Time of Apollo
NTIS AVA03129VNB1, 1975
The program presents President Kennedy saying “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safety to earth” in 1961. Proves that Project Apollo has been successful. Click the download link to see film, or subscribe to my podcast on itunes.
On October 16, after an afternoon meeting at the White House with Booker T. Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt informally invited Washington to remain and eat dinner with him, making Washington the first black American to dine at the White House with the president. A furor arose over the social implications of Roosevelt’s casual act.
By Adam Phillips
© 2009 VOA
There were a great many great musical performers at the historic three day Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, whose 40th anniversary is being celebrated this August 14-16. But few are as etched into the public mind as singer-songwriter Richie Havens, whose rendition of “Freedom/Motherless Child” and others songs were featured in the Oscar-winning documentary about the legendary festival.
Richie Havens played his now-iconic medley end of the opening act before a crowd of between 300,000 and 500,000 music fans, hippies, counterculture activists and drug-soaked pleasure seekers. Havens was later followed onstage by superstars like Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Ravi Shankar, Santana, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Janis Joplin. That might also help explain why Havens’ long African-style tunic was soaked with sweat during his performance.
Havens recently told this reporter that he had already been onstage for nearly three hours when he played that song, which suddenly sprang to mind from his doo wop and gospel days back in Brooklyn. “To tell you the truth, I had sung … all the songs I knew, and I am going ‘What am I going to do now,’” he said. At the same time, Havens was deeply moved by the camaraderie and free-spiritedness and of the Woodstock audience.
“And in my mind I’m going ‘you know, this is the freedom that my generation is looking for,” he said. Havens was onstage for as long as he was because Woodstock producers were waiting for the other performers to arrive. The roads to the festival site were choked with cars backed up for over 100 kilometers in all directions. So Havens and the others had to be flown in by helicopter. Havens remembers hovering high above that city of youth massed in what days before had been a peaceful cow pasture, and being awed by the size and the power of the gathering.
“And when I looked down and I saw all those colors, I said to myself ‘If the newspapers get hold of this shot, we’ve won,’” he said. Woodstock was billed as entertainment, not politics. But as it swelled, the watching world was aware that the vision of peace, music and community it represented was a gentle protest against the previous generation’s way of life.
But music and rebellion were nothing new, says Havens. “We were protesting in the 1950s!” he said with s smile, and began to sing – in a perfect “doo wop” falsetto “No, no no! I’m not a juvenile delinquent!’” Those lyrics, to his ear, expressed the spirit of youthful protest too. “It was about being something our parents don’t understand you are. It’s [asserting] the freedom to have a voice!”
With escalating racial tensions and increasing public anger over the Vietnam War, the Sixties was a time filled with strident voices. But Havens says that for those three muddy days at Woodstock, politics and activism took a back seat to peace, love and cheerfully dealing with the rain and mud. “Many of the fans that I came in contact with, they were so mellowed out, you could feel there was real joy,” said Havens, who added that he was hugged “thousands and thousands” of times over the course of the event.
As August 1969 fades farther into the past, the Woodstock Festival continues to enjoy a near-mythic status, both for those who were there and for the millions who wish they’d been there. But many of the tens of millions more who’ve been born since, and who know only the music, the legend and the media hype, are still inspired by the free-spirited and communitarian values that Woodstock has come to symbolize.
“There was just such an open door [that] even the least of us could have a vision,” Havens said. “This is the challenge we have now: to open a lot of those doors.” For his part, Havens, now nearly 70, continues to express the Woodstock ethos with new songs like “The Key,” which is featured on his new album Nobody Left to Crown, Meanwhile, in a role he seems to relish, Havens will continue to act as a benign, bearded ambassador for the Woodstock state of mind.
A cool video remix of the classic hit TV movie SHAFT. This movie is open source. Subscribe to this itunes feed, or simply click the download link below.
A vintage RCA Victor commercial, advertising the latest of songs back then. Year of this clip is unknown. This is in the Public Domain. Subscribe from itunes, or click the download link below.
By Stasia DeMarco
© voa 2009
Philadelphia is known as the birthplace of the United States, the nation’s cradle of liberty. It began back in 1776 when the 13 American colonies announced their independence from the British Empire with their Declaration of Independence. And Philadelphians, along with other Americans, mark this day of freedom every July 4th. As the nation prepares for its 233rd birthday.
The first stop for many tourists to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is Independence Hall — the place where the founding fathers met to discuss and write the Declaration of Independence.
“People want to come to see the birthplace of the United States,” Bill Caughlin said. Caughlin is a ranger with the National Park Service. “This is it. It all starts right here (in Philadelphia). I think what attracts people the most is the fact that we are a nation that is founded on ideals, on equality and freedom. And I think that attracts a lot of people from around the world. They want to come and see that room where that Declaration of Independence came out of.”
And those ideals are memorialized not just in that declaration, but also elsewhere along Independence Mall. Actors dressed as key early American patriots — George Washington, Ben Franklin — add to the historic ambience, and talk to tourists. Famous relics and sites such as the Liberty Bell, Carpenters’ Hall, and the house where legends says seamstress Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag attract more than three million visitors to Philadelphia each year.
The Liberty Bell was rung on July 8th, 1776 to summon Philadelphians to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. In 1846, after a tiny crack expanded to the point that the bell could not be rung, it was removed from the Independence Hall tower and put on display. “It’s such a powerful symbol, really, I see that on a regular basis. The bell, by the time it did crack, was already an important relic from the time of independence,” Caughlin explains. “But also would become a symbol of freedom for people in the United States, pretty soon around the world.”
And more people from the United States and around the world visit Philadelphia for the 4th of July holiday than at any other time of the year.
“July 4th is our time to shine here!” Caughlin proudly proclaims.
For Barbie collectors, this year’s convention in Washington, D.C. was a must-attend event. The 1,200 tickets sold out a year in advance. Convention-goers entered their dolls in competitions, mingled with other collectors and shopped.
Ship wrecked Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) crawls ashore on a mysterious island and finds his way to a creepy castle inhabited by a Russian Count named Zaroff (Leslie Banks). There he meets the lovely Eve (Fay Wray) and her drunken brother Martin (Robert Armstrong), who were also ship wrecked. It turns out that the “Game” of the title is the mad Count hunting down and killing human prey. Subscribe to my itunes feed, or click the download below.
By Adam Phillips
© 2009 voa
From the mid-1930s until the early 1960s, jazz was one of the nation’s most popular styles of music. Rock ‘n’ roll and other genres ultimately eclipsed jazz’s mainstream appeal. But there is a place in New York City where one can still experience the spirit, the inventiveness and the community that was jazz in its heyday.
It was well past midnight one cool summer evening, but the jazz was hot as the noonday sun downstairs at Small’s, where the Dwayne Clemons Quintet held the stage. The hole-in-the-wall club in the heart of Greenwich Village is where many of the world’s greatest jazz musicians come to play.
“…You come down here and see that these guys are sincerely living on that creative energy, that spark,” said Small’s co-founder and guiding bohemian Mitchell Borden, while nodding in time to the music. “That spark is what keeps them going. When they dig deep and pull up something that is so beyond them, that’s jazz.”
Forging musical, magical connections
Nearby, Harry Whitaker, a jazz piano veteran, was sitting in his accustomed chair and taking in the music with half-shut eyes. He wistfully recalls when he came to New York from Detroit. The year was 1961, and New York was America’s jazz mecca. “I was in [the] Birdland [jazz club] every single night. I nearly killed myself,” he recalled with a laugh. “But there was music all over… and the music was so intelligent!”
Whitaker vividly remembers hearing now-legendary greats like John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins. “We learned from the masters!” he said. Whitaker is a strong advocate for the “give and take” between musicians that he says live jazz requires. “A lot of groups – and a lot of people – don’t listen to each other. They are just listening to what they’re doing.” In contrast, he added, when band members are “in sync,” they are “in the zone.” “If you are really connected to the other musicians, that’s what makes the music cohesive. That’s what creates this thing.”
Music that makes you think
Now in his 60s, Whitaker still performs with his quartet, which includes Stacy Dillard on the saxophone, Renee Marie Cruz on bass, and Brandon Lee Lewis on drums. All agree that the quality jazz one can hear at Small’s is far more than mere entertainment. “This music is celestial,” says Lewis. “It’s eternal. It’s like you just grab it in the air. It’s like you ‘re breathing it. That’s what’s so beautiful about it, and that’s why it’s so fun.”
Lewis, who is 28 years old, acknowledged that most people his age overwhelmingly prefer hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll and country music to jazz, but that he is “OK with that.” “Small’s is one of the few places in New York where it encourages people to get in touch with that part of their soul that causes them to think about things. And society in this day and age do not want anybody to think,” Lewis says. To him, jazz improvisation is like a shared code. “We’re actually talking. And this is a community place where somebody can get in touch with the community, for real!”
A community committed to authenticity
The jazz community at Small’s has made all the difference to Kyoko Oyobe, a promising young jazz composer and pianist from Japan who recorded her first CD – Cooking at Small’s – at the club. “It’s a special place for me. Everybody gathers like a family. That makes me feel warm,” said Oyobe, who lives in a tiny apartment upstairs and had just finished practicing on the club’s piano. Oyobe especially like the huge variety of musicians – from the famous to the unsung, from the foreign-born to local – who come to Small’s to play, to hang out, and to create music, both for audiences and for each other. “That makes [a] special vibe, a New York vibe, an American vibe and [a] human vibe!” added Oyobe happily.
In the opinion of Small’s co-owner Lee Kostrinsky, the club is one of the last vestiges of a more lively and interesting New York. He believes that corporate culture and mass media are sanitizing the Big Apple. “And it’s not going to happen on my watch!” Kostrinsky says there can be a certain coldness to New York, and that jazz that “brings things to life.” “It’s blue and it’s black and it’s white and it’s green. It’s all these colors, but it’s still under the gray fog rolling over the Brooklyn Bridge up to Harlem and back,” he says, adding, perhaps unnecessarily, “and I love it!”
Heartfelt notes Jazz fans love it, too. “This is the place to come,” said 19-year-old Brian, who had come with to the club with his wife Lisa to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. “Jazz all night,” swooned Lisa. “Oh, it’s perfect!” Both said they appreciated the friendliness of the Small’s staff and clientele. But it’s the music itself that keeps them coming back. “We listen to jazz all the time – at work and in the car…” said Lisa. “To us, it’s just music in its most natural form.” Natural, free flowing, urbane and democratic, jazz often has been called America’s classical music.
“In fact,” said Small’s founder Mitchell Borden, “jazz lies under everyone’s fingers. The piano has all the notes, true. But jazz comes from the heart. Go for it with all your glory! It has to be that way each and every time. Jazz symbolizes that attitude.” Small’s Jazz Club offers a live webcast of its performers, generally between 2330 UTC and 730 UTC the following morning at http://www.smallsjazzclub.com/index.cfm.