Posts Tagged ‘history’

There is currently no better ad campaign than Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign. They employ the first few verses of “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” a poem by Walt Whitman and try to appeal to Generation Y and beyond with the call for youthful vigor. Maybe I’m a sucker but it makes me want to buy (more) Levi’s. In this campaign they realize their role in American culture and by referencing other quintessential American figures/ideals they make their jeans more than a product, they make them a lifestyle.

Here’s an excerpt from “Pioneers! O Pioneers!”

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


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Piecemeal knowledge-building

I love stuff like this. “UK-based design studio Young” lets “anyone…submit a lesser known fact and since August an illustrated fact has appeared everyday.” It’s called Learn Something New Everyday. (via PSFK)

Trivia is my favorite way to remember things and learn history. I always wish that more companies would put their history on their products. Maybe it would only appeal to history nerds but since I am one, I’d be happy with it.

I wonder if trivia is actually an effective way to ignite an interest in history. It seems like the whole idea of rote fact recitation doesn’t appeal to many school kids. Personally, I always liked history as colorful narrative. It’d be interesting to see history learned through trivia using Manuel De Landa’s organizational principle, history as non-linear.


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Basin Street Blues

Most of you who read this know already but I am moving to New Orleans. The Big Easy. The Crescent City. Birthplace of Jazz. When I think about it I can’t believe it but what does come to my mind is Basin Street Blues. It was one of the first jazz songs I heard when I was younger and it’s informed my mythical image of New Orleans since.

Now the band’s there to greet us
Old friends will meet us
Where all them folks goin to the St. Louis Cemetary meet
Heaven on earth…. they call it Basin Street

I’m tellin’ ya, Basin Street…… is the street
Where all the white and dark folk meet
New Orleans….. land of dreams
you’ll never miss them rice and beans
Way down south in New Orleans

The song was made famous by Louis Armstrong in a 1928 recording. Basin Street itself was a main thoroughfare in Storyville, the world-famous prostitution district of old New Orleans (*since demolished and replaced with a public housing project).

Since 1928 the song has been recorded and re-recorded as a jazz standard. Jazz itself didn’t formally come into being until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At it’s inception into the American music landscape, jazz was mostly played in bars and clubs around Storyville, from where it spread to the rest of New Orleans and then across the world. Nowadays, musicians of all kinds record and remix the song. Here’s a music video put to a Kid Koala version of Basin Street Blues.

Expect more of these kinds of posts in the new year. I’ll be living in, exploring, and learning the history of a new city. There will be pictures, there will be stories.

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