A Sneak Peek of Peter Jackson’s New Beatles Documentary Get Back: Watch the New Trailer

In much the same way David Lynch gave us way more Twin Peaks than we’d ever hoped for in 2017, Peter Jackson and the Beatles are giving us nothing like the little seen and quickly shelved Let It Be documentary from 1970, but a full six hours of the final musical works of the Beatles. Premiering on Disney Plus (yes, I know, you gotta pay money to the Mouse) over three days after Thanksgiving, this six-hour series is the big one fans of the various remasters, repackages, and remixes have been waiting for.

The Get Back sessions have long been a sour note in a career that was mostly joyous. Appearing over and over again in bootleg form, the various jam sessions, cover versions, and rehearsals through the songs that would turn up on Abbey Road and Let It Be can be grim listening. (I know, I’ve listened to a lot of it. The Beatles practicing is just as tedious as any other band working through songs.) The general narrative is that the acrimony among the band members, the wraith-like presence of Yoko Ono, and Paul’s relentlessly upbeat badgering of everybody else caused the world’s most famous band to break up. Abandoning the project, they performed some of the songs on a Saville Row rooftop, and the rest was left up to the lawyers (and Phil Spector) to sort out.

Jackson’s Get Back, made with the blessings of the surviving Beatles, intends to upend that narrative.

“The thing is, when the film was released, The Beatles were breaking up, but they weren’t breaking up when they were making Let It Be, which was recorded a year earlier,” Jackson told GQ Magazine. “So I suppose it would have been odd to release a film where they are all enjoying each other’s company.”

The acrimony only set in later, when Allen Klein became their manager, he added.

This is Beatles as a family, and families argue, joke about, and get down to family business.

Honing the techniques Jackson used to bring to life old World War I footage in They Shall Not Grow Old, the film takes the 57 hours of footage shot by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and makes it look like it was shot yesterday. The colors you see in the trailer, however, have not been altered. “I mean, it does make you jealous of the 1960s, because the clothing is so fantastic,” Jackson said.

The album Let It Be always had the shadow of a bad breakup over it, but for newer generations, that may no longer be the case after this documentary drops next month.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

The Bombing of Pompeii During World War II

In 79 AD, 17-year-old Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, known as Pliny the Younger, gazed across the Bay of Naples from his vacation home in Misenum and watched Mount Vesuvius erupt. “Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night,” Pliny wrote in his eyewitness account — the only surviving such document — “but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room.” Unbeknownst to Pliny and his famous uncle, Pliny the Elder, admiral of the Roman navy and revered naturalist, hundreds of lives were also snuffed out by lava, clouds of smoke and ash, and temperatures in the hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit. The Elder Pliny launched ships to attempt an evacuation. In the morning, he was found dead, likely from asphyxiation, along with over two thousand residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

When the buried town was first unearthed, a new cycle of witness, death, and resurrection began. “Since its rediscovery in the mid-18th century,” writes National Geographic, “the site has hosted a tireless succession of treasure hunters and archeologists,” not to mention tourists — starting with aristocratic gentlemen on their Grand Tour of Europe. In 1787, Goethe climbed Vesuvius and gazed into its crater. “He recorded with disappointment that the freshest lava was already five days old, and that the volcano neither belched flame nor pelted him with stones,” writes Amelia Soth in an article about “Pompeii Mania” among the Romantics, a passion that culminated in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 potboiler, The Last Days of Pompeii, “hands-down the most popular novel of the age.”

Bulwer-Lytton’s book “had such a dramatic impact on how we think about Pompeii,” the Getty writes, that the museum named an exhibition after it that features — unlike so many other histories — Pompeii’s 20th century “apocalypse”: an Allied bombing raid in the autumn of 1943 that damaged nearly every part of the site, including “some of Pompeii’s most famous monuments, as well as its museum.” As Nigel Pollard shows in his book Bombing Pompeii, over 160 Allied bombs hit Pompeii in August and September. Few tourists who now flock to the site know how much of the ruins have been rebuilt since then. “Only recently have the literature and the scientific community paid due attention to these dramatic events, which constitute a fundamental watershed in the modern history of the site,” writes archeologist Silvia Bertesago.

A Pliny of his time (an Elder, given his decades of scientific accomplishment), Pompeii’s superintendent, archeologist Amedeo Maiuri, “accelerated the protection of buildings and moveable items” in advance of the bombing raids. But “who will save monuments, houses and paintings from the fury of the bombardments?” he wrote. Maiuri had warned of the coming destruction, and when false information identified the slopes of Vesuvius as a German hideout, the longest-running archeological excavation in the world became “a real target of war…. The first bombing of Pompeii took place on the night of August 24 1943…. Between August 30 and the end of September, several other raids followed by both day and night…. No part of the excavations was completely spared.”

Maiuri chronicled the destruction, writing:

It was thus that from 13 to 26 September Pompeii suffered its second and more serious ordeal, battered by one or more daily attacks: during the day flying low without fear of anti-aircraft retaliation; at night with all the smoke and brightness of flares […]. During those days no fewer than 150 bombs fell within the excavation area, scattered across the site and concentrated where military targets were thought to be.

Himself wounded in his left foot by a bomb, Maiuri helped draw up a list of 1378 destroyed items and over 100 damaged buildings. Hasty, emergency rebuilding in the years to follow would lead to the use of “experimental materials” like reinforced concrete, which “would later prove incompatible with the original materials” and itself require restoration and repair. The ruins of Pompeii were rebuilt and resurrected after they were nearly destroyed a second time by fire from the sky — this time entirely an act of humankind. But the necropolis would have its revenge. The following year, Vesuvius erupted, destroying nearly all of the 80 B-25 bombers and the Allied airfield at the foot of the mountain.

In the video above, you can learn more about the bombing of Pompeii. See photographs of the destruction at Pompeii Commitment and at the Getty Museum, which features photos of Pompeiian sites destroyed by bombing side-by-side with color images of the rebuilt sites today. These images are dramatic, enough to make us pay attention to the seams and joints if we have the chance to visit, or revisit, the famous archeological site in the future. And we might want to ask our guide if we can see not only the ruins of the natural disaster, but also the multiple undetonated bombs from the “apocalypse” of World War II.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

William Shatner in Tears After Becoming the Oldest Person in Space: ‘I’m So Filled with Emotion … I Hope I Never Recover from This”

Yesterday Star Trek‘s William Shatner, now 90 years old, finally became a Rocket Man, taking a trip to space. And upon his return he said: “I hope I never recover from this.” “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. It’s so much larger than me and life. It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.” “To see the blue color whip by you, and now you’re staring into blackness … everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see this.” What. A. Trip.

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136 Paintings by Gustav Klimt Now Online (Including 63 Paintings in an Immersive Augmented Reality Gallery)

At the end of World War II the Nazis burned an Austrian castle full of masterpieces, including three paintings by Gustav Klimt entitled Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence. Called the “Faculty Paintings,” these were commissioned by the University of Vienna for the ceiling of its Great Hall in 1900, then, upon completion seven years later, were deemed pornographic and never exhibited. Until now, they were preserved for posterity only in black and white photographs.

Thanks to cutting edge art restoration AI, the monochromatic images of Klimt’s Faculty Paintings have been reconstructed in color. They are now on display in an online gallery of 130 paintings, plus a virtual exhibition of 63 of the artist’s works, all brought together by Google Arts & Culture and appropriately called Klimt vs. Klimt. It’s a retrospective exploring the artist’s many contradictions. Was he a “scholar or innovator? Feminist or womanizer? Famous artist or humble craftsman? The answer, in most cases, is both,” notes Google. There’s more, of course, given the venue, as Art Daily explains:

The exhibition features an immersive Augmented Reality Pocket Gallery, which digitally organizes 63 of Klimt’s masterworks under a single roof. Audiences can virtually walk the halls of the gallery space at scale and zoom in on the paintings’ fine ornamentation and pattern, characteristic of Klimt’s practice, made possible by the digitization of his iconic artworks in ultra-high resolution.

With respect to the first pair of oppositions (that is, scholar or innovator?), Klimt was assuredly both, though not exactly at the same time. Trained as an architectural painter at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, his early work is solidly academic — realist, formal, classical and conservative.

So conservative an artist was Klimt, in fact, he was elected an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna, and in 1888 Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I … before, that is, his work was judged obscene — a judgment that did surprisingly little to hinder Klimt’s career.

At the end of the 19th century, Klimt abruptly shifted focus, particularly after the death of his artist brother Ernst and his father, a gold engraver, in 1892. He became a founding member of the Vienna Secession movement, producing some of his most famous Symbolist works during his “Golden Phase,” when many of his works contained real gold leaf in tribute not only to his father but to the Byzantine art he saw during visits to Venice and Ravenna. This was the height of Klimt’s career, when he produced such works as The KissThe Embrace, and Fulfillment and Expectation, “probably the ultimate stage of my development of ornament,” he said.

In many ways, Klimt embodied contradiction. An admirer of society and luxury, he also spurned company, turned away all visitors, and spending so much time painting landscapes during summer holidays that locals called him Waldschrat, “forest demon.” Renowned for his sexual adventurousness (he supposedly fathered 14 children), Klimt was also an intensely focused and isolated individual. In a piece entitled “Commentary on a Non-Existent Self-Portrait,” he writes:

I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women… There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day and day from morning to night… Whoever wants to know something about me… ought to look carefully at my pictures.

Look carefully at an online gallery of Klimt’s works here. And see the immersive Augmented Reality gallery here.


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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Archaeologists Discover 1300-Year-Old Pair of Skis, the Best-Preserved Ancient Skis in Existence

Surfing is generally believed to have originated in Hawaii and will be forever associated with the Polynesian islands. Yet anthropologists have found evidence of something like surfing wherever humans have encountered a beach — on the coasts of West Africa, in the Caribbean, India, Syria, and Japan. Surfing historian Matt Warshaw sums up the problem with locating the origins of this human activity: “Riding waves simply for pleasure most likely developed in one form or another among any coastal people living near warm ocean water.” Could one make a similar point about skiing?

It seems that wherever humans have settled in places covered with snow for much of the year, they’ve improvised all kinds of ways to travel across it. Who did so with the first skis, and when? Ski-like objects dating from 6300-5000 BC have been found in northern Russia. A New York Times article recently described evidence of Stone Age skiers in China. “If skiing, as it seems possible,” Nils Larsen writes at the International Skiing History Association, “dates back 10,000 years or more, identifying a point of origin (or origins) will be difficult at best.” Such discussions tend to get “bogged down in politics and national pride,” Larsen writes. For example, “since the emergence of skiing in greater Europe in the late 1800s” — as a sport and purely recreational activity — “Norway has often been considered the birthplace of skiing. Norway has promoted this view and it is a point of national pride.”

Despite its earliest records of skiing dating millennia later than other regions, Norway has some claim. The word ski is, after all, Norwegian, derived from Old Norse skíð, meaning “cleft wood” or “stick.” And the best-preserved ancient skis ever found have been discovered in a Norwegian ice field. “Even the bindings are mostly intact,” notes Kottke. The first ski, believed to be 1300 years old, turned up in 2014, found by the Glacier Archeology Program (GAP) in the mountains of Innlandet County, Norway. The archaeologists decided to wait, let the ice melt, and see if the other ski would appear. It did, just recently, and in the video above, you can watch the researchers pull it from the ice.

Photo: Andreas Christoffer Nilsson, secretsoftheice.com

“Measuring about 74 inches long and 7 inches wide,” notes Livia Gershon at Smithsonian, “the second ski is slightly larger than its mate. Both feature raised footholds. Leather straps and twisted birch bark bindings found with the skis would have been attached through holes in the footholds. The new ski shows signs of heavy wear and eventual repairs.” The two skis are not identical, “but we should not expect them to be,” says archaeologist Lars Pilø. “The skis are handmade, not mass-produced. They have a long and individual history of wear and repair before an Iron Age skier used them together and they ended up in the ice.”

The new ski answered questions the researchers had about the first discovery, such as how the ancient skis might have maintained forward motion uphill. “A furrow on the underside along the length of the ski, as you find on other prehistoric skis (and on modern cross-country skis), would solve the question,” they write, and the second ski contained such a furrow. While they may never prove that Norway invented skiing, as glacier ice melts and new artifacts appear each year, the team will learn much more about ancient Norwegian skiers and their way of life. See their current discoveries and follow their future progress at the Secrets of the Ice website and on their YouTube channel.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Slot Machine Age: A 1964 British Newsreel Angsts Over Whether Automated Machines Will Displace People

When Americans hear the phrase “slot machine,” they think of pensioners compulsively pulling levers day and night in Las Vegas. But when the British hear it, a much less bleak vision comes to their minds: the automated dispensation of cigarettes, coffee, groceries, and even entire meals. Or at least such a vision came to the minds of Britons back in 1964, the year of the British Pathé newsreel above. With its brilliant colors and jazzy score, Slot Machine Age proudly displayed to the viewing public the range of coin-operated wonders already making their way into daily life, from pay phones and pinball machines to shoe-buffers and bottle-recycling stations.

“This invention, this brainchild of the boffins, has created a new disease,” declares the announcer: “slot machine fever.” Again, this has nothing to do with gambling, and everything to do with automation. Nearly 60 years ago, buying something from a machine was a novelty to most people in even the most highly industrialized countries on Earth.

Yet even then the automat, where diners pulled all their dishes from coin-operated windows, had in certain cities been an institution for decades. Alas, such establishments didn’t survive the explosion of fast food in the 1970s, whose business model made use of more, not less, human labor.

But in the 1960s, the age of the robot seemed well on its way — so much so that this phrase titles another, slightly later British Pathé production showcasing a “semi-computerized version of the dumbwaiter” being tried out in hotel rooms. From it the film’s honeymooning couple extract cocktails, peanuts, toothpaste, and “that last cigarette of the day.” It even offers reading material, a concept since tried again in France, Poland, San Francisco, and an eccentric bookstore in Toronto, but the glorious age of all-around convenience predicted in these newsreels has yet to materialize. We citizens of the 21st century are in many cases hardly pleased, but rather anxious about what we see as our growing dependence on automation. Still, with the coronavirus-induced vogue for contact-free payment and dining, perhaps it’s time to give the automat another chance.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

What Makes a “Cult” Band? Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #107

What makes for a “cult band”? Not just a small audience, because Grateful Dead fans are an archetypical cult. Not just a devoted, emotionally invested audience; no volume of Swifties make Taylor Swift qualify as a cult act. Does the music have to be somehow inaccessible, or the fans snobby?

Your host Mark Linsenmayer and three other musicians try to figure it out:

A few of the names that come up for consideration are Tom Waits, The Cure, XTC, Big Star, Brian Wilson, Lou Reed, Guided by Voices, David Bowie, R.E.M., The Residents, Os Mutantes, Tony Owens, Phil Judd, Mike “Sport” Murphy, and many more.

We talk about how the Internet has affected fandom and the music business, the power of musicians lauding each other, and how music fandom relates to other fandom.

Listen to Tim on Nakedly Examined Music and The Partially Examined Life. Read his blog 5-star-songs. Read his article “Hopelessly Devote: Cult Bands.” Follow him @tbquirk.

Listen to Aaron talking about his songs on Nakedly Examined Music, on Pretty Much Pop last year (talking about Borat), and as part of a Partially Examined Life audioplay (also featuring PMP favorite Erica Spyres and cult actress Lucy Lawless). Listen to the song he mentions that resulted from a Tik-Tok collaboration with cult artist Emma Freeman. Follow him on Facebook.

Read Chris’ post-mortem on cult artist Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger.

A couple of articles that fed into this included:

Just to explain one of Mark’s comments, there really was a playset for “the hatch” for the TV show Lost.

This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Behold the Photographs of John Thomson, the First Western Photographer to Travel Widely Through China (1870s)

In the early 1860s, a few Westerners had seen China — but nearly all of them had seen it for themselves. The still-new medium of photography had yet to make images of everywhere available to viewers everywhere else, which meant an opportunity for traveling practitioners like John Thomson. “The son of a tobacco spinner and shopkeeper,” says BBC.com, ” he was apprenticed to an Edinburgh optical and scientific instrument manufacturer where he learned the basics of photography.”

In 1862 Thomson sailed from Leith “with a camera and a portable dark room. He set up in Singapore before exploring the ancient civilizations of China, Thailand — then known as Siam — and Cambodia.” It is for his extensive photography of China in the late 1860s and early 1870s that he’s best known today.

First lavishly published in a series of books titled Illustrations of China and Its People (now available to read free online at the Yale University Library: volume one, volume two, volume three, volume four), they now constitute some of the earliest and richest direct visual records of Chinese landscapes, cityscapes, and society as they were in the late 19th century.

“The first Western photographer to travel widely through the length and breadth of China,” Thomson brought his camera on journeys “far more extensive than those undertaken by most Westerners of his generation,” extending “beyond the relative comfort and safety of the coastal treaty ports.” Those words come from scholar of the 19th-century Allen Hockley, whose five-part visual essay “John Thomson’s China” at MIT Visualizing Cultures provides a detailed overview and historical contextualization of Thomson’s work in Asia.

Thomson’s photographs, writes Hockley, “fall into two broad categories: scenic views and types. Views encompassed both natural landscapes and built environments. They could be panoramic, taking in large swaths of scenery, or they might highlight specific natural phenomena or individual structures.”

Types “focused on the manners and customs of Chinese people and tended to highlight the defining features of gender, age, class, ethnicity, and occupation.” A century and a half later, both Thomson’s views and types have given scholars in a variety of disciplines much to discuss.

“It is clear from his commentary to Illustrations of China that, however sympathetic he was towards Chinese people, he could often be superior and high-handed,” writes Andrew Hiller at Visualizing China. “If Thomson never sought to question the validity of Britain’s presence, his attitude towards China was ambivalent. Whilst critical of what he saw as the corruption and obfuscation of Qing officials, he nevertheless could see the country’s potential.”

Thomson also helped others to see that potential — or at least those who could afford to buy his books, whose prices matched the quality of their production. But today, thanks to online archives like Historical Photographs of China and Wellcome Collection, they’re free for everyone to behold. China itself has become much more accessible since Thomson’s day, of course, but it’s famously a much different place than it was 25 years ago, let alone 150 years ago. The land through which he traveled — and of which he took so many of the very earliest photographs — is now infinitely less accessible to us than it ever was to his fellow Westerners of the 19th century.

Hear a lecture on Thomson’s photography in China from the University of London here.

via Flashbak

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Free Cult Films by Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi & More on the New Kino Cult Streaming Service

For many Open Culture readers, the Halloween season offers an opportunity — not to say an excuse — to re-experience classic horror films: F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu from 1922, for instance, or even George Méliès The Haunted Castle, which launched the whole form in 1896. This year, may we suggest a home screening of the formidable work of vintage cinema that is 1968’s The Astro Zombies? Written, produced, and directed by Ted Mikels — auteur of The Corpse Grinders and Blood Orgy of the She-Devils — it features not just “a mad astro-scientist” played by John Carradine and “two gore-crazed, solar-powered killer robot zombies,” but “a bloody trail of girl-next-door victims; Chinese communist spies; deadly Mexican secret agents led by the insanely voluptuous Tura Satana” and an “intrepid CIA agent” on the case of it all.

You can watch The Astro Zombies for free, and newly remastered in HD to boot, at Kino Cult, the new streaming site from film and video distributor Kino Lorber. Pull up the front page and you’ll be treated to a wealth of titillating viewing options of a variety of eras and subgenres: “Drive-in favorites” like Ape and Beware! The Blob; “golden age exploitation” like Reefer Madness and She Shoulda Said ‘No’!; and even classics like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire.

True cult-film enthusiasts, of course, may well go straight to the available selections, thoughtfully grouped together, from “Master of Italian Horror” Mario Bava and prolific Spanish “B-movie” kingpin Jesús Franco. Those looking to throw a fright night might consider Kino Cult’s offerings filed under “hardboiled horror”: Killbillies, The House with 100 Eyes, Bunny: The Killer Thing.

Few of these pictures skimp on the grotesque; fewer still skimp on the humor, a necessary ingredient in even the most harrowing horror movies. Far from a pile of cynical hackwork, Kino Cult’s library has clearly been curated with an eye toward films that, although for the most part produced inexpensively and with unrelenting intent to provoke visceral reactions in their audiences, are hardly without interest to serious cinephiles. The site even includes an “artsploitation” section containing such taboo-breaching works as Curtis Burz’s Summer House. Among its general recent additions you’ll also find Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos, perhaps the most daring high-profile provocateur currently at work in the medium. Since Kino Cult has made all these films and more available to stream at no charge, none of us, no matter our particular cinematic sensibilities, has an excuse to pass this Halloween un-entertained — and more to the point, undisturbed. Enter the collection here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Dave Grohl Falls Offstage & Breaks His Leg, Then Continues the Show as The Foo Fighters Play Queen’s “Under Pressure” (2015)

How do you make the show go on after a broken leg?

The blessing we give performers before they go onstage isn’t something we actually want to see happen. Nonetheless, stage injuries occur frequently, and in some cases, severely, as when Patti Smith fell 15 feet into a concrete orchestra pit in 1977 and broke several vertebrae in her back. “I felt like an asshole,” she told Circus magazine, “but my doctor told me not to worry, it happens to everybody.”

Maybe not everybody, but when the Foo Fighters played Gothenburg, Sweden in 2015, Dave Grohl took a major spill from the front of the stage, breaking his leg, while a crowd of 52,000 people watched. They also watched as, several minutes later, his crew carried him back onstage while the rest of the band fittingly played Queen’s “Under Pressure.”

The fall happened during the second song of the show, and Grohl returned to play the entire 26-song set, his doctor kneeling next to him, holding his leg together.

It didn’t hurt until I wound up on my couch in my hotel room, with a beer in my hand. They gave me some really strong painkillers—I never take pills, but within half an hour I was like, “Get me the f—ing Oxys right now, man!” It was pretty painful. And then I thought I could just get up and do a show a week later after surgery, but I literally could not get out of bed for about six or seven days. It was so f—ing painful. I had never experienced anything like that in my life. 

With his leg in a cast, he determined that the band would make their Fourth of July show in Washington, DC, a return to Grohl’s hometown. “I started thinking… ‘I might not be able to get onstage next week,’” he told Entertainment Weekly, “‘but I’m not missing that Fourth of July show, and if that goes OK then we’re just going to keep going.’” The gig went so well the band kept touring, Grohl perched in a specially-designed stage throne.

“I love my job,” Grohl said, “I mean, f–, I’m out there with a broken leg and a plate and pins in a bone and I can’t even stand up, but I still want to get on stage and play, with my family. We’re not breaking up anytime soon, that would be like your grandparents getting a divorce.” There’s no shame in taking it easy after an injury, but if you’re a dedicated performer who lives onstage, you might heal even faster if you don’t. At the time, Grohl epitomized another old cliche — if you love what you do, you won’t have to work a day in your life, even when you have to work with a broken leg. Watch the fall just above and the triumphant return minutes later at the top of the post. Below you can see the reunion with the doctor who held his leg together.

Grohl’s fall, and other moments, get revisited in his new memoir, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Meet Tsuneko Sasamoto, Japan’s First Female Photojournalist and Now, at 107, Japan’s Oldest Living Photojournalist

You should never become lazy. It’s essential to remain positive about your life and never give up. You need to push yourself and stay aware, so you can move forward. 

— Tsuneko Sasamoto

Sound advice whether one is interested in sustaining a creative practice or remaining vigorous as one ages.

Photographer Tsuneko Sasamoto is an excellent poster child for both. Born in Tokyo in 1914, shortly after the beginning of the first World War, she is Japan’s first female photojournalist and — at 107, its oldest living photojournalist.

Her traditional father thwarted her hopes of becoming a painter, but early encounters with a black-and-white film by Man Ray and the work of Margaret Bourke-White suggested that photography might prove a similarly fulfilling path.

By 1940, she was able to parlay a job as a part-time illustrator on the local news pages at Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun (now known as the Mainichi Shimbun) into a probationary gig as a shooter, though as a young woman, she was constrained by gender expectations.

Unlike her male counterparts, she was not allowed to document WWII at the front. Instead, she was charged with special interest stories of a patriotic nature and portraits of diplomatic envoys. She deeply resented her professionally mandated uniform — skirts and heels that occasionally hampered her from getting the shot.

Her ambition benefited from a stubbornly defiant streak. An article in The Japan Times details how she weathered discriminatory comments, resisted male family members’ scripts, and, in 1947, piped up to ask General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, if he would grant her a redo when her camera malfunctioned at the ribbon cutting ceremony he was attending.

Other subjects from her eight decades-long career:

Student protesters

The wives of coal miners who were on strike against the then-largest coal mine in Japan

Young women training to be geisha

The Imperial Family

Socialist Party head Inejiro Asanuma the day before his 1960 assassination

A who’s who of Japanese novelists, poets, and artists

The 2011 earth quake and tsunami

And, for her exhibit 100 Women at the Japanese Camera Industry Institute, she included some notable survivors of the Meiji and early Showa eras, such as Queen of the Blues, Noriko Awaya. As Sasamoto recalled:

I photographed her toward the end of her life when she was in her eighties and bedridden. I was one of the few allowed to see her at that time, I think because I was born in the Taisho era (1912-26) and she felt I could understand her…. She kept telling me, ‘I am not formidable.’

Shortly after turning 100, Sasamoto weighed in on digital cameras — their lighter weight made them easy to carry around, but their functions were difficult to understand.

As for her health regimen: maintaining contact with family and friends, a daily piece of chocolate, a glass of red wine every night, and way more red meat than recommended.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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