Saturday, 26 September 2009

Trapped in an Elevator for 41 Hours.

"The longest smoke break of Nicholas White’s life began at around eleven o’clock on a Friday night in October, 1999. White, a thirty-four-year-old production manager at Business Week, working late on a special supplement, had just watched the Braves beat the Mets on a television in the office pantry. Now he wanted a cigarette. He told a colleague he’d be right back and, leaving behind his jacket, headed downstairs.

The magazine’s offices were on the forty-third floor of the McGraw-Hill Building, an unadorned tower added to Rockefeller Center in 1972. When White finished his cigarette, he returned to the lobby and, waved along by a janitor buffing the terrazzo floors, got into Car No. 30 and pressed the button marked 43. The car accelerated. It was an express elevator, with no stops below the thirty-ninth floor, and the building was deserted. But after a moment White felt a jolt. The lights went out and immediately flashed on again. And then the elevator stopped..."

New Yorker article

Friday, 18 September 2009

"Look who's here..."

"One famously shot dead a fellow gangster in an East End pub for a verbal sleight. The other knifed to death another gangland member at a party.
But it appears Ronnie and Reggie Kray also had a more sensitive side as landscape painters..."

Via The Daily Hate.

Stooky Bill

"...then suddenly, one day in 1925, success. John Logie Baird transmitted the first ever recognisable TV image across his attic workroom. The image was of his ventriloquist's dummy Stooky Bill. It was a great day for both of them.. The machine, the screen. The opaque, the transparent. Fact as fiction, fiction as fact. First TV, first interruption, first illusion. Dummy illusion, double illusion. The grand illusion, dummy TV..."
DH, LVA Catalogue, 1991.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Beebe and the Bathysphere

"What Beebe saw on that trip—and reported with such vividness—was a glowing world of creatures so astonishing that for decades many doubted his veracity. The clear sea stretched endlessly, and was so full of luminescence that it sparkled like the night sky.

Cavalcades of black shrimps, transparent eels, and bizarre fish approached the descending sphere, and when Beebe used his spotlight to see them, great shadows and shifting patches of light hovered just out of view, leading him to postulate the existence of giants in the Bermudan depths. And below the bathysphere? There, said Beebe, lay a world that "looked like the black pit-mouth of hell itself."

Where Wonders Await Us

Thursday, 10 September 2009

"If we hadn't been forced to split up, we would be more famous today than The Beatles."

"They became stars. A great variety of audiences found them irresistable, and the Comedian Harmonists were at home in theaters all over Europe. In 1934 they were a huge success in New York. They were popular on radio and in recordings. Including the legendary hit comedy Die drei von der Tankstelle, they appeared in as many as 13 films in the early days of the movie industry; unfortunately, none of their films have been found since the war.

But the picture-book career of the apolitical Comedian Harmonists did not survive the changing political climate in Germany. Their songs -- most were by Jewish composers -- were criticized by the Nazis as early as 1932, when they were not yet in power, as "Jewish-marxist noise." Indeed, three of the group -- Frommermann, Collin, and Cycowski -- were Jews. Cycowski's wife Mary had converted to Judaism, and Bootz's wife Ursula was Jewish. The popular, politically naive musicians ignored all the warning signs. But then in 1934 the unapproved Jewish members of the group were forbidden to perform, and the Comedian Harmonists were given Auftrittsverbot by the Reichskulturkammer. The Comedian Harmonists split up. They gave their last concert in Munich on March 25, 1934."
- Carol Traxler, Quarter Notes.