Staff Recommendation – Stonewall Uprising (film)

Stonewall Bar 1969 – Disturbance at Sheridan Square, NYC. Scenes at Christopher St. and 7th Ave. South with police trying to clear crowds. Pictured, Stonewall Inn which was raided one day last week. July 2, 1969

In 60s-era New York, homosexuality was pathologized, criminalized, and punished by law enforcement. The American Psychiatric Association still classified it as a mental disorder, gay sex was punishable by fine or 20 years to life in prison, and routine police raids were conducted of any bars, baths, and spaces queer people were known to frequent.

Despite this, New York was still the big city, and by the 1960s there was a significant queer population that called the Greenwich Village area home, carving out a culture and place for themselves. Yet they were under constant threat.

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-owned gay bar, was raided by police on a routine attack. After several arrests were made, the patrons of the bar, as well as the growing crowd outside snapped – after years of oppression, enough was enough. Sparked by some of the most vulnerable within the queer community – trans people and cross-dressers – the crowd began refusing arrest, physically defending themselves, and attempting to drive the police away, trapping some within the bar itself. The scene became one that some people described as an all-out rebellion which continued for days. In the months that followed, queer liberation organizing sprang into high gear, sparking a seminal event in the American LGBTQ rights movement which drove forward social progress in the coming decades.

Produced as part of the PBS American Experience series, Stonewall Uprising is a collection of interviews and stories by those that lived these events. Archival documents, narrative commentary, and, most of all, eyewitness accounts give shape to this important story throughout the film. There is no better time than Pride Month to learn more about these events where it all began, and how they still reverberate in today’s politics and culture.

This film is available through the library’s subscription database, Academic Video Online (Alexander St. Press), in a series of parts.

— Mike Romano, Music Circulation Assistant

Staff Recommendation: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I love old movies. And I especially love old movies with Cary Grant in them. I could probably write a whole review about the various Cary Grant films available in our library, because I’m sure I’ve gone through most of them at this point.

Despite the fact that Cary Grant is in this film, full of gentlemanly sharp wit and amazing suits, it is Katherine Hepburn who truly steals the show and makes this her movie. A strong-willed, spoiled, and haughty aristocrat from the Main Line, Hepburn’s character finds herself in a series of awkward situations the day leading up to her wedding to an equally wealthy (yet completely dull) second husband. Grant plays her ex-husband, who invites himself to the wedding festivities, with a tabloid reporter (Jimmy Stewart) and photographer in tow disguised as friends of her brother. Hilarity ensues like most of these 1940s “screwball comedies,” including one of my favorite scenes of Hepburn and Stewart drunkenly dancing late into the night before the wedding day.

People sometimes pre-judge black-and-white films like The Philadelphia Story as being boring and stuffy, but this movie is actually really funny. Watch for a great scene right at the beginning of the film involving Hepburn breaking a golf club over her knee.

If you enjoyed this movie as much as I did (Greenfield Library GD2171), check out Bringing Up Baby, (also available in the Greenfield Library, GD1895) another award-winning film starring Grant and Hepburn as love interests, and equally ridiculous.

~ Recommended by Lillian Kinney, Cataloger/Archivist, Greenfield Library

Staff Recommendation: The Toaster Project: or, A Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch

Have you ever looked at a simple machine or object and figured, given the right materials, you could make one? If you have, where do you think you would even get those materials? In The Toaster Project, Thomas Thwaites sets out to make, you guessed it, a toaster, completely from scratch. This small book is divided into sections based on the materials needed and how Thwaites sets out to acquire them, from pouring a gooey potato concoction into hand-carved molds to make a kind of plastic, to digging for iron ore. There are even correspondences with different experts who charitably (and with varying levels of enthusiasm) try to help Thwaites with his seemingly ridiculous goal.

I first picked up The Toaster Project in college to pass some time. It’s a pretty short read and, in my opinion, interesting enough that you can get through it in one sitting. It’s ended up really sticking with me, and when I saw it in our collection I knew I had to pick it up again. I think what I love about it is that the book and the project are at once self-contained and expansive. There’s something satisfying about getting from one end of the book to the other, seeing the initial conception of the idea and the journey all the way to the final strange-looking, mildly-functional toaster. Thwaites set out to make something and then made it, and that’s that. But the book also brings up broader questions about industry, the environment, the human experience, and more. Where do your things really come from? How long do they take to make and how long do they last? How separated are we from the production of the things around us? And what even is a toaster?

If you’re interested in those kinds of questions, or just in design, fabrication, sculpture, industry, environmentalism, or really any number of various related topics, I suggest giving this book a try. Aside from the project itself, the writing in the book is honest, funny, and just the right amount of self-deprecating. And if you’re interested in Thwaites’ work, you should also check out another of his well known projects, GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human.

Find The Toaster Project at Greenfield Library, call # NK1447.6.T49 A35 2011

~Recommended by Kait Sanchez, Music Library Circulation Assistant 

Staff Recommendation – David Bowie Made Me Gay

Newly arrived at the UArts Music Library, David Bowie Made Me Gay, by Darryl W. Bullock, is a chronicle of the past century of the extraordinary contributions to the world of music made by people in the LGBTQ community.  Bullock covers several historical time periods, mostly focusing on countries within the Anglosphere. Taking us through the drag parties of the 1920-30s Pansy Craze era, the underground LGBTQ life of the WWII and post-war period, the liberation of the post-Stonewall era, to the ongoing fight for acceptance in American society, Bullock paints the development of LGBTQ music within its own community and larger society.  The growth and enrichment of musical genres such as blues, jazz, pop, and rock flow through the narratives. More than Bowie himself, notable artists portrayed include Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Leslie Gore, Boy George, and George Michael. We recommend this book for anyone with a curious desire to learn more about LGBTQ history, music, and culture.

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music, ML3470 .B85 2017  

 

 

 

 

 

– Mike Romano, Circulation Assistant, Music Library

Staff Recommendation: Princess Mononoke

Released in 1999 and holding a 94% audience approval rating, this Miyazaki film was hailed as “The ‘Star Wars’ of animated features!” by the New York Post. Princess Mononoke brings together the world of the spiritual and the realities of man. Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, and Miyazaki’s later movie Spirited Away, this film exists in a world where fantasy and reality push against each other as humans seek to destroy the old ways to make way for new.

At the center of the story is a young man named Ashitaka, who makes his way to a mining village after being cursed by a dying animal god.  There he meets Lady Eboshi, whose desire to acquire more iron for the village has put her in direct conflict with the nature gods that inhabit the land nearby who are lead by Princess Mononoke, a human girl raised by the wolf god. As his curse spreads, Ashitaka seeks to find a balance between these two opposing forces before both are destroyed by their own short sightedness.

This incredible film asks the questions; ‘Can Man and Nature coexist?’ ‘Is it possible to stand in the middle of conflict, or must we choose sides?’ ‘Who is really the villain?’ ‘Is there a place for those who are different?’With beautiful animation and subtle storytelling, Hayao Miyazaki asks us to come to our own conclusions through the actions of Ashitaka, Lady Eboshi and Princess Mononoke.

You can find this DVD at the Greenfield Library, stop by the circulation desk and ask for call # GD1475

~ Recommended by Lauralee Martin, Greenfield Library Work Study Assistant