anniversary


September 11 | StoryCorps
I know I’m late with the 9/11 stuff but so what. I’ve mentioned StoryCorps before but I recently found out that they are working in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the Families of September 11 and 9/11 Forward, in Baldwin, NY to record stories from the families and friends of 9/11 victims. This is what memorials should be about: the individuals involved not the flags and speeches. If you can, listen to a few of the stories and remember. Have tissues handy – trust me.

If you can, give a little to StoryCorps – it’s a great organization.

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Exhibition Review – ‘One Life – The Mask of Lincoln’ – The Faces of Lincoln, as Revealed in Books and a New Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery – NYTimes.com

It’s been a while since I shamelessly plugged anything but I couldn’t resist today. This is a wonderfully positive review that mentions the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition called ONE LIFE: The Mask of Lincoln. It’s a small show but packed with great images of the man. 2009 is the year of Lincoln celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth so there is Lincoln stuff all over the country. Here is a quote from the article:

Two white plaster masks appear next to each other in a display case at the National Portrait Gallery here. One shows a middle-aged face with a firm, grim look — perhaps because the subject had to control his breathing as the sculptor waited for the substance to harden. The plaster eyes are scooped out, but you can glimpse the interior man in the subtle musculature of the jaw, the high cheekbones, the expansive, smooth brow. He is determined, vigorous and (we know) ambitious.

The other mask is of the same man’s face, about five years later. It seems more of a death mask than one taken from life. Those years — between 1860, when this man, Abraham Lincoln, was beginning his campaign for president of the United States, and February 1865, when he was just two months away from being murdered — seem to have carved the flesh from his cheeks, hollowed out the eye sockets more decisively than any sculptor’s thumb, and dug lines and pockets in aging, sallow flesh.

This modest exhibition of 30 images of Lincoln at the Portrait Gallery — “One Life: The Mask of Lincoln” — may turn out to be an understated highlight of Lincoln’s coming bicentennial year, which promises a full harvest of academic conferences, exhibitions, the reopening of Ford’s Theater and scores of new books, many offering revelations from freshly plumbed archives and analyses of figures major and minor. But the juxtaposition of these masks may remain one of the most potent, graphic images of the effects of the crucial years they frame.

If you are in DC (possibly to see the newly re-opened National Museum of American History), please visit the National Portrait Gallery and take in this lovely exhibition.

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Feb. 14, 1929: Al Capone’s .45 Caliber Valentine

1929: The art of the gangland slaying takes a quantum leap when mobsters working for Al Capone use the cutting-edge technology of the day — the Thompson submachine gun — to wipe out a rival gang in a garage on Chicago’s North Side.

The St. Valentine’s Day massacre wasn’t the first time a mobster used the Tommy gun in a rub-out, but the slaughter — seven men were killed — was unprecedented and therefore shocking, even by jaded Chicago standards.

Instead of the usual hearts and flowers, I thought this was an interesting Valentine’s anniversary.

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Smithsonian Institution Archives

“On 10 August 1846, the United
States Congress passed the legislation (9 Stat. 102) founding the
Smithsonian Institution as an establishment dedicated to the “increase
and diffusion of knowledge,” and President James K. Polk signed it into
law the same day. This legislation was the culmination of over a decade
of debate within the Congress and among the general public over an
unusual bequest. When the English chemist and mineralogist, James
Smithson, died in 1829, he left a will stating that if his nephew and
sole heir died without heirs, his estate should go to the United States
to found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution,
an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.

Page 1 of act organizing the Smithsonian InstitutionBy a vote of 26 to 13, the U.S. Senate passes the act organizing the Smithsonian Institution which is signed into law by President James K. Polk. Among its provisions, the Organic Act specifies: a Board of Regents, Chancellor, and Secretary; a “suitable” building with rooms for the “reception and arrangement” of objects of natural history, a chemical laboratory, a library, a gallery of art, and lecture rooms; the transfer to the Institution of all objects of art, natural history, etc., belonging to the United States in Washington; and the deposit in the Smithsonian of one copy of all publications copyrighted under the acts of Congress. The act stipulates that the original legacy of $515,169, plus interest accrued at the rate of 6% on loan to the U.S. Treasury, amounting to $242,129, shall be maintained as a trust fund, and all expenditures and appropriations must come from interest accrued in this fund.

I’m very proud that I work for the Smithsonian Institution. Despite the recent press about the former secretary, Larry Small, I hope the public realizes that the Smithsonian is a great place to visit, to work at and support financially (hint, hint).

Here are a few numbers about the world’s largest museum complex:

Museums 19

Affiliate Museums 144

Research Centers 9

Visitors (2006)
SI Museums 23.2 million
National Zoo 2.6 million
Affiliate museums 20.6 million
Traveling exhibitions 4.5 million
Website visitors 150.0 million

Collections
Objects, artworks and specimens more than 136 million

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Loving Decision: 40 Years of Legal Interracial Unions

Richard Loving with his arm around his wife, Mildred

NPR : Loving Decision: 40 Years of Legal Interracial Unions

I subscribe to the NPR Story of the Day podcast and today’s entry was about the Loving Decision when the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the country. The podcast covers not only the details around the Loving’s and their struggle but also interviews a young woman from Caroline County in Virginia (where the Lovings hailed from) and her comments about her own “mixed marriage”. This 13-minute piece is well worth the listen.

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Rolling Stone: Rock Daily » Blog Archive » Happy 40th Sgt. Pepper’s: Digging Through the RS Vaults

One of the best rock albums ever recorded. Lots of sites have commeorated the date but this one has a nice audio interview with Sir Paul about the weekend it was released and the general vibe of the time. Definitely worth checking out.

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