An excerpt from Justin Nieland‘s once-again-timely book David Lynch.

Laura Palmer—passive, suffering, already victimized—is one kind of a melodramatic myth, and Twin Peaks, both the series and the fictional town, is Lynch’s most enduring melodramatic network, a famously quirky environment of character. The television series, created by Lynch and Mark Frost, openly declared its melodramatic heart. The plots of its first, eight-episode season unfolded in front of televisions within the diegesis playing the mawkish soap opera Invitation to Love, whose conventions were doubled, ironized, and reworked in Twin Peaks’ unfolding mysteries. In fact, the series’ oft-remarked references to films like Otto Preminger’s Laura or Hitchcock’s Vertigo are perhaps less interesting as forms of postmodern pastiche than as canny acknowledgments of Twin Peaks‘ melodramatic common denominator—a mode crossing genre and media and linking televised soaps, the postwar film noir, the police procedural, the suspense thriller, and the family melodrama.

If the mid-century psychologizing of modernist interior design is, for Lynch, one of the more anxious environments of cold war plastics, the postwar family melodrama of Douglas Sirk, Vincente Minnelli, Elia Kazan, and Nicholas Ray, is another. Like mid-century architecture, melodramatic affect is warmed up through the postwar mainstreaming of Freudian models of the psyche—only now these models find expression through the plastic dynamism of mise-en-scène that codes, in grand style, the forms of condensation and displacement that are the basic operations of Freudian dream work. Lynch’s Fire Walk with Me is a similar machine of affective redistribution—it re-constellates, by estranging, the emotional energies of the iconic American middle-class family.

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haycraftBorn in Vermont, made in America, John Deere helped humans move enough earth to impress even Ruaumoko, the Maori god of earthquakes. Deere’s death on May 17, 1886 marked the end of an era. His inventiveness and the equipment that emerged from it “broke the plains,” as the poetic copywriters of the time put it, and in so doing expanded American agriculture into a colossus. Deere’s company later expanded into areas ranging from lawnmowers to bicycles to, as William Haycraft tells us, earthmovers.

The first overarching history of the earthmoving equipment industry, Yellow Steel examines the tremendous increase in the scope of mining and construction projects, from the Suez Canal through the interstate highway system, made possible by innovations in earthmoving machinery.

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An excerpt from the new introduction to The Revolt of the Black Athlete: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Harry Edwards.

I believe that over the last fifty years, the facts, the relationships, and the conclusions drawn from them as portrayed in the original edition of this bookcharacterized as irresponsibly radical and militant at the timehave held up well, especially if considered within the context of the times and as historical prologue. Throughout the pages that follow this introduction, there are insights and analyses that to this day continue to illuminate issues at the interface of race, sport, and society.

Early on, it became abundantly clear that simply being “right” in terms of our portrayal of issues and developments at the interface of race, sport, and society was far from sufficient to persuade peopleeven many among our own peopleto our side of the arguments involved, much less to support the actions that we were advocating. From the outset, then, I had to cope with severe criticism from all sides while still keeping my eyes on the prize and continuing to articulate and pursue movement goals.

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The 1927 Mississippi River flood disaster had a far-reaching social impact, inspired timeless music, influenced policy that includes what happened during Hurricane Katrina, and received its due in at least one very interesting book. It even roused the laissez-faire federal government of the Twenties and its hands-off chief exec Calvin Coolidge to pass a piece of legislation. On May 15, 1928, the government enacted the Flood Control Act of 1928. The US Corps of Engineers then began its controversial work of building levees and whatever else was necessary to deal with floodwaters on the Mighty Mississippi (also on California’s oft-ornery Sacramento River).

That brings us to the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, constructed to protect Cairo and other upstream areas, and unpopular from the day Major General Edgar Jadwin, its primary architect, put drafting pencil to paper. Indeed, the project and its many revisions still provoke editorial ire and public cries of “boondoggle.” Landowners and the state of Missouri were among those first (and still) leery of the plan. The Engineers nonetheless finished an initial setback levee in 1932.

To activate the floodway—that is, move massive amounts of floodwater away from Cairo into the bootheel of Missouri—did not require sophisticated drainage routes or whatnot. No, when the rains came and came, the Army Corps of Engineers activated the floodway by dynamiting the levee. This first happened during the 1937 floods. In 1983, the Engineers did add pipes to the levee. Not to route water, but to make it easier to place a type of explosive described in one 2011 article as “slurry.” Which they had to do again in 2011, after floodwaters drove all but a smattering of people from Cairo. Breaching the levees flooded over 130,000 acres of farmland, destroyed homes, and reignited an old pattern of recriminations and lawsuits.

He fought for his country at a time when Native Americans still played a major role in New York’s military conflicts. He died when film could be taken of his funeral.

On May 13, 1905, the War of 1812 passed finally out of memory, for Hirum Cronk, the last surviving veteran of that still-misunderstood conflict, died in Ava, New York, aged 105.

The career shoemaker stood in defense of Sackets Harbor, New York, in 1814. At the time the U.S. Navy had a major shipyard in the community. Later it became Naval Headquarters for the entire Great Lakes as we sought to force our Canadian rivals off those fine, fresh waters. The British attacked the area by sea and by land and, as Donald R. Hickey tells us in his history The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, kept it under close watch in order to disrupt American naval movements:

Captain Stephen Popham, who was on detached duty from the main British squadron, discovered [American commandant Melancthon] Woolsey’s presence. Convinced that the American flotilla was undefended, Popham led a flotilla of gunboats carrying 200 British soldiers, seamen, and marines into the creek to mount an attack. Although the Oneida Indians fled, Popham’s force was cut to shreds by the American artillery and riflemen. More than seventy British soldiers were killed or wounded before the rest surrendered. The American force sustained only two casualties. . .

With the British squadron nearby, Woolsey could not hazard moving his precious cargo back into the lake, so most of the guns and rope were transported to Sackets Harbor overland. But there was one cable intended for the Superior that was so large that it would not fit into any wagon. It was 300 feet long, seven inches in diameter, and weighed a staggering 9,600 pounds.

After some delay, Colonel Allen Clarke’s regiment of New York militiamen offered to carry the hope on their shoulders. Part of the rope was loaded into a wagon, while the rest was carried by the men, perhaps 100 in all. The men marched for a mile at a time and then rested. Many padded their shoulders with straw to cut down on the chafing. Although some men dropped out along the way, others appeared to take their places. Thirty hours after departing from Sandy Creek, the militia arrived at Sackets Harbor with the cable. As a reward, the men were given a barrel of whiskey and a bonus of $2 a day.

Enlisting with his father and two brothers, Hirum became part of a massive military buildup that in time left Sackets Harbor the third-largest city in the state after New York City and Albany. Once discharged, he worked as a shoemaker and received a federal military pension of $12 per month ($25 after 1903, plus a special pension from the state of New York).

wienerAs the tumultuous late Sixties and early Seventies retreat into history, the zeitgeist is steadily sanding the many rough edges off John Lennon in order to enjoy his music without all the bummer stuff. But Lennon in his own time merged his music and celebrity with his political causes.

Come Together recreates two decades of rock and rebellion by tracing John Lennon’s ever-evolving politics from the formation of the Beatles in 1960 to his assassination in 1980.

From modest anti-establishment tweaking and a penchant for “more popular than Jesus” pot-stirring, Lennon grew into an influential voice of the peace movement opposed to the Vietnam War. His activism drew the ire of the FBI. In 1972, the Bureau tried to deport Lennon back to Britain–a fabled and failed effort to choke off Lennon’s threat to merge his celebrity and music with radical politics. Wiener brilliantly recreates an amazing, impassioned time in American life that saw Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono holding bed-ins for peace, commenting on current events, and recording antiwar anthems like “Imagine.” He also astutely observes Lennon’s naivete and blind spots while offering details of his own ongoing effort to force the release of Lennon’s FBI file by the US government.

An excerpt from An Illini Place: Building the University of Illinois Campus, by Lex Tate and John Franch

The gift (and match) to establish the interdisciplinary Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, astonishing in its own right, was, however, profoundly important to the University of Illinois for another reason: it ignited a surge of campus planning theretofore unseen in more than half a century.

Finding the right location for the new institute, programmed for about 330,000 square feet, provided the perfect opportunity to look closely at the north, or engineering, campus, which would host the new building and several others already in the works.

Within six months, warp speed by academic measure, Sasaki Associates Inc. of Watertown, Massachusetts, had prepared a sixty-six-page North Campus Master Plan, and Ikenberry and Chancellor Thomas E. Everhart (1984-87) had moved the plan to approval by the University Board of Trustees on April 10, 1986. It was, as Urbana planner Alice Novak put it, “a more complex plan for a more complex time.”

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starved rock postcard

On May 8, 1985, the National Register of Historic Places anointed the famous Starved Rock Lodge and its nearby cabins. Once known as a vacation hotspot with a hotel and dance pavilion, Starved Rock opened as a state park in 1912 when officials bought the land from a developer/entrepreneur.

The New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps did much of the work to make Starved Rock the easily accessible hiking area we enjoy today. CCC workers–including African Americans, an unusual detail for a CCC troupe–broke the trails, placed the three camp sites, and began work on the now-iconic Lodge. Designed by Urbana native Joseph F. Buten (or Booton), the Lodge featured the so-called Great Room and the giant two-sided limestone fireplace that many consider synonymous with the park itself. The lodge now offers an indoor pool and after expansion began billing itself as a conference center.

Starting from May 8th, 2017 at 10 A.M. until May 11th, 2017 5 P.M., University of Illinois Press is sponsoring a graduation book giveaway across all of our social media accounts!  We will be drawing two winners and messaging them on May 12th, 2017! At random, one winner will receive The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation edited by Frederick E. Hoxie and Orange, Blue, and U: A University of Illinois Coloring Book  by University of Illinois Press.

Another winner will receive An Illini Place: Building the University of Illinois Campus by Lex Tate and John Franch and Orange, Blue, and U: A University of Illinois Coloring Book by University of Illinois Press.

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dutch windmillOn May 5, 2001, the village of Fulton officially opened the majestic De Immigrant, the 100-foot tall Dutch windmill overlooking the Mississippi River. Built in the Netherlands and reconstructed piece-by-piece by native craftspersons, De Immigrant marked its grand opening by grinding wheat, corn, and other grains. In other words, in a sort of practical and hardworking manner that many people associate with the Dutch.

An oft-overlooked immigrant group, the Dutch nonetheless settled large areas of Illinois, with large numbers in south Chicago suburbs like South Holland and Lansing, and in the Chadwick-Fulton-Morrison-Albany corridor near or along the Mississippi. Fulton celebrates its Dutch Days Festival every spring—the 2017 edition starts today, in fact—and if you’re feeling benout, you should attend. There’s all the Klompen dancing you could want, in addition to Hindeloopen painting, costumes, tulips galore, and a chance to pick up that pair of wooden shoes you’ve had your eye on. The windmill is a centerpiece of the festivities.