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The Lost Arcade: documentary about Manhattan's last arcade

The Lost Arcade, a documentary about the encroachment of gentrficiation upon the last real video arcade in Manhattan, is now available to watch online.

Directed by Kurt P. Vincent, the story is as much about the Chinatown Fair’s community as the games, celebrating the final years of a pop culture phenomenon that moved into our homes so slowly we never realized what we were losing.

“I wanted to create a film that would capture the spirit that hit me the first time I walked through those doors,” writes Vincent. “There was a melting pot of a community that congregated there, where all walks of life came together and shared one common interest: video games. It was a microcosm of what New York was all about. Not the overpriced New York we’ve come to accept, but what this city originally stood for and still does when you look deep enough.”

The Lost Arcade sheds a behind-the-scenes light into the demise of arcade culture, as it coincided with the rise of home console and online gaming, and showcases the dichotomy of how gamers connected then vs. now. But more importantly, it highlights the diversity and camaraderie among the competitive gamer community that arcades like Chinatown Fair were so uniquely able to foster.

View links: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, VHX, Vimeo, and Vudu.

Previously: The Lost Arcade: doc about rebirth of legendary NYC arcade

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Gritty 1940s photos record the dark and dangerous lives of Pennsylvania coal miners

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Image: Library of Congress

In 1942, Office of War Information photographer John Collier visited the Montour No. 4 Mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Montour No. 4 was a mine for bituminous coal, one of the most volatile forms, requiring the miners to vigilantly monitor for the presence of flammable gases

Collier followed the miners as they moved underground through the near-horizontal drift mine, laying track for machinery, drilling and blasting with dynamite, all the while maintaining caution for possible collapses or explosions.

Image: Library of Congress

Miners prepare to ride down into the mine. Read more…

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Cold beer and tons of free crab: Friday night at a 1938 Louisiana roadhouse

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Image: Library of Congress

During the Great Depression, the photographic unit of the Farm Security Administration assigned photographers to crisscross the country and record how people lived and worked throughout the nation.

In September 1938, while traveling through Louisiana documenting sugar plantations, rice farmers, and oyster fishermen, photographer Russell Lee stopped off at Danos’ Nightclub, a roadhouse off Highway 1 in the tiny community of Raceland.

As it happened, he showed up on a Friday night, just in time for Danos’ free weekly crab boil

Grabbing his flash, he snapped photos as locals from around Bayou Lafourche smashed open piles of crustaceans, put away cases of Jax Beer, and blew off some late-summer steam. Read more…

More about Drinking, Bar, Louisiana, History, and Retronaut

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Striking images capture black life on Chicago's South Side in 1941

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Image: Library of Congress

In the early decades of the 20th century, millions of African-Americans began leaving the rural South for the urban North in a mass exodus known as the Great Migration.

For many fleeing the disenfranchisement, segregation, and racist violence of the Jim Crow South, the industrial hub of Chicago, with growing opportunities in the meatpacking and railroad businesses, offered the best prospects for self-determination.

New arrivals encountered territorial resistance from entrenched white ethnic groups, particularly Irish-Americans. That, combined with racist housing covenants, led to the de facto segregation of African-Americans into a narrow strip of run-down neighborhoods on the city’s South Side which came to be called the “Black Belt.” Read more…

More about Black History, African American, Chicago, History, and Retronaut

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In 1937, a judge quietly asked Meyer Lansky to form a squad of Nazi-punching gangsters to raid Bund meetings

Meyer Lansky was an infamous and ruthless gangster — albeit one so personally charming that his life is chronicled in a book called But He Was Good to His Mother — and no friend of New York State Judge Nathan Perlman; nevertheless, as the Nazi-supporting German-American Bund staged more and more toxic rallies in New York City, Perlman quietly asked Meyer to form a squad of Jewish gangsters to disrupt their meetings.
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1917: A young FDR gets into fighting shape with Woodrow Wilson's cabinet

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Cabinet officials perform exercises led by Walter Camp.

Image: Library of Congress

Walter Camp is known today as the “Father of American Football” for his contributions to the rules of the game, including the development of the line of scrimmage and the system of downs.

He was also an outspoken advocate of exercise and physical fitness

With the entry of the United States into World War I in 1917, Camp was appointed director of the U.S. Navy Training Camps’ Physical Development Program.

Disappointed by the sorry shape of most recruits, Camp devised a simple eight-minute exercise routine he called the “Daily Dozen,” a sequence of calisthenic motions including “hands, grind, crawl, wave, hips, grate, curl, weave, head, grasp, crouch and wing.” Read more…

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A neurologist captured these bizarre and creepy images to study the physics of human expression

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“This expression must be that of the damned.”

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1862, French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne published The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, a scientific and aesthetic text on the ways in which the muscles of the face create various expressions — a dictionary, so to speak, of what he believed was a universal, God-given language.

Duchenne had previously developed a number of therapeutic techniques involving the use of localized electric shocks to stimulate muscles

While conducting experiments for his text, he partnered with Adrien Tournachon, brother of the famed photographer Nadar, to document the expressions he induced in his models with targeted, painless shocks. Read more…

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A neurologist captured these bizarre and creepy images to study the physics of human expression

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“This expression must be that of the damned.”

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1862, French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne published The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, a scientific and aesthetic text on the ways in which the muscles of the face create various expressions — a dictionary, so to speak, of what he believed was a universal, God-given language.

Duchenne had previously developed a number of therapeutic techniques involving the use of localized electric shocks to stimulate muscles

While conducting experiments for his text, he partnered with Adrien Tournachon, brother of the famed photographer Nadar, to document the expressions he induced in his models with targeted, painless shocks. Read more…

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A new database holds the faces of the guards who oversaw the atrocities at Auschwitz

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Joseph Hefner, former student merchant. Joined SS in 1942 as a Sturmmann (Stormtrooper).

Image: Institute of National Remembrance

Following the invasion of Poland by Germany in September 1939, construction began on a complex of camps to house thousands of Polish political prisoners — Auschwitz.

The first prisoners began to arrive in the spring of 1940. The camp rapidly expanded and was repurposed into one of the central points for the concentration and murder of Jews

Before the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945, 1.1 million people, 90 percent of them Jewish, died there. They were systematically exterminated in gas chambers or killed by beatings, starvation, exhaustion or disease. Read more…

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The devastating 1889 Johnstown Flood killed over 2,000 people in minutes

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A tree protrudes from a house tossed by the flood.

Image: Bettmann/Getty Images

On the morning of May 31, 1889, Elias Unger, the president of Pennsylvania’s South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, awoke from a night of heavy rain to an impending catastrophe.

Just below his home, swollen by ongoing rainfall, the artificial reservoir of Lake Conemaugh appeared to be on the verge of overwhelming the notoriously leaky South Fork Dam impounding it.

Unger sent urgent warnings to nearby towns and rallied a crew to try to relieve the pressure on the dam by creating spillways, to no avail

An hour and a half after Unger ordered his men off the eroding dam, it collapsed, freeing 20 million tons of water to charge downstream. Read more…

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An ambitious young photographer captured the chaos and beauty of Greyhound buses in 1943

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A Greyhound bus from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh.

Image: Library of Congress

In 1942, Esther Bubley, a fresh graduate of the photography program at the Minneapolis School of Art, landed a job as a darkroom assistant at the Office of War Information (OWI) in Washington, D.C.

The OWI had recently absorbed the famed photographic unit of the Farm Security Administration and shifted the photographers’ assignments from rural poverty to various facets of the war effort, including aircraft factories and broader aspects of American infrastructure such as railroads.

Bubley’s talents were quickly recognized by the photographers and program director Roy Stryker, who transferred her out of the darkroom and into the field. Read more…

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You know who else invested in infrastructure? Autobahn spending was key to Hitler's consolidation of power

In Highway to Hitler, Nico Voigtländer (UCLA) and Hans‐Joachim Voth (University of Zurich)’s 2014 paper analyzing the impact of the massive infrastructure investment in creating the Autobahn, the authors conclude that the major spending project was key to Hitler’s consolidation of power.
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How people rebuilt after the horrific firebombing of Dresden

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1945

The destroyed city as seen from city hall.

Image: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Over two days and nights in February 1945, American and British bombers dropped 2,400 tons of high explosives and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs on the German city of Dresden.

The barrage turned the cultural jewel of Saxony into a hellish inferno. A firestorm raged across the city, generating hurricane-force winds and temperatures near 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Civilians sheltering in basements suffocated as the city above them was consumed by flame.

When the fires were finally extinguished, an estimated 25,000 people had died and the baroque city center had been reduced to rubble. Read more…

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This racial justice map sheds light on an often overlooked part of U.S. history

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Dark parts of American history are often swept under the rug for being too shameful and painful. But engaging with that history is crucial to understand the present — and figure out how to move forward.

A new website, called Monroe Work Today, is bringing the harrowing history of lynching in the United States out of the shadows. Its detailed map and other resources document the names and experiences of nearly 5,000 people of color who were killed between 1835 and 1963. 

“History class taught you the tip of the iceberg,” the site reads. “Every citizen has a duty to know this story. This history belongs to everyone.” Read more…

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A breathtaking 1915 photo tour of the mountains of the Holy Land

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The reputed location of Abraham’s offering of Isaac on Mount Gerizim.

IMage: Oregon State University Visual Instruction Department

Mountains around the world often have deep spiritual significance to the cultures that emerge in their shadows, and the peaks of the Holy Land are no exception.

Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Jordan are dominated by summits of Biblical import, from the cedar-covered slopes of Mount Lebanon, to the precipitous cliffs of Mount Arbel, to Mount Tabor, believed by many Christians to be the location of the Transfiguration of Jesus.

These lantern slides from the Oregon State University Visual Instruction Department offer a tour of the peaks and vistas of the Holy Land in the last days of Ottoman rule. Read more…

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Found photos capture generations of people posing for portraits on flimsy paper moons

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IMAGE: COLLECTION OF ROBERT E. JACKSON

These studio portraits, gathered from various sources by collector Robert E. Jackson, feature one of the most popular props in early 20th-century informal portraiture: the paper moon.

Jackson, who has assembled more than 12,000 pieces of vernacular photo ephemera over two decades, often discovers recurring pattens and motifs among the images, from comical photo-manipulated decapitations to proud displays of vinyl records.

The paper moon was most commonly found in cheap photo studios at fairs and carnivals, offering couples and friends the chance to commemorate their festive time together with a souvenir postcard of their trip to the heavens. Read more…

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Why 'Hidden Figures' —and its unsung heroes — is the ultimate NASA story

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NASA, and its stunning achievements, is much more than just the famous astronauts whose names you know — it was built on the behind-the-scenes work of its unsung heroes. 

From the early days of the United States’ space agency up through today, NASA has been run by  engineers, mathematicians and technicians at the tops of their fields.

But you rarely hear their stories or know their names. 

Behind every John Glenn or Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin there are tens or even hundreds of people working behind the scenes to keep them alive and healthy in space. That’s NASA’s true nature — a nexus of unseen teamwork and ingenuity that allows the exploration of new frontiers. Read more…

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