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ON TELEVISION Pop Culture

Movin’ On Up: New York City as depicted in the opening themes of 1970s TV shows

In honor of the 100th birthday of television icon Norman Lear (creator of All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times and many, many more) I’ve revised and re-edited this, yes, rather strange round-up originally published in 2013 about New York City and television intros and theme songs. Please play the TV themes as you… Read More

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At The Movies Pop Culture

At The Movies: Steve Post and the wild days of New York radio

In some ways the idea of freeform radio has been distilled into many aspects of American life — and I don’t mean by Spotify algorithms. There was a time when the radio waves were given over to captivating personalities: entertaining therapists, counter-culture jesters, opinionated loose cannons. With few exceptions, those roles today have been taken… Read More

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Food History Pop Culture

At The Movies: ‘The Automat’ and the glow of restaurant nostalgia

Any new film which features an interview with the always hilarious and candid comedy legend Mel Brooks should be seen and celebrated. Now add interviews with Carl Reiner, Colin Powell and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, three individuals who have since died since participating in said new film. What could possibly bring all of these fascinating people… Read More

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Film History Pop Culture

Watching ‘Mank’? Listen to these podcasts for more Hearst, Welles and 1930s America

The new David Fincher film Mank, a tribute to old Hollywood and an elegant inspection of the studio system, is one of the most lavish original Netflix films ever. California history buffs will find it especially fascinating. Some of the more interesting moments actually have to do with the gubernatorial campaign of Upton Sinclair. And… Read More

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Podcasts Pop Culture

Super City: The Secret Origin of Comic Books

PODCAST  A history of the comic book industry in New York City, how the energy and diversity of the city influenced the burgeoning medium in the 1930s and 40s and how New York’s history reflects out from the origins of its most popular characters. In the 1890s a newspaper rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and… Read More

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Pop Culture

The Bowery Boys at New York Comic Con: Talking the history of comics and the legacy of Jack Kirby

The Bowery Boys’ Greg Young, an aficionado of comic strip and comic book history, will be appearing at two events this week tied to New York Comic Con.  The first event on Monday is general admission in the East Village, so come on out to kick off the week. The second event is at NYCC… Read More

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Pop Culture

‘War Paint’ and ‘Indecent’: Two views of New York City history on Broadway

History has always been a critical component of theater, especially in musicals, where period sets and costumes assist in creating other worlds on stage quite unlike our normal one. But last year, with Hamilton: The Musical, the stage phenomenon which won the Tony Award for Best Musical (and a million other awards), history became a rock star. Or rather,… Read More

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Pop Culture

I Called Him Morgan: The Murder of a Jazz Star in wintry 1970s New York

It was during one of those terrible February nights — blizzard winds with the streets packed tight with snow — at a jazz club in the East Village named Slug’s Saloon, packed with people haloed in cigarette smoke, that a woman named Helen Morgan walked up to one of the performers, her common-law husband, a rising… Read More

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Pop Culture

Documentaries to see: The Witness, Tower, O.J. Made In America and more

A few weeks before they announce nominations for the Academy Awards, they release a ‘short list’ of films that are being considered for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Even if you don’t care about the Academy Awards — or the general self-congratulatory nature of Hollywood during this of year — the short list is an… Read More

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Pop Culture

Jackie and Loving: History on Film 2016

The end of the year usually means a higher quality selection at the movie theater– and more films based on historical events, a popular theme for those seeking glory on awards shows. It always seems each year’s batch accidentally gathers around a certain place or era.  Last year it was New York City history of the 1950s… Read More

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Pop Culture

Finding Magic In Old New York: The historic places of ‘Fantastic Beasts’

The article below contains spoilers involving locations used in the movie, but no specific plot spoilers that aren’t already revealed in the trailer. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, strictly a fantasy film of course, from the vivid mind of J.K. Rowling, is nonetheless the year’s best historical depiction of New York City.  This indulgence of… Read More

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Pop Culture

What ‘The Get Down’ Gets Right About the South Bronx in 1977

Photo-mechanical postcards were popular during the Gilded Age because they were photographs printed on thick card stock and enhanced with colored inks, turning reality into a Technicolor dreamscape well before the invention of color film. This also describes the film style of Baz Luhrmann, the Australian director known his flamboyant, indulgent visual technique, seen in Strictly… Read More

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Pop Culture

Florence Foster Jenkins: Six Historical Details From Meryl Streep’s Latest Film

NOTE: This discussion of the film ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ includes minor location spoilers but no specific plot spoilers that not already in the movie trailer.  Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York music philanthropist and society maven of exceeding generosity, was actually a rather fine musician. Unfortunately, her ability to play the instrument in which she excelled… Read More

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Pop Culture

Ghostbusters 2: Twenty-five historical details from the supreme slimy sequel

The Bowery Boys Obsessive Guides look very, very closely at a classic movie filmed in New York City, finding buried history, additional context and a few secrets within various scenes and plot points. Filled with film spoilers so read this after you’ve seen the movie — or use it to follow along as you watch… Read More

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Pop Culture

Ghostbusters 2: Twenty-five historical details from the supreme slimy sequel

The Bowery Boys Obsessive Guides look very, very closely at a classic movie filmed in New York City, finding buried history, additional context and a few secrets within various scenes and plot points. Filled with film spoilers so read this after you’ve seen the movie — or use it to follow along as you watch… Read More