The Documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool Is Streaming Free for a Limited Time

PBS’ Amer­i­can Mas­ters series has released the new doc­u­men­tary, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, and it’s stream­ing free online for a lim­it­ed time. (Some geo-restric­tions may apply.) With full access to the Miles Davis Estate, “the film fea­tures nev­er-before-seen footage, includ­ing stu­dio out­takes from his record­ing ses­sions, rare pho­tos and new inter­views.” Watch the trail­er above. Stream the full doc­u­men­tary here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Miles Davis Icon­ic 1959 Album Kind of Blue Turns 60: Revis­it the Album That Changed Amer­i­can Music

1959: The Year That Changed Jazz

Kind of Blue: How Miles Davis Changed Jazz

Her­bie Han­cock Explains the Big Les­son He Learned From Miles Davis: Every Mis­take in Music, as in Life, Is an Oppor­tu­ni­ty

The Influ­ence of Miles Davis Revealed with Data Visu­al­iza­tion

Free: Read the Original 23,000-Word Essay That Became Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

Because my sto­ry was true. I was cer­tain of that. And it was extreme­ly impor­tant, I felt, for the mean­ing of our jour­ney to be made absolute­ly clear. 

The pub­li­ca­tion his­to­ry of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the sto­ry of gonzo jour­nal­ism itself, a form depen­dent upon the unre­li­a­bil­i­ty of its nar­ra­tor, who becomes a cen­tral char­ac­ter in the osten­si­bly real-life dra­ma. In Thompson’s hal­lu­cino­genic tales of his trav­els to Las Vegas with attor­ney and Chi­cano activist Oscar Zeta Acos­ta, the reporter went so far as to become a fic­tion­al char­ac­ter.

The jour­ney began with a com­mis­sion from Rolling Stone to report on the death of reporter Ruben Salazar, killed by a Los Ange­les police tear gas grenade at an anti-Viet­nam War protest. This trip divert­ed, how­ev­er, to Las Vegas, where Thomp­son drove to report on the Mint 400 desert race for Sports Illus­trat­ed. Rather than sub­mit­ting the 250-word piece the mag­a­zine request­ed, he gave them a 2,500-word psy­che­del­ic fugue, the very begin­nings of Fear and Loathing. The piece, Thomp­son lat­er wrote, was “aggres­sive­ly reject­ed.”

Instead, Jann Wen­ner liked what he saw enough to even­tu­al­ly pub­lish it in the Novem­ber 1971 issue of Rolling Stone as a 23,000-word essay bear­ing the title of the nov­el it would become, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Sav­age Jour­ney to the Heart of the Amer­i­can Dream.” You can read that by-now famil­iar­ly wild account, here. In it, Thomp­son gave the magazine’s read­ers a suc­cinct def­i­n­i­tion of his report­ing style:

But what was the sto­ry? Nobody had both­ered to say. So we would have to drum it up on our own. Free Enter­prise. The Amer­i­can Dream. Hor­a­tio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now: pure Gonzo jour­nal­ism.

The term defines the form as the mir­ror obverse of the Amer­i­can Dream, Thompson’s excess­es no more than illic­it ver­sions of the cul­ture he picked apart, one that pro­duced an event like the Mint 400, “the rich­est off-the-road race for motor­cy­cles and dune-bug­gies in the his­to­ry of orga­nized sport,” he wrote, and “a fan­tas­tic spec­ta­cle….”

What were Thomp­son and Acos­ta (or Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo) doing if not hold­ing the main event of dis­or­ga­nized sport in their race across the desert against their own para­noid delu­sions? The truths Thomp­son told need nev­er have been factual—they were the out­ra­geous truths we find in any good sto­ry, well told: about the bats—as in the famous Goya etch­ing—swarm­ing around the passed-out head of Rea­son.

Read Thomp­son’s orig­i­nal, now icon­ic essay here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hunter Thomp­son Died 15 Years Ago: Hear Him Remem­bered by Tom Wolfe, John­ny Depp, Ralph Stead­man, and Oth­ers

Read 11 Free Arti­cles by Hunter S. Thomp­son That Span His Gonzo Jour­nal­ist Career (1965–2005)

How Hunter S. Thomp­son Gave Birth to Gonzo Jour­nal­ism: Short Film Revis­its Thompson’s Sem­i­nal 1970 Piece on the Ken­tucky Der­by

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

The Story of Physics Animated in 4 Minutes: From Galileo and Newton, to Einstein

No mat­ter how well you remem­ber your physics class­es, you most like­ly don’t remem­ber learn­ing any sto­ries in them. The­o­ries and equa­tions, yes, but not sto­ries — yet each of those the­o­ries and equa­tions has a sto­ry behind it, as does the entire sci­en­tif­ic enter­prise of physics they con­sti­tute. The video above from the BBC’s Dara Ó Bri­ain’s Sci­ence Club pro­vides an overview of the lat­ter sto­ry in an ani­mat­ed four min­utes, mak­ing it ide­al for young­sters just start­ing to learn about physics. It will also do the job for those of us not-so-young­sters cir­cling back to get a bet­ter grasp of physics, its dis­cov­er­ies and dri­ving ques­tions.

“The sto­ry of physics is, for the most part, a tale of ever-increas­ing con­fi­dence,” says Ó Bri­ain, a come­di­an as well as a tele­vi­sion host and writer on var­i­ous sub­jects. This ver­sion of the sto­ry begins with rolling balls and falling objects, observed with a new rig­or by such 17th-cen­tu­ry Ital­ians as Galileo Galilei. Galileo’s work became “the rock on which mod­ern physics is found­ed,” and those who first built upon that rock includ­ed Isaac New­ton, who start­ed by notic­ing how apples fall and end­ed up with a the­o­ry of grav­i­ty. New­ton’s work would lat­er pre­dict the exis­tence of Nep­tune; James Clerk Maxwell, work­ing in the 19th cen­tu­ry, made dis­cov­er­ies about elec­tro­mag­net­ism that would lat­er give us radio and tele­vi­sion.

For quite a while, physics seemed to go from strength to strength. But as the 20th cen­tu­ry began, “the lat­est dis­cov­er­ies did­n’t build on the old ones. Things like x‑rays and radioac­tiv­i­ty were just plain weird, and in a bad way.” But in 1905, onto the scene came a 26-year-old Albert Ein­stein, who “tore up the script by” claim­ing that “light is a kind of wave but also comes in pack­ets, or par­ti­cles.” That same year he pub­lished an equa­tion you’ll cer­tain­ly remem­ber from your school days: E = mc2, which holds “that mass and ener­gy are equiv­a­lent.” Ein­stein pro­posed that, if “some­one watch­es a space­ship fly­ing very fast, what they would see is the ship’s clocks run­ning slow­er than their own watch — and the ship will actu­al­ly shrink in size. But for the astro­nauts inside, all would be nor­mal.”

In oth­er words, “time and space can change: they are rel­a­tive depend­ing on who’s observ­ing.” Ein­stein called this “spe­cial rel­a­tiv­i­ty,” and he also had a the­o­ry of “gen­er­al rel­a­tiv­i­ty.” That showed “how balls and apples weren’t the only thing sub­ject to grav­i­ty: light, time, and space were also affect­ed. Grav­i­ty slows down time and it warps space.” No mat­ter how dim­ly we under­stand physics itself, we all know the major play­ers in its sto­ry: Galileo and New­ton made impor­tant ear­ly dis­cov­er­ies, but it was Ein­stein who “shat­tered tra­di­tion­al physics” and revealed just how much we still have to learn about phys­i­cal real­i­ty. Still today, physi­cists labor to rec­on­cile Ein­stein’s dis­cov­er­ies with all oth­er known facts of that real­i­ty. As frus­trat­ing as that task often proves, the kids who take an inter­est of their own in physics after watch­ing the video will sure­ly be heart­ened to know that the sto­ry of physics goes on.

via The Kids Should See This

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Physics Cours­es (part of our larg­er col­lec­tion, 1,500 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties)

The Map of Physics: Ani­ma­tion Shows How All the Dif­fer­ent Fields in Physics Fit Togeth­er

The Case for Study­ing Physics in a Charm­ing Ani­mat­ed Video

Physics & Caf­feine: Stop Motion Film Uses a Cup of Cof­fee to Explain Key Con­cepts in Physics

The Feyn­man Lec­tures on Physics, The Most Pop­u­lar Physics Book Ever Writ­ten, Is Now Com­plete­ly Online

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 or on Face­book.

The Photos That Ended Child Labor in the US: See the “Social Photography” of Lewis Hine (1911)

The aver­age per­son believes implic­it­ly that the pho­to­graph can­not fal­si­fy. Of course, you and I know that this unbound­ed faith in the integri­ty of the pho­to­graph is often rude­ly shak­en, for, while pho­tographs may not lie, liars may pho­to­graph.  —Lewis Wick­es Hine, “Social Pho­tog­ra­phy: How the Cam­era May Help in the Social Uplift” (1909)

Long before Bran­don Stanton’s wild­ly pop­u­lar Humans of New York project tapped into the public’s capac­i­ty for com­pas­sion by com­bin­ing pho­tos of his sub­jects with some telling nar­ra­tive about their lives, edu­ca­tor and soci­ol­o­gist Lewis Wick­es Hine was using his cam­era as a tool to pres­sure the pub­lic into demand­ing an end to child labor in the Unit­ed States.

In a time when the US Fed­er­al Cen­sus report­ed that one in five chil­dren under the age of 16over 1.75 mil­lionwas gain­ful­ly employed, Hines tra­versed the coun­try under the aus­pices of the Nation­al Child Labor Com­mit­tee, gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion and mak­ing por­traits of the under­age work­ers.

His images, made between 1911 and 1916, intro­duced view­ers to young boys break­ing up coal in Penn­syl­va­nia mines, tiny Louisiana oys­ter shuck­ers and Maine sar­dine cut­ters, child pick­ers in Ken­tucky tobac­co fields and Mass­a­chu­setts cran­ber­ry bogs, and news­boys in a num­ber of cities.

Their employ­ers active­ly recruit­ed kids from poor fam­i­lies, wager­ing that they would per­form repet­i­tive, often dan­ger­ous tasks for a pit­tance, with lit­tle chance of union­iz­ing.

Hine was a scrupu­lous doc­u­men­tar­i­an, label­ing each pho­to with cru­cial infor­ma­tion gleaned from con­ver­sa­tions with the child pic­tured there­in: name, age, loca­tion, occu­pa­tion, wages, andhor­rif­i­cal­lyany work­place injuries.

In an essay in the anthol­o­gy Major Prob­lems in the Gild­ed Age and the Pro­gres­sive Era, his­to­ri­an Robert West­brook lauds Hines’ way of inter­act­ing with his sub­jects with “deco­rum and tact,” accord­ing them a dig­ni­ty that few of the period’s “con­de­scend­ing” mid­dle-class reform­ers did.

As the Vox Dark­room seg­ment, above, explains, Hine’s for­mal com­po­si­tions lent addi­tion­al pow­er to his images of smudged child work­ers pos­ing in their places of employ­ment. Shal­low depth of field to ensure that the viewer’s eyes would not become absorbed in the back­ground, but rather engage with those of his sub­ject.

But it was the accom­pa­ny­ing nar­ra­tives, which he referred to var­i­ous­ly as “pic­ture sto­ries” or “pho­to-inter­pre­ta­tions,” that he cred­it­ed with real­ly get­ting through to the hearts and minds of an indif­fer­ent pub­lic.

The text pre­vent­ed view­ers from eas­i­ly brush­ing the chil­dren off as anony­mous, scruffy urchins.

Here for instance is “Manuel, the young shrimp-pick­er, five years old, and a moun­tain of child-labor oys­ter shells behind him. He worked last year. Under­stands not a word of Eng­lish. Dun­bar, Lopez, Dukate Com­pa­ny. Loca­tion: Biloxi, Mis­sis­sip­pi.”

“Lau­ra Pet­ty, a 6 year old berry pick­er on Jenk­ins farm, Rock Creek near Bal­ti­more, Md. ‘I’m just begin­nin.’ Picked two box­es yes­ter­day. (2 cents a box).”

“Ange­lo Ross, 142 Pana­ma Street, Hughestown Bor­ough, a young­ster who has been work­ing in Break­er #9 Penn­syl­va­nia Co. for four months, said he was 13 years old, but very doubt­ful. He has a broth­er, Tony, prob­a­bly under 14 work­ing. Loca­tion: Pittston, Penn­syl­va­nia.”

Hine cor­rect­ly fig­ured that the com­bi­na­tion of pho­to and bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion was a “lever for the social uplift.”

Once the pic­tures were pub­lished in Pro­gres­sive mag­a­zines, state leg­is­la­tures came under immense pres­sure to impose min­i­mum age require­ments in the work­place, effec­tive­ly end­ing child labor, and return­ing many for­mer work­ers to school.

View the entire col­lec­tion of Lewis Hine’s Nation­al Child Labor Com­mit­tee pho­tos here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How Dorothea Lange Shot, Migrant Moth­er, Per­haps the Most Icon­ic Pho­to in Amer­i­can His­to­ry

Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Clem Albers & Fran­cis Stewart’s Cen­sored Pho­tographs of a WWII Japan­ese Intern­ment Camp

Meet Ger­da Taro, the First Female Pho­to­jour­nal­ist to Die on the Front Lines

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC this March, when her com­pa­ny, The­ater of the Apes, presents the world pre­miere of Tony Award win­ner Greg Kotis’ new low-bud­get, gui­tar-dri­ven musi­cal, I AM NOBODY.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Smithsonian Puts 2.8 Million High-Res Images Online and Into the Public Domain

No mat­ter how many pub­lic insti­tu­tions you vis­it in a day—schools, libraries, muse­ums, or the dread­ed DMV—you may still feel like pri­va­tized ser­vices are clos­ing in. And if you’re a fan of nation­al parks and pub­lic lands, you’re keen­ly aware they’re at risk of being eat­en up by devel­op­ers and ener­gy com­pa­nies. The com­mons are shrink­ing, a trag­ic fact that is hard­ly inevitable but, as Mat­to Milden­berg­er argues at Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can, the result of some very nar­row ideas.

But we can take heart that one store of com­mon wealth has major­ly expand­ed recent­ly, and will con­tin­ue to grow each year since Jan­u­ary 1, 2019—Pub­lic Domain Day—when hun­dreds of thou­sands of works from 1923 became freely avail­able, the first time that hap­pened in 21 years. This year saw the release of thou­sands more works into the pub­lic domain from 1924, and so it will con­tin­ue ad infini­tum.

And now—as if that weren’t enough to keep us busy learn­ing about, shar­ing, adapt­ing, and repur­pos­ing the past into the future—the Smith­son­ian has released 2.8 mil­lion images into the pub­lic domain, mak­ing them search­able, share­able, and down­load­able through the museum’s Open Access plat­form.

This huge release of “high res­o­lu­tion two- and three-dimen­sion­al images from across its col­lec­tions,” notes Smith­son­ian Mag­a­zine, “is just the begin­ning. Through­out the rest of 2020, the Smith­son­ian will be rolling out anoth­er 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Insti­tu­tion con­tin­ues to dig­i­tize its col­lec­tion of 155 mil­lion items and count­ing.”

There are those who would say that these images always belonged to the pub­lic as the hold­ings of a pub­licly-fund­ed insti­tu­tion some­times called “the nation’s attic.” It’s a fair point, but shouldn’t take away from the excite­ment of the news. “Smith­son­ian” as a con­ve­nient­ly sin­gu­lar moniker actu­al­ly names “19 muse­ums, nine research cen­ters, libraries, archives, and the Nation­al Zoo,” an enor­mous col­lec­tion of art and his­toric arti­facts.

That’s quite a lot to sift through, but if you don’t know what you’re look­ing for, the site’s high­lights will direct you to one fas­ci­nat­ing image after anoth­er, from Moham­mad Ali’s 1973 head­gear to the his­toric Eliz­a­bethan por­trait of Poc­a­hon­tas, to the col­lec­tion box of the Rhode Island Anti-Slav­ery Soci­ety owned by William Lloyd Garrison’s fam­i­ly, to Walt Whit­man in 1891, as pho­tographed by the painter Thomas Eakins, to just about any­thing else you might imag­ine.

Enter the Smithsonian’s Open Access archive here and browse and search its mil­lions of new­ly-pub­lic domain images, a mas­sive col­lec­tion that may help expand the def­i­n­i­tion of com­mon knowl­edge.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pub­lic Domain Day Is Final­ly Here!: Copy­right­ed Works Have Entered the Pub­lic Domain Today for the First Time in 21 Years

The Library of Con­gress Launch­es the Nation­al Screen­ing Room, Putting Online Hun­dreds of His­toric Films

The Smith­son­ian Design Muse­um Dig­i­tizes 200,000 Objects, Giv­ing You Access to 3,000 Years of Design Inno­va­tion & His­to­ry

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

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

Denis Shi­rayev is at it again! The man who only a few weeks ago put one of the most famous pieces of film his­to­ry–the Lumiere Bros. footage of a train arriv­ing at La Cio­tat sta­tion–through a neur­al net­work to bring it “to life,” so to speak, has turned to anoth­er fas­ci­nat­ing slice of his­to­ry.

For his next install­ment, he has tak­en footage of New York City dai­ly life in 1911, eight min­utes of tram rides, horse-drawn wag­ons, the ele­vat­ed train, and the rush of crowd­ed streets, and applied the same deep learn­ing algo­rithms to make it all look like it was shot yes­ter­day. This time he had a bit of help from anoth­er YouTube historian/technician Guy Jones, who had already speed cor­rect­ed and tweaked the footage, as well as adding envi­ron­men­tal sounds. Shi­rayev has used AI to upscale the footage to 4K and to 60p.

The orig­i­nal footage was shot by Sven­s­ka Biografteatern, a Swedish news­reel com­pa­ny, and begins with a shot of the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty as if seen through a spy­glass. The film con­tin­ues as trav­el­ogue and as an intro­duc­tion to the immi­grant expe­ri­ence, as the cam­era shows boats dock­ing, pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark­ing, and then the over­whelm­ing expe­ri­ence of New York City.

The footage is clear enough to take in store­fronts and adver­tis­ing on trams and the sides of build­ings. But the atmos­phere is too clogged with dai­ly smoke to get a real clear vista of the sky­line from the Brook­lyn Bridge.

At the time, Man­hat­tan had a pop­u­la­tion about 2 mil­lion. Inter­est­ing­ly, that was its height. Over a hun­dred years lat­er, that has declined to 1.6 mil­lion, with a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty. This Observ­er arti­cle ascribes that to gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, and a change of res­i­den­tial areas to com­mer­cial ones.

And let’s repeat what we said about Shirayev’s pre­vi­ous 4K footage: this is not a “remas­ter”. This is not a “restora­tion.” This is using the pow­er of com­put­ing to inter­pret frames of film and cre­ate in between frames, as well as cre­ate detail from blur­ry footage. (I’m not too sure about the colorization–it doesn’t real­ly work as well as all the oth­er software…yet).

Now we know that Shi­rayev is mak­ing this a thing, please note his pinned mes­sage in the YouTube com­ments: he’s tak­ing requests.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Icon­ic Film from 1896 Restored with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence: Watch an AI-Upscaled Ver­sion of the Lumière Broth­ers’ The Arrival of a Train at La Cio­tat Sta­tion

Pris­tine Footage Lets You Revis­it Life in Paris in the 1890s: Watch Footage Shot by the Lumière Broth­ers

Immac­u­late­ly Restored Film Lets You Revis­it Life in New York City in 1911

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

The Shortest-Known Paper Published in a Serious Math Journal: Two Succinct Sentences

shortest math paper

Euler’s con­jec­ture, a the­o­ry pro­posed by Leon­hard Euler in 1769, hung in there for 200 years. Then L.J. Lan­der and T.R. Parkin came along in 1966, and debunked the con­jec­ture in two swift sen­tences. Their arti­cle — which is now open access and can be down­loaded here — appeared in the Bul­letin of the Amer­i­can Math­e­mat­i­cal Soci­ety. If you’re won­der­ing what the con­jec­ture and its refu­ta­tion are all about, you might want to ask Cliff Pick­over, the author of 45 books on math and sci­ence. He brought this curi­ous doc­u­ment to the web back in 2015.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

60 Free Online Math Cours­es

Free Math Text­books

The Math in Good Will Hunt­ing is Easy: How Do You Like Them Apples?

Does Math Objec­tive­ly Exist, or Is It a Human Cre­ation? A New PBS Video Explores a Time­less Ques­tion

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Bernie Sanders Time as an Educational Filmmaker: Watch His Documentary on Socialist Activist Eugene V. Debs (1979)

If you grew up in the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, you’ll remem­ber the name Eugene V. Debs from his­to­ry class. And if you grew up dur­ing a cer­tain era in the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, you might have learned about Debs from Bernie Sanders. Try to recall one of Debs’ speech­es; if you hear it in Sanders’ dis­tinc­tive Brook­lyn accent, you have at some point or anoth­er seen Eugene V. Debs: Trade Union­ist, Social­ist, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary. A film-strip slideshow with an accom­pa­ny­ing audio track, it came out in 1979 as a prod­uct of the Amer­i­can People’s His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety, Sanders’ own pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny.

That ven­ture con­sti­tutes just one chap­ter of a sto­ried life and career, which includes peri­ods as a high-school track star, a folk singer, and the may­or of Burling­ton, Ver­mont. Now that Sanders, junior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from Ver­mont since 2007, has pulled ahead in the race for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, peo­ple want to know what he’s all about — and he has long been giv­en, cer­tain­ly by the stan­dards of U.S. politi­cians, to clear and fre­quent expres­sion of what he’s all about. He has made no secret, for exam­ple, of his admi­ra­tion for Debs, a social­ist polit­i­cal activist who five times ran for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. You can see it come through in Eugene V. Debs: Trade Union­ist, Social­ist, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary, which Jacobin mag­a­zine has recon­struct­ed and made avail­able on Youtube.

Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Nathan Smith writes that the doc­u­men­tary frames Debs “as a lost prophet before explain­ing how he end­ed up where he did ide­o­log­i­cal­ly. It opens with Debs’s final pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, con­duct­ed in 1920 from prison. If a mil­lion peo­ple vot­ed for this man while he was behind bars, if more peo­ple went to hear him speak than Pres­i­dent Taft, then how could his­to­ry have for­got­ten him?” Sanders explains Debs’ social­ism “as a response to issues which still res­onate today: the exploita­tion of work­ing peo­ple, seg­re­ga­tion and vio­lent racism, vot­ing rights, and the sup­pres­sion of free speech and dis­sent dur­ing World War I.” More so than see Sanders’ admi­ra­tion for Debs — Jacobin hav­ing had to use visu­als oth­er than the ones on the film strip at the time — you can hear it: as in all the shoe­string pro­duc­tions of the Amer­i­can People’s His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety’s shoe­string pro­duc­tions, Sanders him­self plays the roles of the his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters involved.

In this case, that means we hear Sanders give Debs’ speech­es, and in cer­tain moments we view­ers of 2020 could eas­i­ly mis­take Debs’ indict­ments of the dis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth, goods, and the means of pro­duc­tion in Amer­i­ca as Sanders’ own. A self-described social­ist, Sanders has in his polit­i­cal career placed him­self in Debs’ tra­di­tion, and hav­ing made a doc­u­men­tary like this more than 40 years ago shores up that image. The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Philip Bump points out that, before becom­ing a U.S. sen­a­tor, Sanders did a cou­ple more act­ing jobs in fea­ture films, once as a man stingy with Hal­loween can­dy and once as a Dodgers-obsessed rab­bi. As much as those roles might have suit­ed his demeanor, it’s safe to say he played Eugene V. Debs with more con­vic­tion.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bernie Sanders: I Will Be an Arts Pres­i­dent

Spike Lee Inter­views Bernie Sanders: Two Guys from Brook­lyn Talk About Edu­ca­tion, Inequal­i­ty & More

Bernie Sanders Sings “This Land is Your Land” on the Endear­ing­ly Bad Spo­ken Word Album, We Shall Over­come

Allen Ginsberg’s Hand­writ­ten Poem For Bernie Sanders, “Burling­ton Snow” (1986)

Albert Ein­stein Writes the 1949 Essay “Why Social­ism?” and Attempts to Find a Solu­tion to the “Grave Evils of Cap­i­tal­ism”

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 or on Face­book.

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