A Massive 800-Track Playlist of 90s Indie & Alternative Music, in Chronological Order

800 indie tracksIn the time it’s tak­en me to grow out of my way­ward 90s youth and into most­ly sol­id cit­i­zen adult­hood, cul­tur­al mem­o­ries of that decade have crys­tal­ized around a few gen­res that have seen some renew­al of late. I’m more than pleased to find cur­rent musi­cians reviv­ing shoegaze, 90s elec­tron­i­ca, and neo-soul. And with so many artists who peaked twen­ty or so years ago still releas­ing records or get­ting back togeth­er for impres­sive reunions, it often seems like the music I grew up with nev­er left, even if a whole raft of stars I couldn’t pick out of a line­up have emerged in the mean­time.

And yet, though the ven­er­a­tion of 90s music has become a thing in recent years, the per­spec­tive of it by peo­ple per­haps not even born when the decade end­ed tends to be some­what lim­it­ed. Per­haps all of us for­get how strange and eclec­tic 90s music was. Even at the time, pop and alter­na­tive cul­tures were almost instant­ly reduced in films, com­pi­la­tion albums, and more-or-less every show on MTV. It was an era when sub­cul­tures were quick­ly com­mod­i­fied, san­i­tized, and sold back to us in the­aters and on record shelves.

To remind our­selves of just how wide-rang­ing the 90s were, we might turn to the expan­sive “giant 90s alt/indie/etc” playlist here, com­piled by Aroon Korv­na (born in 1982, but pre­co­cious­ly “musi­cal­ly con­scious” dur­ing the decade). The jour­ney begins with the nasal cham­ber pop of They Might Be Giants’ “Bird­house in Your Soul”—a clas­sic of DIY dork-rock—and ends with Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin,” a song herald­ing the tri­umph of radio-ready rap and club hits over the decades’ many quirky rock and hip-hop guis­es.

Hear the playlist in three parts: Part I (1990–94) and II (1995–96) above; Part III (1997–99) below. (If you need Spo­ti­fy’s soft­ware, down­load it here.) Along the way, we run into for­got­ten songs by under-the-radar bands like The Dwarves, Red House Painters, Guid­ed By Voic­es, The Beta Band, and The Micro­phones; left­field choic­es from one-hit won­ders like Ned’s Atom­ic Dust­bin and Infor­ma­tion Soci­ety; the first stir­rings from now-super­stars like Daft Punk and Jack White; and cuts from just about every oth­er artist on col­lege or alter­na­tive radio through­out the decade.

“The inspi­ra­tion for this playlist,” writes Korv­na, “came from see­ing one too many of those nos­tal­gia-bait pieces aimed at my cohort: ‘You total­ly for­got about these 20 amaz­ing hits from the 90’s.… After the 6th or 7th of these arti­cles all list­ing off the same obvi­ous things, you start to think you real­ly have heard every­thing from the 90s. But we all know that’s not true.”

By doing a bit of inter­net research to fill gaps in mem­o­ry, Korv­na com­piled “a mix of things every­one is famil­iar with, and more obscure arti­facts, the sorts of songs you might have only been famil­iar with if you were, say, lis­ten­ing to col­lege rock in 1991.”

If the 90s is to you an unknown coun­try, you’ll find that this three-part Spo­ti­fy playlist offers a com­pre­hen­sive walk-through of the decades’ diverse musi­cal culture—and it does­n’t just play the hits. If you’re a gen­tle­man or lady of a cer­tain age, it will refresh a few mem­o­ries, make you smile and wince with nos­tal­gia, and per­haps fill you with indig­na­tion over all the songs you think need to be on there but aren’t.

Feel free to leave your sug­ges­tions in the comments—or to make your own 90s playlist. And while you’re at it, you might want to take a look at Flavorwire’s sur­pris­ing list of “105 ‘90s Alter­na­tive Bands that Still Exist.”

via Metafil­ter/Medi­um

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,000 Record­ings to Hear Before You Die: Stream a Huge Playlist of Songs Based on the Best­selling Book

62 Psy­che­del­ic Clas­sics: A Free Playlist Cre­at­ed by Sean Lennon

Radio David Byrne: Stream Free Music Playlists Cre­at­ed Every Month by the Front­man of Talk­ing Heads

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

Glass: The Oscar-Winning “Perfect Short Documentary” on Dutch Glassmaking (1958)

You’ll find many a bold claim on Wikipedia, even on the page for Bert Haanstra’s Glass, a 1958 short doc­u­men­tary on glass­mak­ing in the Nether­lands, which, as of this writ­ing, men­tions that the film “is often acclaimed to be the per­fect short doc­u­men­tary.” Just the sort of thing you’d want to take with a grain of salt, right? But if you watch Glass itself, which won the 1959 Acad­e­my Award for Doc­u­men­tary Short Sub­ject, you might find your­self join­ing in on that sup­posed cho­rus of acclaim.

Prashant Par­vat­neni at The Essen­tial Mys­tery calls Glass “at once a pas­sion­ate cel­e­bra­tion of human labour and crafts­man­ship and a bit­ing cri­tique of the mech­a­nis­tic mass-pro­duc­tion of objects. On the very sur­face this doc­u­men­tary can appear as a demon­stra­tive film keen­ly elu­ci­dat­ing the very basic process­es that go into the mak­ing of hand­made glass­ware and jux­ta­pos­ing it with the process of bot­tle-mak­ing in a mech­a­nised fac­to­ry.

Yet this very jux­ta­po­si­tion cou­pled with a Haanstra’s strong styl­is­tic inter­ven­tion takes the film into a polem­i­cal space.” Tak­ing a slight­ly dif­fer­ent tone, Colos­sal’s Christo­pher Job­son high­lights the jazz of the tra­di­tion­al half, and the “whim­si­cal score of more syn­the­sized music” in the mod­ern half. “Also,” he adds, “there’s a ton of great smok­ing!”

Job­son does­n’t men­tion that these guys also some­how man­age to keep smok­ing even while blow­ing glass — an impres­sive feat indeed, and just one of the impres­sive qual­i­ties on dis­play in Glass’ brief run­time. Even­tu­al­ly, the footage turns back from the fac­to­ry to the work­shop, and soon it begins oscil­lat­ing between the two, cut­ting to the jazzy rhythm and even mak­ing the machines and work­men into musi­cal instru­ments of a kind. The Dutch glass­mak­ing indus­try has sure­ly changed in the past half-cen­tu­ry, but stu­dents of Dutch film can’t ignore the work of Haanstra, who in addi­tion to this and oth­er doc­u­men­taries short and long, direct­ed fea­tures includ­ing Fan­fare, still one of the most pop­u­lar films in the Nether­lands ever. But as any film his­to­ri­an might sus­pect — and here comes anoth­er bold claim — Glass will out­live them all.

Glass will be added to our list of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why Man Cre­ates: Saul Bass’ Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Look at Cre­ativ­i­ty (1968)

Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Short, The Dot and the Line, Cel­e­brates Geom­e­try and Hard Work (1965)

Watch the Funky, Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Film Fea­tur­ing the Music of Herb Alpert & the Tijua­na Brass (1966)

36 Free Oscar Win­ning Films Avail­able on the Web

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, 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.

Carol Kaye, 81-Year-Old Pioneer of Rock, Gives Kiss’ Gene Simmons a Bass Lesson

If you asked me to name the best rep­re­sen­ta­tive of rock and roll as a boy’s club, KISS would be high on my list. Despite their com­mit­ment to a gen­der-bend­ing glam style, Front­men Gene Sim­mons and Paul Stanley’s chest hair rugs, wag­ging tongues, and stud­ded cod­pieces are exag­ger­at­ed exam­ples of sev­en­ties virility—a rock era known for pro­gres­sive music, but not pro­gres­sive gen­der pol­i­tics.

If you asked me to name a musi­cian who had chal­lenged and defied gen­der stereo­types in rock and roll, Car­ol Kaye— bassist and mem­ber of L.A.’s top flight ses­sion musi­cians the Wreck­ing Crew—would be high on my list. Kaye and her crew helped cre­ate the sound of Phil Spec­tor records, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, and so many oth­er clas­sic six­ties artists.

Kaye nev­er par­tic­u­lar­ly saw her­self as a pio­neer or path­break­er, but her smooth, unpre­ten­tious pro­fes­sion­al­ism car­ried her through a career most musi­cians, male and female, would envy, even if she nev­er stood in the spot­light her­self. Her atti­tude, approach, and play­ing are pret­ty much the oppo­site of the bom­bas­tic, mer­ce­nary Sim­mons, who has on more than one occa­sion weath­ered charges of sex­ism in his pur­suit of big­ger, loud­er, dumb­er music and more tawdry real­i­ty TV.

In the short clip above, the two leg­ends meet, and Kaye sits Sim­mons down and shows him how it’s done.

She has taught hun­dreds of stu­dents to imi­tate, though nev­er dupli­cate, her chops, and earned the clout to take Sim­mons to school (though she seems sur­prised to be doing so); Kaye large­ly helped invent the sound of rock bass and ele­vat­ed the instru­ment from a sup­port­ing play­er to an indis­pens­able lead one as well.

The clip comes from an unfin­ished doc­u­men­tary that fea­tures over an hour of inter­view footage in which Kaye dis­cuss­es her start in music and long­time suc­cess, and demon­strates more of her phe­nom­e­nal, under­stat­ed play­ing.

via No Tre­ble

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Meet Car­ol Kaye, the Unsung Bassist Behind Your Favorite 60s Hits

7 Female Bass Play­ers Who Helped Shape Mod­ern Music: Kim Gor­don, Tina Wey­mouth, Kim Deal & More

Paul McCart­ney Offers a Short Tuto­r­i­al on How to Play the Bass Gui­tar

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

Recalling Albert Camus’ Fashion Advice, Noam Chomsky Pans Glenn Greenwald’s Shiny, Purple Tie

chomsky fashion advice

70 years ago this month, Albert Camus made his first and only trip to the Unit­ed States, briefly vis­it­ing Philadel­phia and Boston, but most­ly stay­ing in New York, the city that cap­ti­vat­ed him most. As Jen­nifer Schuessler writes in The New York Times, Camus did­n’t quite know what to make of the city’s “swarm­ing lights” and “fran­tic streets.” But he had to appre­ci­ate the warmth with which he was greet­ed. Dur­ing his 1946 stay, Camus cel­e­brat­ed the Eng­lish pub­li­ca­tion of The Stranger on the rooftop of the Hotel Astor. He sat down for an inter­view with The New York­er and gave a mem­o­rable speech at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty. He also became a fash­ion crit­ic for a brief moment, offer­ing this thought on Amer­i­can neck­ties: “You have to see it to believe it. So much bad taste hard­ly seems imag­in­able.”

All of this sets up a lit­tle joke deliv­ered this week­end by Noam Chom­sky, as recalled on Face­book by jour­nal­ist Glenn Green­wald. Green­wald writes:

I arrived last night at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona for my event with Edward Snow­den and Noam Chom­sky. Chom­sky arrived short­ly after I did and, after I greet­ed him, the fol­low­ing dia­logue ensued:

Chom­sky: You know, there’s this inter­est­ing essay by Albert Camus, writ­ten dur­ing his first vis­it to the Unit­ed States, in which he described his sur­prise at what he regard­ed as the poor cloth­ing taste of Amer­i­cans, par­tic­u­lar­ly men’s choic­es of ties.

Me (slight­ly con­fused): Are you shar­ing that anec­dote because you dis­like my tie?

Chom­sky: Yes.

That’s how you receive a fash­ion cri­tique from the world’s great­est pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al.


Note: The 70th anniver­sary of Camus’s trip to New York is being com­mem­o­rat­ed in “Camus: A Stranger in the City,” a month­long fes­ti­val of per­for­mances, read­ings, film screen­ings and events. If you’re in NYC, check it out. The full pro­gram is here.

via Crit­i­cal The­o­ry

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Sartre Writes a Trib­ute to Camus After His Friend-Turned-Rival Dies in a Trag­ic Car Crash: “There Is an Unbear­able Absur­di­ty in His Death”

Get to Know Socrates, Camus, Kierkegaard & Oth­er Great Philoso­phers with the BBC’s Intel­li­gent Radio Show, In Our Time

Download the Sublime Anatomy Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci: Available Online, or in a Great iPad App


I’ve always found anatom­i­cal draw­ing fas­ci­nat­ing. At its best, it occu­pies an aes­thet­ic space some­where between mys­ti­cal fine art and cut­ting-edge sci­en­tif­ic observation—a space carved out dur­ing the Ital­ian Renais­sance, when the bound­aries between artis­tic train­ing and sci­en­tif­ic inquiry were per­me­able and often nonex­is­tent.

Famous­ly, the peri­od intro­duced ren­der­ings of the human fig­ure so anatom­i­cal­ly accu­rate that “until about 1500–1510,” writes the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, the artists’ “inves­ti­ga­tions sur­passed much of the knowl­edge of anato­my that was taught at the uni­ver­si­ties.”

Recto: Studies of a cranium. Verso: Notes on the nerves and move

Artists like the great Michelan­ge­lo Buon­nar­roti and Leonar­do da Vinci—as well as less­er-known fig­ures like Anto­nio Pol­laiuo­lo and Bac­cio Bandinelli—undertook “detailed anatom­i­cal dis­sec­tions at var­i­ous points in their long careers,” pro­duc­ing hun­dreds of sketch­es and stud­ies along­side and in prepa­ra­tion for the mus­cu­lar paint­ings and sculp­ture for which they’re best known.

Recto: The muscles of the back and arm. Verso: Studies of the in

Most Renais­sance artists “became anatomists by neces­si­ty,” the Met points out, “as they attempt­ed to refine a more life­like, sculp­tur­al por­tray­al of the human fig­ure.” Leonardo’s stud­ies in anato­my, how­ev­er, held a sci­en­tif­ic inter­est all their own, akin to his inves­ti­ga­tions into the physics of flight, weapon and bat­tle­ment design, archi­tec­ture, and oth­er pur­suits.


Many of Leonardo’s anatom­i­cal draw­ings con­tain detailed notes on his obser­va­tions, as you can see in the study of a heav­i­ly-mus­cled tor­so and of a human cra­ni­um, fur­ther up. He wrote these notes using his pro­pri­etary right-to-left “mir­ror-writ­ing” tech­nique, which he reserved for his pri­vate note­books. “Only when he was writ­ing some­thing intend­ed for oth­er peo­ple,” Boston’s Muse­um of Sci­ence informs us, “did he write in the nor­mal direc­tion.”

Recto: Studies of the foetus in the womb. Verso: Notes on reprod

Now we can see sev­er­al dozen of Leonardo’s anatom­i­cal draw­ings of human and ani­mal fig­ures (such as the bear foot above) all in one place, thanks to Buck­ing­ham Palace’s Roy­al Col­lec­tion Trust—who have dig­i­tized their siz­able col­lec­tion. Leonar­do not only stud­ied anatom­i­cal struc­ture, but also per­formed dis­sec­tions in order to under­stand human phys­i­ol­o­gy; he approached the work­ings of the human body as though it were an organ­ic machine, as con­fi­dent in the ratio­nal order­ing of its parts as he was of its priv­i­leged place in the nat­ur­al world. (See just above Leonardo’s well-known draw­ings of a fetus in the womb, with copi­ous notes on human repro­duc­tion on both sides.)

Da Vinci iPad App

In addi­tion to the many intrigu­ing sketch­es, stud­ies, and detailed illus­tra­tions in the Roy­al Col­lec­tion Trust’s online archive, iPad own­ers can also search and view the col­lec­tion on their devices with the free Leonar­do da Vin­ci Anato­my app (screen­shot above). “For the first time,” writes the descrip­tion, “it is pos­si­ble for any­one with an iPad to own and explore this remark­able tes­ta­ment to Leonardo’s sci­en­tif­ic and artis­tic genius…. All 268 pages from Leonardo’s note­books are pre­sent­ed here at the high­est res­o­lu­tion, opti­mized for the pin-sharp reti­na dis­play of the iPad.” The app includes incred­i­bly help­ful fea­tures like Eng­lish trans­la­tions of the notes, as well as essays and inter­views with experts dis­cussing the sig­nif­i­cance of Leonardo’s dis­cov­er­ies.

The head of Judas in the Last Supper

Whether you own an iPad or not, you can ben­e­fit immense­ly from this col­lec­tion. The online ver­sion allows view­ers to down­load high-res­o­lu­tion images like the “Head of Judas” sketch in red chalk above (c. 1495). Once on the page, click the down­load arrow to the bot­tom right of the draw­ing and you’ll be tak­en to a larg­er ver­sion of the image. You can zoom in to exam­ine details, like the very fine lines and sub­tle shad­ing that mark each of Leonardo’s illus­tra­tions, from the most util­i­tar­i­an to the most artis­ti­cal­ly-ren­dered, as the spe­cial cre­ations of an extra­or­di­nary artist with a gift­ed sci­en­tif­ic mind.

Da Vinci Judas Detail

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Orig­i­nal Por­trait of the Mona Lisa Found Beneath the Paint Lay­ers of da Vinci’s Mas­ter­piece

Leonar­do da Vinci’s Hand­writ­ten Resume (1482)

Leonar­do Da Vinci’s To Do List (cir­ca 1490) Is Much Cool­er Than Yours

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

Florence Nightingale Saved Lives by Creating Revolutionary Visualizations of Statistics (1855)

I’ve long count­ed myself as a fan of Edward Tufte, the pre­em­i­nent liv­ing expert on the visu­al dis­play of quan­ti­ta­tive infor­ma­tion. I like to think this puts me in the com­pa­ny of Flo­rence Nightin­gale, founder of mod­ern nurs­ing as well as a pro­lif­ic writer and still today a house­hold name. Hav­ing lived in the Vic­to­ri­an era, she of course nev­er got to enjoy the work of Tufte him­self, though her own zeal for data and sta­tis­tics, in a time that val­ued such things less than ours, made her, in some sense, a Tufte of her day: the first female mem­ber of the Roy­al Sta­tis­ti­cal Soci­ety and an hon­orary mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Sta­tis­ti­cal Asso­ci­a­tion. The video above, an out­take from Hans Rosling’s The Joy of Stats, offers a brief intro­duc­tion to the sta­tis­ti­cal side of Nightin­gale’s career, and the impor­tant role data visu­al­iza­tion played in her mis­sion to save lives.

“When Flo­rence Nightin­gale arrived at a British hos­pi­tal in Turkey dur­ing the Crimean War, she found a night­mare of mis­ery and chaos,” writes Sci­ence News’ Julie Rehmey­er. “By the time Nightin­gale left Turkey after the war end­ed in July 1856, the hos­pi­tals were well-run and effi­cient, with mor­tal­i­ty rates no greater than civil­ian hos­pi­tals in Eng­land.”

But feel­ing great regret over all the lives lost there to pre­ventable dis­ease, she went on to save even more of them by bring­ing num­bers into play. She specif­i­cal­ly com­piled “vast tables of sta­tis­tics about how many peo­ple had died, where and why. Many of her find­ings shocked her. For exam­ple, she dis­cov­ered that in peace­time, sol­diers in Eng­land died at twice the rate of civil­ians — even though they were young men in their primes.”


Nightin­gale’s most influ­en­tial pre­sen­ta­tion of her data, which she called a “cox­comb,” appears just above. This Is Sta­tis­tics describes “Dia­gram of the Caus­es of Mor­tal­i­ty in the Army in the East” as “sim­i­lar to a pie chart, but more intri­cate. In a pie chart the size of the ‘slices’ rep­re­sent a pro­por­tion of data, while in a cox­comb the length, which the slice extends radi­al­ly from the cen­ter-point, rep­re­sents the first lay­er of data.” Her famous chart “was divid­ed even­ly into 12 slices rep­re­sent­ing months of the year, with the shad­ed area of each month’s slice pro­por­tion­al to the death rate that month. Her col­or-cod­ed shad­ing indi­cat­ed the cause of death in each area of the dia­gram.” She stat­ed the goal of her visu­al­iza­tion clear­ly: “to affect thro’ the Eyes what we fail to con­vey to the pub­lic through their word-proof ears.”

We all try to do the very same thing when we present infor­ma­tion today, though few of us—even armed with a degree of num­ber-crunch­ing and graph­ic design pow­ers that would have seemed mag­i­cal to Nightin­gale and her contemporaries—achieve the kind of results she did. She gal­va­nized sys­temic change in hos­pi­tal design and oper­a­tion as well as prompt­ed a rev­o­lu­tion in san­i­ta­tion which increased Britain’s aver­age nation­al life expectan­cy by 20 years—something to bear in mind when we start to get big ideas about how our Pow­er­point slide shows will change the world.

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via @pourmecoffee

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Art of Data Visu­al­iza­tion: How to Tell Com­plex Sto­ries Through Smart Design

Slick Data Visu­al­iza­tion Reveals Sci­en­tif­ic Col­lab­o­ra­tions Tak­ing Place Around the Globe

In Under Three Min­utes, Hans Rosling Visu­al­izes the Incred­i­ble Progress of the “Devel­op­ing World”

Watch a Cool and Creepy Visu­al­iza­tion of U.S. Births & Deaths in Real-Time

Sta­tis­tics Explained Through Mod­ern Dance: A New Way of Teach­ing a Tough Sub­ject

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, 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.

Harvard’s Michael Sandel Launches “The Global Philosopher,” a New Digital Show Exploring Pressing Philosophical Problems

In 2009, Har­vard phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor Michael Sandel broke some ground when he made his pop­u­lar course, “Jus­tice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?,” avail­able online. A course tak­en by thou­sands of Har­vard under­grads sud­den­ly became a course tak­en by tens of thou­sands of life­long learn­ers world­wide.

Since then, Sandel has con­tin­ued speak­ing to a broad­er audi­ence, first cre­at­ing a BBC pod­cast called “The Pub­lic Philoso­pher,” where he “exam­ines the think­ing behind a cur­rent con­tro­ver­sy.” (Down­load the episodes here.) And now comes a new pro­gram, The Glob­al Philoso­pher, which grap­ples with philo­soph­i­cal prob­lems using an inno­v­a­tive dig­i­tal for­mat. Accord­ing to the BBC, the show brings togeth­er “60 par­tic­i­pants from over 30 coun­tries using a pio­neer­ing stu­dio devel­oped by [the] Har­vard Busi­ness School, called HBX Live. Each par­tic­i­pant is able to see and speak to every oth­er con­trib­u­tor, as well as to Pro­fes­sor Sandel, repli­cat­ing the expe­ri­ence of a face-to-face debate.” In the first debate, shown above, “con­trib­u­tors from Amer­i­ca, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Mid­dle East dis­cussed the moral jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for nation­al bor­ders. Hun­dreds more watched a live video stream and took part by send­ing in text com­ments and vot­ing in straw polls.” This is just the first of more planned install­ments. Down the road, you can find new episodes of The Glob­al Philoso­pher here.

via Har­vard Gazette

Relat­ed Con­tent

What’s the Right Thing to Do?: Pop­u­lar Har­vard Course Now Online

Michael Sandel on the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life Pod­cast Talks About the Lim­its of a Free Mar­ket Soci­ety

140 Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

Watch the Earliest Surviving Filmed Version of The Wizard of Oz (1910)

The Tech­ni­col­or Oz that greet­ed Judy Gar­land in 1939 seems a far less col­or­ful place than the one in 1910’s silent short, The Won­der­ful Wiz­ard of Oz, above. (A ver­sion with music added can be found below.)

Adapt­ed in part from a 1902 stage ver­sion, this Wiz­ard — the ear­li­est to sur­vive on film — feels quite close to the spir­it of author L. Frank Baum and illus­tra­tor William Wal­lace Denslow’s orig­i­nal cre­ation.

Audi­ence mem­bers who had no famil­iar­i­ty with the source mate­r­i­al must’ve been very, very con­fused. There’s a lot of bang for the buck, but title cards aside, not much in the way of con­text.

No mat­ter. There are plen­ty of spe­cial effects and a crowd-pleas­ing cho­rus of gra­tu­itous beau­ties in tights and bloomers, just as in Georges Méliès’ sem­i­nal A Trip to the Moon.

It’s con­ceiv­able that Jack Haley and Burt Lahr, the MGM version’s Tin Woods­man and Cow­ard­ly Lion, might have been tak­en to see the 13 minute short as chil­dren. (Scare­crow Ray Bol­ger was a mere babe at the time of its release.)

Despite the pres­ence of all the well-known char­ac­ters, includ­ing two Totos, for my mon­ey, the project’s true star is Hank, the scene steal­ing mule.

I think the actor in the mule suit like­ly agreed, though Hank’s role in the Oz pan­theon is minor at best.

It’s unclear to me if the Wizard’s dark make­up is meant to be black­face. Accord­ing to Robin Bernstein’s Racial Inno­cence: Per­form­ing Amer­i­can Child­hood from Slav­ery to Civ­il Rights, the stage play that inspired the film fea­tured min­strel songs and pop­u­lar black­face actors Fred A. Stone and David Mont­gomery as the Scare­crow and Tin Woods­man.

The film cast’s iden­ti­ties have been lost to his­to­ry, though a rumor per­sists that the young actress play­ing Dorothy is fre­quent Harold Lloyd co-star, Bebe Daniels. The orig­i­nal piano score is unknown, but like­ly hewed close­ly to Paul Tiet­jens’ music from the play, which is what we hear in the online ver­sion.

Five years lat­er, the movies returned to Oz, with the Baum-pro­duced and ‑script­ed fea­tures, The Patch­work Girl of Oz, His Majesty, the Scare­crow of Oz, and The Mag­ic Cloak of Oz.

The Wiz­ard of Oz (1910) will be added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

You can also down­load the com­plete Wiz­ard of Oz Series, as free eBooks and free audio books.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dark Side of the Rain­bow: Pink Floyd Meets The Wiz­ard of Oz in One of the Ear­li­est Mash-Ups

A Trip to the Moon (1902): Where Sci Fi Movies Began

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She was shocked to find out how much her child­hood Oz books are worth, but has thus far resist­ed part­ing with them. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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