Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year Wishes Inspired by Saul Steinberg

A wonderful, beautiful, peaceful, inspirational, joyous, bright, and happy New Year! Felix sit annus novus, felice anno nuovo, ein glückliches neues Jahr, bonne année, akemashite omedetou gozaimasu, onnellista uutta vuotta, gelukkig nieuwjaar, ...

- Mask series by Saul Steinberg and Inge Morath: related posting
- photograph by Paperwalker, collage material (cat, mask design) by Saul Steinberg, the great

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Lady Santa would get lost in the sky but be better at cooking

Elle UK started the #MoreWomen campaign and made headlines when it released a 45-second video that showed what photographs we see every day would look like if men were photoshopped out (watch). Part of the #MoreWomen initiative is a lovely clip showing British children's answers to the question whether a female Santa Claus could get the job of toy delivering done. Mother Christmas would get a headache, would get lost in the sky, wouldn't have the strength to carry the presents and if she had a baby, the baby would crush all the toys during delivery. It is interesting to see how narratives are internalised and how early we start finding it challenging to view a woman in a position of "toy-delivering power" (via and via).

::: Here it is... A couple of children are asked if a female Santa could do the job: WATCH
::: And here another hilarious one: Jimmy Kimmel asks children if a woman can become president: WATCH

Happy holidays!

photograph by Susan Meiselas (NYC, 1977) via and of Sophia Loren via and via and via

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Women and their hormones

“I was asked this morning on Fox News whether a woman’s hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office."
Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO

According to a recent survey (n = 2.000 from across the UK) carried out by Expert Market, more than half of people (54%) believe that women's behaviour at work is dictated by their hormones. Most of the people also think that gender bias is a myth, do not believe in the gender pay gap (63%), and say that they have never experienced discrimination against women (86%) (via).

“The survey essentially shows that most people do not think there is much discrimination going on, but conflictingly, they do believe in damaging stereotypes such as that the women they work with make decisions due to their hormones. It might appear harmless enough to say these things, but when these same people are making hiring and firing decisions you have to believe it might impact who they select for a role or how they interact with their colleagues.”
Grace Garland

Women being dictated by their hormones is a wide spread myth. This year, a female businesswoman in Texas said Hillary Clinton should not be president because her hormones may make her so irrational she will start an unnecessary war. Time magazine declared Hillary Clinton the perfect age to be president ... because she is a postmenopausal woman who is biologically primed to lead (via).

"We're built differently, we have different hormones. In the world that we live in, I understand that there's equal rights and that's a wonderful thing and I support all of that. I don't support a woman being president."
Cheryl Rios, CEO of Go Ape Marketing

I can only come to the conclusion that I should have listened to feminist current:

"Ladies, have I got a protip for you! Do not Google any topic that includes the words female, leadership, and hormones. Don’t do it because you will see pages and pages of articles like this and this and this, leading you to assault your own computer, and repairs will be expensive. Also, “hormones” will be blamed for the tech-assault."

::: Arnie taking a ballet lesson from Marianne Claire in October 1976: WATCH

photographs of Arnold Schwarzenegger (1976) via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ella & Marilyn

"I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him - and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status - that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it."
Ella Fitzgerald

In 1955, Marilyn Monroe approached Charlie Morrison, the owner of the Mocambo (1941-1958), a nightclub in West Hollywood frequented by celebrities (such as Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, Charly Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Marlene Dietrich, and many others), when she discovered that Ella Fitzgerald was not allowed to play in her (Monroe's) favourite nightclub. She promised him to attend every performance seated at the front table if he let Fitzgerald play. Morrison agreed, Monroe sat in the front row, and Fitzgerald never again had to play in a small, second-rate jazz club (via).

Marilyn Monroe, however, also seemed to owe something to Ella Fitzgerald. When jazz pianist and composer Hal Schaefer was hired as Monroe's vocal coach he told her to listen to Ella Fitzgerald. She became a fan of hers and the two became friends (via).

“In the very beginning, I told her to buy Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of Gershwin songs. And I ordered her to listen to it a hundred times.” “She wasn’t really into jazz when she came to me. But I told her: ‘Look, I’m going to be your guide. This is where we have to start: listening to the best female singer there is.’ ”
Hal Schaefer

Ella Fitzgerald YouTube Selection:

- It don't mean a thing (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
- This girl in love with you (1969): WATCH/LISTEN
- Hey Jude (1969): WATCH/LISTEN
- Girl from Ipanema (1965): WATCH/LISTEN
- Hard Day's Night (1965): WATCH/LISTEN

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photographs via and via and via and via

Monday, 14 December 2015

Quoting Marilyn Monroe

"What I really want to say: That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers."
Marilyn Monroe

photograph of Marilyn Monroe in her Cadillac (1954) via

Thursday, 10 December 2015

He needs a tiger in the road. She needs to scoot to the supermarket.

HE wanted a Fiat Spider, SHE wanted a Fiat "600"
THEY got them both (...and saved a garageful of money!)

HE wanted a Fiat Spider...
The FIAT 1200 SPIDER is all the car a man could want. A tiger in the road. Stunning Italian styling by Pinin Farina. Careful Italian craftsmanship in every detail. A humming 1221 cc. engine that delivers plenty of zip and about 27 miles a gallon. Roll-up windows, plenty of legroom, tuck-away soft top and optimal hard top too, if you want it. Best of all, a price tag that lets you drive it instead of dream about it - only $2596. (And it's the only car also available with the winging new version of a famous 1.5 liter racing engine! WHOOSH!)

SHE wanted a Fiat 600...
The FIAT 600 is everyone's ideal car, perfect for scooting to the supermarket, dropping the kids off at school, or taking the whole family to grandma's for the weekend. It parks in spaces that don't look big enough for a bike. Delivers about 40 miles a gallon. Includes almost $300 worth of accessories at no extra charge. And costs only $1398 - about $200 less than the leading French and German imports.

SPIDER or 600, a FIAT will keep your family happy. Your budget, too. Try either one tomorrow. Better yet, try both.

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image of Fiat advertisement (1961) via

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A powerful and powered tape recorder for him, a fine and warm furniture for her

1966, when marketing was "bilingual" and used to speak with two tongues when selling the same product to men and women...

The first "his" 'n hers" tape recorder... new from WOLLENSAK!

his: This 84-inch wide Wollensak is every inch the man's Tape Recorder. Four powerful matched speakers provide true stereo separation of sound. Solid-state components ensure dependability, instant response. Control Central groups all controls within a handspan. AM-FM stereo tuner and tape storage cabinet. More: twin VU meters, calibrated dials, finger-contoured powered push buttons, self-threading reels.

hers: This is a fine furniture - warm and glowing. Fine walnut cabinetry. Speakers faced with textured fabric. Metal surfaces and trim in muted gold tones. Enhances the decor on wall or in bookcase. Matching walnut sliding doors. AM-FM stereo tuner and storage cabinet optional. Model S800 shown, $299.95, Model S300 $279.95.

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image of Wollensak advertisement (1966) via

Sunday, 6 December 2015

New York: The most linguistically diverse city

New York City, the "melting pot", is a culturally diverse metropolis with a population "defined by a long history of international immigration". Currently, about 36% of its population are foreign-born (via).

New York City is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel, to the largest African American community of any US-American city, and the largest community of overseas Chinese (with six Chinatowns). Queens - the only large county in the U.S. where the median income among black households has surpassed that of whites - is the most diverse borough (via).

About 800 languages are spoken in New York, the most linguistically rich city in the world (via). Just 51% of New Yorkers speak only English at home. The languages of the other 49% span the globe with a majority of Spanish (and Spanish Creole) speakers (25%). There are also 85.000 Yiddish speakers (via). Over the last 30 years, the number of people speaking a language other than English at home increased by 140% with at least 303 languages. Different languages are part of everyday life: In the underground, information signs warning passengers to avoid electrified rails are written in seven languages.
New York is the city where many languages live but it is also said to be a place where languages will die turning the city into a "graveyard for languages". According to UNESCO estimations, half of the world's 6.500 languages are critically endangered. These languages are not necessarily spoken in remote valleys or highlands, "languages can die on the 26th floor of skyscrapers too". Daniel Kaufman, Juliette Blevins and Bob Holman set up the "Endangered Language Alliance" aiming to promote research on endangered languages in New York City and their conservation.
"There are these communities that are completely gone in their homeland. One of them, the Gottscheers, is a community of Germanic people who were living in Slovenia, and they were isolated from the rest of the Germanic populations. They were surrounded by Slavic speakers for several hundreds of years so they really have their own variety [of language] which is now unintelligible to other German speakers." Daniel Kaufman
The last speakers of this language happened to end up in Queens. Often, as people transition from one mother tongue into another, languages die (via). Some of the vulnerable languages are Aramaic, Chaldic, Mandaic, Bukhari, Irish Gaelic, Kashubian, Rhaeto-Romanic, Romany, Yiddish, and indigenous Mexican languages. There are, for instance, several hundred native speakers of Istro-Romanian, classified as severely endangered by UNESCO, living in Queens who probably outnumber those in Istria (via).

“It is the capital of language density in the world. We’re sitting in an endangerment hot spot where we are surrounded by languages that are not going to be around even in 20 or 30 years.”
Daniel Kaufman

“Do I worry that our culture is getting lost? As I get older, I’m thinking more about stuff like that. Most of the older people die away and the language dies with them.” (via)

"The idea was to deal with personalities and types. With the recognition of the passersby that they have been recognized. The face is a map of the person, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, 'Only fools look beneath the surface. It’s all there to be read.'" Charles H. Traub
Charles H. Traub worked on his street photography collection "Lunch Time" from 1977 to 1980. He took about 400 photographs of "ordinary" people in New York City, Chicago, Florida and some European cities. In fact, when Jackie Kennedy Onassies stopped and asked him to be photographed he turned her down since he was not interested in celebrities (via).

photographs by Charles H. Traub via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Friday, 4 December 2015

Bubbles & Diversity

"When there is more ethnic diversity among traders, there is a greater chance that traders will think more critically, have less of a tendency to take their assumptions for granted and thus price assets more accurately and avoid bubbles." According to Apfelbaum et al.'s study, homogeneousity in the stock market creates blind spots. The researchers ran two experiments, one in Texas, one in Singapore. Participants were put in simulated markets and told to earn money by pricing stocks accurately. In both locations, there was an ethnicially homogeneous group and a diverse one; participants were told if they were part of a homogeneous or a diverse team. Results show that traders in the diverse group did a 58% better job at pricing assets while in the ethnically homogeneous group there was a tendency to cause price bubbles by overvaluing assets. “The simple presence of people who are different and thus may have different assumptions and knowledge makes everyone in the group act differently” (via).

photograph by Izis Bidermanas (1911-1980), taken in 1950 via

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Narrative images: Charles Thompson goes to school

Richard Stacks, award winning Baltimore Sun photographer, took one of his finest photographs in September 1954, less than four months after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision to rule that segregation based on skin tone was unconstitutional. Public schools in Baltimore opened with black and white students in the same classrooms. The iconic photograph shows Charles Thompson, the only black child in school, greeting his new classmates at Public School No. 27 (via).

"Race controls much of Americans' lives, and yet we understand race poorly. Most of us, at best, can talk superficially about race. We can use the words white and black or African American, we may count numbers of whites and blacks living or working or attending school together, but we have great trouble knowing just what we think about race that has led us to conduct lives largely governed by skin color. We may be aware of anxiety, guilt, shame, or anger encountering others defined as racially different, but we have hidden from ourselves the assumptions about morality, sexuality, and aggression that shaped and maintain racial identities. So long as these emotional premises remain unconscious and unavailable for discussion, some of us will continue to benefit at others' expense, and all will suffer." (Baum, 2010:4)
"Desegregation would reorder race relations. By diminishing physical, social, and emotional distance between the races, it would alter white identity. Blacks would assert their individual rights to attend desegregated schools. Using the same language of rights, whites would assert their choice to attend segregated schools. These claims conflicted and, expressed in terms of rights, could not be reconciled. Confronted with this procedural impasse, school boards could acknowledge the conflicts between rights and seek Solomonic wisdom to divide them. Alternatively, they could try to articulate a collective school districtwide identity of which black and white both were part and on the basis of which they would have to find a place together. The emotional obstacle to both approaches, as boards knew, was whites' anxiety about blacks. The intellectual obstacle to the second approach, as boards might discover, was that liberalism gave them little to work with. It was hard to formulate a collective identity that did not seem to infringe on individual rights." (Baum, 2010:16)
Today, decades after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation based on skin tone unconstitutional, diversity is not guaranteed. According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, in Maryland's schools, 10% of the schools have a high percentage (over 75%) of black students, almost all of them are in Baltimore City and Prince George's County. Maryland has the fifth-largest percentage of black enrollment in the U.S. Baltimore County has 23 nearly all-white schools and two schools that are considered "apartheid" schools as they have a white population of less than 1%. The fact that students do better in diverse settings is confirmed by research findings (via).
"Although most of Baltimore’s schools were not integrated until after the 1954 Brown decision, the efforts to start desegregation in Baltimore began in 1952 at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. The all-white high school offered an advanced college preparatory curriculum that was not available at the all-black high schools in Baltimore at the time. With assistance from Thurgood Marshall, 16 black male students petitioned the school board to attend the all-white school. By a vote of five to three, the school board approved the black students’ petition, and they were allowed to enroll at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute the following school year.
Within less than a month after the Brown decision, Baltimore City Public Schools was one of the first school districts in the country to end de jure segregation, and the district adopted a freedom of choice plan that ignored race and allowed any student to attend any school." (Ayscue, 2013:5f)

Stacks had no formal training as a photographer, started taking pictures of sporting events and dances when he was at City College, was hired at The Sun in 1951 and began shooting for the Sun Magazine in 1955 - the year he won Honorable Mention Photographer of the Year in a contest sponsored by the National Press Photographers Association. Stacks used to describe himself as part pictorialist and photojournalist (via).

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- Ayscue, J., Flaxman, G., Kucsera, J. & Siegel-Hawley, G. (2013) Settle for Segregation or Strive for Diversity? A Defining Moment for Maryland's Public Schools. The Civil Rights Project
- Baum, H. S. (2010) Brown in Baltimore. School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism. Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press
- photographs via and via, Dick Stacks Photographer/Baltimore City Library

Monday, 30 November 2015

Stereotypes of East, West, South, and North London

"The language people use about places provides a valuable insight into this personal experience and the image may be studied through their descriptions. It is through these descriptions of places that stereotypes have the greatest potential for development. Stereotypes have been recognized as an important element in urban and regional perception (...)."
Jacquelin A. Burgess (1974)

According to a survey among 1294 Londoners carried out by YouGov in January 2014, each of the four London sub-regions has a distinct "brand". People were presented a list of adjectives and asked which of the four areas they associated with the adjectives (and stereotypes).The map based on the adjectives visualises the tendency to describe the regions mostly in a contrasting manner: the posh West, the poor East, the intellectual North, the rough South (via).

The "intellectual North" is associated with adjectives such as "cosmopolitan, suburban, rough, family friendly, and trendy", the "rough South" with "suburban, poor, cosmopolitan, up and coming, family friendly and gritty". The contrast between East and West is the most distinct one with the "poor East" being associated with "rough, dirty, gritty, up and coming, and cosmoplitan" and the "posh West" described as "cosmopolitan, suburban, trendy, pretentious, cultured and family friendly" (via). As Burgess (1974) says, stereotypes are an important element in urban perception. And, they emphasise differences.

Trent Gillaspie posted his "Judgmental Denver Map" on Facebook in January 2013. Since then, a great many stereotyped, opinionated, biased maps (among them London) have been submitted, some of them causing a lot of irritation. His motto: "As long as you offend everyone you possibly can, it ends up making it OK." (via). Interesting philosophy.

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- Burgess, J. A. (1974). Stereotypes and urban images. Area, 6(3), 167-171.
- photographs of London (one and two taken in Carnaby Street) via and via and via

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Londinium, the multicultural metropolis

London - founded by the Romans, conquered by the Saxons and Normans, developed as a commercial centre by Italian, Flemish, and Baltic traders - is a multicultural metropolis, a truly international city with 100 different languages spoken in almost each of its boroughs (via). In the past, immigration brought new life styles, foods, music, ... The mix of different cultures is not new, "London always was a city of foreigners" who become an essential part of British culture. In fact, for "much of its history the percentage of Londoners born outside the capital was actually far higher than today" (via); 37% of its current population is foreign-born (via).

According to the 1981 census, for instance, more than one in six were born outside the UK (mainly in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean). This characteristic of London, however, did not start in the 1980s but much earlier. In his book "A City Full of People", historian Peter Earle states that around 1700, "a clear majority of Londoners had not been born in the capital" but in France, Spain, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Germany, Southern Europe, ... Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and in other parts of England (at the time, people from Cornwall, for instance, were perceived as "foreigners"). About 150 years later, under Queen Victoria, London was still a multicultural city. In the 1840s alone, 50.000 people arrived from Ireland fleeing the famine and by 1850, London's Jewish population had increased to ca. 20.000 leaping to 120.000 in the following fifty years. By 1800, there were several thousand Africans living in London and more and more people from South East Asia settled in the city (via).

Even in its early Roman days Londoners were "just as cosmopolitan and diverse" as they are today. According to new DNA findings, gladiators in London circa 50 A.D. may have come from North Africa and different parts of Europe. The cosmopolitan nature of ancient London may have drawn on people from all over the Roman Empire and it seems that London "hasn't changed all that much in character" (via).
"But the findings serve as a reminder that the past often looked very, very different from the all-white panoramas built in the years since. Especially somewhere like London, a crossroads from its very beginning." (via)

"And so today's fears of a multicultural capital are myopic, because that is exactly what London always was, during the centuries of greatness when it became the top city in the world." (via)

- interesting: The ethnic population of England and Wales broken down by local authorities, The Guardian, 2011, link
- all photographs of London by Inge Morath (1923-2002) via, copyright The Inge Morath Foundation - Magnum Photos, courtesy 'Clair Gallery, last photograph by Inge Morath (street corner at World's End, 1954) via; fog photograph taken in 1954, all the others in 1953

Friday, 27 November 2015

Princeton's First Female Students

"For much of its history, Princeton University had the reputation of being an 'old-boys' school.' Starting in the fall of 1969, Princeton became co-educational, and eight women transfer students graduated in June 1970, with slightly greater numbers graduating in the two subsequent years. Women who matriculated as freshmen in 1969 graduated in the Class of 1973, the first undergraduate class that included women for all four undergraduate years. However, the first steps towards co-education came as early as 1887, with the founding of Evelyn College. From its inception, this women's institution was associated with Princeton University, and it was hoped that the link would be similar to the Radcliffe and Harvard University relationship. Unfortunately, Evelyn College closed in 1897, due to financial problems and a lack of support from Princeton."

"For the next half-century, women instead made their presence known in unofficial positions. Wives and daughters of Princeton faculty and administrators succeeded in exerting significant influence on campus life as advocates for students as well as assistants in research."

"Women were also important forces in the academic world. Margaret Farrand Thorp, wife of English professor, Willard Thorp, often assisted with her husband's research while simultaneously producing her own independent work. Fittingly, she wrote a book entitled Female Persuasion: Six Strong-Minded Women, which was published in 1949. Speaking of her lot as a female at Princeton, Thorp once quipped, 'We who practice the pleasant profession of faculty wife are often amused by Princeton University's apparent hostility to the feminine sex. Hostility is probably too strong a word. The situation is, rather, that for the University, the feminine sex does not exist'".

Female scholars were overlooked until 1942 when a female visiting research associate came to the physics department; in 1943 five more women arrived, and in 1948 the first woman was awarded "faculty status with the rank of Associate Professor". At the same time, female students began to gradually filter into Princeton's university system. After years of sitting in on classes informally, wives and daughters of Princeton faculty and administrators could finally officially enrol in courses. During WWII, 23 women were allowed to take a government-sponsored course in photogrammetry, in 1947, three female members of the library staff enrolled in a class on Russian. In 1961, the first woman was enrolled as a full-time degree candidate. Her letter of acceptance, by the way, started with "Dear Sir". In 1962, eight more women enrolled in graduate programmes and in 1964, the first woman received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Princeton. In 1963, the first full-time undergraduate female students were admitted - full-time students who were not eligible for a Princeton degree.

In its report from January 1969, the committee noted that “the presence of talented young women at Princeton would enhance the total educational experience and contribute to a better balanced social and intellectual life,” as well as “sustain Princeton's ability to attract outstanding students". In September 1969, finally, the first coeducational class started and 101 female fresh"man" and 70 female transfer students joined Princeton (via Princeton University Library).

photographs by Alfred Eisenstaedt via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via