Bits of a Puzzle - Part III

In the last few posts, I’ve been exploring a range of issues around the narratives that drive modern life. The stories we tell ourselves that give meaning to political movements, businesses, or modern social institutions; i.e. nuclear family, liberal arts educations, democracy, etc. Stories which give human beings the confidence to get up in the morning and feel assured that life has some order, whether it’s that they’ll have a job to go to, that they are deserving of certain status among friends, or even simply that when they go to turn on a faucet, water will come out. Underlying... Read more →


Bits of a Puzzle - Part II

Hollywood. In your imagination, what is it? What happens there? The making of television? Movies? Video games? Music? Who walks its streets? Strivers from all over coming to make a name? Or is it just a mass of smog tinted boulevards crowded with passing cars but few people? It's hard to say. But through much of the 20th century, the phrase "Hollywood" projected an over-riding image. It was "the dream factory." A place producing cinematic stories devoured by all the modern world. Those stories had their own specific arenas. The movie theater. Initially, the experience of moving pictures on a... Read more →


Bits of a Puzzle -- Part I

Last night was the first episode of this season’s The Sopranos. Lacking cable, I ended up watching it at a nearby pub, finding the spot through a search on Craigslist.org. Along with 20-30 other strangers, we gathered for pizza and beer and enjoyed the show. A few things about the event stood out. First, how so much of the dramatic tension within The Sopranos involves juggling resource scarcity, and the collective search for clear lines of authority around who gets to manage those resources. Just take the following highlights... Tony’s only pleasure - indulging a love of high priced sushi.... Read more →


I WANT MY PBS!

After the last post, I realized we just offered the audience a lot of praise for July '64, but it's not something they can now go watch. Given the digital distribution nature of today's world, the inability to see this terrific film is... well, ridiculous. On every level. First, because it offers no value sitting on a shelf somewhere. Second, because it's so much better than 99% offered on our 500 channel universe. Third because the documentary, itself, is the best of an emerging digital genre that combines cinematic simplicity (the story is generated less by images than the voices... Read more →


Paula Fass on the History of Babyhood

That's Capital

Guest Paula Fass Jonathan Field talks with historian Paula Fass about "babyhood" in 20th century America. Fass dives into the way changing ideas about babies translated into products, as well as conceptions of citizenship, progress, and what makes a meaningful adult life. Fass is Byrne Professor of History at UC, Berkeley, and the author of several books on childhood, including The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s; Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education; Kidnapped: A History of Child Abduction in the United States, and is the co-editor of the Childhood in America.... Read more →