Depression-Era Slide Show Induces Nostalgia, Reflections on the Dust Bowl’s Proto-Hipsters

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08/11/2010 11:33 AM |


One of my favorite movies, Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us, is a Technicolor movie about the Great Depression; the palette is saturated but pearly, as if coated with a thin layer of dust. (And all due respect to advances in digital projection, but this is a film that would feel completely inappropriate if the picture were unmarred by spots, scratches, grain.) The recent American past seems as vivid as the present, while entirely unrecoverable.

I mention this because currently making the rounds on the internet is a slideshow of color photographs from the later years of the Depression—from which the above photo comes, though it could be a Thieves Like Us still—assembled by the Denver Post from Library of Congress archives. (They were photos taken by the Farm Security Administration, a New Deal organization.)

A friend of The L also notes, wryly: “They’re all basically Brooklyn/Brooklyners. Like, now.”

For proof, follow us to the other side of the jump.

Our friend continues:

The beards and moustaches, the hats and coats, the fucking flower print dresses, the ‘vintage’ (ha! right, uh… new?) clothing, the hair on some of them, the general style of things… Obviously, the contemporary sort of nostalgia for the unlived lives of others that everyone seems to suffer from these days (I honestly think that this differentiates our generation to some extent, but this is a different discussion) is reflected here in amusing ways…

Here are some examples, with his captions:

Downstairs at Northeast Kingdom tonight!

  • Downstairs at Northeast Kingdom tonight!

Jack Whinery and the Whiners, new indie sensation!

  • Jack Whinery and the Whiners, new indie sensation!

Brunch at Robertas. Hellz yeah.

  • Brunch at Roberta’s. Hellz yeah.

And so on. Suggestions?

4 Comment

  • I’ve already shed a great many jaundiced tears whilst gazing longingly upon these photographs. So please, if I may now poke a bit of fun to lighten my mood:

    Suggested captions:

    11: Dress like them! Spotted at Bedford and Kent.
    13: A slow Tuesday at Royal Oak.
    26: The future of Bedford Avenue.
    28: Atlantic Yards.
    40: Performance artist.
    42: North 6th Ninja Brigade unmasked.
    48: Switchman frontman setting up for last night’s noise show.
    52: Duh.
    55: Puerto Rican Day parade. Wait, are those American flags?
    56: Large girl in small chair plays cheeky role of ‘Dinner’ in outdoor theater series.
    59: Interpretive dancing set to the sound of an A-20 bomber propeller. Sick.
    63: Makin’ room for new condos on Kent. Down times are great times to invest.
    64: Installation at The Hangar, an East Williamsburg arts collective.
    66: Final touches on Inflation, a new venue opening soon near the Jefferson stop.
    69: Showing younger siblings Park Slope on a globe. Note the A Tree Grows in Brooklyn publicity poster on the wall. Can you guess what their parents do for a living?
    70: So, perhaps Greenpoint is kinda polluted after all?

    Oh no, I think I may cry again… Excuse me. So long.

  • 11. Vivian Girls are back!

    12. “Which way to Shoot the Freak?”

    15. Just “resting” after a long night out at DBA.

    19. “Dad, this porchetta is just like they make it in Italy!” @ Summerscreen

    24. At least the horses were sober! (wrong thread…)

    35. Surprisingly, there ARE fish in the Gowanus.

  • #1: Weather report team from the Waterfront Pool Parties. “Looks like lightning to me…”

    #70:”I’m doing a death metal show @ Europa, then straight to work…”

  • You do realize, Mark, that you’re now going to have assemble the whole damn thing with the captions…