Historic Mexican Recipes Are Now Available as Free Digital Cookbooks: Get Started With Dessert

There are too many competing stories to tell about the pandemic for any one to take the spotlight for long, which makes coming to terms with the moment especially challenging. Everything seems in upheaval—especially in parts of the world where rampant corruption, ineptitude, and authoritarian abuse have worsened and prolonged an already bad situation. But if there’s a lens that might be wide enough to take it all in, I’d wager it’s the story of food, from manufacture, to supply chains, to the table.

The ability to dine out serves as a barometer of social health. Restaurants are essential to normalcy and neighborhood coherence, as well as hubs of local commerce. They now struggle to adapt or close their doors. Food service staff represent some of the most precarious of workers. Meanwhile, everyone has to eat. “Some of the world’s best restaurants have gone from fine dining to curbside pickups,” writes Rico Torres, Chef and Co-owner of Mixtli. “At home, a renewed sense of self-reliance has led to a resurgence of the home cook.”

Some, amateurs and professionals both, have returned their skills to the community, cooking for protestors on the streets, for example. Others have turned a newfound passion for cooking on their families. Whatever the case, they are all doing important work, not only by feeding hungry bellies but by engaging with and transforming culinary traditions. Despite its essential ephemerality, food preserves memory, through the most memory-intensive of our senses, and through recipes passed down for generations.

Recipe collections are also sites of cultural exchange and conflict. Such has been the case in the long struggle to define the essence of authentic Mexican food. You can learn more about that argument in our previous post on a collection of traditional (and some not-so-traditional) Mexican cookbooks which are being digitized and put online by researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). Their collection of over 2,000 titles dates from 1789 to the present and represents a vast repository of knowledge for scholars of Mexican cuisine.

But let’s be honest, what most of us want, and need, is a good meal. It just so happens, as chefs now serving curbside will tell you, that the best cooking (and baking) learns from the cooking of the past. In observance of the times we live in, the UTSA Libraries Special Collections has curated many of the historic Mexican recipes in their collection as what they call “a series of mini-cookbooks” titled “Recetas: Cocindando en los Tiempos del Coronavirus.”

Because many in our communities have found themselves in the kitchen during the COVID-19 pandemic during stay-at-home orders, we hope to share the collection and make it even more accessible to those looking to explore Mexican cuisine.

These recipes, now being made available as e-cookbooks, have been transcribed and translated from handwritten manuscripts by archivists who are passionate about this food. Perhaps in honor of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate—whose novel “paints a narrative of family and tradition using Mexico’s deep connection to cuisine”—the collection has “saved the best for first” and begun with the dessert cookbook. They’ll continue the reverse order with Volume 2, main courses, and Volume 3, appetizers & drinks.

Endorsed by Chef Torres, the first mini-cookbook modernizes and translates the original Spanish into English, and is available in pdf or epub. It does not modernize more traditional ways of cooking. As the Preface points out, “many of the manuscript cookbooks of the early 19th century assume readers to be experienced cooks.” (It was not an occupation undertaken lightly.) As such, the recipes are “often light on details” like ingredient lists and step-by-step instructions. As Atlas Obscura notes, the recipe above for "'Petra’s cookies' calls for “'one cup not quite full of milk.'"

“We encourage you to view these instructions as opportunities to acquire an intuitive feel for your food,” the archive writes. It's good to learn new habits. Whatever else it is now—community service, chore, an exercise in self-reliance, self-improvement, or stress relief—cooking is also creating new ways of remembering and connecting across new distances of time and space, working with the raw materials we have at hand. Download the first Volume of the UTSA cookbook series, Postres: Guardando Lo Mejor Para el Principio, here and look for more "Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus" recipes coming soon.

via Atlas Obscura

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

Rick and Morty as Absurdist Humor, Yet Legitimate Sci-Fi with Family Drama (Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #54)

Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt address the 4-season 2013 Adult Swim show, which currently has a 94% critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What kind of humor is it, and how are we supposed to take its sci-fi and family drama elements? While its concepts start as parody, with an anything-goes style of animation, they're creative and grounded enough to actually contribute to multiple genres. How smart is the show, exactly? And its fans? Is Rick a super hero, or maybe essentially Dr. Who? What might this very serialized sit-com look like in longevity?

We also touch on other adult cartoons like South Park, Solar Opposites, The Simpsons, Family Guy, plus Community, Scrubs, and more.

Hear the interview we refer to with the show's creators. Watch the video we mention about its directors. Visit the Rick and Morty wiki for episode descriptions and other things.

Some articles that we bring up or otherwise fueled our discussion include:

Also, do you want a Plumbus?

Learn more at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

The Rise & Fall of Silver Apples: The 1960s Electronic Band That Built Their Own Synthesizer, Produced Two Pioneering Albums, and Then Faded into Obscurity

In the late 70s and early 80s, a handful of musical duos emerged who would have tremendous impact on post-punk, alternative, new wave, and experimental electronic music. Bands like Suicide, NEU!, and the Pet Shop Boys made far bigger sounds than their size would suggest. Before them all came Silver Apples, a duo who should rightly get credit as pioneers of electronic experimentation in pop song form. Like many a pioneer, Silver Apples had no idea what they were doing. They also suffered from a string of some of the worst luck a band could have, disappearing after their second album in 1969 until a mid-90s rediscovery and brief return.

Bandmembers Simeon Coxe and Danny Taylor formed the band in 1967 from the ruins of a rock group called The Overland Stage Electric Band, which fell apart when Coxe began experimenting with old oscillators onstage. All of the members quit except Taylor, and Coxe set about building his own synthesizer, “a machine nicknamed ‘the Simeon,’” Daniel Dylan Wray writes at The Guardian, “which grew to consist of nine audio oscillators with 86 manual controls—including telegraph keys—to control lead, rhythm and bass pulses with the user’s hands, feet and elbows.”

Coxe was the only person who could play the Simeon, and he sang as he did so, his weird, warbly voice complementing his machine, as Taylor played proto-Krautrock beats behind him. “I had heard the word synthesizer,” he says, “but I had no idea what it was. We were dirt poor and used what we had, which was often discarded world war two gear.” They were essentially making up electronic pop music as they went along, isolated from parallel developments happening at the same time. They named the project after a line by William Butler Yeats (many of their lyrics were written by poet Stanley Warren). Around the same time, composer Morton Subotnick released his groundbreaking all-electronic album, titled—after Yeats—Silver Apples of the Moon.

It was Silver Apples' fate to be overshadowed by other releases that came out immediately after their 1968 self-titled debut, such as Wendy Carlos’ Switched on Bach and Gershon Kingsley’s hit “Popcorn,” both of which popularized Robert Moog’s modular synthesizers. Moog himself became so fascinated with Coxe’s singular creation that he visited the Silver Apples studio to see it for himself. The band’s manager scored them their very first gig playing for 30,000 people in Central Park, “providing a live soundtrack to the Apollo moon landing—broadcast on enormous screens beside them,” writes Cian Traynor at Huck magazine, “as people took their clothes off in the rain.”

This magical experience—and other brushes with fame, such as a one-off recording session with Jimi Hendrix—was no indication of a bright future for the band. For their second album, they were allowed to photograph themselves inside the cockpit of a Pan Am jet. The inclusion of drug paraphernalia in the photo, and of a crashed airplane on the back, prompted a lawsuit from the airline. The album was pulled from the shelves, the band shut out of the industry, and a third album, The Garden, remained unreleased until 1998.

For a look at how musically forward-thinking Silver Apples were, see the short documentary about their rise and fall above. They ended up influencing neo-psychedelic electronic bands like Stereolab and 90s duo Portishead, whose Geoff Barrow says, “for people like us, they are the perfect band…. They should definitely be up there with the pioneers of electronic music.” Taylor sadly died in 2005, just after Coxe had partially recovered from a broken neck suffered the year of their 90s resurgence. But Silver Apples music is immortal, and immortally otherworldly and strange, even if its creators never quite understood why. “To me and Danny,” says Coxe, “it sounded perfectly normal and was a normal progression into the areas we were trying to go.”

As so much experimental electronic pop music that emerged around the same time proves, Coxe was more right than he knew. What Silver Apples did turned out to be a “normal” musical development, though they had no idea that it was happening when they made their astonishingly groovy, spaced-out records.

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

Tony Hawk & Architectural Historian Iain Borden Tell the Story of How Skateboarding Found a New Use for Cities & Architecture

Wouldn't we enjoy seeing our cities like an architectural historian, in command of deep knowledge about the technology, ideology, and aesthetics of the buildings we pass by every day? For most of us, this would hugely enrich our experience of the urban environment. But then so, less obviously, would seeing our cities like a skateboarder, in command of deep knowledge about how to glide, jump, and bounce along the streets, the buildings, and all the myriad pieces of infrastructure as a surfer rides the waves. The architectural historian learns the city with his mind; the skater learns the city, no less painstakingly, with his body.

The Vox video above brings mind and body come together in the persons of Iain Borden, author of Skateboarding and the City: A Complete History, and Tony Hawk, to whom even those wholly ignorant of skateboarding need no introduction. Their complementary interviews reveal the history of modern skateboarding through the sport's "legendary spots": public-school campuses, abandoned swimming pools, dry drainage ditches, forgotten sections of concrete pipe. In the main this selection reflects the highly suburbanized 1970s in which skateboards first came to popularity in the United States. But at its outer limits, such as the Mt. Baldy pipeline in northern California, it also shows how far skaters will go in search of the ideal place to ride.

Though purpose-build skate parks do exist (their numbers kept low by formidable insurance challenges), serious skaters prefer spaces not expressly designed for skating. This is thanks in large part to the innovations of a skater with less wider-world name recognition than Hawk, but no less influence within the sport: Natas Kaupas. Hawk remembers the thoughts triggered by footage of the young Kaupas skating masterfully through his neighborhood in the 1987 film Wheels of Fire: "Wow, you can skate curbs like that? You can skate benches? You can skate fire hydrants? The whole world is a skate park now." Suddenly, Borden adds, "you didn't need to be in California, or in the Arizona desert, or in Florida anymore. You could be anywhere."

Reviewing Borden's Skateboarding and the City, Jack Layton in Urban Studies highlights its history of "how the assemblage of materials that makes up cities has been – in countless ways – re-imagined by the skateboarder to create acceleration, rotation, friction and flow." It's easy to forget, Layton writes, that "along with facilitating commerce, transport and habitation, cities can be spaces that facilitate play, exhilaration and pleasure." Despite often having been regarded as public nuisances, skateboarders are "a constant reminder that our cities are creative and rich places," says Borden. With the exception of the skate parks secretly constructed in hidden urban spaces across the world, skaters, of course, don't build the city — but they do show us some of its untapped potential.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, 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, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

New Digital Archive Opens Access to Thousands of Digitized African American Funeral Programs (1886-2019)

Funeral rites, burials, and other rituals are held near-universally sacred, not only due to religious and cultural beliefs about death: We preserve our connection to our ancestors through the records of their births and deaths. For many Black Americans in the U.S. south, grief and loss have been compounded by centuries of violence and tragedy, but funerals have still tended to be “celebrations of life” rather than mournful events, says Derek Mosley, archivist at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.” African American “funeral programs tend to reflect that,” and therefore offer a wealth of information for historians and genealogists as well as family members.

Mosley is a contributor to a new digital archive that “currently boasts more than 11,500 digitized pages and is expected to grow as more programs are contributed.” These historical documents date from between 1886 to 2019, though “most of the programs are from services during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries,” notes the Digital Library of Georgia, who houses the collection. “A majority of the programs are from churches in the Atlanta, Georgia area, with a few programs from other states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, among others.”

The archive offers an incredible resource for people looking for information about relatives. For researchers “these documents also represent a gold mine of archival information,” Nora McGreevy writes at Smithsonian, including “birth and death dates, photos, lists of relatives, nicknames, maiden names, residences, church names, and other clues that can help reveal the stories of the deceased.”

In many cases, those stories were lost when Jim Crow, poverty, and redevelopment displaced families and erased burial sites. The collection, says Mosley, offers “a public space for legacy.”

It is a way for local historians to recover important community figures. One program, for Dr. J.W.E. Linder, “who died in 1939,” Atlas Obscura's Matthew Taub writes, “and whose memorial service was held in 1940” informs us that the deceased was the son of “Congressman George W. Linder, of the Georgia House of Representatives during the Reconstruction Period.” In the program for Judge Austin Thomas Walden, who died in 1965, we learn that he served as the first municipal judge in Georgia since Reconstruction. His benediction was delivered by the Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and he received tributes from the Mayor of Atlanta, the President of Morehouse College, and the office of President Johnson.

Such pillars of the community can be found among a host of programs memorializing ordinary, everyday people. The descriptions in the funeral literature open fascinating windows onto their lives and their extended family connections. Mrs. Julia Burton’s program from 1960, for example, tells us she was born on the plantation where her parents were likely enslaved. Her obituary not only describes her many clubs and her character as “a well-informed person in many areas,” but also lists the names of her husband and son, three granddaughters, two grandsons, two sisters, and two brothers—invaluable information for people searching for relatives.

“The challenge for African American genealogy and family research continues to be the lack of free access to historical information that can enable us to the tell the stories of those who have come before us,” remarks Tammy Ozier, president of the Atlanta Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. “This monumental collection helps to close the gap.” As it grows, it will likely come to represent greater geographical areas around the country. For now, the roughly 3300 digitized funeral programs, some a single page, some elaborate, full-color productions, focus on an area to which thousands of families around the country can trace their lineage, and to which many may find their way back through public archives like this one.

via Atlas Obscura

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

Behold 19th-Century Japanese Firemen’s Coats, Richly Decorated with Mythical Heroes & Symbols

Some firemen today may complain about the boredom of all the time spent doing nothing at the station between calls, but when the hour comes to do battle with a serious blaze, no one can say they have it easy. Firefighting has, of course, never been a particularly relaxed gig, especially back in the days before not just water cannon-equipped helicopters, and not just fire engines, but fire hoses as we know them today. Putting out urban conflagrations without much water at hand is one thing, but imagine having to do it every day in a densely packed, highly flammable city like Tokyo — or rather Edo, as it was known between the early 17th and mid-19th centuries.

"Fires were frequent during this period because of crowded living conditions and wooden buildings, and the firefighters’ objective was to prevent a burning house from spreading its flames to the neighboring residences," writes Antique Trader's Kris Manty. With only weak water pumps at their disposal, Edo firemen "did not save the home, but rather tore down the burning structure and extinguished the fire. They did this by using long poles and other fire implements to demolish the blazing house and once the fire was doused, the surrounding homes were once again safe." In peacetime they "emerged as latter-day samurai heroes, with the motto, 'duty, sympathy and endurance'" — and bedecked in truly glorious handmade coats.

"Each firefighter in a given brigade was outfitted with a special reversible coat (hikeshi banten), plain but for the name of the brigade on one side and decorated with richly symbolic imagery on the other," says the Public Domain Review, where you can behold a gallery of such garments.

"These coats would be worn plain-side out and thoroughly soaked in water before the firefighters entered the scene of the blaze. No doubt the men wore them this way round to protect the dyed images from damage, but they were probably also concerned with protecting themselves, as they went about their dangerous work, through direct contact with the heroes and creatures represented on the insides of these beautiful garments."

At the top of the post appears an example of an Edo fireman's coat held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one emblazoned with imagery from perhaps the best-known Japanese fable of all. "The center of this coat shows Momotaro, a legendary boy born from a peach, stomping on an ogre," says the museum's web site. "The smoke billowing behind him reminds us of the use of this coat, as does the fireman's hook pictured on the left sleeve. After their duty, firemen reversed their coats to display the bold and inspiring designs." As with many prominent figures of the age, Edo firefighters were also immortalized, coats and all, in ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

The noble image is not least thanks to the fact, writes Artelino's Dieter Wanczura, that "the great master Hiroshige I was the son of a fire warden in the service of the shogunate," and indeed a firefighter himself, keeping the job years into his printmaking career. The prints featured there include one depicting an 1805 clash "between sumo wrestlers and fire-fighters at Shinmei shrine," not an entirely unexpected occurrence given the rowdy public image of the kind of men who joined fire brigades. But "the average Japanese always cherished a liking for what they considered to be honorable bandits and outcasts" — and who today, anywhere in the world, could argue with their style?

via the Public Domain Review

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, 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, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Édith Piaf’s Moving Performance of ‘La Vie en Rose’ on French Television (1954)

Édith Piaf's life was anything but rosy. Born in a Parisian slum, she was abandoned by her mother and lived for awhile in a brothel run by her grandmother. As a teenager she sang on the streets for money. She was addicted to alcohol and drugs for much of her life, and her later years were marred by chronic pain. Through it all, Piaf managed to hold onto a basically optimistic view of life. She sang with a lyrical abandon that seemed to transcend the pain and sorrow of living.

On April 3, 1954 Piaf was the guest of honor on the French TV show La Joie de Vivre. She was 38 years old but looked much older. She had recently undergone a grueling series of "aversion therapy" treatments for alcoholism, and was by that time in the habit of taking morphine before going onstage. Cortisone treatments for arthritis made the usually wire-thin singer look puffy. But when Piaf launches into her signature song, "La Vie en Rose" (see above), all of that is left behind.

Nine years after this performance, when Piaf died, her friend Jean Cocteau said of her: "Like all those who live on courage, she didn't think about death--she defied it. Only her voice remains, that splendid voice like black velvet."

Note: An earlier version of this post originally appeared on our site in February 2013.

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Comedians Speaking Truth to Power: Lenny Bruce, George Carlin & Richard Pryor (NSFW)

No matter how strenuously people claim to support free speech, hardly anyone believes we should get to say whatever we want, however we want, wherever we want. We all just draw the lines differently between speech we find tolerable and that we find beyond the pale. There are reasonable arguments for establishing legal boundaries, but comedy—goes one line of thought—should never be subject to constraints. Anything goes in stand-up, since the comic’s role is to say the unsayable, to shock and surprise, to speak truth to power, etc.

Rising comic John Early (“the left’s funniest comedian,” The Nation proclaims) finds all this gravitas a little absurd. “It’s just a weird, weird, time to be a comedian,” he says in a recent interview. “I feel there’s no greater testament to the fact that our public institutions have failed us than the fact that comedians are somehow moral authorities of this moment. We give so much power to comedians and their platforms, and I’m absolutely horrified by it.” To expect people who tell jokes for a living to have the best handle on what power needs to hear may be expecting too much. “Please don’t ever listen to me,” says Early.

Another argument goes that since comedians are just entertainers, they can say whatever they want, no matter how vicious or demeaning, because it’s “just a joke.” Whatever the merits of this position, when we look back to the greatest comics who shocked, surprised, spoke truths, etc., we see that they took jokes seriously—and that the targets of their humor were institutions that actually held power. This was maybe a prerequisite for how enduringly funny they still are, and how relevant, even if some specific references are lost on us now.

Before Early, Lenny Bruce went on TV to tell viewers of his 1959 jazz special that all entertainers, himself included, are liars. It’s just the nature of the business, he says, then goes through a bit where he shows—with real newspaper headlines all printed on the same day—how news media also exaggerates, embellishes, and lies to sensationalize crime. In under two minutes he rips through the cherished illusion of journalistic objectivity; just as Carlin, who also built a career on saying the unsayable, tears up the U.S.’s most cherished beliefs, above.

The American Dream is a scam, Carlin says. Argue over free speech all you like, but politics is a distraction. “Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t.” (One is reminded of Devo.) In a scathing rant, Carlin goes after the biggest game, the corporate owners who control the politicians, the land, and “all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear.” He delivers his most famous line: “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it,” and the audience applauds with recognition of a truth they already know.

Leave it to Richard Pryor, the comedy standard of speaking shocking truths to power, to bring these observations together in the interview clip above that takes digs at his own integrity as a TV entertainer, the slippery nature of television executives, and why they feared the kinds of truths he had to tell. “What do you think [they’re] afraid you’re going to do to America?” he’s asked (meaning specifically white America). He responds in all seriousness, “probably stop some racism.” If people can laugh at hard truths, they can recognize and talk about them. This is a problem for those in power.

“If people don’t hate each other, and start talking to each other, they find out who’s the problem,” Pryor says. “Greedy people.” Racism is a strategy, like sensationalist crime headlines or promises of a better life, to keep people distracted and divided. Those who promote it don’t need personal reasons to do so. “It’s part of capitalism to promote racism,” Pryor says. It’s how the system works. “That separates people. And if you keep people separated it keeps them from thinking about the real problem.” Maybe we are free to say what we want, but Pryor has a warning for those who emulate people in power, even if they think they have the best of intentions. The interview segment ends with the sounds of dueling cesspools.

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

Hear the Cristal Baschet, an Enchanting Organ Made of Wood, Metal & Glass, and Played with Wet Hands

Playing a musical instrument with wet hands usually falls somewhere between a bad idea and a very bad idea indeed. The Cristal Baschet, however, requires its players to keep their hands wet at all times, and that's hardly the only sense in which it's an exceptional musical instrument. Have a listen to the performance above, Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 1 by Marc Antoine Millon and Frédéric Bousquet, and you'll understand at once how exceptional it sounds. Both ideally suited to Satie's composition and like nothing else in the history of music — a history which may ultimately remember it as, among other things, one of the most French musical devices ever created.

"It was invented in France, so perhaps that's why I have one," says composer Marc Chouarain as he prepares to demonstrate his Cristal Baschet in the video above. "I put water on my finger and I have to put pressure on the glass rods, and the sound is amplified." That amplification happens, like every other process within the instrument, without the involvement of electricity. Despite being fully acoustic, the Cristal Baschet produces sounds so loud and otherworldly that few could hear them without instinctively imagining a sci-fi movie to go along with the soundtrack.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that Chouarain is a film composer, nor that the Cristal Baschet was invented in the early 1950s, when the cinematic visions of the future as we know them began to take shape. That era also saw the dawn of musique concrète (1964), with its use of recorded sounds as compositional elements, and the influence of the early Moog synthesizer, which would go on to change the sound of music forever. What influence the brothers Bernard and François Baschet expected of the Cristal Baschet when they invented it is unclear, but it has surely left more of a legacy than their other creations like the inflatable guitar and aluminum piano.

"Ravi Shankar, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Daft Punk, Radiohead, Tom Waits, and Manu Dibango are among the musical acts who have used the Cristal Baschet," writes Colossal's Andrew Lasane, citing the official Baschet Sound Structures Association brochure. The instrument also continues to get respect from adventurous film composers like Cliff Martinez, who tickles the glass rods in the video above. According to an interview at Vulture, Martinez first encountered the instrument when composing for the Steven Soderbergh remake of Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris. He seems to have become a serious Cristal Baschet fan since: the video's notes mentions that he now "incorporates the instrument in all of his scores," for more pictures by Soderbergh, as well as by Nicolas Winding Refn — another director of possessed of distinctive visions, and thus always in need of sounds to match.

via Colossal

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, 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, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Hear the Sound Of Endangered Birds Get Turned Into Electronic Music

Bird-watching is having a moment, thanks to the pandemic.

As non-essential workers adjusted to spending more time at home, their ears adjusted to the increasingly non-foreign sound of birdsong outside their windows.

Those sweet tweets are no doubt largely responsible for the record breaking turnout at this year’s Global Big Day, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's annual birding event, held earlier this spring.

50,000 participants logged 2.1 million individual observations, and 6,479 species.

Apparently, there are even more birds in this world than there are sourdough starters...

...though for the immediate future, civic-minded birdwatchers will be confining their observations to the immediate vicinity, as a matter of public health.

We look forward to the day when bird enthusiasts residing outside of Belize, Mexico, or Guatemala can again travel to the Yucatán Peninsula in hopes of a face-to-face encounter with the Black Cat Bird.

Til then, the animated video above, in which a Black Catbird unwittingly duets with Belize’s Garifuna Collective, makes a soothing place holder.

The catbird and the collective appear along with nine other electronic musician / endangered native bird teams on the fundraising album, A Guide to the Birdsong of Mexico, Central America & the Caribbean.

Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager joins NILLO, a producer and DJ from Costa Rica who draws musical inspiration from the tribal communities around him.

Siete Catorce, a producer who helped popularize the popular border genre known as ruidosón—a mix of cumbia and prehispanic tribal sounds—is paired with a Yellow-headed Parrot.

Jordan “Time Cow” Chung of Equiknoxx seamlessly integrates a Jamaican Blackbird into his unique brand of organic, experimental dancehall.

The album follows 2015's Guide to the Birdsong of South America, and as with its predecessor, 100% of the profits will be donated to regional organizations focused on birds and conservation—Birds Caribbean, La Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica, and Mexico’s Fundacion TXORI.

Birds, as the project’s founder, Robin Perkins, told Gizmodo’s Earther, are the most musical animals in the world:

There’s something really nice about focusing on endangered species and songs that are disappearing and not being preserved and to use music to raise awareness about the species. I believe music has a big power for social activism and social change and for environmental change.

Listen to A Guide to the Birdsong of Mexico, Central America & the Caribbean for free on Spotify.

Buy the album or individual tracks on Bandcamp to benefit the charities above.

Robin Perkins’ limited edition prints of the featured birds also benefit the bird-focused regional charities and can be purchased here.

via MyModernMet

Related Content:

Explore an Interactive Version of The Wall of Birds, a 2,500 Square-Foot Mural That Documents the Evolution of Birds Over 375 Million Years

The Bird Library: A Library Built Especially for Our Fine Feathered Friends

Cornell Launches Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Animal Sounds, with Recordings Going Back to 1929

What Kind of Bird Is That?: A Free App From Cornell Will Give You the Answer

Download 435 High Resolution Images from John J. Audubon’s The Birds of America

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

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