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65 Years Ago, Paris







French photographer André Zucca was hired by the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal to capture scenes of Paris flourishing under German occupation. Joseph Goebbels decreed that the French capital should be “animated and gay” to show off the “new Europe.” Zucca was provided with rare Agfacolor film. His are the only known color photographs of occupied Paris.

After the liberation, Zucca was arrested but never prosecuted. He worked under an assumed name as a wedding photographer until his death in 1976.

Andre Zucca’s photographs of gay Paris at war paint an uneasy portrait of city collaboration, The Times (London)

LiveJournal: bekar


Flag, 1954-1955

White Flag, 1955

Three Flags, 1958

“I make what it pleases me to make… I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don’t think that’s a painter’s business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason. I intuitively paint flags.” —Jasper Johns


30 Years Ago, Tehran





Magnum Photos: Pre-Khomeini Iran

East German Design





East German By Design: The ABCs of Communist Consumer Culture, Spiegel Online

1 Year Ago, Coney Island






Photos by Piotr Redlinski

Wenceslas Square or Tiananmen?

There can be no question that the June 12, 2009, Iranian presidential election was stolen. Dissident employees of the Interior Ministry, which is under the control of President Ahmadinejad and is responsible for the mechanics of the polling and counting of votes, have reportedly issued an open letter saying as much. Government polls (one conducted by the Revolutionary Guards, the other by the state broadcasting company) that were leaked to the campaigns allegedly showed ten- to twenty-point leads for Mousavi a week before the election; earlier polls had them neck and neck, with Mousavi leading by one per cent, and Karroubi just behind.

What is most shocking is not the fraud itself, but that it was brazen and entirely without pretext. The final figures put Mousavi’s vote below thirty-five per cent, and not because of a split among reformists; they have Karroubi pulling less than one per cent of the vote. To announce a result this improbable, and to do it while locking down the Interior Ministry, sending squads of Revolutionary Guards into the streets, blacking out Internet and cell-phone communication, and shuttering the headquarters of the rival candidates, sends a chilling message to the people of Iran—not only that the Islamic Republic does not care about their votes, but that it does not fear their wrath. Iranians, including many of the original founders and staunch supporters of the revolution, are angry, and they will demonstrate. But they will be met with organized and merciless violence. Already, YouTube clips are streaming out of Iran, many of them showing riot police savagely beating protestors.

In the days before the vote, my Iranian contacts breathlessly compared the atmosphere in Iran to that of 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution. In the last twenty-four hours, the unavoidable analogy has become 1989. The big question is where we are: Wenceslas Square or Tiananmen.

Iran’s Stolen Election by Laura Secor, The New Yorker

Harlem, 1970





The neighborhood was like a rundown version of Paris in which life was lived outside, on the streets, amid the fading glory of its grand boulevards.

The Harlem That Was by Camilo José Vergara, Slate

Harlem, 1970-2009: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara
New York Historical Society
April 30—July 12, 2009

20 Years Ago, Beijing




Scelere velandum est scelus.
One crime must be concealed by another. —Seneca

On June 4, 1989, seven weeks of peaceful protest were ended with tanks and guns. The world watched as soldiers fired on students, workers, and ordinary citizens demonstrating for democracy and human rights. Many were shot in the back as they fled. The Chinese red cross reported 2,600 deaths, while the official government record is 241.

The protests and massacre have become known among dissidents as the “June 4th Movement” or simply “6/4” but many younger Chinese are unaware of the date’s significance.

The Chinese search engine Baidu now blocks at least 19 derivations of “six four,” including homophones, the abbreviation “SF,” and “63+1.” Some internet users have begun to evade censors by referring to the date as May 35th.

Days ahead of the 20th anniversary, the Chinese government has forbidden foreign television crews and photographers from filming Tiananmen square, detained dissidents, blacked out BBC news broadcasts, blocked web sites including Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, and halted delivery of international newspapers.

Today in China some wore white, the color of mourning, as a form of silent protest and 100,000 people took part in a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong.

Magnum Photos: Remembering Tiananmen

Frontline: The Tank Man

Opinel Knife


The Opinel knife was invented by Joseph Opinel in about 1895.

In 1565 King Charles IX of France had ordered every master knife-maker to place an emblem on his products to guarantee their origin and quality. Respecting this tradition, Joseph Opinel chose as his emblem “The Crowned Hand”.

In 1985 Opinel was recognised as one of the hundred best designed objects in the world by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. An Opinel knife is also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York as a masterpiece of design.