder.... Everything is stained and ready for the bin, everything is precarious and about to collapse, everything is about to dissolve, everything is floating.... And yet it all appears to be captured in an absolute reality. When I leave the studio, when I am outside on the street, then nothing that surrounds me is true. - Playwright Jean Genet

And:

The whole place looking as if it had been thrown together with a few old sticks and a lot of chewing gum.... In short, a dump. Anyway he said come in when I knocked.... He turned and glanced at me, holding out his hand which was covered in clay, so I shook his wrist.... He immediately resumed work, running his fingers up and down the clay so fiercely that lumps fell onto the floor - Essayist James Lord

These impressions paint a portrait of a driven, and disciplined artist, who logged untold hours modeling his formes elongee in clay, unceremoniously crumpling and rebuilding in the pursuit of excellence.

The camera documents this intensity, though his untranslated remarks suggest a man capable of taking himself lightly, certainly more so than the accompanying narration does.

Like the narration, Roger Smalley's dissonant score lays it on thick, the sonic equivalent of heads like blades and "limbs bound as though bandaged for the grave." Perhaps we should conceive of the studio as a scary place?

In actuality, it proved a hospitable work environment and the impulse to relocate eventually waned, with the artist observing that “the longer I stayed, the bigger it became. I could fit anything I wanted into it.”

Explore the recent Tate Modern Giacometti retrospective here and take a closer look at the studio via Ernst Scheidegger’s photos.

"Giacometti" will be added to our list of Free Documentaries, a subset of our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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

Watch the New Anime Prequel to Blade Runner 2049, by Famed Japanese Animator Shinichiro Watanabe

The run-up to Blade Runner 2049, befitting what now looks like the cinematic event of the decade, has consisted of not just marketing hype (though it does include plenty of that) but genuine artistic material as well. Last month we featured Nexus: 2036, the first of three short "prequels" to Denis Villeneuve's upcoming Blade Runner sequel. That one and its follow up 2048: Nowhere to Run, both directed by Luke Scott (son of Blade Runner director Ridley Scott), use live action to fill in some of the story between the 2019 of the first movie and the 2049 of the second. The just-released third short, Black Out 2022, from Cowboy Bebop director Shinichirō Watanabe, brings the Blade Runner universe into the realm of Japanese animation.

"Blade Runner was definitely the movie that influenced me the most as an anime director," says Watanabe in the preview of his prequel down below. He and other Japanese viewers understood the film's power long before most anyone in the West (with the notable exception of Philip K. Dick, author of its source material), and Japanese artists began paying tribute to it almost immediately.




In a sense, Blade Runner took anime form thirty years ago: Katsuhito Akiyama's animated series Bubblegum Crisis, the story of artificial humans (called "booomers" instead of replicants) run amok and the advanced police team (called "Knight Sabers" instead of "Blade Runners") who hunt them down in a Tokyo of the future rebuilt after a disastrous earthquake, could hardly wear its influence more openly.

Filled with visual, sonic, and thematic references to the original Blade Runner while taking the story in new directions — and also introducing two new replicant characters — Watanabe's Black Out 2022--viewable up top--depicts the events leading up to the detonation of an electromagnetic pulse that destroys the electronics and machinery on which humanity has become so reliant. Humanity blames the replicants, and so begins a period of prohibition on replicant production, only brought to an end by the efforts of Niander Wallace, the character so eerily played by Jared Leto in Nexus: 2036Blade Runner 2049 will pick things up 26 years after the EMP attack. What shape will Los Angeles be in then? What shape will the cat-and-mouse game between replicants and Blade Runners take there? We'll find out, and surely in no small amount of detail, next month.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include 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 or on Facebook.

Wes Anderson’s Cinematic Debt to Stanley Kubrick Revealed in a Side-By-Side Comparison

Most film fans hold the work of Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson in high regard, even if they don't find one, the other, or both to their particular taste. And at first glance, it might seem hard to understand what kind of taste could possibly encompass both Kubrick and Anderson. The former made mostly complex and emotionally chilled period pieces, visually grand yet stark, tinged with grim humor, and possessing a dim view of humanity. The latter makes colorful, outwardly high-spirited comedies, sometimes even animated ones, that seem to delight in their own carefully cultivated aesthetics.

But both bodies of work reveal directorial minds that take cinema itself very seriously indeed. "Kubrick is one of my favorites," says Anderson in an interview clip used in the video essay comparing shots from his films to shots from Kubrick's, just above. "Usually, by the time I'm making the movie, I don't really know where I'm stealing everything from. By the time it's a movie, I think it's my thing, and I forget where I took it all — but I think I'm always pretty influenced by Kubrick." That influence, on a visual level, does come through in this comparison, certainly in all those first-person perspectives and views through portholes, but even more so with the camera moves, especially in the tracking shots and zooms.




As Bill Murray said in a 1999 interview with Charlie Rose of Rushmore, the picture that would make Murray an Anderson regular, "Boy, this has got some great moves in it." By that he meant "the way stories get told in pictures." A filmmaker needs a script, of course, but "the way you shoot it, too, shows how you want to impact things on an audience." He describes Anderson and his collaborators as possessed of "an enormous film culture," recalling shots from cinema past and, in their own productions, repurposing them completely. Murray remembers Anderson describing a shot in Rushmore as "one I saw in Barry Lyndon." "You remember Barry Lyndon?" Murray asks Rose. "It was this enormous thing. Ours, though, is the intermission of the school play."

That school play, you may recall, appears as one of several put on by Rushmore's protagonist Max Fischer, whose sensibilities (and artistic abilities) may differ from Anderson's, but who shows just the same zeal for creatively "ripping off" from the movies. "I talk to a lot of those guys who come in here, these young directors," Rose says of Anderson and his generation. "They've seen every movie. They're more students of cinema than most." Murray cautions that "it always gets perverted when people say, 'Oh, the good ones copy, the great ones steal,'" an idea that can lead to empty formal tributes, but "Wes," to his mind, was different. Possessed of both "mind and body," he "just knows how to get these things together in one place," using the language of cinema, whether invented or borrowed, for maximum impact — as, in a different yet startlingly similar way, did Kubrick.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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