Amoeblog

Happy Texas Independence Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 2, 2009 11:21am | Post a Comment

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the newly independent country organized itself into several states. In the northern Coahuila y Tejas, there were many Native peoples like the Alabama, Apache, Aranama, Atakapa, Caddo, Comanche, Coahuiltecan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa and Wichita that the nearly bankrupt Mexican government had little resources to subjugate. So they invited immigrants from the US, called Texians, to help keep down the aborigines.

Soon the immigrants outnumbered the Mexicans and Natives put together. These Texian immigrants made little to no effort to assimilate into their adopted country -- they they self-segregated, carried guns everywhere, didn't learn "the language" (Spanish) and wrote signs in English. Even though slavery was illegal in Mexico, the Texians (who numbered about 30,000) simply ignored Mexican law and brought 5,000 slaves. Before long, Mexican president Bustamante sought to restrict futher American immigration to Mexico, recognizing they were up to no good. Before long, the Texians took up arms and ultimately gained independence from Mexico.

Joel McCrea
Joel McCrea, not Texian, but played one on the radio

By 1850, Texians started referring to themselves most commonly as Texans. The Texas Almanac of 1857 waxed purple about the mere dropping of the letter "i," continuing the Texan tradition of making something out of nothing, moaning [in Chris Elliot's fancy lad voice] "Texian...has more euphony, and is better adapted to the conscience of poets who shall hereafter celebrate our deeds in sonorous strains than the harsh, abrupt, ungainly, appellation Texan -- impossible to rhyme with anything but the merest doggerel."

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James Presley Ball

Posted by Whitmore, February 28, 2009 07:31pm | Post a Comment

James Presley Ball
was one of the most successful and famous African-American daguerreotypists of the19th century. Born in 1825 in Virginia, Ball opened his first photography studio at the age of twenty in Cincinnati, Ohio, just a few years after the invention of the daguerreotype. Business didn’t fare well, but the following year when he returned to Richmond, Virginia, Ball found considerable success with his new studio. By 1847 he took to the road again, this time as a traveling daguerreotypist, eventually returning to Cincinnati. In 1855 Ball published an abolitionist pamphlet depicting the horrors of slavery; accompanying his publication was an exhibition of his daguerreotypes on the subject of slavery, which he exhibited several times in the pre-Civil War years. After living some three decades in Ohio, he moved to Minneapolis, opening a daguerreotype studio there with his son. In 1887 Ball moved to Helena, Montana. That same year he was selected as the official photographer for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. While living in Montana he was also elected a delegate to the Republican convention for the Montana territory in 1894. In his years in Montana he produced hundreds of incredible photographs depicting life in the White, Black and Chinese communities. In 1900, he moved to Seattle, Washington opening his final studio, the Globe Photo Studio. In poor health, James Presley Ball moved once again, this time to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he died in 1904. His extensive body of work is housed at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Historical Society, Montana Historical Society, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, as well as in many private collections.

Jules Lion

Posted by Whitmore, February 28, 2009 03:07pm | Post a Comment
The daguerreotype was the precursor to the modern photography process; an image is exposed directly onto a highly polished silver metal plate, its surface coated with silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor-- a later advancement was the use of bromine and chlorine vapors to shorten the exposure time. The daguerreotype produced a negative image, but the mirrored surface of the plate reflects the captured image, making it appear positive once light is exposed to the photograph. Early experimenters had tinkered with the idea of photography for over a hundred years, but it was Louis Daguerre who finally perfected the technique in about 1839. Less then a year later the rich history of American photography began in New Orleans at #3 St Charles Street, in the private studio/residence of Jules Lion, "a freeman of color," who opened the first daguerreotype studio in New Orleans and one of the very first in the entire United States.
 
Born in 1810 in Paris, France, Jules Lion was the first of about fifty documented black daguerreotypists who operated galleries/studios in the first half of the 19th century in the U.S. He originally moved to New Orleans from France in 1837 where he was a lithographer and portrait painter -- at the Exposition of Paris of 1833 he was the youngest lithographer to be awarded an honorable mention. It’s believed that Lion returned briefly to Paris in 1839 and 1840 to study photography with Louis Daguerre. Upon his return Lion exhibited his first daguerreotypes in New Orleans in 1840; unfortunately only a couple of them have survived. By 1841 in New Orleans, he was lecturing on photography, co-founded an art school and was running a successful studio. Not much more is known of Jules Lion, except the occasional newspaper announcement and city records listing him as a professor of drawing at the College of Louisiana from 1852 to 1865. In his later years he returned to painting portraitures. Among his most famous commissions were portraits of President Andrew Jackson and naturalist John J. Audubon. Throughout his career he continued teaching and occasionally returning to Paris to exhibit his lithographs and daguerreotypes until his death in New Orleans in 1866.

Happy 200th Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

Posted by Whitmore, January 19, 2009 08:11am | Post a Comment

Two hundred years
ago today, the greatest of early American writers was born in Boston, Massachusetts: Edgar Allan Poe. The master of the macabre, horror and one of the earliest practitioners of the short story is also considered by many to be the originator of the detective/crime fiction genre. In celebration I originally thought I’d blather on as if possessed by some dark unfathomable tide, revel in the sound that takes the form of a demon. But I convinced myself that I shall not seek to convince. Am I here to exorcise my own demons beyond some memory of my past bliss; deceits, they lie in the anguish of today. Would such blather hasten some clever paranormal patter? Alas, for you Poe, I recollect one vanquished thought, “Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.” I won’t diddle. No one needs to read my diddle. Instead here are some of Edgar Allan Poe's greatest quotes:
 
“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
 
“Stupidity is a talent for misconception.”
 
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
 
“Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.”
 
“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”

“The true genius shudders at incompleteness -- and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.”
 
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.”
 
“I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity.”
 
“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream”
 
“Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.”
 
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
 
“I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect -- in terror.”
 
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

What is the deal with Somalia?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 26, 2008 01:35pm | Post a Comment
Somalia in the news
If you're like me, you may feel like the media only provides confusing, fragmented glimpses into what remains, by and large, an obscure part of the world that makes regular appearances in the news regarding (usually) famine, war or piracy. And yet, the newscasters seem perfectly content to repeatedly ask, "What's going on?" and "Why do they kill us when we bring aid?" and (most inexcusably stupid) "Aren't pirates a thing of the past?" Yet they seem content merely to ask and never to attempt an answer. So, in the face of another wave of gawking, 30 second snippets provided by the news, here's my humble attempt to shed a little light on the region; one where long-simmering tensions and colonialist pressure have caused the Somali people considerable strife and difficulty for centuries, with no hope of apparent change in the future. And yet, I hope the music and cultural bits I've thrown in will provide a balance to all the misery.

Horn of Africa Horn of Africa 70

Introduction
Somalia's history (and the horn of Africa, for that matter) for the last few centuries has been a familiar history of extreme hostility and violent retribution. Begrudging neighbors are made pawns of European powers and played against each other with suffering resulting on all sides. Somalia, whilst one of the only countries with only one ethnic group, has never very unified. Originally the Somali people organized themselves on the coasts of the mostly barren country in tiny city states (and later, after conversion to Islam, Sultanates). 

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