Monday, November 17, 2008

the association of moving image archivists rocks the house

i attended their annual conference this weekend in Savannah, Georgia, and, just as i expected, i emerged totally smitten. i have never emerged smitten from a history conference-- and i've been to MANY of those! but AMIA is a really awesome group of folks doing pretty fantastic work, and also i have long had a fetish for moving image archiving.


well, this is really a lowlight: my flight got cancelled on thursday night, so i was rebooked on a flight out on friday morning, and then there was more mishigos friday morning and anyway long and short, i missed all of thursday and all of friday's panels. alas! but i did get to go to the Archival Screenings on Friday night, which was fantastic. Among other things, there i got to see recently restored versions of

--an episode of "Firing Ling from 1968, featuring a priceless one-on-one interview in which William F. Buckley attempts to interview Alan Ginsberg. At one point, in response to a question that Buckley asks, Alan Ginsberg takes out his harmonium and sings "hare krishna" to a nervous, smiley, totally freaked out Buckley. omg.

--a 16mm film called "Roaches" or something like that, from the 1970s that's in the NYPL archival collections, in which three New Yorkers talk about and demonstrate their strategies for killing the roaches that live in their kitchens. hilarious and cathartic.

--a segment from WGTV, the University of Georgia's TV station, from 1965, featuring a performance/presentation by the folksinger Jimmy Driftwood (who i'd never heard of before but of whom i am now a very avid fan). highlights: Jimmy playing the "mouth harp," a giant bow-and-arrow type bow that gets held up to your mouth as you play it; shots of delighted UGA students seated in a large lecture hall; and shots of the ginormous television camera shooting from behind Jimmy.)

--an experimental film commissioned by Sears in 1968, meant to advertise Sears clothing. Psychadelic colors, fluid dancing, multiple images-- as if you were doing acid and then rushing off to buy clothes as Sears.

this is getting really long so i'll just note 2 digital resources i found out about at the conference, for now, and write about some of the other things later:

--i found about about this wonderful digital archive that's been produced by a collaborative team at the University of Georgia, called the Civil Rights Digital Library. It features a lot of material including moving images, available online, from local Civil Rights struggles around Georgia. Not the standard kind wherein Dr. King stands behind a podium. Unusual stuff. Plus lesson ideas and contextual information. A REALLY RICH and wonderful resource-- for teachers, for instance. Check it out here.

--i have now viewed "A Fair(y) Use Tale"-- and i encourage you to view it too. it explains Fair Use and launches a critique of US copyright law via, exclusively, clips from Walt Disney films. Voila:

Monday, November 10, 2008

this thing that's bothering me

i danced and sang and shouted in the streets in brooklyn on tuesday night and hugged total strangers and felt elation and incredulous joy. i knew it wouldn't last, but i also knew it felt right to celebrate wildly.

and now, almost a week later, i'm starting to feel annoyed by this one thing the commentators have been saying a LOT: that this couldn't happen in any other country on earth.

see, for instance, this otherwise genius day-after-the-election conversation between jon stewart and chris wallace.

and notice: it wasn't just chris wallace saying it: jon stewart agrees.

i'm not going to go point by point and country by country and talk about why this is incorrect, i'm just going to say two words, in capital letters: SOUTH AFRICA. a country that did something far more unprecedented, quite a number of years ago. HOW COME NO ONE IS SAYING THAT. i hate this crappy american exceptionalism. its harshing my mellow, majorly.