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Blog Posts by Subject: Popular Culture

Treasures, Oddities and Ephemera: 3-D Objects from Billy Rose Theatre Division’s Theatre Cabinets

The Theatre Cabinets (or T-Cabinets as we call them) of the Billy Rose Theatre Division are packed full of objects large and small. The cabinets are a repository for all the three-dimensional items that have accompanied our larger collections or have been given to the division separately as a gift. I absolutely love the T-cabinets. Being hidden in the back of a locked cage and full of mysterious items is only part of the allure. The other part is the extreme variety of the items themselves.

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Fight for Your Right to Read: Banned Books Week 2013

From 2000 to 2009, 8 out of the top 10 books on "The Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books" were specifically written for teens or children. In fact out of that list of 100, 67 were books for teens or children. Titles such as the Harry Potter series (#1), the

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La Generación "a Go-Gó"

(English version) Mi infancia se dio en medio de una generación que en sus tiernos comienzos se la conoció como el movimiento ye-ye o la nueva ola. Sí, me refiero a esa época que al escuchar sus canciones nos embarga la nostalgia con nombres como

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Number One Hits for the Year: 1979

I was recently going through a box of old photographs and came across photos from the first concert I ever attended: Kiss. October 21, 1979. Houston Summit. I was 10.

That got me to thinking of the music from that year.

1979 marked the end of arguably one of the most unfortunate eras in American music history:

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Teen Road Trip Novels: Romance, Reunions and Roadside Attractions

… for the first time in his life Peter understood what the opposite of lost was: that it had nothing to do with maps or directions or stayin on course; that it was, in fact, nothing more than being found.

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

The road trip is an American rite of passage. Nothing is more American than getting in a car, turning it onto a highway and just driving off, destination unknown (or not required).  Windows down, music up and 

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A Note on the Upcoming Record Sale at the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound

1984 Record Sale FlyerOn a rainy spring morning in 1984, over 800 visitors swarmed the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and purchased over 20,000 78s and LPs at the first Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound Duplicate Record Sale. The event raised $14,750 to support the activities of the archive, which began collecting recordings of all types as far back as 1930. Perhaps more importantly, the sale realized space critical to expand the archive, an archive which has since grown to become one of the world's largest, rarest, and most 

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When They Trod the Boards: Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad-Ass on Broadway

Being an actor doesn't shield you from having a conscience.

—Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito, as Gus Fring, stares down a sniper in the TV series Breaking Bad, 2011.Giancarlo, as Julio, sings in the Broadway musical Seesaw, 1973.A true NYC moment: Giancarlo and brother Vincent take a sidewalk hotdog break during the musical The Me Nobody Knows, 1971. Photo: NewsdayI don't know how the final season of the TV series Breaking Bad will end, but it is pretty clear that Walter White is on a one-way trip to hell. As the well-intentioned chemistry teacher turned 

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Confessions of an Anglophile

I get asked a lot about my Union Jack tattoo. Mainly, "why?" My answer? "Why not? I just like all things British and Scottish, okay? Geesh. Leave me alone!" But the real answer is bit more complicated. Those stories, those places just always captured my imagination. Growing up in Northern Idaho anyplace outside of my corner of North America was exotic in my book. Or perhaps I should just give the simplest answer, which is, "I blame my parents."

kucinski on flickrMy father was 

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OMG! I Love That Song! A Catchy Song Playlist

Last year I wrote a popular blog post entitled "OMG! I Love That Song!: A Guilty Pleasure Playlist" where I confessed my song shame only to find out that many of you shared the exact same musical taste. Than this past February, several of my choices also ended up winning Grammys. I should have named that blog "A Not-so-Guilty Pleasure Playlist" instead. This year this post is once again a "no judgment zone" and I am declaring my love for the songs that I have on constant 

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When They Trod the Boards: Christopher Walken, Song and Dance Man

How do we love Christopher Walken? On his 70th birthday, let us count the ways. Star of film, TV, and NYPL's own iBook Point, somehow everyone has a favorite film that stars him, be it The Deer Hunter, True Romance, or Pulp Fiction. The consummate villain, he faced off

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A Cold Night's Death: The Allure of Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Michael Kors Analogy Generator

It's the end of an era. Michael Kors will no longer be a judge on Project Runway as it starts its 11th season, which means we can no longer enjoy his slicing and dicing analogies aimed at the designers' runway miscues.

Who could forget such classics as

"She looks like Barefoot Appalachian Lil' Abner Barbie."

or

"She looks like a pole dancer in Dubai."

So I spent some time in the lab and after watching hours and hours of

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"The Hobbit" and Other Classics in Yiddish

"The Hobbit" in YiddishIf you're as eager as I am to see the movie version of The Hobbit, then you'll be excited to hear about the brand-new translation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic into Yiddish. OK, maybe not; possibly you don't read Yiddish. But the recent publication of Der Hobit offers a good opportunity to illustrate one of the strengths of the Dorot Jewish Division.

"The Cat in 

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Smoking: A Love Story

I just quit smoking for the fifthJon Hamm in Mad Men time. For me, it's all or nothing. I could never be one of those people — dilettantes! — who are able to smoke socially and then go for indefinite periods of time without a cigarette. I suppose this has to do with physiology, personality, and the times in which I grew up.

In one of my earliest memories, I'm sitting on the living room floor, my dad is smoking a cigar, and sunlight is flooding through the picture window illuminating the variegated blue, gray, and purple layers of smoke. I was mesmerized! 

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Robot Dawn: The Stage Origins of a Sci-Fi Idol

Nothing is more strange to man than his own image. —Dr. Alquist, sole survivor of the robot rebellion.

It's standard sci-fi melodrama now: The robots evolve and become indistinguishable from their creators. They rise up and in their revolt decide to eradicate the human race. Sound familiar? Well, before you start looking for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's not 1984 and we're not in a movie theatre. The year is 1922 and it's all happening live on stage in an Off-Broadway 

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Can You Smell The Dairy Air? Stereotypes, Statistics, and Milk

I recently had two French couchsurfers stay with me. I went downstairs to find the guy in the kitchen rummaging through my refrigerator. I asked him what he was looking for. He said milk. I said I don't have milk... well... just almond milk. He said to not have milk was un-American.

I don't even know what that means.

So this exchange got me to thinking. Are there stereotypes of America that I am unaware of? I know from speaking to other couchsurfers that the general stereotype of an American is that of the loud, 

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Magic, a Fantasy... Plus Some Sources

[Note: The following is an imaginative work of fiction. For some decidedly non-fiction resources for your own fantastic feats, see below.]

The opening article in the 1836 edition of the Magician's Yearly Trust, published then by a British organization of the same name, entitled "On performing magic in the most frozen parts of the world" caught my eye. It was the word "frozen" in the title that made me wonder what the article really was about. So I began reading the article and learned that there was a small group of professional 

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Dolly Birds and Dandies: Swinging London in Film

Teenagers in London's Carnaby Street. Wikimedia CommonsPost-WWII London, by the mid-to-late 1960s, was reimagining, rebuilding and rearranging. Its economy was strong, and nearly 30% of its population was aged 15-34. With these factors in play, and with that undefinable "something" that brings creativity and zest to a location for however brief a time, London emerged as the style capital of the world, its youth culture arising from the heady influences of new music and street 

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The 9 Lives of Catwoman

Judging from the teasers, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises promises to be another must-see summer movie, not least for the anticipation of Anne Hathaway's being cast as Catwoman. Anne has some impressive spandex to fill, however, against such feline luminaries as Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, and and Michelle Pfeiffer, each with her own brand of Gotham catitude. Check out our treasury of vintage images of Catwomen from NYPL's Billy Rose Theatre Division and then take a sec and scratch your

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The British (and Irish) Boys of Summer: A Summer Reading List inspired by One Direction

I started summer 2012 seeing One Direction, not once but TWICE in concert! Let me just say this: they were AWESOME! I could go on and on (and on, just ask my friends) about my favorite four British boys and one Irish boy, but I won’t. I could talk loads about Harry’s accent, Niall’s laugh and Louis’s trousers but I will stop myself and instead mention that NYPL has bought their journal memoir Dare to Dream! As we ... Read More ›
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