This is the world's first TV ad

The first TV commercial —the first legal one, at any rate— aired in the U.S. on July 1, 1941. It was a shaky, 10-second spot for Bulova, a watch and jewelry company that had been founded in New York 66 years before.

The spot cost Bulova all of $9: $4 for airtime and $5 for "station charges," according to American Heritage magazine. (Presumably its agency, Biow Company, took a slice of those "station charges.") The commercial only reached, at best, a few thousand people: Only 4,000 TV sets had been installed in New York at that time.


National Geographic Traveler 2013 Photo Contest

On May 10, 2013 The Big Picture featured some of the thousands of images that were entered in the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Magazine Photo Contest. The winners have been chosen. Their images follow. (The winners gallery is also available here as well as the complete contest and all its entrants here. You can see the editor's picks and can download wallpaper images for your desktop or your smartphone.) The winning images will appear in the Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

See photographs at The Big Picture website.

San Diego Harbour, CA. May 2013

UNICEF photo of the year. Vietnam: The legacy of the war

By photojournalist Ed Kashi, USA. © Ed Kashi
The Vietnam War ended in 1975. The USA withdrew their troops and North and South Vietnam were reunited. After 35 years, the world no longer pays attention to the drama. But for the Vietnamese people the legacy of American warfare continues. It was a cruel and brutal war that was also extremely damaging to the environment. US forces used the herbicide Agent Orange to destroy foliage that the North Vietnamese were using as cover. Agent Orange contains dioxins that are known to cause cancer and damage genes. The effects of the toxic substance can be seen among Vietnamese people to this day: cancer, immune disorders and severe deformities. According to official estimates, there are 1.2 million disabled children in Vietnam. In rural areas, the percentage of disabled children is significantly higher than in urban areas. The face of 9-year-old Nguyen Thi Ly is a sad example of this toxic legacy.

Nguyen Thi Ly and all the other affected children photographed by Ed Kashi live in Da Nang. He particularly cares for the little ‘war veterans’. Da Nang was an American base of operations where tons of Agent Orange were stored for defoliation missions. 56,000 of the city’s 800,000 inhabitants suffer from disabilities caused by this chemical warfare. Today, scientific research on the ecological, social and health effects of Agent Orange is being carried out in Da Nang, funded by the US government and aid organizations.

UNICEF supports Vietnam’s disabled children, mostly through donations from US aid programs, to live as normal a life as possible and to be protected from discrimination. With his photos, he wants to show that war affects the following generations as well – and that there is no end in sight. UNICEF supports aid programs for Vietnam’s disabled children, mostly through donations from the US, so that these children can live as normal a life as possible and are protected from discrimination.

In his photo series, American photographer Ed Kashi shows the everyday life of two families who receive help from the organization “Children of Vietnam”. “I deeply believe in the power of still images to change people’s minds”, Kashi describes his work. Kashi especially cares for the little ‘war veterans’. With his photos, he wants to show that war causes endless suffering – not just for one generation.

Literary guerrillas take Barnes & Noble

The chilly expanse of pavement in front of the Union Square Barnes & Noble megastore was still empty last Tuesday at 6 PM. The tall security guard inside was unaware that the author Lisa Dierbeck was supposed to be reading in 25 minutes. The old male employee at the information desk was also unaware. At 6:15 people with red flowers pinned to their hats or lapels started entering the store. They took posts waiting in front of display tables. They asked clueless staffers about a Lisa Dierbeck reading. They scanned for others like themselves. Soon small clusters of flower wearers started sprouting all over.

The flower wearers were following the instructions of a message posted online the night before by the newly formed publishing collective and imprint Mischief and Mayhem. It was titled, “M+M Takes B&N!" At 6:25 supporters were to mobilize outside of the store to witness a guerrilla reading meant to “reclaim literature from soulless retailers."

M+M is five peeved writers responding to the commercial publishing industry, which they feel values marketability over content and greedily grants most writers only measly returns. They hold particular scorn for mega retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, which stock only commercially viable books on their shelves, thus influencing publishers and editors to provide them. The imprint will sell “adventurous, strange, disturbing fiction" directly to customers throu

gh e-books or print-on-demand paperbacks: a process that cuts a multitude of costs (the bookstore’s cut, the distributor’s cut, shipping, pulping) so that the writer can stand to make a 50 percent profit.

Read more.

Los mejores libros del 2010 según New York Times

NYT presentó la lista de los mejores libros de ficción del 2010. La lista es encabezada por la novela Freedom de Jonathan Franzen.

By Jonathan Franzen. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.
The author of “The Corrections” is back, not quite a decade later, with an even richer and deeper work — a vividly realized narrative set during the Bush years, when the creedal legacy of “personal liberties” assumed new and sometimes ominous proportions. Franzen captures this through the tribulations of a Midwestern family, the ­Berglunds, whose successes, failures and appetite for self-invention reflect the larger story of millennial America.

By Ann Beattie. Scribner, $30. 
As these 48 stories published in The New Yorker from 1974 through 2006 demonstrate, Beattie, even as she chronicled and satirized her post-1960s generation, also became its defining voice. She punctures her characters’ pretensions and jadedness with an economy and effortless dialogue that writers have been trying to emulate for three decades, though few, if any, have matched her seamless combination of biting wit and mordant humor, precise irony and consummate cool.

By Emma Donoghue. Little, Brown & Company, $24.99.
Donoghue has created one of the pure triumphs of recent fiction: an ebullient child narrator, held captive with his mother in an 11-by-11-foot room, through whom we encounter the blurry, often complicated space between closeness and autonomy. In a narrative at once delicate and vigorous — rich in psychological, sociological and political meaning — Donoghue reveals how joy and terror often dwell side by side.

By William Trevor. Viking, $35.
Gathering work from Trevor’s previous four collections, this volume shows why his deceptively spare fiction has haunted and moved readers for generations. Set mainly in Ireland and England, Trevor’s tales are eloquent even in their silences, documenting the way the present is consumed by the past, the way ancient patterns shape the future. Neither modernist nor antique, his stories are timeless.

By Jennifer Egan. Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95.
Time is the “goon squad” in this virtuosic rock ’n’ roll novel about a cynical record producer and the people who intersect his world. Ranging across some 40 years and inhabiting 13 different characters, each with his own story and perspective, Egan makes these disparate parts cohere into an artful whole, irradiated by a Proustian feel for loss, regret and the ravages of love.

En busca de respeto. Vendiendo crack en el Harlem de Philippe Bourgois

El libro es el resultado del trabajo etnográfico realizado por Bourgois en el East Harlem de Nueva York, estudiando la pobreza y marginalidad a la que son sometidos los inmigrantes puertoriqueños que llegan al país con la esperanza de abrazar el sueño americano.

El diario La Nación le didecó un nota el 29/8/2010 mientras el autor se encontraba en Buenos Aires presentando la publicación del libro en español. Dice Bourgois a La Nación:
De esos años allí -donde vivió con su mujer y nació su hijo- salió con, al menos, dos convicciones. Una, que la venta de drogas organizada, con sus códigos y las habilidades personales que demanda, es “la única fuente de empleo accesible para la gente del barrio". Otra, que, a pesar de eso, la intención de integrarse en el mundo legal no se abandona nunca. Desde afuera del sistema, los portorriqueños emigrados reproducían en la “cultura de la calle" el modelo norteamericano inaccesible, basado en el esfuerzo individual y la acumulación de dinero. “No son ´otros exóticos´ habitantes de un mundo irracional aparte, sino productos made in USA ", dice Bourgois.

Resulta interesante escuchar estas palabras de Bourgois y me fuerza a tender un puente con nuestra realidad. Cuantas veces juzgamos a los beneficiarios de un plan trabajar -o cualquier otra ayuda del estado-, como vagos y atorrantes que no quieren trabajar. Esta profunda reflexión de Bourgois me hace reflexionar que ellos, al igual que los puertorriqueños del Harlem, seguramente tienen las mismas esperanzas de obtener un trabajo digno algún día. Nuestra sociedad continúa negándoselo, una y otra vez.

Dice la contratapa del libro:
A mediados de los años ochenta, Philippe Bourgois, entonces un joven antropólogo, se instala en East Harlem, uno de los barrios más postergados de Nueva York, y pasa allí casi cinco años, en contacto con los vendedores de crack de origen puertorriqueño. Su objetivo no es estudiar el circuito de la droga, sino indagar la experiencia de segregación racial y pobreza persistente que acosa al gueto latino precisamente en la ciudad más rica del mundo.

El problema que afronta, metodológico y ético a la vez, es cómo acercarse a esos jóvenes que, condenados de antemano al fracaso, sólo en la economía ilegal encuentran un atajo para acceder al sueño americano. Es preciso establecer con ellos lazos de confianza que permitan un acercamiento profundo a sus vidas, costumbres y rutinas. Así, Bourgois amanece en las calles con los protagonistas de este libro, discute con ellos, participa de sus fiestas y reuniones familiares, entrevista a sus parejas, a sus padres, a los políticos locales, y asiste a las reuniones de las instituciones comunitarias.

El autor descubre así que a la veintena de traficantes con los que trata, al igual que a sus familias, no les interesa mucho hablar de las drogas. Más bien quieren hablar de la lucha diaria que libran por sobrevivir con dignidad: relatan sus frustradas experiencias de escolarización, su ingreso en la cultura callejera y en las pandillas, sus accidentados intentos de conseguir trabajo legal, su iniciación sexual y sus modelos de maternidad y paternidad, además de sus ardides para acceder a los planes de asistencia social.

Convertido en un clásico de los estudios etnográficos sobre la marginalidad social, En busca de respeto no sólo es un ensayo sobre la violencia autodestructiva de la calle y la búsqueda cotidiana de respeto, sino también, y sobre todo, una suerte de diario extremo de la investigación misma, un cuaderno de bitácora que muestra los complejos dilemas que debe resolver quien está abocado a explorar el sufrimiento social de esta época.
Link a editorial Siglo XXI. Link a Amazon.


It has been a good museum day. I have visited San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). I have enjoyed it, however… I must say that after 3 years in London, I lost my capacity to adapt to the real world. Even when the museum is good, it doesn’t worth 12.50 USD. I like the London way where you can visit the major museums without paying entrance fee. After having the British Museum, The National Gallery, TATE Modern, etc. for free; pay 12.50 dollars is too much. Anyway… that’s America, at least the north one ;-)

I spent between 4 hours visiting it, which is not few bearing in mind that is not a huge museum and galleries are ‘small’.
It should be the fifth modern art museum I visited and I have experienced, once again, that bitter/sweet feeling of lurking around the galleries without being caught by the modern art.

Why did I say that it has been a good day if I don't like modern art experience? Easily because the SFMOMA has an amazing photography collection. I have really enjoyed it :-)
It has the permanent exhibition, called "Picturing modernity" and two temporally collections: "Mexico as Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston" and "Imposing order: Contemporary Photography and the Archive".

The permanent collection holds amazing works such as daguerreotypes, early salt prints following Fox Talbot's method, and what it surprised me most was the "Mirror view of upper Yosemite Fall" by Cartelon E. Watkins, an amazing reflection of the fall in a small lake.

Modotti & Weston "Mexico as Muse" shows how well an acute photographer's eye can record a cultural and social landscape, here; the 1920's Mexico. It has many good shots, however the two which liked me most were Galvan shooting, Weston 1924 and Piramide del Sol, Teotihuacan, Modotti, 1923.