Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pulp Historic Preservationists

In the pulp cinema-ist’s 2009 DVD edition of Inglourious Basterds, I recently came across some of the bonus features and decided finally to click “Play” on them. The video short Nation’s Pride is effectively — or affectively for NAZIs — propagandistic pulp on propagandistic pulp, a parody on Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), this latter a serious film forwarded by Leni who in the 1930s subscribed to NAZI-lightism (if it’s possible to be kind of a NAZI).

Within Tarantino’s pulp short that is Nation’s Pride, though, it’s important to not take a sip of your beverage just before the below seen, where a fictional American Army commander does not allow for the bombing of a NAZI sniper because the jerk is sniping from the top of a 1,000 year old historic Italian tower. See below for context.

To be blunt, screw the tower and bomb the sociopathic sniper hopped up on social darwinian national socialism. FDR, Einstein and Churchill would have nodded in approval.

Fargo Punk and Historic Preservation

While the following insubordinate clause may read like a platitude, we might still remind ourselves that buildings are built by individuals, and those individuals have stories. And once built, those buildings take on owner after owner, tenant after tenant, and this brings additional stories into the fold.

824 Main Avenue in Fargo, North Dakota

In the case of 824 Main Avenue in Fargo, North Dakota, the Fargo-based punk band Les Dirty Frenchmen has for some years rented a space in the basement. They use it for practice, that perpetual process that can easily go unnoticed by anyone not in a band.

To provide a bit of historical context to the origins of punk, it’s necessary to acknowledge it as both a cultural and political movement. In Samuel Johnson’s 18th century distilled book of Insults, a punk is defined as “A whore; a common prostitute; a strumpet.” The Tory Johnson did not

Les Dirty Frenchmen emerge from 824 Main Avenue on March 1, 2012.

mince words. He was pretty much a jerk. Hilarious? In a cynical vein, yes, and even more so at a distance. And a jerk to be sure.

By the 1970s, much of punk rock (whether conscious or not that it was in a labor or labor light vein) would easily interpret humanity as getting ground down by advanced industrialization and ineffective political leaders to the point where it was only appropriate to, well, appropriate the term punk. Every one is grist for the mill, so you might as well pick up an instrument and give it a go. From that chaos emerged a pattern intrinsic to punk (no more than three chords, please), and rockers that are regularly played on the iRadio, such as the Ramones, Green Day, Rancid, and so on.

The architectural style (arguably a brick commercial style) of this Fargo building strongly suggests it was originally built as a creamery, or a creamery co-op (this style is associated with the creameries throughout the upper Mid-West): once again, potential rural and agrarian labor unifying to optimize output in order to compete with larger industrial urban giants. Further research will draw this out (there are only so many hours in a day, folks).

In the meantime, though, here is some on-the-ground YouTube video of a Les Dirty Frenchmen practice from the evening of March 1, 2012. They are practicing the original tune, “All Blowed Up,” another video of that here. In addition to that, guitarist Troy Reisenauer explains the dynamic of the practice space.

Long live punk, intellectual history, early twentieth-century creamery co-ops, and historic preservation.

Moon History from the Backyard: Public, Digital, DIY

Google Earth has a Moon feature within its main program, and the below video demonstrates how a person might take their laptop to the backyard some evening during a full moon, and compare the Google Earth Moon model and the uploaded human features on it with the moon that is right in front of them, real time.

This video below begins by showing the location where I snapped a photo of the moon one evening, in the autumn of 2010, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I did minimal prep work before starting my camera, taking the viewer through what turned into almost a six minute Edupunk tutorial. Because of this, I mistakenly referred to a lunar landing craft as a rover. But that is the nature of real-time lecture. Mistakes are made. It happens. Acknowledge them, correct them, and move on. Or preserve them and use it as a point of teaching.

Anyhow, the location where the still moon photo was shot happens to be just down the road from the University of North Dakota’s Department of Space Studies.

Mike Frohlich’s Thoughts on the Political Economy of Craft Brewing in North Dakota

On March 17, 2012, Mike Frohlich sat down at our United Tavern table at the Alerus Center-CanadaInn in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I was in town to chronicle the 2012 North Dakota Democratic-NPL convention, chat with Ryan Taylor, and document a democratic-republican process in action.

Mike Frohlich hauls around his craft brewing luggage at the CanadaInn on March 17, 2012 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Below Frohlich demonstrates how beneficial it is to be plugged into these processes, and how understanding current legislation allows an individual to figure out if it is the best political-economic model to enable, in this case, local craft brewing business throughout North Dakota. Frohlich has some constructive ideas about how to reform the current legislation and thereby create more small businesses and jobs.

In his words…


Augustine on Memory

For an end-of-the-week dose of historiography and some remarks on Augustine of Hippo‘s (354-430AD) thoughts on memory, here is what I came across the other day while browsing some chapters in The Confessions of St. Augustine (I must confess I did this while guzzling pints of coffee at the Red Raven coffee shop in downtown Fargo):

Great is this force of memory, excessive great, O my God; a large and boundless chamber! who ever sounded the bottom thereof?… The memory then is, as it were, the belly of the mind, and joy and sadness, like sweet and bitter food, which, when committed to the memory, are as it were, passed into the belly, where they may be stowed, but cannot taste.

Memory, and the various perceptions of memory, has forever been the business of historians. It is unlikely to let up. Also, if you ever begin to browse Augustine, at least this work, you’ll note that he is very repetitive in pledging monotheistic allegiance — but this isn’t unusual, especially for a saint.

Augustine of Hippo painting in Richardton Abbey, western North Dakota.

The last time I sat down and read some Augustine was during a graduate historiography seminar with Dr. Jim Mochoruk at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. We did not read The Confessions, but instead read The City of God (or large chunks of it), the title of the work that is painted into the photo of the Augustinian fresco in Richardton Abbey, western North Dakota. When you enter the sanctuary, look up and just to the left. You’ll see Augustine.

Memories from that class with Mochoruk: he required that we put together two term papers. I wrote one on David Hume and another on R.G. Collingwood, two more philosopher-historians who couldn’t stop thinking about memory, and thinking. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Hume and Collingwood, and thinking about their thoughts as well.

The National Park Service on Charles Lindbergh

This is — to use the tactful word — interesting: while scanning this link, it is obvious during the Charles Lindbergh portions of this historical write up that the National Park Service decided not make any references to Chuck rubbing elbows with Hermann Goering, this latter jerk being the one in charge of the NAZI Luftwaffe. Nor does the NPS let us know of Lindbergh’s publicly shady side here. Wikipedia (an increasing source of collective intelligence), however, had no trouble with showing how Lindbergh himself adhered to racism, and also referencing and providing a digital photo of it.

If an American rubbed elbows with NAZIs, the NPS today ought to let us know. This is also on par with asking the NPS to let the public know whether or not an American rubbed elbows with Stalinism, at the very least during his liquidation years. The past is complex that way. But Americans are capable of dealing with this sort of information. We can say things like, “While Lindbergh was good at making the first trans-Atlantic flight, his raging shortcoming was that he accepted Nazism…”

These truths will not somehow undermine the objective (though perpetually elusive) of pushing toward the democratic-republican ideal of an engaged citizenry. This ideal can only come about by incessantly challenging us to actively grapple with the realities of history rather than having us passively accept nostalgic national interpretations which are on par with the chicken soup for your soul sections at your local bookstore (rant alert!). I digress. NPS: please feel free to add a sentence or two in the national web site write up on Charles. We are adults. We can handle it.

In late December 2011, I visited the Charles Lindbergh home in Little Falls, Minnesota, snapped a photo of it, and of the public history signage as well. See below photos.

A photo of the Charles Lindbergh home in Little Falls, Minnesota, taken in late December 2011.

The public history signage at the Lindbergh Home in Little Falls, Minnesota. Note how there is no reference to Herb Goering in this signage.