Small’s “Old School” Jazz Club in the Village

From the mid- 1930s until the early 1960s, jazz was one of the nation’s most popular styles of music. Rock and 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. “Small’s” showcase talent, verve, community for jazz musicians and appreciators alike.

Posted in Music, New York

“Black Gotham” 19th Century African American New York

While many Americans are familiar with black slavery in the South, and its role in igniting one of the 19th century’s most brutal wars, less attention has been paid to the black experience in Northern cities like New York where many ex-slaves and “freedmen” lived.  A new book, Black Gotham by Carla Peterson, sheds some light on their story.

Posted in Americana, History, New York

Greenwich Village Chess Culture

It may have been even more true in the beatnik era, but chess continues to be the national sport of Greenwich Village.  This is a feature about one of the last remaining late night chess parlors in the city, and its habitues.

Posted in Americana, New York Tags: , , , , ,

The American Search for Spirituality

Americans are searches, pioneers, restless, and often lonely for spiritual refreshment and a path.  This 20 minute mini-doc explores some various faces of these urges.

Posted in Americana, Long form docs (15" and up), Religion, Spirituality

Carl Jung’s “Red Book”

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung created the psychological theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious. He advocated the scientific exploration of dreams, mythology, religion and art to understand the mind. Yet, unknown to millions of the people who have followed Jung’s work over the decades, Jung developed most of those ideas during a period of intense crisis and creativity between 1913 and 1918. He chronicled that voyage of self-discovery through words and images in what he called “The Red Book.”

Posted in Religion, Science, Spirituality Tags: , , , , , ,

The Loopy English Art of Changeringing

The English are one of the most endearingly eccentric group of people in earth.  This story, which I collected in Country Somerset, looks at changeringing, a world that combines math, music, churchgoing, village fellowship and the elusive “other dimension.” Lots of fun! NPR

Posted in Immigrants and Ethnic Life, Music, Travel outside the USA Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Freedom Riders

The American South was a segregated society 50 years ago. In 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in restaurants and bus terminals serving interstate travel, but African-Americans who tried to sit in the “whites only” section risked injury or even death at the hands of white mobs. In May of 1961, groups of black and white civil rights activists set out together to change all that. The “Freedom Riders,” An integrated group of young civil rights activists, decided to confront the racist practices in the Deep South by travelling together by bus from Washington D.C. to New Orleans, Louisiana.  This is a brief look at what happened.

Posted in Americana, History Tags: , , , , ,

Coney Island Sideshow School

We all love the bizarre, or are at least sufficiently intrigued by the sigh and sound of people eating light bulbs  and hammering spikes up their nose to pay good lucre to see it done.  Meet Todd Robbins, the man who teaches other people some of the tricks of this ancient trade at his Sideshow School in Coney Island.

Posted in Americana

The Spiritual Music of Hawaii

Even given its colonial past and present day kitsch, Hawaii remains both an earthly paradise and a place of natural numinous power.  This is evident in its variety of spiritual musical idioms. Here is a taste of some of them,culled from a Smithsonian Festival a few years back.  Aloha!

Posted in Americana, Arts, History, Immigrants and Ethnic Life, Music, Religion, Spirituality

Profile: Jules Feiffer

From his “Sick, Sick, Sick” book to the Village Voice, the Phantom Tollbooth, biting political satire  and beyond, Jules Feiffer is known for his beautiful simple lines that bring often neurotic characters to life in both funny and heartbreakingly human ways. Here we get a taste of this American treasure in his own words, and learn just who that dancer girl is/was in real life.  (I know I certainly had a crush on her, and I’m sure I was not alone.)

Posted in Americana, Arts, New York, Profile
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