Ronnie Spector: You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory

1960s: Days of Rage

Publicity photo of the Ronettes—Nedra Talley, Veronica Bennett (Ronnie Spector) and Estelle Bennett

“On Wednesday, in the hours after Ronnie Spector’s family announced her passing from cancer at seventy-eight, I played, on loop, her cover of the Johnny Thunders punk anthem ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.’ Recorded for The Last of the Rock Stars, her 2006 comeback album, the song is also a dirge for Thunders, who died in 1991; he had been one of Ronnie’s crucial supporters in the period after she left her abusive ex-husband, the megalomaniac, murderer, and iconoclastic music producer Phil Spector. On YouTube, you can watch her perform a live version of the song from 2018: after showing footage from an archival interview the Ronettes did with Dick Clark sometime in the sixties, she comes out, to applause, and says, ‘Sorry, I was backstage crying.’ Dabbing her eyes, she mourns…

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When Martin Luther King Came to Harlem

1960s: Days of Rage


“Less than a year before his assassination, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. came to Harlem. In the June 22, 1967, Village Voice, contributor Marlene Nadle observed the crowd anxiously awaiting the Baptist minister’s arrival: ‘Using programs folded accordion style instead of pastel fans with pictures of Christ, they managed to turn the chandeliered ballroom of the Hotel Roosevelt into a Baptist Church.’ At times during her reporting on the event, Nadle comes across as jaded, as in her description of when the audience initially glimpses King in a movie being shown by the hospital workers’ union, which had arranged the event: ‘The Lord appeared for the first time — on film. There was a great burst of applause.’ But when King arrives in the flesh and delivers his speech, Nadle acknowledges why the crowd is so rapt: ‘What he said was not important. It was the man who…

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Totem Press, Yugen – Imamu Amiri Baraka

1960s: Days of Rage

Charles Olson, Projective Verse (1959). Cover by Matsumi Kanemitsu.

On the same small offset press, and as an arm of his magazine Yugen, LeRoi Jones’s Totem Press imprint published thirteen pamphlets, beginning with Diane di Prima’s This Kind of Bird Flies Backward in 1958. The press also published work by Ron Loewinsohn (Watermelons, 1959), Michael McClure (For Artaud, 1959), and Jack Kerouac (The Scripture of the Golden Eternity, 1961), as well as Charles Olson’s influential and much-admired Projective Verse in 1959 and Paul Blackburn’s Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit in 1960. However, the most important (at least to Jones himself) of the Totem Books was the little six-page pamphlet he edited in 1959 as the second book of the press. Entitled Jan 1st 1959: Fidel Castro, it included poems by Joel Oppenheimer, Max Finstein, Gilbert Sorrentino, Ron Loewinsohn, and Jack Kerouac in addition…

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On Revolution – Hannah Arendt (1963)

1960s: Days of Rage


On Revolution is a 1963 book by political theorist Hannah Arendt. Arendt presents a comparison of two of the main revolutions of the eighteenth century, the American and French Revolutions. Twelve years after the publication of her The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), looking at what she considered failed revolutions, Arendt optimistically turned her attention to predict nonviolent movements that would restore democratic governments around the world. Her predictions turned out to be largely true, these revolutions being largely, but unconsciously, based on the principles she laid out. In On Revolution Arendt argues that the French Revolution, while well studied and often emulated, was a disaster and that the largely ignored American Revolution was a success, an argument that runs counter to common Marxist and leftist views. The turning point in the French Revolution came when the revolution’s leaders abandoned their goal of freedom in order to focus…

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“Sonny’s Blues” – James Baldwin (1957)

1960s: Days of Rage


“‘Sonny’s Blues’ is a 1957 short story written by James Baldwin, originally published in Partisan Review. The story contains the recollections of a black algebra teacher in 1950s Harlem as he reacts to his brother Sonny’s drug addiction, arrest, and recovery. Baldwin republished the work in the 1965 short story collection Going to Meet the Man. ‘Sonny’s Blues’ is a story written in the first-person singular narrative style. The story opens with the unnamed narrator reading about a heroin bust resulting in the arrest of a man named Sonny, his brother. The narrator goes about his day as an algebra teacher at a high school in Harlem, but begins to ponder Sonny’s fate and worry about the boys in his class. After school, he meets a friend of Sonny, who laments Sonny will struggle with loneliness even after his detox and release. After the narrator’s…

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The 1968 Kerner Commission Report Still Echoes Across America

1960s: Days of Rage

Then Illinois governor Otto Kerner, left, and New York mayor John Lindsay report on the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in October 1967.

“A young African-American is killed by a white police officer in full view of others. Angry people take to the streets — unrest that goes on night after night, with scores injured and hundreds arrested. Sound familiar? But this was back in July 1964, in the Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods of New York. And far worse lay ahead. More racial rioting erupted the following summer in Los Angeles’s Watts section. In 1966 there was yet more, this time in Cleveland. Then came the disastrous summer of 1967. Chaos enveloped more than 160 American cities and towns, the most ruinous riots leading to 43 deaths in Detroit and 26 in Newark. With the nation reeling that summer, President Lyndon B. Johnson created a task force to explore…

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The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems – Michael Ondaatje (1970)

1960s: Days of Rage


The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems is a verse novel by Michael Ondaatje, published in 1970. It chronicles and interprets important events in the life of William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, and his conflict with Sheriff Pat Garrett. The book presents a series of poems not necessarily in chronological order which fictionalize and relate Bonney’s more famous exploits, after the end of the Lincoln County War. The narrative includes his relationship with John and Sallie Chisum, his formation of a gang with Tom O’Folliard and Charlie Bowdre, his standoff with Garrett in Stinking Springs, his arrest and escape from Lincoln, New Mexico, his escape and the ensuing murder of James Bell and Robert Olinger, and finally his death at the hands of Garrett. Technical and stylistic elements:Makes use of free verse vignettes, mostly from Bonney’s perspective…

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An Introduction to E.A.T. – Engineers, the Avant-Garde and a Tennis Court

1960s: Days of Rage

Set of Documentation of the Workings of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) between 1966 and 1968

“On March 18th, 1960, a sculpture on the roof of New York’s Museum of Modern Art began to destroy itself. Engines attached to old baby carriages sent them careening through the space, mechanical arms banged out a dissonant tune on a piano and a paintbrush colored an unfurling paper that just as quickly caught on fire. The piece, titled Homage to New York and built by the French sculptor Jean Tinguely alongside engineer Billy Klüver, was created in order to self-destruct. The performance was the beginning of a series of collaborations that would bring together the worlds of art and technology in ways that were unimaginable in mid-century America. Klüver, originally from Sweden, was a technician at Bell Laboratories, whose innovations in the ’60s and ’70s paved the way for the digital age…

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Los Angeles Times: The “Unentitled Kids”: California’s New Generation of College-Bound Stars

Diane Ravitch's blog

Teresa Watanabe wrote a wonderful story about kids in a public school in Los Angeles who are college-bound, despite their demographic profiles. They don’t have college-educated parents or SAT tutors. What they do have is a school—the DowntownMagnets High School— where the professionals are dedicated to their success. Read about this school and ask yourself why Bill Gates is not trying to replicate it? Why is it not a model for Michael Bloomberg or Reed Hastings or the Waltons? Why do the billionaires insist, as Bloomberg said recently, that public education is “broken”? Despite their investing hundreds of millions to destroy public schools like the one in this story, they are still performing miracles every day.

They represent the new generation of students reshaping the face of higher education in California: young people with lower family incomes, less parental education and far more racial and ethnic diversity than college applicants…

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Edith Sedgwick (1943 – 1971)

1960s: Days of Rage


Edith Minturn Sedgwick Post (April 20, 1943 – November 16, 1971) was an American actress and fashion model. She is best known for being one of Andy Warhol’s superstars. Sedgwick became known as ‘The Girl of the Year’ in 1965 after starring in several of Warhol’s short films in the 1960s. … Despite her family’s wealth and high social status, Sedgwick’s early life was troubled. … In the fall of 1962, at her father’s insistence, Sedgwick was committed to the private Silver Hill psychiatric hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. As the regime was very lax, Sedgwick easily manipulated the situation at Silver Hill, and her weight kept dropping. She was later sent to Bloomingdale, the Westchester County, New York division of the New York Hospital, where her anorexia improved markedly. Around the time she left the hospital, she had a brief relationship with a Harvard

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