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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mas­sive New Data­base Will Final­ly Allow Us to Iden­ti­fy Enslaved Peo­ples and Their Descen­dants in the Amer­i­c­as

The Names of 1.8 Mil­lion Eman­ci­pat­ed Slaves Are Now Search­able in the World’s Largest Genealog­i­cal Data­base, Help­ing African Amer­i­cans Find Lost Ances­tors

Take Free Cours­es on African-Amer­i­can His­to­ry from Yale and Stan­ford: From Eman­ci­pa­tion, to the Civ­il Rights Move­ment, and Beyond

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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hand-Col­ored Pho­tographs from 19th Cen­tu­ry Japan: 110 Images Cap­ture the Wan­ing Days of Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese Soci­ety

Hand-Col­ored 1860s Pho­tographs Reveal the Last Days of Samu­rai Japan

1850s Japan Comes to Life in 3D, Col­or Pho­tos: See the Stereo­scop­ic Pho­tog­ra­phy of T. Ena­mi

Female Samu­rai War­riors Immor­tal­ized in 19th Cen­tu­ry Japan­ese Pho­tos

Down­load Hun­dreds of 19th-Cen­tu­ry Japan­ese Wood­block Prints by Mas­ters of the Tra­di­tion

Hun­dreds of Won­der­ful Japan­ese Fire­work Designs from the Ear­ly-1900s: Dig­i­tized and Free to Down­load

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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Iggy Pop Sings Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” in an Art­ful­ly Ani­mat­ed Video

Serge Gains­bourg & Brigitte Bar­dot Per­form Out­law-Inspired Love Song, ‘Bon­nie and Clyde’ (1968)

French Cou­ple Sings an Aching­ly Charm­ing Ver­sion of VU’s “Femme Fatale”

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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

George Car­lin Per­forms His “Sev­en Dirty Words” Rou­tine: His­toric and Com­plete­ly NSFW

New Dig­i­tal Archive, “Richard Pryor’s Peo­ria,” Takes You Inside the Dark, Live­ly World That Shaped the Pio­neer­ing Come­di­an

Lenny Bruce: Hear the Per­for­mances That Got Him Arrest­ed (NSFW)

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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dis­cov­er the Appre­hen­sion Engine: Bri­an Eno Called It “the Most Ter­ri­fy­ing Musi­cal Instru­ment of All Time”

Behold the Sea Organ: The Mas­sive Exper­i­men­tal Musi­cal Instru­ment That Makes Music with the Sea

Sovi­et Inven­tor Léon Theremin Shows Off the Theremin, the Ear­ly Elec­tron­ic Instru­ment That Could Be Played With­out Being Touched (1954)

Hear a 9,000 Year Old Flute—the World’s Old­est Playable Instrument—Get Played Again

How the Moog Syn­the­siz­er Changed the Sound of Music

The Musi­cal Instru­ments in Hierony­mus Bosch’s The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights Get Brought to Life, and It Turns Out That They Sound “Painful” and “Hor­ri­ble”

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.

Why Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green (RIP) Was the Most Underrated Guitarist in British Blues

Debates about whether a gui­tarist is under­rat­ed often involve a lot of pos­tur­ing and need­less name-dropping—they don’t tend to go any­where, in oth­er words. This is not the case with Peter Green, founder and for­mer singer, song­writer, and gui­tarist for Fleet­wood Mac, who died this past week­end. He is, prob­a­bly most def­i­nite­ly, “the most under­rat­ed gui­tarist in British Blues,” argues the Hap­py Blues­man, or at least he became so in the last decades of his life.

Green expe­ri­enced a trag­ic end to his career with Fleet­wood Mac when his men­tal health declined pre­cip­i­tous­ly in 1970, and he was even­tu­al­ly diag­nosed with schiz­o­phre­nia. His leg­end lived long among musi­cians (and fans of the band who pre­ferred their ear­ly work), but Green more or less dis­ap­peared from pub­lic view, even after releas­ing a hand­ful of solo albums in a peri­od of recov­ery.

Fleet­wood Mac, the group he found­ed and car­ried to its first years of major star­dom became, of course, “a house­hold name, wide­ly rec­og­nized as one of the best soft rock bands ever for hits like ‘The Chain,’ ‘Go Your Own Way,’ and ‘Everywhere’”—songs Peter Green had noth­ing to do with, though he had the soft rock chops, as the melan­choly “Man of the World” beau­ti­ful­ly demon­strates. Hear him in some of his oth­er finest moments in the band, includ­ing a phe­nom­e­nal “Black Mag­ic Woman” at the top, before Car­los San­tana made the song his sig­na­ture.

The argu­ment for Green’s most under­rat­ed-ness as a blues gui­tarist is more than com­pelling, with endorse­ments from B.B. King—who said Green had “the sweet­est tone I ever heard”—and John May­all, who said he was bet­ter than Clap­ton when Green joined the Blues­break­ers at age 20. After found­ing Fleet­wood Mac, Green wrote “Black Mag­ic Woman,” sent a gui­tar instru­men­tal, “Alba­tross,” to the top of the British Charts in 1969 and, that same year, record­ed at Chess Records with, among oth­er blues leg­ends, Willie Dixon and Bud­dy Guy.

Was he the “best” British blues gui­tarist? He was “the only one who gave me the cold sweats,” King con­fessed, which sure is some­thing, even if you pre­fer Clap­ton or Jeff Beck. Is he the most under­rat­ed? Prob­a­bly most def­i­nite­ly. “With­in a few short years, Peter Green had achieved greater com­mer­cial suc­cess than two of the world’s most famous bands,” sell­ing more records in 1969 than “both The Rolling Stones and The Bea­t­les, com­bined.” Then he dis­ap­peared.

Green is receiv­ing the recog­ni­tion in death that elud­ed him in his last years, though fame nev­er seemed to tru­ly moti­vate him at any time in his life. Fel­low musi­cians have spared no superla­tives in online memo­ri­als, includ­ing Metallica’s Kirk Ham­mett, not known for going any­where near an ear­ly Fleet­wood Mac sound. But Green was a con­sum­mate musician’s musi­cian (he named his band after the rhythm sec­tion!), and he earned the respect of seri­ous rock artists and seri­ous blues artists and seri­ous met­al artists.

A long­time friend and admir­er, Ham­mett owns Green’s ’59 Gib­son Les Paul (nick­named “Gree­ny”). He recent­ly cov­ered Green’s last Fleet­wood Mac song—“The Green Man­al­ishi (With the Two Prong Crown)”—live onstage and was col­lab­o­rat­ing on new mate­r­i­al with his idol. “Our loss is total,” Ham­mett wrote in trib­ute, per­haps the most suc­cinct and dev­as­tat­ing trib­ute among so many. Fleet­wood Mac would nev­er have exist­ed with­out him. And his influ­ence on the British Blues and beyond goes even deep­er. See Green revis­it his love­ly “Man of the World” in a more recent per­for­mance, just below. He steps back from the fiery leads, play­ing sub­tle rhythm parts, but he still has the old mag­ic in his fin­gers.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Clas­sic Per­for­mances by Peter Green (RIP), Founder of Fleet­wood Mac & the Only British Blues Gui­tarist Who Gave B.B. King “the Cold Sweats”

How Fleet­wood Mac Makes A Song: A Video Essay Explor­ing the “Son­ic Paint­ings” on the Clas­sic Album, Rumours

The Thrill is Gone: See B.B. King Play in Two Elec­tric Live Per­for­mances

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

A Free Stanford Course on How to Teach Online: Watch the Lectures Online

Ear­li­er this month, Stan­ford’s Online High School offered (in part­ner­ship with Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies) a free, five-day course “Teach Your Class Online: The Essen­tials.” With many schools start­ing the next aca­d­e­m­ic year online, this course found a large audi­ence. 7,000 teach­ers signed up. Aimed at mid­dle and high school teach­ers, the course cov­ered “gen­er­al guide­lines for adapt­ing your course to an online for­mat, best prac­tices for var­ied sit­u­a­tions, com­mon pit­falls in online course design, and how to trou­bleshoot stu­dent issues online.”

The videos from “Teach Your Class Online: The Essen­tials” are all now avail­able online. You can watch them in sequen­tial order, mov­ing from top to bot­tom, here. Or watch them on this Stan­ford host­ed page. Day 1 (above) pro­vides a gen­er­al intro­duc­tion to teach­ing online. See top­ics cov­ered in Days 2–5 below.

Please feel free to share these videos with any teach­ers. And if any­one watch­es these lec­tures and takes good class notes (ones oth­er teach­ers can use), please let us know. We would be hap­py to help share them with oth­er teach­ers.

Final­ly, just to give you a lit­tle back­ground, Stan­ford’s Online High School has oper­at­ed as a ful­ly-online, inde­pen­dent, accred­it­ed high school since 2006. Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies pro­vides open enroll­ment cours­es to adults world­wide. All of its cours­es are cur­rent­ly online. For any­one inter­est­ed, Cours­era also offers a spe­cial­iza­tion (a series of five cours­es) on online learn­ing called the Vir­tu­al Teacher. It can be explored here.


Day 2

  • Get­ting Spe­cif­ic: Sit­u­a­tions and Tools
  • Sci­ence: Labs in Online Ped­a­gogy


Day 3

  • Online Class­room Exam­ple Clips
  • Build­ing and Main­tain­ing a Class­room


Day 4

  • Review of Sub­mit­ted Sam­ple Les­son Drafts
  • Trou­bleshoot­ing Obsta­cles to Suc­cess in the Online Envi­ron­ment


Day 5

  • Math: Using Writ­ing Tablets and White­boards
  • Mod­ern Lan­guages: Tips for High­ly Inter­ac­tive Class Dur­ing Which Stu­dents Active­ly Speak and Write in the Tar­get Lan­guage
  • Human­i­ties: Pro­duc­tive Class­room Con­ver­sa­tions About Chal­leng­ing Sub­jects
  • Clos­ing Thoughts


Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

How Schools Can Start Teach­ing Online in a Short Peri­od of Time: Free Tuto­ri­als from the Stan­ford Online High School

“I Will Sur­vive,” the Coro­n­avirus Ver­sion for Teach­ers Going Online

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.