Archive for December, 2018

December 30, 2018

The Negro Motorist Green Book

The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against non-whites was widespread.

Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited black car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could, but faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of North America, as well as founding a travel agency.

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December 26, 2018

Alternative Comedy

 Upright Citizens Brigade

Alternative comedy is a term coined in the 1980s for a style of comedy that makes a conscious break with the mainstream comedic style of an era. The phrase has had different connotations in different contexts. In the UK, it was used to describe content which was an ‘alternative’ to the mainstream of live comedy, which often involved racist and sexist material.

In other contexts, it is the nature of the form that is ‘alternative,’ avoiding reliance on a standardized structure of a sequence of jokes with punchlines. American comedian Patton Oswalt has defined it as ‘comedy where the audience has no pre-set expectations about the crowd, and vice versa. In comedy clubs, there tends to be a certain vibe—alternative comedy explores different types of material.’

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December 18, 2018

Emotional Labor

Smile mask syndrome

Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers, and superiors.

This includes analysis and decision making in terms of the expression of emotion, whether actually felt or not, as well as its opposite: the suppression of emotions that are felt but not expressed. As nations move from manufacturing to service-based economies, more workers in a variety of occupational fields are expected to manage their emotions according to employer demands.

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December 12, 2018

Mole People

Mole people (also known as ‘tunnel people’ or ‘tunnel dwellers’) are homeless people living under large cities in abandoned subway, railroad, flood, sewage tunnels, and heating shafts. The term may also refer to the speculative fiction trope of an entirely subterranean society.

While it is generally accepted that some homeless people in large cities make use of abandoned underground structures for shelter, urban legends persist that make stronger assertions. These include claims that ‘mole people’ have formed small, ordered societies similar to tribes, with members numbering up to the hundreds, living underground year-round. It has also been suggested that they have developed their own cultural traits and even have electricity by illegal hook-up. The subject has attracted some attention from sociologists but is highly controversial due to a lack of evidence.

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December 10, 2018

Belsnickel

Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Belsnickel is related to other companions of Saint Nicholas in the folklore of German-speaking Europe. He may have been based on another older German myth, ‘Knecht Ruprecht,’ a servant of Saint Nicholas, and a character from northern Germany. Unlike those figures, Belsnickel does not accompany Saint Nicholas but instead visits alone and combines both the threatening and the benign aspects which in other traditions are divided between the Saint Nicholas and the companion figure.

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December 5, 2018

Ricky Jay

card magic

Richard Jay Potash (1946 – 2018), known professionally as Ricky Jay, was an American stage magician, actor, bibliophile, and writer. In a profile for ‘The New Yorker,’ Mark Singer called Jay ‘perhaps the most gifted sleight of hand artist alive.’

In addition to sleight of hand, Jay was known for his card tricks, card throwing, memory feats, and stage patter. He also wrote extensively on magic and its history. His acting credits included the films ‘The Prestige,’ ‘The Spanish Prisoner,’ ‘Mystery Men,’ ‘Heist,’ ‘Boogie Nights,’ ‘Tomorrow Never Dies,’ ‘House of Games,’ and ‘Magnolia,’ and the HBO series ‘Deadwood.’

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