Pop Culture Roundup: This Week

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More than seven decades later, the memories of war and despair are still fresh for Nelly Toll. As an 6-year-old girl, she and her mother, Rozia locked themselves in the tiny room of a Christian family's home in 1943 Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland — present-day Lviv, Ukraine — for more than a year….

Toll's two watercolor paintings are part of the "Art From the Holocaust" exhibit at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. The exhibit, organized by the Holocaust memorial group Yad Vashem, features 100 paintings, drawings and sketches from Toll and 52 other Holocaust-era artists. At least half of the artists were killed during the war. Toll is the only living artist whose work is presented at the exhibit.

The New-York Historical Society will present a powerful exhibition that examines the rise of a culture of hatred from one of the most harrowing moments in 20th century history. On view April 12 through July 31, Anti-Semitism 1919–1939 displays the wrenching evidence of what Germans saw and experienced on a daily basis, tracing the steady process of Nazi indoctrination that led to the Holocaust through more than 50 publications and other artifacts from the collection of The Museum of World War II, Boston, Massachusetts. The exhibition illustrates how propaganda can sink its roots into a society and the dangers of underestimating the impact of hateful propaganda and religious intolerance. Many objects on display will be disturbing to view, but the moral questions raised by the ascendance of Nazism both transcend geographical boundaries and illuminate important connections between the past and the present.

Minstrelsy. Blackface. Mugging. Out of this twisted past came one of the first successful all-black Broadway musicals. Now an ambitious revival is bringing it back.

The blacks-­in-­blackface tradition, which lasted more than a century in this country, strikes most people, on first hearing of its existence, as deeply bizarre, and it was. But it emerged from a single crude reality: African-­American people were not allowed to perform onstage for much of the 19th century. They could not, that is, appear as themselves. The sight wasn’t tolerated by white audiences. There were anomalous instances, but as a rule, it didn’t happen. In front of the cabin, in the nursery, in a tavern, yes, white people might enjoy hearing them sing and seeing them dance, but the stage had power in it, and someone who appeared there couldn’t help partaking of that power, if only ever so slightly, momentarily. Part of it was the physical elevation. To be sitting below a black man or woman, looking up — that made many whites uncomfortable. But what those audiences would allow, would sit for — not easily at first, not without controversy and disdain, but gradually, and soon overwhelmingly — was the appearance of white men who had painted their faces to look black. That was an old custom of the stage, going back at least to “Othello.” They could live with that. And this created a space, a crack in the wall, through which blacks could enter, because blacks, too, could paint their faces.

For Stalin, Roosevelt’s drink-mixing sat ‘cold on the stomach,’ but still the president tinkered—particularly when it came to perfecting Martinis.

Given that the country was in the throes of the Great Depression and World War II was on the horizon, no one could blame President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for wanting a stiff drink.

In fact, dating back to at least his days as governor of New York, on most nights before dinner, FDR would host a cocktail hour for friends and associates.

On March 14, 1775, a month before the start of the Revolutionary War, Militia Captain John Parker signed a piece of paper saying he had received drums from Lexington selectmen “for the use of the Military Company.”

The weathered document, written in black cursive on a rectangular piece of paper with ragged edges, remains part of the Lexington Historical Society’s permanent collection today.

But to continue preserving this piece of history, the nonprofit is looking to donors for help.

This week, the historical society announced a new program that allows the public to “adopt” historical documents like Parker’s signed drum receipt with donations to help preserve and restore the items.

When homosexuality was illegal in Britain, gay men used code words from the secret language of Polari to communicate with one another. After its heyday in the 1950 and 1960s, it all but vanished.

In November 1963, President John F. Kennedy was on a two-day, five speech tour through Texas, starting in Fort Worth and ending in Austin. He never made it to Austin as the middle stop was, of course, Dallas on November 22nd.

A new opera focuses on the far lesser-known stop Kennedy made in Fort Worth his final night and morning before the assassination.  In April 2012, Fort Worth Opera, with Opéra de Montréal and American Lyric Theatre, co-commissioned the new work from composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrekto celebrate Ft Worth Opera’s 70th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of their opera festival.

Memos show media mogul William Randolph Hearst’s executives conspired to undermine Welles and stop release of film.

Selecting the photos was a difficult task. We wanted to achieve an appropriate balance of photos and stories that would best represent our rich historical collection, and a wide range of important themes. For better or worse, we had to be selective.

In his long hybrid film, Rabin, The Last Day, a compound of documentary and reenactment, Amos Gitai unfurls a rightly unnerving answer to the question Who done it? by welding to it the question What was done?

This is not to say that Gitai—whose film was reviewed for Tablet magazine by J. Hoberman—finds fault with the verdict reached by an Israeli court: The ultranationalist religious zealot Yigal Amir was the assassin. The crime was ideological and the assassin was, and remains, unrepentant. Amir arranged the means and the opportunity because he was on a sacred mission. He believed he had Talmudic sanction to murder Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who in his view had endangered Jews by brokering a deal with the Palestinians and opening the way to a forfeit of what the land-worshipping Israeli right considers God-given Jewish land. On Amir’s reading of the Talmud—a reading embraced by a particular clique of rabbis—the land under Israeli occupation was holy, and to turn it over to the enemy would be a crime against God. Accordingly, to kill the criminal, the “thief” of the Talmudic provision, was holy work.

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