Tag Archives: Pop Culture History

Oz and Bedford Falls: Upstate NY’s American Icons


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Upstate New York has bequeathed to the American culture two iconic towns, neither of which exist in the real world. Bedford Falls from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life is based on the village of Seneca Falls…or so claim the people of Seneca Falls! Oz of the Wizard of Oz book series and one memorable movie also derives its origin from the exact same area – author Frank Baum was spurred on by his living in Fayetteville in what is now the Gage Home. Continue reading

The Great Bare: The Celebrity of Adah Menken


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Adah Menken, dubbed “The Great Bare” by writer/admirer Mark Twain, was the first media celebrity, who was known around the world as “The Naked Lady” because her stage show featured her nude (in a sheer body stocking).

Her star power inspired poets like Walt Whitman and writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used Menken as the basis for the classic Sherlock Holmes supporting character of Irene Adler. Her popularity was fueled by a new advent of the period, mass circulation newspapers.

Their reporters couldn’t wait to write about her latest adventure, according to biographers Michael and Barbara Foster, who call her the originator of the modern celebrity femme fatale.

In a century remembered for Victorian restraint, Menken’s modern flair for action, scandal, and unpopular causes – especially that of the Jewish people – revolutionized show business. On stage, she was the first actress to bare all. Off stage, she originated the front-page scandal and became the world’s most highly paid actress—celebrated on Broadway, as well as in San Francisco, London, and Paris. At thirty-three, she mysteriously died.

“Menken was an original who pioneered in several areas we now take for granted,” said the Fosters, authors of the newly published A Dangerous Woman: The Life, Loves and Scandals of Adah Isaacs Menken, 1835 – 1868 (Lyons Press, 2012). “Adah invented ‘stardom’ in the modern, media-driven sense, making use of the newly invented newspaper, the telegraph, photography, railroads and steamships to become the first global superstar — number one on Broadway, the rage of gold rush San Francisco, the toast of Victorian London and Paris. Onstage, Adah risked her life every evening in the Civil War sensation Mazeppa, in which apparently stripped naked she rode up a four-story stage mountain tied to a stallion. The mix of sexuality and danger made her the Civil War siren, the highest paid actress in the world, and caused her death at 33.”

Moreover, it wasn’t that Adah did these things to garner attention or as cheap publicity stunts. The Fosters believe that “Swimming Against the Current”–an essay she wrote in defense of Walt Whitman–was an essential part of her personality. There was nothing contrived about her.

A Dangerous Woman is the first book to tell Menken’s fascinating story. Born in New Orleans to a “kept woman of color” and to a father whose identity is debated, Menken eventually moved to the Midwest, where she became an outspoken protégé of the rabbi who founded Reform Judaism. In New York City, she became Walt Whitman’s disciple. During the Civil War she was arrested as a Confederate agent—and became America’s first pin-up superstar. Menken married and left five husbands.

Michael Foster is a historian, novelist and biographer. A Dangerous Woman is his fifth book. Barbara Foster is an associate professor of women’s studies at City University of New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Nick Pavlik: A New Face for the Associated Press


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Recently, the Associated Press (AP), one of the world’s most respected news agencies, unveiled its brand new logo (proudly displayed on its official website), retiring its previous logo of 31 years. To help usher in the AP’s new look and its accompanying visual identity system, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York held its latest monthly programming event at the AP Corporate Archives. The event was attended by an impressive turnout and explored the development, design, and promotion of the AP’s new logo.

Featured speakers included Francesca Pitaro, AP Processing Archivist; Matt Cluney, AP Director of Marketing, Americas; and David Jalbert-Gagnier, principal of the design firm Objective Subject.

Ms. Pitaro spoke on the organization of the AP Publications Collection in the Corporate Archives, as well as how the historical graphic art contained in the collection provided invaluable context for the development and design of the new logo. Mr. Cluney spoke on the collaborative ventures between the AP Marketing and Creative Services teams for publicly marketing the new logo, while Mr. Jalbert-Gagnier expounded upon the creative and historical process of producing the AP’s new logo design and associated visual identity assets.

Presentations were followed by a viewing of the exhibit (AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design, curated by Valerie Komor, Director of the Corporate Archives, and former Assistant Archivist Sam Markham. The exhibit presented historical AP publications and promotional materials that illustrated the evolution of the AP’s visual identity, as well as a timeline of AP World magazine covers from 1944 to 2011.

For New York City archivists, this was a great opportunity to hear about and learn from a wonderfully successful interdepartmental initiative involving archives within a corporate setting.

More information on the AP’s new logo and visual identity system can be found on the AP’s FAQ page on this subject.

Photos: Above, AP seal, 1900; middle, event attendees perusing the exhibit (AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design (courtesy of AP Photo/Santos Chaparro); and below, an AP Service Bulletin from January 1926.

MWPAI Exhibition Explores Graphic Novels


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The dramatic art of a significant emerging literary genre will be explored in the exhibition, “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel,” on view March 4 through April 29 in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art.

In this look at the development and current practices of sequential art, also known as the graphic novel, “LitGraphic” showcases 200 original paintings, drawings, storyboards, notebooks, comic books, photographs, and a documentary film, offering insight into the lives of the artists and the nature of their work.

Featured artists and writers include pioneers Lynd Ward (“Vertigo”) and Will Eisner (“The Spirit”) as well as contemporaries including Sue Coe and Marc Hempel, whose illustrations for Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking “Sandman” are on view also.

Mary E. Murray, MWPAI Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, said comics have always been an important influence on modern and contemporary artists, from Lyonel Feininger, to Willem DeKooning and Roy Lichtenstein “The art of these publications is more than light entertainment, it is serious commentary on contemporary culture, and we are excited to present this important component of visual culture to our patrons,” she added. Murray noted that more than 60 years ago, the Museum of Art showcased an exhibition of drawings by cartoonist William Steig, creator of the character Shrek; and an exhibition of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon comics.

Published in book form, graphic novels employ words and pictures to address thought-provoking subjects that will serve as the thematic framework for the exhibition. Commentary by artists and curators focusing on recurring subjects, artistic and cultural influences, and the climate that impacts the creative process will be woven throughout the exhibition where contemporary art meets traditional America.

An increasing number of artists are choosing to express themselves through graphic novels, which have received increased recognition in the popular sector, in noted periodicals including “The New York Times,” “The New Yorker” and in classrooms, libraries, and bookstores throughout the United States and abroad. A graphic novel employs the technique of cinematographic narrative, developed by comic-book artists, telling the story through metaphors and visual images, particularly images of action.

Graphic novels, or long-form comic books, have started to gain the interest and consideration of the art and literary establishment. Graphic novels, with their antiheroes and visual appeal, are approaching the popularity of the novel. Focused on subjects as diverse as the nature of relationships, the perils of war, and the meaning of life, graphic novels comprise the fastest-growing sections of many bookstores.

“LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel” is organized and toured by the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Illustration: Lynd Ward’s “Beowulf wrestles with Grendel”, 1933 (Courtesy Wikipedia).

Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibition at the Hyde Collection


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The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, Warren County, has announced it will present the exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec & Company: Prints from the Belle Époque. On view in Hoopes Gallery from March 3, 2012 through May 27, 2012, the exhibition will feature ten lithographs by Toulouse-Lautrec and approximately twenty prints by his contemporaries including Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Jules Chéret (1836-1932), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), and Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940). Continue reading

Women’s Writes: A Reading and Writing Workshop


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The weekend of March 3rd and 4th, Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) is presenting Women’s Writes, a reading and writing workshop featuring two popular authors, Nava Atlas and Kate Hymes. The weekend kicks-off on Saturday, March 3, at 3pm with a guided tour of HHS’s Deyo House, which is set and interpreted in the Edwardian period, a popular time for many celebrated women authors.

At 4pm, Nava Atlas will read from her latest book, The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life, which explores the writing life of twelve celebrated women writers, including such renowned authors as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Madeleine L’Engle, Anais Nin, George Sand, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf through their journals, letters, and diaries. On Saturday evening at 7, the Wallkill Valley Writers will read from their anthology which includes personal essays, poems, and stories.

Sunday, March 4 will feature two three-hour Wallkill Valley Writers Workshops led by Kate Hymes. Session 1 is from 9– 12pm and Session 2 is from 1-4 pm. Anyone with a desire to write, whether a beginner or experienced, is invited to attend these workshops which will be held in a safe environment. Sources culled from the HHS archives and other local history will serve as an inspiration for writing throughout the weekend.

Saturday includes a book signing and refreshments. Fees are as follows: Saturday Deyo House Edwardian tour and reading with Nava Atlas: $15. Saturday evening reading with Wallkill Valley Writers: $5. Sunday per session: $40. Full weekend including one workshop on Sunday: $50.

To register or for more information, call 845-255-1660, x103 or email Jan Melchior at jan@huguenotstreet.org.

About the Presenters

Nava Atlas is the author and illustrator of visual books on family themes, humor, and women’s issues, including The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life (2011), exploring first-person narratives on the writing lives of twelve classic women authors, and commenting on the universal relevance of their experiences to all women who love to write. Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife (2009) is a satiric look at contemporary marriage and motherhood through the lens of a faux 1950s cookbook. Nava Atlas is also the author and illustrator of many books on vegetarian cooking, a book on leafy greens will be on the shelves in the spring of 2012. An active fine artist specializing in limited edition artist’s books and text-driven objects, her work is shown and collected by museums and universities across the U.S.

Kate Hymes, a poet and educator living in the Hudson Valley, leads weekly writing workshops and writing retreats. She has over twenty years experience as an educator with experience teaching writing on college level, and over ten years leading workshops for people who make writing an artistic practice. Kate is certified to lead workshops using the Amherst Writers and Artists method. She has co-led trainings with Pat Schneider and other AWA instructors to teach others how to lead workshops. Kate and Pat also lead the workshop: If We Are Sisters: Black and White Women Writing Across Race. Kate serves as Executive Director of the Hudson Valley/Catskill Partnership: Regional Adult Education Network providing technical assistance and staff development to adult educators in a ten-county region of New York State. Kate currently serves as a member of the Dutchess County Arts Council and as panelist for Special Project, New York State Council on the Arts. She has a Master of Arts in American Literature from SUNY Stony Brook.

Early Albany Deptartment Store Exhibition Opens


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The Albany Institute of History & Art is presenting Temple of Fancy: Pease’s Great Variety Store, an exhibition featuring Richard H. Pease’s upscale “Five and Dime” where Albany families could purchase fancy goods, toys, household items, children’s books, and games from the 1830s to 1855. The exhibit will draw from the collections of the Albany Institute, and includes a reproduction of Pease’s 1850-51 Christmas card, considered to be the very first printed in America, on loan from the Manchester University Museum in England, where the only surviving copy resides. The exhibit opened November 19, and will run through March 25, 2012.

Before F. W. Woolworths’, Whitney’s, or even Myer’s department store, there was Pease’s Great Variety Store, located in the Temple of Fancy at 516 and 518 Broadway in Albany. As with other fancy goods stores, Pease’s catered to the middle and upper middle class selling highly decorated goods like ceramics, prints, furniture and other decorative household items that progressively thinking people might have wanted to purchase.

The 1844 Wilson’s Albany City Guide provides a flattering description of Pease’s: “For richness and extensive variety of novelties, combining the beautiful, the useful and the ornamental, this establishment excels any in town. Mr. P. has many fancy articles which are surpassingly rich; exceeding anything in elegance that we have ever thought, dreamed or read of.” Pease’s advertisement in the Albany Evening Journal on December 17, 1841, was the very first time Santa Claus was used to advertise a store. They also produced the hand-colored lithographs of fruit for Ebenezer Emmons’ Agriculture of New York published between 1846 and 1854.

Temple of Fancy: Pease’s Great Variety Store will be on display in the library cases at the Albany Institute of History & Art, located at 125 Washington Avenue, Albany. The exhibition . Coinciding with the exhibition, the Albany Institute has produced a 20-page booklet, “Pease’s Great Variety Store and the Story of America’s first Christmas Card”, that will be available for sale in the Museum Shop.

Illustrations: Above, courtesy Albany Institute of History & Art; below, America’s First Christmas Card, Designed and printed by Richard H. Pease for his “Pease’s Great Variety Store in the Temple of Fancy” c.1851. Image courtesy of Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections.

New Book Features the American Art-Union


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The American Art-Union, based in New York City, founded in 1844 with the goal of fostering the arts in America through education and publication, is the subject of an outstanding new book, Perfectly American: The Art-Union & Its Artists.

Modeled after European organizations, the American Art-Union sought to establish a national aesthetic in the United States and unite all regions of the country through art. A small subscription fee entitled members of the Art-Union to at least one engraving of a prominent piece per year, as well as entry in an annual lottery distributing larger works of art.

The Art-Union appealed especially to genre painters; William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Charles Deas, William Tylee Ranney, and other noted artists submitted their works for jury and acceptance. As the United States grew increasingly divided in the 1840s, the Art-Union’s selections came under heavy scrutiny and there were accusations of supposed abolitionist and Whig sentiments. Low on funds and facing an ultimately successful lawsuit over the legality of their annual lottery, the American Art-Union disbanded in 1852.

At 200 pages, and with contributions by Patricia Hills, Peter J. Brownlee, Randy Ramer, Amanda Lett and 60 color illustrations Perfectly American provides a new look at the American Art-Union and the culture of the United States in the 1840s.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Brooklyn Museum Cancels Street Art Exhibition


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The Brooklyn Museum has canceled the spring 2012 presentation of Art in the Streets, the first major United States museum exhibition of the history of graffiti and street art. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, where it is currently on view at The Geffen Contemporary through August 8, 2011, the exhibition had been scheduled at the Brooklyn Museum from March 30 through July 8, 2012.

“This is an exhibition about which we were tremendously enthusiastic, and which would follow appropriately in the path of our Basquiat and graffiti exhibitions in 2005 and 2006, respectively. It is with regret, therefore, that the cancellation became necessary due to the current financial climate. As with most arts organizations throughout the country, we have had to make several difficult choices since the beginning of the economic downturn three years ago,” Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman said in a prepared statement.

The announcement follows a recent follows the limiting of Friday hours, effective July 1. The Brooklyn Museum will no longer remain open until 10 p.m. every Friday, a change resulting from what museum officials called “the challenging economic climate confronting many public institutions throughout New York City and the country.”

41st Annual Rhinebeck Car Show


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The 41st Annual Car Show, for everyone in the old car hobby Spring officially arrives on the first weekend of May with the Rhinebeck Car Show. Rhinebeck 2011 will be held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on May 6, 7 and 8. Gates will open at noon on the 6th for spectators to go through the vendor’s sites. This event is a sure cure for “cabin fever” and hobbyists from all over the Northeast have been celebrating spring for over forty years by converging at Rhinebeck to participate in this popular event. Rhinebeck is one of the biggest car shows in the Northeast and hundreds of cars and thousands of spectators will be filling the Fairgrounds for this spring celebration of automotive history.

Rhinebeck 2011 will be fun for the whole family. Mom and Dad will be reminded of that first date in one of these special vehicles or that first new car their family had. Many car collectors are fulfilling old dreams in the car that they really wanted but were out of reach when they were younger. The kids and grand kids will enjoy the cars too but should also enjoy the old toys displayed and for sale by vendors. In addition to all of the cars on display, the family can wander through the Swap Meet looking at automotive memorabilia. Plenty of food vendors will be offering an interesting variety of food choices and, as usual, Fosters Coach House will be open at the Fairgrounds for those who prefer to sit down to relax and enjoy their meal.

This year we will be featuring a display by the Saratoga Automobile Museum on our show field. They are planning to bring several cars and motor cycles for your viewing enjoyment following is a bit about the activities they plan this year:

The Saratoga Automobile Museum displays Autos from May to October, there are over 20 lawn shows that feature cars from Alfa and Auburn to Stutz and Volkswagen. In early May, the Saratoga Spring Invitational is a showcase for a select group of breathtaking automobiles from the Brass Era to Classics from the Golden Age of Motoring, to today’s most modern and exotic Supercars. On the same weekend is our traditional Spring Car Show, while later in the summer we are pleased to host Hemming’s Sports & Exotics Show.

When fall and winter come, the Museum is still active with lectures and technical sessions, our unique “Living Legends” interview sessions (this year featuring racers A.B. Shuman, Jack DeWitt and automotive journalist Ken Gross). Add in the young people’s exhibits at SAM’s Garage, our educational programs (last year’s building of a Model A Huckster and this year’s upcoming “Build a Hot Rod”), our onsite school-age programs (for elementary to college level students), the “…fun for kids of all ages…” racecar simulators, and it is apparent that the Saratoga Automobile Museum is your place to be for year round automotive entertainment.

Saturday’s show spotlights the creativity and ingenuity of the owners and builders of some of the finest hot rod, custom cars and sport compacts in the country. 800 Cars are expected to be on the show field for your enjoyment. These vehicles feature amazing paint schemes including fancy flames and cool graphics. They include incredible custom body designs with chopped tops and channeled bodies.

Monster motors built without caring that they get less than 10 miles per gallon; and fine custom interiors you’ll wish you could live in. The Atlantic Coast Old Time Racing Club will take a break from their racing competition to show off their antique racers at Rhinebeck. The Sport Compact cars have special sounds systems, low rider wheels, unique exhaust systems and special paint schemes. The guys who customize these cars are very creative and develop truly unique and fun vehicles. Sunday’s show focus is on restored antique and classic cars.

Over 1100 old cars from all automotive eras up to 1986 are expected. These vehicles are some of the finest restorations to be found anywhere. Owners and restorers pride themselves restoring their vehicles to “showroom” condition. Actually, many of these vehicles are restored too much better condition than when they left the showroom.

Sunday’s show will include early antique vehicles, cars from the roaring twenties, thirties classics, fabulous forties cars, and plenty of vehicles from the fifties, sixties and seventies. Many of the cars on display disappeared from showrooms years ago. Antique trucks, motorcycles, plenty of sports cars, and other foreign cars will be there too. Many
of last year’s award winning vehicles will be on display in the “Winners’ Circle” on both Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone looking for a way to get started in this great hobby will find plenty of opportunity in the Rhinebeck Car Corral. A wide variety of over 500 collectable cars will be for sale there.

In the Swap Meet area, about a thousand vendors will be selling plenty of auto hobby related material. There will be lots and lots of old car parts, tools, restoration supplies, and automotive literature. Many of the vendors will be selling both old and new toys.

The Dutchess County Fairgrounds is located on Route 9, just north of the village of Rhinebeck. The gates open at 6:00 AM on Saturday and at 8:00 on Sunday. Admissions are $10.00 but children 12 and under are admitted free. For additional information, call 845-876-3554 from 7 to 9 PM.. This year we also have early birds day Friday with gates open at 12:00. Weekend passes are available at the gate to those who plan on attending more than one day at $17.

Rhinebeck 2011 is sponsored by the Hudson River Valley Antique Automobile Association Inc. which is an association of six local car clubs whose members volunteer hundreds of hours each year to organize and run this event.

Syracuse’s Clark Music Company, Melville Clark


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In Pulling Strings: The Legacy of Melville A. Clark, musician Linda Pembroke Kaiser explores the extraordinary career of Melville A. Clark (1883–1953), a musician, inventor, entrepreneur, community leader, and collector whose colorful story is largely unknown. The story is told by Kaiser, a musician who performs on the harp, piano, and guitar. She has published articles in the International Folk Harp Journal and has published and recorded an album of harp music, Lullabies for Earth Children.

Beginning with an account of Clark’s musical family, Kaiser chronicles the founding in 1859 of the Clark Music Company, of which Melville Clark became president in 1919. Originally just a tinkers shed, the business ultimately moved into a six-story building in the center of Syracuse. The Clark Music Company celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2010. Clark also combined his talents as a gifted musician and astute entrepreneur to start the first Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

Kaiser recounts the development of the Clark Irish Harp, the first portable harp manufactured in the United States, that could easily play accidentals. There were other Clark inventions, such as the first nylon strings for instruments. In addition, Clark designed balloons that the British used in 1918 to drop more than 1,250,000 pamphlets over Germany.

Clark’s story unfolds in detail: a musical encounter with President Wilson, entertaining President F. D. Roosevelt, a visit to Buckingham Palace to present Princess Elizabeth with a music box, and the journey of a Clark Irish harp to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd.

Pulling Strings uncovers the life of a musical genius and also sheds light on a forgotten chapter in Syracuse history.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

JAY-Z to Appear at Brooklyn Museum


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In a rare interview, multi-platinum, 10-time Grammy Award-winning artist and icon JAY-Z will speak with Charlie Rose, executive editor and anchor of the Charlie Rose Show, before a live audience in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday, November 18, at 7 p.m. The conversation, which will be taped to air nationwide at a later date on the Charlie Rose program, will focus on JAY-Z’s book DECODED, to be published on November 16 by Spiegel & Grau, a Random House imprint. DECODED recounts JAY-Z’s life from his childhood in Brooklyn’s Marcy housing projects to becoming a world-famous performer and songwriter, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Tickets to the event will go on sale TODAY, Wednesday, November 10, at noon. They may be purchased online at www.museumtix.com (two-ticket purchase limit for this program) or at the Brooklyn Museum Visitor Center in person. Ticket prices are $50 for the general public, older adults, and students and $45 for Brooklyn Museum Members. Become a member at www.brookklynmuseum.org/support/membership_plans.php. Ticket price includes a copy of DECODED by JAY-Z that will be provided to the patron upon admission to the program the night of the event.

Printouts of tickets will not be accepted. Patrons must check in at the will-call desk (the night of the event) at the Brooklyn Museum to receive hard copies of their tickets and must provide ID matching the name on the ticket. There will be no standby line for this event.

Decoded Book Cover In his conversation with Charlie Rose, JAY-Z will speak candidly about his journey from drug dealing to becoming one of the best known hip-hop artists of his time. He will explore issues that informed him and his songwriting, including how visual art and poetry influenced his craft, how he became involved in politics and business, and how he managed to stay true to himself in the midst of extraordinary fame.

“When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted to do three important things. The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics-not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC-are poetry, if you look at them closely enough. The second was that I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.”–JAY-Z from DECODED

77th New York Regimental Balladeers at Olana


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Sunday, October 10th, from 1-3 p.m., at Olana State Historic Site, the New York 77th Regimental Balladeers will reenact musical selections from the Civil War era.

Co-founded by John C. Quinn and Michael Yates, the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers are dedicated to preserving the songs, history and spirit of the 1860s. John, Mike, and fellow Balladeers John Perreault, Jim Broden and Kathleen Ross use the original Civil War music arrangements and lyrics to convey the thoughts, motives, and sorrows of the men and women who lived during one of the most defining periods of our American heritage. The songs are sung as they would have been performed in camp or the family parlor 138 years ago.

A $5 per vehicle grounds fee includes the performance. House tours will be available on a first come, first served basis starting at 10 a.m., with the final tour of the day beginning promptly at 4 p.m. Come early to ensure tour availability and shorter wait times. House tour tickets are $12/adult, $10/student or senior. Children under age 12 receive free tour tickets! Call 518-828-0135 for information.

Olana, the home and studio of Hudson River School artist Frederic E. Church, is a New York State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. It is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. Olana is one of six historic sites and 15 parks administered by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region. The Olana Partnership is a private, not-for-profit organization, which works cooperatively with New York State to support the preservation, restoration, development, and improvement of Olana State Historic Site. Call 518-828-0135, visit www.olana.org for more information.

Commentary: Demolition of Marx Brothers Place


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The following commentary and call to action was issued by the 93rd Street Beautification Association and is reprinted here in it’s entirety for your information:

Anybody who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to the doings of Marx Brothers Place over the last few years knows full well that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has dispatched numerous letters refusing the community’s request to calendar this historic block for a public hearing. The LPC’s lack of interest in landmarking historic Marx Brothers Place is nothing new: It’s legendary.

In fact, it was precisely the LPC’s anemic response to Marx Brothers Place that inspired the broad coalition of advocates to speak out in support of extending the Carnegie Hill Historic District (CHHD) so as to include the incomparable collection of historic structures on East 93rd Street before the entire block is marked with a big red X for the wrecking ball.

Notoriously, historic districts have been repeatedly rejected by the LPC for years – a commission into whose vortex designation requests (RFEs) disappear like socks in the dryer – and languished without legal protection from demolition before finally being calendered and properly designated.

The community coalition which robustly supports designating historic Marx Brothers Place – and includes the 93rd Street Beautification Association; Carnegie Hill Neighbors; Historic Districts Council; New York Landmarks Conservancy; Place Matters (a collaboration of the Municipal Arts Society and Citylore); Members of the Marx Brothers family; Woody Allen; Bob Weide; Andrew Berman; Bronson Binger; Michael Devonshire; 93rd Street Block Association; Brewery Hill Block Association; Assemblyman Micah Kellner; Assemblyman Jonathan Bing; NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin; NY State Senator Jose Serrano; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and countless other preservationists, homeowners, residents, artists and historians – has been battling against the LPC’s lethargy toward historic Marx Brothers Place since day one.

Backed by the uncompromising historic evidence – research unearthed by a Preservation historian at Columbia University’s acclaimed Graduate School of Architecture & Historic Preservation – this massive community coalition continues its efforts to try to enlighten and educate the LPC as to the fact that Marx Brothers Place not only meets the criteria for landmarking in NYC, it surpasses it.

Make no mistake: The Marx Brothers Place community coalition stands resolute in its position that this world famous block in Carnegie Hill warrants immediate protection from indiscriminate demolition because of its historic, cultural and architectural significance.

So on Monday, July 19 – when Community Board 8′s (CB8′s) Landmarks Committee voted 7-0 (with one abstention) to send a powerful message to the LPC resolving that this important historic block should be landmarked by the city – this devoted community coalition had much to celebrate when, after years of advocating, it had successfully moved that much closer to its goal.

And had the 93rd Street Beautification Association’s request to CB8 gone according to normal procedure, the next step in this public process would have been for CB8′s Landmarks Committee to present to the Full CB8 Board the fact of its overwhelmingly 7-0 vote and the reasons the Committee had decided to so strongly support the request to landmark historic East 93rd Street. But, as many of you know by now, what followed was anything but ‘normal procedure’.

NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick had insisted that the 93rd Street Beautification Association first get the blessing of CB8 before he would be willing to wield his influence in asking the LPC to calender Marx Brothers Place for a public hearing. But then instead of celebrating the Association’s 7-0 victory before CB8′s Landmarks Committee, the Council Member chose instead to turn his back on his constituents and, without so much as a heads-up to the Association, furtively did his level best to undermine the preservation campaign’s progress.

On Wednesday, July 21 – the same day that the full CB8 Board was scheduled to vote on Marx Brothers Place – CM Garodnick reportedly contacted a co-chair of CB8′s Landmarks Committee, Jane Parhsall, to offer her copies of a stale letter he had received from the LPC dated May 26, 2010.

The ‘Garodnick letter’ – as it has come to be known – was not a revelatory piece of news and its boilerplate language was nothing more than the same old, same old misinformation that the coalition has been disputing for years (it should also be noted that despite repeated requests, CB8 has – to date – failed to provide the Association with a copy of the ‘Garodnick letter’ which it only allowed the Association to see after CB8 Landmarks Committee co-chair Parshall had already dramatically misrepresented its contents to the entire CB8 audience before the full CB8 Board vote on July 21).

While deliberately overstating the import of yet one more of the LPC’s perennial letters – brushing off the request to calender Marx Brothers Place for a public hearing – CM Garodnick and CB8′s Parshall sorely underestimated the public interest in landmarking this storied block.

Smacking of the sort of dirty, petty politics the public has come to expect from its elected and appointed officials – who time and time again fail the public while proving unworthy of carrying out the people’s business – Garodnick and Parshall’s blatant breach of the public trust in the process to which Marx Brothers Place is due smells riper than a rotten fish.

Thanks for your continued interest in historic Marx Brothers Place!

For more information about the 93rd Street Beautification Association or Marx Brothers Place, contact 93rdst.beautification@gmail.com or 212.969.8138 or visit the blogs at Save Marx Brothers Place or The Marx Brothers Place Report.

You can also follow Marx Brothers Place on Twitter @93rdStreet, Facebook @ Save Marx Brothers Place, YouTube @ Marx Brothers Place and on MySpace @ Marx Brothers Place.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the preservation campaign, click here.

Mark Twain in the Adirondacks


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As fans of Mark Twain the world ‘round await the fall release of his unexpurgated autobiography a century after his death, scholars, authors, teachers, and other admirers of Twain will gather on the time-carved shores of Lower Saranac Lake to draw a more intimate portrait of the writer and humorist and explore his indelible contributions to American life and letters.

On Saturday, August 14, Dr. Charles Alexander of Paul Smith’s College, Dr. Margaret Washington, Associate Professor of History at Cornell University, and beloved children’s author Steven Kellogg of Essex, NY, will headline the day-long “Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” program at Guggenheim Camp on Lower Saranac Lake.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., Dr. Alexander will explore Twain’s surprising connections to the Adirondacks, focusing on his retreat from the outside world to the Kane Camp on Lower Saranac Lake in 1901 and the little-known essay, “The United States of Lyncherdom”, Twain wrote when the news of lynchings in Missouri reached him there. So incendiary, Twain allowed publication of the essay only after his death.

At 11:00 a.m., Steven Kellogg will read passages from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and share why he counts it among his favorite books. Dr. Washington will continue the focus on Huck Finn, guiding the audience through critical debates over the work since its publication in 1885 and Twain’s straightforward treatment of slavery and race.

Following their formal presentations, Kellogg, Washington and Alexander will invite the audience to participate with them in an open-ended conversation about Twain and his lasting influence and power to provoke even today, 100 years after his death.

In November, the University of California Press will publish the first of three volumes of Twain’s half-million word autobiography, most of which the author dictated to a stenographer over the course of the four years before he died in 1910. According to New York Times reviewer Larry Rother, “a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the angry prophet” (NYT 10 Jul 2010).

“Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” will be held at the rustic Guggenheim. Complimentary coffee, tea and pastries will be provided in the morning and ice cream donated by Stewart’s Shops will be served during the afternoon conversation. People are encouraged to pack a lunch.

A $5 donation is requested for Guggenheim program. Optional hour-long boat tours to the privately-owned Kane Camp where Twain stayed will be offered in the afternoon, starting at 2:00 p.m. Sign-up for the tours is on a first come, first serve basis, beginning when the doors open at 9:30 am. Tickets for the boat tours are $20 each, which includes entrance to the talks at Guggenheim Camp.

“Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” is a joint project of Historic Saranac Lake, John Brown Lives!, Paul Smith’s College, Keene Valley Library, and Saranac Lake Free Library. On July 23, Keene Valley Library hosted Huck Finn Out Loud—a twelve-hour marathon reading of the novel. Volunteer readers and listeners from all walks of life hailed from across the North Country and from Paris, France.

North Country Public Radio is media sponsor of “Mark Twain in the Adirondacks”. Funding has been provided by New York Council for the Humanities, Stewart’s Shops, Cape Air, Paul Smith’s College, and International Paper-Ticonderoga Mill. For more information, contact Amy Catania, Director of Historic Saranac Lake at 518-891-4606 or Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives! at 518-962-4758.

History of American Musical Theater Program


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The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society presents “America’s Song: A History of American Musical Theater in Word and Music,” a collaboration between Drew Benware and members of the Ithaca College School of Music, on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 7 pm. Admission is $10.00 per person, to benefit the Franklin County Historical Society. The program of toe-tapping favorites will be held in the Bobcat Cafe in the Joan Weill Student Center at Paul Smith’s College.

Drew Benware is a native of the North Country, having grown up in Malone, New York. Upon graduation from Franklin Academy, he enrolled at the Ithaca College School of Music where he received a degree in Music Education with a concentration on Trumpet in 2003. For the next three years, Drew served as the Director of Instrumental Music at Saranac Lake High School where he worked with the Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Pep Band, Parade Band, and annual Musical Theater Productions. Drew returned to Ithaca College to pursue a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, working with the renowned Larry Doebler and Janet Galvan. Among the high points of this period was a performance of Verdi’s “Requiem” at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City. Drew’s choral degree was put to use during the 2008-9 academic year during which he served as Director of Choral Activities at the Peru Middle/High School. Since that
time, he has been on the faculty at the Ithaca College School of Music as an Assistant Professor of Music Education, instructing courses in woodwind and brass techniques, instrumental conducting, wind instrument pedagogy, and acting as supervisor to both Junior and Senior level teachers. Drew also works closely with the nationally acclaimed Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts, serving as faculty accompanist for the Musical Theater Workshop and performing in Pit Ensembles. Drew continues to serve as an active pianist, performing as music minister at All Saints’ Church in Lansing and as a frequent artist-collaborator including the 2009 Saranac Lake First Night Celebration. He
is active as a singer also, performing with the Saranac Lake Madrigal Singers and the Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, Ithaca’s only professional choir. He has provided musical direction or pit performances for several works of Musical Theater, among them “Children of Eden,” “Parade,” “A Little Night Music,” “Once On This Island,” “The Music Man,” and “Les Miserables.”

The program will also feature performers from the Ithaca College School of Music and Department of Theatre Arts.

“America’s Song” is co-sponsored by The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and Paul Smith’s College. The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society, founded in 1903, preserves the history of Franklin County, NY through its House of History Museum and Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach, located in Malone. It is supported by membership dues and donations, grants, and municipal support. Paul Smith’s College, the College of the Adirondacks is the only four-year private college in the Adirondack Park and is commited to experiential, hands-on learning.

For more information, please contact Anne Werley Smallman at 518-483-2750. Visit the Paul Smith’s College website for directions.

Dead Apple Tours Offers History of NYC’s Deceased


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A new tour company is taking guests on a unusual look at New York City. The brainchild of Drew Raphael, a native New Yorker, Dead Apple Tours was inspired after watching fans gather outside the home of Heath Ledger immediately after the news of his death. Raphael figured with so many interesting locations in New York of famous and infamous accidental deaths, murders and suicides—why not collect a group of these experiences into one tour to get a fuller picture of the Big Apple? Why not present the “living history of New York’s deceased?” Dead Apple Tours gives passengers on its downtown tours a unique sightseeing experience in a rare, classic hearse that has been customized for a comfortable ride.

Highlights of the Dead Apple Tours include:

* The Soho spot where Heath Ledger spent his final hours.
* The secret of the “Hangman’s Elm” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”
* The Little Italy locale where mobster “Crazy Joe” Gallo ate his last bowl of pasta
* The spot where Sid Vicious allegedly killed girlfriend Nancy Spungen as well as the location where he eventually overdosed himself, and more.

The star of Dead Apple Tours is “Desdemona”; one of only 478 Cadillac Superior Crown Royale Hearses made in 1960 and believed to be one of only a handful left in existence today. This deluxe vehicle has been painstakingly restored and customized to provide a comfortable, modern ride in plush seats with the comfort of air conditioning, WiFi and video screens to help complete the story-telling adventure.

The downtown tour runs approximately two hours, starting at the Empire State Building and ending at the South Street Seaport. Winding through the streets of lower Manhattan participants learn “New York City Death Fun Facts” while Dead Apple Tours takes them to the exact locations the most famous deaths occurred.

Andy Warhol Piñata, High Style at Brooklyn Ball Gala


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The Brooklyn Museum will celebrate the major exhibition American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection and the landmark collection-sharing partnership between Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at its annual gala, the Brooklyn Ball, on Thursday evening, April 22, 2010.

This year’s Brooklyn Ball will feature a giant twenty-foot-tall piñata in the shape of Andy Warhol’s head, which is part an interactive dining experience designed by Jennifer Rubell titled “Icons.” The piñata is currently on view in the Museum’s Rubin Pavilion.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres in the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing on the fifth floor and an exclusive opportunity to preview American High Style. Featuring some eighty-five masterworks from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition traces the evolution of fashion in America from its nineteenth-century European beginnings through the twentieth century. It marks the first time in more than two decades that a large-scale survey drawn from this preeminent collection will be on public view.

Included in the exhibition will be creations by such legendary American designers as Charles James, Norman Norell, and Gilbert Adrian; works by influential French designers including Charles Frederick Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Givenchy, and Christian Dior; and works by such first-generation American women designers as Bonnie Cashin, Elizabeth Hawes, and Claire McCardell. Among the objects presented will be Schiaparelli’s Surrealist Insect Necklace, considered by experts to be one of the most important works in the collection; elaborate ball gowns and day wear by Charles James; evening ensembles by Yves Saint Laurent, Halston, Scaasi, and Mainbocher; street wear by mid-twentieth-century designers Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, and Elizabeth Hawes; a group of hats by celebrated milliner Sally Victor; and dazzling evening wear by Norman Norell.

The Brooklyn Museum’s groundbreaking collection-sharing partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art went in to effect in January 2009. At that time Brooklyn’s renowned costume collection of 23,500 objects, acquired over the course of a century, was transferred to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum
of Art, where it is fully integrated into the Institute’s program of exhibitions, publications, and education initiatives and remains available for exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

Co-chairs for this year’s Ball celebrating American High Style include chef and restaurateur Mario Batali and his wife Susan Cahn, European Editor-at-Large for Vogue Hamish Bowles, New York Times Style Editor Stefano Tonchi, Museum Trustee Stephanie Ingrassia, decorative arts specialist and educator Susan Weber, photographer Annie Leibovitz, fashion designer Zac Posen, and collector Carla Shen.

An interactive dining experience, designed by Jennifer Rubell, whom New York Times senior critic Roberta Smith credits with “laying waste to the prolonged ordeal that is the benefit dining experience,” will begin at 8 p.m. in the magnificent Beaux-Arts Court on the third floor. The interactive food journey through the Museum is titled Icons and includes drinking paintings, suspended melting cheese heads, and a larger-
than-life dessert surprise. A hybrid of performance and installation art, Rubell’s food projects deconstruct the ritual of the meal and are often of monumental scale.
During the evening, the Brooklyn Museum will honor the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and former Mellon Program Officer Angelica Rudenstine. Donald Randel, Mellon Foundation president, will accept the Museum’s highest honor, the Augustus Graham Medal, on their behalf.

Immediately following the Ball, the Museum will host High Style: The After Party in the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion. The festivities will feature artists’ fashions and dancing to live music. Tickets to the Ball range from $500 to $1,500, and tables are available from $5,000 to $50,000. All tickets to the Ball include admission to High Style: The After Party. Tickets to the after party start at $75. Further information about ticket options and table purchases is available by e-mailing special.events@brooklynmuseum.org or by phoning (718) 501-6423. Proceeds from the event will support the Museum’s public and education programs.

The Augustus Graham Medal is being presented to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in recognition of its outstanding support of the Brooklyn Museum, including funding for the survey of the costume collection and the endowment of curatorial positions at the Museum. Through the foundation’s generosity, the first complete inventory, collection review, digital photography, and cataloguing of the Museum’s holdings of approximately 23,500 American and European costumes and accessories has been completed.

More than 5,800 of the most important works are now available to scholars, students, and the public through ARTstor, an innovative online initiative of the Mellon Foundation that provides access to curated collections of art images and associated data for noncommercial, scholarly, and not-for-profit educational use.

The Augustus Graham Medal is named after one of the founders of the Brooklyn Apprentices Library in 1823. That institution, which Graham nurtured and expanded, grew into the Brooklyn Institute and later became the Brooklyn Museum.

Brooklyn Museum to Host Annual ‘Brooklyn Ball’


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The Brooklyn Museum will celebrate the major exhibition “American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” and the landmark collection-sharing partnership between Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at its annual gala, the Brooklyn Ball, on Thursday evening, April 22, 2010.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres in the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing on the fifth floor and an exclusive opportunity to preview American High Style. Featuring some eighty-five masterworks from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition traces the evolution of fashion in America from its nineteenth-century European beginnings through the twentieth century. It marks the first time in more than two decades that a large-scale survey drawn from this preeminent collection will be on public view.

Included in the exhibition will be creations by such legendary American designers as Charles James, Norman Norell, and Gilbert Adrian; works by influential French designers including Charles Frederick Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Givenchy, and Christian Dior; and works by such first-generation American women designers as Bonnie Cashin, Elizabeth Hawes, and Claire McCardell. Among the objects presented will be Schiaparelli’s Surrealist Insect Necklace, considered by experts to be one of the most important works in the collection; elaborate ball gowns and day wear by Charles James; evening ensembles by Yves Saint Laurent, Halston, Scaasi, and Mainbocher; street wear by mid-twentieth-century designers Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, and Elizabeth Hawes; a group of hats by celebrated milliner Sally Victor; and dazzling evening wear by Norman Norell.

The Brooklyn Museum’s groundbreaking collection-sharing partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art went in to effect in January 2009. At that time Brooklyn’s renowned costume collection of 23,500 objects, acquired over the course of a century, was transferred to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is fully integrated into the Institute’s program of exhibitions, publications, and education initiatives and remains available for exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

Co-chairs for this year’s Ball celebrating American High Style include chef and restaurateur Mario Batali and his wife Susan Cahn, European Editor-at-Large for Vogue Hamish Bowles, New York Times Style Editor Stefano Tonchi, Museum Trustee Stephanie Ingrassia, decorative arts specialist and educator Susan Weber, photographer Annie Leibovitz, fashion designer Zac Posen, and collector Carla Shen.

An interactive dining experience, designed by Jennifer Rubell, whom New York Times senior critic Roberta Smith credits with “laying waste to the prolonged ordeal that is the benefit dining experience,” will begin at 8 p.m. in the magnificent Beaux-Arts Court on the third floor. The interactive food journey through the Museum is titled Icons and includes drinking paintings, suspended melting cheese heads, and a larger-than-life dessert surprise. A hybrid of performance and installation art, Rubell’s food projects deconstruct the ritual of the meal and are often of monumental scale.

During the evening, the Brooklyn Museum will honor the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and former Mellon Program Officer Angelica Rudenstine. Donald Randel, Mellon Foundation president, will accept the Museum’s highest honor, the Augustus Graham Medal, on their behalf.

Immediately following the Ball, the Museum will host High Style: The After Party in the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion. The festivities will feature artists’ fashions and dancing to live music.

Tickets to the Ball range from $500 to $1,500, and tables are available from $5,000 to $50,000. All tickets to the Ball include admission to High Style: The After Party. Tickets to the after party start at $75. Tickets may be purchased online through Monday, April 19. You may also download, print, and complete a ticket request form and send it by fax to (718) 501-6139. Further information about ticket options and table purchases is available by e-mailing special.events@brooklynmuseum.org or by phoning (718) 501-6423. Proceeds from the event will support the Museum’s public and education programs.

The Augustus Graham Medal is being presented to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in recognition of its outstanding support of the Brooklyn Museum, including funding for the survey of the costume collection and the endowment of curatorial positions at the Museum. Through the foundation’s generosity, the first complete inventory, collection review, digital photography, and cataloguing of the Museum’s holdings of approximately 23,500 American and European costumes and accessories has been completed. More than 5,800 of the most important works are now available to scholars, students, and the public through ARTstor, an innovative online initiative of the Mellon Foundation that provides access to curated collections of art images and associated data for noncommercial, scholarly, and not-for-profit educational use.

The Augustus Graham Medal is named after one of the founders of the Brooklyn Apprentices Library in 1823. That institution, which Graham nurtured and expanded, grew into the Brooklyn Institute and later became the Brooklyn Museum.

The 1920s: America’s Golden Age of Sports


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A new book by Michael K. Bohn, Heroes and Ballyhoo: How the Golden Age of the 1920s Transformed American Sports, profiles the great American sports heroes of that era and highlights their roles in turning their sports into the kind of large spectator events they are today. Among them are the standards like Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Jack Dempsey, and Knute Rockne, but also those from the fringes of modern sport.

Swimmers like Johnny Weissmuller, who turned Olympic success into a seminal role as Tarzan, and Gertrude Ederle, the first to swim the English Channel are profiled. Helen Wills is here, the winner of 31 Grand Slam tennis titles who the New York Times called “the first American born woman to achieve international celebrity as an athlete.” Heroes and Ballyhoo also considers the role of tennis player Bill Tilden and golfer Walter Hagen in bringing large audiences to their sports.

Arena sports became a cornerstone of modern American life in the 1920s, after Americans, freed from the burden of World War I and Victorian traditions, seemed to seek out everything that was modern, from bobbed hair, bathtub gin, jazz, Model Ts, movies and radio to fads of all kinds.

The author goes further to explore the people behind the scenes: press agents, and over-the-top sports writers and journalists that helped establish what the publisher calls “the secular religion of sports and sports heroes, and helping bond disparate social and regional sectors of the country.”

Reporters like Grantland Rice and Damon Runyon, are found here, along with modern era promoters like C. C. Pyle and Tex Rickard and agent Christy Walsh, a founder of sports marketing.

Photo: Parade for Gertrude Ederle coming up Broadway, New York City in 1926.