Book Review: Grim Street by Mark Cohen

Photographer Mark Cohen stalked the same small radius of Wilkes-Barre, where he lived and worked, for decades, taking groundbreaking and revealing photos of small-town life that revel in the details. A well-edited selection of his black-and-white work comprises Grim Street.

Binge-Worthy #2: Candy Mountain (Robert Frank, 1987)

Candy Mountain, a low-budget independent feature from the mid-1980s that Robert Frank co-directed, easily ranks among his most significant filmmaking achievements. It’s a deeply personal work etched with social commentary that drives home just how much, in the wake of The Americans, Frank strove to distance himself from that career-defining body of work. It’s also his most mainstream project, and one that he ultimately deemed a failure.

Book Review: Palante: Young Lords Party by Michael Abramson with the Young Lords Party

Inspired by the Black Panthers, the Young Lords Party was an organization of Puerto Rican activists and community organizers, many of whom were first-generation college students at the time. The movement’s heyday lasted a little under two years, from 1969 to 1971. During that time, its members were on the frontlines of the struggle for social, racial, and economic justice.

Binge-Worthy #1: Manhatta (Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, 1921)

A semi-forgotten gem that MoMA cites as the first American avant-garde film, Manhatta was co-directed by Paul Strand, one of the most influential photographers of the early 20th Century. His co-director was the highly accomplished Charles Sheeler, a classically trained painter and self-taught photographer who came up with the initial concept for the film.

Book Review: Photography Until Now by John Szarkowski

Photography Until Now traces a path through the first 150 years of photography. The book, which blends history and criticism in insightful ways, is a sort of companion piece to Beaumont Newhall’s landmark 1937 MoMA exhibition and accompanying book The History of Photography.

Saving the Sound of Sigma

There’s a grassroots initiative underway here in Philadelphia to preserve the building that once housed Sigma Sound Studios as a historic landmark. Around 175 gold and platinum records were recorded at Sigma, an innovative, state-of-the-art recording studio founded in 1968 that was home base for Philadelphia International Records as well as a number of international recording stars.