Thursday, February 7, 2013

Internet diddlings

I have come across some interesting websites on the Internet lately.

First off, and in honor of Black History Month, here is a site with some little known bits of black history.  It is well-researched, and many of the tidbits are quite surprising.  Though some of the claims try a little too hard to find a black tie-in.  For instance, to consider Jackie Onassis as black, you would first have to accept that North Africans are black (which would also precariously count St. Augustine as black), and then you would have to consider that having one black ancestor from the 18th century makes you black.  By that token, a lot more of us than just Jackie O. fit the bill.

Another interesting site I liked is called "Black Folk Don't..."  It's a series of short video segments in which random black people from New Orleans and Brooklyn sound off on different stereotypes of what black people supposedly don't do (go camping, commit suicide, play winter sports, etc.).  It is a nice example of stereotypes being taken on by the people directly implicated, and it is interesting to see the crossover, discordance, and conflation of black stereotypes with stereotypes of the underclass in general.  And on top of this, it cements my admiration for online TV series, because they tend to be a lot shorter and to-the-point than regular TV, with its ads and long wait between episodes.

Yet another offering is this silly recommendation of how to see the real Chicago.  It's very sarcastic, but pretty accurate in terms of capturing the essence of the city, or at least the 1990s North Side that I know.

Lastly I want to share this homage and discussion of Mr. Rogers's Neighborhood.  I always liked this show, though not for the reassurances of childhood fears that the blog author focuses on.  In fact, I never much liked the land of Make-Believe, or Mr. Rogers's talk about feelings.  No, I was a fan for the industrial stuff they showed.  There were always videos of how different products were made, and Mr. Rogers also frequently visited everyday neighborhood places.  This was right up my alley, as I've always been more into things and places than people and feelings.  In this respect, I think that Mr. Rogers was inadvertently a sort of populist or proletarian advocate.  He focused on the neighborhood (an urban one, at that, which was a great rejoinder to the suburbanized popular culture that dominated much of the 80s and 90s), on local, working-class people, and on factories.  Maybe it wasn't so inadvertent.  Despite his calm, apolitical appearance, in the interview with Joan Rivers in the article I linked to Fred Rogers comes off with a clear ethical stance in terms of favoring people and education, and fighting against consumerism and insincerity.  At any rate, after reading this little bit (part of a well-done series on how well-founded or not our nostalgia is for certain pop culture things from the 90s), I respect Fred Rogers even more, that quiet crusader for all that is decent and human in the world.

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